Weekly Roundup: 12.01.2009 – 16.01.2009

This week was mostly focused on the 2009 North American International Auto Show, also known as NAIAS, and the models showcased there, but Formula 1 and Dakar fans also had their share of media coverage. Monday
Carlos Sainz increased his lead in the Valparaiso to La Serena stage and crossed the finish line 4 minute ahead of VW's Dieter Depping. The Spaniard would continue his winning streak during the week only to be hit by disaster towards the end, but we'll see about that a bit later in the article.

Ferrari fans rejoiced the same day when their favorite team announced at Mugello the F60 car for the 2009 Formula 1 championship. Our motorsport pundit, Ovidiu Panzariu, reported that the new car is totally different as compared to the 2008-spec car, featuring a completely new aerodynamics with new changes imposed by the FIA.

Before we take a look at the new models launched at the 2009 NAIAS, here's a piece of news that caught our attention on Monday. Apparently, Bin Laden's ex-driver was set free after seven years at the US detention camp of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Get ready now for the avalanche of electric, hybrid and mega-hybrid models showcased at this year's North American International Auto Show. We start off with Chrysler who launched two hybrid versions of the still popular Jeep brand, the Patriot EV and the Wrangler Unlimited EV, and two concepts, the 200C EV and the Dodge Circuit EV, all of which are based on the US company's ENVI (Range-extended Electric Vehicle) technology.

After leaking on the Internet, the new E-Klasse W212 got an official unveiling at Detroit and our very own Alex Oagana had a very comprehensive article on it. Check it out here.

Ford couldn't let the whole hybrid-electric frenzy go unnoticed and they've announced their eco friendly plans as well. These include battery electric commercial van, a battery electric small car and some hybrids, including a plug-in one.

The Dearborn company also showcased the Lincoln MKT, a brand new luxury crossover, and the 2010 Taurus, the revived full-size sedan.

Audi didn't come empty handed at Detroit either, as the German manufacturer showcased the Sportback concept and the V10 R8 5.2 FSI version of the popular sports car. Both vehicles received EyesOn Design Excellence Awards, thus managing to score a 100% efficiency. Typically German!

The Germans might have won two EyesOn Design, but it was the Koreans who laughed last as they grabbed the 2009 North American Car of the Year award with their Hyundai Genesis.

After going through an intense teasing period, the Kia Soul'ster open-air concept based on the Soul was officially unveiled. Check out Bogdan Popa's official report here.

Another teased concept, this from the Japanese Subaru, was unveiled at NAIAS, in the form of the 2009 Legacy and hinting at the new upcoming lineup.

We ended Monday in a British way, or better said an Indian-British way, as Jaguar announced the new XFR and XKR models.


We continued on Tuesday our Dakar reports as Sainz clinched his 5th win and thus increased his lead. “On the bumpy and rocky road between La Serena to Copiapo, Sainz avoided making any mistakes and, thanks to Mark Miller's steering problem in the second part of the stage, crossed the finish line in 1st place,” Mr. Panzariu reported.

In other motorsport news, Silverstone will host the British Grand Prix of the FIM Road Racing World Championship starting 2010, Dorna's boss Carmelo Ezpeleta announced.

Ron Dennis didn't have to go through all the legal hassles a lawsuit usually implies as Peter Boland dropped all charges against his former employer. We previously reported that Mr. Boland sued McLaren-Mercedes' team principal for racist and homophobe behavior. Apparently, Boland realized that his allegations were unfounded and now he just wants everybody to be gay (read happy).

SEAT joined the hybrid frenzy as the “Auto emocion” company presented a prototype to the to the Spanish government. Just like any other hybrid, the Leon Twin Drive Ecomotive vehicle incorporates a regular combustion engine plus an electric unit which is entirely based on lithium-ion batteries.

The rest of the day was filled by more NAIAS announcements, the most important being the 2010 Mazda3, the new Quattroporte Sport GT S, the 2010 Prius and the 2010 Lexus HS 250h.

