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Archive for December, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010

Posted by autotran on December 31, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010

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Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Posted by autotran on December 21, 2009

The Interwebs have discovered some additional images of the Geneva Motor Show-bound Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Although there is a full-on rear shot, these are more about details and lighting elements than taking the entire car in. The new hatch won’t suffer from any lack of LED’s, with an array of four in the headlights and a basket full of them in the rear taillights and third brake light.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Fiat’s aims to sell around 100,000 units per year, and with five engine choices on offer at launch, the company is doing its best not to leave any potential customer out. If we’re lucky, that pool of potential customers will include Americans that aren’t ex-pats… Have a look at what’s coming in the gallery of high-res images below.

Source: http://www.autoblog.com/2009/12/21/more-pics-of-the-alfa-romeo-giulietta-appear/

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New DOT Consumer Rule Limits Airline Tarmac Delays, Provides Other Passenger Protections

Posted by autotran on December 21, 2009

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a new rule that significantly strengthens protections afforded to consumers by, among other things, establishing a hard time limit after which U.S. airlines must allow passengers to deplane from domestic flights.

“Airline passengers have rights, and these new rules will require airlines to live up to their obligation to treat their customers fairly,” Secretary LaHood said.

The new rule prohibits U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations. U.S. carriers operating international flights departing from or arriving in the United States must specify, in advance, their own time limits for deplaning passengers, with the same exceptions applicable.

Carriers are required to provide adequate food and potable drinking water for passengers within two hours of the aircraft being delayed on the tarmac and to maintain operable lavatories and, if necessary, provide medical attention.

This rule was adopted in response to a series of incidents in which passengers were stranded on the ground aboard aircraft for lengthy periods and also in response to the high incidence of flight delays and other consumer problems. In one of the most recent tarmac delay incidents, the Department fined Continental Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines and Mesaba Airlines a total of $175,000 for their roles in a nearly six-hour ground delay at Rochester, MN.

The rule also:

  • Prohibits airlines from scheduling chronically delayed flights, subjecting those who do to DOT enforcement action for unfair and deceptive practices;
  • Requires airlines to designate an airline employee to monitor the effects of flight delays and cancellations, respond in a timely and substantive fashion to consumer complaints and provide information to consumers on where to file complaints;
  • Requires airlines to display on their website flight delay information for each domestic flight they operate;
  • Requires airlines to adopt customer service plans and audit their own compliance with their plans; and
  • Prohibits airlines from retroactively applying material changes to their contracts of carriage that could have a negative impact on consumers who already have purchased tickets.

Today’s final rule was adopted following a review of public comments on a proposal issued in November 2008. The Department also plans to begin another rulemaking designed to further strengthen protections for air travelers. Among the areas under consideration are: a requirement that airlines submit to the Department for review and approval their contingency plans for lengthy tarmac delays; reporting of additional tarmac delay data; disclosure of baggage fees; and strengthening requirements that airline ads disclose the full fare consumers must pay for tickets.

The rule goes into effect 120 days after date of publication in the Federal Register. The rule may be obtained on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2007-0022.

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Geneva Motor Show 2010: Rinspeed to unveil the UC? Electric city car

Posted by autotran on December 16, 2009

When we get to Geneva next March, eccentric Swiss design house Rinspeed will be showing off a design for a new electric commuter vehicle called the “UC?” The design of the car itself doesn’t appear to be particularly novel with styling that looks like a cross between the Smart ForTwo and Fiat 500 (not to mention the Aston Martin Cygnet from earlier today).

Rinspeed UC? – click above for high-res image gallery

Rinspeed UC? – click above for high-res image gallery

However, Rinspeed is proposing an interesting approach to extending the range of the EV. Because the UC? is only 2.5 meters long, it could theoretically take advantage of the same kind of perpendicular parking that many Smart drivers use. With that in mind, Rinspeed is proposing that railroads build special train cars that would allow the UC? to be driven straight on and off for travel between cities where the 75 mile nominal plug range would make travel impractical. Since most European trains are electric, it’s even conceivable that drivers could plug in their UC? Models during the train trip. Rinspeed hopes to offer up the UC? to outside manufacturers who may want to build it.

