Now in its seventh year, the Scion xD has stayed the same while newer subcompacts have improved by leaps and bounds. In 2007, there was no Ford Fiesta, the Honda Fit was in its previous generation, and the unloved Chevrolet Aveo did little to thrill buyers of the smallest cars. Against that competition, Scion’s five-door hatchback… …read more
By Tim Worstall, Contributor An interesting little story from the UK, about how the streets are quite literally spread with platinum and other valuable metals. It’s not quite the same as their being paved with gold but with the right technology it could have similar results: One of the country’s biggest street cleaning firms has announced it is to “mine” the sweepings it collects from roads and pavements, in search of gold and other precious metals. Veolia Environmental Services believes it can find at least £1 million worth of materials like platinum, palladium and rhodium from the muck swept up from Britain’s streets each year. The background to this is that all cars and trucks now have catalytic converters for pollution control. These are made with a matrix of zirconia (zirconium oxide) and a small amount of the platinum group metals. Those for diesel engines might have 1 gramme of platinum per half kilo brick of the zirconia, those for petrol engines a mixture of platinum, palladium and rhodium. A small car (say, a Ford Fiesta) might have a single half kilo brick in the converter, a large car, say a V12 Jaguar, 8 such bricks. …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest
At least once a day we hear about the glory of cars of years past, whether for their light weight, their simplicity, their manual transmissions or the way you could order options without ordering packages. But we know that we – and yes, even we here at Autoblog – romanticize plenty of it; that light weight meant atrocious NVH, those options sheets didn’t include any of the things we take for granted in a Ford Fiesta today.
Nevertheless, there are those classics that make it worth it – for them it is no problem to endure the constant draft of bad window seals, the need to add another quart of oil every couple hundred miles. Petrolicious has found one such car and owner, Pierantonio Micciarelli and his Fiat 2300 S Coupe in Milan, Italy. His Ghia-bodied two-door can’t be driven during the day and cost him 800 euros in gas for a 2,500-kilometer trip to a wedding, but the payoff is that moving beauty that makes him “feel like an emperor.”
But there’s no reason to listen to us tell it – enjoy Macciarelli tell his own story in the video below.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog
When gas prices rise, knee-jerk consumerism means that sales of small cars increase in lockstep, right? Well, sometimes – but that’s not always the case. Ward’s Auto reports that sales of subcompact car sales in America are off despite fuel prices pushing and holding at $3.50 to $4.00 a gallon across the country. According to the report, the “Lower Small” segment has seen a 2.6-percent sales decline since October, while fuel prices have been on the rise. Despite their comparatively thirsty appetite for fuel, the industry publication notes that sales of large crossovers are up a whopping 61 percent over the same time period.
Part of the sales stories may center on the boom/bust cycle that comes as a result of new or aging models in each segment – the full-size CUV segment has received a raft of new models, including the refreshed Lambda triplets from General Motors, the Nissan Pathfinder and even derivatives like the new Sport model in the Ford Explorer family. Yet it isn’t as if America’s subcompact segment is stagnant – as Ward’s points out, most of the players are two years old or less.
Sales losers in the first quarter of the year include the Mazda2 (pictured – down 51.9 percent), Toyota Yaris (-27.9 percent) and Hyundai Accent (-24.7), though other models including the Kia Rio and Chevrolet Sonic slipped as well. Conversely, the Nissan Versa and Ford Fiesta held their own, registering sales up 11.6 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.
Part of subcompacts’ sales problem may be due to the fact that those same automakers offer larger compact models whose fuel economy figures are comparable to that of their smaller counterparts. Further, pricing differences may not amount to all that much between the models – particularly in leasing situations where compact cars’ typically command higher residual values.
We checked out the Opel Adam R2 Rally concept and its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque at the Geneva Motor Show. The one-make series the car was built for, the ADAC Opel Ralleye Cup, has kicked off with 24 teams in identically prepared cars lining up for eight races in this inaugural season.
Meant to help young drivers find a less expensive way into motorsports, the championship is part of the German ADAC Rally Masters series and will actually run 140-hp cars. We’re not sure how much the Opel prepped by Holzer Motorsport for this series costs, but English company M-sport prepares an R2-spec Ford Fiesta with 170 hp for 43,000 pounds (about $66,000 US). There’s 100,000 euros in prize money up for grabs and the cup winner gets career help, a shot at the Adam R2 car in 2014 and a chance to hop into rally-prepped Opel Corsas.
