Driver's News: Lotus Exige, Paris Show

October 2, 2006

Mitsu Launching Three Models at Detroit Show

Paris hasn't even opened yet, but the official launches for the Detroit auto show in January are already firming up. Mitsubishi is among the first to promise it will introduce new vehicles in Detroit, and the Japanese automaker says it will bring three new vehicles to the 2007 show. They include the revamped 2008 Lancer sedan, based on the new Mitsubishi global platform; a Lancer Evolution concept expected in production in 2009; and a concept vehicle yet to be detailed. The Detroit show opens to the media on Jan. 8, 2007.

Lotus Supercharges the Exige

Lotus turned the Elise roadster into a coupe and called it the Exige. Now it's supercharging that Exige coupe and calling it "blistering." The Exige S adds supercharging to the existing 190-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder that powers both the company's tiny roadster and coupe, boosting its power to 220 hp and torque up from 133 pound-feet to 165 lb-ft. With a curb weight of just under 2100 pounds, the Exige will shoot to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and will hit a top speed of 148 mph, Lotus promises, while delivering 25 mpg. The Exige S will be priced from $56,990 when a short run shows up at U.S. dealers late in the year.

Chrysler Turning to China for B-Car?

2006 Dodge Hornet concept

2006 Dodge Hornet concept

Could Chinese automaker Chery produce a subcompact for Chrysler Group to sell in the U.S.? That's the word from Reuters, which reported on Monday that Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda confirmed a Chinese company could be Chrysler's choice to build its new B-car. Chrysler has shown a Hornet concept indicating its interest in getting into the subcompact market to take on the likes of the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and the like. LaSorda told the news service that "China has not been ruled out" as a potential builder for the vehicle. Reuters adds that speculation puts Chery Automobile as the possible source for the B-car, which the company hopes to launch by 2008. Chery is also planning on distributing its cars through Malcolm Bricklin's Visionary Vehicles company, though Bricklin recently moved his launch date back to 2009.

See the Geneva show concept, the Hornet

Honda Shows Off Fuel-Cell Sedan

2008 Honda FCX

2008 Honda FCX

Honda showed latest fuel-cell-powered FCX sedan to the press in Japan on Monday, and promised to distribute a limited number of the vehicles in Japan and the U.S. in 2008. The new big sedan has a new fuel cell stack arranged in a line down the center of the vehicle. The stack of cells is 20 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than Honda's last-generation fuel cell, but the new version puts out 14 kilowatts more power. Honda also promises that the new FCX can start in temperatures as low as minus 30oC, a major improvement on its previous design. The new FCX also carries a lithium-ion battery for backup power, which adds 30 percent to the vehicle's range.

Citgo Gets the Axe from 7-Eleven

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven is dropping gasoline supplied by Venezuelan-supplied Citgo, and the chain says that recent posturing by Venezuela's dictator Hugo Chavez hasn't helped in the decision. The company had been seeking to launch its own gas brand, after 20 years of using Citgo's fuel. But recent statements by Chavez "didn't tempt us to stay with Citgo," a company executive told the Associated Press. Last week, dictator Chavez called U.S. president Bush "the devil" and an ex-alcoholic. The 7-Eleven chain said its decision had been made on many factors, however.

Lawsuit Charges Big Six With Pollution

The auto industry got another green jolt last week when California's attorney general swooped into file a lawsuit against the Big Six brands, claiming their products had created a public nuisance under both state and federal law.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the complaint names as defendants DaimlerChrysler, General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor North America, Inc., Honda North America, and Nissan North America and asks for unspecified amount of monetary damages.

The complaint filed by California attorney General Bill Lockyer claims the automakers produce vehicles that emit a combined 289 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the United States each year. Those emissions, the complaint alleges, currently account for nearly 20 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States and more than 30 percent in California . The defendants rank "among the world's largest contributors to global warming and the adverse impacts on California ," according to the complaint.

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