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  1. Ford's European branch has had a tough time with three years of losses and making some drastic changes, including closing three factories back in 2013. But 2015 saw the branch make a $259 million profit. The blue oval wants to continue that with a new restructure strategy. The strategy includes a "voluntary separation" program that will allow workers to leave Ford at their own behest. Ford says this will save around $200 million per year in reduced staffing costs. Ford will also be eliminating less profitable models” from its product lineup. What models those might be are unknown at this time. It should be noted this elimination will not affect plans to launch seven new or refreshed models this year. Other additions for Ford's Europe lineup include, Five crossovers/SUVs in the next three years Four more vehicles with the Vignale luxury trim Expansion of the electric and hybrid lineup “In the past three years, Ford of Europe has improved its business in all areas and moved from deep losses to a $259 million profit in 2015. This is a good first step. We are absolutely committed to accelerating our transformation, taking the necessary actions to create a vibrant business that’s solidly profitable in both good times and down cycles,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Source: Ford Press Release is on Page 2 FORD ACCELERATES TRANSFORMATION PLAN IN EUROPE TO BUILD VIBRANT AND SUSTAINABLY PROFITABLE BUSINESS After returning to profit in 2015, Ford of Europe is accelerating its plan to deliver a vibrant and sustainably profitable business targeting higher profit and pre-tax operating margin in 2016 and 6 to 8 percent operating margin in the longer termRefocusing product strategy to add new vehicles and derivatives in segments with the highest growth and profit potential such as crossovers and SUVs, and eliminating less profitable vehicles over time Launching seven new or freshened vehicles in 2016 including Focus RS and new Kuga and Edge SUVs; further enhancing Ford’s brand image in Europe through increased experiential marketing and best-in-class dealer experienceReducing costs in all areas to lower breakeven, help offset rising regulatory costs and invest in Ford Smart Mobility; voluntary separation program announced today to achieve ongoing administrative and selling expense savings of $200 million annually Targeting annual manufacturing efficiencies of more than 7 percent and improved capacity utilizationIdentifying new revenue streams through Ford Smart Mobility, including customer loyalty, multi-modal transport services, fleet services and ride services Ford Motor Company is accelerating its transformation in Europe – including new product, brand and efficiency actions – to deliver improved profits in 2016 and a 6-8 percent operating margin for Ford of Europe in the longer term. Ford’s European strategy calls for a more streamlined and profitable product line; more emotional and experiential brand communications; and a leaner cost structure to lower breakeven and help offset growing regulatory costs. “In the past three years, Ford of Europe has improved its business in all areas and moved from deep losses to a $259 million profit in 2015. This is a good first step,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We are absolutely committed to accelerating our transformation, taking the necessary actions to create a vibrant business that’s solidly profitable in both good times and down cycles.” After closing three manufacturing plants in Western Europe since 2013 and reaching an innovative cost-saving agreement with labour unions in Germany, Ford of Europe continues to enhance its cost efficiency and manufacturing capacity utilization. Ford today initiated a voluntary separation program in Europe supporting a significant reduction in administrative and selling costs to reach industry benchmark levels of efficiency. With the move, Ford of Europe expects to save about $200 million a year on an ongoing basis. “We are creating a far more lean and efficient business that can deliver healthy returns and earn future investment,” Farley said. “Our job is to make our vehicles as efficiently as possible, spending every dollar in a way that serves customers’ needs and desires, and creating a truly sustainable, customer-focused business.” Ford of Europe said it would continue to drive improvements in its manufacturing operations, targeting efficiencies of greater than 7 percent year-over-year going forward, and improving its manufacturing capacity utilization. Product surge After launching more than 30 new and refreshed vehicles since late 2012, and increasing market share in each of the past two years and boosting sales 10 percent in 2015, Ford of Europe will continue to strengthen its vehicle line with plans to: Launch seven new and refreshed vehicles in 2016, including the Focus RS performance hatch and the new Kuga and Edge SUVs. Streamline core model line-up to eliminate less profitable vehicle lines over time Launch five new vehicles to compete in the SUV and crossover space in the next three years, starting with new Edge in the second quarter. SUVs remain Europe’s fastest-growing market segment, and Ford expects to surpass 200,000 SUV sales in Europe for the first time in 2016 – a growth of more than 30 percent compared with 2015 With the launch of Focus RS, joining Focus ST, Fiesta ST and Mustang, Ford of Europe expects record performance car sales in Europe in 2016 of about 40,000 vehicles Expand upscale Vignale line and customer experience from one model today – Mondeo Vignale – to at least five Vignale models by 2017 Introduce new plug-in hybrid, hybrid-electric and full electric vehicles in Europe by 2020 – part of Ford’s previously announced $4.5 billion investment in electrified vehicle solutions Ford this year will offer eight vehicle lines in Europe with sophisticated all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive technologies, compared to three models in 2012. Ford expects to sell about 140,000 all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles in Europe in 2016 – a 120 percent increase compared to 2014 Continue to invest in and strengthen Europe’s best-selling line-up of commercial vehicles, including new powertrain and technologies for Transit Custom and Transit 2-tonne, and a freshened Ranger – Europe’s No.1 top-selling pickup for 2015 “We are creating a more exciting and distinctive Ford line-up in Europe,” Farley said. “When we play to our strengths, we can compete and win in Europe – even against premium brands.” Strengthening the brand Building on its improving brand image in Europe, Ford plans to reach new customers through its exciting new products, increased experiential marketing and best-in-class dealer and customer experience with the completion of 500 new, state-of-the-art flagship FordStores in major urban areas. Ford is identifying opportunities for new revenue streams in Europe – recurring and potentially higher margin – as part of Ford Smart Mobility. Key areas of focus include customer loyalty, multi-modal transport services, fleet services and ride services. As an initial step in January, Ford unveiled FordPass – a platform that reimagines the relationship between automaker and consumer. FordPass members can talk to a personal mobility assistant to help with travel arrangements, reserve and pay for advance parking, earn loyalty points, schedule service and much more. FordPass launches in Europe later this year. FordPass also includes the opening of FordHubs, where consumers will be able to explore Ford’s latest innovations, learn about its mobility services, and experience exclusive events, with the first FordHub in Europe opening in London this year. “We are investing in Ford Smart Mobility, which will deepen our customer relationships and reduce our conquest marketing costs,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe. “There is a huge opportunity in Europe to give our customers what they want, sometimes before they even know it, by anticipating their needs through data and data analytics.”
