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. Sat, 25 Apr 2015 17:32:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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/ BREAKING: Piëch Resigns Chairmanship, Winterkorn Continues as CEO at VW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/breaking-piech-resigns-chairmanship-winterkorn-continues-ceo-vw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/breaking-piech-resigns-chairmanship-winterkorn-continues-ceo-vw/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 17:26:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1054273 While Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn wears bruises from the conflict, Ferdinand Piëch has paid the ultimate of price and resigned his chairmanship with immediate effect. According to Reuters, the ongoing row between CEO and Chairman at Volkswagen eased this past week, but when the group’s supervisory board put their support behind Winterkorn, the 78-year-old grandson of Ferry Porsche was […]

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"It wasn't Domino's. Someone delivered Wiedekings head." Piech and Winterkorn.  Picture courtesy handelsblatt.de

While Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn wears bruises from the conflict, Ferdinand Piëch has paid the ultimate of price and resigned his chairmanship with immediate effect.

According to Reuters, the ongoing row between CEO and Chairman at Volkswagen eased this past week, but when the group’s supervisory board put their support behind Winterkorn, the 78-year-old grandson of Ferry Porsche was left “isolated” in a five-to-one vote. Sources told the newswire service Piëch’s decision to not support Winterkorn put his own position in jeopardy. Piëch’s wife, Ursula, also resigned her positions within the company.

Piëch will be replaced by Deputy Chairman Berthold Huber in the interim. A vote on when a new Chairman will be chosen has not been announced.

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Chart Of The Day: Imagine The U.S. Auto Industry Without Pickup Trucks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chart-day-imagine-u-s-auto-industry-without-pickup-trucks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chart-day-imagine-u-s-auto-industry-without-pickup-trucks/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 16:34:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053169 With 29% and 30% of their U.S. sales coming from pickup trucks, respectively, General Motors and Ford Motor Company fall from the top two positions to the second and third when auto manufacturer sales are compared without pickups. Toyota, therefore, becomes the top dog with 507,000 non-pickup sales through the first-quarter of 2015, 21,000 more […]

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Industry sales chart no pickup trucks

With 29% and 30% of their U.S. sales coming from pickup trucks, respectively, General Motors and Ford Motor Company fall from the top two positions to the second and third when auto manufacturer sales are compared without pickups.

Toyota, therefore, becomes the top dog with 507,000 non-pickup sales through the first-quarter of 2015, 21,000 more cars, vans, SUVs, and crossovers than General Motors.

Excluding Frontiers, Titans, and Ridgelines doesn’t change the fact that Nissan and Infiniti are still outselling Honda and Acura. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles nearly pulls level with Ford MoCo when the Ram and dominant F-Series, America’s best-selling vehicle line, are left out of the equation.

Those figures don’t accurately reflect the state of the industry. That’s why today’s chart of the day also includes the actual figures. But the second subject line would clarify the state of the industry if the top manufacturers couldn’t lean on their pickup popularity.

U.S. pickup truck sales are up 12% to 567,560 through the first-quarter, equal to 14% of the industry’s year-to-date volume.

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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Wall Street Journal v. GM: A Public Battle For Editorial Independence http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/wall-street-journal-v-gm-public-battle-editorial-independence/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/wall-street-journal-v-gm-public-battle-editorial-independence/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 17:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053417 Once upon a time, The Wall Street Journal faced off against General Motors over editorial independence, and won. According to ProPublica president Richard Tofel, who wrote an entire chapter about the story for his book, “Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism,” the conflict between the two giants […]

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Renaissance Center

Once upon a time, The Wall Street Journal faced off against General Motors over editorial independence, and won.

According to ProPublica president Richard Tofel, who wrote an entire chapter about the story for his book, “Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism,” the conflict between the two giants began over 60 years ago this May.

The story goes that GM CEO Harlow “Red” Curtice happened upon a report in the WSJ about the tactic of selling excess inventory through smaller independent dealers at cut-rate prices – bootlegging – a tactic used by his company and his competitors in Detroit. The report also covered the editorial policies of the newspaper’s local competitors – which had banned advertising of non-franchise dealers involved in bootlegging – citing the Detroit Three’s influence in advertising departments had begun to creep into the newsroom.

As a result, Ward’s Automotive Reports had cut the WSJ off from its weekly newsletter subscription. However, an exclusive published in late May – styling renders of the 1955 models from the Detroit Three – was the straw that broke Curtice’s back.

Fearing that sales of 1954 models would crash as a result of the exclusive, GM cancelled all of its advertising with the newspaper that day and barred access to its weekly production figures; the Associated Press was also barred when GM learned the Journal had tried to go through the media organization to get the figures. Editor Barney Kilgore later told Time magazine his paper declined to attend the “off-the-record” new-model briefing that year, citing the Detroit Three’s tendency to go “off the record” nearly all the time as the reason for not playing the game.

What followed was two months of editorials defending its stance on the two stories, letters to the editor from readers who either weren’t happy with Kilgore’s decision or stood behind the newspaper, and a number of other publications, such as Ad Age and Tide magazine (an advertising trade journal, not to be confused with Time), calling out GM and Curtice’s behavior in the matter.

Speaking of the letters, Kilgore chose one from a reader to pass along with one of his own – calling for a way to settle the issue reasonably – to Curtice. The letter, by Roy Brenholts of Columbus, Ohio, stated that Brenholts would trade one of his two Cadillacs for a Ford instead of trading the Ford he owned for a Chevrolet, adding that he would avoid Cadillac until GM stopped their “Hitlerite attitude” toward the newspaper.

The meeting between Curtice and Kilgore led to two letters being published back-to-back in early July. Curtice wrote that breaking off relations with the WSJ was better than suing – though he wouldn’t hesitate to consider the latter next time – but that he never intended to interfere with editorial. Kilgore, in return, noted that the flow of information – weekly sales figures, news releases et al – had come back to normal, his paper had the right to publish news from authorized and unauthorized sources, and he, not the advertisers, would be the final arbiter in what was published in the first place. This established the WSJ as a newspaper with unflappable independence and integrity before the public in so doing.

[Photo credit: Robert Emperley/Flickr]

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Improves Over 2015 Model In Fuel Economy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-improves-2015-model-fuel-economy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-improves-2015-model-fuel-economy/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:13:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053529 Owners of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata will experience better fuel economy compared to the outgoing 2015 model. Those who choose to pair the roadster’s 2.0-liter Skyactiv I4 with a six-speed automatic will see EPA-rated numbers of 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined, according to Edmunds. Those who pick the manual […]

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Mazda North American Operations MX5Club

Owners of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata will experience better fuel economy compared to the outgoing 2015 model.

