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2015 Chevrolet Cruze refresh adds Malibu's face and upgraded tech PDF Print E-mail

Styling, OnStar 4G LTE, Siri Updates for 2015 Chevy Cruze

Chevy's best-selling car is smarter looking, offers greater connectivity

NEW YORK – Chevrolet announced today the 2015 Cruze will debut at the New York International Auto Show with revised exterior styling, enhanced interior convenience and greater connectivity – including new Text Message Alerts, Apple Siri integration and OnStar 4G LTE with available Wi-Fi hotspot.

The new exterior styling cues are inspired by the all-new Impala and restyled 2014 Malibu, while more intuitive controls update the interior. New voice-controlled features enhance safety when responding to text messages in the vehicle.

"We've simply made a great, versatile car even better," said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet director of passenger car and crossover marketing. "Chevrolet continues to design, build and sell the most compelling small cars in its history and the 2015 Cruze offers more of the features, connectivity and efficiency that are important to today's customers."

The Cruze's facelift for 2015 refreshes the appearance for LS, LT, RS and LTZ models. A prominent dual-port front fascia takes styling cues from Impala and Malibu, contributing a more cohesive look across Chevrolet's sedan range – including LED daytime running lamps on LT and LTZ trims. They complement the Cruze's swept-back headlamps, for a sportier presence. Several new exterior and interior colors will also be offered for 2015.

Updates on the interior enhance convenience:
• Revised cupholders make it easier to insert and remove cups
• Trunk release relocated to the center console
• Door lock switches relocated from the center console to the front doors.

In addition to LS, LT, RS and LTZ models, the 2015 Cruze lineup includes Cruze Eco (EPA-rated 42 mpg highway) and Cruze Diesel (EPA 46 mpg highway), the most efficient non-hybrid passenger car in America. That's about 10 percent greater efficiency than the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The Cruze also delivers more horsepower (151 hp) and torque (264 lb-ft), than the Jetta TDI (140 hp / 236 lb-ft). Cruze Diesel's driving range is up to 717 miles per tank.

Cruze offers more standard safety features than any other car in its class, including 2014 models of the Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla. Cruze has 10 standard air bags – including side-impact and knee air bags for front passengers – and offers side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, rear park assist and a rearview camera.

"Cruze remains a strong entry in the compact segment, with features that continue to bring new customers to Chevrolet," said Majoros. "Along with Spark, Spark EV, Sonic and Volt, Chevy's lineup of efficient, technologically advanced small cars is one of the industry's most compelling."

A mobile hub with greater connectivity
The enhanced connectivity and convenience features for the 2015 Cruze include a new Text Message Alerts feature for smartphone users with Bluetooth profile (M.A.P.), which reads incoming texts through the vehicle's speakers, and Siri Eyes Free for iPhone iOS 6 and iOS 7 users to enhance connectivity and convenience. Each enables voice-controlled connectivity, to help keep phones in pockets and hands on the wheel.

Additional standard and available features include:
• Seven-inch-diagonal color touch screen and additional USB ports
• Chevrolet connected by OnStar 4G LTE with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot
• Next-generation OnStar and MyLink enhancements with natural language voice recognition
• Available Chevrolet AppShop (later availability)
• Available navigation.

OnStar 4G LTE with available Wi-Fi hotspot provides a mobile hub for drivers and passengers with easy access to apps and services that require a high-speed data connection. 4G LTE is the most current and fastest mobile data network – 10 times faster than 3G. And with OnStar, it offers stronger, broader coverage than smartphones on the same network and it's easy to use: If the vehicle is on, the connection is on, allowing passengers to connect personal devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, to high-speed wireless Internet. Each vehicle can accommodate seven devices at one time.

The Chevrolet AppShop allows owners to view all available apps and download them directly to the vehicle, then organize, update or delete them as needed. Available apps connect drivers to vehicle data, music, news, weather, travel information and more.

Small-car strategy producing big-time results
Cruze is the cornerstone of Chevrolet's North American small-car lineup, which is attracting a greater share of the market and more young, first-time customers to Chevy showrooms. Cruze is also Chevrolet's best-selling car around the world, with more than 2.5 million sold globally since its launch in mid-2010.

"These new customers are discovering the fun, value and durability Chevy stands for," said Paul Edwards, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet Marketing. "In fact, Chevrolet is second among buyers under 25, as the brand continues to grow share in the small-car segments."

