Chery: Chrysler Deal Still On

Despite a recent report on German newspaper Handelsblatt that said Chery wanted to re-examine a deal to build small cars for Chrysler due to the sale of the latter to Cerberus, the Chinese car maker has still got the hots for Chrysler. A Chery spokesman told Reuters today that the German newspaper had misquoted Chery’s general manager, Zhang Li, and that the earlier agreement with Chrysler,

2012 BMW 3-Series Rendering With CS Concept Design Cues

Over the years the 3-Series has become the car that defines the term “sport sedan” and the benchmark for every luxury car maker from Alfa Romeo to Volvo. Also it’s the best selling car in BMW’s range. That’s the sole reason why the Bavarians have been so tentative with the styling of all 3-Series models. Either you like them or not, design-wise, the latest 5-Series and 7-Series sedans performed a

Ford Works to Expand Ethanol Production, Distribution

DEARBORN, May 21, 2007 – With increasing global consumption of
fossil fuels and consumers looking for “greener” choices in dealer
showrooms, Ford Motor Company is working to accelerate ethanol
production among a broad range of renewable fuel options for future

Ford has placed more than 2 million flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs)
on American roads. The company’s current lineup of FFVs includes the
Ford F-150, Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town

Last year, Ford, along with General Motors and DaimlerChrysler,
pledged to double annual production of vehicles capable of running on
renewable fuels by 2010. The automakers renewed a commitment this
spring to make half of their annual vehicle production capable of
running on alternative fuels by 2012. Key to that commitment, however,
is the need for an adequate distribution network for ethanol or E85, a
mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

“Not only does E85 access have to be convenient to customers,
it has to be at a price point that provides value,” said Curtis
Magleby, director, State and Local Governmental Affairs.

Magleby says there are approximately 1,200 ethanol fueling stations
operating in the United States today. Most are concentrated in the
Midwest. Compared to the nearly 170,000 retail gasoline stations in
business nationally, the need for additional ethanol availability is

At least 10 to 20 percent of the fueling locations would need
to have E85 available to really begin to have true customer access,
according to Magleby, who added accessibility is only part of the
challenge. The government needs to make E85 production more attractive
for energy producers, he said.

“Governmental and business policies in place today actually
provide greater financial incentives to those producing lower-level
ethanol fuel blends (E10 which is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent
gasoline). The result is there is no business equation for many of the
major refiners or retailers to produce or sell E85. That has to
change,” said Magleby.

“Ethanol has lower energy level content than gasoline. E85 needs to be
discounted at least 20 percent under gasoline to provide value to
customers,” he added.

Ford entered into a unique E85 partnership last year with
VeraSun Energy Corporation and MFA Oil to create the Midwest Ethanol
Corridor. The goal was to provide flexible-fuel vehicle owners the
ability to drive between Chicago and Kansas City, fueled exclusively by
E85, while educating consumers about the benefits of ethanol in the

“I think the automakers, and Ford in particular, have stepped
up and shown leadership on this issue,” said Bill Honnef, senior vice
president, VeraSun. “This effort was a first for the industry, in that
Ford went from simply producing flexible fuel vehicles to proactively
looking to expand the E85 infrastructure. As a result, the ethanol
industry is expanding at a record pace.”

Honnef estimates that ethanol production in the U.S. will reach
a capacity of 14 billion gallons, or roughly one-tenth the annual
consumption of gasoline by American motorists (140 billion gallons),
within the next five years.

“Right now, America has no alternative fuel option; we’re
dependent on gasoline for transportation. Our challenge is to get the
ethanol infrastructure in place to match expected growth of production
to suport E85 sales,” said Magleby. “For every penny increase in the
cost of a gallon of gasoline today, it is a cost to the American
consumers of $1.3 billion.”

Perhaps the best example of an effective ethanol solution today
can be found in Brazil, where more than two-thirds of the vehicles sold
are already flex-fuel capable, including the ability to run on pure
ethanol, known as E100.

