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Mercedes-Benz unveils its revamped G-Class

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The all-new G-Class makes its public debut at the Detroit auto show in G550 form. Completely redeveloped and fitted with a 4.0-liter V8 biturbo gasoline engine offering 427ps and 450 lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm to 4,750rpm, despite near-identical looks to its predecessor plenty has changed for the Mercedes-Benz SUV.


Ford’s F150 pickup gets its first diesel motor

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Developed by the powertrain team behind the 6.7-liter Power Stroke engine for super duty trucks, the all-new 3.0-liter V6 Power Stroke unit promises 250ps, 440 lb-ft of torque, and an anticipated 5175kg of towing capacity.


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In light of Fisker's solid-state battery breakthrough and claims of a one minute charge time, will this electric vehicle technology development kick-start mass BEV uptake? 

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European demand for Volt is sky high

General Motors is currently planning to build 15,000 range-extender Ampera EVs for the first 12 months of sales in Europe. And Nick Reilly, president of GM Europe, said that GM is confident that it "will sell every Ampera we can make. What we don't know is the size of the market and we won't know that for two to three years."

What is known is that when the Ampera does come to Europe – in November of this year – it will have an additional ‘hold' mode that the current Chevrolet Volt doesn't have in the USA. It's a feature that allows the driver to hold the charge of the battery by using the range-extending petrol engine until he or she wants to switch to pure EV power – such as inside the London congestion zone for example.

"It's a feature I wish we could have here," said Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director for Chevrolet Volt. Posawatz has been driving a prototype fitted with the ‘hold' button and is knocked out by its potential.

In its regular USA mode, the Volt drives emissions-free for the first 35 miles using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery.

Until a decision is made later this year on where else Volt/Ampera will be built, all cars will be produced at GM's sprawling Detroit-Hamtramck plant that first started rolling out cars 25 years ago. The vast factory covers 365 stated Teri Quigley, plant manager.

Although production has fallen from 133,362 in 2007 to 35,26 in 2009 and 51,173 last year, the addition of Volt has given the plant and its 1,200-strong workforce a new lease of life. "We build big, expensive cars so we hope the Volt will help us and that we can lift production three-fold by 2013," added Quigley.

The Volt is built on the same line as the Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne; at the moment one car in five is a Volt and as Quigley explains, "DTS and Lucerne are complicated, high value cars so adding Volt was incremental for our workforce rather than a big leap."

Detroit-Hamtramck currently operates on one shift with production of 290 units a day on a four day a week, ten hour per day schedule.

The Volt batteries come from Brownstown, about 20 minutes away by truck, and are fitted in much the same way as most car plants fit engines, "stuffing" them in from underneath, secured by bolts.

 

28 January 2011


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