The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:31:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/ Rental Review: 2014 Hyundai Accent http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/rental-review-2014-hyundai-accent/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/rental-review-2014-hyundai-accent/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:24:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874785   Renting a subcompact car is usually a good way to get a free upgrade to a “Toyota Corolla or Similar”, but in this case, it was the last car left on the lot. I had no other choice. On the way home from a trip to Indianapolis (where my ear drums were variously stimulated […]

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Renting a subcompact car is usually a good way to get a free upgrade to a “Toyota Corolla or Similar”, but in this case, it was the last car left on the lot. I had no other choice.

On the way home from a trip to Indianapolis (where my ear drums were variously stimulated and assaulted by the Tudor Sports Car entrants, especially the new Camaro Z/28R), I was stuck in a regional airport nearly 125 miles from home. I had to be back the next day, and a quick evaluation of my options panned out like this

  1. I could stay overnight in a hotel, catch a cab to and from the airport and fly home on a puddle-jumper the next day. Estimated cost: $175.
  2. Take the train. Estimated cost: $110 and 3 hours of my time.
  3. Rent a car, one way. Write about it for TTAC. Estimated cost: $160 and just under 2 hours of my time, assuming weather and traffic are favorable (as it turned out, they weren’t).

Option 3 was the easy choice.

With the mass cancellation of numerous flights, everyone rushed the rental desk, and all that was left was a lonely Accent GL 5-door. Once upon a time, you could get a three-door Accent GL in Canada for under $10,000 – of course, it offered no A/C, a 5-speed manual transmission and all the refined NVH characteristics of a minecart.

What a difference a generation makes. The latest Accent has transformed itself from a nasty penalty box into a subcompact that can be recommended on merit, as well as price.

Unlike a number of too-tall competitors, the Accent has proper 5-door hatchback proportions, similar to its big brother, the Elantra GT. For a subcompact car, it feels as if it’s an entire size class larger. The rear cargo area easily swallowed my large suitcase and backpack, while the rest of the cabin feels airy and spacious.

Feature content was similarly generous. In addition to the usual suite of power operated accessories, the Accent had Bluetooth, USB ports abound, an easy to operate media system (I was able to navigate it on the first try while driving – no easy feat in any modern car) and heated seats (which I didn’t use, but are a godsend in colder climates).

With a 138 horsepower 1.6L engine, the Accent won’t win be setting the ET board alight at your local drag strip, but the engine is far gutsier than the Fiesta’s wheezy base 1.6L engine or the similarly sized mill in the Nissan Micra (the Accent’s chief competition in Canada). Hyundai’s 6-speed automatic isn’t the most refined, but it keeps the revs down on the highway – an all important characteristic in a world where em pee gees and muffled NVH are high on buyer’s list of wants. Unlike some of its competitors, the Accent gets disc brakes all-around, and even on this rental example, they felt strong without being overly grabby.

On the few highway ramps available, I was similarly impressed with the car’s driving dynamics. The steering gives ample feedback and avoids the “tie-rods through a Cool Whip container” feel that many have come to expect from Korean cars. The chassis feels fairly planted, but the worn all-season tires didn’t let me push the car terribly hard. Not that it matters, since few pensioners or first time drivers are going to be pushing this thing to the 11/10th on their local road course. The whole driving experience reminded me of a Honda Civic from the double wishbone era, albeit with the rough edges filed off – hardly a black mark against a car that is intended to be affordable, basic transportation.

By the time I was starting to get a feel for the Accent, my journey with it was over. I ended up using $10 in gas (roughly 3 gallons) to drive 125 miles, and at no time did I ever feel as if I was burdened with some unsafe, miserable leftover rental car. At this point, the Accent is one of the older cars in its class, but in no way does it feel outdated or behind the curve. In Canada, it’s possible to pick them up far below this example’s $17,522 MSRP – small wonder it’s the #1 selling subcompact in this country.

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Toyota Next To Join Mexican Assembly Fiesta http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-next-join-mexican-assembly-fiesta/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-next-join-mexican-assembly-fiesta/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:01:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910737 Although Toyota has previously looked to maximize capacity at its existing North American plants, a report by Bloomberg suggests that the company will depart from this policy and look to establish a manufacturing facility in Mexico, following the lead of Honda, Mazda and Nissan in the Japanese auto industry’s drive to localize production. Currently, Toyota […]

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Although Toyota has previously looked to maximize capacity at its existing North American plants, a report by Bloomberg suggests that the company will depart from this policy and look to establish a manufacturing facility in Mexico, following the lead of Honda, Mazda and Nissan in the Japanese auto industry’s drive to localize production.

Currently, Toyota has a small facility in Tijuana that produces the Tacoma pickup from CKD kits, and has signed an agreement with Mazda for the automaker to build a subcompact car that will likely be branded as a Scion. But they are without a full-scale factory of their own, at a time when virtually every other auto maker is expanding into Mexico.

The Mexican expansion is seen as a necessary move for many auto makers, allowing them to expand capacity in the NAFTA zone while taking advantage of far lower labor costs and generous tax incentives. This has led to a boom in auto manufacturing in Mexico, with relatively little investment in traditional locations like the Midwest and Canada.

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ITS Technologies May Provide Better Travel In Exchange For Personal Data http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/technologies-may-provide-better-travel-exchange-personal-data/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/technologies-may-provide-better-travel-exchange-personal-data/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910698 As V2V and V2I technologies slowly make their way through the testing phase and into the mainstream, there could come a day when your commute will go more smoothly than it stands at the moment. That convenience, however, could come at the price of your personal information. According to The Detroit News, industry officials in […]

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As V2V and V2I technologies slowly make their way through the testing phase and into the mainstream, there could come a day when your commute will go more smoothly than it stands at the moment. That convenience, however, could come at the price of your personal information.

According to The Detroit News, industry officials in attendance at the 21st World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in Detroit foresee a future where your car and the road have more in common with your smartphone than one may be comfortable experiencing. Though being able to avoid congested roads during rush hour may take some stress out of the work-day commute, there is the possibility for the Facebookification of your journey — filled with ads, ads and more ads — while governments track your every move for whatever reasons they may have.

However, a couple of industry insiders note V2V and V2I could be implemented without the need for personal data, as Continental Automotive senior vice president of interior electronic solutions Ralf Lenniger explains:

For most (intelligent transport system) functions, we don’t need personalized data. If cars are crossing a route, it’s not important who’s in the car, it’s important what’s across the street.

Other insiders agree, but add that such data would still bring the greatest benefit for ITS users, with the caveat that they be allowed to opt-in to gain those benefits.