Those who choose to pair the roadster’s 2.0-liter Skyactiv I4 with a six-speed automatic will see EPA-rated numbers of 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined, according to Edmunds. Those who pick the manual six-speed, meanwhile, will the same mpg figures in the city and combined, but lose 2 mpg on the highway.

The new ratings are a 29 percent improvement over the 2015 model, whose six-speed auto or manual/2.0-liter I4 combo netted 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined; the five-speed manual had the same highway figure, but gained 1 mpg in the city and 2 mpg combined in comparison.

The improvements are likely linked to the loss of 150 pounds in weight for both 2016 variants, coming to 2,332 for the manual and 2,381 for the auto.

As far as what else the MX-5 Miata has in store for new and old fans alike, Jack Baruth went behind-the-scenes not too long ago to bring back his impressions on the next-gen roadster.

[Photo credit: Mazda]

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Dispatches do Brasil: Renault Re-Invents Itself in Latin America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/dispatches-brasil-renault-re-invents-latin-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/dispatches-brasil-renault-re-invents-latin-america/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053257 Among the first to come to Brazil when the market was opened up again in the 1990s – after a hiatus of almost 50 years when this country closed itself off to the world – Renault has seemingly reached a limit in Brazil. Its market participation has hovered around 6 percent for years. Now, hungry for […]

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Renault Logan

Renault Logan

Among the first to come to Brazil when the market was opened up again in the 1990s – after a hiatus of almost 50 years when this country closed itself off to the world – Renault has seemingly reached a limit in Brazil. Its market participation has hovered around 6 percent for years. Now, hungry for more, the French company is showing its new plans that will deeply affect their operations in Latin America at large and shake up their manufacturing base in South America, most especially Mercosur (namely Brazil and Argentina).

When their Ayrton Senna factory was opened in São José dos Pinhais in Paraná state, their line was in tune to what they produced in Europe. They offered the Clio, Kangoo, Mégane and Scénic. With an emphasis on safety, even the lowly Clio offered dual frontal airbags. At that time, the relative parity between the Brazilian real and American dollar allowed them to import systems such as the aforementioned airbags on the cheap. The minivan Scénic offered space for five, a large trunk, modular seating and became a favorite for families. The Mégane and Kangoo meanwhile suffered at the hands of more established competition and never made a dent in Volkswagen Golf, Fiat Stilo or Ford Focus sales. The Fiat Doblò passenger and commercial versions plus the Uno-based Fiat Fiorino conspired to keep the Kangoo down.

In the Brazilian market, reception was mixed. At the entry level, the Clio had lukewarm success. The majority of compact level car buyers are not exactly flush with money, so buying a new entry into that market was seen as a risky proposition. The Scénic and other minivans slowly, but surely, decimated the station wagons then available on the market. Together with Citroën minivans, Renault owned that market. As it became a favorite, the prices of this type of car rose above the rest of the competition and became expensive to buy.

Undeniably, Renault and other French makes suffered a perception problem. While most think their engines are robust and can take the pressure, suspension systems were and remain under suspicion in the eyes of Brazilian consumers. So, despite placing rather high in consumer satisfaction surveys, Renaults take a hit at re-sale time.

Brazilian Clio

Brazilian Clio

Over the years the American dollar and euro appreciated against the Brazilian real and growing sales plateaued. Renault’s reaction was to cheapen their offerings. Soon, the Clio lost its airbags, losing its appeal to the better off buyers that seemed to favor it over the VW Gol or Fiat Uno. When it was re-designed, it kept the previous car’s internal design. A new Scénic was launched in Europe, but citing cost complications, Renault chose to keep building the old one. Renault also tried to gain market penetration by locally building and selling a Mégane sedan and station wagon. Inevitably, Renault’s line became outmoded and nothing on offer in Europe was sold here.

Of course, errors in reading the market collaborated to their downfall. In the early 2000s, Renault was challenging Ford for fourth place in the Brazilian market. Ford reacted by launching the EcoSport and new Fiesta, new engines, and soon saw the distance between it and Renault grow. Besides the cheapening and non-updating of the line, beginner errors abounded. In Brazil, the Scénic was a solid middle class car, even higher middle class, and not the cheap and cheerful family transportation pod it was in Europe. As such, Brazilian dealers clamored for black and silver Scénics while the French continued offering it in purple, red and other colors the middle class rejected. The Clio, besides keeping the same interiors forever, never changed wheel cover designs or had new versions launched (tricks in which the traditional Brazilian Big Four – Fiat, GM, Volkswagen and Ford – are experts).

In the late 2000s, Renault re-made itself in Brazil. The Scénic was gone. The Kangoo was now only a commercial vehicle. The Clio soldiered on unmolested and seemingly only existed so Renault could keep a foot in the entry-level market. A solution was found though and it was the result of the deepening of the synergies and integration within the scope of the global Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Renault underwent the so-called “Dacia-lization” (Dacia being a Romanian company that Renault uses as its low-cost brand in Europe). The Logan, Sandero and eventually the Duster were launched. In spite of the insipid design, the cars used a Renault-Dacia version of a modern Nissan platform. The Logan family’s claim to fame and a space in the market was that it offered a lot of space for modest prices. Size-wise similar to Focus and Toyota Corolla type cars (sometimes even bigger, trunks tended to be larger), but priced similarly to smaller cars like Gol or Fiat Siena, they appealed to a more rational buyer. After a few years, with the launch of the Duster CUV, Renault was again encroaching on Ford and distancing itself from the Asian brands that were finally “acclimatizing” (by offering compact cars similar to market favorites) to Brazil and had been threatening Renault’s (by then traditional) fifth place in Brazilian sales rankings.

Nov-Ford-Ka-SEL-2015 (3)

As the 2000s became the 2010s, Renault was again under assault. Competition grew. Everybody copied their idea of a larger cars for more modest prices. Fiat launched a bigger Palio and a Grand Siena. Volkswagen do Brasil got into the compact sedan market again with its Voyage. Ford brought the new Fiesta and conjured up the highly competitive new Ka. GM came strong based off of its GM Korea know-how and re-invented themselves in Brazil, becoming the leader of in-car mobile electronics. Toyota got serious in Brazil and the Etios family has been gaining ground, horrible design notwithstanding, based on modern mechanics and a good ride. Hyundai’s HB20 has done the opposite: it has conquered image conscious consumers due to the success of it fluidic design language, in spite of the bad ride. All these companies and cars offered up new technologies and engines, bringing more fuel economy to buyers, extra gadgets and crept up on the Logan family’s cost benefit advantage.

Reacting, Renault has launched a re-designed Logan and Sandero. Though the new designs have been well-accepted and increased sales, this growth has been deemed insufficient. Both Hyundai and Toyota routinely sell more than Renault on a monthly basis and could soon take fifth place in overall sales. As such, Renault studied its South American operations and has cooked up a plan.

Renault Oroch Concept

Renault Oroch Concept

An “un-Dacia-lization” of sorts seems to be in place. Logan and Sandero production is being moved to Argentina. The company is investing heavily in their ancient Santa Isabela factory in that country. Duster production will be kept in Brazil and soon the Oroch pickup (based on the Duster and rumored to be a 1 ton pickup) will be launched. From what the press has been able to piece together, both Duster and Moroch will be produced off of the current platform and updates will be infrequent, following the age-old strategy of competing on price and, also, space. The Duster is larger than EcoSport and the recently launched Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V and Peugeot 2008. The Moroch will dwarf the current Fiat Strada (new, larger version of which has been seen tooling around the factory), VW Saveiro and the old-as-the-hills, barely competitive Chevrolet Montana.

The Moroch however is an indication of the deepening of the CUV event horizon presciently seen by our recently departed Derek Kreindler. Renault is going all-CUV-in. The Renault Captur, a current Clio-based mini CUV is a foregone conclusion. Renault is not even hiding it anymore and it has been seen around the factory in Paraná and on highway tests. This lends credence to the thesis Renault is re-inventing itself. The new Brazilian Clio, the same again as the Euro Clio, should also appear soon, albeit placed in a category above the current Brazilian Clio’s status. Suppliers also say Renault is quoting prices for a sedan version of the Clio (non-existent in Europe) and indicative of the soon to come demise of its midsize sedan offering, the Fluence. Informed journalists in Brazil have stated that the Espace, Renault’s large (and former) minivan, which has turned into a sort of a CUV, is slated to be introduced in Brazil in 2016 as a locally-produced offering.

The current Brazilian Clio is also on its last days. Though reports are conflicting, either a version of Nissan’s own low-cost brand Datsun Go will be built here in Brazil, or a version of the concept recently shown in world Auto Shows by Nissan called the Sway (supposedly an early version of a substitute for the March/Micra line), could gain a Renault badge and come strong in the lower echelons of the Brazilian market.

Meanwhile, in Argentina, besides the heavy modernizing investments at the local plant and the responsibility of building the Logan family, current cars will remain in production. And very interestingly, the new Frontier/Navara pickup that will used by Mercedes Benz to offer its own global midsize pickup (compact PU for Americans) will also gain a Renault badge for sale, initially, all over Latin America. Internally called the Raptur, this will be Renault’s first incursion into the traditional midsize pickup market. It is an important step and will allow Renault to compete in an important market spanning the entirety of Latin America. Coming soon (reports say early 2016) you could soon take your pick and buy your midsize pickup in your preferred flavor – Nissan, Mercedes or Renault – as they will all be built side-by-side at the Argentinian factory.

The next few years will be very important for Renault in Latin America. It will keep and modernize entry-level cars. It will continue offering competitively priced compact cars that offer a bit more and are the bulk of the Brazilian market. It will make new tries, with new product, to gain a presence in upper middle-class garages by “Euro-pizing” its Brazilian production. It will sell CUVs for all pockets. Pickups, small and large will further broaden Renault’s Latin American presence.

If this will be enough to keep Toyota and Hyundai at bay remains to be seen. However, it seems if they will be offering cars, CUVs and trucks, the market wants. Sounds like a plan.

Brazilian Clio Ayrton Senna Factory Hyundai HB20 Nissan Frontier Renault Oroch Concept Santa Isabela Factory Renault Logan Renault Captur European Clio Renault Fluence Renault Kangoo Express Toyota Etios

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More Legislators Move To Ban Red Light Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/legislators-move-ban-red-light-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/legislators-move-ban-red-light-cameras/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053273 The bane of many a motorist and freedom advocate alike, the red light camera’s days may be drawing to a close as more governments move to ban them. Over the past two months alone, legislators in California, Illinois and Texas have moved to do away with the devices based on both civil rights and financial […]

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Red light camera in Beaverton, Oregon

The bane of many a motorist and freedom advocate alike, the red light camera’s days may be drawing to a close as more governments move to ban them.

Over the past two months alone, legislators in California, Illinois and Texas have moved to do away with the devices based on both civil rights and financial concerns, Business Insider reports. The bans in California and Texas would be statewide if made into law, while Illinois’ ban would only apply to suburbs outside of Chicago and other communities with local authority.

The three states join 10 others that have imposed bans on red light cameras and another 19 that never bothered with the issue in the first place. The devices have garnered criticism from those who were caught by them, then received tickets in the mail, all without a chance to defend themselves under due process.

Meanwhile, the cities that once had them in place – such as the majority of the 110 municipalities in California that used red light cameras; only 39 of the 110 remain currently – took them down when they found that revenue from tickets issued didn’t do much to fill the coffers in the first place.

[Photo credit: Chris Phan/Flickr]

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Chevrolet Sonic’s U.S. Subcompact Market Share Is Plunging – Started Near The Top Now It’s Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-sonics-u-s-subcompact-market-share-plunging-started-near-top-now/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-sonics-u-s-subcompact-market-share-plunging-started-near-top-now/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053129 GM’s share of America’s subcompact segment fell below 10% in the first-quarter of 2015 as Chevrolet Sonic volume tumbled 53%, year-over-year. As a whole, the subcompact category is in decline in early 2015, but a large part of the category’s 9% drop can be attributed to the Sonic. Sales of the Sonic decreased by nearly […]

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Chevrolet Sonic sales chart

GM’s share of America’s subcompact segment fell below 10% in the first-quarter of 2015 as Chevrolet Sonic volume tumbled 53%, year-over-year.

As a whole, the subcompact category is in decline in early 2015, but a large part of the category’s 9% drop can be attributed to the Sonic. Sales of the Sonic decreased by nearly 13,000 units over the last three months.

The Sonic ranked as the second-best-selling subcompact in the United States through the first three months of 2014, a position it held at this stage of 2013 and in each of the last three calendar years.

