$14 Billion Auto Bailout Faces Serious Opposition in Senate

The U.S. House may have approved the Bush administration's $14 billion emergency bailout plan for Detroit's Big Three late Wednesday, however the bill's fate is uncertain as it still needs to win the support of the Senate. And the omens aren't good for the American automakers. On Thursday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, talked against the bailout plan that would help General Motors, Chrysler LLC and to a lesser extent, Ford Motor Company, survive the economic crunch over the next few months. Mr McConnel labeled the proposal "not nearly tough enough" on the car sector.

In order for the measure to advance in the Senate, it has to collect 60 votes. Democrats who support the bill, currently hold a 50 to 49 majority in the Senate. On Wednesday's vote, the House passed the $14 billion loan package relatively easy with 237 votes to 170. The measure was supported by 205 Democrats and 32 Republicans who came from States depending on the auto industry while 150 Republicans and 20 Democrats voted against it.

"Even if we grant these companies would fail without taxpayer help, we would still have to ask ourselves whether the proposals before us achieve the goal that everyone claims to embrace, namely the long-term viability of ailing car companies," McConnell said. "In my view, it does not."

"The best route for long term viability for auto companies may be a rocky one," he added referring to a o bankruptcy solution. "Government help is not the only option. It may not be the best option."

Source: Freep

Mercedes to Unveil Concept BlueZero in Detroit - Previews 2010 B-Class

Mercedes-Benz, or to be exact, German car magazine Autobild, has released a series of sketches previewing the "Concept BlueZero" that will allegedly make its worldwide debut at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 11. The all-electric concept car is said to give us a first taste of the next generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class that's scheduled to hit dealerships in early 2010. The most anticipated version of the luxury 5-door hatch will be a fuel-cell powered variant which is expected to go on sale during 2010. According to Mercedes-Benz, it will be the first series production model to be offered with such a drivetrain.

The 2010 B-Class Fuel Cell model will be powered by a new generation of fuel-cell drive that is much more compact than other systems while at the same time offering better performance and, according to Mercedes, will be completely suitable for everyday use.

The electric motor used on the prototype B-Class Fuel-Cell develops a maximum output of 136HP and a torque figure of 320 Nm. Merc's engineers claim that the fuel cell model will give better acceleration figures than a B-Class fitted with a standard 2.0-liter petrol engine while consuming the equivalent of just 2.9 liters of fuel (diesel equivalent) per 100 km or 81.1 mpg US.

Via: Autobild

BMW M-Model Sales More Than 50% Up in the first 11 Months of 2008!

BMW M Models Crisis? What crisis? While most car manufactures around the world are seeing their sales plummet in 2008, BMW's M-Division is flourishing in this harsh economic environment having exceeded the previous year's equivalent figures during the first 11 months of 2008 by over 50 per cent! From January to November 2008, BMW has sold 22,340 M-Model cars worldwide compared to 14,092 vehicles in the same period in 2007. In November 2008 alone some 1,900 BMW M automobiles were delivered around the globe. As long ago as August 2008 the worldwide sales figures of BMW M GmbH reached 16,150 units, thus surpassing last year's total figure of 16,128 units.

BMW M Models "The fact that our dealers were able to supply significantly more vehicles than the average of the last nine months even in such dramatic times for the world economy demonstrates the fascination and attraction which BMW M automobiles exercise on our customers," said Ludwig Willisch, President of BMW M GmbH.

A major contribution to BMW M's runaway success in 2008 has been the introduction of the all-new M3 which is now offered in three body variations (Coupe, Sedan and Convertible). The high-performance sports car sold almost twice as well in its first year of production than its predecessor model did within the same period.

Currently, BMW M offers seven models that include three body types of the M3, the BMW M5 Sedan and Touring as well as the M6 Coupe and M6 Convertible.

Overall, BMW brand sales in 2008 for the first 11 months of the year, are down 3.5% compare to the same period in 2007 to 1,105,112 units.

