January 17th, 2011 at 12:10pm
Lancia is expected to reveal a rebadged version of the Chrysler 200 at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Toyota is polling people about what it should call its Prius family of hybrids. Mercedes just released photos of its new 2012 SLK Roadster that will go on sale later in the year. All that and more, plus a look at the updated Jeep Wrangler.
Hello again! Scott Burgess here from The Detroit News, bringing you another thrilling installment of Autoline Daily, this time for, Monday, January 17, 2011, Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S. And with that, here are today’s top stories in the automotive world.
LANCIA FLAVIA = CHRYSLER 200
It’s pretty impressive. Chrysler has worked some black magic on its boring Sebring, transforming it from a car on life support to something worth considering. In fact, the new 200 is so much better, word out of Auburn Hills is that it’s good enough for Lancia. According to Autoblog, the premium Italian brand is expected to reveal a rebadged version of the sedan at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Rumor has it the new model will receive the Flavia nameplate, which hasn’t been used since 1975. The car is expected to receive only a handful of modifications, including Euro-spec bumpers, a diesel powertrain and a manual transmission.
CHRYSLER 200 CONVERTIBLE
Feast your eyes on this beauty! In totally related news, Chrysler just released photos and information on the convertible version of the 200. I know you’ve all been champing at the bit for news about this drop-top, so here it is. As you’d expect, it benefits from the same improvements the sedan received including new interior and exterior styling, updated powertrains and many other refinements. Buyers can choose between a retractable hardtop and a traditional cloth roof. No word yet on how much the Chrysler 200 convertible will cost or when it’ll go on sale, but we’d bet it’ll be MORE and LATER than its sedan counterpart.
VOLVO CONCERNED OVER EV SAFETY (subscription required)
Can you guess which automaker is concerned about the safety of EVs? Time’s up! If you guessed Volvo, you’d be right! Rather than display a sexy new model at the Detroit Auto Show, Ward’s reports the Swedish company unveiled a mangled C30 EV. This hatchback was crashed into an offset barrier at 40 miles an hour! Volvo did this to illustrate a point. Engineers went out of their way to put the battery packs in NON-crumple zones. They did this to minimize deformation of the pack during a crash. The car’s 660-pound lithium-ion cell takes up space where the fuel tank normally goes. In multiple crash tests the battery pack and its wires remained completely intact. Volvo thinks this is the most optimal place to package a battery.
UAW LOBBIES CONGRESS
Earlier this month we reported the UAW will step-up its effort this year to organize a foreign transplant factory in the U.S., and now the union is taking its message to Washington D.C. According to my paper of choice, The Detroit News, more than 1,000 former and current members will attend a conference this week on Capitol Hill. They’ll discuss the union’s legislative and political priorities and meet with members of Congress about the UAW’s efforts to get foreign automakers to agree to rules that will make it easier for workers to form a union.
FIAT WORKERS AGREE TO CONCESSIONS
And speaking of unions, workers at a Fiat plant in Italy agreed to concessions over the weekend. According to the AP, the deal links pay increases to productivity, but it also limits workers’ right to strike and reduces break times and sick pay. CEO Sergio Marchionne says the agreement will allow Fiat and Chrysler to create a globally competitive company that can build 6 million cars annually by 2014.
PRIUS GOES PLURAL
Last week Toyota unveiled new vehicles that will be part of its Prius family, but what should they be known as? Priuses, Prii or something else? Well, Toyota doesn’t know either, and they want your help. According to the Detroit Free Press, the company is polling people at the Detroit Auto Show and on its website about what it should call its Prius hybrids. You can choose from Prius, Priuses, Prii, Prien or Prium. Toyota plans to announce the winner at the Chicago Auto Show next month. So what do you think the Prius family should be known as?
2012 MERCEDES-BENZ SLK ROADSTER
Mercedes just released photos of its new 2012 SLK Roadster that will go on sale later in the year. Aside from new styling, the SLK offers more fuel-efficient engines. It’s standard with a direct-injection four-cylinder that’s mated to a six-speed manual transmission which produces just over 200 horsepower. Combined fuel economy is 27 MPG. An optional direct-injection V6 is also available which cranks out more than 300 horsepower. The 2012 SLK Roadster is the first Mercedes to offer what it calls a panorama vario-roof with MAGIC SKY CONTROL. It’s a glass roof that switches to light or dark at the press of a button. The light mode is virtually transparent, offering an open-air experience. The dark mode provides shade and prevents the sun from heating up the interior. Look for the SLK Roadster in showrooms this summer.
Coming up next, a look at the updated Jeep Wrangler, we’ll be back right after this.
2011 JEEP WRANGLER
Jeep is playing a big part in Chrysler’s renaissance, and every model in its lineup is getting upgraded for 2011. Autoline Daily’s Craig Cole has more.
Not bad for a crash project. Now all they have to do is drop the new Pentastar V-6 under the Wrangler’s hood to really give it the performance it deserves.
The Jeep Wrangler is America’s original off-road SUV. And whether it’s the two-door model or the four it’s been that way for 70 years or better. For 2011 the company has made some big upgrades to this off-road SUV. High-end Sahara models get a nice body-colored hardtop, but the biggest changes Chrysler made was the redecorating they did inside.
And Chrysler designers did a lot more than rearrange the furniture and hang new drapes. The Wrangler gets a brand-new instrument panel, a chunky new steering wheel and a bunch of other upgrades. But don’t think they’ve turned it into a Lexus ES. Fear not! A more comfortable Wrangler does not mean a less rugged one.
The 2011 model’s interior is light-years ahead of the 2010’s, which looks like it was made out of plastic building blocks. Sure, more soft materials would be nice, but that’s what the Grand Cherokee is for. This is still a vehicle you can pull the doors off and hose out if you get it dirty inside.
Of course the Wrangler isn’t the only model in Jeep’s lineup that’s receiving upgrades for 2011. Every one of them has been touched in some way. And what’s remarkable about that is Chrysler did it all in just a year. Talk about a grueling schedule!
We’ll have more on some of the other upgraded Jeep models in future episodes of Autoline Daily so stay tuned.
And that’ll do it for today’s show. Again, I’m Scott Burgess of The Detroit News. If you can’t get enough of your favorite auto critic – me – I invite you to join my all-new Facebook page. Just go to Facebook.com/DetNewsDrive. I’m giving away a Michelin Man to one lucky person that “likes” the page, so get in on the action. Like it early, like it often. And remember, you’ve got to play to win.
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And with that, we’re done here. Thanks for watching, I’ll catch you next time.