Sep 302010

DETROIT — General Motors said today it plans to send six Chevrolet Volts on a 3,400-mile cross-country tour to demonstrate the hybrid’s extended-range capability and celebrate its public debut.

According to GM, the plug-in hybrid vehicle offers a 25- to 50-mile driving range on a single electric charge, with a 111 kW (roughly 150 hp) electric motor, capable of 0-to-60-mph acceleration in about nine seconds. When the Volt’s battery runs out of power — after the 25 to 50 miles — the vehicle uses gasoline to generate more electricity keeping it going for “hundreds of miles.” It also can be plugged in for a recharge.

The cross-country drive, which Chevrolet has dubbed the “Volt Unplugged” tour, will run from Oct. 9 in Seattle to Nov. 20 in Chicago. Customers will be able to test drive the Volt and meet the engineering and design team.

“The Volt Unplugged tour will give people a chance to get behind the wheel of the Volt and find out for themselves what makes this vehicle so special,” Chevy spokesman Tony DiSalle said in a statement.

“This drive will demonstrate the one-of-a-kind capabilities of the Volt, the only electric vehicle able to drive such long distances under a variety of driving conditions and climates without having to stop to recharge.”

During the tour, Chevrolet will offer educational programs to the public about the Volt itself and the development of the nation’s electric car infrastructure.

Chevrolet announced that it will begin production of the Volt on Nov. 11 in GM’s Detroit/Hamtramck plant. In December, it will release the vehicle on a limited basis to dealers in California; Texas; New York; New Jersey; Connecticut; Michigan; and Washington, D.C. The regular release of the vehicle will occur over the next 12 to 18 months.

The suggested retail price of the Volt is $41,000, including freight charges, and it will be eligible for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits. At present there is no pre-order option for the vehicle.

Sep 232010

Saleswise, the Cruze is one of Chevrolet’s most important vehicles.

So why not give U.S. Chevy dealers two flavors?

The Cruze is Chevy’s new compact sedan, a model that replaces the Cobalt. So far, the car has received a long list of accolades from the press, something uncommon with previous GM compacts. The car has the potential to be a big hit for GM and its dealers.

While U.S. sales began this week, the car has been sold globally for over a year.

Next month, at the Paris motor show, Chevrolet will expand the one-model Cruze line to two with the introduction of a sleek, five-door hatchback. Frankly, the photos show a more attractive offering than the sedan.

Sales begin next year, but GM has no plans to sell the five-door here.

The reason: Buyers in Europe prefer a hatchback to a sedan by over a 3-1 majority. Hatchbacks don’t appeal to U.S. buyers, I’m told. But I have a difficult time accepting that reasoning. I guess I’m in the minority — I would pick a five-door compact over a four-door every time. I believe Chevy would be surprised by the sales response.

In conversations with the folks at Chevy, their main competition here is the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. A Civic coupe is offered, but this buyer base overwhelmingly prefers a sedan.

No one talks about Ford, though. And Ford’s upcoming 2012 Focus line includes a very attractive group of models — a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback and, later, a compact minivan that seats seven.

The five-door Cruze would make Chevy dealers more competitive with Ford, plus give dealers a potential advantage over its primary target, Civic and Corolla offerings.

So Chevy dealers, is one Cruze flavor enough, or do you need two?

Sep 182010

MILFORD, Mich. — Chevrolet is touting the Caprice’s rear-wheel drive and interior space as it prepares to take orders for its new police car.

Chevrolet dealers will begin taking orders next month for the automaker’s first rwd police car since 1996.

Although the vehicle “has a smaller overall exterior, the Caprice has more interior volume than a Crown Victoria,” said Al Oppenheiser, the vehicle’s chief engineer.

The first cars, unmarked sedans, will arrive here in April. Orders for patrol cars will begin in January with delivery in June. Both will be 2011 models and carry a $30,995 sticker price before fleet incentives.

The Caprice will be assembled by GM’s Holden subsidiary in Australia and shipped to a California port. When full production begins for the 2012 model year, Chevrolet expects orders will be processed and cars delivered in 14 to 16 weeks. The cars will have a five-year/100,000-mile warranty.

The Ford Crown Victoria has been the top selling police car since the demise of the original Caprice. Law enforcement agencies prefer rwd for its better handling characteristics, especially in high-speed pursuits. Last decade, Chevrolet introduced a police version of the front-drive Impala, but that vehicle never reached the sales success of the original Caprice.

Good business

However, Ford will discontinue the Crown Victoria next year — opening up opportunities for Chevrolet and Dodge. Ford will replace the Crown Victoria with a heavy-duty version of the fwd Taurus. Dodge already offers a law enforcement version of the rwd Charger. That car will be re-engineered and restyled, and it will be available to police departments next year.

Chevrolet plans to discontinue the Impala police car package either in 2011 or 2012.

Joyce Mattman, GM’s product director for fleet and commercial vehicles, said police car sales often lead to other purchases.

“If you win the police business, there is a halo effect on the rest of the city and municipal fleet business for other cars and other trucks they buy. Often times, they have one dealership they want to work with for their entire city fleet” especially for service and parts, Mattman said in an interview today on the sidelines of a press event at GM’s proving grounds.

The 2011 Caprice will be available with one engine: a 355-hp 6.0-liter V-8 with 384 pounds feet of torque. The engine features cylinder deactivation and can operate on E85. A six-speed transmission is standard.

The car has a top speed of 160 mph and can accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in less than six seconds, GM said.

A 3.6-liter V-6 will be offered for the 2012 model year. Specifications were not released.

The Caprice has a four-wheel independent suspension with heavy-duty components. Coolers are used to reduce the temperature of the engine oil, and transmission and power steering fluids.

The Caprice will only be available to law enforcement agencies. A retail version is not planned.

Typically, police car sales are dependent on a good economy. GM estimates that about 60,000 police vehicles were sold in 2007. This year that number might fall to 45,000.

Despite the recession, there are still opportunities, Mattman said.

“Departments have to replace cars so they can’t take that number down to zero,” she said.

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Sep 102010

I have a 2001 Chevy S-10 with a 2.2L engine. Was running fine and all of the sudden a POP and the engine died. The engine cranks over plenty fast, in fact it almost sounds like it has less resistance than normal. There are no check engine codes. What could it be?

The engine has a common timing chain tensioner failure. When the timing chain tensioner comes apart it allows part of it to wedge itself between the timing chain and the timing chain sprocket. When this occurs, the chain snaps!

You can perform a comprssion test and see if yiu find a cylinder or 2 without compression. This happens because the valves are stuck without movment. Removing the timing cover and inpecting is a way to confirm this has happened as well.

Sep 052010

Jeep’s Wrangler is getting a light update for 2011 with a new interior and a body-colored roof. The subtle changes are part of Chrysler’s plans to dramatically upgrade some vehicles while refining its already solid products.

In this case, that means the Wrangler gets a redesigned instrument panel, new storage areas and improved storage and ergonomics.

There also are available heated mirrors, a redesigned center stack and larger rear windows for improved visibility. Also new are steering-wheel controls, and, in keeping with the traditional Jeep theme, hexagonal bolts to accent the interior. And, the interior gets better acoustics, Jeep says.

On the outside, a new body-colored hard top is offered, as are several new shades of yellow, red, tan, blue and white.