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By on July 26, 2017

Chrysler HQ Auburn Hills

Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli and Monica Morgan, wife of late UAW Vice President General Holiefield, have been charged by a federal grand jury with violating the Labor Management Relations Act.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit, the pair were indicted on Wednesday for corruption after a lengthy joint investigation between the FBI and the IRS.

Iacobelli is accused of acting in the interest of FCA by issuing over $1.2 million in illegal payments and bribes to union members — including Morgan and Holiefield. The former union executive’s untimely death appears to have thrust his widow into the spotlight and saved him the trouble of a lengthy trial.

Morgan is best known for her work as a photographer in Detroit, and for being accidentally shot in the stomach by her husband while he was cleaning his Desert Eagle handgun in 2013. Iacobelli is primarily known for negotiating killer deals with the UAW and an abrupt, scandal-related, retirement in 2015.  Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

Bugatti Chiron, Front, Image: BugattiThe Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 debuted in 2005 to spec sheet acclaim. On paper, there had never been anything like it. 16 cylinders, four turbos, 987 horsepower.

And 10 miles per gallon of premium gasoline.

The 2018 Bugatti Chiron is a better car, as it should be after more than a decade passed between development cycles. There are still 16 cylinders and four turbos, but Bugatti increased the power (having intermittently done so during the Veyron’s tenure) to 1,500 horses.

That 52 percent increase in power is not quite matched by a commensurate improvement in the distance travelled per gallon of premium gasoline. Not quite. Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

2017 chrysler pacifica

We’ve always been slightly hesitant to share J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Study, especially given how easily analysis can be clouded by customers failing to understand the technology within their own vehicles. However, the market research firm still provides an interesting peek into what consumers seem to covet versus what they actually purchase.

In J.D. Power’s U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, consumers were asked how they “feel” about their vehicles on a more visceral level in order to evaluate the car’s overall appeal — or its APEAL, as it were.

Based on a 1,000-point scale, the 2017 survey showed overall satisfaction increased from a score of 801 points to 810 — the highest in the study’s 22-years of existence. Perched at the top of the most appealing brands list is Porsche, for a 13th consecutive year of glory, but it didn’t record the most marked improvement.

Chrysler did.   Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

Exhaust pipe of running vehicle, Image: By Ruben de Rijcke (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Britain will ban the sale of all new gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2040 as part of the government’s plan to reduce air pollution and copy France. The strategy, fronted by U.K. environment secretary Michael Gove and transport secretary Chris Grayling, would not only ban the future sale of internal combustion engines, but also provide a governmental incentive program similar to the United States’ Car Allowance Rebate System — colloquially known as “cash for clunkers.”

Because, as you know, nothing is better for the environment (or the used car market) than populating scrapyards with fully functional automobiles and having factories across the globe expend extra energy to replace them.

“We can’t carry on with diesel and petrol cars,” Gove told British television audiences on Wednesday. “There is no alternative to embracing new technology.”  Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

Chevrolet Bolt glare reflection, Image: Steve M.]

Last week, TTAC’s Bozi Tatarevic *cough* shed light on an issue facing owners of certain high-end Chevrolet Bolt EVs. In top-shelf Premier trim, the little hatchback offers airy Light Ash Gray and Ceramic White interiors, complete with an equally light-colored dash.

Unfortunately for buyers living in areas not perpetually enshrouded in fog, rain clouds, or 24-hour shadows, the reflection of sunlight off the palest dash is best described as retina-searing. A whiter shade of pale. The Trinity Test at 0.00001 seconds. In sunny climes, it’s nothing short of a serious safety issue, which explains complaints sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Short of wearing 1950s welder’s goggles bought at a Defence Department yard sale, a practice fraught with its own safety issues, owners are left figuring out a solution on their own. After we published the story, one owner reached out to show us just how bad the Bolt can be. Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Chattanooga - Image: VolkswagenJune 2017 was only the Volkswagen Atlas’s first full month on sale in the United States, but the Atlas, still ramping up inventory, already accounts for more than half of Volkswagen’s U.S. utility vehicle sales. In fact, the only Volkswagens that sold more often than the Atlas in June were the Jetta, Passat, and (if you count all variants together) the Golf.

2,413 units is not a terribly impressive number, although it’s stronger than what the Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, and Volkswagen’s two other utility vehicles managed last month. But the rate at which Volkswagen is building the Atlas at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly plant suggests dealers are only beginning to see just how many copies of the Atlas they’ll soon have to sell.

Will there be buyers? Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

cars dealer dealership, Image: HappyAlex/Bigstock

In the last five years, I’ve visited over 2,500 dealers in 44 different states. Sometimes I think I’ve seen everything. And just when I think that, I’m invariably proven wrong.