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Cain’s Segments August 2014: Full-Size SUVs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/cains-segments-august-2014-full-size-suvs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/cains-segments-august-2014-full-size-suvs/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:56:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909194 GM’s market share in the full-size, truck-based SUV segment grew to 82.9% in August 2014 as the company’s four candidates grabbed the four top spots in the category. Not unpredictably, Ford Expedition sales declined as we approach the arrival of a revamped 2015 Expedition with EcoBoost V6 power, further enabling GM’s quest for world domination. Or […]

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe whiteGM’s market share in the full-size, truck-based SUV segment grew to 82.9% in August 2014 as the company’s four candidates grabbed the four top spots in the category. Not unpredictably, Ford Expedition sales declined as we approach the arrival of a revamped 2015 Expedition with EcoBoost V6 power, further enabling GM’s quest for world domination.

Or American domination. Domination in a specific vehicle category. In a category which, while expanding in comparison to the recent past, simply doesn’t amount to what it once did.

That’s not to say GM’s four full-size Chevy and GMC SUVs form a low-volume quartet. The Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, and Yukon XL were responsible for 8.1% of the volume generated by America’s largest seller of new vehicles in August.

So far this year, they’ve managed to outsell all but three premium brands: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus. 7.7% of the new vehicles sold by GM so far this year have been Enclaves, Encores, LaCrosses, Regals, and Veranos, Buicks all. 7.4% have been Suburbans, Tahoes, Yukons, and Yukon XLs.

In other words, these big SUVs play an important role in GM’s generation of sales in the company’s home market, and an essential role in GM’s generation of profit. We haven’t even taken into consideration the most costly SUVs that ride on the platform. Cadillac sold 2277 Escalades and 1257 Escalade ESVs in August, 89% and 64% year-over-year gains, respectively. Total Escalade sales, defunct EXT included, are up 21% to 17,884 in 2014.

Auto
August 2014
August 2013
% Change
8 mos. 2014
8 mos. 2013
% Change
Chevrolet Suburban
5,748 4,003 43.6% 34,487 31,847 8.3%
Chevrolet Tahoe
8,216 6,818 20.5% 64,837 54,794 18.3%
Ford Expedition
2,623 3,176 -17.4% 29,093 23,661 23.0%
GMC Yukon
4,715 2,345 101.1% 27,458 17,240 59.3%
GMC Yukon XL
3,319 2,779 19.4% 19,763 20,626 -4.2%
Nissan Armada
1,006 1,114 -9.7% 8,411 9,601 -12.4%
Toyota Sequoia
913 1,280 -28.7% 7,814 9,045 -13.6%
Total
 26,540
21,515   23.4%  191,863 166,814  15.0%

Even the so-called volume brand sport-utilities we’re discussing in this space can be viewed on dealer lots with frighteningly Cadillac-like MSRPs. (There’s no denying that with 21,998 sales between the GM products alone, they’re still volume vehicles, regardless of price. The Tahoe is America’s 20th-best-selling SUV/crossover, behind the Lexus RX and two-wheel-bases-included Hyundai Santa Fe, but ahead of the Dodge Journey and Jeep Patriot.)

The true premium brand contenders from Cadillac, Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz, for example, combine to sell approximately once for every three copies of these seven contenders.

Two of these contenders, however, sell less often than a number of the higher-end full-size SUVs. Sales of Nissan’s ancient Armada are down 12% to just 8411 units in 2014, just 4.4% of the segment. Toyota Sequoia sales are down even more sharply, falling 14% to just 7814 units during a period in which sales of its refreshed Tundra pickup stablemate have jumped 10% to 80,133.

Both Toyota and Nissan do a better job of selling higher-priced utility vehicles when they sell them through their Lexus and Infiniti outlets. Lexus GX sales, for instance are up 127% to 14,429 in 2014 – Lexus is on pace for its best GX sales year since 2007. (The RX is America’s top-selling premium brand utility vehicle, although its base price actually places the RX a few thousand dollars below the Sequoia.)

Infiniti QX80 sales have risen slightly, just 2%, to a near-Armada-like level of 8119 units in 2014. Infiniti generates more than a quarter of its volume with the Pathfinder-based QX60, formerly the JX.

Obviously those numbers pale in comparison to the figures achieved by GM’s full-size SUVs. And if you think these GM numbers are large, stretch your mind back to 2002 when General Motors sold more than 67,000 Suburbans, Tahoes, Yukons, and Yukon XLs in America during the month of August alone.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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NHTSA Returning For Second Round Of US Senate Testimony September 16 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nhtsa-returning-second-round-us-senate-testimony-september-16/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nhtsa-returning-second-round-us-senate-testimony-september-16/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910674 A couple of months after General Motors CEO Mary Barra turned up inside the Beltway for a second round of testimony before the United States Senate over its part of the February 2014 ignition switch crisis, it’s now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s own second turn in the hot seat. Automotive News reports the […]

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Acting NHTSA administrator David Friedman explains that General Motors will agree to a record fine of $35 million in civil penalties in Washington

A couple of months after General Motors CEO Mary Barra turned up inside the Beltway for a second round of testimony before the United States Senate over its part of the February 2014 ignition switch crisis, it’s now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s own second turn in the hot seat.

Automotive News reports the agency, represented by administrator David Friedman, will testify before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s consumer protection subcommittee September 16. Committee leader Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri will examine the NHTSA’s role in the aforementioned crisis, as well as its ability to find other auto safety issues:

I’m interested in the capability NHTSA has to get at problems. They’ve obviously missed some big ones. The part of NHTSA that is responsible for monitoring issues like [GM] — they haven’t even asked for an increase in staff and cars have gotten a lot more complicated.

In addition, McCaskill will also explore safety reforms to both vehicle and highway safety legislation, a handful of which — such as increased funding to help the agency better perform its tasks, and the removal of the $35 million cap on fines for automakers who failed to properly act on a defect — haven’t gained much traction as elections take precedent in 2014.

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Ford Debuting Self-Unparking Technology In 2015 Edge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ford-debuting-self-unparking-technology-2015-edge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ford-debuting-self-unparking-technology-2015-edge/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910658 Though Ford, Lincoln, BMW and others have mastered the art of parallel parking in tight spaces for their customers, it turns out the systems used do it too well, prompting Ford to give “unparking” a go. Automotive News reports the 2015 Edge will include an improved automated parking system that will not only allow the […]

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Though Ford, Lincoln, BMW and others have mastered the art of parallel parking in tight spaces for their customers, it turns out the systems used do it too well, prompting Ford to give “unparking” a go.

Automotive News reports the 2015 Edge will include an improved automated parking system that will not only allow the crossover to parallel-park in those tight spaces, but be able to pull itself out. The system can also do perpendicular parking, such as the sort found at your nearest supermarket. An array of sensors — four up front, six in back — use echolocation to find objects and obstacles, allowing the crossover to calculate how best to get itself out of a rock and a hard place.