  2. After Volkswagen admitted that it used software to vary the amount of emissions being produced in their diesel vehicles, Volkswagen is using a legal loophole to provide a defense in Europe. In a letter sent last week to European regulators, Volkswagen Group Managing Director Paul Willis said that the company's cheat software might not be illegal under current European Union regulations. Crazy as might sound, there is a loophole that allows this. The New York Times reports that the European regulations have a massive loophole that could put Volkswagen in the clear. In fact, regulators knew about this loophole back in 2011. We'll let the New York Times explain the loophole. "The loophole lets carmakers change the performance settings of their engines before a pollution test. “A manufacturer could specify a special setting that is not normally used for everyday driving,” British regulators warned, according to minutes of a 2011 meeting in Geneva of officials across the region." Willis points this out in his letter, stating the automaker is considering "whether the software in question officially constituted a defeat device." Now this is only a small part of a number of problems with how Europe regulates how vehicles. Automakers can submit to testing in any of the 28 member states of EU and have those results recognized across the EU. Also, automakers can submit pre-production models and do various tweaks such as removing seats and taping up gaps for emission tests. "What we have developed is a phony system of testing where the member states [of the European Union] are in competition with each other for who can make it the most easy for the car manufacturers to pass the test," said Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch member of the European Parliament. Now the EU has the final say as to whether or not Volkswagen's cheating software is actually illegal or not. Lucia Caudet, a spokeswoman for the European Commission tells the Times that the governing body has "no formal view on whether” the software in question counts as "a 'defeat device' in the EU legal sense or not." We'll keep you updated on this. Source: New York Times Wills' letter is below.
  3. Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller told a German publication that it would launch a recall for diesel vehicles that have emission-cheating software starting in January and hopefully finish up fixing all of the vehicles by the end of the year. "If all goes according to plan, we can start the recall in January. All the cars should be fixed by the end of 2016," Mueller told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Now it should be noted this is only for vehicles in Europe. A Volkswagen of America spokeswoman says the EPA has to agree to the fix that Volkswagen would present. No timetable was given as to when a fix would be announced. Muller said a number of vehicles could be fixed by a software update, while others will need new injectors or larger catalytic converters. Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung via Reuters, CNN Money
  4. The Lexus IS is quite good vehicle - aside from the looks - but it has one big problem. The base 2.5L V6 is a bit of a dog. There isn't enough power to move the IS around. Luckily, Lexus has a solution for this problem in Europe for the time being. Meet the Lexus IS 200t which has the same turbocharged 2.0L four found in the NX crossover. This produces 245 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The engine will come paired with an eight-speed automatic. Lexus claims an 7 second run to 60 MPH and combined fuel economy of 33 MPG on the European cycle. The IS 200t will go on sale in September in Europe. The U.S. will be getting the IS 200t, but no date as to when we'll see it. Source: Lexus Press Release is on Page 2 LEXUS TO LAUNCH IS 200t WITH INNOVATIVE 2.0l TURBO PETROL ENGINE New turbo engine offers superior smoothness and responsiveness, with no turbo-lag and high fuel efficiency Engine mated to 8-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission IS 200t on sale in Europe as from September 2015 Brussels, Belgium - Lexus is expanding the range of vehicle equipped with its new 2.0-litre turbo engine. Following the launch of NX 200t in early 2015 and the announced arrival of RX 200t by the end of the year, IS is the third Lexus model to be fitted with this new engine. Powered by a new 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine – with innovative D-4ST fuel injection technology for both fuel economy and instantaneous torque – the Lexus IS 200t sports sedan delivers 245 DIN hp (180kW) with a maximum torque of 350 Nm. Capable of rapid acceleration up to a top speed of 230 km/h, its 8-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission was developed for the high-performance RC F. Featuring a breakthrough combination of water-cooled cylinder head, integrated exhaust manifold and twin scroll turbocharger, this all-new Lexus 2.0-litre turbo engine delivers fast throttle response, performance and high torque at low engine revs. For enhanced fuel economy, innovative valve timing (VVT-iW: Variable Valve Timing intelligent - Wide) allows the engine to switch between the Otto and Atkinson cycles. The IS 200t returns a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 7.0 seconds and an average fuel consumption of 7.0l/100 km. Cylinder Head with Integral 4-into-2 Exhaust Manifold and Twin-Scroll TurboThis innovative, combination of engine technologies has been designed to provide a high level of responsiveness with minimal turbo lag and enhanced low speed torque, and yet return an improved fuel economy. The four-into-two exhaust manifold system pairs cylinders according to their expansion or compression stroke. Acting in conjunction with the highly-efficient, twin-scroll turbocharger, this innovative manifold structure prevents interference between the exhaust gasses from each cylinder, generating high torque across the widest possible rev range. The engine further employs an air to liquid intercooler mounted directly to the engine to significantly reduce the intake volume downstream of the turbocharger, minimising turbo lag for a highly responsive performance. The twin-scroll turbocharger itself features variable waste gate valve control. This minimises pumping losses by reducing back pressure during low engine loads when the turbo is not required realising good fuel economy. In addition, the integration of the exhaust manifold within the cylinder head enhances exhaust gas cooling without sacrificing catalyst warm-up performance. This not only helps to suppress catalyst deterioration, but also expands driving range at the optimum, stoichiometric air-fuel ratio. D-4ST Fuel Injection System D-4ST (Direct injection 4 stroke gasoline engine Superior version with Turbo) combines a high pressure fuel system for injection directly into the cylinders with a low pressure system for injection into the ports. Injection is split between the direct and port injectors according to the engine load, optimising fuel combustion in all driving situations to enhance both low speed torque and fuel economy. This advanced fuel injection system works in combination with turbocharging technology to create a high level of compatibility between the 'high tumble ratio' achieved by optimising the shape of the cylinder head intake ports and the piston tops, and turbo 'boost control'. Innovative Dual VVT-iW TechnologyOptimising torque throughout the engine rev range and allowing the engine to start in the Otto cycle and yet run in the more fuel efficient Atkinson cycle, the new Lexus turbo features innovative dual variable valve timing technology which adopts VVT-i to the exhaust valves and VVT-iW to the intake valves, but also delivers wide open throttle performance. The late intake valve closing of the Atkinson cycle reduces pumping losses and boosts fuel economy. VVT-iW incorporates a mid-position lock which not only enables the Atkinson cycle to be maintained without sacrificing starting performance in cold weather. Further Advanced Features The new 2.0 litre turbo engine is remarkably light and compact. Cast with low nickel content heat resistant steel, and featuring a resin cylinder head cover, intake manifold and intake pipes, it weighs just 160 kg. The unit was bench-tested for more than 10,000 hours before extensive on-road testing began, during which it then covering more than one million kilometres. Several measures have been adopted to reduce friction losses within various parts of the engine, enhancing fuel economy. The adoption of an offset crankshaft lowers the piston thrust load to reduce friction losses. Cylinder bore machining has been improved and a piston surface treatment applied to the piston skirts, reducing sliding resistance. Low tension piston rings have been used, and the weight of reciprocating parts reduced. A lightweight roller rocker valve train and a low friction timing chain have been adopted, and the sliding parts of the chain fabricated in a low friction material. Low friction materials have also been used for the crankshaft oil seals, and the flow of lubricating oil optimised, with oil pump flow reduced through the adoption of a variable discharge