I will try my best to provide detailed info on various cars and what is like to live with them, I have already produced a few for Jaguar-car-forums, I will do my best to be unbiased, but it will be hard for some cars. I will re-produce press releases and copy from other motoring news.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Renault celebrates in Style with three anniversaries at the Rétromobile Show, Paris.


This year’s Rétromobile Show (February 5-9, Porte de Versailles, Paris, France) will see Renault celebrate three notable anniversaries:
  • 100 years since Parisian taxis – in large part Renault Type AG1 models – were requisitioned by the French Army to transport wartime troops from the capital to the front of the First Battle of the Marne;
  • The 50th anniversary of the Renault 8 Gordini, the iconic car which made the joy of sporty motoring an affordable reality for a whole generation;
  • The 30th anniversary of the ground-breaking Renault Espace.

Visitors to the 2014 Rétromobile Show (Salon Rétromobile) at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France (February 5-9) will be able to admire the following exhibits on Renault’s 700 sq. metre stand in Hall 1 (1G64 stand):

  • A recently-restored Renault Type AG1 taxi.
  • Five legendary Renault 8 Gordinis, including a Type 1134, prepared by Renault’s competition department.
  • The Espace saga, told through eight display vehicles from the original concept right up to the current-day model, with a special space reserved for the extraordinary Espace F1.

The vehicles on display on the Renault stand in detail:

Marne Taxi: Renault Type AG1 (1909)
The first Parisian taxi, the Type AG found itself elevated to fame during the First World War. In 1914, the German army marched upon Paris. In order to hold the enemy back, it was necessary to despatch French troops to the front – a task that fell to Paris’ plethora of taxis. Six hundred of them were consequently called into service to transport 3,000 men, which resulted in France winning the First Battle of the Marne and earned the vehicles their ‘Marne Taxi’ sobriquet.

The vehicle on display at the show has been restored especially to mark this centenary.

Renault 8 Gordini:

Renault 8 Gordini (1970)
One of the most popular sporting models ever produced by Renault is indisputably the Renault 8 Gordini, which boasted a top speed of 175kph for an unrivalled low price. Launched in 1964, this automotive icon brought the joy of sporty driving to an entire generation.

Renault 8 Gordini 1500 Twin Cam (1967) (private collection)
This Renault 8 Gordini is powered by a 1.5-litre engine with a double overhead camshaft, the same powerplant that was used by a number of Alpine prototypes competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours. This particular model is unique and once belonged to Amédée Gordini.

Renault 8 Gordini (1969)
Renault 8 Gordini shone in rallying from 1964, with an extraordinary performance in the legendary ‘Tour de Corse’ culminating in four cars placed inside the overall top five, headed by winner Jean Vinatier. That impressive record of success continued all the way up until 1970. The model on show at the Rétromobile Show recently returned from the 2014 Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique, where it competed as part of the Team Renault Classic line-up.

Renault 8 Gordini Type 1134 (1965)
This Renault 8 Gordini Type 1134, prepared by Renault’s competition department, has been restored to contribute to the Renault 8 Gordini’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Ex-Michel Leclère Renault 8 Gordini (1969)
The original livery of this white car with an orange front end was chosen by its first owner, Michel Leclère, who piloted it to victory in the Pas Dunlop and second place in the 1969 Coupe Gordini. Despite the passing of the years and changes of ownership, this outstanding Gordini is totally original.

Renault Espace: Four generations on display to tell the story of this model:

1984 – Espace I: Espace was first presented to the media in April, before going on sale in July. The model’s versatility took observers by surprise, with the five rear seats all being removable and the front two revolving when the vehicle was stationary to create an impromptu living room. Renault introduced its slogan ‘Voitures à Vivre’.

1991 – Espace II: The second-generation Espace offered more refined dynamics and softer lines. This time, the modularity was even more versatile, with the rear seats now mounted on fore/aft rails. Mated to automatic transmission, the V6 engine confirmed Espace’s status as a truly high-end model.

1996 – Espace III: The third generation saw Espace grow in size, with a version that was 27cm longer still – christened Grand Espace –added to the range in January, 1998.

2002 – Espace IV: The current-generation Espace was produced entirely by Renault at its Sandouville plant. Its most significant innovation was its bodywork, no longer made from composite materials but from steel.

Other Espaces at the Rétromobile Show:

Renault Project 900 (1959)
Providing spacious interiors has always been at the very forefront of Renault’s thinking. Responding to the requirement for better management of a vehicle’s cabin space, Project 900 was too avant-garde to meet with any great success – but Espace was not far around the corner...

Matra Project P18 (1981) (Matra Museum collection)
Presented by Matra, this prototype would act as the basis for the model given to Bernard Hanon by Philippe Guédon in 1982. It led to the partnership between Renault and Matra for the design and production of Renault Espace.

Renault Espace I (1984) (private collection)
A pre-production vehicle built in October 1983, this car carries the number 4, making it the oldest Espace known to exist! Its owner, a former Matra employee, states: “I am extremely proud to have played a part in this adventure and to see, 30 years later, just how much of a revolutionary vehicle Espace went on to be!”

Renault Espace F1 (1994)
This Espace F1 was designed to celebrate the Williams-Renault team’s third consecutive Constructors’ crown in the 1994 Formula 1 World Championship and the sixth title for Renault’s V10. It went on display at the Paris Motor Show in October 1994 and even acted as the Safety Car at certain circuits.

The new Mercedes-Benz V-Class redefines how MPV's should be.

With the V-Class Mercedes-Benz redefines the MPV. As the youngest and largest member of the passenger car family from Stuttgart, it sets new benchmarks in its segment with its design and a host of innovations. The new V-Class, which comes to the UK in early 2015, combines room for up to eight people and exemplary functionality with the high-class appeal, comfort, efficient driving pleasure and safety that distinguish the automobiles bearing the three-pointed star. This makes the Mercedes among MPVs the perfect vehicle for everyone who appreciates great spaciousness but does not want to sacrifice style and comfort.

Whether off on a shopping spree or travelling with the whole family, heading out for a mountain bike holiday with friends in the Alps or driving prominent guests to a red carpet event - the new V-Class provides optimum flexibility when it comes to use of the interior and always cuts an elegant figure at the same time. The V-Class will be available with an Exterior Sports package and an Interior Design package, two wheelbases offering two lengths up to 5370 millimetres, two engines and also many optional extras, the new MPV can be individualised to suit any taste and requirement. As a result it meets a wide variety of customer needs and is just as attractive for families as it is for people who need a variable and spacious interior for their leisure and sports activities. In addition, it is ideally suited as a luxurious VIP or hotel shuttle.

"With the new V-Class we are expanding the Mercedes-Benz premium passenger car range with a saloon for up to eight people," says Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Division. "Functionality is a must for an MPV. Comfort and style are the icing on the cake. The new V-Class combines both in a way no other vehicle in this segment can offer."

Emotional, dynamic appearance – size in a new guise

Even at first glance the V-Class is unmistakably a member of the Mercedes-Benz cars family and sets an emotional highlight in its segment. At the centre of the powerful front is the upright radiator grille with three-dimensional central star and the progressively designed headlamps, which for the first time in this segment offer all lighting functions in LED technology as an optional extra. The sculptured V-shaped bonnet merges elegantly into the chrome frame of the radiator grille and the headlamps. The lower air intakes and the radiator grille feature narrow louvres. In conjunction with the headlamps, which extend far into the wings, they emphasise the width of the vehicle and underscore the self-confident appearance of the new V-Class.

The clearly contoured side wall is structured by two elongated, taut lines. The interplay of concave and convex surfaces conveys a sculptural – and as such highly sensuous – character. Both lines smoothly continue the distinctive contour lines of the front bumper and rise slightly as they continue on towards the rear. The side view thus appears elongated and signals dynamism.

"The new V-Class demonstrates that an elegant and dynamic appearance is also possible in size XXL", says Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. "The V-Class is a versatile, multitalented vehicle which offers value, efficiency and safety at the highest level. As a result we are addressing a completely new customer group – among them those who are in need of a generous amount of space but never wanted to drive an MPV because style, a sense of well-being and also ride comfort have so far been lacking in this segment."

Modern style and high-class appeal

The interior redefines the meaning of spaciousness in an MPV. High-quality materials with a pleasant touch and feel and a harmonious colour concept, intricate details as well as a progressive and sensuous design idiom convey outstanding high-class appeal in the segment – and that hallmark "welcome home" feeling provided by Mercedes-Benz cars. Fine nappa leather is also available for the seats, steering wheel and shift lever. This inviting atmosphere is rounded off by subtle ambient lighting in three colours.

A particular eye catcher is the dynamically styled two-part instrument panel. The upper and lower sections are separated by a large, three-dimensional trim element that creates an impression of width and underscores the high-class appeal. The lower section is sculptural in design. This emphasises the generous sense of space while also making lightness tangible. For the first time in this class, a leather-look cockpit upper section with lavishly finished topstitching is optionally available.

Other highlights include the free-standing central display, the multifunction steering wheel with 12 function keys and DIRECT SELECT selector lever (plus steering-wheel shift paddles with automatic transmission) as well as the innovative touchpad, which allows control of all telematics functions by means of gestures or by entering letters and characters like on a smartphone. The touchpad is available in conjunction with Audio 20 CD or COMAND Online. The latest generation of COMAND Online combines all audio, telephone and navigation functions and additionally offers an internet browser, the LINGUATRONIC voice control system and transmission of traffic data in real time. The optional Burmester® surround sound system with 16 loudspeakers and a bass reflex speaker delivers the perfect listening experience.

A new dimension of comfort

The V-Class also sets new standards in comfort and variability with a host of innovations. The Mercedes-Benz MPV is the only vehicle in the segment to offer optional four-way lumbar support and active seat ventilation with reversing fans to ensure a consistent relative humidity at the contact area with the leather seat for driver and front passenger.

Also unique in this class of vehicles is the enhanced THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control system, which is available as an optional extra to replace the standard-fit TEMPMATIC system. It has various ventilation modes to offer individual climate control. The FOCUS, MEDIUM and DIFFUSE climate modes have distinct settings for air volume and distribution. In addition, the THERMOTRONIC system features automatic pre-entry climate control at the touch of a button on the vehicle key, an integral demisting sensor and distribution of cooled air to the driver and front passenger sides, the intensity of which is automatically controlled by the position of the sun.

Numerous seating and loading configurations

The seating in the rear allows numerous configurations to meet any requirements. As standard, the MPV is equipped with four individual luxury seats with armrests in two seat rows. Thanks to improved technology and operating logic, they can be folded forward intuitively to afford fast and easy access to the rear. An optional folding table can be installed between the individual seats in the first row.

As an alternative to the individual seats, a two-passenger bench seat with two-piece, individually folding backrest, or a three-passenger bench seat with two-piece seat cushion and three-piece backrest is available for both rear rows. The outer right-hand seat of the three-seater bench can be folded forward or taken out separately. The entire bench can be folded up to create space for large items of luggage, such as sports equipment or newly purchased furniture for the children's room. For overnight accommodation in the V-Class, the rearmost row also can be equipped with a three-passenger bench seat as a comfort berth. Drawers are located underneath the berth, which can also be used as a second loading level. Cargo also can be stowed under all other bench seats. Moreover, all bench seats and the individual seats are fitted with integrated three-point safety belts.

Very little effort is required to move the individual seats and benches fore and aft or to position them as vis-à-vis seats in the further optimised seat rails which feature a quick-release system. They can all be removed as well to create a loading area tailored to specific needs at any time.

Separately opening rear windscreen and second loading level

For easy loading and unloading, the V-Class features another first in this segment in the shape of the standard separately opening rear windscreen attached to the upper tailgate frame. It can be opened and closed independently of the tailgate. This makes loading and unloading easier in two respects: on the one hand, it allows a second loading level; on the other – particularly in tight parking spaces – there is no need to open the large tailgate. The corresponding load-compartment organiser is easy to install and remove. It can bear up to 50 kilograms and has two recesses, each of which holds a removable and collapsible shopping basket.

Another USP for the new V-Class: The tailgate is optionally available as an EASY-PACK tailgate which can be conveniently opened, closed and stopped in any position electrically. Even smaller people then have no difficulty closing the tailgate.

Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive – exemplary safety

A total of eleven innovative driver assistance systems ensure a high level of driving comfort and an exemplary level of safety. They are based on modern radar, camera and ultrasound sensors, which were introduced in the new E-Class and S-Class under the name "Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive". The standard equipment includes Crosswind Assist, which stabilises the V-Class in strong gusts of crosswind, and ATTENTION ASSIST, which can warn of inattention and fatigue. Optionally available is Active Park Assist. It makes parking the new MPV as easy and convenient as parking a compact car.

Also optionally available are the 360-degree camera, DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control in conjunction with COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST, Traffic Sign Assist with wrong-way warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist, the LED Intelligent Light System and Adaptive Highbeam Assist. Most of these assistance systems are available in this segment for the first time.

The PRE-SAFE® system familiar from the passenger car models is available as an optional extra to further enhance safety. When an accident threatens it initiates protective measures to ensure that the belts and airbags offer optimum protection during a collision.

Top efficiency: six-cylinder performance with four-cylinder fuel consumption

At market launch the new V-Class comes to the starting line with the state-of-the-art 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with two-stage turbocharging, which has already proven highly successful in many passenger car model series from the A-Class to the S-Class, and which has now been further enhanced specifically for the MPV. It is available in two power output levels: The V 220 CDI mobilises 163 hp and 380 Newton metres. This is an increase of 20 Newton metres in each case over its predecessor – but with fuel economy increased by around 15 mpg. With fuel consumption of 49.6 mpg and CO2 emissions of 149 g/km, the V 220 CDI occupies an absolute leading position in the segment.

The top-of-the-line V 250 BlueTEC engine has a power output of 190 hp and powerful peak torque of 440 Newton metres, plus as much pulling power and agility as the previous 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine. At the same time, the new top-of-the-range model offers very smooth running characteristics, and interior noise has been reduced significantly - thanks among other things to comprehensive insulation - compared with the preceding six-cylinder model.

Fuel consumption is also considerably improved: at 46 mpg the four-cylinder turbodiesel runs on 28 per cent less fuel than the six-cylinder while offering identical performance. Thanks to BlueTEC the top-of-the-range model is also the first vehicle in the segment to comply with the Euro 6 emissions standard. The V 250 BlueTEC is equipped as standard with the 7G-TRONIC PLUS transmission with DIRECT SELECT lever and DIRECT SELECT shift paddles. The convenient automatic transmission is available as an optional extra for the V 220 CDI model.

New standard of agility and driving pleasure

To enhance personal driving pleasure, the V-Class is the only vehicle in its segment to offer the AGILITY SELECT function in conjunction with the automatic transmission. At the push of a button the driver can select from four driving modes: economical, comfortable, sporty and manual. Engine, accelerator and transmission response are then adapted accordingly. If the driver activates the modes "Sport", "Comfort" or "Manual", an additional output of 13 hp and 40 Newton metres becomes available in acceleration phases ("over-torque"). As a result the V 250 BlueTEC for example develops 201 hp and maximum torque of a full 480 Newton metres.

Ground-breaking and unrivalled features in this category of vehicles are also the AGILITY CONTROL suspension with selective adjustment of the damping system to the road conditions, and the latest generation of ADAPTIVE ESP®, featuring many assistance functions for optimum driving safety. The light and precise electromechanical power steering likewise contributes greatly to the well-balanced driving comfort in the new V-Class.