In addition, the Edge will have lane-keeping technology and adaptive cruise control, both using a combination of cameras and radar to safely guide the crossover from the house to the office and back.

All of the above will be available to consumers when the new Edge arrives in showrooms next March.

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Nevada Legislature Deliberates Tesla Tax Package In Special Session http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nevada-legislature-deliberates-tesla-tax-package-special-session/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nevada-legislature-deliberates-tesla-tax-package-special-session/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 10:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910626 Last week, Tesla and Nevada governor Brian Sandoval jointly announced the automaker would be bringing its Gigafactory to Reno. Now, it’s up to both houses of the state’s legislature to pull it all together with a $1.3 billion tax break. Reuters reports the Nevada Legislature gathered in Carson City for a special session at noon […]

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Tahoe Reno Industrial Center

Last week, Tesla and Nevada governor Brian Sandoval jointly announced the automaker would be bringing its Gigafactory to Reno. Now, it’s up to both houses of the state’s legislature to pull it all together with a $1.3 billion tax break.

Reuters reports the Nevada Legislature gathered in Carson City for a special session at noon Wednesday to hammer the details of the package, which Sandoval believes will spur $100 billion worth of economic benefits for his state during the next two decades at an investment payoff of 80:1.

The package would provide the following for Tesla in exchange for hosting the Gigafactory:

  • $725 million in tax exemptions through 2034
  • $300 million in various tax savings through 2024
  • $120 million in tax credits for meeting the state’s investment threshold of $3.5 billion
  • $75 million in tax credits for up to 6,000 jobs created
  • Reduced utility rates

In turn, Tesla will invest over $37 million into Nevada’s education systems during the next five years, and will bring a total of 25,500 jobs to the state, from construction to indirect employment.

As of this writing, both houses are set to return for a second day of deliberation Thursday morning. Until then, this is the tax break bill as established during Wednesday’s session.

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Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Coast to Coast 2014 – Washington DC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/best-selling-cars-around-globe-coast-coast-2014-washington-dc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/best-selling-cars-around-globe-coast-coast-2014-washington-dc/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 19:21:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910202  Toyota Corolla in Washington DC (these are from Maryland for illustration purposes) After managing to drive through Manhattan and escape unscathed, we are now travelling 250 miles Southwest to the country’s capital city, Washington DC. But first, I’ll answer a few of the questions you asked in my first article: I did parallel park my 236 inch […]

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1. Toyota Corolla Washington Toyota Corolla in Washington DC (these are from Maryland for illustration purposes)

After managing to drive through Manhattan and escape unscathed, we are now travelling 250 miles Southwest to the country’s capital city, Washington DC. But first, I’ll answer a few of the questions you asked in my first article:

  • I did parallel park my 236 inch long Ram pick-up in Manhattan on a crowded West Village street  and felt very proud.
  • With French being my mother tongue I never can get quite used to the American convention of calling my truck (or any vehicle) as a “she”. In French, a truck is a masculine word, so my Ram will be referred to as Albert from now on
  • As a lot of you have noticed, it is the Tradesman level, a trim that normally doesn’t get lent to the press.

Dodge Durango Lincoln MKZ WashingtonDodge Durango and Lincoln MKZ in Washington DC

The Ram 1500 crew cab 4×4 I am driving has a US$35,805 base price. Add-in the Tradesman package, including carpet flooring and satellite radio, 8-speed automatic transmission, 3.0-Liter V6 EcoDiesel engine and destination charge to arrive at US$40,495. Depending on the rebate you can negotiate with your dealer, you can potentially get that back down to the base price or below. A lot of you have rightly asked about fuel economy. A road trip across the US in a pick-up truck immediately conjures up images of an endless flow of dollar bills being sunk into overly thirsty fuel tanks. Not so here.

Ram 1500 WashingtonAlbert proudly posing before the Capitol in Washington DC

Aware of the lengthy trip I was embarking in, Chrysler smartly lent me an EcoDiesel, launched only last February and one of the main reasons behind the nameplate’s sales surge in 2014. Back in February the EcoDiesel trucks set a new Ram record with the initial allocation of 8,000 units filled by dealers in just 3 days. Over that period the EcoDiesel variants represented half of all Ram 1500 pick-up orders and overall Ram expects EcoDiesel models to account for 15% of 1500 Series orders this year. So my Albert is quite the popular new kid on the block.

VW Jetta WashingtonVW Jetta in Washington DC

The reason behind this success? The EcoDiesel delivers 28 mpg highway, currently the best fuel economy for a full-size pick-up truck, compared to 24 mpg for the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra and 23 mpg for the current Ford F-Series. The 4×4 variant I have gives up one mpg to sit at 27 mpg. Ford launched a challenge to Ram’s mpg crown with its new generation aluminium-built F-Series which will start deliveries in February 2015, however at an estimated 27 mpg for the all-new 2.7-Liter Ecoboost V6, it doesn’t quite match the RAM EcoDiesel yet.

Chevrolet Silverado WashingtonChevrolet Silverado in Washington DC

I won’t reset the mpg average at all during the entire trip, which should provide me with an all-trip average assuming Chrysler reset it before lending the truck to me. After 3 days and about 500 miles the mpg average stands at 25.3  mpg, keeping in mind there were 3 hours of virtual standstill in Manhattan – and therefore atrocious mpg – to begin with. So we are in line with a best-in-class score so far, and Albert is turning out to be not so thirsty after all.

Buick Enclave WashingtonBuick Enclave in Washington DC

Back to Washington DC, and this being a very small and touristy state, please bear in mind that my observations may not be limited to cars registered within Washington DC even though I tried to discard cars not registered here. As always this is not an exact science, rather a feel for the changing vehicle landscape as I traverse the country. State by state data published by Business Insider indicates that DC is the only State in the country to crown the Toyota Corolla as its favorite car. And as it was the case in New York City, I am pleased to announce that street observations match sales data which is always a great validation. The new generation Corolla has already taken charge of Washington traffic: I saw more of them in the few hours I was in the (relatively small) town than I saw in New York in 3 days!

Toyota Prius C WashingtonToyota Prius C in Washington DC

Overall my impression is that passenger cars are smaller than they were in New York City with less Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and more Nissan Sentra, Versa, Hyundai Elantra and VW Jetta – and of course Corolla as described above. Case in point: I saw my first two Toyota Prius C of the trip here. Hyundai also seems to be enjoying very strong sales here: I spotted a few new generation Sonatas. Nissan is as solid as it was in New York with numerous Altima spotted but less Maxima – in line with the smaller car preferences.

