News: Ford and GM talk about sharing technologies

Amongst the news that General Motors posted a huge Q2 loss and is cutting a futher 5,000 jobs as well as closing four manufacturing plants by 2010, comes rumours from inside Detroit that the unthinkable could be on the cards.

The Detroit News has reported that GM and Ford could be putting thier heads together on engine and powertrain technologies in the near future.

Such a move could help both companies, as developing a new engine costs as much as US$1Billion (NZ$1.37Billion). This news comes along with the forecast by the Center of Automotive Research (CAR) in the U.S that GM is in serious danger of going under if its fortunes don’t change soon.

Blogs: Catalytic converter theft

Along with copper spouting, the latest trendy thing to steal is catalytic converters. They’ve been around since 1975, but with the recent meteoric rise in precious metal prices, they’ve become a nugget of meltable wealth waiting to be pilfered from your pride and joy. Platinum, palladium and rhodium are the metals used, and check out these figures to see why suddenly it’s pretty valuable:

Platinum was US$700/oz 5 years ago, but you’d need to shell out US$1700/oz nowadays.

Palladium was US$200/oz 5 years ago, and it’s now about US$400/oz

Rhodium was US$300/oz 5 years ago. It’s now US$8400. Yes, over eight thousand dollars. That’s an increase of a bazillion percent.

There’s not a huge amount of metal in the converters themselves, but you don’t need that much to make for a tidy profit. The worst affected vehicles are those with a large ground clearance as it makes it easy for thieves to get underneath them and remove the cat.

How do you stop the thefts? Ford in the UK has launched an anti-theft initiative where it stamps a serial number on the shell of the catalytic converter. Other than that, you could try not parking in dodgy places, something that’s getting quite difficult.

Blogs: Catalytic converter theft

Along with copper spouting, the latest trendy thing to steal is catalytic converters. They’ve been around since 1975, but with the recent meteoric rise in precious metal prices, they’ve become a nugget of meltable wealth waiting to be pilfered from your pride and joy. Platinum, palladium and rhodium are the metals used, and check out these figures to see why suddenly it’s pretty valuable:

Platinum was US$700/oz 5 years ago, but you’d need to shell out US$1700/oz nowadays.

Palladium was US$200/oz 5 years ago, and it’s now about US$400/oz

Rhodium was US$300/oz 5 years ago. It’s now US$8400. Yes, over eight thousand dollars. That’s an increase of a bazillion percent.

There’s not a huge amount of metal in the converters themselves, but you don’t need that much to make for a tidy profit. The worst affected vehicles are those with a large ground clearance as it makes it easy for thieves to get underneath them and remove the cat.

How do you stop the thefts? Ford in the UK has launched an anti-theft initiative where it stamps a serial number on the shell of the catalytic converter. Other than that, you could try not parking in dodgy places, something that’s getting quite difficult.

News: 2009 Lexus IS250 appears

lexus-is250-2009-fq

With just mild updates expected to be revealed at the Paris Motor show in October, it’s more of a facelift, but a welcome one.

The IS250 is overdue for a revamp and this one will see a slightly revised front end, indicators in the side mirrors, L-shaped reversing lights integrated into a new rear cluster, and new alloys. Lexus isn’t one for radical changes, so you could be excused for looking at the photo and wondering whether it’s really just the old version.

There’s no official word on mechanical/electrical changes, but with the ever-increasing need for safety, you could speculate there will be changes to the electronic stability control and the slew of other driver aids on offer.

News: New Jeep Cherokee coming to New Zealand soon

jeep-cherokee-fq

Jeep has launched an all new Cherokee which will be available in New Zealand soon.

A new suspension and steering system help make the Cherokee more refined on the road, while on the inside, the Cherokee moves more upmarket with a leather interior, heated front memory seats, climate control, electric windows and cruise control all as standard.

A segment exclusive feature is the optional Sky Sliderâ„¢ full-open canvas roof.  Two and a half times the size of a regular sunroof, this powered roof can be operated while driving and gives all passengers a unique open-air driving experience.

Jeep hasn’t forgotten about the Cherokee’s legendary 4wd ability. The new Selec-Trac® II full-time four-wheel drive system is now standard across the range for the ultimate on and off-road driving experience.

Selec-Trac® II is a permanent, active on-demand system that helps anticipate and prevent wheel slip before it occurs, making it ideal for road driving and towing. Cherokee models with an automatic gearbox will also feature the new Hill Descent Control system which offers even more downhill control in low-traction conditions.

The Jeep Cherokee will be available in New Zealand quite soon we here at Car and SUV will be bringing you a full review later this month.

News: New Ford Ka to be revealed at Paris Motorshow

ford-ka-fq

The new Ford Ka will take centre-stage at the 2008 Paris Motor Show in October.

Twelve years after the original Ka was launched to great acclaim, its successor captures the same youthful and cheeky spirit. The new model retains all of the qualities which made the Ka so popular — its compact size, great looks, lively dynamics and fun personality — but presents them in a fresh new package.

Ford designers have given the new Ka a fashionable, modern appearance based around the company’s ‘kinetic design’ form language. A number of visual cues provide a connection to the original Ka, but with its distinctive face and chunky proportions the new model has its own unique character.

The interior of the new Ka also has a stylish, dynamic design, combining bold contrasts and expressive colours which reflect the more adventurous tastes of the typical Ka buyer.

The new model is destined to continue the considerable success of the original Ford Ka, which is widely considered to be an automotive design icon. Launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1996, the Ka was immediately praised for its exciting “New Edge” styling and class-leading driving dynamics.

Throughout its 12-year life the Ka has remained tremendously popular among small-car buyers, inspiring fierce loyalty from its owners. In total, Ka production has exceeded 1.4 million vehicles.

News: GM posts a US$15.5B loss for the second quarter

With Ford having recently posted its worst Q2 loss ever, it seems that GM is following suit with a $15.5B (NZ$21.3B) loss; nearly double the Ford loss.

Predictably, and as is the case with Ford, the General only has itself to blame for the loss with over production of large SUVs accounting for an overall drop in revenue by 18%. Add to this the cost to GM from striking workers and settlements thereof and the payouts to workers (around 24,000) who have been laid-off.

The future looks grim for GM, especially so since smaller models are still a ways off yet.

News: Majority of UK drivers want ‘green cars’

New figures out today reveal that almost three quarters (71 per cent) of British motorists would consider driving an electric car to help combat ‘green’ issues, according to research by esure car insurance.

Younger motorists are more likely to buy environmentally-friendly cars such as electric, hybrid or bio-fuel; a huge 81 per cent of under 25’s would contemplate driving an electric car.  This may be due to the associated lower costs of motoring – freedom from high petrol prices, road tax and congestion charges plus access to cut-price parking(2) — in addition to a general empathy towards environmental issues.

However, the over 55’s appear more set in their ways with a significantly lower number of those surveyed (66 per cent) considering to make such a change to their regular car buying decision-making.

According to the poll, 65 per cent of motorists questioned have changed their attitude towards driving because of the credit crunch and a general tightening of the nation’s purse strings.  Nearly one in five (17 per cent) are thinking about changing their car to one that is more fuel-efficient.  A further 14 per cent of those surveyed said they would consider making a change if the current level of inflation persisted and fuel prices continued to rocket.