Chrysler Fiat Volkswagen

Auto Union to rule the world?

Auto Union logo

Suddenly last week’s story that the Volkswagen Group could rebrand itself as Auto Union now makes a lot more sense. Automotive News reports Volkswagen is considering a takeover of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). It’s a move that’s been largely interpreted as means for Ferdinand Piech to achieve his aim of making the Volkswagen Group the world’s largest automaker.

If the Volkswagen Group did add FCA to its portfolio of automotive brands that would take it well beyond the reach of Toyota and General Motors as the highest selling car maker on the planet. Volkswagen Group could claim 14 million annual sales, around four million ahead of Toyota and GM.

German publication Manager Magazin first broke the news that representatives from the Volkswagen Group and FCA boards have met to discuss Volkswagen’s buy-in, although both companies deny any discussions have taken place. It’s thought that Piech has approached the Agnelli-Elkann family to acquire its 30% stake in FCA.

Previously, Volkswagen sources have coveted the Alfa Romeo brand. Under the watch of Sergio Marchionne and through the FCA agreement Alfa is enjoying a resurgence. On the back of the 4C the brand has recently relaunched in the United States after an absence of almost 20 years.

Other major brands under the Fiat-Chrysler umbrella include Dodge, Ferrari, Jeep, Lancia and Maserati. The addition of Jeep to the Volkswagen Group would help it quench the world’s insatiable thirst for SUVs.

Clearly, there’s a long way to go for this deal to take place, if it ever will. It’s expected the 30% share in FCA would be valued between US$5–6 billion. As it happens Volkswagen Group has a lazy US$24–25 billion in cash reserves up its sleeve.

If this VW-Fiat-Chrysler deal goes ahead then rebranding the entire group as Auto Union makes absolute sense. The Auto Union changes may still go ahead irrespective of the FCA deal. Taking a big picture view, though, Auto Union becoming known as the world’s largest car maker sits perfectly with Piech’s grand plan.

[Source: Automotive News | Pic: Raoul Pop]

Alfa Romeo Audi BMW Bugatti Chevrolet Citroen Dodge Ferrari Fiat Gumpert Honda Hyundai Jaguar Kia Lamborghini Lexus Motor Shows

2014 Geneva Motor Show in pictures – part 1

2014 Geneva Motor Show

Like us you probably haven’t had a chance to duck over to Europe to check out the Geneva Motor Show. So here’s the first of a two part series bringing you a selection of the cars on show. Here we start with Alfa Romeo and go through to Lexus.

Audi Bathurst 12 Hour Ferrari Fiat Ford Lamborghini McLaren Mercedes-Benz Nissan Porsche

2014 Bathurst 12 Hour photo gallery: Qualifying

2014 Bathurst 12 Hour

Here’s your pick of photos from today’s qualifying for the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour race. We start with this great image above of the MARC Focus GTC. What the hell is a Focus GTC you ask?

There’s three of them entered in the race and they’re a purpose-built creations powered by a 500hp 5.0 litre V8 sending power to the rear wheels. Weighing in at 1250kg their best lap times during quali have been in the 2:15 bracket. You can learn more about them HERE and HERE.

Of course, we’ve got more for you than Frankenstein Focuses, so check ’em all out after the break.

[Pics: Joel Strickland Photographics]

Audi Bathurst 12 Hour Ferrari Fiat Ford Lamborghini Lotus McLaren Mercedes-Benz Nissan Porsche Subaru

2014 Bathurst 12 Hour photo gallery: Friday practice

2014 Bathurst 12 Hour

Defending champions Erebus Motorsport have signaled their intentions with the #1 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 setting the fastest time in practice at the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour today. With Maro Engel behind the wheel his time of 2:04.4533 established a new lap record for a tintop car around Mount Panorama.

Conditions were hot late in the afternoon but as Practice 4 drew to a close the temperature dropped a few degrees and with more rubber on the resurfaced circuit times began to tumble. Engel posted his time with 10 minutes remaining in Practice 4. Around the same time the second Erebus car also bettered the old record when the #63 SLS AMG GT3 lapped in 2:05.3339.

Earlier in the day the Class B #23 Lamborghini Gallardo showed a clean pair of heels with David Russell setting a new GT benchmark of 2:05.9397. Of course, Russell’s record didn’t last the day and with more hot weather forecast for the rest of the weekend we expect tomorrow morning’s open qualifying session could yet see the fastest time of the day, traffic permitting.

There will be two open quali sessions tomorrow with a final 15 minute session immediately after Quali 2 open to Class A cars only.

After the break you can see a gallery of images from today and yesterday’s pre-race preparations with thanks to Joel Strickland Photographics. Use the links below to check out the official lap times from all four practice sessions.

2014 Bathurst 12 Hour – Friday practice lap times
Practice 1 | Practice 2 | Practice 3 | Practice 4

[Pics: Joel Strickland Photographics]

Audi Bathurst 12 Hour BMW Ferrari Fiat Ford Lamborghini Lotus McLaren Mercedes-Benz Porsche Seat Subaru

Best ever field to take on 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour

2014 Bathurst 12 hour

Just a a couple of days from this weekend’s 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour race now is a good time to cast an eye over the official entry list. And what an entry list it is too!

There’s six classes in all, with the overall race winner expected to come from the 14-strong field of Class A (GT3 Outright) competitors. The #1 Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 is back to defend its 2013 crown. Only Bernd Schneider returns for driving duties with Erebus, he will be joined by Maro Engel and Nico Bastian. Erebus will run a second SLS AMG GT3 (#63) to be crewed by Will Davison, Jack LeBrocq and Greg Crick.

Audi will have four representatives in Class A headlined by the #3 Phoenix Racing entry of Rahel Frey, René Rast and Laurens Vanthoor. Former winner Christopher Mies joins Marc Cini in his #9 R8 LMS Ultra along with Mark Eddy. The #5 Audi will be shared among a strong local crew of Jason Bright, Warren Luff, Rod Salmon and Liam Talbot. United Autosport rounds out Audi’s GT3 entrants in the #25 car driven by Marcus Winkelhock, Mark Patterson and Eric Lux.

Ferrari will be represented for the third year in a row by the #33 Clearwater Racing entry of Mok Weng Sun, Craig Baird and Matt Griffin. They’ve finished the race in third (2012) and second (2013) so will be hoping for another year of progression up the podium. The #88 Maranello Motorsport 458 GT3 will again attract attention with this year’s line up consisting of Craig Lowndes, John Bowe, Mika Salo and Peter Edwards.

Tony Quinn’s diversity in exotic racing ownership has extended to a McLaren 12C GT3 (#37) and he’ll be making that car’s debut in the Bathurst 12 hour with his son Klark and Andrew Kirkaldy.

Also making its B12hr debut is the #32 Nismo-backed Nissan GTR to be driven by Rick Kelly, Katsumasa Cyio, Alex Buncombe and Wolfgang Reip.

Class B (GT3) is dominated by Porsche 911s, with 10 of the 14 entries coming from Stuttgart. These cars are older-spec GT3 machines and two Audi R8s and a pair of Lamborghini Gallardos round out the category.

The stand out crew here is the #12 McElrea Racing 997 GT3 Cup (2012) driven by well-established racers Patrick Long, Alex Davison and David Calvert-Jones. A touch of Hollywood is represented by Eric Bana who is sharing the #99 Gallardo with mates Peter Hill and Simon Middleton.

A small field of three forms the Class C (GT4) field, including a Ginetta G50, a Lotus Exige Cup R and a Lotus Exige S.

Class D (Invitational 3001cc+) is headlined by the #7 Dean Herridge Subaru WRX STi, which will face stiff competition from a mixed bag of makes and models including a BMW 335i, a BMW E46 GTR, a BMW E92 M3, a Daytona Coupe and a pair of Seat Leon Supercopas.

Class E (Invitational up to 3000cc) consists of three Fiat Abarths, so if nothing else the Italian manufacturer is assured of a class win! Similarly, Class I (Invitational, non-production) is made of up of three Ford Focus GTCs and will see Grant Denyer at the wheel of the #70 entry.

All going well there’ll be 54 cars on the starting grid on Sunday morning, with the late withdrawal of the Vita4One Racing BMW team being the only downer, in what shapes as the most exciting and competitive Bathurst 12 Hour race yet.

Bathurst 12 Hour Fiat

Fiat Abarth 695 Assetto Corse to race at Bathurst

Fiat Abarth 695 Assetto Corse

This feisty looking Fiat will be racing at the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour. Pretty cool, huh! The car’s full name is the Abarth 695 Assetto Corse. It was first announced in 2011 and Fiat will be competing with a pair of them in the Mount Panorama endurance race.

The Abarths will race in Category F when the action starts on 9 February and will be lead by Luke Youlden and Paul Stokell. The driving roster will be complemented by motoring journos Josh Dowling, Toby Hagon, Paul Gover and Mike Sinclair.

Alan Heaphy from Performance Parts and Engineering will prepare the cars and Fiat says the Italian pocket rockets have already “proven their potential by setting competitive times in the wet during track testing at Phillip Island.”

When first revealed the 695 Assetto Corse boasted 152kW (205hp) thanks to a 1368cm3 turbocharged engine. We’re not sure if Heaphy and his crew will be able to liberate more power, but at least the Assetto Corse should be fairly light. That’s due to its very small size, of course, but also measures such as using Lexan panels to replace the glass windows.

Fiat will reveal the livery of the cars later this year and we’re expecting to see something pretty cool.

Alfa Romeo Aston Martin Audi Bentley BMW Caterham Ferrari Fiat Ford GM Honda Jaguar Lamborghini Lotus Motor Shows

2013 Goodwood FoS in pictures – gallery 1

2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed

It’s taken us a while to prepare, but here’s your first instalment in our 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed image gallery. We’ve got more than 260 images in all which will be spread out over three galleries.

Presented in alphabetical order, this selection of photos starts with Alfa Romeo and ends with Lotus. And doesn’t that Alfa Romeo 4C just look sensational!

Stay tuned over the next two days for the remaining galleries to be posted.

Audi BMW Fiat Hyundai Mazda Mercedes-Benz Nissan Subaru Suzuki Toyota VFACTS reports Volvo

New vehicle sales report – December 2012

FCAI banner

A round of applause for Australia’s car buying public who achieved an all-time record of 1,112,032 sales in 2012. It’s only the fifth time Australians have bought more than 1 million cars in a calendar year. Last year’s results represent an overall increase of 10.3% (103,595 sales) compared with 2011.

FCAI Chief Executive, Tony Weber, explained demand for a wider range of vehicles helped to fuel the record result. “Reduced tariffs as well as changing consumer preferences have contributed to making the dynamic and innovative automotive industry that we have today,” he said.

“The 2012 sales result bears that out. Customer demand has been high and the industry has responded with a wide range of vehicles powered by a range of different fuels.”

When you read the material after the break it seems that almost everyone’s a winner except Holden and Ford. The General returned a 9.1% drop in sales compared with 2011, but managed to hold its position as the country’s second-best seller. Although, Mazda is snapping at its heels. Meanwhile, Ford held station, to a degree, returning a 0.9% drop in sales against 2011.

However, when you consider market-leader Toyota increased its annual sales by 20.1%—coupled with strong improvements from other top 10 selling brands like Honda (+18.9%), Mazda (+17.6%), Nissan (+17.4%), Subaru (+18.2%) and Volkswagen (22.6%)—we can’t imagine there’s too many smiles in the boardrooms at Fisherman’s Bend and Broadmeadows.

Individually, the Mazda3 managed to top the charts for 2012, notching up 44,128 sales. Close behind were Toyota’s HiLux (40,646) and Corolla (38,799).

It used to be that one in every four cars sold in Australia was either a Commodore or a Falcon. Not anymore. The Commodore was the fourth-best selling model (30,532 sales), while the Falcon didn’t even make it into the top 10.

Despite 2012’s record result Tony Weber expects a small drop in annual sales for 2013. “During this election year, and with production now having caught up with back orders, FCAI forecasts a national automotive market of 1,075,000 for 2013,” he said.

Fiat Hyundai Kia Mazda Mitsubishi Nissan Toyota VFACTS reports

New vehicle sales report – November 2012

FCAI banner

Well done Australia, for the first time on record you’ve bought more than 1 million new vehicles before the end of November. The year-to-date figure at the end of last month was 1,016,605, a 10.9% increase compared with the same time frame last year.

As always, string demand for SUVs in the private sector has fuelled the growth, but so too has a resurgence in sales of passenger vehicles.

Meanwhile, Government fleet sales have dropped off by a total of 35.1% compared with November 2011 and by almost 21% since the start of the year.

The top three selling brands in November were Toyota (19,312), Holden (10,354) and Mazda (8,732). While the three best selling models were the Toyota Corolla (4,190), the Mazda3 (3,703) and the Toyota HiLux (3,059).

Congratulations to Mazda, too, who has recorded its best ever annual sales results, with a month still remaining in the year.

Fiat Holden Hyundai Mazda Toyota VFACTS reports

New vehicle sales report – August 2012

FCAI banner

A total of 93,552 new vehicles were sold last month according to official VFACTS data. All states and territories, except Tasmania, registered more sales last month compared to August 2011.

Government sales are down compared to last year, but private and business sales are responsible for the strong August result. As always, SUV sales continue to put smiles on the faces of car dealers around the country. Those kidding themselves they need the freedom offered by SUVs have pushed up sales by 18.6% compared to August last year.

Year-to-date sales number 728,047, which is an increase of 9.4% on last year. Again, SUV sales are leading the way with 30% more sales than this time last year.

The Toyota HiLux continued to lead the sales charts last month, with 4,010 sales. Some distance back was the Mazda3 (2,990) and the Toyota Corolla (2,945).

Toyota continues its dominance overall as well, with 17,996 new buyers in August. Traditional rivals Holden (11,271) and Ford (7,795) claimed the minor placings. Hyundai and Mazda were snapping at the heels of the top three.

We look forward to seeing what impact new comers Infiniti and Opel can make on the sales charts in September.

Alfa Romeo Fiat Holden Hyundai Kia Mercedes-Benz Nissan Renault Subaru Suzuki Toyota VFACTS reports

New vehicle sales report – May 2012

FCAI banner

Last month Australians set a new vehicle sales record for the month of May. A total of 96,069 vehicles were sold, representing a very healthy increase of over 24% (18,668 vehicles) compared to May 2011.

Year-to-date numbers are up almost 9% on 2011 numbers, with a total of 435,288 sales in the first five months of 2012.

Toyota, as usual, claims the major monthly honours of top selling manufacturer (20,443) and highest selling individual model with the HiLux (4,626). Holden (9,017) and Mazda (8,346) fall in behind Toyota on the sales charts.

With such a bumper month it’s no surprise to see so many manufacturers releasing brag sheets. You can read them all after the break.

Alfa Romeo Fiat Mazda

Mazda and Fiat hop into bed together

Alfa Romeo 4C Concept

Good news kids! Mazda and Fiat have been fooling around together behind the bus shelter after school and want to take their relationship to the next level.

In adultspeak that means they have formally signed a non-binding MoU to collaborate on two new roadsters based on the MX-5 platform. Remember, that’s a rear wheel drive platform for those playing at home. The agreement states the new models shall be lightweight, distinctly styled and brand specific. Awesome.

So, what’s with the picture of the Alfa Romeo 4C Concept above? Fiat knows you only look at her because she’s got a bit of cash, she’s smart enough to know she’ll tease more cash from you if she struts a sexy Alfa Romeo in front of you. Much like the 4C, really.

To be clear, then, the two new models will be sold under the Mazda and Alfa Romeo brands. This story just got a little bit cooler, don’t you think. For Mazda they get to work with the style gurus from Italy. While Alfa Romeo gets to work with the efficiency masters from Hiroshima, which is where the current plans suggest the two cars will be built.

Assuming the courtship goes well then the Mazda–Alfa Romeo roadster romance should be consummated by the end of the year.

The official word can be read below and includes comments from the father’s of both families.