2002 Saturn Ion Washington2002 Saturn Ion in Washington DC

I would like to be able to tell you that I saw more pick-ups here but this is only marginally the case and we are still frankly in sedan and SUV territory. The Toyota RAV4 did come across more frequently, both as taxis and private cars. A couple of more Washington observations: the most popular and almost only Jeep seems to be the Wrangler, the current generation Buick Enclave is a success as is the Tesla Model S and the Washington region has a love for the defunct Saturn brand: whereas I had not picked one up yet during the trip before, I spotted three 2002 Saturn Ion in the space of a few blocks!

Next we will be driving through Virginia, North and South Carolina to Charleston. Stay tuned!

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and writes a blog dedicated to tracking car sales around the globe: BestSellingCarsBlog

Chevrolet Suburban Impala WashingtonChevrolet Suburban and Impala in Washington DC 

Toyota RAV4 WashingtonToyota RAV4 in Washington DC

Ford Fusion WashingtonFord Fusion in Washington DC

Hyundai Sonata WashingtonHyundai Sonata in Washington DC

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Toyota’s Utility Van Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyotas-utility-van-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyotas-utility-van-concept/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 16:55:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910130 Toyota quietly announced a new concept that would conceivably compete with the latest crop of small vans like the Nissan NV200 and Ford Transit Connect. Dubbed the Urban Utility concept vehicle or U², the concept was designed at Toyota’s California design studio. Although it’s the size of a compact car, the intention is for a […]

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Toyota quietly announced a new concept that would conceivably compete with the latest crop of small vans like the Nissan NV200 and Ford Transit Connect. Dubbed the Urban Utility concept vehicle or U², the concept was designed at Toyota’s California design studio.

Although it’s the size of a compact car, the intention is for a vehicle that maintains the functionality of a truck or van. A folding front passenger seat and a tailgate that also functions as a ramp, along with a rail system for accessories (like bike racks) are just some of the features employed.

The styling of the Urban Utility might be a bit outlandish, but such a concept would likely be able to find a market, given the growth in small, car-based utility vans. Or, if Toyota was really feeling adventurous, it might find a home at Scion.

Toyota_Calty_U2_Concept_001 Toyota_Calty_U2_Concept_004 Toyota_Calty_U2_Concept_002 Toyota_Calty_U2_Concept_003 Toyota_Calty_U2_Concept_009 Toyota_Calty_U2_Concept_010 Toyota_Calty_U2_Concept_012

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Ferrari Boss Steps Down As Marchionne Takes Control http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ferrari-boss-steps-marchionne-takes-control/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ferrari-boss-steps-marchionne-takes-control/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 15:30:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910106 Luca di Montezemolo, who has headed up Ferrari for over two decades and presided over record profits, has stepped down amid in-fighting with Fiat head Sergio Marchionne. After joining Ferrari in the early 1990′s, di Montezemolo led a campaign to revitalize Ferrari, bringing in a lineup of vastly improved products and putting their Formula 1 […]

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Luca di Montezemolo, who has headed up Ferrari for over two decades and presided over record profits, has stepped down amid in-fighting with Fiat head Sergio Marchionne.

After joining Ferrari in the early 1990′s, di Montezemolo led a campaign to revitalize Ferrari, bringing in a lineup of vastly improved products and putting their Formula 1 team back on the road to success. Under his stewardship, Ferrari dominated the latter half of the 1990′s and early 2000′s, with Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and other motorsports all-stars working as one of the most dominant Formula 1 outfits in history.

In addition to their on-track success, Ferrari also found great financial success in the now ubiquitous merchandise licensing deals that were spearheaded by di Montezemolo, which has allowed Ferrari to maintain a lucrative revenue stream despite capping production of the cars at 7,000 units annually.

But that wasn’t enough for Marchionne, who publicly criticized di Montezemolo’s performance in Formula 1 this past week. Speculation is rife that Marchionne wants to expand Ferrari’s production volumes to help it compete with Lamborghini, which many fear would dilute the brand’s exclusivity.

On the other hand, the departure of di Montezemolo, who is credited with introducing milestone vehicles like the 355 (which replaced the dreadful 348), is being seen as a turning point in the brand’s history. Marchionne has never had experience running any premium brands, and Ferrari is one of FCA’s few profit centers. But many fear that this delicate balance will be permanently disrupted.

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Daimler Boss Calls For Safety Standard Harmonization http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-boss-calls-safety-standard-harmonization/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-boss-calls-safety-standard-harmonization/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:47:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909738 Daimler head Dieter Zetsche called on regulators on both sides of the Atlantic to approve a US-EU free trade agreement, and along with it, called for a harmonization of vehicle safety standards. Speaking to the Detroit News, Zetsche said “Take the example of U.S. and European automotive safety regulations. Both are the strictest in the world. However, […]

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Daimler head Dieter Zetsche called on regulators on both sides of the Atlantic to approve a US-EU free trade agreement, and along with it, called for a harmonization of vehicle safety standards.

Speaking to the Detroit News, Zetsche said

“Take the example of U.S. and European automotive safety regulations. Both are the strictest in the world. However, the crash tests we carry out still vary. On top of that, different required equipment — think of taillights, turn signals, mirrors, etc. — makes the standardization of our cars, SUVs and trucks impossible,” Zetsche said. “Even small differences in safety regulations result in huge extra costs: We do research twice. We develop twice. We tool, procure and certify twice.”

 

The differing standards between the United States and virtually every other world market has long been a sore spot for foreign auto makers, who must deal with the cost issues outlined by Zetsche. Homologating vehicles for America’s FMVSS standards can be extremely expensive, and is often cited as a barrier that prevents America from getting many lower volume specialty vehicles that are sold in other locales. However, others argue that FMVSS contains more rigorous safety standards in certain areas.

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Kuniskis: Dealers Must Prove Themselves Worthy Of Selling Hellcat Challenger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/kuniskis-dealers-must-prove-worthy-selling-hellcat-challenger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/kuniskis-dealers-must-prove-worthy-selling-hellcat-challenger/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910074 Dodge dealers wanting to help their customers destroy wannabes with the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat will themselves need to prove their worth to the brand before a single car leaves the carrier. Automotive News reports allocations of the 707-horsepower war machine will be based on the total number of all Dodges sold during the past […]

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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat

Dodge dealers wanting to help their customers destroy wannabes with the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat will themselves need to prove their worth to the brand before a single car leaves the carrier.

Automotive News reports allocations of the 707-horsepower war machine will be based on the total number of all Dodges sold during the past 180 days, according to brand chief Tim Kuniskis, with a second allocation in December will focus on the previous 90 days of such sales and the traditional 30-day inventory turn.

Further, Dodge will measure how many days each Hellcat remains on the lot after the initial allocation, with the goal of moving them off the lot as quickly as possible if more are to be delivered later on. Kuniskis acknowledges this may be a headache for those who opt to make a market adjustment similar to the one performed at a recent Los Angeles Chevrolet dealership, where a Camaro Z/28 was priced to move at $106,165:

If you want to market-adjust the car, that’s your right. But if your days-on-lot goes above what the other guys that are selling them at MSRP is, they will end up earning the allocation because their days-on-lot will be lower. Some dealers are going to have heartburn with that.