But through the first three months of 2015, the Sonic is America’s fifth-best-selling subcompact, 25,683 sales back of the top-selling Nissan Versa, a vehicle it trailed by fewer than 11,000 units at this stage in 2014.

In 2014’s first-quarter, the Sonic’s market share climbed to 19% thanks to a 4124-unit improvement year-over-year. A market share drop of nearly ten percentage points just one year later is a shock to GM’s small car system.

2015 Chevrolet Sonic lineup

Chevrolet Spark sales are down 5% this year. Chevrolet Cruze volume is off by 7%. Overall Chevrolet car sales are down 17%. Likewise, General Motors car volume in the U.S. is down 17%, a 45,487-unit deficit (year-over-year) that’s been erased by a 21% surge in light trucks, including a 48,046-unit increase among pickup trucks.

GM has known for quite some time that demand for the Sonic was way below previous expectations. Automotive News reported three months ago that Sonic production at the Orion plant in Michigan would be suspended to clear out a Sonic glut.

But it’s taking a while. At the beginning of this month, GM had a 160-day supply of Sonics. That’s well down from the 258-day supply one month earlier, but still well in excess of the 59-day average across the industry.

Meanwhile, the Sonic isn’t the only subcompact suffering from a downturn. The aging Ford Fiesta is down 22% this year. Kia Rio volume has plunged 37%. The Mazda 2, in a replacement phase, is down 94%. But none of those holes are as large as the one left by the dramatically less popular Sonic, without which the subcompact category would be up 1% in early 2015.

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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Is This Cycle World Presenter Stoned? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/cycle-world-presenter-stoned/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/cycle-world-presenter-stoned/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:30:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053065 Cycle World, regarded as one of the best motorcycle magazines despite its horrible print design, picks ten “bikes with character” for their latest video. This chum can only remember five of them. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Marc Cernicky and the guys at Cycle World are just having a laugh (after all, it was recorded on […]

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Cycle World, regarded as one of the best motorcycle magazines despite its horrible print design, picks ten “bikes with character” for their latest video. This chum can only remember five of them.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Marc Cernicky and the guys at Cycle World are just having a laugh (after all, it was recorded on 4/20). Or maybe Marc is just straight-up high out of his mind.

[Source: Boing Boing]

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QOTD: Do You Have To Be Showy To Sell Cars? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/qotd-showy-sell-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/qotd-showy-sell-cars/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 10:30:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053033 I recently realized that Porsche – once noted for producing subtle, performance-focused alternatives to crazy, emotional Italian vehicles – has officially become the German equivalent of Lamborghini. Consider the 911 GT3. When the GT3 first came out back in the early 2000s, it was one of the most subtle performance cars on the road. It […]

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Porsche-911-GT3-RS-07

I recently realized that Porsche – once noted for producing subtle, performance-focused alternatives to crazy, emotional Italian vehicles – has officially become the German equivalent of Lamborghini.

Consider the 911 GT3. When the GT3 first came out back in the early 2000s, it was one of the most subtle performance cars on the road. It had slightly different wheels, slightly updated bodywork, and a slightly enlarged wing. That was it. There was no other way you could possibly know you were dealing with a car that could run rings around any Ferrari on the race track.

Well, that isn’t the case anymore. The latest GT3 has huge wheels. Huge inlets and scoops and air intakes and cooling ducts. Major changes to the bodywork that say “Look at me! I’m a GT3!” And a giant rear wing that could – truly and honestly – double as a desk, or a park bench, or the kind of table you use to mount a circular saw and cut wood, plus the occasional finger.

The GT3 RS is even worse. Back when the 997.2 GT3 RS came out, it was already becoming clear that Porsche had diverted from its status as a formerly great purveyor of subtle sports cars. But in case you weren’t sure, they painted the wheels red, stuck an even larger wing on the back, and stuck red “checkered flag” decals down the sides. I can’t even imagine being seen in this car.

It’s not just the 911 that seems to be more ostentatious than ever before. The rest of the Porsche lineup has also embraced the changes: there are now giant wheels where there used to be average-sized ones. There are huge LED running lights on the front. The Panamera is about as subtle as a brick through a window.

Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG. Photo courtesy Autoblog

But it isn’t just Porsche who’s making these changes. When I was growing up, base-model Mercedes products were really restrained. You had dull, simple wheels, and dull, simple designs, and some of them even had black plastic cladding on the bottom to remind everyone that no, this person didn’t opt for a high-performance version or the most expensive S-Class.

Well, that seems to have changed. In 2015, there is no possible way to distinguish AMG cars from non-AMG cars unless you get a look under the hood. I have especially noticed this on the CLA: I once drove the CLA45 AMG, and I thought it was amazing, so I always get very excited when I see a CLA45 on the roads. Except it’s almost never an actual CLA45. It’s usually just a CLA250, with a bigger bumper, and bigger wheels, and even factory AMG badging as part of some annoying “AMG Sport Package.”

Audi, too, is playing this game. Remember the B5 S4, the early-2000s model that offered only subtle updates — painted rocker panels and different wheels — over the standard model? Today’s Audi “S” and “RS” cars are far different. They’re subtle, but showy. They have huge grilles, and big wheels, and obvious body kits. They’re like the kid who raises his hand in class and casually mentions that his dad is a CEO.

This annoys me, because I’ve always enjoyed the automotive “sleeper.” I once had a Mercedes E63 AMG station wagon painted metallic gold that looked – to the vast majority of observers – like the kind of car your grandfather would buy once he got too old to climb up into SUVs. But to people who knew, it was a monster: 500 horsepower, giant V8, Ferrari-style acceleration. It was one of the most exciting cars I’ve ever driven, largely because no one had any idea what it was capable of.

But in today’s world, we’ve gone the other way. More and more modern cars are offering the look of a fast car without the actual goods to back it up. How did this happen? Why did this happen? And in today’s automotive world, is it really necessary to be showy in order to sell cars?

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While You Were Sleeping: Oregon To Allow Lane Splitting, Australia Opening Borders and Andy Wilman Quits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-oregon-allow-lane-splitting-australia-opening-borders-andy-wilman-quits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-oregon-allow-lane-splitting-australia-opening-borders-andy-wilman-quits/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 10:20:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053009 After their automotive industry has been slowly devastated over the last decade, Australia may open its borders to private imports of new and like-new cars. Top Gear producer Andy Wilman quits show (BBC) Goodbye, Andy. We’ll see you soon. Nissan Australia boss frustrated with uninformed politicians (CarAdvice) Holy shit, Australia has no idea what it wants to […]

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Pontiac G8 GT rear with Australian license plate

After their automotive industry has been slowly devastated over the last decade, Australia may open its borders to private imports of new and like-new cars.

