Category Archive:

Dodge Challenger Unveiled

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First Pictures: 2006 Dodge Challenger Concept
There is much hype this January about the Dodge Challenger concept, with conversations about the potential coupe’s marketability and the wisdom of reviving an icon seemingly everywhere, including on this blog.
Though the unveiling at the Detroit auto show is still a few days away, the first pictures have found their way into the public arena, so here they are available for VehicleVoice and AutoPacific to use. Has Chrysler’s Pacifica Studio succeeded in bringing back the 1970 Challenger as we wished it were, folding all the advances of the past twenty-five years into a package that still resonates with the 1970 look and feel?

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Saab 9-5 Aero BioPower Concept

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Saab Explores Ethanol-Compatible Powerplant for U.S. Lineup
Automakers often use the Los Angeles Auto Show as the venue to launch their new “green” concepts. Saab revealed its 9-5 Aero Bio-Power Concept at the 2006 LA auto show in January. This 9-5 Aero delivers 310HP from a high-pressure turbocharged 2.3L engine optimized to run on E85 ethanol or on gasoline. While Saab began offering a 2.0t BioPower 9-5 in Sweden in 2005 (and resulting in surprisingly high sales due to Swedish incentives to use bio-fuels), this concept explores U.S. acceptance to the option.


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Toyota Launches Japanese Version of Scion xB

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The Scion xB was launched in the USA in 2003 first in California, then the Southeast and finally nationally. The xB has been a pleasant sales surprise for Scion and Toyota Motor Sales, USA. In fact the Spartan xA hatchback was projected to outsell the xB by a wide margin and the reverse happened. Interestingly, when first images of the xB were released VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) research and AutoPacific (http://www.autopacific.com) forecasts projected that xB would be more of a success than predicted by Toyota itself.
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Scion xB by Toyota Motor Sales USA
The xB is a rolling box. It is a low-priced people mover with a huge rear seat and little cargo room, but has proved popular with young and old alike.
The Scion concept is to take Toyota vehicles on sale in Japan and sell them in the USA with minimal changes. Originally, each vehicle was to be a one-off. In other words, each Scion would live for only a few years and then be dropped. A new vehicle would be launched that would provide Scion dealers with equal or more volume. In this way, there would be no successor to the xB. Because of the popularity of the xB, there may indeed be a successor.
Launched in 2000 in Japan, Toyota has just released its successor to the bB (xB’s Japanese name). While not as boxy as the present xB, the Japanese bB is clearly evolutionary. It continues the highly space-efficient packaging, if not the funky styling, of the present vehicle.
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Toyota bB launched on December 26, 2005 in Japan
If Scion xB continues, expect it to be a mild evolution of the new bB in Japan. But the scary thing is the whimsical description Toyota uses to describe the bB in Japan, “A Car-shaped Music Player that Incorporates Youthful Sensibilities”… WOW!


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Nissan Urge: Small Sports Car Concept Explores Future

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Although Nissan unveiled some production models at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in January, the Nissan Urge was also shown as a teaser concept on the stand. VehicleVoice correspondents were on hand to see the Urge Concept in person, so we’ve added photos since this blog was first posted.
The Nissan Urge is a small rear wheel drive sports car; using a six-speed manual gearbox and small engine. Designed by Nissan’s studio in La Jolla, California, the designers are said to have been inspired by their motorcycle enthusiasm in developing this small-car project. The Urge includes color-infused aluminum body panels and integrates an X-Box 360 gaming system.

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Mitsubishi ConceptCT: 2006 North American International Auto Show

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Mitsubishi Considers North American Small Car Entry
Updated February 1, 2006
As Mitsubishi considers the option of an economy or image compact entry for North America, the ConceptCT arrives on the 2006 auto show circuit, starting with the 2006 Detroit auto show in January. The concept uses a system Mitsubishi calls MIEV (Mitsubishi In-wheel Electronic Vehicle) technology. The basics of the system, which uses outer-rotor, in-wheel electric motors to move all four wheels as well as a 1.0L three-cylinder gasoline engine, was introduced at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show. By using the electric motors and a traditional gasoline engine, Mitsubishi is creating a type of hybrid system. While the final decision on a B-segment for the States has not yet been taken, Mitsubishi is seriously considering the option, as well as exploring variations on hybrid technology.