Kuniskis adds that he wants to see each Hellcat out there on the road for all to enjoy instead of sitting in a showroom “with a rope around it” like the Viper, and that his brand “worked hard” to price the beast at an attainable $60,990 with shipping included.

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Imagine A Kia Without A Soul http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/imagine-kia-without-soul/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/imagine-kia-without-soul/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:35:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909178 Last year was a difficult pill to swallow for Kia in America. After claiming record sales in 2012, Kia volume slid 4% even as America’s auto industry grew 8%. There were inventory issues, but there was also concern that the new Sorento, though revamped under the skin, didn’t appear new on the outside. The Forte […]

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Kia Soul SXLast year was a difficult pill to swallow for Kia in America. After claiming record sales in 2012, Kia volume slid 4% even as America’s auto industry grew 8%.

There were inventory issues, but there was also concern that the new Sorento, though revamped under the skin, didn’t appear new on the outside. The Forte launch didn’t send shock waves through the compact segment. The Cadenza was never expected to be a volume leader.

Explanations for the decline didn’t stop Kia from “restructuring” either, as Kia Motors America’s executive VP of sales, Tom Loveless, was replaced by Michael Sprague.

Through the first eight months of 2014, however, Kia is back on track. Compared with the same period last year, brand-wide sales are up 7%. Compared with the first eight months of that record-setting 2012, sales are up 4.5%.

Admittedly, that pace is not in keeping with the pace of expansion in the overall industry (up 5.1% year-over-year, up 17.5% compared with the first two-thirds of 2012), but it’s a sharp turn in the right direction.

Credit is not owed to the brand’s best seller, the midsize Optima, sales of which are down slightly, just 0.6%, so far this year. Sales of the still-popular Sorento, Kia’s second-best-selling model in 2012 before last year’s 12% decline, are down 5% in 2014. Forte sales are recovering, but only marginally, and it trails ten different compacts in total year-to-date sales, including the Dodge Dart. Rio volume is down 11%. The Cadenza, K900, and Sedona – Kia’s three lowest-volume nameplates – have contributed an extra 3062 sales, not enough to overcome the Sorento’s losses.

Therefore, it’s the Sportage and Soul that are doing Kia’s heavy lifting; restoring the brand’s U.S. fortunes and reversing a trend that resulted in an 8% decline in the final four months of 2013.

The difference, of course, is that the Sportage is a minor player in a booming segment, and it in fact became increasingly minor over the last couple of years. Sportage volume is up 37% in 2014, and that’s no bad thing. But that year-over-year change masks the fact that Sportage sales in 2013 had fallen to a three-year low. Compared with the first eight months of 2012, Sportage sales are up just 6%; compared with the first eight months of 2011, Sportage volume is down 14%. Kia dealers surely appreciate selling more Sportages this year than last, but it’s not the vehicle they’d credit with fuelling Kia’s most recent resurgence.

Rather, the second-generation Soul, currently Kia’s second-best-selling model and the brand’s top seller during the month of July, is the source of this moderate surge. Through eight months, Soul sales have jumped 26%, equal to 21,569 extra units. Kia passenger car volume is up 7.7% with the Soul; slightly less than level without it. Overall Kia sales are up 6.9% with the Soul; just 1.5% without the Soul.

The Soul’s improvements have helped Kia’s market share rise slightly from 3.55% at this time last year to 3.61% in 2014. Had Soul sales only remained level, Kia’s market share would have fallen to 3.42%. Meanwhile at Kia’s Soul-less Hyundai partner, the brand’s market share has fallen from 4.63% to 4.48%, year-over-year.

The Soul was expected to be a niche success. It was, after all, a new introduction from a thriving brand in 2009. But how many observers predicted that Kia would abruptly stall, and that the Soul’s consistent success (volume has increased every single year even as it aged) would be followed up by a second-generation launch on which Kia would rely for big volume?

The Soul is currently America’s 29th-best-selling vehicle overall, only a handful of sales behind the Subaru Forester and Volkswagen Jetta and ahead of the Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Prius liftback, Nissan Versa, and Chevrolet Impala.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Brazilian Truth Commission May Sue Auto Makers For Crimes Against Humanity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/brazilian-truth-commission-may-sue-companies-crimes-humanity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/brazilian-truth-commission-may-sue-companies-crimes-humanity/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:30:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909674 João Paulo de Oliveira found it hard to find another job after he was fired by Rapistan, a Michigan-based conveyor belt maker, in 1980. He was detained or arrested another five times until the Brazilian military dictatorship, that had successfully realized a coup d’état in 1964, and returned power to civilians in 1985. Oliveira claims that […]

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João Paulo de Oliveira found it hard to find another job after he was fired by Rapistan, a Michigan-based conveyor belt maker, in 1980. He was detained or arrested another five times until the Brazilian military dictatorship, that had successfully realized a coup d’état in 1964, and returned power to civilians in 1985. Oliveira claims that no other company would hire him after he lost his job, and hge was constantly threatened by police. His crime? Being a union member at a time the military considered strikes as subversive communist movements.

Oliveira declares that he and many other union members suspected that private companies, including many auto makers collaborated with the state’s repressive forces. Apparently, his suspicions have been borne out.

Last Monday, September 8th, the Truth Commission, an organization installed by the federal government as an attempt to investigate human rights violations during those dark years, called the press to clarify and give their position on the rumors and news that have been circulating for days about companies collaborating with the State in its repression of labor movements.

According to the Commission, recently unearthed documents confirm that almost 70 Brazilian and multinational companies acted as “information sources” on union members and workers who were suspected of leading strike movements and of belonging to left-wing organizations. These documents contain name and addresses of the suspects as well as the names of companies that monitored their workers “in order to collaborate with the censorship and repression system during the last years of the civil-military dictatorship” in Brazil.

Sebastião Neto, executive secretary of the work group in charge of investigating collaboration between civilians, companies and military claims that, “Volkswagen, according to the documents, functioned as a sort of intelligence central of that group”. That group included other companies like Brazilian Petrobras, Engesa, Confab and multinationals like Ford and Ericson. They collaborated by keeping tabs on who showed up at union meetings, and exchanged information on worker movements and their plans for strikes and demands on working conditions.

Perhaps the most damning document as it hurt people on a personal level, was one found in the public archive of the state of São Paulo, dated 1981. In it are the names and addresses of some 450 workers and union members and the names of at least 67 companies that gave the information.  Among the auto sector companies charged with giving names are Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Chrysler, Scania, Westinghouse, Rolls Royce, Toyota and Toshiba, among other Brazilian corporations.

