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Is that Hybrid Worth It?

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Be sure to check your math before trading in your car for a hybrid                 


With gas prices inching past $4 per gallon, you’re probably cursing that thirsty SUV or turbocharged roadster in the driveway. But would purchasing a more fuel-efficient car actually be worth it? We’ve simplified things and done the math for you — but the answer is far from simple. In Pictures: Are Hybrids Worth It?Because hybrids cost more than gasoline-powered models, it’s not necessarily cost effective to buy one, even when taking into account the money you’ll save on gas. But, if fuel costs continue to rise, the gas savings will make up the price difference — right? And what about conventional gasoline-powered models … is it worth it to go for the smaller, fuel-efficient vehicle instead of the one you have your heart set on? Keep reading to find out.

Do Try This At Home
We’re using an easy formula so that you can plug in your own figures. First, take the number of miles you drive in a year (we’re using 15,000, which the EPA says is average) and divide it by the car’s combined fuel economy (available at to calculate the number of gallons you’ll use in a year. Then, multiply that number by the cost per gallon (we’re using $3.96, the national average at press time, according to AAA) to calculate how much you’ll spend on gas in a year. Do these first two steps for each of the two models you’re comparing. To find out how many years it will take for a hybrid to pay for itself, divide the extra money you would spend buying the hybrid by the extra money you would spend on gasoline for the non-hybrid — et voila!

To Have and to Hybrid
Based on today’s gas prices, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid makes the most financial sense if you’re deciding between a hybrid and its gasoline-only counterpart. The base model starts at only $1,750 more than the conventional Mariner and should pay for itself in gas savings in just a little over two years. The Saturn VUE Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid will each start earning their keep in about five years.Hybrid sedans have better gas mileage than hybrid SUVs, but the sedans cost a lot more than their gas-only counterparts. For example, the Honda Civic Hybrid’s 42.2 mpg average fuel mileage will save you $600 per year, but its base price is almost $7,600 more than the conventional Honda Civic. You would have to drive the Civic Hybrid for at least 12.5 years to start seeing a return on your investment.Of course, we can’t forget the most popular hybrid — the Toyota Prius. Compared to the Honda Accord, a midsize gasoline-only sedan that costs a bit less, the Prius should take less than a year to make up for the price difference and will save you an additional $1,000 in gas costs.According to our calculations, the worst hybrid values are the GMC Yukon Hybrid, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, which will each take at least 16 years to earn back the extra dollars they cost. In fact, the Yukon and Tahoe Hybrids cost nearly $15,000 more than the conventional models. The Malibu Hybrid will only save about $168 per year on gas, an increase that won’t easily make up for the hybrid’s nearly $2,800 price jump.

Conventional Costs
A lot of consumers are looking at fuel-efficient gas-only cars to save on gas. While that’s a good strategy, it pays to be realistic about how much you’ll actually save. Sporty drivers may be thinking twice about buying that costly BMW 3-Series and considering the 32 mpg MINI Cooper instead. The MINI will save you 10 miles per gallon, which translates to about $786 per year or $15.13 per week. Just make sure that $15 a week will make up for the MINI’s much smaller interior and cargo area.

You may also be considering dropping a large SUV for a midsize model. Opting for the Honda Pilot instead of the Chevrolet Tahoe will save over $478 in fuel per year. Still, the annual gas savings comes out to just $9.20 per week, which may not be enough to justify trading down. Likewise, the all-new Smart Fortwo’s excellent 36 mpg average fuel economy saves $311 per year in gas compared to the Honda Fit. However, the yearly gas savings only translates to about $5.99 per week, which may not be worth the trade-off — especially when taking into account that the Smart requires premium fuel.

Even when you think two cars are similar, it can still pay — literally — to take a closer look. Choosing the Honda Civic over the Honda Accord will still get you seating for five and plenty of convenience features. But the Civic will only save $273 per year on gas — $5.25 per week — so ask yourself if it’s worth losing the Accord’s sportier performance and nicer interior.

The Big Question
So, is going green worth it? The answer, as you may have learned by now, is that it all depends on what car you’re buying. The key is to choose wisely, consider your options carefully, and always take time to do the math.