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The Small Car Challenge
The challenge for any maker introducing a new small car to the American market is how to cut through the clutter and make their small car entry a car buyers want rather than one they are “sentenced” to drive. Achieving an aspirational small car has been the holy grail of automakers since the days of the Pinto and Vega, but Scion and Mini have been successful of late with the xB, xA, and Cooper.


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Chevrolet Camaro & Dodge Challenger – It's All About Street Cred

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DETROIT’S MUSCLE-CAR REVIVAL: ALL ABOUT STREET CRED
The latest Mustang is a success in the image ranks and in the buff books. Its sales success has surprised even Ford and production capacity has been increased so they can sell even more. The other historic Detroit brands will revisit the rear-wheel-drive coupe idea at the 2006 North American International Motor Show in Detroit. The first announced concept is the Dodge Challenger shown below. Still under wraps is a new generation Chevrolet Camaro.
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Though Ford has consistently offered a Mustang since 1964 and kept it alive (even if some iterations were less memorable than others), both GM and Chrysler Group abandoned the product formula. Mustang has the edge and success at GM, Chrysler Group, or for any other contenders requires that they establish modern-day credibility with the consumer.
In the heart of most car product planners at American car companies beats a rear-wheel-drive V8-powered coupe or convertible, going much further back than the muscle-car era that gets so much attention these days. As a result, whether timing is by design or by reaction, Dodge and Chevrolet are expected to show concepts on the muscle-car theme at the 2006 Detroit show this January.


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Will Chevrolet Camaro Return? Camaro Concept at Detroit

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Detroit Show Car Hints at Potential Camaro Revival
Ever since the Chevrolet Camaro was dropped for 2002 model year, die-hard Camaro fans have insisted that it will return, regardless of the business case or lack of an approved programs. Many “Camaro” photosketches found their way from someone’s daydream post to other sites labeled as “the NEXT CAMARO.” There are certainly those within General Motors who would like to revive the nameplate, feeding the fire.
The 2006 concept is said by Automotive News to be based on the Kappa platform and due for production as a 2009MY vehicle. Other sources, however, indicate that the business plan has not been approved, and it remains to be seen if the project arrives on market. The Kappa platform is the basis for the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars. There was also a Chevrolet Nomad concept car a few years ago that was absolutely gorgeous.


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Dodge Challenger: 1970, All Over Again

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What’s the next “new” concept for the Chrysler Group’s successful rear-wheel-drive platform? Back to the history books. Dodge cannot resist the temptation to revive a muscle car entry, given the available rear-wheel-drive platform and current powertrains. Though Dodge may have gone this direction without the success of the latest Mustang, consumer’s response to the latest Mustang is certainly cause for inspiration.

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Where the Charger played on the heritage name and some cues in an unapologetic modern package and interpretation, the Challenger is instead all about reviving an icon. The Challenger will be the star of the Dodge stage at this year’s Detroit auto show and likely previews a production car. The concept was directly inspired by the 1970 Challenger, and mirrors that shape and look as best it can on the modern platform.


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VehicleVoice Beauty Contests

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Every month VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) panel members give their reactions to the styling of eight to ten newly introduced cars or trucks and interesting concept vehicles. The Internet panel is shown photos of the vehicles without identification. Their badges are Photoshopped out so only the cogniscenti might really know what the vehlcle really is. At the end of the Beauty Contest the vehicle names and manufacturers are revealed.
Over the months, we have become pretty good at predicting what will juice up the panel members. Usually a really hot sports car will do the trick. The Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice were tops for “great styling” ratings in the months they were shown. Some interesting recent results show the Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr being strongly rated for having “great styling”. This is an impressive result for mainstream sedans.


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