The first video below has shots of the Adam Rallye Cup car on the move. For more footage and a closer look at the car, the second video has more rolling footage and an interview – in Danish with no subtitles, sadly – with the Danish rally team of 22–year-old Simon Lund Larsen and co-driver Ole R. Frederiksen.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog
Americans are just starting to get over their dislike of small cars, and it’s models like the Ford Fiesta that have been at the leading edge of that change in heart. Over a few years, with its flamboyant, sporty look and zippy driving experience, the Fiesta has shown that small, inexpensive models don’t need to be so soulless and… …read more
By Zach Bowman
Mini has officially sold 500,000 vehicles in the United States. The achievement came just a few days after the company commemorated its 11th anniversary in America. When the automaker first opened its doors to US buyers in 2002, it sold just 24,590 unis. Last year, the automaker moved 66,123 vehicles thanks in part to an expanded lineup that now includes the Clubman, Countryman, Coupe, Roadster and Paceman in addition to the stalwart Hardtop and Convertible. The company plans to have some 130 dealerships nationwide by the end of 2013; there are currently 116 Mini dealers in the US.
Mini helped reignite an interest in small cars with plenty of personality when it debuted the Cooper 11 years ago. The move helped pave the way for machines like the Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Sonic. Check out the quick press release on the 500,000th Mini model below.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog
By Ron Sessions
Honda will introduce an all-new Fit for 2014, and expectations are running high—over two generations, the small hatchback has appeared on our 10Best Cars list every year since 2007. Although the company has yet to release many details about the next-generation version, we do know that production will switch next year from high-cost Japan to low-cost Mexico. And now we also know that Honda will officially introduce its City Brake Active automatic braking system via the redesigned 2014 Fit, although it hasn’t yet confirmed the system for the U.S. market.
But one key to increasing acceptance of subcompacts in America will be the trickle-down of safety technology, so it might be smart to offer it here. Honda’s accident-avoidance system is geared to urban environments, and is active at speeds up to 18 mph. As with similar systems announced by Volvo and Mazda, Honda’s City Brake Active system tracks traffic ahead with a windshield-mounted laser. If the system determines that a collision is imminent, it will flash visual and audible alerts to the driver. If the driver fails to take action to avoid an accident, the system automatically applies the brakes. Honda’s active brake system will also intervene if the driver inadvertently floors the accelerator while stopped or traveling at less than 6 mph if another car ahead is closer than four meters (about 13 feet or slightly less than the length of one Honda Fit), effectively denying the request to accelerate.
- Comparison Test: Honda Fit vs. Chevy Sonic, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio5, Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris
- Instrumented Test: 2013 Honda Accord Sedan 2.4L Manual
- Instrumented Test: 2012 Honda CR-V
Honda brass previously confirmed two future Fit spinoffs, a subcompact crossover to compete with the Nissan Juke, Buick Encore, and Kia Soul—this was previewed by the Honda Urban SUV concept shown at the 2013 Detroit auto show—and a subcompact four-door sedan similar to the current Honda City. The latter car will battle the Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, and Hyundai Accent, and will be aimed at Americans who hate hatchbacks and love the gawky styling typical of puny sedans. The new Fit hatchback will go on sale in Japan later this year, and we expect our model to arrive at approximately the same time.
Filed under: Investing
Legendary investor and One Up on Wall Street author Peter Lynch had a simple piece of advice: Buy what you know. Most investors find that what they know the best are the things they spend money on every day.
But it’s not just enough to go down your shopping list and buy shares of all the companies that make those things. You also have to be smart about picking companies that can actually profit from the popular products they sell. With that in mind, here are five stock picks that combine the simplicity of the buy-what-you-know mantra with the potential for rising share prices over the long run.
Generations of Americans have grown up with Disney entertainment. From its long history of creating go-to destination theme parks and making landmark movies to its more recent rise as a television and multimedia giant, Disney defines our national culture, both here and with its many international ventures.
But despite its long history, Disney continues moving forward. Its purchases of Pixar, Marvel, and most recently Lucasfilm promise a growing library of desirable content that will draw interest from the many companies seeking to deliver entertainment to their customers. Moreover, Disney’s growing reach across the globe will broaden its customer base to serve billions of people worldwide. The future is bright both for Disney and for its shareholders.
Americans love cars and trucks, and Ford has long been a top player in the auto industry. Its F-Series of pickups has consistently topped the list of best-selling vehicles in the country for years, and its Ford Fiesta is attracting huge interest from the new generation of Millennial car-owners.
From an investing standpoint, Ford has crushed its competitors. General Motors and Chrysler both went bankrupt, with GM taking on the moniker “Government Motors” because of the U.S. Treasury’s huge stake in the automaker. By contrast, Ford has gotten its credit rating back up to investment grade, restarted its dividend payments, and brought its stock from the brink of collapse to deliver huge gains over the past four years. Ford faces struggles in Europe, but it still has further potential to grow as it looks for new ways to boost sales both domestically and abroad.
