Maserati plans to roll out a compact crossover?

Luxury car manufacturer Maserati has made it loud and clear that it wants to deliver 50,000 units yearly by the middle of this decade. That is about ten times of the current sales figures. In order to achieve the monumental goal, the Italian brand plans to introduce several key models The new vehicles will include two models in segments that it has never served before.

Harald Wester, CEO of Maserati, confirmed the launch of at least five models through 2015. The first of the vehicles will be the 2014 Quattroporte that will hit showrooms by early 2013. This will be followed by the Ghibli mid-size sedan that will use a shortened platform of the Quattroporte.

MaseratiBy 2014, Maserati is set to launch the Levante which will be the production version of the Kubang concept. This SUV uses the same platform used for the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It is not yet clear if the Levante SUV will be produced in Italy or will it be built in Jeep’s factory in Detroit. Most likely some portions of the production will be done in Detroit but the vehicle will be finished in Maserati’s headquarters in Italy.

Come 2015, Maserati will introduce the replacement for its GranTurismo. It will most likely borrow the DNA from the platform being used for its Quattroporte. It will also be a year for the roll out of Maserati’s new sports car, most likely a GranSport that will compete with the Porsche 911 and the likes of Jaguar F-Type.

There is also a loud buzz that a sixth vehicle is also on the drawing boards. According to reports, it might be a Maserati compact crossover that will be introduced to the market before the end of 2015. There are speculations that it will use the platform of the new Jeep Liberty and will most likely sport a turbocharged V-6 from the Quattroporte. If this will be the case, it will go on a head on collision with the likes of Porsche Macan.

BMW turns to U.S. market for help as sales in Europe drop

The economic crisis in Europe has been hurting car sales. This year, the car industry will most likely see the biggest drop in sales in a year in almost 19 years. With the dramatic drop in car sales and slowing markets in Asia, BMW is hoping to get a good boost from its dealers in the United States.

The German carmaker has recently shifted its inventor to the United States. A recent report confirms that thousands of vehicles meant for the European and Asian market were redirected to the United States. The demand for the Munich-made cars is still very high in the U.S.

The move was made possible by modern production processes. This means that vehicles are built by manufacturers to pass emission and safety standards in multiple markets instead of a specific country. This gives brands a better flexibility in case of economic slow downs.

Last September, BMW was able to deliver 234,928 units to consumers in the United States, a good 7.1% increase from the same period last year. The sales does not show any sign that it will be slowing down even with the struggling economy. So far, the car industry in the US might be able to sell a million more cars than it did back in 2011.

Every well has a bottom though, and it will not be a very good move to over supply dealers. In case the market slows down, those who are still in the hunt for a bimmer or other luxury brands may find themselves with a lot of options, and BMW dealers willing to negotiate to chop the inventory.

Lexus reveals pricing for 2013 ES350 and ES 300h

The Lexus 2013 ES 350 and its cousin the ES 300h is not scheduled to arrive in showrooms until August but in preparation for its official roll out, the car manufacturer announced recently the tag price of the vehicles in case you want them in your garage. The ES 350 kicks off at $36,100 not inclusive of destination charge. The ES 300h goes for $38,850 plus destination charges.

The tag price of the ES 350 places it on top of the 3-Series of BMW, Cadillac CTS, and the C-Class of Mercedes. None of these competitors though offer hybrids with a similar price tag. The Audi A6 comes close at roughly $5,000 higher than the ES 350 but without a hybrid version.

The 2013 Lexus ES is very much competitive looking at its price. Now you might ask about the gas mileage, power, and its other features.

The ES35 retures 21 mpg and 31 impg for city and highway driving, respectively, or 24 miles per gallon combined. The ES 300h is even better at 40 mpg for city driving and 39 mpg when cruising in the highway or a combined rating of 40 mpg. The hybrid though does not sport the 3.5L V-6 that the ES 350 has but instead depend on a 2.5L four-cylinder engine and its hybrid tandem that has a total output of 200 horsepower.

While the American and German counterparts are almost at par in terms of power with the ES 350 and come close to its gas mileage, they do not have a front-wheel drive configuration. This factor is a big one for some buyers but is a non-issue for those who go for comfort.

The ES also boasts of excellent safety features. There are 10 airbags as standard. There is also an option for a monitor system to detect traffic that may come from a blind spot. There is also an option for lane-departure warning, road side assistance, and automatic detection system for obstacles that maybe missed by the driver prior to a collision.

Audi officially buys Ducati

audi-buys-bucatiAudi recently announced that it has reached an agreement to purchase the Italian sports bike manufacturer Ducati to confirm earlier reports. The German carmaker said the transaction for the acquisition of Ducati will be completed as soon as necessary authorizations are granted.