This week, I walked through the doors of a massive dealership — easily one of the largest dealers I’ve ever set foot in (the name and make of this dealer shall remain anonymous, since the conversation was “off the record”). This dealer sells upwards of 500 new cars a month and about 200 used per month, and they’re planning to add even more floor space so they can increase their volume.

As I waited to talk to the GM, I browsed the cars on the showroom floor. Considering the overwhelming success of this store, you can imagine my surprise when I saw that every car on the floor, without exception, had an extra sticker on the window.

Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport and Rogue - Image: NissanCars are not at the top of the heap.

In fact, not since 2013, when the Toyota Camry was America’s third-best-selling new vehicle, has a passenger car claimed a podium position on the U.S. automotive sales leaderboard. Fast forward to 2017 and passenger cars are way down the list of America’s top-selling new vehicles.

With pickup trucks so obviously differentiated from conventional consumer-oriented vehicles, and with the top-selling trio of pickup trucks (Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram P/U) so distinctly more common, we’ve compiled this list of America’s 20 top-selling vehicles that aren’t pickup trucks, a halfway measuring stick that shows which vehicles are the dominant market forces through 2017’s first six months. Not including the pickup trucks that own 16 percent of the industry, of course.

The top-ranked nameplate deserves an asterisk — an asterisk that will grow in size over the coming months. And cars? Even with pickup trucks excluded, they miss the podium altogether. Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

2018 Honda CR-V three-row - Images: Honda AustraliaWith the launch of the seven-seat Honda CR-V in another ASEAN market, this time Australia, one wonders about the potential popularity of a three-row CR-V in the United States.

The Honda CR-V, America’s top-selling utility vehicle in each of the last five years, currently tops American Honda’s sales charts. The CR-V now accounts for more than one-quarter of Honda’s U.S. sales and generated more volume in the first half of 2017 than in any of the CR-V nameplates’s first 10 calendar years.

Broadening the already popular CR-V’s appeal sounds, at first glance, like an entirely reasonable plan.  Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

2018 Ford Mustang GT rear - Image: FordThe 2018 Ford Mustang GT, freshly facelifted and powered up, will cost you 6 percent more than the 2017 Ford Mustang GT.

The base price for a Ford Mustang EcoBoost falls to $26,085, a $610 drop as Ford eliminates the basic Ford Mustang V6 from the lineup and moves the EcoBoost downmarket to aid affordability. Now with 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, the least expensive 2018 Ford Mustang is $400 more than the least expensive 2017 Ford Mustang.

But it’s the 2018 Mustang GT, now priced from $35,995, that’s growing increasingly expensive. A $1,900 jump is nothing to sneeze at, particularly given the speed with which the $40K barrier is now crossed.

Non-Shelby Mustangs can get pricey in a hurry. Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

Acura Legend Coupe

Earlier this week in his Question of the Day, Matthew Guy asked everyone to share a favorite vehicle from their year of birth. An interesting walk through history ensued in the days following, and I encourage each of you to head there and read through the comments if you haven’t done so already. You’ve probably already guessed from the title above where I’m going with this particular question.

Today’s inquiry is all about the worst, steamiest pile of junk on sale the year you were born. Let’s get down and dirty.

Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

2018 Volvo V90

Volvo, once solely known for making sensible and safe Swedish bricks constructed primarily of bridge girders, has lately been building some fantastic-looking machinery. Witness the fabulous crimson longroof pictured above.

When Ford sold Volvo Cars to the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in 2009, I feared the company would be pillaged and plundered for its intellectual properties, with the skeleton of its former self hung out to dry behind the woodshed. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Volvo is better than ever.

Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

lamps20170724

We came up with a little design element identification game today, involving the four near-identical taillamps you see above. This collage is compiled from four different vehicles. Can you tell which is which?

Get your image search fingers ready.

Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Oliver Schmidt, former top executive at Volkswagen’s environmental and engineering center in Michigan, is ready to plead guilty in a U.S. District Court in Detroit next month. Schmidt is charged with 11 felony counts relating to VW’s diesel emissions scandal and may be eligible for a maximum sentence of 169 years, according to federal prosecutors.

While the trial isn’t scheduled until August 4th, a spokesman for the court indicated the former-VW executive is seeking a plea deal. The details of the bargain are currently unknown, but it’s likely to involve a reduced sentence in exchange of information on the scandal’s murky history.  Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

BMW old Driver parking vintage

Researchers at the University of Leicester claim that spending several hours behind the wheel every day can adversely affect the human brain — sending the IQ scores of middle-aged Brits into the gutter.

In the experiment, researchers examined the lifestyles of over than 500,000 British residents between 37 and 73 for over five years, giving them routine intelligence and memory assessments. Those who drove more than two to three hours a day typically had lower brainpower at the beginning of the study, which continued to decline at a faster rate than those who did little to no driving.

Allow me to rephrase that for those of you with an exceptionally long daily commute: U.K. smart scientists say driving a whole bunch maybe makes you stupider.  Read More >

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