Collectively the lineup in America – including Spark, Spark EV, Sonic, Cruze and Volt – saw a 15.4-percent increase in overall sales in the first quarter of 2014. Since Cruze's launch about four years ago, and the additions of the Spark and Sonic, Chevrolet's overall share of the small-, compact- and mini-car segments has more than tripled – up 221 percent – with nearly half of the customers new to Chevrolet.

"The diversity of Chevrolet's small-car lineups, from the efficiency of the Cruze clean diesel and the pure electric performance of the Spark EV, offers a driving solution for everyone," said Edwards. "With Cruze sales up 17 percent in the first quarter of 2014, the updated styling and greater connectivity of the 2015 Cruze will accelerate Chevy's small-car momentum when it goes on sale this fall."

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.9 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com

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2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible is the track car for sun worshippers PDF Print E-mail

Drop-top Supercar: 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible

NEW YORK – Chevrolet today introduced one of the most capable drop-tops on the market: the 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible. With at least 625 horsepower, and 635 pound-feet of torque, the Z06 is also the most powerful convertible ever produced by Chevrolet.

"The Z06 Convertible is a world-class supercar in every sense," said Mark Reuss, executive vice president, Global Product Development. "Only a handful of convertibles in the world bring more than 600 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Even fewer can match the advanced technologies, aerodynamic design, and visceral driving experience of the Z06 Convertible."

This is the first Z06 Convertible offered from the factory since 1963 when the Z06 option package was introduced for endurance racing. Records show only 199 Corvette orders with a Z06 package that year, including one convertible.

Recent technological advancements enable the building of a modern Z06 Convertible, said Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter

"Until recently it was not possible to create a lightweight, open-roof structure strong enough to cope with the braking, cornering, and acceleration of Corvette's top performance models," Juechter said. "The frame for the Z06 convertible leverages advancements in computer-aided engineering, metallurgy, and manufacturing techniques – many of which were not available just five years ago."

The aluminum structure is 20 percent stiffer than the previous, fixed-roof Z06. As there are no structural reinforcements needed for the Z06 Convertible, its curb weight is nearly identical to the Z06 Coupe. They also share the same chassis tuning, powertrain output, driver technologies and equipment options – including the Z07 Performance Package, which adds Brembo carbon-ceramic matrix brakes, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires and adjustable front- and rear-aerodynamic components.

"The most impressive aspect of the Z06 Convertible may be its performance bandwidth," said Juechter. "Very few cars on the market can match its combination of extreme, supercar levels of performance; the flexibility for daily driving and long-distance commuting; and the 360-degree, open-air driving experience only true convertibles can offer."

All-aluminum, high-tech foundation
The Corvette Z06 Convertible represents the culmination of more than four years developing an all-new, all-aluminum structure for the seventh generation Corvette. That structure, built at General Motors' Bowling Green Assembly plant, was designed to the specifications of the Corvette Stingray, Corvette Z06 and the Corvette Racing C7.R.

"We wanted a frame that was lighter than the steel frame of the previous Corvette, yet strong enough for both a 600-horsepower convertible and a 24-hour endurance racer," said Ed Moss, engineering group manager for Corvette structures. "That would not have been possible without improvements in computer-aided engineering software, which allowed us to model more than 17,000 frame iterations, with each iteration improving strength and stiffness, while reducing mass."

The team used nearly 186,000 computational hours of modeling to develop the frame. It features main rails composed of five customized aluminum segments, including aluminum extrusions at each end, a center main rail section and hollow-cast nodes at the suspension interface points. The gauge of each segment varies in thickness from 2mm to 11mm, tailored – along with the shape – to meet the strength and stiffness requirements for each frame section with minimal weight.

These components are assembled using many advanced manufacturing processes, including:
• 439 spot-welds using a GM-patented process that uses a unique electrode designed specifically for aluminum
• 188 Flowdrill-machined fasteners installed by a high-speed drill that extrudes the frame material to create a strong, integral collar tapped for bolt-on fasteners
• 113 feet of structural adhesives used in conjunction with welding and fasteners to increase overall frame stiffness
• 37 feet of laser welds, which join frame sections via a precise beam of high energy that minimizes heat beyond the weld area for improved structural accuracy.
The only structural differences between the Z06 Coupe and Convertible are provisions for mounting the power-folding top, and repositioned safety-belt mounts.