mechanism. Careful heat management within the engine further improves fuel efficiency. To that end, a cylinder block rapid warm-up system suppresses the flow of coolant into the block when the engine is cold, and a piston cooling oil jet control system cuts the supply of oil to the pistons to improve warm-up speeds. Smoothness, Quietness and a Better Turbo SoundWith the rigidity of the main structural components already optimised to suppress vibration, the new engine is further equipped with a balance shaft featuring resin gears for even greater smoothness. Newly developed lubricating calcium free oil removes the chance of engine knock at low engine revolutions, and the piston cooling oil jet system further improves anti-knock performance. The water-cooled intercooler provides strong advantages in starting off acceleration and a 0.3-second reduction in 0–100km/h acceleration time over an air-to-air type alternative. The acceleration curve prioritises torque delivery at low speeds. Turbo engines tend to be noisy when the throttle is closed (referred to as the ‘turbo sigh’). An electric air bypass valve and resonator have been adopted to greatly reduce characteristic turbocharger noise. As a turbocharged engine requires smooth intake flow for performance, Lexus engineers focused on creating special duct shapes which deliver power without noise. Eight-speed transmission with paddle shiftsThe IS 200t also received the 8-Speed Sport Direct Shift transmission with paddle shifts, originally developed for the RC F high-performance coupe. The rear wheel drive IS 200t is the first Lexus sedan to vary gear shifting in accordance to G-forces. The transmission automatically downshifts during hard braking before a corner then holds a lower gear through the corner for best control and then selects the most suitable gear on corner exit to give the driver greater throttle response. The IS 200t will be available as from September 2015.
  5. Earlier this month, Cadillac revealed the CT6 and XT5 in Berlin ahead of their official European launch in September. At the present moment, the brand will be selling the vehicles through 45 dealers in 12 countries. Speaking with Autocar, Cadillac Europe’s head of product management Barnabas Vincze says they plan on doubling that by 2020 as part of a plan to achieve “organic growth” rather than going after volume. This shows in the sales goal as Cadillac wants to boost sales from about 550 vehicles last year to around 900-1000. For the time being, the CT6 and XT5 will be equipped only with gas engines. Down the road, Vincze says “all types of different powertrains were on the table as options” in the future, and the brand was “looking at them all now. For now, we bring high-performance petrols to market.” Also, Cadillac will be adding more crossovers to their European lineup. These include a model sitting between the XT5 and Escalade, and two small crossovers. “Crossovers will be key to us,” said Vincze. Source: Autocar
  6. With the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal hanging a dark cloud over the fuel, many automakers are considering whether or not they want to continue with diesel. Karl Schlicht, executive vice-president of Toyota Europe tells Autocar the company is wondering whether or not they should stop offering diesels. He uses the example of the Yaris Diesel. At the moment, the option makes "up less than 10%” of total sales for Europe. Dropping this model is a real possibility. “I think that anyone looking at investing in a new diesel plant, which might have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, will have to look long and hard at whether they would get payback,” said Schlicht. This comes as stricter emission standards and tests are on the horizon for Europe. Source: Autocar
  7. Volkswagen is getting ready to start the $10 billion compensation program for owners of the 2.0L TDI engine in the U.S. But some folks want the German automaker to do something similar for TDI owners in Europe. "Volkswagen should voluntarily pay European car owners compensation that is comparable with that which they will pay U.S. consumers," said EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska last week. In a interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag over the weekend, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller said that isn't going to happen. "But we have just a different situation," said Müller. "In the U.S. the (emission) limits are stricter, which makes the fix more complicated. And taking part in the buyback is voluntary (for customers), which is not the case in Germany, for example." The U.S.' regulations concerning emissions are some of strictest in the world, with automakers having to meet specific limits on how much pollutants come out of a tailpipe. This is why all diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. have some sort of after treatment system to help cut down on the amount of NOx emissions. In Europe, the regulations are bit more lax. This is why Volkswagen was able to fix a number of vehicles by reprogramming the engine computer and swapping some parts. For the U.S., the fix would have be more extensive with a number of parts being replaced or added, which means added cost. Source: Welt am Sonntag, Reuters
  8. Tomorrow, we find out the details of the settlement between Volkswagen and the U.S. Government over the diesel emission scandal. As we reported last week, sources told various news outlets that part of the settlement would include compensation payments from $1,000 to $7,000 to owners. A European Union commissioner believes that should be extended to those in Europe. EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska tells German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that Volkswagen should set up a similar compensation program for Europe. "Volkswagen should voluntarily pay European car owners compensation that is comparable with that which they will pay U.S. consumers," said Bienkowska. She said that it would be unfair for Volkswagen to treat European consumers differently than U.S. ones due to different legal systems. "But consumers in Europe should be treated differently than the US consumer is not a way to regain confidence." Source: Die Welt, Reuters
  9. Many of us are excited that Ford is finally bringing the Ranger to the U.S. towards the end of the decade. But the long wait for it is driving a number of folks crazy. Well, we're probably not going to help with this as the folks at M-Sport (who heads up Ford's World Rally Championship team) have introduced a special edition of the Ranger that can be described as a Raptor mini. This is the M-Sport Ranger and it looks quite mean. It begins with a Ranger 4x4 double cab that gets a new grill with integrated lights, 18-inch wheels fitted with off-road tires, and certain body parts getting a matte black finish. Underneath is a Pedders suspension sport pack that improves the ride and a new sports exhaust. The interior features custom leather upholstery and a sports steering wheel. Optional is an off-road kit that includes a lift kit for the suspension that raises the truck by 1.75 inches and additional lighting. One item that is unknown is if the M-Sport Ranger gets more power. Power is from a 3.2-liter TDCi five-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. M-Sport says the Ranger will go into production this September and be sold at select Ford dealers around Europe. Source: M-Sport Press Release is on Page 2 Introducing the M-Sport Ranger M-Sport’s bespoke range of road-going vehicles has gained recognition and popularity around the world, and last week saw Van Sport launch the latest edition – the M-Sport Ranger. Following the highly acclaimed M-Sport Transit and M-Sport Transit Connect, Van Sport – in collaboration with M-Sport and Carlex Design – launched the Ranger at the Abenteuer and Allrad off-road trade fair in Germany. Based on the Ranger 3.2 tdci 4x4 double cab pickup, the vehicle includes a range of enhancements including a front bumper conversion, and extensions to the bonnet lip and side arches. A sports exhaust system and Pedders suspension sport pack add to the ride while Lazer lights to the front grill assist main beam for optimum performance. Matte black wing mirrors, door handles, window strips, side steps and tailgate add to the look whilst 18” matte graphite wheels complete this bespoke off-road experience. The interior enhancements are in keeping with the high quality of all products in the M-Sport range. A full leather interior is complimented by a leather centre armrest and door trims. A sports steering wheel provides further exclusivity whilst privacy glass to the rear windows gives the Ranger a unique finishing touch. An additional off-road option pack is also available which adds Lazer lights to the roof cover for further visibility and a full Pedders suspension lift kit which raises the vehicle an additional 1.75 inches. A full under tray body protection kit is also available as well as a limited edition hard-top, lift-up back which provides a sporty and convenient addition. The M-Sport Ranger will be in full production for September 2016 and available in supporting Ford dealerships throughout both the UK and Europe.
