TOKYO --- Besides showing off its well-known hybrids, Toyota will take a slightly different tack at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show to display a "green" sports car with a special kind of gasoline engine.
The FT-86, inspired by a sporty Corolla model from the 1980s called AE86, has a Subaru engine from Toyota partner Fuji Heavy Industries, whose pistons are positioned horizontally, instead of vertically as in standard engines.
Subaru and Porsche are among the few automakers in the world making that type of boxer engine, which allows for a quiet drive and a low-sitting mean look common in sports cars.
Toyota chief engineer Tetsuya Tada said the ruby-red sports car, debuting at the auto show Oct. 23, will be relatively affordable at about $33,700, and it won't be a gas-guzzler, delivering the mileage of an equivalent standard car.
Saturn sale to Penske falls apart
DETROIT --- After negotiations to sell the Saturn brand failed last week, General Motors Co. said it will wind down Saturn and its dealership network.
Penske Automotive Group cited concerns related "to future supply of vehicles beyond the supply period it had negotiated with GM."
The Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Penske said that it had negotiated a deal to get products manufactured by another company but that the agreement fell apart.
GM and Penske had been negotiating since June 5. The original pact called for GM to continue providing Saturn with vehicles for two years.
Chrysler splits Dodge cars, trucks
DETROIT --- Chrysler's new Italian management announced a surprise shakeup Monday of the automaker's executive team and said it was splitting Dodge into two groups, one focusing on trucks and the other on cars.
The moves marked the second management reorganization since Fiat Group SpA took control of Chrysler on June 10 when it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Separating Dodge into trucks and cars will make it easier for Chrysler Group LLC to sell the Ram brand, said Aaron Bragman, an auto industry analyst for the consulting firm IHS Global Insight. The Ram and Jeep brands are the only parts of Chrysler that currently have value, he said.
Fred Diaz Jr. was named president and CEO of the newly created Ram truck brand; Ralph Gilles adds the title of president and CEO of Dodge cars to his position of senior vice president for product design; and Olivier Francois takes over as president and CEO of Chrysler brand.
"This reorganization will allow us to protect and develop the unique nature of the product offerings within the Dodge Brand," said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.
Silver still most popular car color
DETROIT --- Silver in hues ranging from chrome to charcoal gray extended its reign as the most popular choice for car and truck paint across the globe this year, according to data collected by a leading paint maker.
Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries Inc. said silver has been the No. 1 color for nine straight years, accounting for 25 percent of vehicles in the U.S., 35 percent in Europe and 34 percent in the Asia-Pacific region.
In the U.S., silver rose from 20 percent of the market a year ago. White finished second at 18 percent, and black was third with 16 percent. Red was a distant fourth at 12 percent.
PPG, which includes charcoal and gray in its silver category, said the color was popular because of new paint effects that make even dull shades of gray shine.
"Silver tones work well with today's tinted metallic textural looks," said Jane Harrington, the company's manager of automotive color styling, in the statement. "The density of silver, from subtle hue shifts to dimensional metallic flake appearances, works with a variety of vehicle styles."
Americans' tastes have changed dramatically in the past 15 years, PPG said. In 1994, green was the most popular color.
Ford ads to push gee-whiz angle
DEARBORN, MICH. --- Confident its vehicles are now on buyers' radar screens, Ford Motor Co. plans a new ad campaign to raise its wow factor.
Starting next week, Ford will air 40 15-second ads in which drivers praise gee-whiz features such as capless refueling, the Sync entertainment system, built-in refrigerators and ambient lighting.
Ford also hopes to build buzz by asking employees to forward the ads to their friends through social networking sites.
Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, said Ford expects to gain U.S. market share in 2009, a feat it hasn't accomplished since 1995. Ford had 14.7 percent of the U.S. market in September, up 2.5 points from a year ago.