By Hans Greimel, Automotive News
Toyota Motor Corp., aiming to restore customer trust after a recall crisis, is launching two new U.S. service plans that will come standard with Toyota and Scion brand vehicles.
Called Toyota Care and Scion Service Boost, the plans will offer free factory scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first, the company said Wednesday. The plans take effect immediately.
Toyota said the offer makes it the first full-line brand to provide a complimentary maintenance plan as a standard feature. No-cost maintenance plans were rolled out last spring as part of an initiative to win back buyers following an outbreak of recalls, mostly for unintended acceleration.
Buick teases an image of its upcoming small car.
Few details were released, and it was unclear whether initial reports that the vehicle would be an upmarket Chevy Cruze were true. That the two will share parts, though, has been confirmed.
The Orion, Michigan, plant that will produce the Verano will also manufacture a small Chevy vehicle.
By Diana T. Kurylko, Automotive News
A well-equipped Countryman in a Cooper S trim with optional all-wheel drive will cost just under $30,000, Jim McDowell, head of Mini USA, said Wednesday during the media launch for the vehicle. The prices include destination charges, Mini said.
The Countryman, the biggest model in Mini's U.S. lineup, will arrive at dealerships in late December.
Diesel sales outpacing those of hybrids.
No one can accuse the average American car buyer of having a strong long-term memory. Consumer tastes change faster than the seasons, especially when it comes to fuel economy. When fuel prices are high, buyers typically flock to more fuel-efficient models -- including hybrids -- but when the price per gallon comes down, shoppers immediately revert to their old tastes. That goes a long way toward explaining why, in 2010, manufacturers have sold nearly 10 percent fewer hybrid vehicles than in 2009, despite the market growing by nearly 10 percent overall.
But that logic doesn’t account for a different phenomenon: On the whole, clean-diesel sales have leaped by 124 percent compared with last year; that’s a serious improvement, and if both trends continue, then hybrid and diesel sales will be dead even in as few as five months. So why are diesel models growing in popularity in a market that has traditionally shunned diesel as an alternative fuel? There's no magic answer, but several factors are likely at play.
New Horex VR6 is a rare forced-induction motorcycle
The supernaked-style 1200cc muscle bike features a staggered 6-cylinder engine with forced induction via belt-driven supercharger, something that's been lacking on the motorcycle market.
Buick expected to announce compact Verano model tomorrow
The vehicle will be called the Buick Verano, and will be an upmarket version of the Chevy Cruze. The Verano will be built in Michigan and will go on sale in 2012.
Continuing a long-standing trend, silver remains top car color choice worldwide
Silver is the most popular car color worldwide, along with gray and charcoal, and is especially popular in North America, where grays make up a full 31 percent of all new cars and truck sales. Tied for second place are black and white, at 18 percent each.
The palette swings abruptly from Ansel Adams to Picasso's periods in reverse: Third place goes to red, with 11 percent; blue follows up with 10 percent. In last place, with 4 percent, was green, while "natural tones" -- brown, tan, golds, orange and yellow -- took fourth place with 8 percent.
By Dale Jewett
Smart USA Distributor LLC, which is owned by Roger Penske's Penske Automotive Group, said the car would be powered by a gasoline engine and fit the B-segment size class. The Nissan Versa is a B-size car in the Japanese automaker's U.S. lineup.
Smart USA released two sketches of its version of the car. The car in the sketches bear some similarity to the Nissan March, a small car built on the same platform as the Versa but not sold in the United States. Nissan sells the March in Japan and a similar car, badged the Micra, in other countries.
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5