Lawyer Rosa Cardoso, coordinator of the Commission affirms that, “what happened in Brazil were selective arrests based on information given by companies. Almost 40 percent of those who were dead and disappeared at the time were workers.” According to her, even though the companies were not directly involved in the disappearances, these companies may be accused of crimes against humanity. “Arbitrary and illegal arrests and in places where torture happened are also considered torture in international law”. Such was the case as these illegally detained workers didn’t even have arrest warrants expedited against them.

The lawyer affirms the Commission will present in its final report by December 16. It will include two chapters reporting the persecution of workers and the unions, and the relations between companies and the dictatorship. To help clarify this aspect, Cardoso promises a public hearing where representatives of the companies mentioned in the documents will be called upon to present their testimony.

Being accused as a sort of coordinator of the collaboration between military and companies, Volkswagen has declared that they will conduct their own investigation. According to them, Volkswagen is the only large-scale company in Brazil that, so far, has made a public commitment to “investigate any and all traces” of collaboration between its employees and the military regime. According to a release given to the press, Volkswagen claims they are, “internationally recognized as a company that treats seriously its corporate history”. In Brazil, Volkswagen claims, “the company will deal with this matter in the same way”.

Other companies so far have not commented or have downplayed their responsibility. According to this article, dated Friday, September 5, Mercedes Benz claims that the company “does not confirm” the alleged collaboration and is “non-partisan and zeals for the confidentiality of employees’ data”.  Ford has refused to comment. Toyota and Fiat, who now owns Chrysler through FCA, stated they have no registers of the “possible abuse” that occurred back in that time. Toyota, thorough its local Public Relations department wrote, “We would like to remind others that we are discussing something that happened over 30 years ago”.

Reviewing all the information available a cynic might think the Truth Commission is only interested in reparations. A more generous person might believe that people are interested in revisiting the past to point out mistakes and not repeat them in future. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle and it seems evident that at the time there was a struggle in Brazil between those who wanted to keep the status quo and those who would subvert it. Workers and unions probably helped the re-democratization of the country along, while many in the military and civil society believed such actions were fundamental in thwarting a Communist takeover. Companies may have helped the military out of fear or ideology. It is terrible that people got killed or hurt. In the end, relations between civil society, labor movements and government will be better understood because of the efforts of the Commission and hopefully mistakes, on both parts, will be avoided going forward.

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Piston Slap: Why So Uncool Minivan? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-uncool-minivan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-uncool-minivan/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:07:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=908561   Josh writes: What is the deal with minivans? I was thinking the other day that as an outdoor person, minivan’s are perfect. They have lots of room for people and gear, AWD (in some cases), lots of roof space, and better MPG’s than an SUV. But apparently I can’t own one because they’re not […]

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1972 Ford Carousel (photo courtesy: forum.chryslerminivan.net)

Josh writes:

What is the deal with minivans? I was thinking the other day that as an outdoor person, minivan’s are perfect. They have lots of room for people and gear, AWD (in some cases), lots of roof space, and better MPG’s than an SUV. But apparently I can’t own one because they’re not cool. I could get a wagon though. Isn’t a minivan just a super-sized wagon?

Will minivans ever be cool to own?

Sajeev answers:

What’s the deal with minivans? From public perception, CUV popularity, fleet usage, etc. the “uncool minivan” is indeed a sad reality.  But there is plenty to love here on TTAC, from the Farago era to something brilliantly Baruthian.  My second favorite rental vehicle was the 3.6L Pentastar Caravan: it was quick and comfortable with chassis/suspension/steering components ready to play. No surprise, my fav rental was a white 2011 Crown Vic. But I digress…

Isn’t a minivan just a super-sized wagon?  Not really, even if they (kinda) ended the station wagon era. Uncool minivans are a radical rethink: eschewing the traditional notions of the family wagon and the creepster’s van with the adoption of a modern front-wheel drive layout (Aerostar and Astro notwithstanding) for maximum utilization of a traditional two box design, while adding the styling of a family sedan/wagon for curb appeal. Supposedly the Chrysler minivan’s early concepts were lifted from Ford’s work in the early 1970s: possible since Lee Iacocca famously left FoMoCo after butting heads with Henry II far too many times, and took some design staffers with him…though that’s the subject of some controversy.

Will minivans ever be cool to own? Keep in mind the Minivan was and remains an enlightened design: that will attract people. Just like so many Pistonheads go nuts over vintage wagons these days (especially with wheels you’d expect on a restomod ’69 Camaro), the uncool minivan will come back to win our hearts.

Until then, who gives a crap what people think? Go buy one and brush off the haters, no matter what they say!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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California Dominates US Plug-In Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-dominates-us-plug-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-dominates-us-plug-market/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910058 A shock that may come to no one among the B&B, California leads the way in sales of plug-ins with just over 100,000 units sold in the past four years. Bloomberg reports the figures, accounting for 40 percent of the plug-in market, were compiled by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative from data gathered between […]

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2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Exterior, Charging Plug, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

A shock that may come to no one among the B&B, California leads the way in sales of plug-ins with just over 100,000 units sold in the past four years.

Bloomberg reports the figures, accounting for 40 percent of the plug-in market, were compiled by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative from data gathered between December 2010 and August 2014 by the California Air Resources Board, Hybridcars.com and Baum & Associates. Baum also reported overall U.S. sales checked-in at around 250,000 units over the same period.

Though California has 40 percent of the plug-in market covered — thanks in part to legislation pushing automakers to bring more ZEVs to market — the milestone is a long way from the goal of 1.5 million plug-in vehicles by 2025, let alone the Obama administration’s target of 1 million such units by the end of 2015.

As for the present, Baum & Associates founder Alan Baum — who says 300,000 total units will hit the road by the end of this year — believes California’s stake in the market will likely shrink “as certain mass-market models that were initially sold only in state are introduced more broadly across the country.”

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Edmunds: 2014 SAAR May Best 2006 Peak http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/edmunds-2014-saar-may-best-2006-peak/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/edmunds-2014-saar-may-best-2006-peak/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910034 The surge in United States auto sales last month could push the final figures to a height not seen since 2006 when January 2015 rolls around. According to Automotive News, Edmunds chief economist Lacey Plache said that though the publication is holding at 16.4 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) for 2014, “there is definite […]

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Couple + Salesman Sign The Contract Of Blood

The surge in United States auto sales last month could push the final figures to a height not seen since 2006 when January 2015 rolls around.

According to Automotive News, Edmunds chief economist Lacey Plache said that though the publication is holding at 16.4 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) for 2014, “there is definite potential for numbers to hit higher than that.”

