General Motors to recall 2,000 laid-off workers

March 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

According to the United Auto Workers union in the States, General Motors is ready to recall another 2,000 of its previously laid-off workers by September this year. The UAW announced that most of the recalls will affect southern Michigan, where the economic downturn and large scale redundancies had the most impact.

An exact timeline for the recall of the workers hasn’t been specified by GM but UAW officials say the workers will be back building cars in September. GM is also ready to go further and with the laid-off employees back at work, GM will begin hiring again, but exact details haven’t been announced.

This is extremely positive news for the laid-off workers and also General Motors which is making strong progress on its road to recovery.  Several dire years and the death of four of its once iconic brands crippled GM but now a more positive day is dawning. According to GM bosses, they’re starting a third shift of 750 workers at the Flint, Michigan truck plant, 600 for a second shift to build Cadillacs in Lansing, and 1,550 to build small cars in Lake Orion, Michigan.

GM previews next global ute with Colorado concept

March 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

General Motors has just revealed the first details and images of it’s next-generation midsize ute truck. Ahead of an official unveiling at the Bangkok Auto Show GM has revealed the new ute in Chevrolet Colorado form but expect a new re-badged Holden Colorado in the future.

The concept truck is an extended-cab mid-size ute which features a prominent grille, polished aluminum accents, and LED-infused headlights. Elsewhere, there’s a body-color tonneau cover and 20-inch alloy wheels with Cooper Zeon off-road tyres.

Like the next-gen Ford Ranger the styling of GM’s new ute is sure to stir some controversy as all the best and worst designs do. But Chevrolet’s global vehicle line executive Brad Merkel said of the design, “Although this is a show vehicle, the basic proportions convey the vision for the next-generation Colorado that we will bring to market.”

The Colorado in concept form features a 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine, five-speed manual transmission 20-inch wheels and all-wheel drive.

The Colorado cabin was an area of criticism for the current model and that has been addressed with the new concept vehicle. The interior is apparently high quality and has a motorcycle-inspired instrument cluster, leather seats, dark wood trim, and chrome accents. Other highlights include a dual-zone climate control system and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen display. Continue reading “GM previews next global ute with Colorado concept” »

Holden displays first 2012 Cruze hatchback images

March 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden has just released the first images of the upcoming 2012 Cruze hatchback.

The all-new Cruze hatch is set to go into production at Holden‟s Vehicle Operations in South Australia later this year.

The hatchback variant of the Cruze was designed by Holden‟s Port Melbourne design studio and will be sold as the Holden Cruze in New Zealand and as a Chevrolet Cruze around the world.

It’s a modern looking machine with a sweeping coupe roofline and short overhangs. It was first shown as a concept at the Paris Motor Show followed by the Chevrolet production version which made its world premier in Geneva earlier this month.

Holden Design Director, Tony Stolfo, said Cruze hatch highlighted the breadth of skill in the Holden Design Studio.

“The Holden design team works on a range of global design projects from small hatchbacks like the new Cruze to large wheel drive performance vehicles and also a number of exciting vehicles yet to be revealed,” Mr Stolfo said. “In designing the new five-door hatch we wanted to retain the sporty Cruze proportions and bring the same Holden appearance to the hatch that we developed for the new Series II Cruze sedan.

“Holden is very proud of the global design work it does for other brands and countries around the GM world – but it’s especially gratifying to work on a new vehicle designed and built in our own back yard.” Continue reading “Holden displays first 2012 Cruze hatchback images” »

Chevrolet Camaro launching in Europe with special edition

December 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The new Chevrolet Camaro is on the verge of its European launch and to help gain interest in the iconic American machine GM has teamed up with tuning firm Irmscher to release a limited production version of its i42 Camaro study.

First shown at the Essen Motor Show the i42 Camaro was built by Irmscher with help from Auto Magnus und Velocity Performance Parts. The special edition is based on the Camaro SS with its 6.2-litre V8 engine, but the i42 has a range of upgrades, the most important being the addition of a supercharger and a new custom exhaust system. The modifications increase power output to 509-horsepower and enables the i42 Camaro a 0-100km/h sprint time of about 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 275 km/h.