Speaking of cars and trucks, you’re probably all too familiar with how much you pay for gasoline. Even with all the new oil and gas discoveries everyone’s talking about, prices at the pump just keep rising.
With its refineries and gas stations across the country, Valero is benefiting from cheap oil, paying less for newly produced domestic crude and then earning big profits on more expensive refined products. As long as those conditions last, Valero is poised to keep a healthy bottom line, and that will make shareholders happy with the stock.
Filed under: Investing
Ah, millenials… we’re an intriguing generation to say the least. My generation has absorbed technology so fully it is a seamless part our daily lives, and we have a superior confidence in ourselves – maybe to a fault. Typically research shows we’re a generation of people that are highly educated, tech savvy, ambitious, and entitled. We grew up with cell phones, the Internet, and a explosion in media advertising. Cutting through all the noise to grab our attention – and sell us your products — grows more difficult with each passing day.
To attract the younger consumer it takes a much different approach – one that Ford is excelling at. I’ll show you an example of how it’s working with Ford’s Fiesta, which is attracting more millenials than any other Ford vehicle. But, that’s just the first step in Ford’s big plan. Ford is thinking much bigger and further into the future. Millenials are the key to reviving its luxury Lincoln brand. I’ll show you why that is the case, and what investors’ need to watch out for.
Millennial buying power
The millennial generation represents more purchasing power now than people realize, and it will only increase as we age. We represent nearly 80 million people with a purchasing power estimated at $170 billion. That makes us the largest generation since the baby boomers, and much larger than the 48 million Gen Xers out there. It won’t be long before we are ready to outspend any other generation, leaving those companies unable to attract our attention left in the dust. Ford appears to understand my generation pretty well, so let’s look at why Ford is already way ahead of its rivals in attracting my generation, and why it’s so important for Lincoln’s future.
Ford’s first unique marketing campaign targeting the millenials was groundbreaking in 2009. It gave consumer-agents a Fiesta, gas, insurance, cameras and any equipment needed to create unique content from their user experiences. The agents combined to tally up over a million miles in the Fiestas and create more than 50,000 pieces of original advertising content. That content, used by Ford for commercials or paper ads, generated almost 30 million views. Here is an explanation why it worked so well, according to Keith Koeppen, Ford’s advertising and media manager: “Consumers — millenials in particular — like being a part of the brands they feel represent them. … This demographic is accustomed to creating content about their lives, so it just makes sense to give their creativity a bigger platform with greater scale.”
The 2009 advertising campaign created enough buzz through social media for over 132,000 Fiesta inquiries at dealerships. Even more impressive was that 83% of those inquiries came from consumers who had never owned a Ford vehicle! In an industry that’s known for brand loyalty, attracting that many potentially new customers is huge. On top of that, 30% of those inquiring were younger …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance
Despite its age–the current generation was launched in 2008 as a 2009 model–the Honda Fit remains both known and praised for a design with unrivaled space efficiency and flexibility. The five-door subcompact hatchback competes with the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris, and perhaps the sportier but iow-volume Mazda…
Source: FULL ARTICLE at The Car Connection
Well at least we now know why Ken Block “just ain’t care” about smashing up his Ford Fiesta rally car recently. It’s because he’s getting a full brand makeover including a new team name, new paint scheme and even a new headquarters. Formerly known as Monster World Rally Team, Block and his Fiesta will now be competing under the Hoonigan Racing Division name, which is based out of a new 12,000 square foot facility located in Park City, UT.
As you can tell in the image above, Hoonigan Racing will replace the familiar black, white and green paint scheme with a more colorful design featuring plenty of blue, purple and red; the Monster Energy logo retains some of the car’s green. The new paint scheme was inspired by Block’s love of skateboard graphics from the ’80s and early ’90s as well as “Miami Vice-era” speedboats.
Block will continue to compete in multiple rally racing series such as Global RallyCross, World Rally Championship and X Games. The new headquarters features office space on one side and a shop for the cars on the other side. The building features plenty of stuff you’d expect from a company designed around Ken Block, including a massive gaming station for racing video games, recycled shipping containers used throughout the facility and a black bear.
Block also hints at the next Gymkana on the Hoonigan Racing blog:
I can’t comment too much on it at this point, but we’re taking a very different approach to it for this year. That’s all I’m going to say right now!”