BMW M Models

Suzuki Prices the Equator Pickup Truck from $17,985

2009 Equator Pickup Truck Suzuki has released pricing information for its Nissan Frontier-based, Equator mid-size pickup truck which will be available in the States in both Extended Cab and Crew Cab body styles with rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive options. Prices start from $17,995 for the Equator Extended Cab and for those of you wondering, the base-price for the Nissan Frontier is $17,460. The most expensive version of the Equator is the Crew Cab RMZ-4 which carries a starting MSRP of $29,325 and offers an optional moto-style bed extender.

The new mid-size pickup truck from Suzuki is offered with two engines, a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 152 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque and an available 4.0-liter, V6 engine producing 261HP with 281 lb.-ft. of torque. The Equator comes equipped with either a five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission or five-speed manual gearbox which is available only on four-cylinder models.

2009 Equator Pickup Truck
2009 Equator Pickup Truck
2009 Equator Pickup Truck

GM Studying European Recharging Infrastructure for Plug-In EVs

General Motors Europe and Spain's Iberdrola which is a leading private electric utilities worldwide and the largest renewable energy operator in the world, have signed an agreement to jointly perform a feasibility study to examine the technical requirements of a recharging infrastructure for the integrated marketing and viability of plug-in electric cars like GM's forthcoming Volt. The main areas of the study will be carried out in Spain and the United Kingdom with the two firms analyzing the requirements for the location of plug sockets in private homes and offices, and public or private parking, and for the installation of electricity meters.

In a joint-statement, GM Europe and Iberdrola said that in case the outcome of the viability study is positive, "both companies anticipate to evaluate possible agreements with the different European, national, regional and local governments, to support the implementation of this initiative".

Video: Marcus Gronholm Drives the New 305HP Ford Focus RS

Spectators at the final stage of day two at last weekend's Wales Rally GB had the chance to see Ford's highly anticipated Focus RS in motion as former double World Rally Champion and ex-Ford WRC driver Marcus Gronholm took the 305HP hatchback for as spin at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Before showing off the new Focus RS, Ford also gave spectators a blast from the past with a parade of previous generation RS models including the first Escort and the Sierra Cosworth. The new flagship Focus RS which goes on sale in Europe early in Spring 2009, is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine producing 305HP and 440Nm peak torque. Follow the jump for the video or click here to check out our gallery with 42 photos of the production RS in blue.

Opel Antara Available with Front-Wheel Drive: €2,000 Savings Over 4WD

Opel Antara FWDFollowing in the footsteps of VW and its FWD Tiguan, Opel is now offering front-wheel drive versions of its Antara soft-roader (sold in States as the Saturn Vue) in Europe. Ditching the four-wheel drive hardware saves weight, reduces frictional losses and most importantly for buyers, has significant cost savings. The Antara front-wheel drive is available with Opel's Common Rail Turbo diesel 2.0-liter CDTI with 127HP as well as the 2.4 liter gasoline engine that cranks out 140HP. Regardless of the motor chosen, the price of the front-wheel drive is €2,000 (around $2,600 U.S.) less than Antara's all-wheel version. In Germany, prices for the gasoline Antara FWD start from €25, 970, while the diesel sells for €27,880.

According to Opel, 127 hp-strong 2.0 CDTI common rail diesel versions needs 7.3 liters to travel 100km (32.2 mpg U.S.) and sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 11.5 sec. The 140HP 2.4 liter gasoline variant reaches a speed of 100 km/h from a standstill in 11.6 seconds it and needs 9.3 liters of gas to travel 100km (25.2 mpg U.S.).

New Mazda3 Hatchback to Make North American Debut at Detroit Show

With all the drop outs at the 2009 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), any news, is good news. Mazda on its behalf has confirmed that the all-new Mazda3 5-door hatchback that made its world premiere at the Bologna Show earlier this month, will make its North American debut at NAIAS which will be held in Detroit from January 11 through January 25, 2009. Like its sedan sibling, the U.S.-spec Mazda hatchback will be offered with a choice of two 4-cylinder engines, a 2.0-liter unit with 148HP and a new 2.5-liter unit with 167HP.

