New Lexus dealership opens in Ponce

Lexus Dealership

Luxury automaker Lexus recently inaugurated its newest dealership on Route 2 in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The $1.5 million, 4,000 square-foot facility features a four-vehicle showroom, a 60-vehicle parking facility, a certified, pre-owned sales department, as well as parts and service areas.

United Auto Caribbean, a subsidiary of the Roger Penske Automotive Group, recently inaugurated the Lexus Ponce dealership late last week, announcing the creation of 15 direct and 40 indirect jobs, and sales projections of 25 units per month.

“This is the ideal time to open Ponce Lexus because the local market has a growing population of consumers who value good taste, luxury and perfection, are connoisseurs who demand more because they reflect the spirit of the southern region’s economic, cultural and social development,” said Charlie Vaillant, president of Lexus Ponce.

“This dealership offers the widest range of vehicles with the highest levels of luxury, innovation, performance, quality, reliability and durability,” he said.

The newest addition to the Lexus dealership chain will have sedans, SUV, convertibles, performance and hybrid vehicles in its sales lineup.


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2012 Audi A8 Hybrid


When it comes to the hybrid market, we assume – as most of you probably do as well – that the United States is at the top of the list to get whatever hybrid models an automaker builds. That vision is apparently altering for the Germans, though, as Audi is not bringing this A8 Hybrid to the States, instead favoring Western Europe and particularly Asia. Find an international Audi dealership here.

The start of deliveries in Europe already commenced in May, and Asian deliveries will start by 2013 as Audi mulls bringing the long-wheelbase version there, as well as a right-hand-drive model. The choice to not invite North American consumers to the party might not be a forever sort of thing, but at least for the next few years, the plan appears to be set in stone.

To be honest, Audi’s full parallel hybrid strategy, along with that of parent Volkswagen Group’s larger cars and SUVs in general, isn’t terribly amazing – there’s no thinking going on outside of the box here. Across the entire VW corporate family, the better choice for these bigger cruisers is always the range of outstanding diesels that generally weigh less and can cost less than their hybrid brethren. Nonetheless, Audi’s high-tech image demands that the brand show it can play in every alternative propulsion sector. With China being Audi’s best market by far, this A8 Hybrid has that nation writ all over its business plan.


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Toyota Prius c Will Debut at North American International Auto Show

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Next spring, the Prius c will join the Prius Family line up. The highly anticipated vehicle will be unveiled in January, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The subcompact hybrid will be joining the third-generation Prius Liftback hybrid, Prius v midsize hybrid, and Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and will help round out the Prius family by adding a more affordable option for younger drivers, particularly those who live in the city. Toyota will market the Prius c towards younger shoppers and focus on its fuel efficiency, technology and driving dynamics.

As a member of the Prius family, it would naturally be expected that the Prius c would be fuel efficient, but the subcompact is expected to surpass even those standards. With an expected fuel economy of 50 mpg, the Prius c will be a leader in its class and have the highest mpg of any non-plug-in vehicle. On top of that, the Prius c will be offered at a more affordable price.

Because its aimed towards younger drivers in urban settings, the Prius c will be a little sportier than other Prius models, making it a bit more fun to drive. Standard features on the Prius c are Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, steering-wheel audio, climate and telephone controls, and nine airbags.

Another feature is Toyota’s new multimedia system Entune, which is already available on the Camry, Prius v and Tacoma, and allows users to connect to apps that provide navigation, entertainment and information all from the vehicle’s console. Drivers can stream music, use voice recognition technology and utilize Entune’s text-to-speech capabilities.

The Prius c was first introduced at the North American International Auto show as a concept car, so it will be a fitting arena to unveil the production model next January. The c stands for “city-centric,” representing the Prius c’s target market. The subcompact Prius will use a 1.5L DOHC four-cylinder engine, and is about the size of the Yaris.

Source: Toyota Press Room

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Meet the Volvo C30 Electric

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Last week, Volvo announced an agreement to demonstrate the C30 Electric in Shanghai, China. The Volvo C30 Electric has been on the roads in Europe for testing. Slowly, but surely, Volvo has begun dabbling in the electric car market.  The Swedish auto manufacturer known for its safety will build 400 prototype models that will be available on a 3-year lease, starting next year.

Volvo has had an electric vehicle in the works for a couple years now.  In September of 2009, they first showed their prototype for an electric C30, and later presented an updated prototype at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.  Later in 2010, the concept car was exhibited at the Paris Motor Show.

Using a lithium-ion battery and 82kW motor, the electric C30 gets a top speed of about 81mph and can go from 0 to 60mph in about 12 seconds.  It has a range of up to 100 miles per charge.

Reviews of the Volvo C30 Electric seem promising. Last spring, Engadget’s Tim Stevens had many positive things to say during his test drive of the Volvo C30 Electric, and considers it to be “one of the few genuinely good looking electric cars.”  According to Stevens, the C30 electric drives just like the non-electric, and the quiet environment makes for a pleasant drive.

A unique aspect that the review focuses on is the climate control system.  It certainly sounds attractive: apparently there is an ethanol based heater under the dash that will warm the car up in three minutes, without requiring the engine to be warmed up.  This is a great innovation for electric cars because it means the car can be warmed without drawing off the electricity from the battery, so more power can be used for driving.

