To demonstrate the advances in motor vehicle safety over the last 50 years, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a unique crash test using a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu and a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air. Both cars are going 40 mph and the vehicles collide offset, driver side to driver side. This is the same crash configuration represented by the Institute's 40 mph frontal offset barrier test, which is used to rate the frontal crash performance of new cars.
There are some things in life that get better with age, and 50 year old NASCAR driver Mark Martin is (literally) living proof of this adage. Martin is arguably having the best year of his long and successful racing career, and the 2009 season seems to get better for Martin along the way. If you need proof, look no further than yesterday's thrilling victory at the first installment of the NASCAR Chase for the Cup at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The Sylvania 300 kicked off what many consider the "playoffs" of NASCAR, and it was one of … Read more
For years, style was absent without an excuse from American subcompacts. But the days of slab-sided, no-frills hatchbacks may soon be history.
For decades, something was missing in the small cars designed, built and sold in the United States. It was gone for so long that most American consumers probably didn't know what it was.
But to Ralph Gilles, Chrysler Group's chief designer, the missing ingredient was obvious. U.S. subcompacts lacked emotional appeal.
"Small cars of the past were not necessarily done with passion," he said.
Generations of Detroit designers seemed to say: No one buys a small car for its styling, so why bother? Uninspired, appliancelike econoboxes? What else did you expect?
American subcompacts had none of the attributes found in the cool, quirky and even elegant small cars created elsewhere in the world, from the original BMC Mini to the first Peugeot 205 to the modern Citroen C3.
U.S. automakers were forced to churn out small cars to raise corporate average fuel economy averages, so they could keep selling big trucks. Small-car design? An oxymoron.
But consumer preference has shifted -- the result of higher gasoline prices, new fuel-efficiency standards and concern about climate change.
"Small cars and vehicles powered by four-cylinder engines have been on a steady increase since 2004," said Ford Motor Co. sales analyst George Pipas.
U.S. fleets must average 35.5 mpg by 2016, compared with 25.3 mpg this year. Combined with stricter emissions standards, it means the number of small-car nameplates for sale in the United States will increase.
And when a market segment gets crowded, automakers must rely on styling to set their vehicles apart from the crowd.
"It's not business as usual for small cars here anymore," said Moray Callum, Ford Motor's design director for cars.
The expanding lineup of new small cars means styling will get a lot more creative and appealing, just as it did with mid-sized cars recently. (Think of the modern Chevrolet Malibu, the new Ford Taurus and the current Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.)… Read more
DETROIT -- Eager to improve consumers' opinions after 39 days in federal bankruptcy protection, General Motors Co. will launch a national advertising campaign in mid-September for each of its brands.
"We want to dramatically improve consideration," said Mark LaNeve, GM vice president of U.S. sales. The ads feature product attributes. For example, Chevrolet will boast that the Equinox crossover gets 32 mpg on the highway, LaNeve said.
Over the next year, GM will increase its spending on advertising significantly, he said. LaNeve declined to give exact budgets but said certain vehicles will get more money.
The Chevrolet … Read more
Ask any car historian or enthusiast about the biggest clunkers in American automotive history, and the AMC Pacer will more than likely be on that list. Made by the now defunct American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 1975-80, the Pacer was more or less a gimmick car that had all sorts of unusual features (sitting low to the ground but being wide in girth, the passenger side door being bigger than the driver's door, etc) and its body style has often been said to resemble an upside down bathtub on wheels. And while other so-called clunkers from the 70s like … Read more
GM generated excitement and much press coverage when it unveiled the Chevy Volt in 2007, and that interest continues unabated as the production launch date approaches. But GM has another arrow in its quiver that could be equally as important to the company's profitability, the Chevy Cruze.
A story on NPR this morning covers the reopening of GM's Lordstown assembly plant in Ohio. The plant currently produces the Chevy Cobalt, one of Chevy's smallest models, and one that is currently enjoying sales growth. The NPR story points out that the plant is being retooled to produce the … Read more
DETROIT -- A battery-pack assembly plant being built here offers the clearest indication yet of the sales potential General Motors Co. sees for its plug-in hybrids: about 70,000 units a year.
The $43 million plant, south of Detroit, will assemble individual batteries from South Korea's LG Chem Ltd. into 70,000 packs a year at full production for the Chevrolet Volt and other plug-in hybrids. Each pack will have 220 cells and is estimated to cost $8,000.
Most of the packs will be used in the Volt, which is scheduled to start production in November 2010. But … Read more
With its retro looks, the 2010 Chevy Camaro gets a lot of attention on the road. And with its relatively low price, you'll be seeing a lot of them, as quickly as GM can stamp them out. We tested an LT version, which means a V-6 instead of the high-trim V-8, but don't scoff--the powertrain in the LT is the same as in the Cadillac CTS, down to the optional automatic transmission. Unlike the CTS, the Camaro doesn't offer much tech, besides an iPod port and Bluetooth phone integration. Navigation and other services are handled through OnStar. … Read more
Here's a brief look at the Corvette Stingray concept. The car has a conceptual hybrid power train and iPhone app-like downloads. Watching the doors and hood open is very reminiscent of this summer's movie "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."
CNET Green Tech reporter Martin LaMonica gets a ride in a test mule of the Chevrolet Volt, with GM engineer Frank Weber driving.