Suzuki Announces New COO

Japan's Suzuki Motor Corporation today announced a high-level management change with the appointment of Osamu Suzuki as the company's new president and COO -short for Chief Operating Officer. Osama Suzuki, who is also the firm's chairman and CEO (Chief Executing Officer) replaces Hiroshi Tsuda, who recently resigned due to health reasons, but will continue with SMC in the role of advisor. Furthermore, Suzuki appointed Senior Managing Executive Officers Takashi Nakayama, Takao Hirosawa and Minoru Tamura as new representative board members.

Mazda Launches Limited Edition Mazda2 with a Sporty Flair

The Mazda2 “Fit for Fun” is a new special edition model that will be marketed in Germany with production limited to 400 examples. The “Fit for Fun” is based on the Mazda2 with the 86HP 1.3-liter MZR engine and its most prominent feature is the sport package that includes dark headlamps, a front apron, rear wing, painted grille, side skirts and dark grey 16-inch alloy wheels. The model also features a higher level of standard equipment with features such as automatic climate control, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with traction control (TCS), onboard computer and rain sensor for the windshield wipers. Prices in Germany begin from €15,800 with buyers being able to choose from two exterior colors, white or black.

Mercedes to Equip S-Class with New Split Display Screen

The latest gadget to come out of Mercedes’ Stuttgart headquarters is a new split display screen that allows the driver and front passenger to view two different programmes at the same time. The new technology that is integrated into the control and display system COMAND is called SPLITVIEW and it has been developed by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch. Located centrally on the dashboard console, the screen shows two different images simultaneously by placing pixels adjacent to each other. A filter masking the display divides this mixed image in such a way that depending on the seating position, only the pixels making up one or the other image can be seen. As a result, the driver and front passenger can view different programmes on the same screen at the same time.

For example, while the driver checks out the navigation system the front passenger can watch a film on the very same display. To avoid any distractions to the driver, the passenger has the option of enjoying the programme via headphones. Mercedes-Benz said that the new SPLITVIEW technology will make its premiere in the S-Class (most likely the facelifted model) in the summer of 2009.

Volvo Delivers New Hybrid Trucks to England and France

In a promising move, Volvo Trucks has announced that it will deliver four hybrid powered refuse trucks to Veolia Propret√©, one of the world’s largest refuse handling companies, and next autumn they will start work in London and Paris. All four refuse trucks are based on Volvo’s heavy-duty FE model and a re equipped with a hybrid powertrian that consists of a diesel engine and an electric motor and each power source can be used separately or in combination with the other. The Swedish truck maker claims that fuel consumption can be cut by 15-20% compared to diesel truck of the same size.

Moreover, with the addition of an extra battery featuring a plug-in recharging facility to power the ancillaries, Volvo said that the hybrid refuse trucks can cut a further 10-15% off their fuel consumption figures, giving a total fuel reduction of up to 30%. Emissions of climate-impacting carbon dioxide are also significantly lower.

“It is particularly gratifying that Veolia Propret√©, an international company renowned for its dedication to green development, wants to be among the very first to harness the benefits of hybrid technology,” says Claes Nilsson, President of the Europe division at Volvo Trucks.

Ford Focus RS – New Mega Gallery with 42 Photos

The British arm of FoMoCo has given us an early Christmas present by releasing a barrage of photos of the production-ready Focus RS that was unveiled to the public for the first time in prototype form at the London Auto Show earlier this year. Final specifications have yet to be revealed, but according to the firm's latest tests, the Focus RS that’s equipped with a limited-slip diff, a special suspension and a 305HP 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine, accelerates from standstill to 100km/h in 5.9 sec and achieves a maximum speed of 263 km/h (164 mph). Hit the jump below to enjoy the image gallery.
Source: Ford , Via: Imotormag