The brakes have also been upgraded and now use 380 mm front discs with 6 piston calipers and 355 mm rear discs with 4 piston calipers. There’s an adjustable sports suspension and the car now rides on new 22-inch alloy wheels with a unique black and silver design. The look is suitably finished with black racing stripes and matching “Since 68″ logos.

Depending on optional equipment the  Irmscher i42 Camaro will be sold in Germany from €49,000.

Will the next Commodore be front-wheel-drive?

December 13th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Holden wouldn’t dare take the Commodore front-wheel-drive would they? At one time this mere suggestion would have had Commodore fans spitting up their beer in disbelief, but in the current automotive climate it’s not so far-fetched.

Since 1978, the Commodore has been roaring around wearing body styles ranging from coupe and sedan to wagon and ute, with Holden selling over 44,000 units last year in Australia alone. While the Commie has been staunchly a rear-wheel drive vehicle, new rumours are surfacing that the front-engine/rear-drive layout may not be in the cards for much longer.

The next-generation Commodore is due to appear by 2015 and it’s possible that General Motors may switch it to just another boring front-wheel driver. Why? For increased fuel-efficiency something that is desperately needed for the Commodore to stay alive in the future and the front-wheel drive platforms are the ones set up to deliver the highest fuel efficiency.

There are unconfirmed reports that the next-gen Commodore could ride on the Super Epsilon II platform, which it will potentially share with GM’s next Chevrolet Impala and the upcoming Cadillac XTS.

A front driving Commodore is a hard pill to swallow for enthusiasts and while we can all understand the reasons behind the change, how damaging would it really be for the Comodore brand?

Spyker Cars pays off GM for Saab early

July 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Spyker has just proudly announced that the Dutch supercar maker has already completely paid General Motors for the purchase of Saab. The purchase was agreed to be split into two payments, the second of which was due on July 15, but Spyker chose to send the full $24 million to Detroit ahead of time. The builder of the C8 Aileron (pictured) said that the funds came from internal sources, and that the company didn’t have to take on any additional debt because of the early payment. So there was no need to wait.

The bold move is the latest in Spyker’s plan to breathe life back into the troubled Saab. Recently, the company announced ambitious plans to broaden Saab dealer networks across the globe and especially in North America. At the same time, production of the C8 Aileron will increase as well, this is consistent with the company’s plan to sell its supercar alongside standard Saab production models.

Next Astra VXR / HSV VXR to get 224kW powerplant

June 16th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

According to recent reports on the web, the next-generation Vauxhall Astra VXR or HSV VXR as it’s badged here in NZ will receive a power boost to become a true hot hatch heavyweight.

While details are limited, the high performance Astra will feature a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 224 kW on tap. The new engine is significantly stronger than the current unit and will see a 47 kW increase. The VXR will also resist going 4WD and will stay a front driver but ¨GM will likely equip the car with an electronic differential to help minimise torque steer.

Expected to go on sale in Europe late 2011, the hot hatch will be dressed up with an aggressive body kit with revised bumpers, flared wheel arches, and a roof-mounted spoiler. Will HSV bring the new VXR down under? It’s hard to tell, the current model hasn’t been a sales success for the performance brand, but the HSV range may be keen to welcome a new small vehicle.

To read a Car and SUV review of the current HSV VXR, click here.

GM ready to develop next-gen small block V8

April 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The old small block Chevy, there’s no other engine in history that evokes quite as much nostalgia. General Motors now looks poised to push its mighty mouse motor well into the future by adding new technologies designed to clean up the mill’s emissions and improve economy. According to recent reports the small block is expected to be used in American vehicles from sportscars like the Camaro and Corvette to pickup trucks and SUVs.

GM announced that all of its next-generation small block V8s will use aluminum engine blocks in addition to being E85 compatible. Direct injection will also be added to the small block’s technologies and will help with much needed improved efficiency and greater power production. Finally, the combustion chambers will see a redesign that will further promote fuel efficiency.

An update of this nature to an existing engine line doesn’t come cheap and requires a suitable investment. GM are set to invest nearly $900 million US and will add or retain more than 1,600 jobs to make it all possible. Looks the the small block Chevy is getting dragged into the future.