Hybrid Avg. MPG Price Diff. Ann. Gas Svgs. Years to Pay Off
Mercury Mariner 32.2 $1,750 $772 2.3
Ford Escape 32.2 $2,740 $560 4.9
Saturn VUE 28.15 $2,920 $572 5.1
Lexus RX 400h 25.65 $3,880 $618 6.3
Nissan Altima 34.1 $6,840 $892 7.7
Toyota Highlander 26.1 $6,033 $594 10.2
Toyota Camry 33.45 $6,630 $554 12
Honda Civic 42.25 $7,590 $601 12.6
Saturn Aura 27.6 $2,395 $168 14.2
GMC Yukon 21.45 $14,700 $886 16.6
Chevrolet Malibu 27.6 $2,795 $168 16.6
Chevrolet Tahoe 21.45 $14,960 $886 16.9

Lease or Buy?

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008


Car leasing is a lot like renting an apartment; you pay a monthly fee to use it but don’t own it — and aren’t making payments toward ownership. The leased vehicle remains the property of the lessor — the company that issued the lease.

As with an apartment rental contract, car leasing will have a fixed period — typically two or three years. You’re obliged to make monthly payments for the length of the contract. While you can get out of the lease before then if you want to, there will typically be extra costs — for example, an “early termination charge” — typically spelled out in the car leasing contract you sign. And as is often the case with renting an apartment, you’ll likely have to put down some cash as “security deposit” at the lease inception. This money will be used to pay for any damages to the vehicle — such as door dings, stains on the seats, any needed service work, etc. — when you return it at the end of the car leasing term.A big advantage of car leasing is flexibility. You aren’t making a long-term commitment. Typically, car leasing is for a relatively short period, 2-3 years being the norm. The average new car loan, on the other hand, is five years. When the lease period is up, you can simply bring the car back and walk away. Or you can buy it if you like by paying off the remaining balance — called the “residual value” — which you’ll negotiate in advance at the time of lease inception.Or go shopping for a new car — or no car at all.

You have many choices.

Also, since you are only renting the car, your total cash outlay should be less. You won’t have to make as large a down payment (a security deposit and the first month’s payment are the typical initial out-of-pocket fees associate with car leasing) as you would if you were buying. And monthly lease payments are almost always less than payments would be if you bought the car. That means you’ll have more money left over to spend on other things.Or, if you prefer, you can “afford” to drive a more expensive car when you lease, since the monthly payments will be comparatively lower. This is one of the biggest single attractions of car leasing for many people. A car (or truck) that might cost you $500-$600 per month to buy might cost $100 per month less with car leasing.Another nice thing about car leasing is that you’re always driving a new or nearly new vehicle. And of course you don’t have to worry about the potentially expensive repair and/or maintenance problems that inevitably crop up as a car ages — and gets out of warranty. The leased car will typically be under factory warranty for the duration of the lease — and car leasing contracts often have add-on provisos that cover routine maintenance, such as oil changes, etc.

Car leasing may also have tax advantages for you — but this is something you’ll have to ask your accountant about. In the past, most people who did car leasing were those who used their vehicle for business, such as realtors — and who therefore could claim deductions for car leasing not available to those who purchased them outright.

Car leasing had the additional attraction of freeing up assets for investments and so on that would otherwise be locked into a depreciating asset — the person’s car or truck.There are downsides to car leasing, of course. Since you’re only making what amount to rental payments each month, you won’t have anything tangible to show for your money at the end of the lease. If you spend, say, $12,000 on car leasing payments (about $450 per month) over two years, that money is gone forever.A person who buys his vehicle, on the other hand, has the comfort of knowing that one day, it will be “paid for” and — assuming it is still in good shape at that point — will provide “free transportation” until it breaks down or the owner decides to get rid of it.

In addition, a person who owns his car has equity (cash value) in the car or truck. Even though it will continue to depreciate with each passing year, so long as it’s still serviceable transportation, it will always be worth something. That value can be used as a trade-in; or the vehicle can be sold privately to help raise money to pay for a new one — or for some other need.