Noteworthy concepts included the long-awaited Karma S plug-in hybrid hartop convertible from Fisker and the Concept BlueSport, with a maximum speed of 140 mph (that's approximately 226 km/h), with fuel consumption of 42 mpg (4.3 liters per 100 km) in combined mode.

Tuesday was also an important day for Chinese manufacturer BYD who unveiled what seems to be the world's first production dual-mode plug-in hybrid, namely the e6.


We started Wednesday on a positive note as we reported that Carlos Sainz clinched his 4th consecutive victory (and 6th overall) in the shortened stage of Copiapo. Unfortunately, the Dakar rally almost claimed another victim as rider Cristobal Guerrero crashed at the Km 160 mark of the 10th stage of the event. The initial reports that his situation was critical were smoothened during the course of the day and while he was still in a coma, his condition was no longer life-threatening.

While the London to Timbuktu expedition was setting sails in their Parajet Skycar, Ford and Navistar had a bitter announcement to make. It is with great regret that we must inform you that the two companied have ended their diesel engine supply deal.

We were quite surprised to find out the same day that Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk let the cat out of the bag about a partnership going on between his company and Daimler AG. Click here to find out more about the partnership.

New rumors claiming the French manufacturer and its Japanese ally Nissan re-entered talks with the American automaker in order to purchase a number of divisions Chrysler currently owns surfaced, but they were quickly denied by the US manufacturer.

Wednesday was also the day of the 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid’s official unveiling at the 2009 North American International Auto Show, the Japanese manufacturer touting prices below the Civic Hybrid.

We ended the middle of the week with two reports from the motorsports realm. NASCAR and fans, as few as they might be, will be thrilled to know that the latter will become the official search engine for the stock racing competition. Kawasaki fans, on the other hand, are not feeling so joyful for their favorite team. Carmelo Ezpeleta – CEO of MotoGP promoting company Dorna – warned Kawasaki that they face legal actions unless they return to MotoGP.


On Thursday we returned to MotoGP with more optimistic news as Ducati unveiled the new Desmosedici GP9. Find out more details about the new bike here.

Although things looked promising for Suzuki’s Kizashi sedan, uncertainty still reigns over the matter. We found out that there isn’t any final decision regarding the aforementioned sedan. More spicy details here.

The same day, we went to the White House as Obama’s new Cadillac limo was officially unveiled. The US carmaker didn’t offer too many technical details, but check out Madalina Iancu’s article for design info and official images.

Speaking of exclusive cars, Conquest Vehicles revealed that the Knight XV, known as the world’s most secure SUV, has a whopping price of $310,000. Click here for more info on the subject. Toyota decided to unveil their TF109 car for the upcoming F1 season, with the main changes being related to aerodynamics.

If you thought the Detroit auto show was sad, get ready to be amazed at Tokyo, as General Motors, Chrysler and Ford have decided to skip it altogether. Speaking of sadness, Carlos Sainz’s fulminating success at Dakar ended abruptly as the Spaniard damaged his car beyond repair after crashing into a ravine.

Thursday ended with a major announcement from Toyota. After losing some green turf to the likes of GM and Honda, the Prius makers said that they will have a hydrogen car by 2015.


Contrasting with the Detroit related commotion, the end of the week was relatively calm. Here are some of the most important topics.

Movie and car buffs clapped frantically as the official Fast and Furious 4 trailer surfaced. After Ferrari and Toyota, McLaren Mercedes were the third Formula 1 team to unveil their 2009-spec car, the all-new MP4-24. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop Ron Dennis from stepping down as team principal.

Mr. Popa happily reported that Mercedes is currently working on a small front-wheel drive roadster based on the new-generation A-Klasse that may reach the market as soon as 2012. Find all about it here.

Ms. Iancu, on the other hand, was not too enthused about the Lamborghini Reventon the Chechen Republic President, Ramzan Kadyrov, rides in. Not too mention the rest of his convoy composed of more than 50 luxury cars.

You are in for an unpleasant surprise if you were planning to purchase a Bugatti Veyron as recent speculations point to an imminent production stoppage.

We got wild towards the end of the week as Honda unveiled the Fury chopper. We have official images, so don’t be shy. You know where we “live".
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