  10. For the longest time, Cadillac has been trying to crack the European market. All of its attempts so far have fallen flat. The brand's latest attempt featuring the ATS and CTS has been shelved for the time being due to financial problems and finding better success in China and U.S. That doesn't mean Cadillac has given up. "Clearly our number one priorities are the US and China, but in the longer term there is a role for Cadillac in Europe," said GM President Dan Ammann. Ammann also was realistic about chances the brand has in Europe. "Is it going to be a high-volume contender in the medium to long term future? Probably not. But is there a role for something other than the three German luxury brands? I think there is. We’ve got to figure out what it is, what our portfolio is, a different value proposition. But trying to out-German the Germans will not be the path to success. We have to have a different proposition.” Ammann didn't give a timeline of when the brand would be coming fully to Europe. Source: Auto Express William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  11. The elephant in the room with diesel hot hatches is the Volkswagen GTD, but another automaker wants to give it a run for its money. Auto Express reports that Ford is planning a Focus ST with a diesel heart. Mark Fields, Ford’s chief operating officer made the announcement at a dinner during the Geneva Motor Show. The Focus ST Diesel will utilize a 2.0L four-cylinder diesel with 182 horsepower. The engine can hit 60 MPH in eight seconds or so. The diesel model will feature the same suspension and steering tune as the standard ST. No word on a release date, but the model will be for Europe only. Source: Auto Express William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  12. As we reported a couple weeks ago, General Motors has decided to pull Chevrolet from Europe to give Opel and Vauxhall some breathing room. But with this pullout comes a problem for GM in South Korea. The continent produced most of the Chevrolet models for Europe. With Chevrolet saying pulling out in late 2015, production volume is expected to drop 20 percent. This has GM thinking about cutting jobs. Reuters reports that GM Korea is planning to launch a "voluntary retirement" the 6,000 salaried workers by March. A spokesperson says this is the fourth round of job cuts since 2009. GM Korea CEO Sergio Rocha says that no production jobs will be cut. "Workloads are too light and there is a lot of anxiety about job restructuring," said an employee. GM Korea is currently working on 2015 Chevrolet Sonic, but reportedly has nothing to work on after that. "For me, this is the biggest crisis facing GM Korea since 2000 (when Daewoo Motor went bankrupt)," the employee went onto say. Source: Reuters William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  13. Drew Dowdell Managing Editor - CheersandGears.com General Motors announced today that starting in 2016, Chevrolet will no longer compete as a mainstream brand in Europe, instead focusing only on what GM calls "Iconic vehicles". GM's mainstream role will be carried by the Opel and Vauxhall brands. Most of Chevrolet's mainstream vehicles sold in Europe are produced in South Korea. GM expects Chevrolet to maintain its mainstream position in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The remaining Chevrolet vehicles in Chevy's EU portfolio will be models such as the Corvette and Camaro. Cadillac is continuing its 3 year plan for an expanded presence in Europe. GM expects a number of one-time charges in the $700 million to $1 Billion range for the final quarter of 2013 and first quarter of 2014. What do you think of GM's announcement to pull Chevy out of Europe and concentrate on Opel? Sound off below. Press release on Page 2 For Release: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 3 a.m. EST GM Strengthens its European Brand Strategy · Opel/Vauxhall to compete as GM’s mainstream brands across Europe · Chevrolet to focus on iconic products in Europe · Cadillac to expand in Europe DETROIT – General Motors today announced plans to accelerate its progress in Europe by bolstering its brands in the mainstream and premium segments. Beginning in 2016, GM will compete in Europe’s volume markets under its respected Opel and Vauxhall brands. The company’s Chevrolet brand will no longer have a mainstream presence in Western and Eastern Europe, largely due to a challenging business model and the difficult economic situation in Europe. Chevrolet, the fourth-largest global automotive brand, will instead tailor its presence to offering select iconic vehicles – such as the Corvette – in Western and Eastern Europe, and will continue to have a broad presence in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. This will improve the Opel and Vauxhall brands and reduce the market complexity associated with having Opel and Chevrolet in Western and Eastern Europe. In Russia and the CIS, the brands are clearly defined and distinguished and, as a result, are more competitive within their respective segments. Cadillac, which is finalizing plans for expanding in the European market, will enhance and expand its distribution network over the next three years as it prepares for numerous product introductions. “Europe is a key region for GM that will benefit from a stronger Opel and Vauxhall and further emphasis on Cadillac,” said GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson. “For Chevrolet, it will allow us to focus our investments where the opportunity for growth is greatest.” “This is a win for all four brands. It’s especially positive for car buyers throughout Europe, who will be able to purchase vehicles from well-defined, vibrant GM brands,” Akerson said. Chevrolet will work closely with its dealer network in Western and Eastern Europe to define future steps while ensuring it can honor obligations to existing customers in the coming years. “Our customers can rest assured that we will continue to provide warranty, parts and services for their Chevrolet vehicles, and for vehicles purchased between now and the end of 2015,” said Thomas Sedran, president and managing director of Chevrolet Europe. “We want to thank our customers and dealers for their loyalty to the Chevrolet brand here in Europe.” The majority of the Chevrolet portfolio sold in Western and Eastern Europe is produced in South Korea. As a result, GM will increase its focus on driving profitability, managing costs and maximizing sales opportunities in its Korean operations as the company looks for new ways to improve business results in the fast-changing and highly competitive global business environment. “We will continue to become more competitive in Korea,” said GM Korea President and CEO Sergio Rocha. “In doing so, we will position ourselves for long-term competitiveness and sustainability in the best interests of our employees, customers and stakeholders, while remaining a significant contributor to GM’s global business.” With the decision that Chevrolet will no longer have a mainstream presence in Western and Eastern Europe, GM expects to record net special charges of $700 million to $1 billion primarily in the fourth quarter of 2013 and continuing through the first half of 2014. The special charges include asset impairments, dealer restructuring, sales incentives and severance-related costs, and will pave the way for continued improvement in GM’s European operations through the further strengthening of the Opel and Vauxhall brands. Approximately $300 million of the net special charges will be non-cash expenses. In addition, GM expects to incur restructuring costs related to these actions that will not be treated as special charges, but will impact GM International Operations earnings in 2014.