Standard equipment: extensive and with stylish details

The new Mercedes-Benz MPV occupies the leading position in its segment thanks to its sporty character and comfortable appointments. The standard equipment even of the basic V-Class version is very substantial. It includes Audio 20 USB with a free-standing seven-inch central display, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with 12 function keys and sporty DIRECT SELECT selector lever with steering-wheel gearshift paddles in the case of automatic transmission, a steering column adjustable for height and tilt, luxury front seats with thorax/pelvis sidebags, electric parking brake and active arrest for the rear sliding door.

The V-Class features additional highlights as standard, such as leather seats, leather steering wheel, ambience lighting, wood-look trim (also in the rear), LED High Performance headlamps with Intelligent Light System, separately opening rear windscreen with second loading level, an additional sliding door on the left, laminated glass windows for additional noise reduction, and the AGILITY CONTROL suspension with selective damping system for even better agility and ride comfort.

UK pricing and specification to be confirmed.

USA - 2014 Dodge Journey gets rugged appearance and AWD availability.

Journey Crossroad Gets Rugged Appearance; Available All-wheel-drive Capability Backs It Up

  •  New Journey Crossroad model features unique performance front and rear fascias, lower side sills, dark-tinted headlamps and tail lamps and unique 19-inch Hyper Black wheels, giving it a rugged, capable look
  • Unique interior content loaded with premium finishes and features, including the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, new leather seat design with accent stitching and Liquid Graphite appliques
  • Available award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and all-wheel-drive capability provide confidence in all driving conditions
  • With a starting U. S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $24,995 (excluding $995 destination), the 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad will be available in Dodge dealerships this spring

Building on the Dodge Journey’s best sales year ever in 2013, the Dodge brand is introducing a new Journey model – the 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad – at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show.

The new Journey Crossroad features distinctive new front and rear fascias, Platinum Chrome side sills and unique 19-inch Hyper Black aluminum wheels, giving the three-row, seven-passenger crossover a rugged, capable look. The interior is loaded with premium finishes and features, including the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, new leather seat design and Liquid Graphite appliques.

"The Journey has always been Dodge's Swiss Army knife in the CUV segment, and with the new Journey Crossroad, we are expanding that flexibility by now offering three different exterior appearances," said Tim Kuniskis, President and CEO — Dodge Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. "The Journey Crossroad's rugged styling gives it a tough presence on the road; the available all-wheel drive system gives it the capability to back it up in a variety of bad weather driving conditions.”

The new 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad is positioned between the SXT and Limited models in the Journey lineup. Journey Crossroad will start arriving in Dodge dealerships this spring with a starting U. S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $24,995 (excluding $995 destination).

New look, new features
Dodge designers added several special exterior design cues to the Journey Crossroad that give it a distinct look in the lineup, including a new front fascia with a Platinum Chrome accent and Gloss Black grille and fog lamp surrounds, Platinum Chrome roof rails and unique extended side sills, black headlamp bezels, Gloss Black tail lamp bezels and a new lower rear fascia finished in Platinum Chrome and a “Crossroad” badge on the tailgate. Journey Crossroad also features unique 19-inch Hyper Black five-spoke aluminum wheels.

Exterior colors for the 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad include Pitch Black, Bright Silver Metallic, White, Copperhead Pearl, Fathom Blue Pearl, Granite Crystal Metallic, Pearl White Tri-Coat and Redline Red 2-coat Pearl.

On the inside, the Journey Crossroad adds many unique interior touches, including new standard black leather seating with sport mesh inserts with Light Slate Grey accent stitching. Light Slate Grey accent stitching on the center armrest and door panels, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, are standard equipment. A new Liquid Graphite finish is applied on the instrument panel, gauge cluster, center console, door pulls and steering wheel trim. The Dodge Journey Crossroad also comes standard with the class-exclusive 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, power front seat and a front passenger fold-flat seat with hidden storage bin under the seat cushion.

The 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad offers levels of utility and refinement not typically found in the crossover market. Standard features such as power heated and foldaway mirrors, seven air bags, illuminated cup holders, Keyless Enter ‘n Go with push-button start and steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls.

Second- and third-row seats fold flat to create 67.6 cu. ft. of cargo space. Second-row seats recline and have available class-exclusive integrated child booster seats. There are also innovative removable storage bins in the floor ahead of the second-row seats that can hold everything from muddy clothes to soda cans, to concealing valuables like a camera, laptop or purse. With front passenger, second- and third-row fold-flat seats, second-row in-floor storage, and front passenger in-seat storage, Dodge Journey has best-in-class storage.

Power and efficiency
The Journey Crossroad is powered by a standard 2.4-liter 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder engine that produces 173 horsepower and 166 lb.-ft. of torque, linked to a four-speed automatic transmission. This four-cylinder engine delivers 26 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway.

The award-winning available 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine on the 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad  produces a best-in-class 283 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. This Pentastar V-6 engine was recognized as a Ward’s “10 Best Engines” for 2012 and 2013. In addition to excellent power, it delivers up to 25 mpg on the highway.

Both the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and available 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 powertrain deliver more than 500 miles of highway driving range. With a 5-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, owners can rest assured knowing their powerful and efficient Journey is well covered.

Confidence in all driving conditions
Backing up the 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad’s rugged look is its available all-wheel-drive system, perfect for drivers who want extra grip for a more performance feel, or who live in the Snow Belt or rainy parts of the country and appreciate the extra traction Journey’s all-wheel drive system provides.

Journey Crossroad’s all-wheel-drive system works on demand, driving only the front wheels to maximize fuel efficiency until power to the rear wheels is needed. All-wheel drive also is activated on dry pavement between speeds of 25 and 65 mph to enhance handling during performance driving. This system provides added traction on snow, ice and other low-traction surfaces without having to be switched on and off.

When traveling faster than 25 mph, Dodge Journey’s all-wheel-drive system sends torque to the rear wheels when cornering with the throttle open to make the car turn more easily, which makes the handling more neutral. This is more readily accomplished with Journey’s electronically controlled coupling (ECC) than with viscous-coupling or gerotor systems that require some degree of front-to-rear slip before torque is transferred to the rear wheels. At speeds greater than 53 mph, the control strategy provides minimal torque to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions to provide better fuel economy.

Dodge Journey features standard electronic stability control (ESC) and all-speed traction control, which help keep the crossover on path in a variety of road surface and weather conditions. Journey’s available all-wheel-drive electronic control module works with the ESC and traction control systems, allowing the ESC system to use the ECC to help gain control of the vehicle, reducing the amount of torque that the ECC transmits to the rear wheels. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes and electronic roll mitigation also are standard on all 2014 Dodge Journey models.

More than 50 safety and security features
Dodge Journey is loaded with an abundance of more than 50 safety and security features, including standard advanced multistage front passenger air bags, active head restraints, electronic stability control with all-speed traction control, electronic roll mitigation and Brake Assist, driver-side knee blocker air bag, side-curtain air bags covering all three rows, front seat-mounted side air bags, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, LATCH child seat anchor system and trailer-sway control.

The Dodge Journey is built in Toluca, Mexico.

Friday, 31 January 2014

BMW will end Mini production at Magna Steyr in 2016.

BMW Group will end production of Mini cars at Austrian contract manufacturer Magna Steyr in 2016, a report said.

Magna Steyr currently builds the Mini Countryman and Mini Paceman. Production of the two models will move to Mini's factory in Oxford, England, and the former Mitsubishi NedCar factory in the Netherlands, where Dutch group VDL is due to start Mini production this year, the Kleine Zeitung reported on Thursday.
Magna Steyr parent, Magna International, said in a statement Thursday that it will continue its collaboration with BMW through a new vehicle manufacturing contract.

"The new production program would start following the end of production of the current Mini models Mini Countryman and Mini Paceman being assembled by Magna Steyr in Graz," it said in the statement.

The statement did not give details of which BMW Group models Magna Steyr will build under the new contract.

