Official: Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America

Filed under: Budget, Hybrid, Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Hatchback, Honda

2015 Honda Fit RS

2015 Honda Fit HybridHonda has officially launched the Fit sub-compact in its home market, ahead of its eventual arrival in North America. The third-generation Fit is wildly important for Honda, with the company’s president, Takanobu Ito, saying, “This is the most important model.”

The third-generation Fit is a ground-up reworking of the car that we’ve come to know. It will pioneer Honda’s new design language, Exciting H Design (seriously) and will also be the very first Fit to be manufactured in North America. Thanks to a Mexican factory that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014, Honda will be able to produce 200,000 Fits for the North American market in North America, saving the brand a huge amount of cash.

As for that Exciting H Design, it’s meant to be sleeker and more modern, according to Automotive News. It’s not bad looking, but the overall design is far less important than what’s under that hood. The vehicle you see above is a Fit RS, which has quite a resemblance to the rumored Fit Mugen. There’s not a lot of detail on this model, but based on looks alone, we certainly hope it’ll be coming to the North American market – it’d make a great Fit Sport. A hybrid variant will also come to the US market, and that car is returning impressive numbers on the Japanese cycle: 86 miles per gallon so far, thanks to the combination of an 1.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. That’s a 35-percent improvement over the current, JDM Fit Hybrid.

Indeed, if the Fit Hybrid can return anything near those numbers on the US EPA cycle, it should do well. Ito’s demands for improved economy are part of what has him believing that Honda will eventually move 1.5 million Fits by 2016. The Honda boss is also expecting the B-segment car to become the brand’s best seller, overall, surpassing the Civic, CR-V and Accord. Those are some big expectations.

Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 13:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America

Filed under: Budget, Hybrid, Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Hatchback, Honda

2015 Honda Fit RS

2015 Honda Fit HybridHonda has officially launched the Fit sub-compact in its home market, ahead of its eventual arrival in North America. The third-generation Fit is wildly important for Honda, with the company’s president, Takanobu Ito, saying, “This is the most important model.”

The third-generation Fit is a ground-up reworking of the car that we’ve come to know. It will pioneer Honda’s new design language, Exciting H Design (seriously) and will also be the very first Fit to be manufactured in North America. Thanks to a Mexican factory that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014, Honda will be able to produce 200,000 Fits for the North American market in North America, saving the brand a huge amount of cash.

As for that Exciting H Design, it’s meant to be sleeker and more modern, according to Automotive News. It’s not bad looking, but the overall design is far less important than what’s under that hood. The vehicle you see above is a Fit RS, which has quite a resemblance to the rumored Fit Mugen. There’s not a lot of detail on this model, but based on looks alone, we certainly hope it’ll be coming to the North American market – it’d make a great Fit Sport. A hybrid variant will also come to the US market, and that car is returning impressive numbers on the Japanese cycle: 86 miles per gallon so far, thanks to the combination of an 1.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. That’s a 35-percent improvement over the current, JDM Fit Hybrid.

Indeed, if the Fit Hybrid can return anything near those numbers on the US EPA cycle, it should do well. Ito’s demands for improved economy are part of what has him believing that Honda will eventually move 1.5 million Fits by 2016. The Honda boss is also expecting the B-segment car to become the brand’s best seller, overall, surpassing the Civic, CR-V and Accord. Those are some big expectations.

Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 13:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Ferrari exec to lead Jaguar North America

Filed under: Hirings/Firings/Layoffs, Jaguar, Land Rover

Jaguar has announced that Jeff Curry will be serving as the brand’s new North American vice president, effective August 13. The move is a coup for Jag, which lured Curry away from his previous posting as VP of marketing for Ferrari North America, and is further evidence of just how strong Jaguar’s comeback has gotten.

Curry has spent over 20 years in the auto industry, and has worked with Audi, SiriusXM and Land Rover, where he made his start in the industry. His primary responsibilities with Jaguar will cover marketing communications, customer relationship management, and product planning.

Jaguar Land Rover’s North American president, Andy Goss, heaped praise on the brand’s newest addition saying, “Jeff brings with him extensive automotive and luxury marketing experience, critical expertise in leading-edge technologies and a personal passion for automobiles.”

Scroll down for the official press release from Jaguar.

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Ferrari exec to lead Jaguar North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 06 Aug 2013 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2014 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year long list released

Filed under: Etc.

North American Car of the Year crystal award

Is it that time of the year again already? The 2014 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year award “long list” has just been revealed, with 29 nominees sliding into the car category and 19 up for consideration in the truck/utility space. As ever, both NACTOY lists serve to illustrate the ever-widening scope of product that our industry has to offer. Tiny electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Spark EV and luxury bruisers like the new Maserati Ghibli bookend the car list, and the truck/utility nominees continue to illustrate the growing popularity of crossovers.

