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    GM Allowing Their Dealers To Sell Volt Demos

    Today, General Motors told it's dealers that they are free to sell their Chevrolet Volt demonstration models. The move will increase the number of Volts on sale from 1,800 to 4,100.
    GM launched the Volt back in December in seven markets and since July has been rolling out the Volt nationwide to, and is nearing its target of 2,600 dealers in all 50 states. The problem is dealers have been given a Volt to use a demo only.
    “Multiple dealers have requested to sell their demo to satisfy customer demand,” GM said in a memo to dealers.
    GM spokesman Tom Henderson told Automotive News that GM is “giving them the choice to satisfy their customers and the flexibility to meet pent-up demand.” To compensate for depreciation and for the cost of removing some decals from the demo models, GM will reimburse dealers $1,500. But to get the reimbursement, dealers will need to sell the demo by January 3rd. Then dealers will need to get a new Volt demo by the end of January.
    General Motors is hoping with this move they will be able to meet their lofty goal of selling 10,000 Volts by the end of year. Through October, GM only 5,003 Volts.
    Source: Automotive News

    MyFordTouch Gets Freshened Up For 2013 & Existing Models

    To say MyFordTouch has been on a rough road since it's introduction this year would be understatement. The system which uses a combination of capacitive controls and a touchscreen to control certain fuctions has been criticized by owners and reviews for many things.The system has also caused Ford's rating in the industry's leading quality indexes to drop. Now, the blue oval han announced an update for some of the issues with its system for 2013 models and existing models.
    The big news comes in the form of a reworked interface for the touchscreen. Ford says they have reworked over a 1,000 screens in the MyFord Touch system by using larger, bolder fonts, making the designs more consistent, and removing low-priority elements while bringing the most frequently used controls closer to the driver. Response time has also improved with Ford saying the update makes the system two times faster.
    The update also brings support for the Apple iPad, access to Audible.com audiobooks through voice commands or the touchscreen, improvements to the Bluetooth system, updated map experience from TeleNav and Navteq, and improved voice recognition.
    The update will appear in Ford's 2013 models including the new Ford Escape, Flex and Taurus. Owners of existing models with MyFordTouch will be sent either a USB flash drive or can visit their Ford dealer to get the update around the same time.

    Press Release and Video is on Page 2
    Faster, Simpler, Better: MyFord Touch Upgrade Provides New and Existing Customers Enhancements and New Features

    Ford will launch performance upgrades and new features for MyFordTouch® beginning with 2013 models – no-charge upgrade will be available to existing owners
    Simpler graphics, faster touch-screen response and easier-to-use controls are among the many enhancements to the voice-activated in-car connectivity system

    DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 7, 2011 – Ford customers said MyFord Touch® could be faster and feature simpler graphics that are easier to use and that’s exactly what Ford plans to deliver with a broad set of performance upgrades to the system – launching first on the new 2013 Ford Escape, Flex and Taurus.
    Available early next year – and offered at no charge to existing MyFord Touch owners – the software upgrade enhances the ownership experience as it was developed by listening and responding to customer feedback.
    “SYNC® has clearly been a game-changing technology and now we’re changing the game again, showing how quickly we can deliver more of what customers really want,” said Graydon Reitz, director, Ford Global Electronics and Electrical Systems Engineering. “Our strategy to create the SYNC software platform and add the customizable screens of MyFord Touch gives us a level of flexibility and speed to respond to customer input like never before seen in the auto industry.”
    The new touch-screen interface features simpler graphics and controls that are easier to use. Customers will also experience significantly faster touch-screen response times, one of the top requests from owners.
    New features include support for tablet devices and Audible.com audiobooks, improved navigation maps and enhanced voice recognition interaction.
    Listening to customers
    Since MyFord launched last fall, Ford has held four customer clinics in which hundreds of owners talked directly to Ford engineers about their experiences with the new technology. Owner feedback was clear and consistent, revealing that MyFord Touch was a key purchase reason.
    A survey of 2011 Ford Edge owners shows that four of the top seven purchase reasons were elements of the MyFord Touch system: the touch screen, steering wheel controls, voice recognition and dashboard styling.
    While owners reported that they love the system, there were distinct areas where they wanted improvements. Earlier this year, Ford started delivering on their requests, beginning with more instructions and information on how to best utilize the capabilities of the system.
    Ford launched two programs modeled after what consumers experience when purchasing a new electronic device. First, the company added a new MyFord Touch owner support website featuring how-to videos at www.syncmyride.com. Second, free “SYNC My Ride” personalized training sessions for new owners are now offered through Ford dealers – scheduled at customers’ convenience.
    “The keys to continuous improvement are simple: Listen, learn and respond. That’s how we’re going to keep our customers happy,” said Gary Jablonski, manager, SYNC Platform Development. “Evolving the software with meaningful enhanced features was part of our plan from the very beginning. It’s no different than the experience with our smartphones and laptop computers – except now, it’s your car that gets better.”
    Upgrade your ride
    All of the new improvements will be offered to existing owners of MyFord Touch-equipped vehicles, including the 2011 and 2012 models of Ford Explorer and Edge and the 2012 Focus. Owners of 2011 and 2012 Lincoln MKX crossovers will also receive the upgrade for their MyLincoln Touch™ systems.
    “We’re seizing the opportunity to continuously improve the Ford ownership experience, and revolutionize what it means to own a car,” said Reitz. “Introducing new technology is only one step in our journey to become known as a technology company. Consistently improving it based on what our customers are telling us marks another milestone in that journey.”
    Early next year, owners located in the U.S. will be mailed a USB flash drive with the software upgrade for installation that they can do at their own convenience. If they prefer, owners may also visit their local Ford or Lincoln dealer for the software installation. The upgrade mailing will include instructions informing owners how to simply plug the USB flash drive into the MyFord Touch Media Hub’s USB port in order for installation to automatically begin.
    New look
    The visual enhancements to MyFord Touch are based on simplifying the graphics with larger, bolder fonts, removing low-priority visual content, and designing screens based on a consistent pattern. More than 1,000 screens in total have been updated with the improved look.
    “Our goal when designing the upgrade was to simplify the screens and give customers a fast and easy way to get information at any given moment,” said Jennifer Brace, User Interface Design engineer for Ford. “That meant removing buttons, relocating high-use controls closer to the driver’s reach, simplifying tasks and improving font size.”
    The new fonts are as much as 40 percent larger on some redesigned screens. The fonts also are wider and bolder to provide easier legibility, particularly among the rapidly increasing number of drivers age 60 and older.
    New features
    Ford also took the opportunity to update the performance of the system and add new features for customers to help them keep pace with the fast-moving consumer electronics market.
    Faster touch-screen response time, for example, was a key request from owners. Initial testing shows that touch and voice response is at least two times faster than the current system.
    Also, the software upgrade includes the following enhancements:
    Improved voice recognition experience powered by Nuance
    Quicker voice recognition upon startup and faster command prompt when the voice button is pushed
    Voice commands used in conjunction with navigation are simplified through elimination of the need to provide street direction, e.g., “Main Street” instead of “North Main Street”
    Music requests are simpler by removing the need to include the additional song, album or artist information often found at the end of a name in parenthesis or brackets
    Customers can find their favorite sports team in action via new Sirius Game Finder simply by saying a command such as “Tune to Detroit Lions game”

    Tablet device compatibility
    Music and other media content from most popular tablet computers like the Apple iPad can now be accessed through a simple USB connection

    Audible.com audiobook support
    Listen to Audible.com content using voice commands or the easy-to-use touch-screen controls

    Connected navigation powered by TeleNav features new map data by NAVTEQ
    Updated map views are richer and feature more 3D landmarks
    views of freeway junctions and signs are enhanced through photorealistic screen images
    Smart routing options are provided based on a database of historical traffic patterns