The Kleine Zeitung said Magna Steyr will not be assigned particular BMW Group cars but will reserve capacity for various models depending on demand. The paper said the contract manufacturer would likely build high-volume models, which could include the BMW 5 series and the 3 series.
The agreement is likely to cover annual output of more than 100,000 vehicles over six to seven years, the paper said.

Magna Steyr declined to comment on the Kleine Zeitung report. BMW did not immediately return a request seeking comment.

Global sales of Mini cars rose 1 percent last year to a record 305,030, BMW said earlier this month.

Magna Steyr also builds the Mercedes G class and Mercedes SLS AMG body, as well as the Peugeot RCZ.

USA - Toyota Motor Corp. told North American dealers today to stop selling several models

Toyota Motor Corp. told North American dealers today to stop selling several models equipped with seat heaters made since August 2012 after being alerted by South Korean safety officials that material in the part did not meet fire retardation standards also used in the United States.

The automaker said the affected vehicles are certain 2013 and 2014 Camry sedan, Camry hybrid, Avalon sedan, Avalon hybrid, Corolla subcompact, Sienna minivan and Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks equipped with seat heaters that were sold since August 2012, when the fabric supplier was changed, a Toyota spokesman said.
The models are among the company's most popular cars and light trucks sold in the United States, but only about 8 percent of 2013-2014 Toyota vehicles in the U.S. have heated seats, according to Kelly Blue Book figures. All Toyota Avalons in the U.S. have heated seats, Kelly Blue Book said.

The number of vehicles in U.S. dealer stocks subject to the stop sale order is approximately 36,000, according to a document Toyota distributed to dealers and obtained by Automotive News.

Some 13,850 Avalon sedan models from 2013 and 2014, and 10,100 Sienna minivans from 2013 and 2014, in dealer inventory are subject to the stop sale order, the document shows.

Toyota said some vehicles in transit to dealerships may also be covered by the order.

The light vehicle are built in the United States and some are exported to Korea.

Recall possibilities

Toyota said it has alerted U.S. safety officials about the seating problem, which could result in a recall depending on what the safety agency decides.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the company informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the issue and would file an official report later today outlining the non-compliance with the standard. He added that Toyota did not feel a recall was necessary.

"We don't believe that it is a defect issue or a safety-related issue because there has been no occurrence of any problems out in the real world," Hanson said.

There have been no reports of accidents, fires or injuries related to the issue in the affected vehicles in the United States, Canada or Mexico, he said.

'Inconsequential noncompliance'

Automakers routinely ask NHTSA to excuse them for a minor deviation from U.S. standards that has little or no effect on safety -- what the agency calls "inconsequential noncompliance."

Just last week, General Motors filed a petition asking NHTSA to excuse a manufacturing glitch that allows the rear head restraints in the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Volt, and Buick Verano to move up and down slightly more easily than federal standards require.

NHTSA often grants these petitions. Last spring the agency excused Ford Motor Co. for selling cars with a government-mandated window glazing symbol on the top of the windshield rather than on the bottom. Had the petition been denied, Ford might have been obligated to replace the windshield in 15,663 units of the 2010 Ford Taurus and 3,565 units of the 2010 Lincoln MKT.

No timeline

NHTSA will make the final determination on whether a recall is needed, and Hanson said he did not know the timeline for that decision. Toyota does not know the overall size of the light vehicle population affected by the issue, he said.

NHTSA said late Thursday it will monitor the risk associated with Toyota's petition.

"Safety is our top priority and NHTSA will take appropriate action as warranted,” the agency said in a statement.

Toyota dealers have been told to stop selling any of the affected vehicles until the part can be replaced, Hanson said. The automaker will handle requests by individual owners to replace the part at no cost on a case-by-case basis.

Toyota discovered the issue when it was notified that the seat heater did not pass a test conducted by the Korean Automotive Test and Research Institute, which uses the same standard as NHTSA, Hanson said.

The Korean agency found that the material in the seat heater does not meet standards that require it to retard a flame across the material surface at a specified rate, he said. KATRI notified Toyota of the failed compliance.

Fix identified

Hanson said Toyota has identified a fix.

"We know what the non-compliant component is and we're in the process now of getting the new seat heater assemblies with the compliant component," Hanson said.

Toyota will fix non-compliant vehicles in production marshaling yards, in port and other stages of the pipeline before they reach dealers, Hanson said.

He declined to name the supplier of the non-compliant component, but said the firm in question is "likely" a tier-two or tier-three supplier.

Honda announces 4th quarter results and estimated sales figures for the full year.

Honda Motor Co. today said its October-December net profit more than doubled to 160.7 billion yen ($1.56 billion), back to pre-Lehman crisis levels, helped by strong sales of the redesigned Fit subcompact that went on sale in Japan in September.

Honda cut its vehicle sales forecasts for this fiscal year as slumping demand in Thailand overshadows what has otherwise been a golden year for Japanese corporate earnings, which have benefited from the weaker yen.
Honda lowered its full-year sales projections for vehicles and motorcycles by about 1 percent. The company now expects to deliver 4.385 million automobiles and 17.32 million motorcycles in the financial year ending March 31. It said it aims to sell a record 4.5 million vehicles or more in its 2014 financial year.

The slump in Thailand, where Honda saw deliveries plunge last quarter, will probably continue because of the political turmoil there, Honda said.

"Every Japanese carmaker was hurt in Thailand, and so was Honda," said Kota Yuzawa, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group in Tokyo. "Honda hasn't launched its new hit products in the region so we'll have to wait until next year to see a pickup in volumes."

While quarterly net income was lower than analysts estimated, operating profit of 228.6 billion yen was higher than the 220.4 billion yen average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg

For the year ending in March 2014, Honda stuck to its forecast of 580 billion yen in net profit.

CEO Takanobu Ito has set an aggressive goal of selling 6 million vehicles a year by end-March 2017, compared with a record 4.01 million in the year ended March 2013.

North America

In North America, Honda reaped 131.1 billion yen in operating profit last quarter, increasing from 70.89 billion yen a year earlier.

Honda expects to sell a record 1.6 million cars in the United States, its biggest market, this calendar year ending March 31, up 5 percent from 1.525 million sold in 2013, Tetsuo Iwamura, executive vice president in charge of the automaker's U.S. business said today.

Honda showed a retooled Fit at the Detroit auto show this month that will be sold in North America starting this year. The company is counting on the model to grab market share from the Chevrolet Sonic and Ford Fiesta.

Iwamura said in an interview in December that fixing Acura's sedan lineup has become a top priority. The company showed the new TLX sedan, a replacement for the TL, at the Detroit auto show this month.

Japan, China joy; Europe loss

Operating profit rose 46 percent to 59.3 billion yen in Japan, as deliveries jumped in the quarter, helped by the new Fit and the rush buying before the sales tax rise in April. The Fit, introduced Sept. 6, became Japan's top-selling car from October through December, overtaking Toyota's Aqua.

In China, Honda's sales doubled last quarter, as a consumer backlash eased over a territorial dispute between Japan and China. Full-year China deliveries rose to a record, fueled by the Jade wagon and Crider sedan, which Honda says are the company's first models tailored for the Chinese market.

Industrywide sales are projected to expand by as much as 10 percent this year, after the country became the first to surpass 20 million units in annual deliveries, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Honda expects sales to rise at least 19 percent to more than 900,000 vehicles in China in 2014. The carmaker plans to introduce nine new or revamped models in 2014 and 2015, as it seeks to catch up with Nissan and Toyota in the world's largest auto market.

Honda's quarterly operating loss in Europe widened to 8.7 billion yen.

Weaker Yen

Honda is among Japanese exporters benefiting from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic policies, which have helped weaken the country's currency by about 18 percent against the dollar in 2013. A weaker yen increases the value of repatriated earnings and gives Japanese carmakers an edge over rivals including General Motors Co. and Hyundai Motor Co.

Before Abe, the Japanese currency had hobbled exporters for years, appreciating to a postwar high of 75.35 to the dollar in October 2011 from about 115 in a four-year period.

