Official: GM investing $167m in Spring Hill for new midsize vehicles

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Buick, GM, Earnings/Financials, UAW/Unions

General Motors' Spring Hill Assembly

General Motors has announced a large investment in its Spring Hill, Tennessee facility. The former home of Saturn production will be getting a $167 million addition to a previously announced $183 million, to cover a pair of new midsize vehicles. The investment is expected to create 1,800 jobs at the factory.

That $350 million is being divvied up for a pair of programs at Spring Hill. The first will take the bulk of the money ($223 million) and create 1,000 of the 1,800 jobs, while the other will take the remaining $127 million and generate the leftover 800 positions. But GM says the investment will cover “midsize vehicle programs.” So what could they be?

The leading candidate in our minds is a new crossover for Buick, called the Anthem, that will slot between the Encore and Enclave, but will be slightly smaller than the Equinox and Terrain. As we’ve explained, the new model will likely be the first product to sport GM’s new D2UX platform, which will eventually replace both the Delta and Theta platforms. Spring Hill is already building the Equinox, so there could be some credence to this theory.

As for the other project, well, that one is a bit more of a mystery. It seems unlikely that GM would earmark two separate funds for “midsize vehicles” only to build a pair of crossovers. Could there be a D2UX car in the works? Hopefully, we’ll find out soon.

Continue reading GM investing $167m in Spring Hill for new midsize vehicles

GM investing $167m in Spring Hill for new midsize vehicles originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 06 Aug 2013 18:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: McLaren takes P1 up the hill at Goodwood with contest winner in tow

Filed under: Motorsports, Coupe, Performance, Videos, Toys/Games, McLaren

McLaren P1 on the Goodwood Festival of Speed course for the Forza McLaren Ride

Andrew Freeman is proof that video games will take you places. That’s not really news, we suppose, considering the success of Nissan and the GT Academy, which takes talented gamers and turns them into full-blooded racecar drivers. Freeman’s case is a bit different, though, as it was more deduction than a blistering lap that got him a seat in a McLaren P1.

Freeman won his spot by taking part in the Forza McLaren Ride, a Facebook contest where he had to watch the trailer for Forza Motorsport 5, then use a map of the circuit shown in the video and figure out where the starting grid was at. The person closest would win a free trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and would be the first person from outside the McLaren organization to ride in a P1, with McLaren’s head test driver, Chris Goodwin, at the wheel. And to top it off, they’d be tackling the Earl of March’s driveway.

Take a full look at the video of Freeman and his trip below.

Continue reading McLaren takes P1 up the hill at Goodwood with contest winner in tow

McLaren takes P1 up the hill at Goodwood with contest winner in tow originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 05 Aug 2013 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Highlights from the Goodwood Festival of Speed, including the McLaren P1 and a Ford Transit running the hill

Filed under: Motorsports, Classics, Europe, Videos, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Peugeot, UK, McLaren

The sole purpose of this post is as a time-waster, and since you shouldn’t have to work to waste time, we’ve done it for you. In the numerous videos below you’ll find cars that have lately been in the news tramping all over the grounds of Lord March’s estate in Goodwood, England.

There’s the McLaren P1 heading up the hill, the Jaguar Project 7, then a casually-driven Porsche 917 followed by an even-more-casually-driven Porsche 956, topped off by a Porsche 936 that is anything but casually driven. The next round is the flame-spitting Peugeot 405 T16 Pikes Peak from Climb Dance, a camera mounted on the Peugeot RCZ R after it showing you what the whole, uninterrupted run up the hill looks like. For a real head-turner, we couldn’t embed it but there’s Andy Reid blasting up the hill in a Ford Transit Supervan with a Cosworth 3000 V6 engine.

The modern racing contingent has Allan McNish doing the hill in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro he used to win Le Mans and Lewis Hamilton making lots of tire smoke in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas MGP-W02. For comparison, that’s followed by Nick Heidfeld’s record-setting run up the hill in 1999 in the McLaren MP4/14 . The classic racing contingent is headlined by 71-year-old Giacomo Agostini on an MV Agusta.

Finally, there are the miscellaneous exhaust notes of all kinds of supercars headed to the start for the supercar run. You’ll find it all below. Enjoy.