    Phone compatibility
    Automatic Bluetooth® connection upon vehicle entry has been improved
    Noise and echo cancellation during phone calls has been improved to enhance call quality

    Gracenote® album cover art database
    inclusion of the latest music metadata available enhancing the music playback experience
    Improved voice recognition for music search allowing drivers to pinpoint artists with hard-to-pronounce names or nicknames

    Texas Senator Proposes Ending Auto Loan Program

    Back in 2007, the US Congress created the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing federal loan program to allow the US Government to loan out $25 billion to car manufacturers. The loans were created to help car manufacturers to retool factories and build more fuel-efficient vehicles.
    But those loans have been slowly trickling out. Only $9.2 of the $25 billion set aside has been used. Also, the program has been taking a long time to approve companies for loans. So far Ford, Nissan, Fisker, and Tesla have already been approved for loans. Chrysler has been waiting for eighteen months while GM has pulled their application.
    Now, a congressman from Texas wants to get rid of the program.
    U.S. Rep. Bill Flores R-Texas., has introduced a bill into Congress to end the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program.
    "My proposed bill to terminate the program prior to the end of the current fiscal year could potentially save additional billions in unused taxpayer dollars. Repealing the ATVM loan program will preserve much-needed funds to support projects that have the best chance of providing middle-class jobs here at home in the near term. It will also ensure that funds are provided for an immediate need, rather than letting them sit idly by waiting for a careless and inefficient bureaucratic process that has made little progress in the past three years.," Flores said.
    The bill is being supported by many Republicans, but Democrats, led by Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Gary Peters, are against the bill.
    The Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing federal loan program has been coming under a lot of scrutiny after solar panel manufacturer Solyndra LLC collapsed after receiving $528 million in loans. Last week, the White House launched a sixty-day review of the program.
    Source: The Detroit News

    Subaru Showing Off The Advance Tourer Concept

    Subaru is going to have a big showing for the Toyko Motor Show at the end of the month. Alongside the new BRZ Coupe, Subaru will be showing off the Advanced Tourer Concept.
    The Advance Tourer Concept is an evolution of the 2009 Hybrid Tourer Concept shown at Tokyo. The concept is 180.3 In long, 72.4 In wide, and 56.3 In tall which puts the concept between the new Impreza and Legacy.
    Powering the Avance Touer is a 1.6L turbocharged flat-four gasoline engine with direct-injection and a electric motor with a lithium-ion battery pack. A Lineartronic CVT transmission sends the power to the four wheels. Subaru says the car can travel on EV power alone at start-up and low-speed.
    Inside, the Advance Tourer has seating for four, a large glass roof that extends to the rear liftgate, and a a large monitor built into the steering wheel that displays maps and internet services.

    Press Release is on Page 2

    Exhibition Outline of the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show 2011

    Tokyo, November 7, 2011 - Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the maker of Subaru automobiles, announced its presentation at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show 2011. It will focus on “Enjoyment and Peace of Mind” which is the core value provided to the customers through the Subaru automobile experience, the foundation being Subaru’s global brand statement “Confidence in Motion”.
    “Confidence in Motion” is materialized in the concept car “SUBARU ADVANCED TOURER CONCEPT” which achieved its main goal to become a “Revolutionary Sports Tourer”. Also showcased will be the “All-New SUBARU IMPREZA” and the “SUBARU BRZ” – the latter a rear-wheel drive sports car currently under joint development with Toyota Motor Corporation carrying the Horizontally-Opposed Boxer engine. The exhibition will also feature Subaru’s original and latest technologies.
    A press briefing by President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. on November 30, 2011 at the Subaru booth.
    Main Exibits
    1. Concept
    Exquisitely balancing the enjoyment of driving with environmental friendliness, the car, under its product concept of “Revolutionary Sports Tourer”, embodies Subaru’s theme of “Confidence in Motion”.
    This C-segment class car was developed as a new-generation sports wagon providing both superior driving performance and utility. It features an innovative exterior design not found in conventional wagon models and expert wagon utility Subaru has cultivated over the years.
    The well established sports power unit, the Horizontally Opposed Subaru Boxer engine, is now with direct fuel injection. This highlight mixed with Subaru’s downsizing concept and original Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) expertise has enabled Subaru to make considerate progress on its unique Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) technology. An even sportier drivability and advanced environmental friendliness are both attainable in this new concept car.
    2. Design and Packaging
    Exterior Design
    Subaru’s brand statement “Confidence in Motion” is portrayed in the outward design as well. The dynamic yet sleek look promises an enthusiastic drive, while the cabin offers all the usability of a C-segment wagon.
    A flowing line on the side surfaces augments the stylish design calling to mind a coupe style car.