High-performance aerodynamics
Like the structure, only minor design changes distinguish the Z06 Coupe from the Convertible. The Z06 convertible features an electronic top that can be lowered remotely using the car's key fob. The top can also open or clos on the go, at speeds of up to 30 mph (50 km/h).

With the top up, the Z06 Convertible is designed for a refined driving experience. A thick fabric top, offered in four colors along with sound-absorbing padding and a glass rear window, contributes to a quiet cabin and premium appearance.

Behind the seat backs, dual accent panels – either Carbon Flash-painted or available with exposed carbon fiber – enhance the character lines of the tonneau cover. Corvette Stingray's signature "waterfall" design originates in the valley between the nacelles, bringing the exterior color into the interior.

The power-operated tonneau cover necessitated moving the air intakes for the differential and transmission coolers from the rear quarter panels on the Z06 Coupe to the underbody of the Z06 Convertible.

Otherwise, both models share the same, performance-driven aesthetic.

"Practically every exterior panel serves a functional purpose to meet the performance goals of the Z06," said Tom Peters, Corvette design director, "The flared fenders accommodate larger, wider wheels and tires for more grip. The larger vents provide more cooling air to the engine, brakes, transmission and differential for increased track capability. The more aggressive aerodynamic package generates true downforce for more cornering grip and high-speed stability."

Both Z06 models are fitted with Michelin tires (Pilot Super Sport tires for the Z06; Sport Cup 2 tires with the Z07 package): P285/30ZR19 front, and 335/25ZR20 rear.

The tires are mounted on lightweight, spin-cast aluminum wheels (19 x 10 inches in front and 20 x 12 inches in the rear). Their open, ultralight design showcases the massive Brembo brakes, which contribute to the design:
• The Z06 features two-piece steel rotors, measuring 14.6 x 1.3-inch (371 x 33 mm) front and 14.4 x 1-inch (365 x 25 mm) rear, with aluminum six-piston and four-piston fixed calipers, respectively
• The Z07 package adds larger, 15.5 x 1.4-inch (394 x 36 mm) front and 15.3 x 1.3-inch (388 x 33 mm) carbon ceramic-matrix brake rotors for consistent performance lap after lap. They collectively save 23 pounds over the standard Z06 rotors.

Both Z06 coupe and convertible will be available with one of three, increasing levels of aerodynamic downforce:
• The standard Z06 features a front splitter, spats around the front wheel openings, a unique carbon-fiber hood with a larger vent, and rear spoiler
• An available carbon-fiber aero package delivers aerodynamic downforce four times greater than the standard Z06. It adds a carbon fiber front splitter with aviation-style winglets, carbon fiber rocker panels, and a larger rear spoiler with a fixed wickerbill – a small, vertical tab at the edge of the spoiler that significantly increases downforce. The package is available in black or a visible carbon-fiber finish
• The available Z07 package adds larger winglets to the front splitter, along with an adjustable, see-through center section on the rear spoiler enabling customers to tailor the aerodynamics to their preference.

Compared to the Corvette Stingray, the Corvette Z06 fenders are 2.2 inches (56 mm) wider at the front, and 3.15 inches (80 mm) at the rear. Those extensions give the Corvette Z06 a wider, lower appearance further emphasized by a unique rear fascia. It incorporates the same taillamp assemblies as the Stingray, but on the Z06 the taillamps are pushed approximately three inches farther apart, toward to edges of the body.

The exterior design also reflects the increased cooling required for the new Corvette Z06. For example, the mesh pattern on the front fascia was designed to deliver the most possible airflow to the supercharger's intercooler heat exchanger, so much that the mesh grill directs more air into the engine bay than if the grille was removed.

The unique grille also features dedicated brake-cooling intakes and wider grille outlets on the bottom serve as air diffusers. A larger hood vent allows air driven through the grille to exit through the hood rather than being forced under the car, which could create lift.

Standard front and rear brake-cooling ducts, including Z06-signature rear ducts integrated in front of the rear fender openings, are also part of the functional design changes.

The Z06 benefits from interior details designed for high-performance driving, first introduced on the Stingray, including a steel-reinforced grab bar on the center console for the passenger and soft-touch materials on the edge of the console, where the driver naturally braces during high-load cornering.