So, we guess we’ll be looking forward to that, then.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog
During a drifting session at Irwindale Speedway in California, Ken Block made a boo-boo that would send a number of drivers immediately back to the infield. But there’s an answer to “What do you do when you bash the wall while drifting and your wheel explodes?” and there’s completely different answer when the question begins with the phrase, “When you’re Ken Block…”
Instead of us telling you how Block handled the calamity in his Ford Fiesta competition car, you can watch it happen in the video below. You can probably also guess what it is – but it’s more fun to watch.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog
The Ford Focus is a family of small cars, that are offered in a wide range of body styles including a four-door sedan, wagon, coupe, and three- and five-door hatchbacks. The Ford Focus had been Ford’s bargain-priced, entry-level car model for North America for many years, although the smaller Ford Fiesta has now taken that spot. Top alternatives…
Source: FULL ARTICLE at The Car Connection
By Don Klein
Award-winning ad man-cum-auto journalist Don Klein knows a good (or bad) car commercial when he sees one; the Ad Section is his space to tell you what he thinks of the latest spots. The ad’s rating is depicted via the shift pattern at the bottom, but everyone has an opinion when it comes to advertising, so hit Backfires below and tell us what you think, too.
Welcome to the strange and wonderful world of TV commercial demos, wherein advertisers use impressive “visual proof” to dramatically showcase their products’ superiority. But be forewarned—what you see isn’t always exactly what you get. Because even though product demos are subject to FTC approval, what happens under contrived conditions doesn’t always replicate the real world, which might explain why demos are so often used in infomercials.
Against that background, let’s look at Smart’s new ForTwo commercial. We open on what appears to be a parked ForTwo with a giant Ford Excursion on its roof. But when the little car drives away, we see that in fact the multi-ton SUV is perched atop a Smart Tridion safety cell, which, we are told, “can withstand over three and a half tons.” Even with the sound turned off we would get the message: Smart is small in size, big on safety.
So what’s misleading about that? Strictly speaking, nothing. They really did lower an Excursion onto a Tridion cell. True, it was a specially rigged Tridion cell, but it points that out in type across the bottom. You noticed that, right? Of course, the demo doesn’t prove that Smarts are safe, but it certainly does leave that impression, just as a four-pound brick spanning a 12-ounce drinking tumbler might leave the impression that the glass is strong. But drop the brick on the tumbler—or the Excursion on the Smart—and the result likely will be different, especially if you don’t use a weight distribution platform like the one in the commercial and factor in things that happen in real accidents, like speed and motion. Although I’m not a physicist, I’ve got to believe that three-plus tons of mass randomly plunked down on suspension and tires designed to support an 1800-pound car is going to cause some serious damage, even if the cute little critter is parked at the time of impact. And if I’m wrong, at least it would be a demo to remember, right?
But like most TV commercial demos, this one is more about general perception than strict reality. Will anyone seeing this commercial think you can really tote a giant SUV around town on a Smart’s roof? Of course not. All Smart wants us to get from this spot is that its cars are safe. So are they? In the IIHS’s 2013 ratings, Smart earned top marks in every test it was subjected to, and the body’s construction probably had a lot to do with that, although in fairness, the 2013 versions of the Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit, Mazda 2, Nissan Versa sedan, and Toyota Yaris hatchback all earned the same top rollover rating (the test that measures roof strength) without having “the world’s only Tridion safety cell.” But that still doesn’t make the ForTwo spot misleading: It never said Smart is making the only safe microcar.
Given the rules of engagement that apply to demos, I think this commercial does a good job. The FTC doesn’t require safety demos to literally replicate real-world accidents, and unlike the infamous Volvo “Bigfoot” commercial of 1990 where the roof of a 240 wagon was bolstered to avoid being crushed, this commercial didn’t cheat to make the honest point that Smarts have strong bodies. It’s merely a dramatic presentation of a true product attribute. It’s up to you to decide its relevance.
