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If you’ve been following my blog here for any amount of time it’s obvious that it’s been neglected.  That’s because I’ve been writing for High Gear Media on www.futurecarreports.com for a few months now.  Check it for regular news on future cars, car concepts, and upcoming automotive technology.  Thanks for reading!

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Things Just Got Ugly For Toyota

In addition to recalling millions of vehicles for floor mat / gas pedal interference and sticky throttles, Toyota announced today that it has halted sales of 8 members of its lineup.  Dealerships have been ordered to stop selling the following models:

2009–2010 RAV4
2009–2010 Corolla
2009–2010 Matrix
2005–2010 Avalon
2007–2010 Camrys (certain variations)
2010 Highlander
2007–2010 Tundra
2008–2010 Sequoia

Toyota has not developed a final solution for the problems, and has decided not to sell recalled vehicles.  Additionally, Toyota will suspend production of additional vehicles with the same problem, until they reach a decision on how to solve this.  A total of 2.3 million Toyotas have been recalled for sticky accelerators, and another 3.8 million have been recalled for interference between the floor mat and gas pedal.  Car and Driver notes that about 1.7 million vehicles fall into both categories.

I’m not sure how this can be anything but devastating for Toyota.  Their image of quality and reliability is forever tainted.  The fact that they have stopped sales of 8 different vehicles is going to scare lots of people away for a long time.  General Motors is already trying to attract such people to the showrooms of their own dealerships.  It seems that many of the auto makers infamous for bad quality have made great improvements in the last decade or so, but this is a huge step backwards for Toyota.

[Car and Driver]
[Image: Toyota]


Saab Wars: Episode VI – The Sweeds Strike Back

As if you haven’t already heard enough about the GM – Saab negotiations, they’ve made the news again today.  GM and Spyker confirmed an agreement between the two on the sale of the Saab brand.  This deal will result in the creation of a new company – Saab Spyker Automobiles.  The two parties have combined their efforts to ensure a future for the Saab legacy, and it’s looking like that will happen.

Spyker, with the help of a European Bank, has managed to come up with the funds to convince GM that the brand should live on.  There are still plenty of details to be worked out, so stay tuned for more updates on Saab’s re-birth.  I’m looking forward to seeing the new 9-5 become a reality.

[General Motors]

[Image: Saab]


Saab 9-5 Spy Photos: Hope For Saab’s Future?

Saab is apparently still testing the upcoming 9-5.  The brand’s future is still (yes, still…) up in the air.  Is this a sign that GM is coming close to making a deal with Spyker?  The details are not yet known, but sources have said the two parties are approaching an agreement. (more…)


Detroit To Participate In Japan’s ‘Cash For Clunkers’

As if Japan hadn’t done enough damage during the US Government’s CARS program, the country recently decided to try it’s own, more exclusive version of the incentive.  Initially, buyers of imports would not be eligible for the rebates.  This would limit sales to Japanese made cars.  In an effort to benefit from the stimulus, Detroit has put pressure on Japan to allow American cars to qualify for the program.  Their efforts have been fruitful, and Japan agreed on Tuesday to allow Japanese shoppers to buy certain U.S. vehicles and still receive tax break.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions results will be used to determine eligibility of American cars to participate in the Japanese Program.

[The Detroit News via Automotive Digest]


Lexus Will Select LF-A Drivers

Own a Ferrari?  Live in Hollywood?  Like to show off?  If you answered “yes” to these questions, congratulations!  You might qualify for a chance to lease a Lexus LF-A.  Sound exclusive?  Don’t worry, they’re looking for 500 people just like you, so you’ve got a really good chance.  Wait, that’s a complete lie.  You’ll be lucky to set eyes on one, much less park one in your driveway.  That’s a real bummer too.  I’ve got about $500k in Christmas money left to spend.  Guess I’ll have to settle for another Lamborghini.

Lexus has decided to make it’s halo car über exclusive by hand-picking eligible owners.  The global car maker is specifically targeting people who already own rare, exotic cars who are willing to drive them in high profile areas.  The goal is to expose the car to the world, instead of park it behind closed doors in a collection that will never be driven.  So, good luck.  All 500 of you.

[The Wall Street Journal via autoblog]


Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept in Detroit: Photo Gallery

Cadillac has unveiled the XTS flagship sedan at the Detroit Auto show this week.  The XTS is expected to replace the STS and DTS as Cadillac’s premium luxury offering.  It is a combination of Cadillac’s new signature looks, technology features and a plug-in hybrid system.

The XTS concept’s hybrid drivetrain will feature a 3.6-L V-6 with direct injection.  The batteries can take a full charge from a standard wall outlet.  Periods of purely electric propulsion will be possible for the XTS, drastically increasing fuel economy.  The combination of gas engine and electric motor are estimated to produce about 350 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque to provide an exciting driving experience.

A luxuriously comfortable, yet aggressively sport ride is provided, thanks to Magnetic Ride Control.  Sensors monitor the position of the vehicle relative to the road every millisecond.  Electronically controlled magneto-rheological fluid in the shock dampers actively smooth out the road while providing excellent grip and stability.

(more…)