  14. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 28, 2013 Consumer Reports has released this year's Auto Reliability Rankings, and not surprisingly Japan is on top. The top three in the rankings are Lexus, Toyota, and Acura. Following them is Mazda in fifth, Infiniti in sixth, Honda in eighth, and Subaru in tenth. That doesn't mean there weren't any surprises. Audi jumped four places to forth, while Volvo climbed a massive thirteen spots to seventh place. GMC was the only American brand to place in the top ten with spot in ninth. Outside the top ten, America, Europe and Japan saw mixed results. Scion took a big tumble, dropping ten spots to eleventh. Nissan dropped nine spots to twenty-second. Cadillac saw massive fourteen point drop to twenty-fifth. On the positives, Buick climbed up nine places to capture twelfth. Chrysler and Ram also saw a rise in their rankings with two brands placing eighteenth and nineteenth respectively. Ford went up one place to twenty-sixth. “Automakers know how to make a transmission and engine that works well. In-car electronics, the phone connectivity, radio and navigation systems are causing the most problems in new vehicles," said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports automotive test director. Source: The Detroit News, Los Angeles Times, Consumer Reports William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. Press Release is on Page 2 Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Rankings: Japanese Dominance Cracks as Audi, Volvo & GMC Secure Spots in Top 10 In-Car Electronics Prove to be Achilles Heel for Many Models in Survey YONKERS, NY-Japanese brands have historically been known for building some of the most reliable vehicles in the world. But Consumer Reports 2013 Annual Auto Reliability rankings show that some other automakers-from Europe and the U.S.-are also capable of building reliable vehicles. Audi, Volvo, and GMC captured three of the top-10 spots in the survey this year. Survey results were released at a press conference today before the Automotive Press Association in Detroit. Three Japanese brands, Lexus, Toyota, and Acura captured the top three spots in the survey, which was conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The survey is believed to be the largest of its kind; findings are based on CR subscribers' experiences with 1.1 million vehicles. Consumer Reports uses the survey data to compile reliability histories on vehicles and predict how well new cars that are currently on sale will hold up. For more than a decade, Japanese brands have had a lock on most of the top spots in the survey. It's been rare for a European, Korean, or U.S. carmaker to achieve anything higher than seventh or eighth place. But Audi, which has shown steady improvement in vehicle reliability during recent years, moved up four places this year to finish fourth overall-the top European manufacturer in the survey. Three Audis, the A6 sedan, Q7 SUV and Allroad wagon, have "much better than average" reliability. Volvo jumped 13 places to seventh. GMC emerged as the top domestic brand, finishing ninth-three places higher than last year. Moreover, every model from Audi, GMC, and Volvo, for which CR has data, earned an average or better reliability score. The top predicted-reliability score went to the redesigned 2014 Subaru Forester SUV, which hadn't been on the market for very long when CR conducted the survey. The Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid got the worst score, and the regular C-Max Hybrid wasn't much better. General Motors fared better than other domestic brands. In addition to GMC, Buick climbed nine slots to 12th place over last year. All Buicks except the V6 LaCrosse were average or better. The only dark spots for Chevrolet are the Camaro and Cruze, both of which earned below-average reliability scores. Japanese brands took seven out of the 10 top spots in the survey. Nissan sank to 22nd among the 28 brands in the rankings. As a group, the nine Japanese brands in the survey still produce a remarkable number of reliable cars. Of the almost 100 models, 90 percent were average or better and almost a third ofthem received top marks. Ten of those highest scorers were Toyotas. Of the eight Lexus models in CR's survey, six got top marks. All Lexus and Acura models earned an above average reliability score while all Infiniti, Mazda, and Toyota models earned an average or better reliability score. Two popular models, the redesigned 2013 Honda Accord V6 and the 2013 Nissan Altima, scored too poorly in the survey for Consumer Reports to continue Recommending them. Last year, CR had predicted that both vehicles would have at least average reliability. Mazda slipped from fourth to fifth. The redesigned Mazda6 debuted with above-average reliability. Subaru and Scion, which also typically rank well in reliability, were torpedoed by their twin sports cars, the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S, which scored below average. This dropped Subaru to 10th place, from last year's fifth. Scion, for which CR had only two models with sufficient data, sank from first place to 11th this time. One of the key problem areas in Consumer Reports' survey centers on in-car electronics, including the proliferating suite of audio, navigation, communication, and connected systems in newer cars. Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about, the category including in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners of 2013 models than for any other category. In many cases, the survey revealed touch-screen infotainment systems have been buggy, with frustrating screen freezes, touch-control lag, or a reluctance to recognize a cell-phone, an MP3 device, or a voice command. Hybrids and electric cars continue to do well. The Toyota Prius, Lexus ES 300h, Toyota Prius C, and Honda CR-Z hybrids, as well as the Nissan Leaf electric car, were among the top models. Ford's CMax and Fusion hybrids were the only exceptions. The Tesla Model S electric car performed well enough in the survey to earn a Recommendation from CR for the first time. CR gathered data on more than 600 2012 and 2013 models. Owners of the 2012 model reported very few problems, although 2013 owners reported quite a few more. Problem areas included wind noise, squeaks and rattles, and body hardware (including the sunroof, doors, and locks). Of the 31 Ford models in Consumer Reports' survey, only one, the F-150 pickup with the 3.7- liter V6, was above average. Seven achieved an average score. Ford's challenges don't end with the historically problematic My-Touch systems. Several EcoBoost turbocharged V6 models have poor reliability as well. Almost two-thirds of the 34 Fords and Lincolns in our survey got scores that were much worse than average. Chrysler is still below par overall, but a bright spot is the very nice Chrysler 300 C which scores above average-last year it was the company's most troublesome vehicle. Unfortunately, some of Chrysler's most reliable models, such as the Jeep Compass and Patriot SUVs, didn't score well in Consumer Reports' testing, while the better performing 2014 V6 Jeep Grand Cherokee has fallen well below average reliability. In recent years, Hyundai and Kia were beginning to challenge the Japanese at the top of Consumer Reports' reliability rankings. In 2011, they scored well ahead of Detroit and most European companies. But they slipped a bit in the 2013 survey, with Kia ranking midpack and Hyundai sliding to 21st place. BMW and Mercedes-Benz remained around midpack among all brands. Most models from those German badges are average or better, with each company having a few problem children: the BMW 335i and turbocharged six-cylinder X3, and the diesel-powered Mercedes M-Class. Volkswagen, which turned in a middling performance, was especially hampered by the trouble-prone Beetle, GTI, and Touareg. All three Minis in our survey made a very poor showing.