Honda is the first of Japan's big three automakers to announce quarterly results. Toyota will report results on February 4 and Nissan on February 10.

Global NCAP crash tests shows India's cars ARE unsafe.

The first-ever independent crash tests of some of India’s popular and important small cars have shown a high-risk of life threatening injuries in road crashes. All the cars selected by Global NCAP for testing in a frontal impact at 64km/h received zero-star adult protection ratings.

The models tested included India’s best-selling car, the Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800. The Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo also underwent the safety assessment. Combined sales of these five cars account for around 20% of all the new cars sold in India last year. Global NCAP chose the entry-level version of each model and as a result none were fitted with airbags as standard. The results highlight major differences in the structural integrity of the vehicles tested.
Max Mosley, Chairman of Global NCAP, said: “India is now a major global market and production centre for small cars, so it’s worrying to see levels of safety that are 20 years behind the five-star standards now common in Europe and North America. Poor structural integrity and the absence of airbags are putting the lives of Indian consumers at risk. They have a right to know how safe their vehicles are and to expect the same basic levels of safety as standard as customers in other part of the world.”

In the Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800, the Tata Nano and the Hyundai i10, the vehicle structures proved inadequate and collapsed to varying degrees, resulting in high risks of life-threatening injuries to the occupants. The extent of the structural weaknesses in these models were such that fitting airbags would not be effective in reducing the risk of serious injury. The Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo had structures that remained stable – and, therefore, with airbags fitted, protection for the driver and front passenger would be much improved.

Coinciding with the Global NCAP tests, Volkswagen has decided to withdraw the non-airbag version of the Polo from sale in India. Because of this, Global NCAP agreed to a request from VW to assess a version of the Polo that has two airbags fitted as standard as from now. Other manufacturers had the same opportunity. The protection proved much better and this airbag-equipped model received a four-star rating for adult occupant protection. Consumers are encouraged to check which version of the Polo they buy.


Models also fail to pass UN’s basic safety test

Global NCAP also assessed the same models against the UN’s basic crash test. This 40% offset frontal impact test at 56km/h is now widely applied by major manufacturing countries and regions, including Australia, China, European Union, Japan and Malaysia. The Global Plan for the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety recommends that all Member States apply this standard, although it is not yet applied in India. All but one of the cars tested failed to pass even this minimum standard.


Please note:

Ford Figo passed despite not having a driver airbag when the dummy’s head narrowly avoided hitting the steering wheel directly
Volkswagen Polo with two airbags was awarded a pass based on dummy readings from the 64km/h crash
Taken together the results highlight the vital combination of both sound structural integrity and airbags as standard equipment. These features are the sure way to exceed the minimum UN crash test standard at 56km/h. They also offer adequate levels of protection in a higher speed crash at 64km/h, the speed most commonly used by independent consumer crash test programmes.

Rohit Baluja, President of India’s Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) said: “These results show that India would benefit enormously from the introduction of minimum crash safety standards and clearer information for consumers about the protection new cars offer. Many cars made in India for export meet these standards already, so it’s not a question of know-how or capability: India’s automobile industry just needs the right incentives. With the UN’s minimum safety standards and clear information for consumers, India can produce cars that are every bit as good as those in Europe and the US.”

Global NCAP has awarded a separate child safety rating to each car in order to highlight the different levels of protection vehicles provide to passengers on the rear seats. Because the only safe way for young children to travel is properly restrained in a child seat, the assessment checks how compatible the car is with the child seats recommended by the manufacturer, as well as the protection provided in the crash.

In the assessments, the child seats recommended by manufacturers were often found to be incompatible with their vehicle’s belt system. In the Tata Nano, there was no three-point seatbelt on the rear seats and no way to install a child seat or transport a small child safely.

“Vehicle manufacturers understand how important it is for young children to travel buckled up in a child seat that’s installed securely on the rear seat,” said David Ward, Secretary-General of Global NCAP. “They know what they need to do to make it as easy as possible for parents: it’s just a question of priorities. Indian families buying these cars expect their children to be given the same protection as children in other parts of the world.”

Comments on individual vehicles’ adult protection

Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800

In the 64km/h NCAP test, the Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800 achieved a zero-star rating for its adult occupant protection. The vehicle structure was rated as unstable, increasing the risk of life-threatening injuries and making the car unsuitable for the fitment of airbags.

Using the child seats recommended by Suzuki-Maruti, the Alto 800 achieved a two-star rating for child protection.

The Alto 800 was not able to meet the UN’s minimum safety requirements in the 56km/h crash test.

Tata Nano

In the 64km/h NCAP test, the Tata Nano achieved zero stars rating for its adult occupant protection. The vehicle structure was rated as unstable, increasing the risk of life-threatening injuries and making the car unsuitable for the fitment of airbags.

The car achieved a zero-star rating for its child protection as it was not possible to install child seats in the car.

The Nano was not able to meet the UN’s minimum safety requirements in the 56km/h crash test.

Hyundai i10

In the 64km/h NCAP test, the Hyundai i10 achieved a zero-star rating for its adult occupant protection. The vehicle structure was rated as unstable, increasing the risk of life-threatening injuries.

Using the child seats recommended by Hyundai, the i10 achieved a one-star rating for child protection. The three year-old dummy indicated a high risk of serious injury.

The i10 was not able to meet the UN’s minimum safety requirements in the 56km/h crash test.

Ford Figo

In the 64km/h NCAP test, the Ford Figo achieved a zero-star rating for its adult occupant protection. The vehicle structure was rated as stable, but without safety equipment such as airbags, too much of the crash energy was absorbed directly by the occupants.

Using the child seats recommended by Ford, the car achieved a two-star rating for its child protection.

The Figo was able to meet the UN’s minimum safety requirements in the 56km/h crash test as the driver’s head narrowly avoided direct contact with the steering wheel.

Volkswagen Polo

In the 64km/h NCAP test, the Volkswagen Polo without airbags achieved a zero-star rating for its adult occupant protection. The vehicle structure was stable, but without safety equipment such as airbags, dummy readings indicated a high risk of life-threatening injuries.

With two airbags (driver and front passenger), the Volkswagen Polo achieved a four-star rating for adult occupant protection in the 64km/h NCAP test. Thanks to the airbags, the protection offered to the driver and passenger head and neck was good.

Using the child seats recommended by Volkswagen, the Polo achieved a three-star rating for child protection.

Without airbags, the Polo was not able to meet the UN’s minimum safety requirements in the 56km/h crash test.

Global NCAP advises consumers to check carefully which version of the Polo they buy.

Alfa Romeo 4C Supercar scoops two more major awards.

  • The Alfa Romeo 4C supercar honoured in Germany and France with two major awards
  • The 4C was named 'Most Beautiful Car of the Year 2013' at the 29th International Automobile Festival in France.
  • Drawing in 41 percent of all votes, Alfa Romeo 4C was the clear winner ahead of the BMW series 4 (25%), Mercedes CLA (22%) and Mazda 3 (12%)
  • The 4C also topped the “Importers” sports cars category in the prestigious Auto Motor und Sport “Best Cars 2014” awards, ahead of 28 rivals from the pantheon of international, sports car manufacturers
  • The Alfa Romeo MiTo and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta also score podium finishes in their respective vehicle segments
  • Louis Carl Vignon, Head of Alfa Romeo for the EMEA region, collected both awards on consecutive days in Paris and Stuttgart

Alfa Romeo couldn't have wished for a better start to 2014: The Alfa Romeo 4C has not only claimed the “Most Beautiful Car of the Year 2013” title at the 29th International Automobile Festival in France, it has also scooped the top award in the “Importers” sports car category in the Auto Motor und Sport “Best Cars 2014” awards. In both cases, the awards were decided by a public vote.

In the process of claiming the ‘Most Beautiful Car of the Year 2013” title, the Alfa Romeo 4C claimed an astonishing 40.70 percent of the votes in a worldwide survey, significantly more than the BMW 4-Series, (25.55 percent), Mercedes CLA (22.15 per cent) and Mazda 3 (11.60 per cent).