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Mercedes Eyeing Crossovers For Maybach, smart Brands http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-eyeing-crossovers-maybach-smart-brands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-eyeing-crossovers-maybach-smart-brands/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 06:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053545 Not too long ago, Mercedes didn’t have plans for either a Maybach or smart crossover. Looks like those plans have changed. Should the Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand gain a crossover to place alongside the S600 and Pullman models, sales and marketing boss Ola Kallenius says the Mercedes GLS set for 2017 would be “the more likely scenario,” […]

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Mercedes-Maybach 01

Not too long ago, Mercedes didn’t have plans for either a Maybach or smart crossover. Looks like those plans have changed.

Should the Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand gain a crossover to place alongside the S600 and Pullman models, sales and marketing boss Ola Kallenius says the Mercedes GLS set for 2017 would be “the more likely scenario,” Autocar reports.

The GLS would differ from the current GL/GLS model, as it would be based upon the S-Class’ current architecture to better go up against other high-end luxury SUVs and crossovers. It would also be powered by the same 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 found in the S600 as well as a 4.0-liter V8 possible for tax purposes in China. Diesel, however, would be out of the question, as Mercedes expects to move the GLS in China and the U.S. where diesel isn’t on the radar of most motorists.

Meanwhile, smart could gain an SUV or crossover based on the forfour/Renault Twingo platform, a move that would bring greater use to said platform beyond its current role. The vehicle would likely improve smart’s long-term profit margins, though Daimler AG chief Dieter Zetsche cautions there would be some engineering challenges involved with the platform’s rear-engine, rear-drive design.

[Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz]

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Saudi Prince Offers Bentleys To Pilots In Yemen Bombing Raid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/saudi-prince-offers-bentleys-pilots-yemen-bombing-raid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/saudi-prince-offers-bentleys-pilots-yemen-bombing-raid/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 20:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052425 After the end of the first phase of a military campaign in Yemen, one Saudi prince decided to reward the pilots with Bentleys for a job well done. Saudi royal family member Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal tweeted that he would give the 100 pilots involved in the bombing operation 100 Bentleys “in appreciation of their […]

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2016-bentley-continental-gt-17

After the end of the first phase of a military campaign in Yemen, one Saudi prince decided to reward the pilots with Bentleys for a job well done.

Saudi royal family member Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal tweeted that he would give the 100 pilots involved in the bombing operation 100 Bentleys “in appreciation of their role” in said operation, the BBC reports. The tweet was shared over 28,000 times and favorited by over 5,000, with many praising the prince for his “generosity.”

However, those affected by the bombing weren’t too thrilled by the proposal. One Yemeni chastised the gesture, stating that no ambulances would be coming to the hospitals the pilots likely helped fill. Others noted the disparity between Al-Waleed’s wealth and the poverty among those in Yemen, with one Jordanian saying “100 or 200 lives for a Bentley” was how “cheap” a human life was for the Saudis.

The original tweet was eventually deleted, with Saudi media reporting the account as having been hacked; the prince himself did not claim this happened.

[Photo credit: Bentley]

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Marchionne Isn’t Finding Any Potential Dates For Marriage http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/marchionne-isnt-finding-potential-dates-marriage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/marchionne-isnt-finding-potential-dates-marriage/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 19:09:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052385 Though FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne is still looking to merge his company with another automaker, no one is all that willing to tie the knot. Despite Marchionne’s quest to consolidate the industry by leading by example, he’s managed to strike out in some way with Ford, General Motors, Peugeot, Renault-Nissan and Volkswagen. Regarding GM, CEO Mary […]

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2016 Fiat 500X Trekking Plus

Though FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne is still looking to merge his company with another automaker, no one is all that willing to tie the knot.

Despite Marchionne’s quest to consolidate the industry by leading by example, he’s managed to strike out in some way with Ford, General Motors, Peugeot, Renault-Nissan and Volkswagen.

Regarding GM, CEO Mary Barra stated Thursday that her company already had plans of its own and that it wasn’t interested in consolidation with another automaker, according to Detroit Free Press:

We laid out a comprehensive plan that takes us through the early part of next decade. We’re already in that top tier. We have a well-articulated plan and we are not going to entertain anything that would distract us from achieving that plan.

Meanwhile, a proposed tie-up with Volkswagen came to naught, though Marchionne stated such a thing was never in the cards in the first place, despite claims by VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch of having met with FCA officials to discuss buying a part or all of FCA.

Though there are still other smaller automakers Marchionne could pursue in the spirit of consolidation, like Mazda and Tata, there’s the issue of his own company’s performance as of late. Already stuck with large debts, Forbes states profitability is a major issue among shareholders regarding the automaker. In the U.S. alone, the issue stems from its pursuit of sales volume over profit via aggressive incentivizing. As a result, margins remain at 4 percent and pre-tax earnings have climbed a mere $2.7 billion, even with revenues doubling by $40 billion since the start of the new decade. Thus, no company would likely consider consolidating with FCA.

As for why Marchionne is banging the drum of consolidation, especially as far as his company is concerned, it comes down to survival in the face of competition from outsiders like Google and Apple. The arrival of non-traditional companies like the two tech giants could force automakers to keep up with the pace of change such companies would set the further the latter group digs into the former.

For now, though, the FCA CEO laments the difficulty in finding a partner, going as far as to provide Bloomberg with a metaphor about the search earlier this month:

One of the most difficult things to do is to get the turkey to invite himself to Thanksgiving dinner.

[Photo credit: FCA]

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General Motors Doing Well In Midsize Truck Segment, Success May Not Last http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/general-motors-well-midsize-truck-segment-success-may-not-last/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/general-motors-well-midsize-truck-segment-success-may-not-last/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052369 General Motors’ return to the midsize truck segment has done wonders for the automaker and the market, but skeptics aren’t sure how long that will last. Ever since the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins left for the showroom last fall, the segment has grown to over 2 percent of the overall U.S. new-vehicle market […]

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado front side 2

General Motors’ return to the midsize truck segment has done wonders for the automaker and the market, but skeptics aren’t sure how long that will last.

Ever since the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins left for the showroom last fall, the segment has grown to over 2 percent of the overall U.S. new-vehicle market from 1.4 percent last summer, Reuters reports. Industry execs add that as many as 500,000 midsize pickups could be sold this year, double what was sold in 2014.