  15. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com March 8, 2013 If you have been keeping track on the whole pile of rumors concerning the next-generation Focus RS, you would know that the engine being talked about would possibly be shared with the next-generation Mustang. The engine in question is a turbocharged 2.3L unit that will be based on the Focus ST's 2.0L and produce somewhere in the range of 300+ horsepower. Now for some bad news for those who were hoping for a return of the Mustang SVO in the states. Edmunds is reporting that that the four-cylinder will only be available for European customers when introduced. The reason for this is that the V8 Mustang would be taxed higher due to high emissions. The four-cylinder option allows Ford to offer a lower-emissions model which means less tax. Source: Edmunds UPDATE: So the U.S. will be getting the four-cylinder turbocharged Mustang, at least that is what Road & Track is reporting. R&T is also saying the turbo-four will not be the base engine, most likely sitting between the V6 and V8 engines. Our thoughts? We're going to be on the wait and see if this happens or not. Source: Road & Track William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  16. Volvo's owner, Geely is planning to enter Europe and U.S. in the coming years. Reuters reports that Geely will building a new crossover based on the Compact Modular Architecture - a platform that Geely and Volvo have been working together. Along with new engine technology, this car will launch in China in 2017. The crossover will then head into several Europe markets a year later, followed by the U.S. in due time. "With the CMA car, Li wants to tell the world we're ready for the big time. We're ready to break into Europe and the U.S.," a source told Reuters. The new crossover was designed with the U.S. market in mind. But before Geely plans on sending it to the U.S., it will sell the crossover in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Britain, and Eastern Europe. "Those markets, Britain in particular, are open to foreign cars, while northern Europe, France and Germany are not," a source said. While the Chinese market will get a gasoline variant, Europe and the U.S. will get a alternative-fuel model, possibly a plug-in hybrid. The goal with this is to make Geely seen as a maker of affordable, high-tech cars. "It's an effort to burnish our brand before we bring out more mainstream gasoline-fueled cars to Europe and eventually to the U.S.," Source: Reuters
  17. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 26, 2012 This week hasn’t been good for Ford’s factory workers in Europe. The blue oval announced the closure of three plants; two in United Kingdom and one in Belgium. We’ll start with Belgium. On Wednesday, Ford announced the closure of the Genk Assembly Plant in Belgium. The Genk Assembly builds the current Mondeo midsize, and the S-MAX and Galaxy MPVs. The closure will affect about 4,300 jobs when it happens in 2014. "This (closure) wasn't the plan. Initially we had committed to build the next-generation Mondeo and S-Max and Galaxy at this plant, but the contract has a clause for significant decline in market conditions," says Ford of Europe spokesman Mark Truby to USA Today. One of the reasons Genk will be closed down is the lack of capacity. Ford Europe Chairman Stephen Odell told Reuters that the plant was running under 50% capacity. Production will move to a plant in Valencia, Spain. "After the announcement there were some rough scenes. There was some pushing and shoving but we managed to calm it down. It was aimed at the management but they left quickly. It was also among each other as people were very angry and frustrated," said Luc Prenen, the head of the ACV union after the announcement was read. The closure also affects the production of the next-generation Mondeo (i.e. the new Fusion). According to What Car?, production has been delayed till the end of 2014. Next: That’s not all the closures though. Yesterday Ford announced two more closures, both in the U.K. Transit van plant in Southampton Dagenham stamping plant This will cause another 1,400 jobs to disappear. So why is Ford shuttering plants? To conserve as much cash as they can. Losses at Ford’s European branch are estimated to be around $1 to 1.5 billion. Ford says the closure Genk alone will save around $300 to 500 million. Analysts say though the closure could cost around a billion. The closure will also cut down on the overcapacity that European automakers are currently dealing with. At the moment, Europe has the capacity to build 22 million vehicles. Last year, about 18 million new vehicles were sold. This year, analysts are forecasting about 14 million vehicles. Source: Reuters, 2, USA Today, What Car?, The Detroit News, 2William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  18. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 15, 2012 The Tata Nano, introduced in 2009 as the world's cheapest car could be making its way to other countries. Ratan Tata, head of the Tata Group recently revealed in an interview that they are working on a redesigned version to be sold in the U.S. and Europe that could go on sale within three years. "The U.S. is a very enticing market. We are redesigning the Nano for both Europe and the U.S." The redesign will involve a larger engine and adding "more bells and whistles," including such items as power steering and traction control. Tata says the Nano will be under $10,000. "The Smart and the Fiat 500 have high sticker prices, and people buy them because they are small cars. But everyone knows you put a lot of money into it. We hope that the sub-$10,000 car has appeal." When asked where the Nano would be sold, Tata said its too early to talk about that. We have to give a lot of thought to how we would distribute the car," he said. Source: Autoweek William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  19. Many of us are excited that Ford is finally bringing the Ranger to the U.S. towards the end of the decade. But the long wait for it is driving a number of folks crazy. Well, we're probably not going to help with this as the folks at M-Sport (who heads up Ford's World Rally Championship team) have introduced a special edition of the Ranger that can be described as a Raptor mini. This is the M-Sport Ranger and it looks quite mean. It begins with a Ranger 4x4 double cab that gets a new grill with integrated lights, 18-inch wheels fitted with off-road tires, and certain body parts getting a matte black finish. Underneath is a Pedders suspension sport pack that improves the ride and a new sports exhaust. The interior features custom leather upholstery and a sports steering wheel. Optional is an off-road kit that includes a lift kit for the suspension that raises the truck by 1.75 inches and additional lighting. One item that is unknown is if the M-Sport Ranger gets more power. Power is from a 3.2-liter TDCi five-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. M-Sport says the Ranger will go into production this September and be sold at select Ford dealers around Europe. Source: M-Sport Press Release is on Page 2 Introducing the M-Sport Ranger M-Sport’s bespoke range of road-going vehicles has gained recognition and popularity around the world, and last week saw Van Sport launch the latest edition – the M-Sport Ranger. Following the highly acclaimed M-Sport Transit and M-Sport Transit Connect, Van Sport – in collaboration with M-Sport and Carlex Design – launched the Ranger at the Abenteuer and Allrad off-road trade fair in Germany. Based on the Ranger 3.2 tdci 4x4 double cab pickup, the vehicle includes a range of enhancements including a front bumper conversion, and extensions to the bonnet lip and side arches. A sports exhaust system and Pedders suspension sport pack add to the ride while Lazer lights to the front grill assist main beam for optimum performance. Matte black wing mirrors, door handles, window strips, side steps and tailgate add to the look whilst 18” matte graphite wheels complete this bespoke off-road experience. The interior enhancements are in keeping with the high quality of all products in the M-Sport range. A full leather interior is complimented by a leather centre armrest and door trims. A sports steering wheel provides further exclusivity whilst privacy glass to the rear windows gives the Ranger a unique finishing touch. An additional off-road option pack is also available which adds Lazer lights to the roof cover for further visibility and a full Pedders suspension lift kit which raises the vehicle an additional 1.75 inches. A full under tray body protection kit is also available as well as a limited edition hard-top, lift-up back which provides a sporty and convenient addition. The M-Sport Ranger will be in full production for September 2016 and available in supporting Ford dealerships throughout both the UK and Europe. View full article
