The auto industry is now in a state of constant flux. When an auto manufacturer takes it to the next level or makes a blunder that will lead to changes in the future, you will see it here in The Up Shift.


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UK to use Lexus IS-F Cruisers to lineup

Want to discourage high speed police chases and at the same time set turn heads with your slick styling? Look no further than the UK who has replaced their AWD Impreza Police Fleet with brand new IS-F cruisers. Nothing like looking into your rear view to see the law in a 416HP V8 monster on your tail. Pull over your not going anywhere.

Fiat shows you how to do your part in helping the environment.

Our friends on the other side of the pond have added a new fuel saving feature, called eco:Drive, to there 5 door 5 passenger mini-MPV the Qubo. The latest in Fiat’s range to benefit from what Fiat says is both a fuel saving and emissions reducing technology.

The eco:Drive technology is currently available on the European versions of the 500, 500C, and Grande Punto. Thanks to their newly formed alliance with Chrysler we stand a good chance of seeing the eco:Drive technology applied to some of the new models Fiat will bring to the states. In January of ’09 Autoblog.com clued us into the introduction of the Fiat 500, 500C, Panda?, and Grande Punto into the American markets. All of which have available, as an option, Fiat’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder direct-injection engines that work with the new technology as an option.

Now environmentally conscious drivers can learn how to reduce their particular impact on the environment. eco:Drive Allows drivers to download a record of their driving style from car to computer with a USB memory stick, helps motorists understand the impact of their driving in terms of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and offers suggestions on how to improve efficiency further by changing driving habits.

We want our cars to be fun, but they must also be practical and environmentally-friendly,” says Andrew Humberstone, managing director, Fiat Group Automobiles UK. “Offering eco:Drive on Qubo will help to spread the benefits of this technology, helping drivers to improve their driving efficiency, saving fuel and reducing their impact on the environment.”

Launched by Fiat in 2008, the free-of-charge, award-winning system is available on www.fiat.co.uk/ecoDrive.

Ford and Fiat – The Automotive Saviors?

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am typically not a fan of American automobiles. And I haven’t been for quite some time. However it looks like I might be forced to change my opinion.

As I mentioned in one of my past articles (Auto Americana), some of the greatest sellers from American auto makers like Pontiac are actually European inspired, some even borrowed like the Opel GT. Normally this would be the point at which I climb atop my soap box and start to wail, and I will, however I can no longer be angry at Ford. In that same article I mentioned that “in recent years this has been more a stroke of genius than an affliction of sub-par decision making” and the decision makers at Ford seem to think so as well.

Back when gasoline was selling as high as $5 a gallon in some places, small car sales were booming in America. In Europe however Ford has been selling smaller, smarter vehicles like the Focus (If you question this choice just look at the new Focus RS, or even the old model, you will be impressed), the Ka and now, the new Ford Fiesta. For Europe this might not be such a big shocker or even seen as the light at the end of the tunnel. For US customers though, this means a whole new ball game. Its not hard to see the changes being made and much like the time of the $5 Gallon we are forced to factor in far more than before. That having been said, choices like the new Fiesta and possibly the new Fiat 500 and Grande Punto might just make all the difference in the world.

The news of Fiats decision to step in and help Chrysler reorganize is all the buzz. This type of assistance however isn’t news. A similar “helping hand” was lent when Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault, took the reigns as CEO for Nissan and brought the company from a $6.1 billion loss in ’01 to a $2.7 billion net profit the very next year. Ghosn is also credited with turning Renault around before doing the same for Nissan. If Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is anything like Ghosn we stand to see amazing things happen with the Chrysler brand. In fact Marchionne already has the credit of bringing the company he hails from, Fiat, back to profitability. Like Ghosn, if successful, this will be Marchionne’s second victory. In the very year Ghosn took over at Nissan we saw a landfall of change in the models offered by Nissan. Similarly Fiat also plans on lending Chrysler several new engine and model designs.

Could you be driving a new Ford Fiesta or Fiat 500 in the next year or so? Absolutely! Learn more about them here…

Ford Fiesta: http://www.fiestamovement.com/

Fiat 500: www.fiat500.com/eng/

Future Fuels – What Might Fuel Your Passion In The Near Future

Theres an old saying that goes “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.  Oddly enough, there is a little known truth to that old phrase.  There just happens to be a soluble dietary fiber in the skin of apples and other fuits and vegetables that has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and promotes good digestive health.

We’ve also been told that we should have at least 8 glasses of water of water every day.  This advice too, has a very good reasoning behind it.  Water is a truly amazing substance.  We might look at a bottle of Deer Park on a hot summer day like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, but that bottle is definitely worth a second look.

Water is a very powerful Chemical.  There is another saying, “A steady drip can wear a hole in a rock”.  All you need do is stand on the edge, at any point along the Grand Canyon, to be awestruck at what the power of water can do.

I was lucky to catch an episode of Eco World on the Discovery Science channel that discussed Alternative Fuel such as Solar Energy, Hydrodynamic Energy (such as dams), but what was most impressive was the section on pure Hydrogen power.  For those who don’t remember chemistry (I sure didn’t), 2 Hydrogen atoms joined with just one Oxygen atom make water.  Both of which are gasses that are, under the right conditions, flammable.

What stood out the most was the home of one engineer that was completely powered by it.  So was his car, which he converted to Hydrogen Fuel Cell power.  The system is so efficient that he says he can power both his home and his car for a year on the gasoline equivalent of just 40 gallons.  With the average price of gas today, that is easily close to $150…per year…for home and car.  With gas prices steadily rising, some of us are paying $150 after 3 or 4 fill ups, and that says nothing about the tuned vehicles that eat 93 octane like cotton candy.

Another home engineer converted a $500 junkyard bought vehicle with about $4K in new parts into an electric only vehicle.  The batteries and usage he designed gives him about 20 miles of mobility which only cost him, get ready for this, just $7 a month to charge.

One step further, the cable channel Planet Green airs a show called Green Machines that pits fossil Fuel powered vehicles of all sorts against an electric powered cousin and tests them in different circumstances to see which reigns supreme.  One particular episode saw a gas powered drag motorcycle do the quarter mile with a fuel consumption equating to a little under $4.  The electric drag bike perfomed a very similar time and cost just over $.70.

That having been said, can you imagine a booster system operated simply by switch that almost doubles your current gas mileage?  How about never having to pull up to a pump ever again?  Instead, you just pull up to your garden hose.

In my next few articles, I want to explore the possibilities available to us currently in the world just burgeoning into the area of alternate fuels.  I should tell you now though, if you’re looking for a pat on the back or reassurance that you’re doing your part by using Ethanol, IM sorry.  You will find no kind company here.  It has been said that growing crops for use as fuel is a gross and now obvious failure as a true alternative.  What follows will be an insight and study on both Hydrogen and Electric vehicles and opinions on why those two sources of energy are our only real alternatives and will be our only means of fueling vehicles in the future.