Continue reading Highlights from the Goodwood Festival of Speed, including the McLaren P1 and a Ford Transit running the hill

Highlights from the Goodwood Festival of Speed, including the McLaren P1 and a Ford Transit running the hill originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Jul 2013 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Practice Day 3

Filed under: Motorsports, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Specialty, Electric, Racing

2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

The third practice day of the 91st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is done. While the other classes got running time on the middle and top sections of the course, qualifying times were set on the bottom section of the course for the Open, Open Wheel, Electric, Exhibition and Vintage classes.

Everyone managed to keep it on the black stuff today, Greg Tracy setting the fastest time ahead of Hiroshi Masuoka, both men driving the Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II four-wheel-drive prototype. Not even half a second behind Masuoka came Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima in his Monster Sport E-Runner, who has taken about 18 seconds off his time since the first practice day. Rod Millen was the fourth fastest on the day in his Toyota TMG EV POO2.

Topping the Open Wheel class was Clint Vahsholtz, followed by Donner Billingsley, Andy Figueroa and Rodney O’Maley. The only driver in that class not to be given a time today was Dan Novembre. Kenshiro Gushi took the Exhibition class today as his Lexus IS F CCS-R made it up the mountain in 4:27.248, followed by Sage Marie in the Honda CR-Z at 5:19.591. Simon Pagenaud and his Honda Odyssey weren’t classified.

Layne Schranz nabbed the top time for Pikes Peak Open runners in his 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Randy Schranz behind him in his Shelby Cobra, Jeff MacPherson right behind in his Porsche 914-8. The old-timers in the Vintage division were lead by Christopher Lennon in a 1973 Porsche 911 RSR, Ralf Christensson two seconds behind him in a 1967 Ford Fastback GT350. The final times and running order will be released after tomorrow’s qualifying, at about 5 pm Mountain time. As of now, five cars have dropped out – in some cases literally – of the original 69-car field, and 83 bikes remain of the 86 entrants.

Further up the mountain the Time Attack and Unlimited runners were practicing in the middle section of the course. Paul Dallenbach led the Time Attack field in Rhys Millen’s Hyundai Genesis Coupe from last year with a time of 2:33, then came the two Porsches of Jeff Zwart at 2:38 and David Donner at 2:40

At the top of the field, the Sébastien Loeb again led the timesheets with a 2:12, and was again followed by Romain Dumas at 2:26. Third place went to Dayraut in the monster Mini at 2:29.

Rhys Millen hasn’t got a mention yet because he didn’t run today. His Hyundai PM580T had an engine problem last night and the team decided to put in a brand new motor. They only finished doing that this morning while the others were running, then spent the day testing at an oval/road course near Colorado Springs to make sure everything’s good to go for tomorrow. He’ll be back on the mountain tomorrow, and we’ll be back with a report then.

Tomorrow’s practice will have all of the bike divisions qualifying on the bottom of the course while the other classes get their settings dialed in for race day on Sunday. To watch or listen to the race live on Sunday, June 30, Red Bull TV will be streaming the entire event here, and you can listen on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM. If you insist on total coverage, feel free to follow the Pikes Peak Facebook and Twitter pages. For live timing and results, go here. If you lose all those links, just go to the Pikes Peak site and click the Follow Live tab at the top of the page. The live stream on Red Bull TV starts at 7 am Mountain time (6 am PST / 9 am EST), the green-flag party kicks off at 8 am Mountain Time.

2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Practice Day 3 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 27 Jun 2013 21:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Practice Day 2

Filed under: Motorsports

2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Practice Day 2 is in the books, and qualifying times have been recorded for the Unlimited and Time Attack classes for the 2013 edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The quickest man on the mountain is none other than Sébastien Loeb, who set a blistering pace with a 3:26.153, recorded on the bottom third of the mountain on his second and final run of the day.

The second-fastest qualifying time was set by Romain Dumas at 3:43.556, a full 17 seconds behind Loeb. Rhys Millen, last year’s champion, did not record a second qualifying lap today, so it’s not clear exactly where he will stand on Sunday when the actual race is slated to take place (probably in third place, which is where his first timed qualifying run would place him).

David Donner sits just ahead of Paul Dallenbach and Jeff Zwart in the Time Attack class, ahead of several Unlimited competitors. In the Electric class, which ran the middle portion of the track this morning, Hiroshi Masuoka sits in the lead, followed by Greg Tracy, Rod Millen and perennial favorite Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima.