    Interior Design
    In pursuit of Subaru’s human-centered philosophy, all passengers are assured a safe and pleasant ride in a comfortable and quality interior.
    An entire roof made of glass adds to the spacious feel. Various textures such as wood and metal are incorporated into the inside layout to produce ample ambiance.
    A large monitor is built into the steering wheel allowing access to maps, television and internet services. Information will be available at hand to support contemporary lifestyles even in the car.

    3. Mechanisms
    Next-Generation Power Unit System
    - Downsized direct fuel injection turbo engine -
    The downsized direct fuel injection turbo engine is one of the principal technologies that will guide Subaru’s engine strategy in the future. Not only is acceleration quick and smooth with the new-generation Horizontally-Opposed engine, it is environmentally friendly. The direct fuel injection system which injects necessary amounts of fuel into the cylinders at appropriate moments, and a turbo system which efficiently supplies large amounts of air into the cylinders, along with the downsizing of current turbo engine displacements (2,500cc and 2,000cc) to 1,600cc drastically improve combustion efficiency at practical driving-speed range compared to the existing turbo engine.

    - High torque compatible Lineartronic (CVT) -
    Lineartronic is Subaru’s continuously variable transmission device designed for the new era. It is the world’s first longitudinally-mounted chain drive CVT to be utilized in mass-produced AWD passenger cars. For the concept car, the Lineartronic was refined to satisfy the high-power output turbo engine.

    - Hybrid system -
    Subaru’s original hybrid system has been developed to harmonize with the Symmetrical AWD technology, another one of its specialties, and to further enhance its appeal. A single motor system was employed for its simple structure and light weight.
    This system has an Electric Vehicle (EV) mode which allows AWD motion using only the motor at start-ups and low-speed drives. When decelerating, the regenerating mechanism uses the motor as a power generator.

    - EyeSight -
    Subaru’s advanced driving assist system EyeSight (Version 2), well received since its release in May 2010, has made further progress. The recognition range of the stereo camera has expanded considerably, both in width and depth.

    Major Specifications
    Length x Width x Height: 4,580 x 1,840 x 1,430mm
    Engine type: 1.6 liter Horizontally-Opposed direct fuel injection turbo engine
    Transmission type: High torque compatible Lineartronic
    Drive train: Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive with hybrid system
    Battery type: Lithium-ion battery

    How Much For The Ford Focus Electric?

    The Ford Focus Electric has appeared on the company's website configurator this week with a base price of $39,200 before state and federal incentives, plus an additional $795 for destination charges. Compared the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, the Focus Electric is the same price as the Volt ($39,995) and is $3,945 more than a base Nissan Leaf ($36,050).
    So what do you get for your $39,995? Well, the Focus Electric comes with a electric motor producing 123 HP and 181 lb-ft of torque and is fed by a 23 kwh lithium-ion battery system. Power goes through a single speed transmission to the front wheels. Ford says the Focus Electric can travel up to 100 miles on a single charge. A full charge can happen in 18-20 hours by a typical 120v outlet or 3-4 hours with a special 240v charger. Inside, MyFordTouch with Navigation, SYNC, Sony audio, push button start, and Ford's MyKey technology is standard.
    Only three options are available: Blue Candy ($395) and White Platinum ($495) paint, as well as leather seats ($995) to replace the standard cloth seats.
    Press Release is on page 2

