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'Car Wars' says Ford, Honda to pick up share, Fiat-Chrysler ambitions downplayed

Sat, 14 Jun 2014 11:30:00 EST

Don't look for a tremendous shifts in automotive market share over the next three years because it might not be coming. That's at least according to the annual Car Wars report by John Murphy, from Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research.
In the report's analysis of automakers' market share from 2013 to 2017, it predicts only small changes among the major companies. Ford and Honda see the biggest positive effect with an estimated 0.5 percent increase in their shares over the next three years; to 16.2 percent and 10.3 percent respectively. On the flip side, European automakers and Nissan are expected to lose 0.2 percent each to fall to 8.3 percent and 7.8 percent each respectively. The rest of the industry is predicted to hold steady as it is now.
The biggest loser in that prediction might be Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. The report certainly throws a wet blanket on its plan for significant gains in market share. Murphy told The Detroit News that the company's goal was "almost unattainable."

Nissan GT-R and Jaguar F-Type meet for time trial battle [w/poll]

Fri, 13 Jun 2014 20:01:00 EST

It seems that the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R is the performance coupe du jour. First, Motor Trend challenged it against a Porsche 911 on video to see how it fared. Now, Autocar in the UK is pitting the Jag against the latest iteration of the Nissan GT-R around a small course in a time trial battle.
On paper, it certainly looks like the F-Type Coupe is the clear winner. The two performance cars boast the same 542 horsepower (at least by UK specs), but the Jaguar does it with more torque, less weight and an eight-speed gearbox, compared to the six-speed in the GT-R. That seems like an automatic recipe for victory. However, the Nissan claims a faster sprint to 62 miles per hour and all-wheel drive. Nobody wants to watch a video of the new car running away into the sunset, and once the two of them make it to the track, the playing field appears much more level.
So which would you rather have? Keep in mind, that while the GT-R is cheaper than the F-Type Coupe R by a few thousand pounds in the UK, in the US a base R starts at $99,000, and the Nissan has a base price of $101,770. Scroll down to watch the video, and then make your choice in the poll, below.

Five automakers now being investigated by NHTSA for airbag woes

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:00:00 EST

It appears that Toyota's renotification to owners of recalled vehicles from last year is just the tip of the iceberg for what could potentially be a much larger industry-wide recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is opening a preliminary evaluation investigation into roughly 1.1 million vehicles from Chrysler, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and parts supplier Takata regarding faulty airbag inflators in several models.
NHTSA has received six reports - three directly, two from Takata and one from Toyota - of vehicles with ruptured airbag inflators from 2002-2006, which resulted in three injuries. So far, all six incidents have occurred in high humidity areas like Florida and Puerto Rico. According to Toyota's latest recall announcement, the inflators may have an improper propellant that could cause it to rupture in a crash and the bag to deploy abnormally.
This new investigation follows a previous recall from April 2013 of about 3.4 million vehicles worldwide for the airbag inflators from Takata. As Autoblog reported, Toyota jumpstarted the new situation when it found that the original list of serial numbers for the faulty part was incomplete and discovered more cars in need of replacement. Honda and Nissan told us that they were investigating whether further models would need called in again as well. Mazda told Autoblog: "Regarding the current Takata situation, we're working closely with NHTSA and investigating the situation, but nothing else to report at this time." Chrysler Group responded to us with the statement: "Chrysler Group engineers are conducting the appropriate analysis. The Company will cooperate fully with the National Highway Traffic Administration."

US-built Infiniti Q50 engines to go into Euro-only cars

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 13:28:00 EST

Back in March, Infiniti announced that it would be adding a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder to its Q50 line for European and Chinese buyers. Now, we know where that engine will be built.
Nissan's Decherd, TN facility will receive the $319-million investment, which will see a separate, dedicated line for the Infiniti engines. According to Automotive News, this is more than a line running alongside the Nissan operations - the Infiniti facility will sport its own unique architecture and interior lighting, in a bid to distinguish the premium line from its mass-market parent company.
The logistics of all this do seem, on the surface, quite screwy. Building a new engine on one continent for a car built on another that will eventually go on sale on a third doesn't seem too bright, although there is a catch here. The new engine will also find its way into the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which will kick off production in Vance, AL later this year.

NYC Taxi of Tomorrow ruled legal by appeals court

Wed, 11 Jun 2014 19:15:00 EST

The streets of New York City might be filling up with a lot more Nissans in the next few years. A New York appeals court ruled that the city's mandate to replace old taxis with a fleet entirely made up of the Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow was legal. The decision overturned a previous ruling that decided The Big Apple couldn't force cabbies to all purchase the same vehicle.
Justice David B. Saxe wrote the court's opinion saying the Taxi of Tomorrow is a "legally appropriate response to the agency's statutory obligation to produce a 21st-century taxicab consistent with the broad interests and perspectives that the agency is charged with protecting," according to Bloomberg. The Greater New York Taxi Association, the plaintiff in the case, could still possibly attempt a second appeal.
Nissan originally won the 10-year contract estimated to be worth about $1 billion in 2011, beating out Ford and a Turkish company. Under the Taxi of Tomorrow plan, all New York cabbies would have to switch to the NV200 within three of five years of the van going into service, and it would replace the 16 vehicles previously authorized as taxis. In 2013, the mandate received multiple challenges though, including an attempted ban by cab drivers because the replacement wasn't a hybrid. In a separate case, state Supreme Court judge Schlomo Hagler decided that there was nothing in the city charter that forced a taxi driver to choose a specific vehicle. This was the case that was just overturned. In the meantime, the automaker has been selling the NV200 to New York cabbies at prices around $29,700.

