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By on June 29, 2017

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How did you celebrate Warren Brown Day? What? You didn’t know about Warren Brown Day? Well, my friend, allow me to fill you in. If you are a subject of the Washington, DC metro area, then June 15th was officially Warren Brown Day for you. The day celebrates Warren Brown’s contributions to automotive journalism. This came as a great surprise to me; as far as I knew, Mr. Brown’s primary contribution to automotive journalism was finding a way to get around the Washington Post‘s policy on accepting luxury travel.

It occurred to me that maybe the city was honoring a different Warren Brown, so I went back and checked the original article in American Journalism Review to make sure that I had the right guy. Once I started re-reading it, however, I quickly forgot all about Mr. Brown and his Italian vacation, because the most important story Frank Greves tells in his overview of automotive journalism has nothing whatsoever to do with the perks of the business.

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By on June 28, 2017

nissan leaf charging electric car

Federal tax credits for electric vehicles won’t last forever, especially under the Trump administration. While it’s difficult to quantify exactly how many people saw the $7,500 rebate as the deciding factor to “go green,” there is little doubt that it factored into the final purchasing choice of some buyers.

California has made the promotion of zero-emission vehicles a matter of great concern. With General Motors, Nissan, and Tesla all gradually approaching the 200,000-unit quota for vehicles eligible for the tax rebate, the state doesn’t want to see buyers lose purchasing incentives prematurely. With that, California is considering a bill that would provide discounts to EV shoppers at the time of purchase, essentially reducing the sticker price before the car even leaves the lot.  Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Bowling Green Assembly Plant - Image: GMGeneral Motors no longer expects the U.S. auto industry to collect more than 17.5 million new vehicle sales in 2017.

GM’s chief financial officer, Chuck Stevens, revisited the automaker’s U.S. sales forecast and turned the wick down from the mid-17-million-unit range, according to Automotive News, to the low-17-million-unit range.

That’s not a low number. In fact, 2017’s reduction of some 300,000 sales across the industry, year-over-year, would produce the second-best year for auto sales since 2001.

But reduced demand is complicating matters for the entire industry, most particularly for large automakers with excessive inventory. Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry SE white - Image: ToyotaExcited at the prospect of an all-new midsize sedan despite a drastic decrease in demand for midsize sedans, Toyota is ramping up employment at the Camry’s assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.

With 700 additional manufacturing workers helping to launch the 2018 Toyota Camry, employment at Toyota’s Kentucky facility grew to 8,000, more than at any point in the plant’s three-decade history.

Toyota also builds Avalons and Lexus ES350s in Georgetown. (The Venza, a former Georgetown wagon, is dead.) But it’s the Camry, especially this all-new 2018 Camry, that will bring glory to the Kentucky plant if glory can indeed be brought.

Jack Hollis, the Toyota division’s group vice president and general manager, strongly believes the Camry is the beginning of a pro-sedan wave in America. In an extended interview with Autoline, Hollis spoke highly of the 2018 Camry’s potential, and of the potential for the entire car sector once the Camry stimulates demand.

“I think you’re going to see the entire sedan market pick up,” Hollis told Autoline, before hedging only a bit. “We’ll see a year from now.” Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

BMW 2 Series, Image: BMW

BMW plans to streamline its manufacturing process by providing fewer model variants and eliminating less popular engine or equipment options. The goal here is to free up capital for research and development spending in the coming years, according to a Wednesday announcement from the brand’s chief finance officer, Nicolas Peter.

With most German automakers already pushing heavily into the realm of electric vehicles, BMW’s strong presence in China is forcing it to further bolster its efforts in EV development. The country’s particularly aggressive emission regulations and mandates on electric vehicle sales means any manufacturer hoping to persist within its borders will have to ensure 12 percent of its fleet is electric by 2020 — and BMW isn’t ready.

As a result, the automaker is trimming fat wherever it can find it. Unfortunately, that means eliminating the manual gearbox for the 2 Series in the United States and abandoning certain engine options for models across the globe. While BMW wasn’t explicit as to which motors won’t be returning, odds are good it will be the fun ones that don’t sell as well, plus the diesels.  Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

jaguar XE SV Project 8

Jaguar is doing another run of its extremely limited production SVO cars. We haven’t seen a new one since the decked-out Project 7 F-Type arrived in 2014, adorned with its conspicuous spoiler and upgraded internals. The British automaker is now doing the same for the XE SV Project 8, resulting in the most powerful sedan in its long history.

In addition to some extremely loud bodywork, Project 8 is equipped with a 592 horsepower, 5.0-liter supercharged V8, connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission delivering power to all four of its wheels. Jaguar claims it can hit 60 mph in a scant 3.3 seconds and possesses a top speed of 200 mph, which also makes it the quickest accelerating model Jag has ever produced. It’s one hell of a refresh for the subdued XE.  Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

Ford GoBike, Image: Ford

Let’s say it altogether: Mobility! That’s what Ford Motor Company is up to in the tech-obsessed Millennial enclave of San Francisco. No longer will you have to turn to a truck, SUV or Mustang for rear-wheel Blue Oval motivation, and emission levels from the automaker’s latest vehicle depend solely on where the rider ate.

Yes, Ford has diversified itself right into the realm of bicycles, but don’t think for a second you’ll be able to take one home for a quick custom job. These rides must remain factory stock. While the automaker’s plan to blanket the Bay Area in bicycles might seem like a quick way to score green points for the Super Duty maker, there’s actually a team devoted to creating more of these ventures.