The person who opts for car leasing must start from scratch every time.There’s also the mileage issue. If you decide on car leasing, your contract will typically stipulate the maximum number of miles you’re allowed before the end of the lease. If you exceed that figure, it can get expensive. Per-mile charges over the stated maximum listed in the car leasing contract are often exorbitant — so if you drive more than the allowed miles in the contract annually, leasing could turn out to be more expensive then you thought.The person who owns his car, meanwhile, can drive it as much as he wants, and do pretty much whatever he feels like with it, too. He can swap out the stereo, add different wheels and tires, change the exhaust system — whatever. Do this with a leased car and you’ll have to pay whatever if takes to put the car back the way it was. If you own your vehicle, the inevitable door dings and dents — as well as coffee stains on the seat — can also be shrugged off.

People who lease their vehicles, on the other hand, can expect to be charged for every nick, tear or spill at the end of the lease. The cost of these repairs will be deducted from the security deposit.

Car leasing is also more complex than buying so always closely read — and be sure you understand — every proviso of the lease contract before you sign. If you’re unclear about anything, get expert advice — or walk away.

Chevrolet’s Special ‘427 Limited Edition Z06′ Salutes Classic 427 Corvettes

Saturday, February 16th, 2008


DETROIT – Chevrolet announced the 2008 Corvette 427 Limited Edition Z06, a limited-production model that pays homage to the big-block Stingray models of the mid-1960s. The 427 designation refers to the cubic-inch displacement for the highest-performance engines offered between 1966 and ‘69 – and is also the cubic-inch equivalent of the Z06’s 7.0L LS7 small-block V-8.

The 427 Limited Edition Z06 features a Crystal Red Tintcoat exterior, the first Z06 ever offered with a red metallic tintcoat paint. It also features graphics on the hood and fascia that evoke the style of the famed “stinger” hood design and graphics that were offered with 1967 models equipped with the 427 engine. Also unique to this model are “427″ hood badges. Each example is numbered and signed by Wil Cooksey, the Corvette assembly plant manager who is retiring after 15 years on the job, and comes with a certificate of authenticity.

“The heritage of the 427 designation with the Corvette is legendary,” said Harlan Charles, Corvette product manager. “Recognizing the tie-in of the original 427 engine and the LS7’s 427-inch displacement has been on the Corvette team’s mind since the Z06 was introduced, and we’re thrilled to express it in this special model.”

Available under order code Z44, this special Z06 enters production this spring. Only 427 will be offered in the United States and Canada, with 78 more exported outside North America. That’s a total of 505 production vehicles – the same number of horsepower produced by the LS7 engine.

The special-edition Corvette carries a MSRP of $84,195 and includes the 3LZ premium equipment package with a custom, leather-wrapped interior. A navigation system is the only option ($1,750). As with other Corvette models, customer delivery is available at the Corvette Museum, in Bowling Green, Ky.

A breakdown of the 427 Limited Edition Z06’s unique content includes:

* Crystal Red Tintcoat exterior paint with stinger-style graphics and 427 hood badges
* Exclusive, new chrome wheels
* Body-color rear spoiler and door handles
* Exclusive dark titanium custom leather-wrapped interior
* Special Crystal Red interior trim plate graphic pattern
* Console armrest signed and numbered by Wil Cooksey
* “427″-embroidered seats and floor mats
* “Z06″ sill plates

The 427 Limited Edition Z06 joins the Indy 500 Pace Car replica – available in coupe and convertible configurations – as the second limited-production Corvette model introduced for 2008, giving enthusiasts and collectors a wealth of choices. In January, Chevrolet also announced the 2009 Corvette ZR1, which enters production later this summer.

“There’s never been a better time to be a Corvette enthusiast,” said Charles. “The performance and refinement are exemplary and special editions, like the 427 model, enrich the heritage of America’s sports car.”

Corvette Z06 details

The Corvette Z06 that is the foundation for the 427 Limited Edition offers carefully executed levels of capability and technology, making it one of the best performance values on the market.

The Z06’s LS7 7.0L engine reintroduced the 427-cubic-inch engine to the Corvette lineup. It uses racing-derived lightweight technology, including titanium connecting rods and intake valves, to help boost horsepower and rpm capability – it is rated at 505 horsepower (377 kW).* The only transmission offered with the Z06 is a six-speed manual.