However, IHS Automotive analyst Tom Libby found that 9 out of 10 Colorado and Canyon owners traded in other GM cars and trucks for the smaller pickups, with over 16 percent coming from ownership of Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras alone. Libby warns this could be a sign of undercutting of sales of models with higher margins.

GM execs and dealers, on the other hand, are happy with the midsize twins. GM President Dan Ammann called the duo a “very good investment,” while GMC’s director of marketing, Rich Latek, says the midsize segment as a whole is “a sleeper segment with huge opportunity.” AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson adds the Colorado and Canyon happen to have been the right trucks to come at the right time to give the segment a shot in the arm.

The party may not last for the duo, though. LMC Automotive notes that the segment would hold at 2 percent for this year, then slip back down by 2020. Meanwhile, the twins would fizzle out from projected sales of 74,000 for the Colorado and 29,500 for the Canyon this year, falling 8.4 percent and 21 percent over the next five years.

[Photo credit: Blake Z. Rong/The Truth About Cars]

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Fifth-Gen Honda Step WGN Debuts With New 2016 Civic Engine, Tailgate System http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/fifth-gen-honda-step-wgn-debuts-new-2016-civic-engine-tailgate-system/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/fifth-gen-honda-step-wgn-debuts-new-2016-civic-engine-tailgate-system/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 17:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052169 Honda revealed the fifth-gen Step WGN for the Japanese market Thursday, which not only features a new flexible tailgate, but the same engine planned for the 2016 Civic. The main draw for the seven-passenger Step WGN is the “Waku Waku” tailgate, which can be lifted up in most circumstances, or can be opened from the side […]

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Honda Step WGN 01

Honda revealed the fifth-gen Step WGN for the Japanese market Thursday, which not only features a new flexible tailgate, but the same engine planned for the 2016 Civic.

The main draw for the seven-passenger Step WGN is the “Waku Waku” tailgate, which can be lifted up in most circumstances, or can be opened from the side via the tailgate’s sub-door. The sub-door has three levels of opening angles, allowing greater ease of access to cargo for occupants when the kei van is parked in a tight space, such as a shopping center or home garage. Third-row passengers can also use the door to exit without opening the full tailgate when the door is paired with the third-row 60-40 Magic Seat.

Under the hood is the 1.5-liter direct-injection VTEC turbo set to provide power for the 2016 Civic. Horsepower and torque figures were not mentioned at this time, but Honda claims output is “equivalent to that of a 2.4-litre engine even while driving with multiple passengers and on hilly roads.” Power is directed to the front or all four corners via CVT.

[Photo credit: Honda]

Honda Step WGN Gallery

Honda Step WGN 01 Honda Step WGN 05 Honda Step WGN 09 Honda Step WGN 02 Honda Step WGN 06 Honda Step WGN 10 Honda Step WGN 07 Honda Step WGN 08

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James May Bidding Farewell To Top Gear Unless Clarkson Returns http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/james-may-bidding-farewell-top-gear-unless-clarkson-returns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/james-may-bidding-farewell-top-gear-unless-clarkson-returns/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:17:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052281 Top Gear presenter James May is saying farewell to the show, as hosting it with Richard Hammond and a “surrogate” Jeremy Clarkson would be “lame.” May explained hiring a replacement for the dismissed host is a “non-starter” at best, as the chemistry that made the trio what it was would be hard to replicate without Clarkson, […]

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James May

Top Gear presenter James May is saying farewell to the show, as hosting it with Richard Hammond and a “surrogate” Jeremy Clarkson would be “lame.”

May explained hiring a replacement for the dismissed host is a “non-starter” at best, as the chemistry that made the trio what it was would be hard to replicate without Clarkson, according to The Guardian:

It has to be the three of us. You can’t just put a surrogate Jeremy in and expect it to carry on. It would be forced. I don’t believe they would be stupid enough to try that.

May added he’d like to continue working with the BBC on other projects and there may be a possibility of all three returning to Top Gear someday.

Regarding Clarkson’s dismissal as a result of the “fracas” between he and producer Oisin Tymon in March, the host says the BBC “haven’t completely closed the door on Jeremy’s return,” adding the broadcaster only decided not to renew his contract instead of outright firing and/or banning him.

Whether the trio would reunite for a production elsewhere, May did not rule it out, though non-compete clauses in at least one of the presenters’ contracts would make the jump difficult for now.

May also said he would be happy to film new studio and other footage for the remaining three episodes of Top Gear previously cancelled. The BBC says those three would air sometime this year, with this summer being the earliest.

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

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Volkswagen Takes Silver In Quarterly Sales Amid Lingering Leadership Battle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/volkswagen-takes-silver-quarterly-sales-amid-lingering-leadership-battle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/volkswagen-takes-silver-quarterly-sales-amid-lingering-leadership-battle/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052129 While the dust-up between chairman Ferdinand Piëch and CEO Martin Winterkorn lingers on, Volkswagen looks to take silver on the global sales podium in 2015. Amid reports from German press agency dpa regarding Piëch’s desire to replace Winterkorn with either Porsche’s Matthias Mueller or Skoda’s Winfried Vahland prior to VW’s annual shareholder meeting early next […]

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2013 Volkswagen Up

While the dust-up between chairman Ferdinand Piëch and CEO Martin Winterkorn lingers on, Volkswagen looks to take silver on the global sales podium in 2015.

Amid reports from German press agency dpa regarding Piëch’s desire to replace Winterkorn with either Porsche’s Matthias Mueller or Skoda’s Winfried Vahland prior to VW’s annual shareholder meeting early next month, the chairman denied the allegations to German newspaper Bild, Automotive News Europe reports.

Piëch said he had agreed to support Winterkorn following a meeting with board members in Austria last week. However, broadcasting network NDR says the chairman doesn’t feel bound by the agreement, and is seeking support from the Porsche and Piëch families to oust the CEO. The two families hold 50.7 percent of VW voting rights, a factor that could sway the state of Lower Saxony and German unions to vote in favor of Piëch’s chosen champion for the role. Both groups, though, stand firm behind Winterkorn and the board’s decision.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen is closing in on its immediate goal of becoming the second largest automaker in the world by the end of 2015. According to AutoGuide, the automaker sold 2.49 million units from its family of brands between January and March 2015, edging out General Motors for the second spot on the sales podium by 70,000 units; Toyota retains the gold for now. The figure is also a 1.8-percent improvement compared to 2014.