Like the Stingray, the Z06 comes with two seating choices: a GT seat, for all-around comfort, and a Competition Sport seat with more aggressive side bolstering, which provides greater support on the track. A magnesium frame structure for both seats provides greater rigidity and strength compared with steel frames.

Unprecedented attention to detail and build quality complements the Corvette Z06's performance. All models feature a fully wrapped interior, with every surface covered by premium, soft-touch materials. Available materials, depending on the trim level, include Napa leather, aluminum, carbon fiber and micro-suede.

The interior also features a flat-bottom steering wheel with a carbon fiber center spoke. The Z06 comes in five interior colors, including two that are unique to Z06 – blue and dark gray.

Supercharged, efficient performance
The heart of the 2015 Corvette Z06 is the all-new LT4 6.2L supercharged V-8 engine, expected to deliver at least 625 horsepower (466 kW) and 635 lb-ft of torque (861 Nm). To balance performance and efficiency, the LT4 leverages the same trio of advanced technologies introduced on the Corvette Stingray: Direct injection, Active Fuel Management, or cylinder deactivation, and continuously variable valve timing.

These technologies – combined with the fuel-efficient multi-speed transmissions, aerodynamic design and lightweight construction – help make the new Z06 surprisingly fuel efficient.

"The supercharged LT4 engine delivers the greatest balance of performance and efficiency ever in the Corvette," said John Rydzewski, assistant chief engineer for Small-Block engines. "It is one of the world's only supercharged engines to incorporate cylinder deactivation technology, enabling it to cruise efficiently on the highway with reduced fuel consumption, but offer more than 600 horsepower whenever the driver calls up its tremendous power reserve."

The supercharged LT4 comes with a standard seven-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Match, or an all-new 8L90 eight-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission designed to enhance performance and efficiency. The seven-speed manual incorporates rev-matching technology for upshifts and downshifts. A new dual-mass flywheel and dual-disc clutch deliver greater shift quality and feel through lower inertia.

The eight-speed automatic is tuned for world-class shift-response times. Smaller steps between gears keep the LT4 within the sweet spot of the rpm band, making the most of the output of the supercharged engine for exhilarating performance and greater efficiency.

"There's no trade-off in drivability with the new 8L90 eight-speed automatic transmission – it was designed to deliver performance on par with dual-clutch designs, but without sacrificing refinement," said Bill Goodrich, assistant chief engineer for eight-speed automatic transmissions. "It is also the highest-capacity automatic transmission ever offered in a Chevrolet car."

Featuring four gearsets and five clutches, creative packaging enables the GM-developed eight-speed automatic to fit the same space as the six-speed automatic used in the Corvette Stingray. Extensive use of aluminum and magnesium make it more than eight pounds (4 kg) lighter than the six-speed. Along with design features that reduce friction, the 8L90 is expected to contribute up to 5-percent greater efficiency, when compared with a six-speed automatic.

Track-proven technologies
The 2015 Corvette Z06 Coupe and Convertible leverage the technologies introduced on the Corvette Stingray, with unique features and calibrations tailored for its capabilities.

"Our mission with the seventh-generation Corvette was to make the performance levels more accessible, enabling drivers to exploit every pound-foot of torque, every 'g' of grip and every pound of downforce," said Juechter. "It's a philosophy we introduced with the 460-horsepower Corvette Stingray – and one that's even more relevant with an estimated 625 horsepower at your beck and call."

The new Z06 retains the SLA-type front and rear suspension design of the Corvette Stingray but uniquely calibrated for the higher performance threshold. The third-generation Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers, adjustable for touring comfort or maximum track performance via the standard Driver Mode Selector, are standard on Z06.

Like the Stingray, the Driver Mode Selector tailors up to a dozen features of the Z06 to suit the driver's environment, including:
• Launch control: Available in Track mode for manual and automatic transmissions, providing maximum off-the-line acceleration
• Traction control: Weather mode tailors traction control and engine torque for driving in inclement conditions
• Performance Traction Management: Available in Track mode and offers five settings of torque reduction and brake intervention for track driving
• Electronic Limited Slip Differential: Adjusts the rate at which the limited slip engages, balancing steering response and stability in different driving conditions with more aggressive performance in Sport and Track modes.