  20. Tomorrow, we find out the details of the settlement between Volkswagen and the U.S. Government over the diesel emission scandal. As we reported last week, sources told various news outlets that part of the settlement would include compensation payments from $1,000 to $7,000 to owners. A European Union commissioner believes that should be extended to those in Europe. EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska tells German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that Volkswagen should set up a similar compensation program for Europe. "Volkswagen should voluntarily pay European car owners compensation that is comparable with that which they will pay U.S. consumers," said Bienkowska. She said that it would be unfair for Volkswagen to treat European consumers differently than U.S. ones due to different legal systems. "But consumers in Europe should be treated differently than the US consumer is not a way to regain confidence." Source: Die Welt, Reuters View full article
  21. Earlier this month, Cadillac revealed the CT6 and XT5 in Berlin ahead of their official European launch in September. At the present moment, the brand will be selling the vehicles through 45 dealers in 12 countries. Speaking with Autocar, Cadillac Europe’s head of product management Barnabas Vincze says they plan on doubling that by 2020 as part of a plan to achieve “organic growth” rather than going after volume. This shows in the sales goal as Cadillac wants to boost sales from about 550 vehicles last year to around 900-1000. For the time being, the CT6 and XT5 will be equipped only with gas engines. Down the road, Vincze says “all types of different powertrains were on the table as options” in the future, and the brand was “looking at them all now. For now, we bring high-performance petrols to market.” Also, Cadillac will be adding more crossovers to their European lineup. These include a model sitting between the XT5 and Escalade, and two small crossovers. “Crossovers will be key to us,” said Vincze. Source: Autocar View full article
  22. With the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal hanging a dark cloud over the fuel, many automakers are considering whether or not they want to continue with diesel. Karl Schlicht, executive vice-president of Toyota Europe tells Autocar the company is wondering whether or not they should stop offering diesels. He uses the example of the Yaris Diesel. At the moment, the option makes "up less than 10%” of total sales for Europe. Dropping this model is a real possibility. “I think that anyone looking at investing in a new diesel plant, which might have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, will have to look long and hard at whether they would get payback,” said Schlicht. This comes as stricter emission standards and tests are on the horizon for Europe. Source: Autocar View full article
  23. Volkswagen is getting ready to start the $10 billion compensation program for owners of the 2.0L TDI engine in the U.S. But some folks want the German automaker to do something similar for TDI owners in Europe. "Volkswagen should voluntarily pay European car owners compensation that is comparable with that which they will pay U.S. consumers," said EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska last week. In a interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag over the weekend, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller said that isn't going to happen. "But we have just a different situation," said Müller. "In the U.S. the (emission) limits are stricter, which makes the fix more complicated. And taking part in the buyback is voluntary (for customers), which is not the case in Germany, for example." The U.S.' regulations concerning emissions are some of strictest in the world, with automakers having to meet specific limits on how much pollutants come out of a tailpipe. This is why all diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. have some sort of after treatment system to help cut down on the amount of NOx emissions. In Europe, the regulations are bit more lax. This is why Volkswagen was able to fix a number of vehicles by reprogramming the engine computer and swapping some parts. For the U.S., the fix would have be more extensive with a number of parts being replaced or added, which means added cost. Source: Welt am Sonntag, Reuters View full article
  24. After Volkswagen admitted that it used software to vary the amount of emissions being produced in their diesel vehicles, Volkswagen is using a legal loophole to provide a defense in Europe. In a letter sent last week to European regulators, Volkswagen Group Managing Director Paul Willis said that the company's cheat software might not be illegal under current European Union regulations. Crazy as might sound, there is a loophole that allows this. The New York Times reports that the European regulations have a massive loophole that could put Volkswagen in the clear. In fact, regulators knew about this loophole back in 2011. We'll let the New York Times explain the loophole. "The loophole lets carmakers change the performance settings of their engines before a pollution test. “A manufacturer could specify a special setting that is not normally used for everyday driving,” British regulators warned, according to minutes of a 2011 meeting in Geneva of officials across the region." Willis points this out in his letter, stating the automaker is considering "whether the software in question officially constituted a defeat device." Now this is only a small part of a number of problems with how Europe regulates how vehicles. Automakers can submit to testing in any of the 28 member states of EU and have those results recognized across the EU. Also, automakers can submit pre-production models and do various tweaks such as removing seats and taping up gaps for emission tests. "What we have developed is a phony system of testing where the member states [of the European Union] are in competition with each other for who can make it the most easy for the car manufacturers to pass the test," said Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch member of the European Parliament. Now the EU has the final say as to whether or not Volkswagen's cheating software is actually illegal or not. Lucia Caudet, a spokeswoman for the European Commission tells the Times that the governing body has "no formal view on whether” the software in question counts as "a 'defeat device' in the EU legal sense or not." We'll keep you updated on this. Source: New York Times Wills' letter is below. View full article