[Photo credit: Volkswagen]

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Can American Honda Really Sell 2000 Civic Type Rs Per Month? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/can-american-honda-really-sell-2000-civic-type-rs-per-month/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/can-american-honda-really-sell-2000-civic-type-rs-per-month/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052033 It’s going to be a while before you can buy a next-gen Honda Civic Type R in North America. We’ve seen the relatively thinly veiled version of the next Civic. Patent images were published on TTAC last week. But, according to AutoGuide’s Colum Wood, American Honda’s Executive Vice President, John Mendel, told reporters after the […]

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2001 Honda Civic Type RIt’s going to be a while before you can buy a next-gen Honda Civic Type R in North America.

We’ve seen the relatively thinly veiled version of the next Civic. Patent images were published on TTAC last week. But, according to AutoGuide’s Colum Wood, American Honda’s Executive Vice President, John Mendel, told reporters after the New York Auto Show that the Civic Type R won’t appear here until at least 2017. “It could be an ‘18 by the time it gets here,” Mendel said.

Clearly, the pricing scheme for the Civic Type R is many months away from being revealed, let alone determined. Yet the most interesting revelation from Mendel wasn’t about the wait, but rather the number of Type Rs Honda believes the company can sell in the United States each month after the car arrives.

“I’d hope we could sell a couple thousand a month,” Mendel said, a number which – in current terms – would have accounted for approximately 8% of the Civics sold in America in the first-quarter of 2015.

Sound high?

2015 Honda Civic Concept

Sales figures for many direct Civic Type R rivals aren’t made public. Ford, for example, doesn’t isolate Focus ST numbers from the overall Focus’s monthly tally, nor are the Focus RS’s figures likely to be discussed.

Subaru, however, has averaged nearly 2200 WRX/STi sales over the last 15 months. Granted, those are combined numbers, not completely dissimilar from a Civic Si/Type R combo. Volkswagen’s latest edition of the Golf R is only now being launched. 478 were sold in March, the Mk7 Golf R’s second month on sale. Over the last nine months, VW USA averaged 1816 monthly Golf GTI sales.

However, the Impreza on which the WRX and STi are based and the Golf that’s used as a foundation for the GTI and R don’t compete in the same league as the Civic family. The Civic is America’s second-best-selling small car. The Impreza is, at best, a moderately high-volume car. Even at its current fast-growing clip, the Golf is a low-volume compact.

Through the first-quarter of 2015, the WRX/STi accounts for 32% of all Impreza sales. The GTI outsells the diesel and gas-powered Golf, though only by a slim margin.

Civic Type R future sales chart

A sampling of current sales figures of potential CTR rivals

Two questions come to mind. One, is there space in the hot hatch market (yes, the WRX/STi are sedan-only) for 2000 more monthly sales from a new entry? Two, even with the Civic hatch originating in the UK, does the overall Civic family’s breadth and popularity potentially make 2000 monthly sales a small matter?

As always, it’ll come down to price. Subaru USA manages to sell more than 2000 WRXs and STis each month with base prices around $27,000 and $35,000. The GTI is only slightly more value-conscious than the WRX; the Golf R is slightly more dear than an entry-level STi. Honda will have the advantage of offering the newer, brighter, flashier thing, a thing we haven’t been able to own in North America before.

The very fact that American Honda wants to sell around 2000 Civic Type Rs per month suggests the price point may indeed be in the affordable realm, which could be some of the best news enthusiasts have received in quite some time.

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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Mercedes Slapped With $56M Fine in China for “Price Fixing” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-slapped-56m-fine-china-price-fixing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-slapped-56m-fine-china-price-fixing/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052089 The Chinese province of Jiangsu has levied a 350 million yuan ($56 million USD) fine against Mercedes-Benz in continued efforts to break perceived monopolies in car and part sales. It’s the largest fine given to an automaker to date. The latest fine aimed at a foreign automaker comes after similar actions against a “Chinese venture of […]

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Mercedes-Maybach-S600-Pullman

The Chinese province of Jiangsu has levied a 350 million yuan ($56 million USD) fine against Mercedes-Benz in continued efforts to break perceived monopolies in car and part sales. It’s the largest fine given to an automaker to date.

The latest fine aimed at a foreign automaker comes after similar actions against a “Chinese venture of Volkswagen and a sales unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler division” amounted to a combined $46 million, says the report from Automotive News. The specifics of the Mercedes fine point at the automaker forcing dealers to set minimum prices for cars and spare parts. The pricing regulator in Jiangsu province also fined Mercedes dealers to the tune of 7.7 million yuan ($1.25 million USD).

Mercedes-Benz China said they accept the decision taken by the provincial pricing regulator and has “taken all appropriate steps” to comply with the law in the future.

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Crapwagon Outtake: The Ultimate … Machine http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/crapwagon-outtake-ultimate-machine/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/crapwagon-outtake-ultimate-machine/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 11:15:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050441 Insert your own preferred derogatory descriptor in the title. The E36 M3 – lauded as a wonderful driver’s car, yet derided as a watered-down car unworthy of the ///M badge. Built in reasonably high numbers, this M3 will never be as collectible as it’s predecessor, the Mighty E30, nor as beastly as the E46. I […]

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Insert your own preferred derogatory descriptor in the title.

The E36 M3 – lauded as a wonderful driver’s car, yet derided as a watered-down car unworthy of the ///M badge. Built in reasonably high numbers, this M3 will never be as collectible as it’s predecessor, the Mighty E30, nor as beastly as the E46.

I think that’s ok.

While this generation of M (at least in North America) is indeed down on power compared to later models, there is still plenty of bargain performance to be had. Bargain, that is, for those who can handle most of the maintenance and repairs themselves – and also have backup transportation should when the water pump decide to disintegrate.

This example on eBay carries the Luxury Package, which replaces the cheap leather door cards with slightly less cheap leather door cards. The seats look to be nicer, too, than the standard M3.With fewer than 50k on the odometer, this E36 M3 looks pampered and ready for another lifetime of cheap hoonage.

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QOTD: How Would You Rename All The Lincolns? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/qotd-rename-lincolns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/qotd-rename-lincolns/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:31:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1051921 Continental. Zepher. Coronation. Lincoln has some great names in its history – much better than the MK-add-a-letter-here nomenclature of today. Actually, if your model naming scheme is best described as nomenclature, you’re probably doing it wrong. I won’t bore you with the Lincoln history you already know. Wikipedia can do that for me. I just want to talk […]

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Continental. Zepher. Coronation. Lincoln has some great names in its history – much better than the MK-add-a-letter-here nomenclature of today. Actually, if your model naming scheme is best described as nomenclature, you’re probably doing it wrong.