In the car’s 3,162-pound (1,437 kg) package, the LS7 engine helps deliver 0-60 mph performance of 3.7 seconds in first gear, quarter-mile times of 11.7 seconds at 125 mph and a top speed of 198 mph (as recorded on Germany’s Autobahn) – the Z06 also circuited Germany’s famed N ü rburgring racetrack in a time of 7:43.

The Z06 has a unique aluminum body structure for optimum stiffness and light weight for the fixed-roof body style. Perimeter rails are one-piece hydroformed aluminum members featuring cast suspension nodes, which replace many welded steel components on other Corvette models. Advanced structural composites featuring carbon fiber are bonded to the aluminum structure. Wider front wheelhouses, for example, are carbon composites and the passenger compartment floors combine carbon-fiber skins with an ultra-lightweight balsa wood core.

A firm, race-proven suspension works harmoniously with large 18 x 9.5-inch cast-spun aluminum wheels and 275/35ZR18 tires in the front, and 19 x 12-inch cast-spun aluminum wheels with 325/30ZR19 tires in the rear to achieve lateral acceleration of more than 1 g. Complementing the suspension system and large rolling stock is an equally capable four-wheel disc brake system, consisting of 14-inch (355 mm) vented and cross-drilled front rotors and 13.4-inch (340 mm) vented and cross-drilled rear rotors.


The front rotors are acted upon by large, red-painted six-piston calipers that use six individual brake pads. Individual brake pads are used because they deliver more equalized wear compared to what would otherwise be a pair of very long single-piece pads. For the rear brakes, four-piston calipers with four individual brake pads are used. A Delphi four-channel ABS system is standard, as is a very competent active handling system – complete with a Competitive Driving mode.

History of the Corvette and the 427 engine

The Chevrolet Mark IV V-8 debuted in the Corvette in 1965 and was dubbed the big-block, because it was physically larger in all respects than Chevy’s other V-8 engine, which became known as the small-block. In ‘65, the big-block was offered in a 396-cubic-inch displacement, with a maximum rating of 425 gross horsepower (317 kW). In 1966, the big-block received larger cylinder bores and grew to its legendary 427-cubic-inch form. It came in two power levels: 390 hp (291 kW) and 425 hp.

By 1967, the Corvette’s 427 engine was a legend in its own time and was offered with a unique induction system that featured an inline trio of two-barrel carburetors. Known as the “L71″ (its order code), it was characterized by a large, chrome triangular air cleaner assembly. It was rated at 435 gross horsepower (324 kW). The ‘67 big-block Corvettes were easily distinguished from their small-block brethren by a raised “stinger” hood.

A handful of Corvettes with the “L88″-code 427 engine slipped out of the factory in 1967, each rated at 430 horsepower (321 kW), but the L88 would be more closely associated with the redesigned 1968 and ‘69 models. The L88 breathed through a single four-barrel carburetor rather than the L71’s three two-barrels. The triple-carburetor induction system was still available, however, as the Corvette was offered with both the L88 and L71 versions of the 427.

No less than six versions of the engine were offered in 1969, the final year for the 427. They included the L88, the L71 and a very rare ZL1 427 that was built with a lightweight aluminum cylinder block. Only two regular-production Corvettes were built with the ZL1 engine, putting them on the short list of the most collectible Corvettes in history.

The big-block increased in size to 454 cubic inches in 1970, and the original big-block engine family exited the Corvette lineup after the 1974 model year. The 2008 Corvette Z06’s LS7 engine offers big-block displacement and horsepower, but in a more efficient small-block architecture.

[Source: GM via Corvette Blogger]

Is ‘The General’ on the Move?

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Former giant GM uses product to get back in car battle.By Lawrence Ulrich

View pictures

Cadillac’s new CTS, a great improvement over the past generation, is one of several impressive new products from General Motors.Economically speaking, you could call this the winter of our discontent, especially if you’re a

Detroit automaker. Yearly sales are down, and 2008 is looking worse. It’s hard for Americans to dream about a new car when they’re struggling to make the mortgage payment.After chipping away at Motown’s foundation business for four decades, import automakers in 2007 sold nearly half the new cars in the

U.S., their highest share in history. For Toyota, it was business as usual — another year, another step toward world domination.But one