At present, the SAAR for 2014 is expected to hit 17.5 million, much higher than the previous peak of 16.6 million in 2006. August’s SAAR was fueled by strong Labor Day sales, which may have dinged September’s SAAR as consumers opted to make their purchases before summer drew to a close.

Meanwhile, Plache expects 2015′s SAAR to fall just short of 17 million, fueled by expiring leases. However, she and Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell warn a rise in interest rates in 2016 may put a drag on sales. Caldwell adds that automakers’ finance wings could counter this “by subsidizing lower rates.”

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Paris 2014: BMW 2 Series Convertible Entering Showrooms Early 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-bmw-2-series-convertible-entering-showrooms-early-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-bmw-2-series-convertible-entering-showrooms-early-2015/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909906 Set to make its global debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in October, the 2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible will enter showrooms in early 2015. Automotive News reports the convertible will arrive in the United States as the 228i, 228i xDrive and M235i, with the M235i xDrive model to arrive later in 2015. Price […]

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Set to make its global debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in October, the 2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible will enter showrooms in early 2015.

Automotive News reports the convertible will arrive in the United States as the 228i, 228i xDrive and M235i, with the M235i xDrive model to arrive later in 2015. Price of admission begins at $38,850 for the base 228i, $40,650 for the base 228i xDrive, and $48,650 for the base M235i; the price for the M235i xDrive has yet to be announced.

Powering the 228i will be a 2-liter turbo-four driving 240 horsepower to the back through an eight-speed automatic while providing greater fuel efficiency than the outgoing 1 Series convertible’s 18/22/27 mpg rating.

Aboard the M235i, the M Performance Package brings a 3-liter turbo-six to the front, sending its 320 horses through the rear via either eight-speed auto or six-speed manual.

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A Look At Western Europe’s Most Popular Brands From 25 Years Ago http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/look-western-europes-popular-brands-25-years-ago/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/look-western-europes-popular-brands-25-years-ago/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 21:22:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904681   From The Machine That Changed The World and the Financial Times: a companion to our article showing a breakdown of the most popular brands in Europe today. While Volkswagen is still dominante, Both of PSAs nameplates have fallen from their former glory to be also-ran brands on the continent. Fiat, while strong regionally, has weakened significantly. […]

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From The Machine That Changed The World and the Financial Times: a companion to our article showing a breakdown of the most popular brands in Europe today.

While Volkswagen is still dominante, Both of PSAs nameplates have fallen from their former glory to be also-ran brands on the continent. Fiat, while strong regionally, has weakened significantly. Rover no longer exists. Volvo is practically a non-entity.

On the other hand, the Japanese can no longer be lumped into a singular entity (Nissan is particularly strong in Europe, with the Qashqai and Juke), and the Koreans are wholly absent from this chart. Meanwhile, Hyundai and Kia are challenging some established European brands in their home markets?

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Mercedes-Benz Reveals Their 911-Fighter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-benz-reveals-911-fighter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-benz-reveals-911-fighter/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 19:17:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909466   Mercedes-Benz launched the replacement for their SLS AMG sports car, dubbed the AMG GT. Out go the gullwing doors and naturally aspirated 6.2L V8, with a new turbocharged 4.0L V8 and a 7-speed DCT backing it up. The base GT (if you can call it that) puts down 456 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque […]

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Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014Mercedes-Benz launched the replacement for their SLS AMG sports car, dubbed the AMG GT. Out go the gullwing doors and naturally aspirated 6.2L V8, with a new turbocharged 4.0L V8 and a 7-speed DCT backing it up.

The base GT (if you can call it that) puts down 456 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque (good for a 3.9 second sprint to 60 mph and a 189 mph top speed) , with the top-spec GT-S making 503 hp and 479 lb-ft and shaving .2 seconds of the 60 mph dash and a top speed pf 193 mph.

The GT-S also adds a variable exhaust, electronic dampers and an electronic LSD (the base car gets a mechanical unit) and variable engine and transmission mounts that can stiffen or flex depending on driving conditions. The higher spec model also gets 15.2 inch brakes all around.

The base GT will start at around $130,000 USD in Europe, but pricing and content for North America have yet to be announced. Expect the new 4.0L V8 to show up in the new AMG C63 (and likely in both trims, with a higher power S model following as well). Hopefully some of the GT’s styling migrates to the rest of the range as well.

Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT

456 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque or 503 hp and 479 lb-ft 

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Ram de Mexico Will Get Fiat Strada Based Small Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ram-de-mexico-will-get-fiat-strada-based-small-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ram-de-mexico-will-get-fiat-strada-based-small-truck/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:23:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909386   Speculation about a Ram small truck based on the Fiat Strada has been rampant recently, and it looks like Ram is getting ready to move in that direction for the Mexican market. A Brazilian outlet is reporting that the Strada will be sold in Mexico as the Ram 750. The 750 will be offered […]

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Speculation about a Ram small truck based on the Fiat Strada has been rampant recently, and it looks like Ram is getting ready to move in that direction for the Mexican market.

A Brazilian outlet is reporting that the Strada will be sold in Mexico as the Ram 750. The 750 will be offered in both single and double cab configurations and powered by small 4-cylinder engines.

Perhaps these were the Strada mules being tested around Detroit, and there were never any plans to bring a small truck to the United States. With UNECE rules and a totally different set of market conditions (as well as no chicken tax), Mexico is a much better place to import a small, front-drive car-based pickup than the United States. Or maybe FCA will surprise us all?

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Volkswagen: Hydrogen Will Struggle Outside of Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-hydrogen-will-struggle-outside-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-hydrogen-will-struggle-outside-japan/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909146 While Toyota and the administration of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are going all in on hydrogen, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji proclaims FCVs will struggle to make headway elsewhere. According to Bloomberg, Shoji says the government subsidies meant to push Toyota’s Mirai and other FCVs into the marketplace are likely too high for […]

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While Toyota and the administration of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are going all in on hydrogen, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji proclaims FCVs will struggle to make headway elsewhere.

According to Bloomberg, Shoji says the government subsidies meant to push Toyota’s Mirai and other FCVs into the marketplace are likely too high for other governments to match. He adds that issues surrounding refueling infrastructure and the handling of hydrogen itself will add to the roadblocks awaiting the technology outside of Japan.

Those comments — echoing sentiments by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other hydrogen skeptics — aren’t lost on either Toyota or the Abe administration. Company representative Dion Corbett says the subsidies are needed to help get hydrogen off the ground, citing the high cost of developing fuel-cell technology. That said, Dion believes demand will not only be the highest in Japan — where Abe envisions a “hydrogen society” of fuel-cells for homes and businesses as well as cars — but in Germany, California and the U.S. East Coast.

Though Volkswagen has its doubts, VW Japan representative Yasuo Maruta says the company is keeping its eye on Toyota’s efforts, planning to be no more than three years’ behind R&D work in relation to Toyota.