Unfortunately for interested Volvo fans, the prototypes are mainly meant for corporations and government fleet users to lease, and not really for individual fans.  This is reflected in the price of about $2,100 per month.  Volvo is apparently working on a model that will hopefully be more marketable to individual users, which will be revealed next year.  This model is expected to be more competitive with the Nissan Leaf.

Source: Endadget

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2012 Honda Insight Gets Better Gas Mileage

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Honda has announced the starting price for the 2012 Honda Insight: $19,120.  The price includes a $770 destination and handling fee.

The 2012 model has only undergone a few updates to refresh it for next year.  Such updates include redesigned 15-inch wheels, and a lower front fascia to make it more aerodynamic.  With its new aerodynamic design, the hybrid hatchback gets a better fuel economy, with 41 mpg in the city, 44 mpg on the highway, and 42 mpg combined, giving it the highest EPA fuel economy rating for new vehicles under $20,000.

Honda also redesigned the interior, making it more comfortable for passengers.  Better sound deadening materials give it improved noise insulation, making for a quiet ride.  Backseat passengers can enjoy increased legroom and headroom.  The base model also includes automatic climate control and power windows.  On the outside, a thinner spoiler and a more compact rear-wiper motor give the driver better visibility.

The 2012 Honda Insight comes in three version: base, LX, and EX.  For the Insight LX, which starts at $20,895, drivers can expect better seat fabric, a four-speaker sound system, USB audio interface, security system, map lights, steering wheel audio controls, and more.  For the Insight EX, which starts at $22,585, the benefits increase even more, with automatic headlights, synthetic leather and fabric for seats, a six-speaker sound system, a Bluetooth hands free phone system, and a navigation option that includes a rearview camera.

The Honda Insight was one of the first hybrid electric vehicles to come to the US in 1999.  The first generation of the Insight ran from 2000 to 2006 and used a subcompact hatchback design that only fit two people.  In 2009, Honda released the second generation Insight, this time using an all-new 5-passenger, 5-door platform.

Overall, the new Insight is quieter and more efficient and features a nicer interior, providing drivers with a more comfortable ride.

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Toyota Returning to Le Mans with Hybrid Car

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Toyota announced last Friday that it will be competing in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship with its new gasoline-electric hybrid, the LMP1.  One highlight of the championship is the 80th running of the Le Mans 24 Hour race, which takes places June 16 and 17 next year.

Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG is currently developing the prototype race car’s chassis, while Toyota in Japan is developing the hybrid gas powertrain. Recently, the company has been working on an electric racecar prototype, which set a new electric-car record – 7 minutes and 48 seconds – at the 13-mile track in Nurburgring, Germany.

Toyota last competed as a manufacturer at Le Mans in 1999 with the GT-One.  The GT-One was able to set a new race lap record; however, in the final hour of the race, the tire punctured.  Since then, TMG has focused on Formula 1 racing, but withdrew in 2009.

Other, smaller racing teams have tried racing with hybrid vehicles, but saw little success.  While Toyota has already established itself as a leader in hybrid technology with the Prius, the company wants to use this opportunity to further build up its reputation in hybrid technology.

“We want to write a new page in the history of the Le Mans 24 hours, as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship, through our use of hybrid technology,” said Tadashi Yamahina, senior managing officer at Toyota and chairman of TMG.

Le Mans 24 Hour race is a French sports car endurance race held in Le Mans, France.  The first race was held in 1923, making it the oldest sports car endurance race in the world.  Cars must run for 24 hours straight without sustaining mechanical damage.  The circuit consists of both public roads and a permanent track and is currently 8.469 miles in length.  Drivers may drive for durations at long as two hours before stopping at the pit to change drivers.   Current regulations state that 3 drivers must share each racing vehicle.

The LMP1-based car will come out in early 2012 for pre-season testing.

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BMW Announces March 2012 Release for Active5 Hybrid

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BMW has announced the roll out date for the Active5 Hybrid: March 2012.  First revealed at the Geneva Auto Show in 2010, the BMW Active5 Hybrid is based on the 5-series and uses the chassis of the BMW 535i.

As a hybrid, the Active5 uses both a 3-liter TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder in-line engine and a 40-kilowatt electric motor.  Together they work to produce a total of 340 hp and allow the vehicle to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds.  The Active5 has an 8-speed automatic transmission and is expected to get 40 to 44 mpg, although no specific announcement has been made for the American version.

The Active5, which is BMW’s third hybrid, also includes automatic stop-start technology.  When the vehicle is stopped, it turns off the engine, and turns it back on once the vehicle starts moving again.  The car’s lithium ion battery also charges while the car is coasting or braking.

To conserve energy, the Active5 uses satellite navigation, which scans the road ahead.  It then takes that information and adjusts its energy usage accordingly.  For example, if the car will be climbing uphill, the system conserves battery power so it can kick in to help the engine once the car reaches the incline.  The car can also use only electric power to drive 2.4 miles at a top speed of 37 mph.


While the car has all the features of a hybrid vehicle, it still retains the look of luxury that BMW drivers have come to expect.  It also includes a four-zone climate control system.

The pricing hasn’t been announced yet for the Active5’s US roll out; however, in Europe it will start at 62,900 euro.  Be on the look out for this new hybrid in March 2012.


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