Weekend Roundup: Japanese Earthquake Industry Update, E15 Coming Soon

Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week along with the weekend racing schedule for your viewing pleasure.

Japanese Earthquake’s Effect on the Automotive Industry

Several automakers operating near the epicenter have plants that will remain closed until they can be brought back to operating condition. Due to a Japanese-sourced parts shortage, General Motors is forced to idle one of its plants in Shreveport, Louisiana. Several automakers have pledged large donations to assist with the cleanup efforts.

E15 Blend Gasoline Approved for Use, Headed to Gas Stations This Summer

A higher blend of ethanol-enriched gasoline has been approved by the EPA this week, and will begin arriving at your local gas pump this summer. Dubbed E15, the new blend contains 15 percent ethanol – a 5-percent hike from current mixtures. The new mix will not completely replace current gasoline, as it si only approved for use in 2011 and newer vehicles.

Next-Generation Chevrolet Malibu Spied Testing in Europe

In just a few months, Chevrolet will introduce its next-generation Malibu sedan. Prior to its official debut, Chevrolet has been spotted testing the new sedan, which is built on the same chassis as the current Buick Regal.

Audi Designates 90 2012 R8 GT for U.S. soil, Places $198,050 Price on Them

Audi’s R8 was a smash success, but like many supercars it continues to find ways to tweak its baby and keep us interested. The latest variation is the R8 GT, which employs a 5.2-liter 560-horsepower V-10 engine, extensive use of carbon fiber, and a $198,050 price tag.

Porsche Unsure About Merger With VW, May Return to Independence

VW first bought a 49.9-percent share in Porsche over a year ago, and is looking to complete the buy in the near future. Porsche on the other hand is having second thoughts and is reportedly reconsidering its independence. Company insiders say the chances of the merger becoming finalized has just a 50-percent chance of happening.

Audi Considers Q6 to Battle BMW’s X6

BMW has experienced twice the demand for its X6 than initially projected, and others are keeping a keen eye on what’s happening. Audi is now reportedly preparing for battle with an X6 fighter it will apparently call the Q6.

First Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK, 2012 Aston Martin Virage, 2011 Kia Sportage SX

We again had the pleasure of spending some quality time behind the wheel of a few of the industry’s latest offerings this week. The masculine design of Mercedes-Benz’s new SLK roadster is a vast departure from the last model. Slotted between the DBS and DB9, Aston Martin’s new Volante adds another feather in the cap of the British carmaker. Kia’s new Sportage has been around for roughly a year, but just recently did the automaker add a turbocharged engine to the equation, vastly altering the car’s driving characteristics.

Weekend Racing: