Report: Chinese Jeep production confirmed with Fiat, Guangzhou agreement

Filed under: SUV, China, Plants/Manufacturing, Crossover, Jeep

Jeep Badge

Fiat has just finalized a deal originally set up in January between it and China’s Guangzhou Automotive Group to bring Jeep production to China. It remains unclear which models will be built, although we’re wagering that it’ll be the 2014 Cherokee. What we do know, now, is where production will take place.

According to Automotive News, Guangzhou originally wanted production to take place in its home assembly plant in its namesake city. Fiat has battled to send production to a joint venture facility established between Guangzhou and Fiat in the town of Changsha. The joint facility won out, and now the factory, originally built in 2010 with a 140,000-unit capacity, will see Jeeps rolling out of it.

Currently, the GAC-Fiat factory produces the Fiat Viaggio, a jointly developed product that is closely related to America’s Dodge Dart. And while it remains unclear as to which model will join the Viaggio on the assembly line, that model is understood to ride on Fiat’s Compact platform. The only Jeep to share those underpinnings is the new Cherokee, so there’s not much connecting of dots needed to see why this scenario would make sense.

Chinese Jeep production confirmed with Fiat, Guangzhou agreement originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Audi Q7 E-Tron confirmed?

Filed under: Hybrid, SUV, Technology, Crossover, Audi, Electric, Diesel, Luxury

2011 Audi Q7 3.0T S-Line front three-quarter

Rumors out of Australia say we’ll be seeing a new variant of the Audi Q7 when the next-generation models bows in a few years. Joining the diesel and gas range will be the second production member of Audi’s E-Tron family, which was introduced by the R8 E-Tron, but will actually see production in the form of the A3 E-Tron.

Speaking with Audi’s managing director in Australia, Andrew Doyle, Car Advice asked what the future held now that the electrified R8 had effectively been shelved. “I don’t see it [R8 E-Tron] as a major thing for us. We’ll launch [locally] with A3, followed by Q7…”

The new Q7 will share its platform with the Volkswagen Group’s two other large SUVs, the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg. But, as Car Advice is quick to point out, the Porsche and VW variants are slated for arrive next year – the second-generation Q7 won’t arrive until 2015. Doyle refused to explain the discrepancy.

Car Advice seemed to think the Q7 E-Tron will end up being a gas-electric hybrid, but we wouldn’t be so sure. Audi has hinted that it will tap into its Le Mans-winning, diesel-electric know-how for an eventual production car, and considering the Q7 has a fairly strong association with diesel, both in the US and abroad, it seems like it’d be a solid candidate for the race-proven technology. This could also explain the extra lead time between the arrival of the Q7 and its platform mates. Looks like we’ll need to wait until 2015 to find out.

Audi Q7 E-Tron confirmed? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 07 Aug 2013 13:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Confirmed: Infiniti G37 to live on in showrooms alongside 2014 Q50

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Performance, Etc., Infiniti, Luxury

2014 Infiniti Q50 - front three-quarter view live on show stand

Infiniti is preparing to roll out its hotly anticipated 2014 Q50, a car that not only ushers in a new alphanumeric naming strategy, it ostensibly replaces the G37 as the brand’s bread-and-butter sport sedan. That will happen, but not in the short-term, as the G37 will continue to be manufactured and sold alongside the Q50, at least for the rest of this year.

Infiniti spokesman Kyle Bazemore has confirmed to Autoblog that a decision is pending on how long to extend the G37 sedan’s production run. “We’re taking Q50 up a little bit, and that allows us to keep the G Sedan in the lineup… It [Q50] certainly started as a replacement, but it ended up being much more than that.” Confusingly, Infiniti has already announced that the Q50 is to start at $37,605 (including $905 destination charge), yet the 2013 G37 is more expensive, starting at $38,255 delivered according to Infiniti’s consumer website. Thus, a price drop on the G37 is likely coming in short order.

So why hold on to the older model? With the Q50 launching exclusively with V6 and Hybrid models (a turbo four and diesel are said to be in the cards down the road), Infiniti evidently feels it is risking leaving lower-end sales on the table. “There’s a lot of movement with the [BMW] 320i and such, and this allows us a two-tier strategy to compete,” says Bazemore. Keeping the G37 on tap at a lower price for fleet sale duty may also serve to protect the Q50 as it establishes itself on the market.

For the moment, Infiniti is still determining whether to continue G37 sedan production beyond the 2013 model year, and some of that may depend on the arrival time of its new entry-level front-wheel drive model, expected to be dubbed Q30. A decision is likely to be made over the next few weeks. Adding to the confusion, the existing G37 Coupe and Convertible will be immediately rebranded as the 2014 Q60 Coupe and Convertible, even though they won’t be based on the new Q50.

Infiniti G37 to live on in showrooms alongside 2014 Q50 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 19 Jul 2013 12:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Confirmed: Fiat 500 Cattiva on the way

Filed under: Concept Cars, Budget, Hatchback, Fiat

Fiat 500 Cattiva concept live at 2013 Detroit Auto Show - front three-quarter view

While its dealer body has been clamoring for new and larger models, Fiat has actually done a pretty good trade selling all manner of 500 variants, from the standard hatchback and 500C cabriolet to its Abarth models, 500e electric runabout and special editions like the Gucci.

Fiat USA was a little slow out of the gates as it built up brand awareness and its dealer network, but it’s now chugging along, with combined 500 model sales outselling that of its arch rival Mini (provided you subtract the Countryman crossover, a model for which Fiat has had no direct competitor up until this point). Franchisees are finally about to get the bigger, broader-appeal model they’ve been seeking in the form of the five-door 500L, but Fiat is still going to be devoting a lot of attention to their whisker-faced icon, the Cinquecento.

As proof, at the first drive event of the 500L in Baltimore, Fiat North America boss Jason Stoicevich confirmed that his company will produce a production version of the 500 Cattiva concept shown at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Stoicevich wouldn’t divulge the model’s pricepoint or availability timeframe, but he told us, “I can guarantee you it will happen. I just can’t tell you when.”

The Cattiva is based on the middle-child 500 Turbo, and is essentially a trim-and-tape package, albeit a very attractive one. It includes rich ‘Rame’ (read: copper) paint with black trim, including ‘Nero’ gloss black light housings front and rear and a matching roof-mounted spoiler along with unique charcoal 16-inch alloys. Inside, changes are limited to a ‘Matte Nero’ instrument panel and trim, along with silver stitching on the black sport wheel and shift knob. No word on any improvements to the Turbo’s 135-horsepower, 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder, but at least that should keep the price from rising much above the standard 500T’s $19,500 MSRP. As far as timing goes, we’re thinking that this model won’t be too far down the line after the company launches the 500L.

Back when it revealed the 500 Cattiva concept, Fiat also showed a matte gray Tenebra showcar that builds upon the even hotter 500 Abarth, but Stoichevich declined to comment on that concept’s chances for production.

Fiat 500 Cattiva on the way originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 19 Jun 2013 08:43:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: High-performance VW Beetle R confirmed for U.S.

Filed under: Coupe, Hatchback, Volkswagen, Shanghai Motor Show

2012 volkswagen beetle

2012 Volkswagen Beetle – Click above for high-res image gallery

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is fresh off its global unveiling earlier today, and the good-looking hatch appears to be dead serious about appealing to the masses. Volkswagen will offer the Beetle with diesel and petrol powerplants and a convertible is expected to arrive for the 2013 model year.

Good stuff, but what about red-blooded enthusiasts? The German automaker could have simply pointed out the availability of the 2.0T model as the driver’s Beetle, but Team VW apparently has bigger and hopefully better plans. Car and Driver is reporting that VW has officially announced that a high-performance Beetle R will be available for U.S. consumption. C/D points out that the last Beetle also came in a hi-po RSi variant, though the hatchback was a Euro-only affair and it was a complete bust.

We’re more hopeful for the Beetle R, if only because the Beetle is more attractive and far more masculine in appearance than its predecessor. It could help, too, if VW offers the high-output 2.0T as the powertrain of choice. Under the hood of the Golf R, the boosted powerplant cranks out 265 horsepower, which should be more than enough motivation to make the Beetle R feel like a hot hatch star.

Gallery: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle

2012 Volkswagen Beetle in red, exterior2012 Volkswagen Beetle in red, exterior in motion2012 Volkswagen Beetle in red, rear exterior in motion2012 Volkswagen Beetle in red2012 Volkswagen Beetle in red from rear

[Source: Car and Driver]

Report: High-performance VW Beetle R confirmed for U.S. originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 18 Apr 2011 18:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Confirmed: BMW i3 to be RWD, mid-“engine”

Filed under: Technology, Hatchback, BMW, Electric

2013 BMW i3 prototype spy shot

2013 BMW i3 prototype – Click above for high-res image gallery

As if the spy video we featured previously wasn’t enough proof, today we’ve confirmed that the smallest BMW i family offering, the i3, will be coming to market in 2013 with a rear-wheel-drive powertrain, and the electric motor powering those wheels will be mounted amidships.