“About 10 years ago, the Brazilian government incentivized
their farmers to grow more sugar cane, which they convert to ethanol,
with the hope of reducing their dependency on foreign oil,” said Hau
Thai-Tang, product development director for Ford South America
Operations (FSAO).

“As market demands influence pricing, customers can switch from
100 percent gasoline to 100 percent ethanol, or any blends in between,
including E85. It gives the consumer a lot of flexibility.”

Thai-Tang says Ford has been a pioneer in delivering several
flexible-fuel products to the Brazilian marketplace, including the
Fiesta, Focus and EcoSport mini SUV. He adds that the company’s South
American experience will benefit future product development plans in
North America.

“We view ourselves as being the center of excellence within the
Ford community for doing flex fuel and ethanol vehicles,” Thai-Tang
said. “Every opportunity we have to share those learnings moving
forward, we’ll take advantage of.”

Today ethanol is primarily produced from corn, but Magleby says that may change.

“Work is being done to accelerate the transition toward a
broader array of biomass feedstocks, as an increasingly important part
of sustainability and greenhouse gas production,” he said.

Kicherer SL K 60 Evo Black: 605Hp And Full Of Carbon-Fibre

Not the prettiest SL you’ll see on the road but admittedly, it does ooze with power. Kicherer’s latest interpretation of the Mercedes-Benz SL roadster is equipped with a bi-turbo V12 engine delivering 605hp/445kW. 0 to 100 km/h (62mph) come in just 4.3 sec and 200 km/h after 14.2 sec while top speed is electronically limited to 300 km/h (187 mph). Performance isn’t the SL K 60 Evo Black’s only

Euro NCAP: Nissan Qasqhai Receives Record Points For Adult Occupant Protection

Not only did Nissan’s new compact crossover get a maximum 5-star rating for adult occupant protection, but thanks to a near to perfect 36.83 points out of a maximum 37 points, the Qashqai achieved the highest ever recorded score in this test for any vehicle in Euro NCAP’s 10-year long history. In the other tests, the Qashqai received 4-stars (out of 5) for child protection and a mediocre 2 out of

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited & JT: 2007 SEMA Concepts

Jeep decided to share with us the first pictures of their upcoming Wrangler based Unlimited & JT concepts that’ll make their public appearance at the 2007 SEMA Show in October. Beginning with the sand-colour JT, the 4×4 pick-up is based on the new Wrangler Unlimited’s 116-inch wheelbase platform featuring a 5-foot pickup bed and an easy-to-handle removable hardtop. Its off road capabilities have

FEATURE OF THE WEEK – Spec Smart: Think fifth wheels should be a quick spec decision? Think again.

all them the Rodney Dangerfields of the trucking world. When it’s time
to spec a new truck, fifth wheels get no respect. While hours are spent
going over the smallest of details for more glamorous components, such
as the engine and transmission, decisions about the utilitarian fifth
wheel can be glossed over. Yet fifth wheels do perform a critical job,
their design is deceptively complex, and there are more options to
consider than you might think. To help you make a more educated fifth
wheel spec’ing decision, we’ve enlisted the help of experts from
Holland Hitch of Canada Ltd. and Fontaine Fifth Wheel.

Stationary or sliding: This is your first consideration. If you
anticipate that the axle loading, kingpin setting and combination
length of the truck in question will remain constant, a stationary
fifth wheel will do. The style of mounting is the next consideration.
An angle-on-frame mount (low cost and less torsional rigidity) and a
plate mount (higher cost, more torsional rigidity) are the options.

If your operation requires different kingpin settings and varying
combination weights, the flexibility provided by a sliding fifth wheel
is worth the extra cost. It also has a higher resale value. With a
sliding fifth wheel, you will also need to consider the type of release
required. If your operation calls for frequent adjustments for weight
distribution or weight configuration, an air slide is the smart spec.
If few adjustments are required, the lower-cost manual release will do.
Your final decision with a sliding fifth wheel concerns the length of
the slide. Specify too short a length and you may not be able to shift
enough weight from your drives to your front axles to prevent an
overload situation. Too long a slide could end up interfering between
the tractor cab and the front of the trailer when turning, as well as
adding cost and weight.