Press release

A Clever E-Speedster to Fight Gridlock

Automobile, Train and the Web Form a New Kind of Symbiosis at the Geneva Motor Show 2010 (March 4th – 14th, 2010)

For the first time in its long history of developing groundbreaking concept cars the Swiss automobile and concept powerhouse Rinspeed is creating not just a car but a entire mobility concept. The highly likeable two-seater is powered by an electric motor and is aptly named “UC?”, which stands for “Urban Commuter” or “You see?”. It was designed for possible future series production.

Nomen est omen: The little speedster measures just 2.50 meters in length and is intended to help avoid gridlock in the inner cities. At the same time an advanced railcar loading system will add the option to cover long distances by train, comfortable, without traffic jams and stress-free. The desired mobile carport with integrated battery charging station is conveniently booked via the internet.

Rinspeed UC? – click above for high-res image gallery

Rinspeed UC? – click above for high-res image gallery

Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht: “UC? – it’s a new and highly emotional web-based car world that interweaves individual and public transport in an intelligent way. We want to create a community of people who are open for a new definition of mobility.”

The lightweight “lovebug” is operated with a central joystick and delivers 124 Newton meters of torque. It reaches a top speed of 110 km/h and has an operating range of 120 kilometers. But the most important aspect of the vehicle is that there is a good chance that it will be built in series production. The concept is designed be easily adapted and integrated by volume manufacturers. Intensive dialogues at the highest levels are already well underway.

The partners and suppliers in the “UC?” project are:

Absaar GmbH – http://www.absaar.com

AEZ Leichtmetallräder GmbH – http://www.aez-wheels.com

AkzoNobel Car Refinishes – http://www.akzonobel.com

A.T. Kearney Global Management Consultants – http://www.atkearney.com

Carl F. Bucherer – http://www.carl-f-bucherer.com

Coop Genossenschaft – http://www.coop.ch

Die Agentur, Werbeagentur GmbH – http://www.dieagentur-group.com

J. Eberspächer GmbH & Co. KG – http://www.eberspaecher.com

Elektrizitätswerke des Kantons Zürich – http://www.ekz.ch

Esoro AG – http://www.esoro.ch

Harman/Becker Automotive Systems – http://www.harmanbecker.com

Li-Tec Battery GmbH – http://www.li-tec.de

Motorex Bucher Langenthal AG – http://www.motorex.com

Paravan GmbH – http://www.paravan.de

Pirelli Tyre (Europe) S.A. Swiss Market – http://www.pirelli.ch

Rafi GmbH &Co. KG – http://www.rafi.de

Rehau AG & Co. – http://www.rehau.com

Sellner GmbH – http://www.sellner.de

Sibu Design GmbH & CoKG – http://www.sibu.at

Ticona GmbH – http://www.ticona.de

VDO – Continental Automotive Switzerland AG – http://www.continental-corporation.com

Special thanks to:

Xmobil Design + Marketing GmbH – http://www.xmobil.de

Dominic Wuffli + Cédric Facchin

Forward-Looking Statements – This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by the Rinspeed management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

Source: http://www.autoblog.com/2009/12/16/geneva-preview-rinspeed-to-unveil-the-uc-electric-city-car/

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Driven: 2010 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan at price $24,515

Posted by autotran on December 15, 2009

Heated leather seats, a nav system, voice-activated Bluetooth, a moonroof, and XM satellite radio, all on a Honda Civic? Are you kidding?

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

If you’ve known the Civic as a source of inexpensive, economical transportation in the past, it’s easy to think that on first glance at the feature set of our test 2010 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan—and its price tag: $24,515.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

Although that’s certainly not pricey for a vehicle today (the average price of a new vehicle lands a bit below $30k), the level of equipment is surprising, because—probably like you—I tend to associate the Civic either with frugality and basic transportation, geeky maximum fuel-efficiency (Civic Hybrid) or edgy tuner-style performance (Civic Si).