The smart electronic limited-slip differential, or eLSD, is standard. It features a hydraulically actuated clutch capable of infinitely varying clutch engagement. The system enhances all aspects of performance by constantly tailoring the clutch-pack engagement based on a unique algorithm that factors in vehicle speed, steering input and throttle position to improve steering feel, handling balance and traction.

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.9 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design, and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

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Ward's releases 10 Best Interiors list for 2014 PDF Print E-mail

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

While we're still a ways off from the automotive awards season proper, where things like North American Car and Truck of the Year, Motor Trend's Car of the Year and Car and Driver's Ten Best are named, that doesn't mean there aren't trophies being handed out to deserving automakers. Ward's 10 Best Interiors being one of them.

As the name might imply, the magazine focuses on the very best interior treatments in the US market. Whereas some awards purposely exclude extreme, high-dollar offerings, Ward's considers them - the only requirement is that a vehicle has a "new or significantly redesigned interior."

Ward's offered up the list of winners in simple, alphabetical order, and it only seems fair to do the same:

We'll admit to being surprised by a pair of these - the Kia Soul and Jeep Cherokee - while the rest make a fair amount of sense. What's most remarkable is the huge range of prices, from the $24,010 Kia to the $372,800 Rolls-Royce.

What do you think of Ward's findings? Do you agree? Are there any vehicles that should be included in this list? Post your thoughts down in Comments.

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General Motors announces another big ignition-related recall PDF Print E-mail

General Motors CEO Mary Barra finishes her testimony before a Congressional subcommittee last week.

The company is recalling 2.19 million of the same models to fix a problem that allows keys to be removed from ignitions that are not in the "off" position.

Replacement parts for cars at the center of a massive General Motors recall for defective ignition switches began arriving at dealerships across this country just this week. If car owners have already gotten repairs made, they'll need to make an additional trip to their dealerships. On Thursday, General Motors said there's another safety problem plaguing the same vehicles.

The company is recalling 2.19 million of the same Chevrolet Cobalt, HHR, Saturn Ion, Sky, Pontiac G5 and Solstice models to fix a problem that allows keys to be removed from ignitions that are not in the "off" position.

In at least one case, a vehicle rolled away in a parking lot and resulted in a crash and injury, according to GM, which said it is aware of "several hundred" complaints about keys coming out of ignitions. The company will fix the ignition lock cylinders to prevent the problem.

This is a separate problem than the one allowing ignition switches in the same models to inadvertently move from the "run" to "accessory" positions, which can turn off both the engine and airbag systems. That defect has led to 13 deaths, and subsequently, Congressional inquiries into why the company didn't recall affected vehicles sooner.


Earlier Thursday, GM announced it has suspended two senior engineers – with pay – who oversaw changes in ignition-switch designs. Although the company did not name the two, Bloomberg News reported they were Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman.

During Congressional hearings last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) alleged that DeGiorgio had perjured himself while testifying in a lawsuit related to a crash caused by the faulty ignition switch, and expressed disbelief that he had not yet been fired.

"This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened," GM CEO Mary Barra said about the suspensions Thursday. "It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM."

Before removing the key from the ignition, GM says motorists should ensure their cars are in the "park" position or, in manual cars, have the emergency brake on until the cars are repaired. In the case of the ignition-switch recall, GM says drivers must remove all keys from their key rings until the cars are fixed.

Overall, the company has issued six recalls in the past four weeks that affect 4,258,687 cars, including Thursday's recall.

While GM has maintained the cars are safe to operate in that instance, it has also said there's a heightened risk driving on rough roads and other potentially jarring conditions. A US District Court judge in Texas is weighing a request to ground the entire fleet of affected cars until repairs are made. Last Friday, she said she did not yet have enough information to make a decision.

GM announced the ignition-switch recall in February and has twice expanded it to include more vehicles. Overall, the company has issued six recalls in the past four weeks that affect 4,258,687 cars, including Thursday's recall.

The company revised financial figures and said it expects to spend $1.3 billion on recalls in the first quarter of 2013. That's up from previous estimates of $750 million.

"The extent, and cost of GM's ignition-switch recall has grown dramatically in the past few weeks," said Karl Brauer, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book. "Much of this stems from GM's desire to comprehensively address all aspect of the recall, though there's also growing concern over potentially deceptive or criminal behavior that could result in government fines."