Check out some of the action from today’s practice session in our live image gallery above. We have photos from the Unlimited, Time Attack, Electric, Vintage, Exhibition and Open classes for your viewing pleasure.

2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Practice Day 2 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Jun 2013 19:14:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Mulally urges Capitol Hill to adopt national fuel standard

Filed under: Government/Legal, Ford

ford ceo alan mulally

Will there be one fuel standard to rule them all? Ford CEO Alan Mulally certainly hopes so, and he’s letting Washington know. As manufacturers spend time and money pushing to reach established Corporate Average Fuel Economy goals, some states are looking to set their own rules. That could prove to be a tricky – and hugely expensive – proposition for the automakers.

We know we said “some states,” but you all know the one we’re talking about. California is (once again) considering the idea of setting its own average fuel economy rules starting in 2017, and the federal government is (once again) considering letting them. Currently, California and the federal government agree that fleet-wide fuel efficiency will be required to hit 34.1 miles per gallon starting in 2012, a figure that runs through 2016.

As part of a visit to D.C. this week, Mulally told House members and Bill Daley, White House Chief of Staff (among others), that he wants the government to step up and standardize fuel economy and emissions rules, which would prevent states from breaking out their own guidelines.

Mulally urges Capitol Hill to adopt national fuel standard originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Jun 2011 18:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Unmodified Nissan Leaf entered in Pikes Peak Hill Climb [w/videos]

Filed under: Motorsports, Hatchback, Nissan, Electric

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf – Click above for high-res image gallery

“With electric automobiles popping up like dandelions across the landscape of American driving, it’s no surprise that they will be part of the field at the 89th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 26.”

So says the press release you’ll find waiting for your prying eyes after the break. While it’s true that we’re not exactly surprised that an electric car will make its way up to the top of the historic hill – there was, after all, a dedicated electric vehicle class for 2010 – we are a little curious whether a completely stock Nissan Leaf has any chance of dethroning current EV Hill Climb record holder Ikuo Hanawa of Japan.

Certainly, Leaf driver Chad Hord knows what he’s doing, as he currently pilots an off-road racing truck in the TORC series. In any case, we’ll find out soon enough if the Leaf’s 110 horsepower and 90-mile-per-hour top speed has the stuff to hang with the purpose-built EV racers; Hanawa will again contest the championship in his Concept two-wheel drive 2010 Custom Summit HER-02.

Oh, and about that dandelion thing… those are generally unwanted guests of those who actually care about keeping a lush carpet of green in their yards. Maybe not the way lovers of automotive greenery want to think of their rides, eh? Check out the complete press release after the break for all the details, and spend a few minutes watching Hanawa’s record-setting HER-02 do its thing on the Peak.

Gallery: 2010 Nissan LEAF

[Source: Pikes Peak International Hill Climb]

Continue reading Unmodified Nissan Leaf entered in Pikes Peak Hill Climb [w/videos]

Unmodified Nissan Leaf entered in Pikes Peak Hill Climb [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 25 Apr 2011 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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AdSpotting: Jeep Compass “Bloodlines” has a steep hill to climb

Filed under: Marketing/Advertising, Crossover, Chrysler, Jeep

Jeep Compass Bloodlines ad

Jeep Compass Bloodlines ad – Click above to watch after the jump

Company: Chrysler LLC

Brand: Jeep

Medium: TV

Ad Agency: GlobalHue

Product: 2011 Jeep Compass

Campaign: Bloodlines

What We Like: The editing and look of the ad fits with the excellent Jeep Grand Cherokee ads that agency Wieden & Kennedy created last year. There is an urban feel to this TV spot that is probably fitting for a vehicle like Compass, which has not had much positive said or written about since it first hit showrooms in 2007. There is authority, emotion and value in the Jeep brand, and re-igniting that for consumers is a good idea.

What We Don’t Like: Now for the bad news. For people who know Jeep and the Compass, not to mention the new Hawaii Five-O TV show, this ad has a lot of problems. For sure, the Compass has been much improved for the 2011 model year. We are not only impressed with what the new Chrysler team managed with a new interior and trim, but with how we were able to crawl snow-covered creek beds in Wyoming when we tested the new car. But the bones of this vehicle are highly suspect to the real Jeep fan and student of the brand. “Iconic beauty,” reads the voiceover in the ad. “A legendary bloodline.” To people who know something about the Compass, that is way, way, way over the top. There isn’t anything in common between the Compass and the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is a terrific piece of work, except the logo and some talented, passionate engineers who did the best they could with the marginal vehicle they started with.