Detroit carmaker can see some bright spots through the blizzard of bad news: General Motors. What’s that, you say? Is this the same GM that lost a net $10 billion in 2005, and $2 billion more last year? Yep, that’s them.Discuss:  Can GM stay competitive with the import brands?From the way they design and build cars, to the way they run their global business, GM is making the necessary moves to ensure its survival — maybe even its long-term success. Those moves may also give GM a competitive edge against its hometown rivals Ford and Chrysler.GM has been steadily shoring up its financial house, including a $30-billion primer to start a voluntary employee benefit plan (think of it as a massive IRA), that will leave retirees largely responsible for their own health care. This allows GM to largely shed the benefit burden that was killing it versus foreign rivals, whose governments generously pick up the tab for employees’ medical bills.GM was spending more than $1,500 on employee health care for every car and truck it makes, compared to $300 for

Toyota. It’s hard enough to compete against the Japanese juggernaut without such a back-breaking cost disadvantage.But as ever, the only thing that really sparks and sustains a turnaround is the product. And in recent months, GM has delivered three new models that constitute a serious winning streak (actually five, but I’m counting its largely similar crossover SUVs from Saturn, GMC and Buick as one).First is the Cadillac CTS sport sedan. This past summer I tested the CTS at

Germany’s legendary Nürburgring race and development track, where virtually every top German model goes to earn its wings. Later, on a no-limit stretch of the Autobahn, I zinged the Caddy to a steady 130-mph cruise without it breaking a sweat.The CTS was impressive for more than its gutsy looks and handling. The new interior is genuinely luxurious, miles better than the bargain-bin look of the previous version. The Caddy isn’t perfect, but it is a deserving winner of Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award.Read:  First Drive: 2008 Cadillac CTSGM’s company-wide effort to improve interior design — long a sore spot with critics and consumers — also shows up in the new Chevrolet Malibu. It’s quite simply the best GM family sedan in decades, a straight-up competitor to the Honda Accord. In fact, “the General” had four models among six finalists (four of six!) for the prestigious North American Car/Truck of the Year awards in

Detroit. Guess who came out on top in the car segment — the Chevy Malibu.Read:  First Drive: 2008 Chevrolet MalibuAnother of those finalists was the Buick Enclave, the most deluxe version of GM’s hot new crossover SUVs, including the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook. And where Buick has long struggled to draw new buyers — especially folks who don’t remember the Eisenhower years — fully 45 percent of Enclave buyers are new to GM.Let’s not forget the redesigned Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, GM’s bread-and-butter profit machines that have been widely acclaimed. And this isn’t about cheerleading for GM. I’ve long documented the company’s missteps and product misfires. The company still faces enormous challenges, not the least of which is its ever-dwindling market share.Frederick “Fritz” Henderson, GM’s chief financial officer, told me at the company’s annual holiday party in

New York that GM is pleased with its recent run. But the company isn’t ready to start popping the champagne at its downtown

Detroit headquarters. “Job not done,”

Henderson tersely summed up. “Job part done.”As

Henderson noted, huge critical acclaim and huge sales aren’t the same thing. Let’s not forget that 2007’s North American Car of the Year, the Saturn Aura, has been a sales disappointment so far. And there are plenty of Lexus, BMW and Mercedes owners who won’t look twice at a Cadillac, no matter how good it is.Same for the

Malibu. When you’ve owned a half-dozen Accords or Toyota Camrys, and you’re perfectly satisfied, it’s that much harder for Chevy to convince you to give them a look. GM is still struggling to shed the baggage they piled up for decades, and its reputation will take years of great cars to rebuild.Watch Video:  2008 Chevrolet MalibuFor GM’s public image, the real make-or-break project may be the Chevy Volt, the plug-in hybrid that it plans to bring to market after 2011. That car has raised the hopes of every greenie and anti-GM meanie on the planet. If GM can make the technology work, it could steal the environmental spotlight from

Toyota — and convince even non-hybrid buyers that the General is on the move.

Lawrence Ulrich lives in

Brooklyn and writes about cars. His reviews and features appear regularly in The New York Times, Popular Science, Men’s Vogue and Travel + Leisure Golf.

