Thursday, October 25, 2012

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Autocar Online - News

First drive review: Porsche Cayenne S Diesel

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 02:56 AM PDT

The best Cayenne in the range It's the sportiest diesel Porsche yet, the Cayenne S Diesel. Power comes from a tuned, twin-turbo version of the VW Group 4.2-litre V8 diesel, and is sent through a slick, eight-speed torque converter Tiptronic S gearbox. It's then distributed to all four wheels via an active multi-plate clutch system that can send up to 100 per cent of the power to either axle.And it needs that traction, because it's juggling 623lb ft of torque from 2000rpm. Forget the 5.7sec 0-62mph time and 377bhp power output – they are misleadingly underwhelming. Just consider that this Cayenne has more twist than Bentley's most potent 6.0-litre W12 twin-turbo engine.

Ford to shed 1400 UK jobs

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 02:34 AM PDT

The closure of Ford's Transit production facility in Southampton and its stamping operations in Dagenham will lead to 1400 job losses

Ford is to close its Southampton plant and its stamping operations at Dagenham next year with the loss of 1400 jobs. 

The move comes as part of Ford's European restructuring which has already led to the closure of its Mondeo plant in Genk, Belgium. In total, Ford will lay off 6200 jobs, around 13 per cent of its workforce, across Europe. The total UK job losses includes logistics and support functions.

Last month, Ford said losses from its European operations could reach £929m this year. It blames a 20 per cent drop in demand for vehicles in Western Europe for the restructure.

The commercial vehicle market has been squeezed by the recession. Figures released by Ford shows its medium commercial vehicle sales fell by 19 per cent between 2007 and 2011, while light commercial sales slumped by 34 per cent over the same period. As a result, Southampton had been operating at 50 per cent capacity.

The closure at Southampton will lead to 500 job losses, with many more predicted in the supply chain. Dagenham's stamping operations currently employs around 750 workers, some of whom are expected to be redeployed in the firm's diesel engine production centre on the same site.

Southampton has been operating a single shift since 2009. It had been previously understood the plant would produce chassis cab variants of the next-generation Transit, but production will shift to Kocaeli, Turkey alongside the new 'one-tonne' Transit Custom and 'two-tonne' Transit panel vans.

The Dagenham Diesel Centre will begin production of a new global 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine in 2016, which is being developed at Ford's R&D operation in Dunton, Essex where the centre's 3500 jobs are unaffected by today's news.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: "This is difficult and disappointing news for all the people and families affected by today's announcement, but it is part of wider restructuring to ensure a stronger and more competitive European automotive industry. The immediate priority is to help those impacted secure alternative employment.

"Ford has renewed its commitment to the company's core R&D, design and engine manufacturing operations in the UK and these will continue to provide long-term and high value employment to many thousands of people. The UK automotive industry has seen £6billion of new investment from a wide-range of global vehicle manufacturers during the last two years and there is demand for skilled workers in the automotive industry and other high value manufacturing sectors."

Stephen Odell, CEO Ford of Europe said: "We have to act quickly and decisively to address the collapse in consumer demand in Europe today and position Ford for profitable growth tomorrow.  We are reaffirming our commitment to the UK with a major investment in powertrain and engineering and one which will reinforce the UK's central role in Ford's global powertrain strategy"

Ford says it is unlikely to regain profitability in Europe until the middle of the decade, which will be driven by improved volume, market share and growth in emerging markets. It is targeting a long-term operating margin of between six and eight per cent in Europe. Ford has also announced third quarter 2012 pre-tax profits and earnings per share are better than those of the second quarter 2012. Full third quarter losses will be announced on October 30.

Joe Greenwell, Ford of Britain boss said: "While this is an important new investment in UK R&D, engineering and manufacturing, we fully recognise the impact these actions will have on the workforce at Southampton and Dagenham Stamping and Tooling operations. Investing in what we do best here in the UK, and building on our strengths is the only way to deal decisively with the new economic reality in Europe, and help build a profitable business."

Ford of Europe has already confirmed plans to close its Belgian Genk plant, with the loss of 4300 employees, and to withdraw from the World Rally Championship.

Sao Paulo motor show: best of the concepts

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 01:00 AM PDT

Sao Paulo's concepts weren't the wild affairs we've come to expect: they looked far more production ready

Concept cars are so often pure flights of fantasy. Indulgences by talented design teams to preview cars or design themes that might be years away from production. The Sao Paulo motor show's collection of concepts was no less interesting. Cars like Volkswagen's Taigun look virtually production-ready, while the Amarok Canyon has already been signed off for production.

