1st Gear: Automotive News reports this morning on the state of Ferrari's model lineup, saying they plan to replace two of its five core models, the 430 Spider and the 599 GTB Fiorano, in the next two years, while adding a sportier variant to its best-selling model, the 458 Italia. Along with that sportier variant, expected to be called the 458 Scuderia, that will hit the streets in 2013, would also be a 458 Spider which should be shown at the Frankfurt show in September. But first, in 2012 Ferrari is expected to replace the 599 GTB Fiorano with a redesigned model still known by its code-name, F152. The new car will remain a two-seat coupe with rear drive and a direct-injection V-12 longitudinal engine mounted in the front. The model will debut in March at the Geneva auto show, with European sales to begin in the summer and U.S. shipments by year end. But likely the most awaited new prancing stallion will be the successor to the Enzo limited-edition supercar is set to go on sale in 2012. The all-carbon fiber model will be powered with a new, normally aspirated V-12 and will herald weight-reduction and fuel-saving technologies that Ferrari plans to adapt to its entire range by the end of decade.
2nd Gear: Bloomberg reports that Nissan, Japan's second-largest automaker, aims to increase domestic sales to about 600,000 cars in a drive to hold 15% of the nation's vehicle market by 2013 as it recovers from this year's earthquake. Executive Vice President Hiroto Saikawa disclosed the target as part of a six-year plan yesterday in Yokohama. In the long term, Nissan seeks to boost market share to about 20%, Takao Katagiri, also executive vice president, said at the same roundtable. In 2010, Nissan's domestic market share was 13%. Japan's automakers are recovering after the record quake and tsunami in March disrupted output and triggered power and parts shortages. Nissan expects to resume full production worldwide by October, targeting a 10% increase to 4.6 million global vehicle sales this fiscal year. Nissan will introduce 51 models over the next six years as it aims to capture 10% of global luxury-car sales. The models will meet demand for eco-friendly and compact cars, with half targeted at the Japanese market, Saikawa said.
3rd Gear: Volkswagen AG, Europe's biggest automaker, has "no plans" to end its tie-up with Suzuki Motor Corp. even as both sides express frustration at the slow progress they've made with the partnership. A report by German newsletter Platow Brief on Aug. 5 that VW and Suzuki will terminate the alliance they started in January of 2010 "is nonsense," VW spokesman Michael Brendel said today by phone. Suzuki spokesman Hideki Taguchi couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
4th Gear: Automotive News thinks that higher transaction prices and a surge in pickup production propelled General Motors to heady second-quarter profits. But those tailwinds probably will weaken during the rest of the year. Last week, GM said it made $2.5 billion in the April-through-June period, its sixth straight quarterly profit since emerging from bankruptcy. Stronger pricing contributed about $1 billion to GM's bottom line from the year-earlier quarter, with North America accounting for $800 million of that as GM dialed back incentives. GM has raised base vehicle prices twice this year to offset rising commodity costs. A 1% increase on 2012 models will bring the overall price rise to 1.9%. GM executives say the rise in average transaction prices shows that buyers are warming to its vehicles. For example, GM says the average price for a Buick LaCrosse in the second quarter was $7,000 more than the sedan sold for two years ago.
5th Gear: A new V6 engine will be chief amongst a vast array of changes to the Exige in 2012, as Lotus aims to bridge the gap between its current range and its five-strong line-up of new sports cars due from 2013. No Exiges have been produced for the European market since December 2010 when its 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine fell foul of emissions regulations. Autocar reports that Lotus boss Dany Bahar is planning to fully back and improve the current range of Lotuses before the new models – starting with the 2013 Esprit – are phased in. An early V6-equipped Exige test mule was scooped last summer when Lotus first experimented fitting the Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter V6 from the Evora within the Exige's mid-engined, rear-drive layout. That mule had a significantly wider track as Lotus tried to accommodate the engine in the Exige and the latest, further developed mule pictured here has a significantly lengthened wheelbase.
6th Gear: Ford Performance Vehicles has, as expected, announced a limited production run of the menacing all-black GT concept it unveiled at last month's Melbourne motor show. The Blue Oval performance brand today confirmed it will produce 125 examples of the limited-edition GT Black, priced $3000 higher than the standard GT at $74,290 plus on-road costs. Like FPV's inaugural concept car, the GT Black will wear black Silhouette exterior paint, a unique matt-black stripe package, black foglight bezels, black upper and lower grilles, gloss-black 19-inch alloy wheels, four black exhaust outlets, a black front bumper with black ‘eye patches' and a black rear bumper with black diffuser. Do want.
⏎ What Complements a Pink Taco Truck? An Iridescent El Camino, of Course [New York Times]
⏎ Forza 4 partners with the American Le Mans Series. [ForzaMotorsport.net]
⏎ Volkswagen Jetta TDI being investigated over possible fuel leak. [NHTSA]
⏎ Can Caddy Finally Beat BMW? [CNBC]
⏎ 2012 Jaguar XF Estate scooped. [Car Magazine]
⏎ GM's Wuling venture reaches for the masses in China. [Detroit News]
⏎ A Lincoln Limousine With Papal Provenance Heads to Pebble Beach [New York Times]
⏎ Used-tire market rolls along with rising rubber costs. [Detroit News]
On this day in 1963, the 15 thieves involved in the Great Train Robbery, one of the most famous heists of all time, escape in an ex-British Army truck and two stolen Land Rover four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles, making off with some $7 million in stolen loot. [History]
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