Chevrolet Unveils Two Unique ‘08 Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars

Thursday, December 27th, 2007


Chevrolet Unveils Two Unique ‘08 Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars

Two-time Indy 500 Champion Emerson Fittipaldi to Drive Corvette Z06 E85 Concept Pace Car at 92nd Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS – Known for their charismatic designs and superior performance, the pack-leading pace cars share a special place in Indianapolis 500 lore. History will be made at the 2008 Indianapolis 500 when a pair of distinctive yet highly differentiated Corvette models will serve as the official pace cars – one highlighting Chevrolet’s commitment to fuel solutions and the other marking 30 years of Corvette’s pace car heritage.

Chevrolet and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials gathered at the Indianapolis Auto Show to make the historic announcement.

One of the pace cars is a customized Corvette Z06 E85 concept that runs on E85 ethanol fuel, a domestically produced alternative fuel similar to the E100 fuel that powers all of the racecars in the IndyCar Series. It will be driven during the race’s pace lap by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Emerson Fittipaldi.

The other official pace car is a black-and-silver commemorative edition that marks the 30th anniversary of the celebrated 1978 pace car – the first Corvette to pace the field at the Indianapolis 500. Chevrolet will produce a total of 500 pace car replicas in both coupe and convertible form, each signed personally by Fittipaldi at the Corvette’s Bowling Green, Ky., assembly plant.

“Although not a production FlexFuel vehicle, the Corvette Z06 E85 concept pace car is a high-performance example of Chevrolet’s gas-friendly to gas-free initiative, demonstrating viable fuel solutions,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. “As an ethanol refiner in his native Brazil, Emerson Fittipaldi is the fitting Chevrolet champion to help support GM’s efforts with E85 and celebrate 30 years of the Corvette pacing the Indianapolis 500.”

The 92nd Indianapolis 500 takes place on Sunday, May 25, 2008. It will be the Corvette’s 10th appearance as the official pace car – a record unmatched by any other vehicle.

“It’s only fitting that Corvette will be the first car to earn the distinction of having two models pace the Indianapolis 500 in the same year,” said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer. “Chevrolet and Corvette are a vital part of the rich history of ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ and we’re honored to have a great champion of the race and of alternative fuels, Emerson Fittipaldi, as this year’s pace car driver.”

Corvette Z06 E85 concept
The Corvette Z06 E85 concept pace car is based on the production Z06 – already one of the fastest and most powerful cars on the market – and blends its performance with the high-octane, renewable alternative fuel that is derived from a variety of crops grown across the United States.

E85 is blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Its benefits include reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and a reduced dependence on petroleum. GM is the leader in E85 production models, with more than 2.5 million E85-capable cars, trucks and SUVs on the road – with more on the way. Chevrolet offers seven E85-capable models in 2008.

Apart from the fuel system and powertrain controller revisions required to run E85, the Z06 concept pace car is mechanically stock. It is distinguished by a unique Gold Rush Green color-shifting paint scheme that changes between hues of green and gold when viewed from different angles and in different light. A subtle checkered flag pattern also is part of the paint scheme. Safety equipment and strobe lights are the only other equipment added to the car.

Emerson Fittipaldi: ambassador of racing and ethanol
After winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1989 and 1993 while driving for Chevrolet – and spending 30 years in his native Brazil as a refiner of ethanol – Emerson Fittipaldi is the perfect ambassador to lead the Indianapolis 500 in an E85-powered Corvette Z06.

“Most of the vehicles in Brazil are powered by ethanol produced from crops grown in the country, so I understand how a domestically produced renewable fuel can help the energy solutions of a nation,” Fittipaldi said. “And the E85-powered Z06 concept pace car proves economic and environmental consciousness can be fun and exhilarating. I can’t wait to get it on the racetrack.”

Fittipaldi, whose personal cars include a Corvette Z06 and a Camaro awarded after winning the 1993 Indianapolis 500, resides in both Florida and Brazil. He has interests in several Brazilian ethanol companies and is an ardent champion of ethanol as a viable alternative to gasoline.

Brazil – the fifth-largest country in the world – is a global leader in ethanol usage in automobiles. Approximately 70 percent of Brazilian new cars are equipped with FlexFuel systems that allow the use of a gasoline/ethanol mix or pure ethanol. Ethanol production has grown tremendously during the last three decades and has allowed the country to practically wean itself completely from imported oil.