Still, Ford’s new GoBike network isn’t immune from the same challenges faced by its automobile division. You see, competition looms on the horizon. Competition with more power. Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet - Image: © Timothy Cain250 years ago, in Prince Edward Island’s 1767 land lottery of 64 parcels, Lot 20 was scooped up by Theodore Houltain and Thomas Basset.

Encompassing the communities of Malpeque Bay, Clinton, French River, Park Corner, Sea View, and other hamlets, and possessing fewer than 1,000 people, Lot 20 is a gem along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s a gem I thought I knew well, at least until I took possession of our new family home earlier this week. Last night, with my friend Jeff The HR Manager operating as a tour guide, we traversed virtually every road on Lot 20 in the company of a 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet.

We reached antisocial speeds, as AMGs are prone to do. We consumed fuel, as twin-turbo V6s are inclined to do. We made inappropriate noises, as Mercedes-Benz’s Dynamic Select Sport+ mode (with the Performance Exhaust System’s button also depressed) is wont to do.

And we made friends, as convertibles have always and will forever do. Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

Image: 1988 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, via Craigslist

Check out these two words: Turbo Coupe. They roll off the tongue nicely, and all car enthusiasts should know exactly they mean — or used to. In 2017, they usually mean someone with a mullet is nearby, driving a beat-to-hell Thunderbird with peeling logos and ruined paint. Likely while listening to Whitesnake.

Our example today is what the term Turbo Coupe used to mean. It is perfect, painted a gleaming black, and on the floor there’s a five-speed manual. Here I go again…

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By on June 28, 2017

INFINITI and Stephen Curry announce global partnership - Image: InfinitiIn the world of celebrity pitchmen, there’s a big leap between, oh, Jared Fogle at Subway, for example, and Andy Murray at Jaguar.

In the world of basketball’s best, there’s less of a gap between LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Now combine the world of celebrity pitchmen with the world of NBA superstars. LeBron James quite famously falls under the Kia umbrella.

But what automaker wouldn’t want the best player on the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors? Steph Curry, Nissan’s premium division announced today, is the new global ambassador at Infiniti. Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

2018 Buick Regal TourX - Image: GMPremium positioning? Only in a small measure.

The 2018 Buick Regal TourX, the wagon variant of the sixth-generation Regal, will be priced to compete more directly with the Subaru Outback than European wagons.

That’s not bad news for wagon enthusiasts who consider the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack too small, the Subaru Outback too obvious, and both the Volvo V60 Cross Country and Audi A4 Allroad too expensive.

CarsDirect has learned that the 2018 Buick Regal TourX, including delivery fees, will be priced just a tick under $30K at $29,995 in base 1SV trim. Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

1995 Ford Explorer Limited, Image: Ford

Back in late May of this year, I inquired which modern automaker was the most daring. While I posited it could be Nissan or Volvo, many of you replied it was actually Dodge, followed by Kia and Mazda.

This week, let’s turn back the clock a couple of decades and see if all our answers require a bit of reworking. We’re off to everyone’s favorite car decade, the 1990s. Which automaker was most daring in the era of the neon and teal fanny pack? I’ll give you two specific model examples, much like I did before.

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By on June 28, 2017

2017 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Several months ago, I wrote on these digital pages we would never see a base-model pony car in this series, and I’m sticking to that edict. After all, two-door muscle cars shunting their power to the rear wheels should have a V8 under the hood, just as nature and Carroll Shelby intended.

The thing is, though, I freely admit this view is rapidly becoming more antiquated than a digital dashboard from the ‘80s. Four-cylinder mills now routinely crank out nearly 300 horsepower, a full 75 more than the Fox-body V8 Mustangs of my youth. Bolted to a well-fleshed-out chassis, the driving rewards are often vast.

What to do, then? Good thing the General had the foresight to make a two-door Cadillac on the same platform as the Camaro.

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By on June 27, 2017

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody

The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat gets a new variant for the 2018 model year, and it just happens to be the widebody model track day enthusiasts have been clamoring for since the car’s initial announcement.

Borrowing the fender flares and front lip from the Dodge Demon, the Hellcat keeps its 707-horsepower supercharged V8 while adding extra room for more rubber. Since the supercharged Challenger is notoriously poor at transferring its power to the pavement, the wider 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero performance tires allow for superior cornering and straight-line speed.

Dodge claims the widebody shaves 0.3 seconds off the “normal” Hellcat’s 1/4 mile time for a lean ETA of 10.9 seconds. It also says the 305mm rubber helps the beast claw its way from 0.93 lateral g to 0.97 — while not earth-shattering, it’s still a major improvement. FCA has also changed the steering to an electric unit with selectable presets, claiming improved road feel, precision, and usability at lower speeds. Read More >

By on June 27, 2017

2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock

While there are some who still proudly use the old slogan “Buy American,” the concept is only loosely applicable to automobiles. While you can certainly support American brands, every automobile on the road is an amalgamation of parts from all over the world — and has been for quite some time.

This year, the automotive research website Cars.com, which began ranking the country’s “most-American” vehicles in 2006, was forced to change its criteria after only three models qualified under the old system of measurement.

For 2017, Cars.com has added country of engine origin, country of transmission origin, and U.S. factory employment relative to a company’s sales to its previous criteria of American parts content and final assembly location. It was also forced to lower the overall percentage of domestic parts a car needs to qualify by a full fifteen percent — from 75 to 60 percent.  Read More >

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