Audi did not disclose the details of the purchase of the Ducati from the Investindustrial Spa but according to sources, the four-ring car brand paid around 860 million to 1.13 billion euros.

Rupert Standler, the topman of Audi commented that Ducati is a premium motorcycle brand that is very popular across the globe and has a long history of building sporty bikes. Ducati also has expertise in using lightweight material construction and powerful engines, and is among the most profitable sport bike manufacturers in the world. And because of all these, Ducati will be an excellent part of Audi.

Experts though are questioning the purchase and doubt what Ducati can contribute for Audi or the Volkswagen Group as a whole. Some say that the Ducati brand does not warrant a good business case for the car manufacturer. The business forecasters also say that the Ducati will just be a trophy in the cabinet for Aud and will not improve its business model.

Ducati is another major Italian brand to be purchased by the Volkswagen Group following the acquisition of Italdesign and Lamborghini.

The Italian motorcycle brand is headquartered in Bologna but also has a production plant in Thailand. In 2011, Ducati delivered 42,000 units and has a revenue of about $361 million. It has an employee base of 1,100 people.

Volvo’s 2012 S60 perfects safety test of NHTSA

According to the latest report of the NHTSA or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2012 MY of the Volvo S60 is the second vehicle to garner perfect scores to each of their crash testing evaluation.

The S60 received 5 stars for the protection of its driver and its front passenger for the frontal crash at 35 mph test, protection of its driver and its rear passenger for the side impact test at 38.5 mph, and protection of the driver during the side impact test at 20 mph which simulates a slide to a tree or a pole.

The NHTSA has tested 73 cars released as 2012 models and so far about 21 of these vehicles have earned an overall grade of 5 stars for safety but aside from the Camaro of Chevrolet, only the Volvo S60 has perfected the ratings for each of the sub-section.

The safety standards of the NHTSA has been more stringent after a lot of 2011 model cars aced their standards. The crash tests of the NHSTA serves as a complementary test to the evaluations done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety which tests similar but not entirely the same crash scenarios.

Some newly posted scores on the NHTSA website tag the Hyundai Sta Fe and the Jeep Liberty with a low score of 3 of 5 stars. The compact SUV from Hyundai did not do well on the side impact protection for the rear passenger. The Jeep Liberty was got a ding for the side and frontal impact tests.

So far only six of the 73 tested 2012 MY vehicles have garnered three stars but four of these vehicles are scheduled for a redesign or for axing from their respective lineups. Most cars were given 4 stars like the Honda Fit and the Subaru Outback.

Check out the videos below to have an idea how these tests go:

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BMW set to introduce diesel models for M-division lineup

BMW is set to roll out a new line up of diesel models built for performance for their M-division this year. This M-division vehicles are set to make their debut during the motor show in Geneva this March.

First in the pipeline is the X5 M50d 4-wheel drive and the X6 M50d which are set to arrive this June. The rear drive versions of the M550d saloon and the Touring M550d which are designed for the UK and other markets using the right hand drive setup will be released by October.

The four vehicles is a first for the M-Division of BMW with all of them running on the newly engineered 6-cylinder 3.0L that runs on diesel. The new engine has an induction system with triple turbo which according to BMW insiders will set the new bar for performance and efficiency for the combustion engines in petrol or diesel formats.

The new vehicles will be the basis for the range of M Performance models. These line up will be marketed in between the top of the line standard BMW models and the M models based on their dynamic ability, performance, equipment and pricing. Like the M550d saloon, for example, will be placed between the M5 and the 550i.

The new diesel engine developed for the range of M Performance vehicles outguns the in-line six 3.0L twin turbo engine that is already widely used. It can output 376 bhp while revving 4000 thru 4400 rpm and a torque of 5545 pound feet while revving at 2000 thru 3000 rpm.

These numbers show that the new engine is 74 bhp more powerful and 103 lb feet more potent than the existing 3.0L six twin turbo, and when fitted to BMW’s 740d it gives out 126 bhp and a torque of 182 lb ft which on standards for diesel engines are very good numbers.

Although the M5 4.4L V8 petrol engine is 176 bhp more powerful, the M550d has 44 pound feet more torque.

The new engine for the M Performance units are coupled with the improved version of the automatic gearbox with eight speeds. This set up brings the M550d xDrive from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in just 4.7 seconds which is just 0.3 second slower than the M5. The saloon has a fuel mileage pegged at 44.8 miles per gallon for a combined cycle and a 165 g/km of carbon dioxide.

The M Performance units will receive subtle changes in styling so they can be distinguished from their M-car and standard BMW siblings.

Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG tweaked by Vath

Bavarian tuning firm Vath got their hands on the Mercedes CLS63 AMG and upgrades its chassis, exterior, and engine. Packages start at $1,000.

The highlight of the effort is on the V63RS kit which tunes the ECU of the 5.5L V8 engine and its Vmax chips resulting to an output of 649 horsepower and a monstrous torque of 708 pound feet. The team from Vath shared that the improved engine can get the CLS63 AMG running from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. The top speed was improved to 202 mph.

The Vath V63RS kit has a tag price of $17,700 which also includes an exhaust system fabricated from stainless steel and a cooling system using charge-air.

Owners can also get the upgrades separately. The most basic of these upgrades is the suspension kit which lowers the ride by as much as 1.6 inches. Another option is to get a set of forged ally wheels hugged by 265/30ZR20 wheels in front and 305/25ZR20 for the rear.

To improve the aerodynamics of the car, you can get a deck-lid spoiler, front airdam, rear diffuser, and under-floor extension.

The interior upgrades involve a sport steering wheel in leather, wood, or carbon, accents made of carbon-fiber, and tachometer which has extended range.

Subaru XV model to debut at Frankfurt Motor Show

Japanese car maker Subaru has recently released a teaser image of a brand new model that will debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This new crossover model is called the Subaru XV which took after the XV Concept design that was shown earlier this year at the 2011 Shanghai Motor Show.

According to the official statement that was issued by the Japanese car maker, the new model, Subaru XV will be the image of the new generation of the brand’s crossover product line. The statement also traced the model’s origin back to the concept car that was shown last April at the Shanghai Motor Show, where the concept was warmly received globally because of its trendy and distinct look. The concept car that was shown was recognized because of its urban-friendly but commanding and elegant look.

The brand new Subaru XV model is a five-seater crossover unit that comes with a 2.0-liter V4 Horizontally-Opposed DOHC engine. The power plant is attached to a Lineartronic CVT gearbox. No official word on the power train’s specifications, power output figures and performance yet. The same thing can be said with interiors and exterior details so we have to wait for the official technical details of its production.

The Subaru XV will make its debut appearance at the Frankfurt Motor Show this year so keep your eyes and your ears tuned for more details about this Subaru newbie that will redefine the crossover product line of the Japanese car brand.

Ford gives green light for next gen Focus RS

Ford gives its go signal for the production of the RS high performance version of the Ford Focus. This was according to a recent interview of Herman Gunnar, top executive for C segment models for German vehicle line.

The previous Ford Focus RS has an output of 305 horsepower on a front wheel drive. The car pretty much fits into the World Rally Championship thanks to its excellent handling attributed to the RevoKnuckle suspension setup.

The team developing the Ford RS will most likely stick with the front wheel drive configuration for the new version according to Hermann. He also denied earlier speculations that the Ford RS will be made into a hybrid vehicle that will use electric motors for the rear wheels.

Ford will also stick with the two wheel drive setup for the new Ford RS which worked well for its older sibling.

The Ford executive also added that the the new RS will be more powerful than the previous release and that power will be sustainable. He pointed to the RS500 limited edition for the UK that has 350 horsepower and the more potent ones even reaching 380 horsepower.

The vehicle is expected to roll out the Ford factories by 2014. It will retain the current RevoKnuckle suspension system and will make use of the 2.0L 4-cylinder Ford EcoBoost powerplant.

Ferrari’s first hybrid car spotted on a test drive

The recently revealed prototype of Ferrari’s first ever hybrid supercar is sure proof that the model will soon roll out in showrooms. Maranello, the home of Ferrari S.p.A. in Italy first talked about the hybrid supercar in the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. This was when the Italian carmaker first unveiled its Hybrid Concept which stemmed off from the base 599 model. Ferrari is aiming to fine tune its hybrid technology so it could bring down their CO2 emission from 310g/km in 2011 to about 240g/km by 2018.

The Ferrari’s two-seater hybrid supercar was spotted on a driving test site in Germany. The car has a red-and-white pre-reg Germnan plates, which sort of revealed its secret identity to the spy photographers who were on the scout for the Prova ID plates that other Ferrari prototypes carry. While Ferrari is adamant about confirming any rumors, the alleged prototype also carries an “S” on its plate, which suggests a Stuttgart registration where Bosch is located. Bosch is the high-end automotive technology works with Ferarri in the software and engineering aspects of the hybrid supercar.

The 599 Hybrid Concept car that was presented last year had an additional 100kg to its curb weight due to the electric equipment. However, the Italian brand has no doubt that the 599’s performance remains at 0-100mph in 10.4 seconds. A wickedly fast Traction Control System” is also in the works. With this on board, it helps reverse the torque of the electric motor. An “Electric Torque Shaping” system is also in production.

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