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

Go for the top-of-the-line EX or EX-L and you’ll end up with a bit of a different experience. For starters, you get the same curvy yet slab-sided exterior and odd dual-tier instrument panel that had shoppers quite polarized on introduction. But it’s accented with a few more soft-touch surfaces, upgraded trims, and perforated leather steering wheel trim. The center console has a padded, sliding armrest, while back-seat passengers get a pull-down armrest with integral cupholders.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

The EX-L feels completely loaded, with those things aforementioned plus power everything, keyless entry, cruise control, a USB audio interface, nice 16-alloy wheels, and upgraded ventilated disc brakes. All the safety bases are covered, too, with stability control and anti-lock brakes with brake assist part of the package.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

But while some things are different from the basic, frugal Civic you might remember, other things stay the same. For one, the five-speed automatic transmission in the 2010 Honda Civic is a little lumpy, and its shifts aren’t nearly as decisive and smooth as in some rival vehicles. Drive the Civic a little harder and the powertrain seems to smooth out and hit its stride, with letting the smooth engine rev higher and shifting more confidently. The same goes for downshifts; try to be light on the throttle and downshifts involve a slight lurch; step into it more and the downshift is more decisive. Overall, we love the manual transmission that comes with Civics and would highly recommend it over the auto for anyone who’s ever enjoyed a manual.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

The overall goodness of the engine is hard not to love. It’s a 1.8-liter in-line four-cylinder, making 140 horsepower and just 128 pound-feet of torque, but it feels like plenty for the under-2,800-pound, front-wheel-drive Civic. An aggressive throttle calibration makes it feel perky off the line, and if you pin your foot to the floor it’ll build power all the way to redline and not disappoint. It doesn’t offer the rush of the Si, but most shoppers will love how the standard Civic’s engine doesn’t become raucous and unrefined when you rev it like so many other engines this size. Overall, the Honda Civic feels very peppy, with quick and precise steering especially in low-speed driving. On the highway the steering felt a little too light on center, leading us to make more small adjustments than we’d like. Push it hard and it feels like a more sophisticated, more expensive car whereas most other budget-priced small sedans start to show ragged edges.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

The Civic remains one of the most fuel-efficient cars in its class in real-world driving. The EX-L came with EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 36 highway, and we averaged nearly 29 mpg in a week’s worth city stop-and-go and suburban errand running, with plenty of cold starts. If you’re considering the Civic instead of a mid-size model like the Accord, that’s a full 30 or 40 percent better than the 21 or 22 mpg figures we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in mid-size four-cylinder sedans.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

There have to be some compromises, right? Well there are. Try to fit adults in the back seat and you’ll notice the most pronounced difference between the Civic, or for that matter some other compact sedans with slightly less rakish rooflines. Even average-height adults will have to tuck their heads around the door line when entering, and taller adults simply won’t have enough headroom. On the plus side, if you do fit, the cushions back there are nicely contoured and there’s decent legroom.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

In front there are also more than a few disappointments. Ever since this generation of the Honda Civic made its debut, this rather tall driver hasn’t known what to do with his right leg as it rests just beside the hard, sharp handbrake lever. Anyone above six feet tall needs to watch out for this, as it could be a deal-breaker for long trips.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

Don’t expect anything close to luxury-car comfort in the Civic. The leather is very stiff, almost like vinyl, and the front seat heaters didn’t appreciably heat the backrests, just the lower cushions—which seemed to be the case on both sides. And although there were soft-touch inserts for the doors, the rest of the door panels, center console, and instrument panel was covered in rather hard, thin-feeling gray plastic.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

The 2010 Civic is near the end of its product cycle, and a few of its tech features proved frustrating. The nav-system’s screen seems a bit dull and lower in resolution to a number of other systems we’ve seen recently in new models, with an odd, unintuitive menu structure and slow response, while this version of Honda’s HandsFreeLink Bluetooth system completely struck out, failing to pair with two different phones we had on hand. The Bluetooth controls can’t be accessed visually through the nav-system screen or the gauge cluster, and there’s no significant instruction on pairing through the owner’s manual or the so-called Technology Reference Guide, and didn’t have a lot of success with it. An audio help menu starts when you hit the talk button, and we managed to pair one of the phones, then were later told the phone wasn’t found, with the system locking up and muting the sound system (requiring us to turn on and off the ignition to again listen to the sound system).

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

The small-car market has changed a lot since the Civic’s last full redesign in 2005 (for 2006). The Civic doesn’t look nearly as cutting-edge in appearance as before, and the competition has heated up with the introduction of excellent, well-equipped and enjoyable offerings like the 2010 Mazda3 and the 2010 Kia Forte. But the Civic’s longstanding reputation for reliability and resale value are hard to overlook and especially in the lower DX and LX trims, the Civic’s level of value is tough to beat.

Source: http://blogs.thecarconnection.com/marty-blog/1040193_driven-2010-honda-civic/page-1

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