Created in 1986 in Chamonix and presided over by Remi Depoix, the International Automobile Festival recognises creativity in automotive design and is now a key event on the world automotive calendar. The Most Beautiful Car of the Year title was first awarded in 1988, with the Alfa 164 winning the inaugural award. Alfa Romeo has also won in 2005 with the Alfa Brera and again in 2008 with the Alfa MiTo.

Meanwhile in Germany, the readers of the prestigious motoring magazine 'Auto, Motor und Sport' voted the Alfa Romeo 4C top of the “Importers” sports car category in its 'Best Cars 2014' awards, ahead of 28 considerably more expensive models from numerous specialist sports car manufacturers.

More than 115,000 readers chose the Alfa Romeo 4C as the most exciting, imported sports car of the year, with Alfa Romeo’s two other, recently-revised models also making the podium for imported cars in their respective categories: the Alfa Romeo MiTo came second in the 'hatchback' segment, while the Alfa Romeo Giulietta took third place among the 'compacts'.

Louis-Carl Vignon, Head of Alfa Romeo EMEA, attended both award ceremonies in Paris and Stuttgart. In France, Mr. Vignon was joined by Marco Tencone, Head of Design Alfa Romeo, Alessandro Maccolini, Head of External Design Alfa Romeo, Maurizio Zuares, C.E.O of Fiat France, and Sébastien Perrais, Alfa Romeo brand Director in France.

These latest awards add to the ever-growing list of accolades bestowed upon the Alfa Romeo 4C. It was recently named 'Car of the Year 2013' by the editors of FHM magazine in the UK; it won the 'Coup de cœur 2013' award of Automobile Magazine in France and it was named 'Auto Trophy 2013' by the readers of the German magazine Auto Zeitung.


Designed and engineered by Alfa Romeo - and built by Maserati in Modena - as a pure driving machine, the mid-engined Alfa Romeo 4C is powered by a new, all-aluminium, 240hp, 1750 Turbo Petrol engine and features Alfa Romeo’s latest-generation ALFA TCT transmission and Alfa D.N.A. driving mode selector - now with a new “Race” mode. The 0-62 mph sprint takes just 4.5 seconds and top speed is 160 mph, but thanks to its light weight and advanced engine and transmission technologies, its official combined-cycle fuel economy figure is 41.5 mpg and its CO2 emissions are just 157g/km.

The Alfa Romeo 4C’s compact shape accentuates its remarkable agility: With a dry weight of 895kg; a 40:60 front-to-rear weight distribution; track-honed double-wishbone suspension and Brembo brakes, the Alfa Romeo 4C is capable of generating 1.1g of lateral acceleration and in excess of 1.2g of deceleration force.  The exhaust has been tuned to emit a full, rich sound and the unassisted steering is progressive, direct and engineered to convey as much feedback and feel as possible. The steering ratio (16:2) is such as to allow 90% of bends to be taken without having to take your hands off the steering wheel. The Alfa Romeo is priced from £45,000 OTR in the UK.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

84th Geneva Motor Show - brief rundown of what to expect.

The 84th Geneva Motor Show will take place at the beginning of March, we’ve created a handy round up of all you can expect to see

The Geneva Motor Show is one of the world’s biggest and most important shows, with models such as the Ferrari LaFerrari and Alfa Romeo 4C debuting there in previous years.

The doors will open on March 3 and as ever Auto Express will be reporting live from the show floor. Happily, we’ve created a comprehensive and in-depth list off all you can expect to see at the show categorized by manufacturer. There’ll be world debuts from the Mercedes S-Class Coupe, Lamborghini Huracan and new Audi TT.

We’ll be updating this page regularly with all the latest new as we uncover it. Let us know in the comment section below what you’re most looking forward to and we’ll do our best to answer your questions.


Audi S1, Audi TT, Audi A1 facelift

Audi’s S range is to expand with the upcoming S1. Speculation of a cooked-up A1 has been fierce since the cars launch four years ago but the performance-focused variant will take centre stage at Geneva. The S1 is tipped to be a strong competitor in the hot-hatch market, with quattro four-wheel-drive and the 230bhp 2.0-litre engine from the S3 fitted.

Audi teased the aesthetic of the TT with the Allroad Shooting Brake in Detroit, and with the spy shots of pre-production TT prototypes, we have a pretty good idea about what the all-new model will look like. A bestseller in both of its previous incarnations, the third-generation TT will be one of the most popular attractions at Geneva

The mid-life facelift of the A1 supermini will bring Audi’s city car more inline with the rest of the range. There’ll also be various interior and chassis improvements, too.


BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

BMW’s ever-expanding range will see the addition of the 2 Series Active Tourer, as it debuts at the Geneva Motor Show. A direct rival to Mercedes’ B-Class, the new model will be BMW’s first front-drive model, with prices expected to start from around the £22,000. First seen as the Active Tourer Concept in Tokyo, the 2 Series Active Tourer is also expected to spawn a 7-seater variant.


Citroen Cactus

Another suspected show star at Geneva will be the Citroen C4 Cactus. It carries a new but simpler approach to design as well as focusing on comfort and usability. From teaser images released by Citroen, it is clear that the Cactus will retain much of the design showcased by the concept version.


Honda Civic Type R

We drove a Civic Type-R prototype back in November and the production model could possibly debut at Geneva, with Honda promising at least 276bhp from the 2.0-litre direct injection engine. However, we aren’t expecting to see the Type R in showrooms until early 2015.


Hyundai Genesis, Hyundai Intrado concept

As Hyundai’s ambitions of pushing itself more upmarket gain pace, no model exemplifies it as much as the new Genesis. With a 3.8-litre V6 as the entry-level model and 5.0-litre V8 topping the range, the Genesis may be slow seller in Europe. There has been rumours of a smaller engined model being available for the European markets but nothing official has been confirmed.

Hyundai is also preparing a concept car for a Geneva unveiling, called the Intrado Concept. While details are sparse, we know it will be fitted with a hydrogen fuel-cell motor.


Lamborghini Huracan

Unveiled last month, the hotly-anticipated Lamborghini Huracan will debut at Geneva. Capable of 202mph thanks to its 601bhp 5.2-litre V10 engine, the Gallardo replacement will also serve as the underpinnings for the next-gen Audi R8. A convertible will also be on the way but we don’t expect that to arrive until 2015.


Lexus LF-NX

Lexus’ BMW X1-rival the NX is also set for a Geneva unveiling. First seen in LF-NX concept form at the Tokyo Motor Show last year, the NX is the latest in a series of small-SUV crossovers, which will join the likes of the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. After filing patents for NX 200T and NX300h, it’s clear that the NX lineup will feature both petrol and hybrid versions.


Mercedes S-Class Coupe, Mercedes C-Class Estate

Mercedes will showcase the production version of the S-Class Coupe at Geneva. We’ve already seen spy shots and the concept version of the S-Class Coupe so we have a good idea of what it will look like. Under the bonnet the 449bhp 4.7-litre V8 found in the S500 is likely to be fitted.

The load-lugging Estate variant of the C-Class will also debut at Geneva. Engine and styling will mirror that of the standard car, with the boot capacity expected to swell beyond 500 litres.


MINI John Cooper Works Concept

The MNI JCW was first showcased at Detroit but it will make its European debut at Geneva. MINI has called it a concept but in reality it’s a thinly veiled version of the production model. It will be powered by a tuned version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine in the current Cooper S, producing around 217bhp.


Peugeot 308 SW

Peugeot’s attempt at a VW Golf Estate rival will be shown at Geneva. The 308 SW has a 610 litre boot capacity – bigger than the Golf and SEAT Leon estates – and the most efficient model emits only 85g/km of CO2. Peugeot has also cut 140kg from the weight of the outgoing model thanks to the new MP2 platform – helping further boost economy.