30th Anniversary commemorative edition
Commemorating one of the most recognizable Indianapolis 500 pace cars, the Corvette 30th Anniversary Pace Car features a black exterior with silver graphics that honors the 1978 model – the production replicas of which became instant collectibles and continue to stand as an iconic symbol of Corvette’s heritage at the front of the Indy field.

In addition to the exterior color scheme, the anniversary models are equipped with a special, two-tone titanium-color interior, with the Indianapolis 500 logo embroidered on the seats. Coupe and convertible models are available. Each replica will be personally signed and numbered by Emerson Fittipaldi.

Both the coupe and convertible come equipped with Corvette’s 3LT option package, Z51 performance package and dual-mode exhaust. Additional features include:

  • Choice of six-speed manual or six-speed paddle-shift automatic transmissions
  • LS3 small block V8 with 436 hp
  • New-for-2008 forged chrome five-spoke aluminum wheels
  • Corvette Z06 rear spoiler
  • Silver checkered flag graphics
  • Indy 500 logo fender badges

More information on pricing and availability will be announced a later date.

Corvette at Indy
The 2008 edition of the Indianapolis 500 represents Corvette’s 10th time as the official pace car – and a record fifth-consecutive year – and Chevrolet’s 19th time as the manufacturer selected to lead the field. Corvette’s pace years and details include:

  • 1978 – Driven by 1960 race winner Jim Rathmann; Chevrolet produced 6,502 production replicas
  • 1986 – Driven by famed pilot Chuck Yeager; all 7,315 production convertibles were considered pace car convertibles and included official graphics (to be installed at the owner’s discretion)
  • 1995 – Driven by then Chevrolet General Manager Jim Perkins; 527 production replicas produced
  • 1998 – Driven by 1963 race winner Parnelli Jones when an injury prevented golfer Greg Norman from performing the duty; 1,158 production replicas produced
  • 2002 – Driven by actor Jim Caviezel; no production replicas produced but graphics were available through SPO – approximately 300 sets sold
  • 2004 – Driven by actor Morgan Freeman; no production replicas produced
  • 2005 – Driven by General Colin Powell; no production replicas produced
  • 2006 – Driven by cycling champion Lance Armstrong; first Corvette Z06 pace car; no production replicas produced
  • 2007 – Driven by actor Patrick Dempsey; 500 production replicas – all convertibles
  • 2008 – Driven by Emerson Fittipaldi; 500 production replicas – coupes and convertibles

The Indianapolis 500 is the largest single-day spectator sporting event and the most prestigious auto race in the world. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” has been run every year since 1911 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, except for the periods during the United States’ participation in world wars in 1917-18 and 1942-45. The winner of the 92nd Indianapolis 500 will earn racing immortality, a spot on the famed Borg-Warner Trophy and a record winner’s purse of at least $2.5 million

Source: General Motors

Production Chevrolet Volt Won’t Look Like Concept

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

volt6.JPGvolt5.JPGvolt4.JPGvolt3.JPGChevrolet Volt 2Chevrolet Volt 

The production version of the Chevrolet Volt won’t look like the popular concept by the same name, General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said during a dinner event with members of the press yesterday evening.GM had hoped to keep the Volt’s exterior true to the concept, but wind tunnel tests proved the design was anything but aerodynamic — an essential characteristic for a vehicle that focus on efficiency.Lutz characterized the wind tunnel tests as a “cruel disappointment.” He joked engineers could have probably “put it in the wind tunnel backwards” and got less wind resistance.Nonetheless, Lutz says GM is 100 percent behind bringing the electric Volt to market in the next few years. He said GM was first “90 percent committed” to the project, but its confidence has risen to new heights.What makes the Volt different from most hybrids is its gas motor is only used to charge the batteries — it never drives the wheels directly.The concept promised a range of 640 miles with charged batteries and a full tank of gas. It also touted a range of 40 miles on batteries alone. Lutz said prototypes in early 2008 might be able to exceed that figure, running 45 miles on battery power. He made no mention of progress on overall range or fuel efficiency. The goal is roughly 100 mpg, GM has said.Expected to go on sale in late 2010. The Volt could sell for as little as $30,000, according to previous reports. Rumors suggest GM plans to sell as many as 60,000 units in the first year of production.


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