    Ford Opens Reservations for 2012 Focus Electric

    2012 Focus electric is Ford’s first all-electric, 100% gas-free, passenger car and the first of five planned electrified vehicles
    Detailed product specifications and virtually build and price available at online website:http://www.ford.com/...selectric/2012/
    Ford Certified EV dealers in California and New York/New Jersey markets will begin taking first orders for the 2012 Focus Electric

    SEATTLE, WA., Nov. 2, 2011 – Starting today, drivers that want to go completely gasoline-free will be able to configure the all-new 2012 Ford Focus Electric online at Ford.com and place their orders with a Certified Electric Vehicle (EV) dealer.
    “Today is an historic day, as Ford opens up the order banks for the company’s first full production, all-electric passenger vehicle – the Focus Electric,” said Chad D’Arcy, Focus Electric Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company. “The all-new Focus Electric is an important part of Ford’s overall strategy, bringing still another option to customers who want a car that is fun-to-drive, easy to own and fully electric.”
    Drivers interested in learning more about the 2012 Focus Electric will be able to see detailed product specs and virtually build and price one at a dedicated online website:http://www.ford.com/...selectric/2012/ starting Wednesday.
    Focus Electric comes standard with: MyFord Touch with 8-inch touchscreen; two driver-configurable 4.2-inch color LCD displays in cluster for unique EV driving screens; MyFord™ Mobile App (for remotely monitoring and scheduling battery charging with owners’ smartphone as well as remote start); HID Headlamps; 17-inch aluminum wheels, ambient lighting, seats made from 100-percent recycled material; Rear Camera with Rear Parking Sensor; Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start; MyKey®; voice-activated Navigation System; Particulate Air Filter; hands-free SYNC® Bluetooth telephone connectivity with Traffic, Direction and Information Services; electronic traction control; Sony®-Branded audio with nine speakers; SIRIUS® Satellite Radio and HD Radio™.
    The only options on well-equipped Focus Electrics are leather seats and two paint colors.
    “Ford believes driving electric doesn’t mean consumers should have to sacrifice on driving experience or vehicle quality,” said D’Arcy. “The Focus Electric comes with more standard features than any other comparable all-electric vehicle.”
    In addition to silently cruising past gas stations, Focus Electric drivers will never need oil changes or any of the other service required on gasoline engines. Focus Electric exclusively stores energy in an advanced lithium-ion battery pack. The battery pack uses liquid-cooling to help ensure a long-life and optimal performance under all weather and driving conditions.
    The Focus Electric’s battery can be recharged in just over three hours using a 240-volt charging station, about half the charging time of the 2012 Nissan Leaf. Drivers also can top off the battery any standard 120-volt outlet using the included charging cord.
    The online site also provides potential customers the ability to find the location of their nearest Ford Certified EV dealer so they can place their order.
    A limited number of Focus Electrics will first be available in California and the New York/New Jersey regions. Availability of the Focus Electric will expand next year to the remaining 15 launch markets as production ramps up.
    The 19 launch markets include: Atlanta, Austin and Houston, Texas; Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va., Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
    Markets were chosen based on several criteria, including commuting patterns, existing hybrid purchase trends, utility company collaboration and local government commitment to electrification.
    Power of choice
    Electrification is an important piece of Ford’s overall product sustainability strategy, which includes the launch of five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and in Europe by 2013. Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010 and will launch the all-new Focus Electric later this year. In 2012, these models will be joined in North America by the new C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. This diverse range of electrified vehicles allows Ford to meet a variety of consumer driving needs.

    Where Are All The Honda Civics?