Nissan gives a better look at its Vision Gran Turismo concept

Wed, 11 Jun 2014 16:30:00 EST

Just the other day, Nissan released an image showing all of its cars you can drive in Gran Turismo, with one little mystery hiding in the bottom right corner: a draped shape with the date June 10, 2014 - suggesting that it would reveal its Vision Gran Turismo on that date. Well, if you look at that calendar you'll realize that June 10 came and went yesterday, and Nissan didn't reveal the car.
As it turns out, what the folks at Nissan meant when they indicated June 10 was that they'd release the next teaser on that date, and that's what we have here. The teaser hints at one menacing-looking futuristic chunk of virtual performance meta, but "the next chapter" won't be revealed until next week on Monday, June 16. At that point we hope Nissan will actually reveal the full thing and not another teaser, but one way or another the finished product is expected to be present in the flesh (or sheet metal) for the Goodwood Festival of Speed at the end of the month.

Infiniti readies Juke-based ESQ crossover specifically for China

Wed, 11 Jun 2014 15:29:00 EST

When most luxury automakers started getting into SUVs and crossovers, they started at with the largest models, but have gradually been getting smaller. Think Lexus and the LX, Audi and the Q7, or BMW and the X5, and you'll see what we mean, because each of them has been steadily downsizing its crossovers ever since. But Infiniti is going even smaller. At least, in China, anyway.
That's where the luxury marque from Nissan will soon be offering the new Infiniti ESQ. The smallest of Infiniti crossovers has been developed in China, exclusively for the Chinese market to meet Chinese tastes. It shares its underpinnings with the Nissan Juke, but instead of starting with the base model, Infiniti China has started with the more potent Juke Nismo - complete with 1.6-liter turbo four producing 197 horsepower - and added on premium accoutrements. The exterior that appears to be differentiated by a new grille and wheels, featuring the ESQ logo instead of Infiniti's, but the same quirky styling that sets the Juke apart. Though all we can of the interior is the steering wheel, you can bet that Infiniti gave the ESQ a more luxurious cabin space, too.
Infiniti's global communications manager Stefan Wienmann told Autoblog that the company is "expanding [its] portfolio not only globally but also specifically in China," adding the ESQ to a market-specific lineup that includes long-wheelbase versions of the Q50 sedan and QX50 crossover. "We see specific sales opportunities in this segment," explains Wienmann, adding that a targeted project like the ESQ "also enables us to gain experience in positioning a new premium model to the 'new millennials', a customer group that is very important to us."

Nissan reveals NP300 Navara pickup, is it the next Frontier? [w/videos] [UPDATE]

Wed, 11 Jun 2014 11:27:00 EST

UPDATE: Statement from Nissan added, below.
After plenty of teasing, Nissan has finally revealed the NP300 Navara pickup, previewing America's next Frontier. Now, before we dive into all the info on this new midsize pickup, it's important to note that we don't quite have the official details on the American-spec truck, so there's quite a bit of information here that might not carry through to the North American market.
Depending on the market, the Navara will offer either a four-cylinder diesel or a four-cylinder gas engine, both of which displace 2.5 liters. Nissan claims both engines have been improved, with the oil-burner producing 188 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. There aren't specific figures on the gas engine, although we should expect that it will see a nice bump from the current Frontier's four-cylinder, which offers up 152 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. It's not clear if a V6 will be available in the US, as there's no mention of it in the Navara's literature.

Nissan to present Vision Gran Turismo concept at Goodwood?

Mon, 09 Jun 2014 10:58:00 EST

Power up your PlayStation and pop in any edition of Gran Turismo and you'll have hundreds of cars to choose from. But arguably few have managed to bridge the gap between that virtual world and reality than Nissan.
The Japanese automaker is the one responsible for putting the best gamers behind the wheel of actual race cars with its GT Academy, co-sponsored by Nissan and Gran Turismo. Yet while the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi have already revealed their Vision Gran Turismo concepts specifically designed for the game, Nissan has been left behind. And as it is apt to point out in its latest infographic, that's not a position to which it's accustomed.
The graphic outlines all 148 Nissan vehicles you can drive in Gran Turismo, but leaves the last one under wraps, identified only by the date June 10, 2014. That's this Tuesday, when Nissan is hotly anticipated (thanks in no small part to the Tweet below from Nissan VP Andy Palmer) to reveal its own Vision Gran Turismo concept at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge to cost over $100,000?

Fri, 06 Jun 2014 19:15:00 EST

Enthusiasts have been clamoring for Infiniti to build a car like the Q50 Eau Rouge for years. In concept form, it employs the GT-R's much-loved 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6, tuned to produce 560 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque, with the whole works slid underneath fetching luxury sedan bodywork with carbon fiber aero aids. At this point, the model is rumored to be all but certain for production. The company recently even put Sebastian Vettel in one to show it off. However, Infiniti President Johan de Nysschen is suggesting that the model's lifetime could be brief, limited and rather expensive.
The Infiniti boss recently gave a long interview to Motor Trend that spilled a lot of beans about the Eau Rouge. While he refused to officially admit that the super sedan was on the way, he admits that he's "pushing the Eau Rouge concept for commercialization."
According to de Nysschen, if built, the production version will hew closely to the concept with the engine from the GT-R, but the seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system will come from the Q70. And while that would make the Eau Rouge a performance powerhouse, it might also be a rarity on the road: