It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for September 7, 2012. A hybrid Land Rover Range Rover, Mitsubishi's PHEV SUV, the Saab diaspora, a new Volkswagen Golf, and the ALMS/Grand Am merger - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
We've already covered the significant weight loss that has made the upcoming edition of the Land Rover Range Rover roughly 700 lbs lighter than the previous model. This week, it was revealed that the new Range Rover will offer a diesel / electric hybrid drivetrain, making it the only vehicle in its class to feature this technology. A 3.0-liter, turbocharged V-6 diesel engine pairs with a single electric motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission to provide 333 horsepower. American buyers will have to wait and see whether this intriguing engine combo will eventually hit U.S. shores.
02. Mitsubishi To Bring Plug-In Hybrid Outlander SUV To Paris Motor Show
Another hybrid SUV also made headlines over the course of the past seven days - this time from ailing automaker Mitsubishi. The Paris Motor Show will see the introduction of the plug-in hybrid version of the brand's current Mitsubishi Outlander mid-size sport-utility vehicle. Initially pegged for Japan-only sales, the Outlander PHEV might eventually be tapped as one of the saviors of the company in the United States, where it has halved its lineup for 2013 due to flagging sales. The Outlander PHEV will be able to operate in EV mode on battery power alone, and it will also offer series and parallel hybrid modes which are tuned to provide additional power or better fuel mileage. The vehicle will feature four-wheel drive, and can travel 34 miles on single battery charge in EV mode.
03. Where Did All The Saab Owners Go?
Polk has released the results of a study looking at what car companies Saab owners have flocked to since the demise of the Swedish brand. Using something called the 'Polk Disposal Loyalty Methodology,' it was determined that most owners picked Honda, Volkswagen, and Audi products as their Saab replacements. Close behind were Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, and BMW. Surprisingly, fellow Swedes Volvo picked up only 4.2 percent of former Saab owners - good enough for fifth last. The company that profited the least from the egress was Buick, which saw just 3.4 percent trade in their 9-3's and 9-5's for the premium domestic automaker's products.
04. Next-Generation Volkswagen Golf Brings Few Surprises
Although the seventh generation of the popular Volkswagen Golf hatchback will be available for sale across Europe in just a few short months, it will be a year before American drivers will get a chance to sample the redesigned vehicle. The compact Golf looks very similar to the current edition, offering a somewhat stretched and evolutionary take on the 2012 model. Larger than the Golf it replaces, the new Volkswagen offers better passenger room and a bigger trunk, as well as the availability of several turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engines. A diesel is also likely to imported. Expect entry-level Golfs to gain a bit in the horsepower department, and fuel efficiency is also expected to improve all around once U.S. testing has been completed.
05. ALMS and Grand Am Merge
Two of the most popular sports car racing series in the United States will be pooling their resources. The American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series will combine by the year 2014, in effect creating a hybrid championship that will merge classes from each of the two distinct entities and create a stronger future for sports car competition in America. After a litany of denials, the plan to go ahead as partners instead of rivals was confirmed on September 5, with Grand-Am taking over the role of the sanctioning body. Members of both managerial and executive staffs will assume new positions in the combined series, which hopes to restore some of the low numbers associated with certain vehicles classes over the past few years.