    Honda's Civic is having a rough year; the redesign has been receiving a lot of criticism and has caused Honda to move up a refresh to 2013. Then the earthquake earlier in the year cause delay of new Civics being delivered to dealers. Now, there's a new problem for the Civic.
    Honda tells Inside Line that dealer inventory of the new Civic is "virtually zero".
    "Civic sales are down for one simple reason: Low dealer inventory as a result of a shortage of small parts caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake earlier this year which nearly halted production of the 2012 Civic," said Chuck Schifsky, an American Honda Motor Co. spokesman.
    Schifsky noted that recent flooding in Thailand "will cause another disruption in production."
    In other words, if you were planning on getting a new Civic, you will be waiting awhile.
    Source: Inside Line

    Why Hello Opel/Vauxhall Astra OPC/VXR

    GM's European Division, Opel have released pictures of the uncloaked Astra OPC (Vauxhall Astra VXR for the UK).

    The three-door OPC takes the body of the new Astra GTC and adds some new bits to give it a more aggressive look. A new front bumper, diffuser-esque rear, twin tailpipes, and a black-tipped spoiler. Twenty inch wheels hiding a big set of Brembo brakes complete the look.
    Under the hood is a 2.0L direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder producing 280 HP and 295 lb-ft of torque. Power goes through a six speed manual to the front wheels. To help counter torque and understeerp, the Astra OPC is fitted with GM's HiPerStrut front suspension and a mechanical limited slip differential. Also, the Astra OPC has the FlexRide system which changes the throttle, steering and standard-fit FlexRide adaptive dampers.
    Opel says the Astra OPC has a top speed of 155 MPH.
    The Astra OPC will go on sale next year.

    Press Release is below

    The new OPC – the most powerful Astra ever

    High performance version of Astra GTC: 2.0 liter direct injection turbo gasoline engine
    206 kW/280 hp, 400 Nm, top speed of 250 km/h
    Exclusive high performance chassis with limited slip differential and Brembo-brakes
    Powerful OPC design emphasizes pure passion and sporty interior

    Rüsselsheim. The new Opel Astra GTC is being given a sharper edge: the crowning glory of the new sporty compact coupé will come in summer 2012 in the shape of the high performance OPC (Opel Performance Center) variant. The Astra OPC is powered by a 2.0 liter direct injection turbo gasoline engine. The performance figures: 206 kW/280 hp of power and maximum torque of 400 Nm. This power house ensures that the Astra OPC can reach a top speed of 250 km/h. Never before has an Astra been so fast.
    The whole chassis of the sports car is designed to deliver power, without comprise. In line with the finest OPC traditions, the car was put through its paces and polished on the Northern Loop (“Nordschleife”) of the Nürburgring race track in Germany under the supervision of the Opel brand ambassador Joachim (“Jockel”) Winkelhock. It is geared especially towards lateral dynamics and superb handling qualities. The high tech front-wheel suspension, HiPerStrut (High Performance Strut) of the Astra GTC helps to achieve this. . In addition to the HiPerStrut feature, the OPC also enjoys all the benefits of the fully-adaptive FlexRide chassis control system. The FlexRide chassis lets the driver sharpen the characteristic shock absorber line, the steering and the gas pedal responsiveness. He can do that at the touch of a “Sport” and “OPC” button. However, the OPC model goes one major step further: it has been fitted with a limited slip differential on the front axle. This gives the OPC even more stability and better handling, in other words the car has more grip when exiting bends at high speeds – even in wet conditions. “We have devised a great package that will convince even the most experienced sports drivers – not just on the Nürburgring,” the motorsport legend, Winkelhock , explains. The high performance brake system made by the prestigious manufacturer, Brembo, ensures good deceleration stats and maximum stability, even in moments of intense pressure.
    The exclusive body work of the Astra OPC is an expression of pure passion for power and speed. The Astra GTC with its racy edge has so far been the most emotional expression of Opel’s design language but the OPC version flexes its muscles. The OPC is given extra sportiness with a set of specially sculpted front and rear bumpers, side skirts, an aerodynamic roof spoiler and two exhaust tail pipes in a trapeze shape. In the inside, the compact sports car has performance seats, a flat OPC sports leather steering wheel and special instruments.

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