Qoros 3 hatchback

Chinese manufacturer Qoros will debut its second ever model at the Geneva Show, the 3 hatchback. It’s based on the 3 saloon but receives minor visual tweaks to set it apart. There is no announcement as yet of plans for a UK version.


Volkswagen Polo facelift

VW will introduce the facelifted version of the Polo at Geneva. Changes will be minor be it will have a slightly sharper design and redesigned grille. Reports also suggest it could be fitted with adjustable dampers – a first for a small city car. It will make its way to showroom shortly after its official debut.


If this is true, then it needs to be STOPPED right now !!!!!!!!!!


Leaked documents reveal plans for universal remote stopping system by 2020

European police forces are working on a universal remote stopping system to be fitted to cars, according secret documents.

Police would be able to bring cars involved in high-speed chases to a halt remotely removing the need for the current dangerous and unsafe methods such as spiking car tyres.

The technology could be ready as early as 2020 and it would allow criminals on the run to be stopped at the click of a button from an officer working in a central headquarters.

The project is one of several key priorities to be worked on by the European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (ENLETS) - a secretive branch of a European working party aimed at enhancing police cooperation across the EU.

"Cars on the run can be dangerous for citizens," the report stated. "Criminal offenders will take risks to escape after a crime. In most cases the police are unable to chase the criminal due to a lack of efficient means to stop the vehicle safely."

The six-year work programme for ENLETS also includes improving automatic number plate recognition technology and intelligence sharing according to the documents leaked online by Statewatch, a watchdog monitoring police powers, state surveillance and civil liberties in the EU.

The remote stopping and other surveillance plans have been signed off by the EU's Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security, known as Cosi, meaning that the project has the support of senior British Home Office civil servants and police officers.

THAILAND - Ford launches fourth plant for the new Ecosport

  • All-new EcoSport is produced at state-of-the-art Ford Thailand Manufacturing (FTM) facility in Rayong
  • Global all-new EcoSport builds on Ford’s successful product-led transformation, adding another segment-leading vehicle to Ford’s growing showroom in ASEAN markets
  • An aspirational alternative to the compact car, all-new EcoSport offers a blend of versatility and smart connectivity designed to meet the needs of an urban lifestyle

Ford Motor Company today celebrated the official start of production for the all-new Ford EcoSport urban SUV at the company’s state-of-the-art Ford Thailand Manufacturing (FTM) plant in Rayong.

FTM becomes the fourth plant globally to build the all-new EcoSport, joining Ford facilities in Chennai, India, Chonqing, China and Camcari, Brazil, reinforcing the strategic role of Thailand as a volume production and export hub in the region.

The Thai-built models will be for domestic sale and export to markets across the ASEAN region. The all-new EcoSport will eventually be sold in 100 markets worldwide.

“The all-new EcoSport continues our ongoing product-led transformation by providing customers with another segment-leading vehicle to our growing Ford showroom across our ASEAN markets,” said Matt Bradley, president, Ford ASEAN.

“Produced at our highly flexible Ford Thailand Manufacturing facility, it is the next proof point in our continued growth strategy in the region,” he added.

An Aspirational Alternative

The all-new Ford EcoSport is an aspirational alternative to the compact car – spacious enough for five adults and their gear. Its practical blend of versatility and smart connectivity is designed to meet the needs and requirements of an urban lifestyle.

A high driving position, rugged capability, superior fuel economy and convenient features, including a sunroof, all make the all-new EcoSport an ideal companion for both city streets and mountain roads.

“Based on Ford’s global B-segment platform, the EcoSport urban SUV will appeal to people with a strong streak of independence who love exploring the world at large,” said Yukontorn ‘Vickie’ Wisadkosin, managing director, Ford Thailand. “Combining small-car practicality with the agility of a SUV, it delivers a segment-leading package of quality, safety, fuel-economy and value.”

The all-new EcoSport is powered by Ford’s global 1.5-litre Ti-VCT engine, and mated to either the fuel-efficient six-speed Ford PowerShift automatic transmission or five-speed manual transmission that is well-suited to urban driving conditions.

The well-rounded EcoSport is also just as comfortable wading through 550 mm of water as it is keeping the driver entertained, with hands-free phone calls and music selection with the Ford SYNC in-car connectivity system.

Compact, contemporary and capable, the all-new EcoSport epitomizes urban life and urbane aspirations such as practicality, efficiency, drivability, reliability and attractiveness in a compelling package.

“The all-new EcoSport will confidently create its own space in a highly attractive and very practical vehicle segment,” explained Yukontorn.

USA - Jaguar 2014 Superbowl XLVIII advertisment - "Rendezvous", with British Villains

  • The 60-second "Rendezvous" television spot to debut online before debuting on air during Super Bowl XLVIII, February 2 on Fox
  • Renowned British actors Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong to star in Jaguar's cinematic "Rendezvous" spot, filmed by Oscar-winning British director Tom Hooper
  • Spot launches "British Villains" campaign, running through July, and raises the bar of automotive advertising to cinematic caliber for the introduction of the F-TYPE Coupe, Jaguar's all-new, high-performance sports car
  • "British Villains" Campaign and #GoodToBeBad hashtag highlight the modern British personality of the fast growing Jaguar brand

Today, Jaguar North America debuted digitally " Rendezvous," its 60-second television cinematic advertisement that will be broadcast for the first time during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII.  The spot launches the "British Villains" campaign, which introduces the Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe (on sale spring, 2014) and features the campaign's unique hashtag, #GoodToBeBad. "Rendezvous" stars Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong and was filmed by Oscar-winning British director, Tom Hooper, in London.  It is Jaguar's first Super Bowl TV advertisement.

"Super Bowl week is a major milestone for the Jaguar brand as we present our newest and fastest model, the F-TYPE Coupe, to millions of current and future potential customers," said Jeff Curry, Brand Vice President, Jaguar North America. "We are sharing the 60- second spot online this week as interest rises, but really look forward to presenting the F-TYPE coupe and our British villains in action to the viewers in high definition during the game."

"British Villains" captures the premise that Brits have long made the best villains in landmark films, combining intelligence with charm, restlessness with calm, and are always confident. "Rendezvous" opens with Sir Ben Kingsley asking the question, 'Have you ever noticed how in Hollywood movies, all the villains are played by Brits?'

The spot then shows the new Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe being driven by Strong and effortlessly navigating through modern-iconic London as he is on his way to meet with fellow villains, Sir Ben and Tom Hiddleston.

"Rendezvous" was filmed by Hooper in London in a creative partnership with his Smuggler Films production house. The spot's original score for "Rendezvous" was composed and conducted by Alexandre Desplat, who worked with Tom Hooper on The Kings Speech and recorded by The London Symphony Orchestra at the iconic Abbey Road studios.

"Rendezvous was filmed with the realization that many of today's television viewers have access to beautifully sharp picture screens and multi-channel surround sound not unlike the best movie theaters," said Curry. "The 'British Villains' TV spot combines an entertaining, thoughtful narrative with a visual and aural quality that conveys the excitement of owning and driving a high performance Jaguar F-TYPE. We hope viewers turn the volume up."

Jaguar recently launched the campaign's dedicated landing page, www.BritishVillains.com, The site hosts information about the F-TYPE Coupe, the commercial and some unique video content including teasers starring each of the three actors; collectively already boasting over 400,000 views.

This week, leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, Jaguar will host an event with Deadspin as part of their partnership with Gawker Media, and two co-sponsored events with Sports Illustrated, including the magazine's Super Saturday event the night before the big game.

During the game, itself, Jaguar aims to be the most real-time engaged advertiser during the Super Bowl through a unique physical space called"The Loop,"  developed by Mindshare, where multiple screens will monitor real-time consumer data and translate it into actionable insights, and ultimately, rapid marketing decisions, or "adaptive marketing." Jaguar will monitor social platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, around Super Bowl XLVIII for trending topics and discussions related to the brand, F-TYPE Coupe campaign and the game. The brand will respond in real time to relevant tweets and messages via their social media platforms.