I won’t bore you with the Lincoln history you already know. Wikipedia can do that for me. I just want to talk about names, anyway.

Yesterday, the news Lincoln may use proper model names was met with great joy amongst the Best & Brightest. And for good reason. The Continental has always been gorgeous in the most American way possible. It’s a massive barge of freedom; as much as 2.85 Imperial tons of freedom in the ’60s. That’s a lot of freedom.

But, what about every other model in the current Lincoln lineup? What other names from Lincoln’s past (or future…*dun dun dun*) could be used to rename its current set of cars and SUVs?

Also, don’t bother renaming the MKT. We’ll just assume it’s dead so this process is easier on all of us.

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While You Were Sleeping: “Copy-and-Paste” Design, Dirt Track Racing, Real Fuel Economy, and Butterfly Wings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-copy-paste-design-dirt-track-racing-real-fuel-economy-butterfly-wings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-copy-paste-design-dirt-track-racing-real-fuel-economy-butterfly-wings/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:05:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1051897 Come on, China. We know you can design a car on your own. Jaguar Land Rover forced to accept Range Rover Evoque lookalike from China’s Jiangling (Automotive News, sub. req.) The same company that made that crappy Warthog-wannabee we talked about yesterday won’t get sued by JLR for their Evoque copy. The best part of the article is […]

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Come on, China. We know you can design a car on your own.

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Suzuki Recalls 2M Amid Reports Of Smoking Ignitions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/suzuki-recalls-2m-amid-reports-smoking-ignitions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/suzuki-recalls-2m-amid-reports-smoking-ignitions/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 22:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1051009 Suzuki is recalling a record 2 million vehicles to replace ignition switches amid reports of smoke and fumes being emitted from the part. The recall adds 1,873,000 vehicles to the 168,000 previously recalled late last month, Reuters reports. Both figures apply to nine models made in Japan, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda AZ-Wagon, Mazda Carol, […]

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2003 Suzuki Wagon R

Suzuki is recalling a record 2 million vehicles to replace ignition switches amid reports of smoke and fumes being emitted from the part.

The recall adds 1,873,000 vehicles to the 168,000 previously recalled late last month, Reuters reports. Both figures apply to nine models made in Japan, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda AZ-Wagon, Mazda Carol, and Suzuki’s own Alto, Wagon R and Swift. The recall for the latter three covers vehicles built between 1998 and 2009.

Another 133,700 models in the new recall were sold overseas in Australia and Europe, including the aforementioned Swift, Alto and Cruze.

Thus far, 67 reports of smoking switches have been reported, including 18 in police cars. The reports have all come from Japan.

[Photo credit: Kuha455405/Wikipedia]

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Volvo Group Appoints Martin Lundstedt To CEO Role http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/volvo-group-appoints-martin-lundstedt-ceo-role/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/volvo-group-appoints-martin-lundstedt-ceo-role/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 21:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050953 In a surprise move by Swedish truck builder Volvo Group AB, the company has replaced president and CEO Olof Persson with Scania AB boss Martin Lundstedt. Group chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told The Wall Street Journal the board came to the conclusion the company would be “better served by someone with longer experience in the truck industry” […]

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Martin-Lundstedt

In a surprise move by Swedish truck builder Volvo Group AB, the company has replaced president and CEO Olof Persson with Scania AB boss Martin Lundstedt.

Group chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told The Wall Street Journal the board came to the conclusion the company would be “better served by someone with longer experience in the truck industry” than Persson, who had been its CEO for four years prior to Wednesday’s announcement. Svanberg added that one couldn’t reach world leadership via cost-cutting – such as the kr10-billion ($1.15 billion USD) program from 2012 through 2015 that cut 4,000 jobs – but through “clear vision” of what the company seeks to accomplish.

The move comes after Swedish business newspaper Dagens Industri reported claims of Svanberg seeking to replace Persson amid frustrations with Volvo Group’s performance despite the overhaul program meant to improve profit margins. The company’s shareholders held similar criticisms of Persson’s restructuring program and the pace at which it was implemented.

As for what Lundstedt will bring to the table, Svanberg praised his 25 years of experience in the commercial truck industry as well as his “winning leadership style.” Lundstedt shares some of the credit in maintaining Scania’s margins in the market, which had stood at 9.2 percent throughout 2014.

Lundstedt will take over as Volvo Group’s CEO in October. Chief Financial Officer Jan Gurander – who worked under Lundstedt as Scania’s CFO in the early 2000s – will be the company’s interim leader effective immediately.

[Photo credit: Scania]

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Supreme Court Rules Police Cannot Drag Out Traffic Stops http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/supreme-court-rules-police-cannot-drag-traffic-stops/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/supreme-court-rules-police-cannot-drag-traffic-stops/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 20:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050905 In a 6-3 decision Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police cannot hold motorists beyond what is necessary to conduct routine traffic stops. The majority opinion in Rodriguez v. United States – penned by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – determined “without additional reasonable suspicion, the officer must allow the seized person to depart once the […]

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In a 6-3 decision Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police cannot hold motorists beyond what is necessary to conduct routine traffic stops.

The majority opinion in Rodriguez v. United States – penned by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – determined “without additional reasonable suspicion, the officer must allow the seized person to depart once the purpose of the stop has concluded,” Autoblog reports.

The ruling comes from a case between Nebraska police officer Morgan Struble and driver Dennys Rodriguez, the latter pulled over for a routine stop before a drug-sniffing dog was used to find drugs in the vehicle. The issue that led to the Supreme Court’s ruling was the amount of time it took to complete said stop, which would have ended the moment Struble issued the written warning to Rodriguez. Instead, the officer kept the driver stopped until backup arrived to conduct the search.

Though lower courts had ruled that a wait of less than 10 minutes was a minimal intrusion into the driver’s Fourth Amendment rights at worst, the Supreme Court declared that the stop could only last for as long as was needed to conclude the original purpose for the stop.

Law enforcement groups warn the ruling could actually lengthen the time for a given stop or force officers to forego safety to conduct a stop as quickly as possible, a view shared by Justice Samuel Alito in his dissenting opinion. Alito wrote Struble’s apparent mistake “was following prudent procedures motivated by legitimate safety concerns.”

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

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