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Cadillac ELR Outsells Chevrolet SS In August http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/cadillac-elr-outsells-chevrolet-ss-august/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/cadillac-elr-outsells-chevrolet-ss-august/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 12:33:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=908737 The Cadillac ELR flopped. Not because there wasn’t any for you to buy, but because there weren’t any buyers. This is what we knew back in April, and again back in May. July volume, however, was double what General Motors managed in June, which was nearly double what the ELR managed one month before. Now […]

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2014 Chevrolet SSThe Cadillac ELR flopped. Not because there wasn’t any for you to buy, but because there weren’t any buyers. This is what we knew back in April, and again back in May.

July volume, however, was double what General Motors managed in June, which was nearly double what the ELR managed one month before.

Now get this: August sales increased yet again. (There are no year-over-year figures available yet, as the ELR only arrived in December 2013.) 196 Cadillac ELRs were sold in the United States in August 2014, more than the total number of ELRs sold in December, January, February, and March combined.

196 sounds like a lot, right? Well, it sounds like a lot if we’re comparing ELR volume to the sales totals achieved by the Chevrolet SS. 

Let’s not forget, GM had no expectations for the SS. Edmunds reported last year that Chevrolet’s John Fitzpatrick figured 1700-2000 annual SS sales would be a success. (2055 have been sold in the last eight months.)  Mark Reuss had hoped for 3000-5000 per year.

And with numbers like March’s, when 350 SS sedans were sold, that’s exactly what Chevrolet was going to do, around 4200 SS sales in 2014. Those are Porsche Boxster-like numbers, Honda CR-Z-like numbers, Audi Allroad-like numbers.

Yet after averaging 291 sales per month between January and May, the SS has averaged just 203 monthly SS sales over the summer. With only 152 sold in August, the SS fell to its lowest full-month total yet.

It takes a long time for the SS-carrying ship to cross the Pacific. Your local Chevrolet dealer does not have the kind of SS availability to which a repeat Camry buyer has become accustomed. And it’s not as though the SS’s most direct rivals – SRT versions of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, for example – are a dime a dozen.

Yet if you want to better understand just how rare the Chevrolet SS really is, take a moment to consider the fact that, for the first time, Cadillac sold more ELRs in August than Chevrolet sold SSs. (Say it with me, ess-esses.) Operating under the assumption that the ELR is becoming a popular car doesn’t alter this perception of SS rarity, of course, because the ELR is not becoming a popular car. Not by any standard.

Not by the standard of a really expensive Hyundai – Equus sales fell 42% to 253 units in August. Not by the standard of the most expensive SUV – Mercedes-Benz sold 248 G-Wagens last month. The defunct Acura TSX generated 240 sales. Mini sold 228 Pacemans, Scion sold 219 iQs, and Nissan sold 208 GT-Rs.

Here’s the thing, though: GM can sell expensive vehicles in very large numbers. Corvette volume more than quadrupled to 2679 units in August, and Corvette sales have totalled 23,483 units through eight months, more than twice the volume of the whole Jaguar brand.

Sales of the regular-wheelbase Escalade and long-wheelbase Escalade ESV are jointly up jumped 79% last month to 3534 units, more than the Mercedes-Benz GL and Lincoln Navigator lineups combined.

GM’s share of the volume-brand full-size SUV segment shot up to 83% in August as the company’s four nameplates grabbed the top four spots.

But Chevrolet sedans with base prices above $43,000 and Volt-based Cadillac coupes with $75,000 stickers? This is not how GM brings home the bacon.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Tesla, Toyota May Develop New Project Within Three Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/tesla-toyota-may-develop-new-project-within-three-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/tesla-toyota-may-develop-new-project-within-three-years/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909122 Though Toyota and Tesla have, to paraphrase Fleetwood Mac, gone their own way while their RAV4 EV project draws to a close, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he sees his company working with Toyota in two to three years’ time. Automotive News says Musk made the proclamation during a ceremony for the first Model S […]

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Tesla Toyota RAV4 EV

Though Toyota and Tesla have, to paraphrase Fleetwood Mac, gone their own way while their RAV4 EV project draws to a close, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he sees his company working with Toyota in two to three years’ time.

Automotive News says Musk made the proclamation during a ceremony for the first Model S sedans delivered in Japan Monday, stating the project “would probably be something significant, maybe on a much higher volume level.” He added that Tesla loved working with Toyota, and held great respect for the automaker.

When the gesture was brought up with Toyota, however, representative Dion Corbett said the automaker had “nothing to say.” This is likely in part due to recent comments between the two companies over their respective paths toward a greener future; Toyota sees EVs as impractical, Tesla believes FCVs are for fools.

The RAV4 EV joint venture is expected to end once the last of the 2,500 crossovers are sold by the end of the year; Toyota has sold 2,130 RAV4 EVs through August 2014.

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Mahindra Seeking Alliances With Global Players http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mahindra-seeking-alliances-global-players/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mahindra-seeking-alliances-global-players/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 11:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909098 Despite its struggles in its native market — and, perhaps, because of said struggles — Mahindra & Mahindra is seeking to build alliances with a trio of automakers to develop its global presence. The Economic Times reports M&M is joining up with its South Korean brand Ssangyong Motor in their entries into Russia and China […]

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Despite its struggles in its native market — and, perhaps, because of said struggles — Mahindra & Mahindra is seeking to build alliances with a trio of automakers to develop its global presence.

The Economic Times reports M&M is joining up with its South Korean brand Ssangyong Motor in their entries into Russia and China as part of a “coordinated global branding strategy” between the parent company’s two brands. The United States — where Mahindra has had a difficult time selling more than tractors — and Europe — where Ssangyong lost some of its footing prior to M&M’s purchase in 2011 — are also on the radar.

Speaking of Europe, M&M is in alliance talks with both PSA Peugeot Citroën and SAAB AB as far as branding and technology-sharing are concerned. Regarding the former, Mahindra is interested in PSA’s diesel- and compressed air-hybrid technology, with the aim of jumping “into the future generation,” according to French analyst Gautam Sen. In turn, PSA could piggyback on Mahindra into the Indian market it had abandoned in the 1990s. The company attempted to return in 2011 by breaking ground on a new factory in Sanand, only to be undermined by financial difficulties.

As for SAAB, Sen says Mahindra would like to acquire the Saab brand and resurrect it as another way to enter markets in Europe and the U.S. The strategy would involve rebranding and redesigning Mahindra and Ssangyong products into Saabs, but only if “quality and design can come up to the expectations of the typically discerning Saab enthusiast.” That said, he adds that relaunching the Saab brand would be easier said than done, as both Spyker and National Electric Vehicle Sweden can attest.

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