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.

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First 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 sells for a cool million PDF Print E-mail

Chevy Corvette Z06 Auction

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick loves buying first-built Chevrolet models for charity. He paid $1 million to buy the first production 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible and $650,000 to get the first 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28.

Hendrick's latest purchase happened at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Palm Beach where he got into a bidding war to pay $1 million to get the first 2015 Corvette Z06. The bidding came quick with the car reaching $100,000 within 3 seconds and hitting $500,000 in about 35 seconds.

The money from the sale was donated to the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Scroll down to watch the video and the bidding war that raised the price so high.

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Chevy Spark gets a new face PDF Print E-mail

Chevrolet Spark Spy Shot

While it may be a tad too small for some buyers, Chevrolet seems to be quite happy with the sales of its Spark microcar. In its first 12 months of sales in the US, the little guy actually posted numbers 35-percent higher than the Bowtie had anticipated. However, the current model was already on sale abroad for a few years before coming to these shores, and it looks like Chevy has a radical change in mind for the next-gen Spark.

These spy shots from Europe indicate that the next Spark is ditching the current model's vertical headlights in favor of a more horizontal design. The egg-like arching shape remains similar, but the slashing arch of the beltline appears to be toned down significantly. While that means rear passengers are getting a better view, that cue is one of the things that sets the Spark's design apart.

Elsewhere, it's hard to spot too many differences. The rear door handles are still hidden in the C-pillar, and any changes to the rear are hard to discern because of the camo. The vertically oriented taillights are staying, though.

These early photos make it seem like the Spark is getting toned down in styling for its new generation, but it's way too early to know for sure. There is no official word on when the new model debuts, but spotting it jives with earlier reports that GM is readying it for the first half of 2015.

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First 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 sells for a cool million PDF Print E-mail

Chevy Corvette Z06 Auction

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick loves buying first-built Chevrolet models for charity. He paid $1 million to buy the first production 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible and $650,000 to get the first 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28.

Hendrick's latest purchase happened at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Palm Beach where he got into a bidding war to pay $1 million to get the first 2015 Corvette Z06. The bidding came quick with the car reaching $100,000 within 3 seconds and hitting $500,000 in about 35 seconds.

The money from the sale was donated to the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Scroll down to watch the video and the bidding war that raised the price so high.

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Chevy Spark gets a new face PDF Print E-mail

Chevrolet Spark Spy Shot

While it may be a tad too small for some buyers, Chevrolet seems to be quite happy with the sales of its Spark microcar. In its first 12 months of sales in the US, the little guy actually posted numbers 35-percent higher than the Bowtie had anticipated. However, the current model was already on sale abroad for a few years before coming to these shores, and it looks like Chevy has a radical change in mind for the next-gen Spark.

These spy shots from Europe indicate that the next Spark is ditching the current model's vertical headlights in favor of a more horizontal design. The egg-like arching shape remains similar, but the slashing arch of the beltline appears to be toned down significantly. While that means rear passengers are getting a better view, that cue is one of the things that sets the Spark's design apart.

Elsewhere, it's hard to spot too many differences. The rear door handles are still hidden in the C-pillar, and any changes to the rear are hard to discern because of the camo. The vertically oriented taillights are staying, though.

These early photos make it seem like the Spark is getting toned down in styling for its new generation, but it's way too early to know for sure. There is no official word on when the new model debuts, but spotting it jives with earlier reports that GM is readying it for the first half of 2015.

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2015 Chevrolet Cruze refresh adds Malibu's face and upgraded tech PDF Print E-mail

Styling, OnStar 4G LTE, Siri Updates for 2015 Chevy Cruze

Chevy's best-selling car is smarter looking, offers greater connectivity

NEW YORK – Chevrolet announced today the 2015 Cruze will debut at the New York International Auto Show with revised exterior styling, enhanced interior convenience and greater connectivity – including new Text Message Alerts, Apple Siri integration and OnStar 4G LTE with available Wi-Fi hotspot.

The new exterior styling cues are inspired by the all-new Impala and restyled 2014 Malibu, while more intuitive controls update the interior. New voice-controlled features enhance safety when responding to text messages in the vehicle.

"We've simply made a great, versatile car even better," said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet director of passenger car and crossover marketing. "Chevrolet continues to design, build and sell the most compelling small cars in its history and the 2015 Cruze offers more of the features, connectivity and efficiency that are important to today's customers."