Height: A critical spec as the overall unladen height combination of
13’6″ must be maintained. The fifth wheel height should match the upper
coupler plate level. If you’re running spring suspensions, keep in mind
that they can deflect up to two inches under load and your fifth wheel
height will have to allow for that degree of deflection. Remember that
lowering the fifth wheel height results in less forward and aft
articulation. Under severe applications, such as logging or
construction, this can result in damage to the fifth wheel as well as
the frame and trailer. The maximum height is determined by subtracting
the trailer height and unladen tractor frame height from the maximum
height of 13’6″.

Ratings & Capacities: The towed vehicle weight (TVW) to be pulled,
the maximum drawbar load expected, the vertical load to be carried, and
the type of operation the fifth wheel will be exposed to are the key
considerations in spec’ing the right rating and capacity. Vertical load
refers to the weight of the loaded trailer’s nose as it sits on the
fifth wheel. Drawbar capacity is a measure of the relative strength of
the fifth wheel in terms of what it must pull. Play it safe when
specifying a capacity rating; spec a rating that can handle the
heaviest weights you’re likely to haul.

Oscillation: This is the side-to-side tilting movement of the fifth
wheel that will change as the connection between the tractor and
trailer is altered while road bumps and curves are negotiated. The
standard over-the-road fifth wheel is semi-oscillating, which means it
can articulate about an axis perpendicular to the vehicle centreline.
It relieves stresses both forward and aft of the axis. A fully
oscillating fifth wheel is designed to provide both front-to-rear and
side-to-side oscillation between the tractor and semi-trailer. Spec
this one if the centre of gravity of the loaded trailer is at or below
the top of the fifth wheel. A rigid fifth wheel design is fixed in
location. The oscillation is provided by other means. There are also
elevating fifth wheels which allow you to convert a standard road
tractor for yard spotting, switching and hauling.

Weight: Weight adds to the initial cost of the fifth wheel and adds
down-the-road costs through reduced carrying capacity and higher fuel
bills. Yet purchasing a fifth wheel lighter than what your operation
requires can result in additional maintenance and downtime. There’s a
balance you will have to strike between cost and strength.

Maserati Quattroporte Automatica Review

maserati-quattroporte-automatica-review.jpgSince its introduction in 2004, the fifth gen Maserati Quattroporte has been a sedan poised on the brink of greatness. Its fatal flaw: a clunky automated manual transmission ill-suited to the model’s luxury mission. Unlike some propeller-badged Germans we could name, Maserati’s Italian parent heeded the catcalls directed at its high tech gearbox. FIAT sourced a ZF six speed fully automatic transmission to cure the problem, subito. So, are we there yet? Continue reading Maserati Quattroporte Automatica Review

Jaguar Car Reviews

Juar XKR – Review: Anybody with a pulse will feel it quicken when gazing upon the 2007 Jaguar XKR. From the fender vents to the hood louvers to its tight proportions, its sleek lines promise performance. Looks have never been Jaguar’s shortcoming, but previous XK’s delivered an underwhelming driving experience that failed to deliver on the styling’s promise. This new XKR largely changes that. Continue reading Jaguar Car Reviews

Spy Shots: 2008 Honda Accord Coupe pics complete the circle

accord-coupe-concept.jpgThe 2008 Honda Accord sedan has been out and about fairly regularly in the past few weeks with several lightly covered examples having been photographed. Until now, none of these were accompanied by the coupe version, but that too has changed. Comparing the production coupe to the concept that Honda unveiled in January at the Detroit Auto Show shows how much of the concept was production ready. Continue reading Spy Shots: 2008 Honda Accord Coupe pics complete the circle