  25. The Lexus IS is quite good vehicle - aside from the looks - but it has one big problem. The base 2.5L V6 is a bit of a dog. There isn't enough power to move the IS around. Luckily, Lexus has a solution for this problem in Europe for the time being. Meet the Lexus IS 200t which has the same turbocharged 2.0L four found in the NX crossover. This produces 245 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The engine will come paired with an eight-speed automatic. Lexus claims an 7 second run to 60 MPH and combined fuel economy of 33 MPG on the European cycle. The IS 200t will go on sale in September in Europe. The U.S. will be getting the IS 200t, but no date as to when we'll see it. Source: Lexus Press Release is on Page 2 LEXUS TO LAUNCH IS 200t WITH INNOVATIVE 2.0l TURBO PETROL ENGINE New turbo engine offers superior smoothness and responsiveness, with no turbo-lag and high fuel efficiency Engine mated to 8-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission IS 200t on sale in Europe as from September 2015 Brussels, Belgium - Lexus is expanding the range of vehicle equipped with its new 2.0-litre turbo engine. Following the launch of NX 200t in early 2015 and the announced arrival of RX 200t by the end of the year, IS is the third Lexus model to be fitted with this new engine. Powered by a new 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine – with innovative D-4ST fuel injection technology for both fuel economy and instantaneous torque – the Lexus IS 200t sports sedan delivers 245 DIN hp (180kW) with a maximum torque of 350 Nm. Capable of rapid acceleration up to a top speed of 230 km/h, its 8-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission was developed for the high-performance RC F. Featuring a breakthrough combination of water-cooled cylinder head, integrated exhaust manifold and twin scroll turbocharger, this all-new Lexus 2.0-litre turbo engine delivers fast throttle response, performance and high torque at low engine revs. For enhanced fuel economy, innovative valve timing (VVT-iW: Variable Valve Timing intelligent - Wide) allows the engine to switch between the Otto and Atkinson cycles. The IS 200t returns a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 7.0 seconds and an average fuel consumption of 7.0l/100 km. Cylinder Head with Integral 4-into-2 Exhaust Manifold and Twin-Scroll TurboThis innovative, combination of engine technologies has been designed to provide a high level of responsiveness with minimal turbo lag and enhanced low speed torque, and yet return an improved fuel economy. The four-into-two exhaust manifold system pairs cylinders according to their expansion or compression stroke. Acting in conjunction with the highly-efficient, twin-scroll turbocharger, this innovative manifold structure prevents interference between the exhaust gasses from each cylinder, generating high torque across the widest possible rev range. The engine further employs an air to liquid intercooler mounted directly to the engine to significantly reduce the intake volume downstream of the turbocharger, minimising turbo lag for a highly responsive performance. The twin-scroll turbocharger itself features variable waste gate valve control. This minimises pumping losses by reducing back pressure during low engine loads when the turbo is not required realising good fuel economy. In addition, the integration of the exhaust manifold within the cylinder head enhances exhaust gas cooling without sacrificing catalyst warm-up performance. This not only helps to suppress catalyst deterioration, but also expands driving range at the optimum, stoichiometric air-fuel ratio. D-4ST Fuel Injection System D-4ST (Direct injection 4 stroke gasoline engine Superior version with Turbo) combines a high pressure fuel system for injection directly into the cylinders with a low pressure system for injection into the ports. Injection is split between the direct and port injectors according to the engine load, optimising fuel combustion in all driving situations to enhance both low speed torque and fuel economy. This advanced fuel injection system works in combination with turbocharging technology to create a high level of compatibility between the 'high tumble ratio' achieved by optimising the shape of the cylinder head intake ports and the piston tops, and turbo 'boost control'. Innovative Dual VVT-iW TechnologyOptimising torque throughout the engine rev range and allowing the engine to start in the Otto cycle and yet run in the more fuel efficient Atkinson cycle, the new Lexus turbo features innovative dual variable valve timing technology which adopts VVT-i to the exhaust valves and VVT-iW to the intake valves, but also delivers wide open throttle performance. The late intake valve closing of the Atkinson cycle reduces pumping losses and boosts fuel economy. VVT-iW incorporates a mid-position lock which not only enables the Atkinson cycle to be maintained without sacrificing starting performance in cold weather. Further Advanced Features The new 2.0 litre turbo engine is remarkably light and compact. Cast with low nickel content heat resistant steel, and featuring a resin cylinder head cover, intake manifold and intake pipes, it weighs just 160 kg. The unit was bench-tested for more than 10,000 hours before extensive on-road testing began, during which it then covering more than one million kilometres. Several measures have been adopted to reduce friction losses within various parts of the engine, enhancing fuel economy. The adoption of an offset crankshaft lowers the piston thrust load to reduce friction losses. Cylinder bore machining has been improved and a piston surface treatment applied to the piston skirts, reducing sliding resistance. Low tension piston rings have been used, and the weight of reciprocating parts reduced. A lightweight roller rocker valve train and a low friction timing chain have been adopted, and the sliding parts of the chain fabricated in a low friction material. Low friction materials have also been used for the crankshaft oil seals, and the flow of lubricating oil optimised, with oil pump flow reduced through the adoption of a variable discharge mechanism. Careful heat management within the engine further improves fuel efficiency. To that end, a cylinder block rapid warm-up system suppresses the flow of coolant into the block when the engine is cold, and a piston cooling oil jet control system cuts the supply of oil to the pistons to improve warm-up speeds. Smoothness, Quietness and a Better Turbo SoundWith the rigidity of the main structural components already optimised to suppress vibration, the new engine is further equipped with a balance shaft featuring resin gears for even greater smoothness. Newly developed lubricating calcium free oil removes the chance of engine knock at low engine revolutions, and the piston cooling oil jet system further improves anti-knock performance. The water-cooled intercooler provides strong advantages in starting off acceleration and a 0.3-second reduction in 0–100km/h acceleration time over an air-to-air type alternative. The acceleration curve prioritises torque delivery at low speeds. Turbo engines tend to be noisy when the throttle is closed (referred to as the ‘turbo sigh’). An electric air bypass valve and resonator have been adopted to greatly reduce characteristic turbocharger noise. As a turbocharged engine requires smooth intake flow for performance, Lexus engineers focused on creating special duct shapes which deliver power without noise. Eight-speed transmission with paddle shiftsThe IS 200t also received the 8-Speed Sport Direct Shift transmission with paddle shifts, originally developed for the RC F high-performance coupe. The rear wheel drive IS 200t is the first Lexus sedan to vary gear shifting in accordance to G-forces. The transmission automatically downshifts during hard braking before a corner then holds a lower gear through the corner for best control and then selects the most suitable gear on corner exit to give the driver greater throttle response. The IS 200t will be available as from September 2015. View full article

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