And in making the “Bloodlines” case… Laila Ali? Seriously? And actor Scott Caan? Not only are these two figures the barest shadows of their fathers (wait…maybe they do work for this ad), but in the only role Scott Caan is really known for (with respect to the reborn Oceans franchise, we’re talking about the new Hawaii Five-O), he is completely linked to a Chevy Camaro, part of the product placement deal General Motors worked out, which has Chevrolet vehicles all over the show. In one recent show, both Caan and the bad guy were driving Camaros. And Caan’s character, Danno, would never be caught driving a Compass.

Strategy: Play up the brand equity of the Jeep brand for all the products even if some of the current products don’t measure up. We can see how the company and agency arrived at this idea. After all, they have to sell the Compass for another 16 months or so until an all-new vehicles come in to replace it. The Compass has had very little cred in the marketplace, especially with repeat Jeep buyers. This may be the only way to juice up sales a little for the rest of the time it is marketed. The new Compass is much improved, and should get a more serious look from would-be Subaru Legacy buyers. But the halo placed on this model is a bit too much for us.

Grade: C

Watch the commercial after the jump and give it your own grade below.

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Continue reading AdSpotting: Jeep Compass “Bloodlines” has a steep hill to climb

AdSpotting: Jeep Compass “Bloodlines” has a steep hill to climb originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 08 Apr 2011 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Geneva 2011: Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate Edition takes its place as king of the hill

Filed under: SUV, Geneva Motor Show, Land Rover, Luxury, Off-Road

Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate Edition

Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate Edition – Click above for high-res image gallery

Back in the days before every luxury automaker and its sister (company) got into SUVs, there was one name in the premium off-roading game: Range Rover. And keen to prove it’s still at the top, Land Rover unveiled the Ultimate incarnation of its premier line at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

Called, appropriately enough, the Ultimate Edition, this top-of-the-line Range Rover is based on the already luxed-up Autobiography trim. Sure to be the new must-have item among oligarchs and oil barons, the Ultimate Edition is kitted out like a Rolls-Royce Phantom but with the added distinction of being able to take its pampered occupants anywhere a mountain goat can go.

There are individual rear bucket seats and tray tables like the first-class cabin on an airliner, a drink cooler, a teak-deck cargo area and – in what’s billed as an industry first – a pair of Apple iPad tablets mounted to the front seat-backs (for the use by rear passengers). Journalists and VIPs alike were clamoring for a chance to sit in the ultra-luxurious sport-ute, but we managed to capture the salient points for your viewing enjoyment with the gallery of high-resolution images below, and can tell you first-hand that it’s every bit as posh as Land Rover says it is. High-res galleries of all the sybaritic luxury below, official press release after the jump.

Gallery: 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate Edition: Geneva 2011

Gallery: Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate Edition

Live photos copyright (C)2011 Noah Joseph / AOL

Continue reading Geneva 2011: Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate Edition takes its place as king of the hill

Geneva 2011: Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate Edition takes its place as king of the hill originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 03 Mar 2011 14:41:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Icy Pittsburgh hill claims half a dozen cars

Filed under: Etc., Videos

Icy hill in Pittsburgh causes vehicular mahem

Icy Pittsburgh hill becomes the scene of automotive carnage – Click above to watch video after the jump
The east coast is under attack. The assailant? Mother Nature. Snow and rain continue to hammer this part of the nation, and when a downhill section of a road in the Pittsburgh town of Squirrel Hill became covered in ice yesterday, vehicular mayhem ensued.

Less a road and now more an Olympic-spec bobsled run, motorists had a hard time competing against physics and slick asphalt. Fortunately, no one was injured and a camera was rolling to capture the carnage as the hill consumed about a half dozen vehicles. Follow the jump to watch the clip, and when you do, remember this winter driving tip: Sometimes your brakes can actually work against you.

[Source: YouTube]

Continue reading Video: Icy Pittsburgh hill claims half a dozen cars

Video: Icy Pittsburgh hill claims half a dozen cars originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 19 Jan 2011 12:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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