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Automotive News – April 15, 2010

Toyota Suspends Sales of Lexus GX 460 SUV

Lexus GX-460More bad news for Toyota. With reverberations from its runaway accelerator problems still fresh in car buyers’ minds, now comes a deadly “don’t buy” warning from Consumer Reports for its Lexus-brand GX-460 luxury SUV. Apparently, the GX-460’s computer-controlled braking system is slow to react to skids, which could result in severe stability problems. Toyota has now suspended sales of the Lexus GX-460 while it goes over Consumer Reports’ data. “This will deal a severe blow to the image of the entire Lexus line,” lamented Koji Endo, managing director of Tokyo-based Advanced Research Japan.

Ford to Use More Diesel Tech in its 2nd Generation EcoBoost Engines

Ford EcoBoost EngineFord Motor Co. has announced it will incorporate additional diesel-based technology into its second generation of EcoBoost car and light truck engines. EcoBoost technology combines direct fuel injection, variable cam timing and turbocharging to produce many benefits associated with traditional diesel engines, including higher fuel economy, lower emissions and strong low-end torque. Ford says it plans to build about 1.5 million EcoBoost engines worldwide by 2013 — about 200,000 more than originally announced. About half of these will be sold in North American vehicles.

Honda Unveils All-Electric Scooter, Eyes Chinese Market

Honda EV-neo Electric ScooterHonda recently unveiled its EV-eno electric motorbike, which it plans to sell as early as Q4 2010. Although the EV-eno will premiere in Japan, Honda admits its target market is actually China, which has an annual demand for about 17 million motorbikes. The new EV-neo can reportedly travel about 19 miles on a single charge, and can be recharged to 80 percent capacity in just 20 minutes with its rapid-charger. Normal 100-percent recharging generally takes about four hours. The bike uses lithium-ion batteries and can be charged from any normal household socket.

Chevy Volt on Track for Late 2010 Launch

Chevy VoltWe may actually see the first commercial all-electric car in showrooms later this year. Spokesmen for GM’s Chevrolet division say that the much-anticipated Chevrolet Volt has been undergoing real-world road testing since last November and so far is passing with flying colors. The car has endured harsh winter conditions in Canada, wet-weather braking tests in Michigan, and high-altitude and mountain grades in Colorado. Only hot-weather tests during the California summer stand between the Volt and a formal launch in Q4. GM also announced it’s spending $8 million to double the size of its battery development laboratory in suburban Detroit to support further improvements to the Volt and other all-electric vehicles currently in development.

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