Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 Infiniti QX56: Gargantuan Luxury

It's been noted before a few times in this space that the market for mammoth SUVs just ain't what it used to be, thanks to higher gasoline prices and a still wobbly economy.
But that doesn't mean there isn't any market for these vehicles, especially those that offer luxury.
That's the spot that the 2013 Infiniti QX56 targets.
This huge vehicle has three rows of seating capable of carrying up to eight passengers, has a colossal 5.6-liter V-8 engine that makes 400 horsepower and has a remarkably sporty appearance to be such a big machine.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Online Auto Buying Service Launches

A new service has launched in Atlanta that lets buyers of used vehicles shop, select and finance their purchases completely online.
The service, Carvana, is backed by DriveTime, which operates used-vehicle lots. Carvana bills itself as the first–of-its-kind service in the auto industry and says that it offers next-day delivery on purchases.
It plans to focus on mid-market and luxury vehicles and its current inventory features 150 vehicles from model year 2009 and newer.

“We have the ambition and fresh perspective of a start-up paired with the experience, infrastructure and knowledge gained from our prior work and partnership with DriveTime,” Carvana President Ernie Garcia said in a news release. “We are excited to introduce an entirely new concept into the car industry and breathe new life into the car buying experience.”

Carvana aims to serve the metro Atlanta market from its base in Winder, where it maintains its inventory and has a photo studio where it shoots detailed images of each of its vehicles. The company says it plans to expand rapidly across the United States.
Without a traditional "kick the tires" experience, the company does not offer a way for customers to try out the car before they buy.
But Carvana officials said that any customer can return any purchase within seven days if they are dissatisfied for any reason.
Carvana enters the market at a time of sales growth in the auto industry. After years of declining sales and two major bankruptcies among U.S. automakers, the industry has seen a strong rebound following a federal bailout and improved economic conditions.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

GM to Open Atlanta-Area Technology Center

General Motors announced recently that it will open a technology center near Atlanta at which it expects to hire about 1,000 high-tech workers.

GM said it will employ software developers, project managers, database experts, business analysts and other information technology professionals at the center, which will be the third such facility in the United States. GM plans to add another.

"Locating this center in Atlanta makes good business sense," GM Chief Information Officer Randy Mott said in a news release. "We can draw from a deep pool of high tech expertise through the surrounding colleges, universities and talent residing in the area."

GM's other U.S. technology facilities employ than 700 IT specialists in Austin, Texas, and Warren, Mich.

GM said the Atlanta Innovation Center will be in Roswell.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2013 Infiniti FX37: A Crossover That's Heavy on Sport

The Infiniti FX37 crossover has had longer staying power in the market than some observers (OK, including this one) predicted a few years back.
With its unusual design, it appeared uncertain how luxury buyers would respond to the vehicle.
But after an impressive first few years on the market, the FX has won over a solid following of fans (OK, including this one) who appreciate it for its dynamic driving characteristics and convenient size.
The FX37 used to be the FX35, but for the 2013 model year, it gets a new engine, a 3.7-liter V-6 that makes 325 horsepower, hence the new name.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Georgia Power Employees Can Drive to Work, Plug In

Georgia Power announced recently that it is offering electric vehicle charging stations to employees at some of its offices, with the aim of developing strategies for best uses of charging equipment.
The utility company is participating in ECOtality's Electric Vehicle Project – a public-private partnership with the Department of Energy that evaluates the effectiveness of EV charger infrastructure.

Georgia Power said it is putting 10 smart chargers at its headquarters in Atlanta, and will add chargers at other business locations around the state.

The company said it hopes to maximize employees' electric vehicle range and to expand the feasibility of commuting by electric vehicle to more of its employees.

"Offering this option to our employees is just another way we're showing our commitment to the electric transportation industry," Mike Hazelton , Georgia Power's vice president of marketing, said in a news release. "Our participation in this project allows us to further explore innovative ways to help our customers save money, use energy efficiently and help the environment."

Hazelton said estimates say that in the next 10 years, 5 to 10 percent of new cars on the road in Georgia will be fueled in whole, or in part, by electricity.

Gas-electric hybrids have enjoyed growing popularity since coming to market in the late 1990s, with the most successful model being the Toyota Prius.

But most of those sold do not need to be plugged in.

In recent years, however, automakers have introduced partial or all-electric vehicles that do require charging, including the Chevrolet Volt, which is gas and electric, the Nissan Leaf, which is all electric and the Toyota Prius Plug-In .

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013 Nissan Altima: A Good Sedan Gets Even Better

New 2013 Nissan Altima Exterior
For the 2013 model year, Nissan decided to make its popular Altima sedan larger yet lighter, better in fuel economy and sportier design-wise.

It sounds like a tough task, but Nissan pulled it off beautifully, and the result is a terrific midsize sedan.

You might see some striking similarities between this Altima version and recent years’ versions of its larger sibling sedan, the Maxima.

Altima’s front grille is redesigned, with more dramatically angled headlights. There’s also a slashing line that runs the length of the car at its midsection, creating a sportier flared look.

The engines are the same as in the previous model year, with a 2.5-liter four cylinder that makes 182 horsepower or a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 270 ponies. The transmission is continuously variable (CVT) and functions effectively as part of this drivetrain.

Thanks to some engineering magic, the Altima’s overall size was increased, but its weight dropped. This allowed for improved fuel economy, and the Altima now posts impressive numbers of 27 mpg city, 38 highway with the four-cylinder engine and 22 and 31 with the V-6.

Nissan also added a huge 18-gallon tank to the Altima, which allows it to go more than 680 miles when it’s full.

The interior has seen some improvements too, with better quality materials and a pleasantly designed layout of the dash.

Options for comfort and convenience include NissanConnectSM, which allows the user access to audio from Pandora, an iPod connection and verbal text messaging, as well as leather upholstery, heated seats and steering wheel, dual-zone climate control and navigation with touch screen.

The Altima also has a Nissan feature that is one of the best innovations of the past few years: the Easy Fill tire system. When you are inflating the tire, the horn will sound when you achieve the proper amount of pressure.

On the road, the Altima is no slouch either. It handles and accelerates nicely, and braking is firm and sure.

With all of this technology and styling, you might expect the Altima to be a bit pricey. It starts at around $23,000 and ranges to nearly $33,000. The higher end of that range might make it a little difficult to sell to value-conscious consumers in this competitive sedan segment.

But for those who appreciate the outstanding qualities the Altima has to offer, it should be a great choice.