Last year, the Cadillac ATS claimed the car award (the Ram 1500 took home the truck category), and this year, General Motors has a healthy crop of nominees, including two from Cadillac (CTS, ELR) and four from Chevrolet (Corvette, Impala, Spark EV, SS). On the other side of the fence, the Buick Encore and Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra twins are also vying for the coveted cut crystal. Kia and Mercedes-Benz also have a lot of vehicles up for consideration. The Korean brand is represented by the Cadenza, Forte, Soul, and Quoris on the car side, and the Sorento on the truck/utility front, while Daimler will see its B-Class, CLA-Class, E-Class and S-Class models in the mix.

As ever, the long list gets its name because it serves as broad brushstroke roundup of new or substantially updated vehicles released in time for consideration. Given the fluid nature of new vehicle releases, the long list shows which vehicles are eligible for consideration – some of them may not have been seen or driven by the NACTOY’s 50-strong juror pool yet. Select vehicles may thus fall off the list if they do not become available for judging in a timely fashion, while other vehicles not shown on the list may be still be added at this stage. Later this fall, after jurors have driven the vehicles, a first round of voting will be held, and the resulting “short list” of a dozen or so vehicles will trigger further assessment followed by another vote that will result in three finalists for each category. A final round of voting will commence, and the winners will be announced at January’s Detroit Auto Show.

Check out both lists of nominees by scrolling below, then have your say on who you think should win in Comments.

*Full Disclosure: Author is a NACTOY jury member.

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2014 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year long list released originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 23 Jul 2013 15:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ferrari FF makes North American debut at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Filed under: Performance, Hatchback, Ferrari

Ferrari FF

Ferrari FF North American Debut – Click above for high-res image gallery

Ferrari’s absence at North American auto shows the past few years has meant that its newer vehicles have made their debuts at some less conventional venues. Last year, the 458 Italia’s first U.S. appearance was at the Ferrari Challenge event at Miller Motorsports Park. This weekend, the Ferrari FF received a private showing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the Ferrari Racing Days.

In addition to the new Ferrari four-seater itself, the display showcased the numerous interior options and a full set of matching luggage. The car on hand was a European version, but retail sales of the U.S.-spec FF should begin at either the end of October or the beginning of November of this year. Only 40 cars will be available for the rest of 2011. After that, Ferrari plans on selling approximately 200 cars yearly to American buyers.

You can see our photos of the Ferrari FF at Laguna Seca in the gallery below. Check back this week for more coverage of the Ferrari Racing Days.

Ferrari FF makes North American debut at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 22 May 2011 09:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Saab picks Subaru exec as COO of North American business

Filed under: Etc., Saab, Subaru

saab badgeSaab finally has a few bucks to spend, and the Swedish automaker is doing just that by grabbing Timothy Colbeck, former Senior Vice President of Sales at Subaru. Colbeck is being thrust into the role of President and Chief Operating Officer for Saab’s North American business operations. Colbeck certainly has his work cut out for him, but a fresh capital infusion and some new models on the horizon should help.

Saab picks Subaru exec as COO of North American business originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 May 2011 16:16:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Honda to shift production schedules in North America

Filed under: Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Acura, Honda

2011 honda accord

2011 Honda Accord – Click above for high-res image gallery

Honda is continuing to adjust its production schedules in the wake of the March 11 earthquake in Japan, and the shuffling will reportedly continue at U.S. plants as well.

The plan is to run full production shifts at U.S. facilities on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from May 9 through July 1, with a single eight-hour shift added for Thursdays. With the exception of Honda’s Greensburg, Indiana plant, all U.S. facilities were running two shifts prior to parts shortages. Workers at these facilities reportedly won’t feel the pinch of the abbreviated production schedules either, as they will have the choice of staying home or completing training without a pay penalty.

Honda spokesperson Ed Miller reportedly told Automotive News the reason for the shift is that it’s more efficient to run operations that way. The automaker likely won’t make any decisions about U.S. production beyond July 1 until the situation is more clear.

On Monday, Honda announced it was suspending June and July dealer orders for the CR-Z, Civic Hybrid, Fit, Acura TSX and Acura RL. Those vehicles are built in Japan, where shortages are still severe. At this point, the Japanese automaker is expecting operations to return to normal production before the end of the year.

This is all very bad news for Honda, and it’s bad for consumers as well. It appears that Honda showrooms are likely to be very short on product for an extended period of time.

Honda to shift production schedules in North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 May 2011 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Maserati GranTurismo MC for North America unveiled

Filed under: New York Auto Show, Convertible, Coupe, Performance, Maserati

Maserati GranTurismo MC
Maserati GranTurismo MC – Click above for high-res image gallery

At the Paris Motor Show last year, Maserati pulled the veil off the GranTurismo MC Stradale – the fastest roadgoing Trident this side of the Enzo-based MC12. And while Maserati won’t be selling the MC Stradale on the Western shores of the Atlantic, it has done the next best thing.

