Posts By: stephwillems

By on May 24, 2017

Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse Limousine (W 213) 2016Mercedes-Benz E-Cl

A lawsuit filed by two Georgia Mercedes-Benz owners accuses the automaker of failing to rectify a long-standing HVAC problem and stiffing customers with the bill.

Sunil Amin and Trushar Patel claim the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in numerous models dating to the turn of the century are inherently faulty and want Mercedes-Benz and its parent, Daimler AG, to pay damages. They also want the suit to grow into a class action.

The plaintiffs say the issue started a noxious odor emitted from the vehicles’ vents and, despite attempts to have the issue fixed, nothing the automaker has done has made a difference. (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2017

[Image: GM]

Some details aren’t likely to spur readers into dropping what they’re doing and taking the rest of the day off to plan their next big purchase, but one change planned for the 2018 GMC Yukon Denali does sweeten the pot.

Large, V8-powered SUVs seldom amaze with their fuel economy, so any improvement in thirstiness is a welcome addition to this mildly refreshed vehicle. While the Yukon Denali stands to gain unspecified MPGs, the brand is more interested in touting a less technological feature. (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2017

A Class Concept Mercedes

Like Steve Austin’s doctors, Mercedes-Benz engineers realized they had the technology to make the brand’s four-cylinder engines better than they were before. Better, stronger…smaller.

As the automaker prepares to expand its lineup of compact, front-wheel-drive offerings to eight models, new powerplants are the order of the day. Designed to propel vehicles using the next-generation MFA2 platform, the new engine family comes in a variety of flavors, one of which will likely appear stateside. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2017

MGM

You’ll have to forgive this author. It’s hard to see your heroes die, and today brought yet another sad moment, another painful departure of a silver screen idol. Roger Moore — Sir Roger Moore, to be exact — has died at the age of 89.

As an admittedly Bond-obsessed youth, a great childhood moment was walking up and touching the white submersible Lotus Esprit from the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me at a car show. The signs said no touching, but screw that. I wanted to touch a car Roger Moore touched.

Roger Moore was my hero. With honorable mentions to Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood, no one was cooler. The man’s British wit, even if it came in the form of a lewd or eye-rolling one-liner, made a lasting impact. And what a dresser. But it was the addition of very cool cars to Moore’s combination of suave confidence and self-deprecating humility that made the man so iconic.

For a man once quoted as saying, “My acting range? Left eyebrow raised, right eyebrow raised,” Moore was allowed no shortage of fun behind the wheel. Let’s enjoy some of those moments. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2017

lansing assemblyl

As the clock counts down to the beginning of talks aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement, automakers in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada know one thing they don’t want to see changed — rules of origin.

Auto manufacturers must abide by minimum regional (NAFTA-wide) content rules in order for vehicles to remain free from import tariffs. President Trump’s proposed reforms aim to benefit U.S. companies, but could lead to greater costs heaped onto automakers — something no profit-minded company desires.

Naturally, automakers wants their feelings known well before the three countries get down to brass tacks. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2017

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, alleging the automaker violated the Clean Air Act.

At the root of the lawsuit is roughly 104,000 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles equipped with the 3.0-liter diesel V6, sold between 2014 and 2016. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency accused FCA of failing to disclose eight auxiliary emissions control devices during the certification process. The vehicle’s software allows for higher-than-permitted emissions at certain times.

Despite FCA’s protests — as well as attempts to head off a potential multi-billion-dollar fine — the parallels between this case and Volkswagen’s emissions saga are growing by the day. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2017

Tesla Supercharger

Chatty Tesla owners who compel their friends and family to consider buying a Model S or X are apparently behind the company’s U-Turn on paid Supercharger use.

At the beginning of the year, Tesla, in a bid to fund a doubling of its fast-charge network, withdrew a big perk from the purchase of one of its vehicles: free Supercharger use. No longer would new buyers be able to sail off in their new Tesla, confident in their ability to juice up at one of the 750-plus stations scattered across North America. Owners who purchased their vehicle prior to January 1st were grandfathered.

Supercharger hogs were also slapped with an “idling” fee, all in the hopes of freeing up space at the stations. While the pricing structure remains — new buyers receive 400 kWh of annual free charging with their purchase, after which a variable fee applies — there’s now a way to get unlimited free power. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2017

ford logo

It’s the dawn of a new era at Ford. With luck, nothing will change with the upcoming Bronco except, hopefully, an earlier launch date.

By axing retiring CEO Mark Fields and elevating Jim Hackett to the biggest office in Dearborn, Ford hopes to chart a course towards larger profits and happy, smiling shareholders. After Fields took the helm, the company’s share prices made like the Andria Doria. Can’t have that.

Flanking Hackett are two men with really long job descriptions. Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of Global Operations, will tackle product development and purchasing (among other things). Jim Farley, hater of General Motors, is literally overseer of everything. Everything. All the regions, all the sales, all the mobility. Oh, and Lincoln — Farley will keep watch over Lincoln.

But imagine, for a moment, these three head honchos didn’t just advance their careers. No, you’re in the driver’s seat now. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

2017 smart fortwo cabrio electric drive (Euro spec image)

Will anyone notice? Mercedes-Benz certainly hopes so, as it recently choose to ditch gasoline powerplants altogether and make the Smart sub-brand an all-electric affair.

The automaker announced pricing and specifications for its 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive coupe and convertible today, billing the two-seater as one of the cheapest EVs you can buy. The droptop variant remains the only electric convertible you can get your hands on, should that be your thing.

While many scratch their heads and wonder why Smart continues to exist in North America, the automaker hopes to entice consumers with a lower starting price and added range. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

2018 outback

With the exception of Mazda and — until its Outlander PHEV finally lands on U.S. shores — Mitsubishi, Subaru remains one of very few automakers to completely eschew electrified powertrains.

Despite lacking any fully electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid model (the unloved Crosstrek Hybrid met a quiet death last year), Subaru’s U.S. customer base continues to expand at a rapid clip, but a gas-only strategy can’t survive forever. Environmental regulations the world over insist Subaru should follow the lead of its rivals and build something without pistons.

Well, Subaru plans to. However, unlike many of its rivals, the automaker has indicated it might take a different path towards this goal. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

hyundai-kona-teaser

Hyundai, which found itself lagging behind its rivals in the lucrative crossover and SUV market and figured it should do something about it, is having trouble getting its desperately needed subcompact crossover into production.

The 2018 Kona, which we’ve so far seen only a portion of, is part of a better-late-than-never product push by the Korean automaker. A new small crossover was needed to to mine a growing segment and boost Hyundai’s flagging U.S. sales, but the reality of building cars in Korea has thrown up a roadblock. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

[Image: Ford]

Ahead of a news conference at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, the automaker has announced Jim Hackett as its new president and chief executive officer.

The news follows last night’s report of the ouster of former CEO Mark Fields by the company’s board of directors. In an official release, Ford refers to Hackett as a “transformational business leader” who will succeed the “retiring” Fields.

Before being named chairman of the newly created subsidiary Ford Smart Mobility LLC in March of 2016, Hackett, 62, served on the company’s board for three years and was a member of its Sustainability and Innovation committee. Prior to joining Ford, the executive gained accolades for his turnaround of American office furniture company Steelcase, where he spent 30 years. As interim director of athletics at the University of Michigan, Hackett lured Jim Harbaugh away from the San Francisco 49ers to serve as head football coach.

Hackett’s job won’t be an easy one. Besides guiding the company through a disruptive era of new technologies, the new CEO must reverse Ford’s flagging fortunes. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

Mark Fields, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Mark Fields has reportedly been fired from his position as CEO of Ford Motor Company, to be replaced by a man he appointed as head of the automaker’s mobility subsidiary.

According to Forbes, the company will announce the appointment of Jim Hackett as CEO this morning, part of a broader shakeup of the company’s upper ranks. Hackett, former CEO of Steelcase, served on the automaker’s board for three years before being named head of Ford Smart Mobility LLC in March, 2016.

Fields, a 28-year Ford veteran who replaced Alan Mulally in mid-2014, was reportedly booted by the company’s board amid a continued decline in share values. Two weeks ago, the CEO was grilled by board members and shareholders alike over the direction he has taken the company. (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2017

[Image: Ford]

It looks like Ford’s offer to update 2016 vehicles equipped with its SYNC 3 infotainment system with free Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity has a lot to do with some recent hires.

The automaker has announced it will allow owners of one-year-old vehicles to install the feature, which comes standard on all 2017 models, at no cost. The offer positions Ford near the cutting edge in automotive technology. For a company seeking a starring role in the tech-heavy mobility realm, this is exactly where it wants to be. (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2017

2014 Hyundai Sonata

The timeliness of a recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles equipped with Theta II four-cylinder engines is the focus of a formal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation revealed today.

Metal engine debris resulting from a faulty production process is behind the expansive recall of nearly 1.7 million vehicles, but the NHTSA wants to know if the recall expanded too slowly. Just how much Hyundai knew about the widespread issue is a big question mark, made all the more pressing by the testimony of a company whistleblower. (Read More…)

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