The platform, which is all-new and primarily comprised of carbon fiber, was developed to house the motor ahead of the rear wheels, with the battery pack mounted below the trunk. According to a BMW spokesperson, the drivetrain can be completely separated from the body, making service and replacement a cinch.

The first version of this all-electric drivetrain will be fitted to the ActiveE 1-Series, BMW’s second EV after the Mini E, which will make its North American debut at the New York Auto Show later this month. However, the primary difference between the i3’s system and the unit fitted to the ActiveE is the battery pack. On the i3, the cells will be grouped together, whereas the electrified 1 Series will have battery packs spanning the space between the passenger compartment and the trunk. Additionally, BMW will be using the NY show to announce the lease plan and pricing for the Active E, so for those looking to get in on the EV sports coupe action, start saving your pennies now.

Gallery: Spy Shots: BMW i3

[Images: CarPix]

Confirmed: BMW i3 to be RWD, mid-“engine” originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 01 Apr 2011 15:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2012 Kia Rio sedan confirmed for New York Auto Show

Filed under: New York Auto Show, Budget, Sedan, Kia

2012 Kia Rio

2012 Kia Rio – Click above for high-res image gallery

Our man Jeremy Korzeniewski is attending a Kia event in Phoenix, Arizona this week, and during a press briefing this morning, JK learned that the Korean automaker will be unveiling its 2012 Rio sedan at the 2011 New York Auto Show. The four-door Rio will complement the hatchback bodystyle that bowed at the Geneva Motor Show in early March.

Four powertrains will be available on the Rio overseas – two gas and two diesel – and while mum’s the word on which engine(s) will be available here in the United States, we’re putting our money on the 1.4-liter gasoline four. This mill produces 108 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque, mated to either a six-speed manual or four-speed(!) automatic transmission.

In other news, Kia also let slip that the KV7 concept from this year’s Detroit Auto Show previews what’s in store for the next-generation Sedona minivan. We hinted at this after a conversation with Michael Sprague, Kia’s vice president of marketing, though it’s still unclear exactly what elements from the KV7 will be incorporated into the next-gen Sedona. The concept focused on a more traditional conversion van setup rather than the family-centric Sedona that currently graces our streets.

Gallery: 2012 Kia Rio

2012 Kia Rio2012 Kia Rio

2012 Kia Rio sedan confirmed for New York Auto Show originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Lewis Hamilton and David Hobbscap confirmed for CARS 2

Filed under: Etc., Jaguar, Celebrities

Lewis Hamilton from Pixar's CARS 2

Lewis Hamilton and David Hobbscap from Pixar’s CARS 2 – Click above to see all the new characters

The seemingly endless rollout of new characters appearing in Pixar’s upcoming CARS 2 continues today with two new vehicles, one another Autoblog exclusive. That vehicle is none other than Lewis Hamilton, the only character we can think of so far whose name hasn’t been changed for the film.

The Formula One superstar will appear in the CARS sequel, set to open on June 24th in theaters nationwide, playing a “sleek and seriously fast #2 Grand Touring Sports champion.” Having grown up learning Karate and winning Karting championships, Hamilton’s character steps onto the international stage as Britain’s representative in the World Grand Prix. Follow the jump to see Lewis Hamilton’s CARS 2 character in our exclusive video turntable.

David Hobbscap from Pixar's CARS 2Next up is David Hobbscap, voiced by British F1 announcer David Hobbs. Hobbscap is a 1963 Coombs Lightweight Jaguar E-type, who Car and Driver reports has 20 Le Mans starts under his beltline and retired from racing to become a broadcaster, just like his human counterpart.

Hobbscap will join Darrell Cartrip and yet-to-be-revealed Brent Mustangberger on the three-car commentary team for the World Grand Prix in the film. Check out a screen capture off all three lifted from the official trailer after the jump.

Gallery: CARS 2 Characters

GremAcerShu TodorokiRaoul ÇaRouleCarla Veloso

[Source: Pixar, Car and Driver blog]

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Lewis Hamilton and David Hobbscap confirmed for CARS 2 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 28 Mar 2011 12:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2012 Saab 9-3 hatchback confirmed – but is a sedan?

Filed under: Hatchback, Saab, Design/Style, Luxury

Saab PhoeniX concept car

Saab PhoeniX Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

We’re in Washington D.C. this week attending the embargoed long-lead event for the 2011 Saab 9-4X, but that hasn’t stopped us from inquiring about other key new products from the House of Griffin.

We’ve already seen mules of the next-generation 9-3 range undergoing testing, but thus far, we haven’t seen any production bodywork or learned much in the way of specifics. A purist’s return-to-form hatchback model has been rumored for some time now, and thanks to Magnus Hillerborn, Saab’s Vehicle Validation Engineer, Autoblog can now confirm that a five-door is indeed headed into production along with the expected convertible variant. Interestingly enough, what isn’t yet confirmed for the 2012 9-3 is a sedan bodystyle.

The next 9-3 was nearly finalized when Spyker purchased Saab last year from General Motors, but Victor Muller and Co. felt that there was so much work to be done that new chief designer Jason Castriota set immediately to work on making the new car more ‘Saabish.’ The changes are so significant that Hillerborn says he imagines GM executives will be “very surprised” when they see the production car, which is tipped to take design cues from the PhoeniX concept car that debuted earlier this month at the Geneva Motor Show. Hillerborn says that the hatchback will likely be five-door only (presumably a SportCombi wagon variant will follow), though we imagine there are some three-door renderings knocking about in Trollhattan. Hillerborn promises a very sleek and unique hatchback, one that should appeal to traditional sedan buyers as well (read: not bulbous and overtly hatch-like, but more streamlined).

A modestly retouched 2011 9-3 range debuted in Geneva alongside the PhoeniX showcar, but it will only have to hang on for about a year before the all-new generation appears. A traditional 9-3 sedan is under consideration and would likely help move some units in the U.S., but it apparently has not yet been signed off on, meaning that the five-door will form the heart of the range. With Saab’s sales in a slump in nearly all of its world markets, one thing is for sure: the new 9-3 can’t arrive soon enough.

Gallery: Saab PhoeniX Concept: Geneva 2011

Saab PhoeniX ConceptSaab PhoeniX ConceptSaab PhoeniX ConceptSaab PhoeniX ConceptSaab PhoeniX Concept

Gallery: Saab Phoenix Concept

Live photos copyright (C)2011 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

2012 Saab 9-3 hatchback confirmed – but is a sedan? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 23 Mar 2011 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Confirmed: BMW M3 pickup on Nürburgring is an April Fool’s gift

Filed under: Concept Cars, Performance, Truck, Europe, BMW

BMW M3 pickup prototype on Norsdschliefe

BMW M3 pickup spy shots – Click above for high-res image gallery

We’ve gotten right to the core of the situation regarding the fly-in-the-ointment BMW M3 pickup spotted doing what M3s do around the Nürburgring last week.

In a chat with BMW’s Munich head of product communications, Dirk Arnold, he offered up this quote: “Ah, yes, everyone’s been talking about that pickup. But, no, this is… how you call it, an April Fool’s Joke” [in German “Aprilscherz” – ed.]. There will be no M3 pickup in our futures, kids. But then Arnold sort of overcommunicated to us by dangling one of those “…in this generation” qualifiers. He then also managed to immediately clarify, “It is hugely doubtful that BMW will ever during our lives produce such a vehicle, in any segment.” Oh, pooh.

What about a publicity stunt entering the one-off in the Australian V8 Ute racing series? (Honestly one of the most entertaining racing series on the planet based on our one trip to witness it.) “Well,” chortled Arnold, “we have the one unit available if they’d be interested, don’t we?”

On April 1, a press function has been organized near Munich to show off the future M5 “concept,” plus the current M3 and a whole series of unproduced M3-based prototypes, including, says Arnold, one folding hardtop variant that is not the one we all think it is. There will also be the mischievous pickup in attendance.

We then asked for a drive exclusive in Munich on April 1 with the pickup and Arnold returned our serve with “If I did that, then I’d have every journalist in the world calling me to do the same.”

Must be nice to have the largesse to build and race one-off 414-horsepower M3 variants (444-hp with the 4.4-liter V8 used in the GTS version) that will never see public roads.

Gallery: Spy Shots: BMW M3 Pickup

[Images: KGP Photography]

Confirmed: BMW M3 pickup on Nürburgring is an April Fool’s gift originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 22 Mar 2011 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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