The Cruze's facelift for 2015 refreshes the appearance for LS, LT, RS and LTZ models. A prominent dual-port front fascia takes styling cues from Impala and Malibu, contributing a more cohesive look across Chevrolet's sedan range – including LED daytime running lamps on LT and LTZ trims. They complement the Cruze's swept-back headlamps, for a sportier presence. Several new exterior and interior colors will also be offered for 2015.

Updates on the interior enhance convenience:
• Revised cupholders make it easier to insert and remove cups
• Trunk release relocated to the center console
• Door lock switches relocated from the center console to the front doors.

In addition to LS, LT, RS and LTZ models, the 2015 Cruze lineup includes Cruze Eco (EPA-rated 42 mpg highway) and Cruze Diesel (EPA 46 mpg highway), the most efficient non-hybrid passenger car in America. That's about 10 percent greater efficiency than the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The Cruze also delivers more horsepower (151 hp) and torque (264 lb-ft), than the Jetta TDI (140 hp / 236 lb-ft). Cruze Diesel's driving range is up to 717 miles per tank.

Cruze offers more standard safety features than any other car in its class, including 2014 models of the Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla. Cruze has 10 standard air bags – including side-impact and knee air bags for front passengers – and offers side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, rear park assist and a rearview camera.

"Cruze remains a strong entry in the compact segment, with features that continue to bring new customers to Chevrolet," said Majoros. "Along with Spark, Spark EV, Sonic and Volt, Chevy's lineup of efficient, technologically advanced small cars is one of the industry's most compelling."

A mobile hub with greater connectivity
The enhanced connectivity and convenience features for the 2015 Cruze include a new Text Message Alerts feature for smartphone users with Bluetooth profile (M.A.P.), which reads incoming texts through the vehicle's speakers, and Siri Eyes Free for iPhone iOS 6 and iOS 7 users to enhance connectivity and convenience. Each enables voice-controlled connectivity, to help keep phones in pockets and hands on the wheel.

Additional standard and available features include:
• Seven-inch-diagonal color touch screen and additional USB ports
• Chevrolet connected by OnStar 4G LTE with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot
• Next-generation OnStar and MyLink enhancements with natural language voice recognition
• Available Chevrolet AppShop (later availability)
• Available navigation.

OnStar 4G LTE with available Wi-Fi hotspot provides a mobile hub for drivers and passengers with easy access to apps and services that require a high-speed data connection. 4G LTE is the most current and fastest mobile data network – 10 times faster than 3G. And with OnStar, it offers stronger, broader coverage than smartphones on the same network and it's easy to use: If the vehicle is on, the connection is on, allowing passengers to connect personal devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, to high-speed wireless Internet. Each vehicle can accommodate seven devices at one time.

The Chevrolet AppShop allows owners to view all available apps and download them directly to the vehicle, then organize, update or delete them as needed. Available apps connect drivers to vehicle data, music, news, weather, travel information and more.

Small-car strategy producing big-time results
Cruze is the cornerstone of Chevrolet's North American small-car lineup, which is attracting a greater share of the market and more young, first-time customers to Chevy showrooms. Cruze is also Chevrolet's best-selling car around the world, with more than 2.5 million sold globally since its launch in mid-2010.

"These new customers are discovering the fun, value and durability Chevy stands for," said Paul Edwards, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet Marketing. "In fact, Chevrolet is second among buyers under 25, as the brand continues to grow share in the small-car segments."

Collectively the lineup in America – including Spark, Spark EV, Sonic, Cruze and Volt – saw a 15.4-percent increase in overall sales in the first quarter of 2014. Since Cruze's launch about four years ago, and the additions of the Spark and Sonic, Chevrolet's overall share of the small-, compact- and mini-car segments has more than tripled – up 221 percent – with nearly half of the customers new to Chevrolet.

"The diversity of Chevrolet's small-car lineups, from the efficiency of the Cruze clean diesel and the pure electric performance of the Spark EV, offers a driving solution for everyone," said Edwards. "With Cruze sales up 17 percent in the first quarter of 2014, the updated styling and greater connectivity of the 2015 Cruze will accelerate Chevy's small-car momentum when it goes on sale this fall."

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.9 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com

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