• Ford: Europe won’t recover for 5-6 more years

    August 28, 2013
    The European car market may not fully recover until 2019, Ford of Europe’s chief executive officer has revealed. European car sales have been sliding for the last several years as the continent continues to deal with a debt crisis.


    “There are indications, that an end of the decline may come in the second half of this year. However, a recovery of the market, we estimate, will take at least five to six years,” Ford of Europe head Stephen Odell told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, according to Reuters.

    Odell estimates that 13.5 million vehicles will be sold in Europe’s 19 western countries this year, down significantly from the 18 million new cars and trucks sold there in 2007. Analysts believe Ford is on track to loose $2 billion in Europe this year, but Odell said Ford’s losses would be slightly less at $1.8 billion.


    In order to battle the weak market, Ford has already announced plans to shutter three European plants and cut 6,200 jobs. Those reductions will be completed by next year.


    Odell doesn’t believe Ford will be forced to make any additional cuts, but didn’t completely rule it out. “But we continue to keep production in balance with demand,” he said.


    European car sales fell by 6.6 percent to 6.205 million units during the first half of the year. 

     <![CDATA[
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  • Frankfurt preview: 2014 Dacia Duster

    August 28, 2013
    Renault’s Romania-based Dacia division has unveiled the facelifted Duster SUV ahead of its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.  Launched in 2010, the Duster is one of the Renault group’s strongest sellers throughout Europe.


    The SUV gains a modestly updated front end that features a new grille with two chromed slats and honeycomb inserts, thoroughly redesigned headlights that incorporate LED daytime running lamps and a more rugged-looking bumper.  Out back, the changes are limited to new trim on the tailgate and revamped tail lamps.  

    Interior pictures are not available but the facelift will likely bring a more modern cockpit.  The Botoxed Duster will be available with Dacia’s Media Nav touch screen-based infotainment system for the first time, indicating the low-cost firm is moving its flagship up a notch on the market in an effort to get a larger slice of the lucrative compact SUV segment.


    Mechanically, the Duster carries on with a 105-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder that can run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG) and two versions of the 1.5-liter dCi four-cylinder turbodiesel that is also found under the hood of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.  Both front- and four-wheel drive models are offered.  


    The facelift only applies to left-hand drive Dusters sold throughout Europe and North Africa.  Right-hand drive examples distributed in the United Kingdom and Ireland will not be updated as the model was introduced less than a year ago.  


    Pricing information will be available closer to the SUV’s on-sale date.<![CDATA[
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  • Frankfurt preview: Ford S-MAX concept

    August 28, 2013
    Ford has lifted the veil off of the S-MAX concept that will greet the public for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.  The S-MAX accurately previews a production-bound seven-seater MPV that will go on sale in Europe over the next year.


    Visually, the S-MAX concept falls in line with other members of the Ford lineup thanks to a trapezoidal radiator grille with chromed horizontal slats, sleek headlights and a rippled hood.  The back end features angular tail lamps that draw inspiration from the upcoming Mondeo, a four-door sedan sold as the Fusion in the United States.

    The S-MAX concept’s dashboard is clean and simple.  The instrument cluster is replaced by a configurable screen and the center stack is dominated by a high-resolution color touch screen that runs the latest generation of Ford’s SYNC infotainment  SYNC groups the MPV’s connectivity, navigation and entertainment functions into a single easy-to-use unit.


    Interestingly, SYNC also keeps an eye on the occupant’s health.  Using sensors mounted in the seats, it can monitor the driver’s heart rate in order to deliver long-term heart activity data and alert medical experts if it detects a cardiac anomaly.  The same sensors can also monitor glucose levels and warn parents if a child sleeping in the back seat suffers from a life-threatening diabetic episode.


    The S-MAX Concept is powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost gas-burning engine that sends 178 horsepower and 177 lb-ft. of torque.  When the people-mover lands in showrooms, it will also be offered with a host of diesel-burning four-cylinder mills.


    The production variant of the S-MAX concept will debut at the Geneva Motor Show next year and go on sale in Europe shortly after.  Ford does not plan on selling the van in the United States.<![CDATA[
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  • Citroen teases Frankfurt-bound Cactus concept

    August 28, 2013
    Citroën has published a teaser image of the Cactus concept that will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.  The Cactus is scheduled to enter production in Madrid Spain, before the end of the year.


    The Cactus Concept will take the form of a tall five-door hatchback with seating for up to five passengers.  What it will look like remains a mystery but the teaser image suggests the front end will borrow styling cues from the recently-unveiled second-generation C4 Picasso.

    Thierry Metroz, the design director of Citroën’s premium DS line, explained the Cactus Concept will be totally new and drastically different from anything Citroën has made in the past.  It will be a lasting design that will still look fresh ten years after its launch.


    Production-Bound

    Called E3 internally, the production variant of the Cactus will be largely made up of bits and pieces pulled out of the PSA parts bin.  It will ride on the same platform as the Golf-fighting C4 hatchback and will be offered with a number of gasoline- and diesel-burning engines, including Citroën’s new 1.2-liter three-cylinder mill.  All engines will send power to the front wheels via a manual transmission.


    Inside, the Cactus will be considerably simpler than the aforementioned C4.  Features such as power windows and climate control will come standard, and tech-minded buyers will be able to order the car with an infotainment system controlled by a seven-inch touch screen mounted on the dash.


    In short, the Cactus promises to create a new kind of low-cost car that will be better finished and more generously equipped than Dacia’s no-frills Logan but more affordable than popular subcompacts such as the C4, the Ford Focus and the Peugeot 308.


    When it lands in showrooms early next year, the production variant of the Cactus will cost about €12,000, a figure that converts to roughly $15,000.<![CDATA[
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  • Nissan to bring autonomous vehicles to showrooms by 2020

    August 28, 2013