"The Loop" is the first real-time marketing tool to impact paid media - whereby media dollars can be quickly shifted and redeployed to leverage opportunities uncovered by the data.  During the game, Jaguar will have the ability to adjust the digital search ad buys based on real time observations. Rapid, relevant and responsive, "The Loop" puts data at the center and creates a channel-agnostic, holistic approach to real-time marketing in an unprecedented manner.

USA - Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited edition, lots of luxury in a stunning car.

  • An enthusiast demanded encore: Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition returns for 2014 with bespoke exterior appointments and exotic interior materials all tied-in with John Varvatos’ signature design language for a Detroit-tough attitude
  • Working hand-in-hand, John Varvatos’ signature fashion style combined with Chrysler designers styling expertise forged a  300 flagship sedan that embodies the soul of “Imported from Detroit”
  • Now available with Chrysler’s intelligent AWD system featuring  a segment-exclusive active transfer case and front-axle disconnect for best-in-class fuel efficiency and all-season capability
  • Award-winning Pentastar V-6 with paddle-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission delivers a best-in-class EPA estimated 31 highway mpg, while optional HEMI® V-8 with four-cylinder mode Fuel Saver Technology delivers 363 horsepower and 0-60 mph performance in less than six seconds
  • Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition arrives to dealerships in March and starts at $44,480

Inspired by the industrious look and feel of Detroit , the Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition returns for 2014, now offering the segment’s most advanced all-wheel-drive (AWD) system – along with its unique signature exterior appointments, and an interior clad in dark colors and exotic materials all tied-in with John Varvatos’ signature design language.

“Our collaboration with John Varvatos created one of the most uniquely appointed and fastest-selling limited-edition Chrysler 300 models,” said Al Gardner, President and CEO – Chrysler Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “We received feedback from Chrysler and John Varvatos design fans asking us to do two things – build a second run of the ultimate ‘Imported From Detroit’ Chrysler 300 and offer it with our most intelligent AWD system. We listened and the Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition is back.”

Ultimate in style: Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition returns
With its unique Phantom Black tri-coat exterior paint and discrete metallic finishes inside and out, the limited-production Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition returns, exuding its Detroit-tough attitude.

Styled after the black with Titanium-finished John Varvatos’ cologne bottle, a Titanium-finished grille surround, Titanium Chrome Chrysler “wing” badge and Black Chrome grille blades mimic the foundries that made Motor City flourish. For a more striking look, an aggressively styled front fascia integrates larger air inlets and features Black Chrome grille blades and Titanium-finished accents. Matching the cologne bottle finish are 20-inch cast-aluminum wheels [19-inch with all-wheel drive (AWD)], day light opening surrounds and mirror caps finished in Titanium. At the rear, LED taillamps with blackened detail give a more masculine look, while dual-exhaust tips in titanium, and John Varvatos and Chrysler wing deck-lid badges finished in Titanium Chrome complete the look.

Delivering John Varvatos’ signature style through a unique combination of dark colors and exotic materials, the Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition surrounds its passengers with craftsmanship and an industrious style that could only be “Imported from Detroit.” Inside, John Varvatos’ logos are proudly debossed on unique Pewter Metallic leather seats and are tailored with unique Diesel Gray and black pattern Varvatos stitching – for a look that is straight out of his fitted-jacket collection. Translated from John Varvatos’ latest watch design are a specially designed gauge cluster and clock with Pearlescent White face and Charcoal Black Metallic bezels.

Extensive use of exotic Poltrona Frau® black leather with Diesel Gray accent stitching surrounds the bespoke environment, while a hand-stitched heated steering wheel is finished with Diesel Gray thread and Titanium Chrome accents for added detail. Completing the Chrysler 300C Varvatos Limited Edition’s interior are Titanium, unique Charcoal Hydrographic Wood and Gloss Black finished interior accents.

The 2014 Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $44,480, while the new AWD model starts at $46,980 (excluding $995 destination).

The segment’s most advanced AWD system
With the aluminum 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine delivering 292 horsepower, or legendary 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 engine with 363 horsepower with four-cylinder mode Fuel Saver Technology – the Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition with intelligent AWD features a segment-exclusive active transfer case and front-axle-disconnect system. No other major automotive manufacturer offers the combination of these two independent technologies.

Chrysler 300’s innovative AWD system seamlessly transitions between rear-wheel drive and AWD with no driver intervention. When AWD is not required, the system automatically disconnects the front axle to maximize fuel economy while still providing the outstanding fun-to-drive performance and handling inherent in rear-wheel-drive vehicles.

World-class eight-speed automatic transmission
Once limited to premium import vehicles costing twice as much, the segment-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission expands the world-class power and fuel efficiency of the Pentastar V-6 equipped 2014 Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition. Thanks to the addition of three more gear ratios, the state-of-the-art gearbox offers quicker acceleration, smoother shifts and class-leading fuel efficiency with respect to:

  • Best-in-class highway fuel economy (31 mpg highway)
  • Best-in-class V-6 all-wheel-drive (AWD) fuel economy (18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway)
  • Best-in-class combined fuel economy (23 mpg with RWD, 21 with AWD)
  • Unsurpassed city fuel economy (19 mpg RWD, 18 mpg AWD)
  • Overall unsurpassed fuel economy in its class (19 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with RWD)

Additionally, quicker shifts are possible on the 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition as a result of a “Sport” shift mode that requires simple driver input. When the driver chooses to let the transmission shift in “Sport” mode, gear changes are quicker and revs are held higher for even more performance-oriented acceleration and higher shift dynamics. For even more control, the driver can also use a pair of die-cast, steering-wheel mounted paddle controls and view gear selection in the instrument cluster.

About John Varvatos
Launched in 2000 with a collection of tailored clothing and sportswear, John Varvatos now represents an entire men’s lifestyle that includes footwear, bags, belts, eyewear, limited edition watches, men’s fragrances, as well as the younger, edgier John Varvatos U.S.A. Collection and Boys’ line, as well as Converse by John Varvatos. The designer has been recognized three times by the CFDA with an American Fashion Award for New Menswear Designer (June 2000) and Menswear Designer of the Year (June 2001 and June 2005) and was honored as GQ’s “Designer of the Year” in 2007. The collection is distributed in freestanding John Varvatos boutiques across the U.S. — including his famed 315 Bowery boutique in New York City, formerly the seminal underground music club CBGB’s — and online, as well as in better department stores throughout the world. www.johnvarvatos.com

About Chrysler Brand
The Chrysler brand has delighted customers with distinctive designs, craftsmanship, intuitive innovation and technology all at an extraordinary value since the company was founded in 1926.

Whether it is the groundbreaking, bold design of the Chrysler 300, the sleek elegant styling of the Chrysler 200 Convertible, or the family room on wheels functionality of the Chrysler Town & Country, Chrysler brand vehicles reward the passion, creativity and sense of accomplishment of its owners. Beyond just exceptionally designed vehicles, the Chrysler brand has incorporated thoughtful features into all of its products, such as the Stow 'n Go® seating and storage system on the Chrysler Town & Country, the fuel-saving Fuel Saver Technology in the Chrysler 300 and Uconnect phone utilizing Bluetooth technology on the Chrysler 200 and Chrysler 200 Convertible.

The world-class interior of the Chrysler Town & Country minivan is beautifully crafted with high-quality materials that are soft to the touch, and offers tech-savvy entertainment features and smart storage and seating options including Stow ‘n Go® seating with one-touch fold-down function, dual DVD entertainment system, navigation and SIRIUSXM satellite radio with Travel Link making the Chrysler Town & Country the ultimate family vehicle. A 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is a “Ward’s 10 Best Engine” and produces a best-in-class 283 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a fuel economizer mode. Town & Country achieves 17 miles per gallon in the city, 25 on the highway.

The Chrysler brand's succession of innovative product introductions continues to solidify the brand's standing as the leader in design, engineering and value. The premium for the Chrysler brand is in the product, not the price.