- Instrumented Test: 2011 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
- Comparison Test: Honda Fit vs. Sonic, Accent, Rio5, Versa, and Yaris
- Instrumented Test: 2012 Scion iQ
Another thing this commercial demonstrates is that it’s possible to effectively make a point in just 15 seconds (most commercials run for 30), and that will give Smart a lot more mileage from its ad budget. That said, I have to wonder about the tagline, which includes the term “uncar.” Smart’s not the first advertiser to use that concept to imply that its products are different. For years, 7-Up billed itself as the “Uncola” in an attempt to position the brand as an attractive alternative to Coke and Pepsi, and while that had some logic to it, I can’t imagine what “uncar” is supposed to mean. Are we to think of it as a four-wheeled motorcycle? A road-worthy golf cart or ATV? Even Smart’s website refers to its vehicles as “cars.” So why go to all the trouble to convince people that Smarts are strong, safe cars only to confuse them with a mysterious misnomer at the end? I’m not sure what that particular line of thinking is supposed to demonstrate.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver
Launched in 2011, the Ford Fiesta is the first new subcompact sold in the U.S. by Ford since the demise of the unloved Aspire more than a decade ago. Both as a five-door hatchback and a four-door sedan, the Fiesta range was adapted for North America from the European model that’s now continued for more than 30 years. Compared to some of the…
Source: The Car Connection
You should like three-cylinder engines. They’re cool. They’re different. They make thrummy little sounds. And come September, Mitsubishi will become the third automaker currently offering one in the U.S. After picking up some forms from the California Air Resources Board, we spoke to a Mitsubishi staffer, who confirmed that a 1.2-liter three will power the new “Global Small Car”—that’s the generic name for the Mirage—when it goes on sale this fall. Although Mitsu is being coy about the car’s name until its debut at the New York auto show in April, the CARB document also lists the name as Mirage. We don’t expect a change there.
If the engine isn’t changed from its naturally aspirated European setup, it’ll give the U.S. Mirage just 79 horsepower. And so the company that once shocked the world by squeezing as much as 400 hp from a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine will have the second-least-powerful car on the American market. The only car the Mirage will outgun is one of its three-cylinder brethren, the 70-hp Smart. With turbocharging, Ford’s new three-cylinder Fiesta packs 123 raging ponies.
Comparison Test: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Turbo vs. 2011 Honda Fit, 2012 Hyundai Accent, 2012 Kia Rio5, 2012 Nissan Versa, 2012 Toyota Yaris
Prototype Drive: 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost
Comparison Test: 2012 Fiat 500 Sport vs. 2011 Mini Cooper
Unfortunately, this news doesn’t much relieve our urge to grab Mitsubishi and shake, while yelling “What the heck do you mean, no more Evo?” Nor is the Mirage likely to buoy Mitsubishi’s sinking ship in the States. Success for cars like the Ford Fiesta and the Honda Fit shows that the line of small-car acceptance has shifted, but there’s still a line. The Mazda 2 and the Chevy Spark are straddling it, and can look across to the Smart Fortwo and Scion iQ. The Mirage probably is too small and underpowered to score big sales here—but hey, we can always lobby Mitsu for a Ralliart version. Turbocharging really just makes inline-threes that much cooler.
Source: Car & Driver
Gymkhana 5 was released in early July, but we’re only just getting the obligatory behind-the-scenes video of the DC Shoes and Ken Block extravaganza now. A BTS video on a Hollywood production is usually “This is how we got this shot right,” whereas in this kind of video, it’s often “This how many way potential ways we might get this shot wrong.”
There’s plenty of both as Block and crew show how the stunts around San Francisco were executed, including the scenes at Russian Hill, Potrero Hill, Twin Peaks, Battery Street, the Bay Bridge and the barge in the bay. You can also watch Travis Pastrana working the rust out of his bike-handling skills and getting hit by Block during a stunt. All the sideways-sliding Ford Fiesta rally car action is in the video below.
The Mazda2 is a five-door subcompact hatchback, and the smallest model in the Mazda lineup. It’s aimed at cost-conscious urban commuters, as well as those who want a small parking footprint, and its current rival set includes the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic (Aveo), Hyundai Accent, and Kia Rio. The Mazda2 and the Ford…
Source: The Car Connection
By Chris Tutor
Electric cars may have won the European Car of the Year award two years in a row now (Opel Ampera in 2012, and Nissan Leaf in 2011), we can say without reservation that the 2013 ECotY will be a petrol-burning, internal combustionizer. That’s because not a single electric vehicle made it to the contest’s final round. But eight other cars did.
At the top of the alphabetical list is Ford’s Fiesta-based, B-Max MPV. Five doors, good ride and fuel-efficient, award-winning engine choices are some of the reasons it makes the list. Next is the Hyundai i30, known as the Elantra GT Stateside, with either five or three doors, a roomy cabin and a 1.6-liter CRDi engine. The nominating committee commends the handsome hatch for improved exterior aesthetics and a multilink suspension that “shows in ride and handling.”
Mercedes gets the next spot with its hot hatch: the turbocharged A-Class, followed by another hatch, the Peugeot 208. The next finalist is from another marque we haven’t seen in the States for quite some time – the fourth-generation Renault Clio, followed by the Subaru/Toyota dynamic duo of BRZ and the GT86. The last two contenders are the all-new Volkswagen Golf and the svelte Volvo V40.
The European Car of the Year will be announced in early March after the jury has tallied its votes.