Nissan and Renault were still able to put on a show, with some eye-catching concepts designed to secure headlines around the world.

Here are our show favourites.

Volkswagen Taigun

There's no doubt on the star of the Sao Paulo motor show: the VW Taigun. The model is billed officially as a concept, but all the talk was of a production model being as close to a shoe-in as possible for 2015, given the rise in global popularity of small SUVs. The Taigun has a Dacia Duster-esque ruggedness to it, but with a fresher front-end than has been seen on a VW for many a year, and a clean, simple interior that's in fitting with the rest of the car.

Renault DCross

Dacia models are sold as Renaults in Brazil, and the Duster-based DCross concept certainly had a touch of Renaultness to it in its execution. The concept had the feel of a Brazilian skunkworks project to it done behind head office's back, designed to promote interest in the Duster in Brazil rather than have any real production meaning for Renault. But it does show there's scope for smartening up the Duster and giving it some real individual personalisation, even if the added cost is clearly at odds with the brand's ideals in Europe.

Nissan Extrem

The talk before the show was that the Extrem concept would show a very modern successor to the 240Z as a sports car/SUV crossover. But when the covers came off, it was clear the Extrem had about as much to do with the 240Z as the Renault DCross to the Dacia Duster we'll come to know in the UK. Instead, the Extrem shows how a small, sleek crossover, using proven mechanicals and a zesty 3cyl petrol engine could look. It's the type of slightly overdone concept where you can imagine the production car would look much better, but it'll first have to get a favourable reaction from Sao Paulo show-goers before it even reaches the discussion stage.

Volkswagen Amarok Canyon

The Amarok Canyon started life as a concept at the Geneva motor show in March, but a positive reaction has led to it being signed off as a production model. The Canyon wants to offer the best of every world: sporty looks, true go-anywhere ability and a 'lifestyle' choice. But ignoring the marketing speak, it looked darn unashamedly good with its bright orange paint, large alloys and a row of roof lights that look like they could light up half the Brazilian road network. It might even come to the UK, too.

Bugatti Veyron Vitesse Rafale

The Rafale is not a concept, but a new special edition version of the Veyron. But the concept of another special edition Veyron is becoming a bit of a turn off. It seems new versions are being rolled out on a monthly basis, each one more tenuous in its name and description than the one before it. Stop this now please Bugatti.

First drive review: Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI SE

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 10:01 PM PDT

A broad range of capabilities make the new Golf 2.0TDI SE one of the most able hatchbacks ever Probably the most broadly capable model within the new seventh-generation Golf - therefore arguably the single most able family hatchback ever to have been launched.Like all Golfs of the new era, it benefits from an up to 100kg weight loss thanks in part to the generic MQB platform upon which it sits but also savings made from the engine, running gear and electrical systems.Powered by a heavily reworked version of VW's ubiquitous 2.0-litre diesel, power has risen by a significant 10bhp to 148bhp, although torque remains unchanged at 236bhp. Added to weight reduction, this is enough to allow VW to slice 0.7sec off its 0-62mph claim, which is now reached in a brisk 8.6sec while top speed rises a less significant 4mph to 134mph.But the biggest change is to fuel consumption. At 55.4mpg, few would have called the old Golf thirsty but, officially at least, the new car returns 68.9mpg, with the same CO2 output of a Vauxhall Agila with an engine half the size.

BYD to launch zero-emission London cabs

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 03:34 AM PDT

BYD and London cab firm Green Tomato Cars have agreed to introduce a fleet of electric minicabs

BYD and Green Tomato Cars have signed a memorandum of understanding to create London's first-ever fleet of pure electric minicabs. The fleet, which will be 50 cars strong, will be made up BYD's all-electric E6 models and will be supplied to Green Tomato Cars for trial use.

London-based minicab firm, Green Tomato Cars, plans to introduce the cars from the second quarter of next year.

The five-seat E6 taxi is powered by a 75kW motor and BYD's own iron phosphate battery. This gives the car a range of 186 miles on a single charge and a top speed of 87mph.

BYD chairman, Wang Chuanfu, said: ''We are delighted to supply Green Tomato Cars with E6 vehicles… The e6 has zero tailpipe emissions, so it avoids contributing to the city's CO2 levels''

London's Mayor Boris Johnson said: ''It is my aim that London's minicabs and taxis will be zero-emission my 2020… so it's great news that Green Tomato Cars has committed to operating 50 of these super-clean machines from next year''.

Sam Davis

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