The US-market GranTurismo MC is nearly identical to the European-market MC Stradale, save for two key differences: for one, it replaces the Stradale’s sequential gearbox with the smoother ZF automatic transmission from the standard GranTurismo, and for another, puts the rear seats that were deleted for the Stradale back in place.

Otherwise it’s the same machine, packing the same 450-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 as the MC Stradale (which also powers the new GranCabrio Sport) and the same aggressive aerodynamics package.

Maserati unveiled the GranTurismo MC (as well as the GranTurismo Convertible Sport, as the top-of-the-line convertible is known over here) at its new TriBeCa showroom in Manhattan on the eve of the New York Auto Show. Get a closer look at the GranTurismo MC in the gallery below and follow the jump for the full details in Maserati’s press release.

Gallery: Maserati GranTurismo MC

[Source: Maserati]

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Maserati GranTurismo MC for North America unveiled originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 24 Apr 2011 09:34:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee to get 3.0L diesel V6 in North America by 2013

Filed under: SUV, Europe, Jeep, Diesel, Off-Road

Jeep CRD diesel engine

Autoblog just heard it straight from the Italian-Canadian horse’s mouth: The hot new Jeep Grand Cherokee in North America will – somewhere between soon and the end of 2013 – be getting the same recently improved 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel engine that Europe gets. In the Grand Cherokee, this oil-burning powerplant is good for 237 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, the latter of which is fully delivered between 1,800 and 2,800 rpm. This is music to all Jamboree and Rubicon fanatics everywhere.

It has not been decided whether or not there might be a special six-speed manual shifter offered alongside the W5A580 five-speed overdrive automatic transmission, and an eight-speed automatic is in the works, as well. But the manual with the Quadra-Drive II transfer case on a Trail Rated Grand Cherokee would bring the glee Stateside even moreso.

Fiat Auto CEO Sergio Marchionne is fast becoming the new Bob Lutz in his ability to cast aside all carefully kept secrets of the communications team and talk about the good things that are coming. Only minutes after Jeep’s international bosses artfully skirted the issue of a common-rail diesel GC here in North America, Marchionne assured us that one would, in fact, be coming. We respect the Jeep leaders. We dig Sergio.

Not only does the latest generation of the 3.0-liter CRD engine with Multijet II management – built by VM Motori in Italy based on specifications from Fiat Powertrain Technologies – get 19-percent greater fuel efficiency than the previous mill, it produces 20-percent less CO2 emissions. Towing capacity is quoted at just over 7,700 pounds, the maximum for any current Grand Cherokee trim.

But will the Wrangler get the European 2.8-liter CRD inline-four good for 197 hp and 302 lb-ft of torque, paired with the NSG370 six-speed manual and Rubicon Rock-Trac transfer case? Because that, folks, is the holy grail item. Even Sergio was mum on this.

Gallery: Review: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Gallery photos copyright (C)2011 Zach Bowman / AOL

[Image: Matt Davis/AOL]

Jeep Grand Cherokee to get 3.0L diesel V6 in North America by 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 14 Apr 2011 13:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Jeep still considering diesels for North American market

Filed under: SUV, Jeep, Diesel

jeep cherokee overland

Jeep Cherokee Overland – Click above for high-res image gallery

On Thursday, Jeep unveiled a Mopar-modified Cherokee Overland. The safari-ready ute is actually a European market Jeep Liberty, right down to its 2.8-liter turbo diesel four-cylinder engine. The vehicle is only here for promotional purposes, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a diesel option for Jeep buyers on this side of The Pond?

The Detroit Free Press reports that Jeep President and CEO Michael Manley couldn’t agree more, but he’ll need to provide a rock-solid business case to move forward with oil burners in the States. The Jeep CEO said diesels could enter the U.S. market in two or three years if that business case is made, adding “diesel applications in the larger vehicles probably make more sense then they do in the smaller ones, purely because of the cost of the powertrains and the treatments that are required.”

Chrysler’s off-road brand already features diesel powertrains in Europe, and 80 percent of all Jeeps sold there are of the oil-burning variety. Those engines are becoming cleaner all the time as well, and the newest Euro diesels could soon also meet emissions standards in the U.S. and Canada.

We’re all for diesel-powered Jeeps, especially since the diesels tend to have similar fuel economy to a hybrid SUV, but with additional capability. And, hey… a Grand Cherokee with a 25 percent improvement in fuel economy doesn’t sound like a bad thing, either.

Gallery: Jeep Cherokee Overland

Jeep Cherokee OverlandJeep Cherokee OverlandJeep Cherokee OverlandJeep Cherokee Overland

Photos copyright (C)2011 Chris Shunk / AOL

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

Report: Jeep still considering diesels for North American market originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 08 Apr 2011 15:36:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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