Category: Industry

By on April 28, 2017

1-Ethanol-Gas-006

Higher-octane fuel holds more energy than bargain basement gasoline, giving it the potential to generate more horsepower and deliver highly marketable fuel economy figures to automakers. It should be at the top of every car manufacturer’s wish list. But, because an extra-high octane rating would warrant an extra-large bill at the pump, muscle car owners are left hunting for that one station that sells 94.

Unlike Europe, it’s a low-octane lifestyle here in North America, though hushed, tentative first steps are being taken to give car manufacturers what they so desperately crave.

Still, no automaker wants to say it. Read More >

By on April 28, 2017

self-driving uber advanced tech center autonomous car

Anthony Levandowski, the man at the nucleus of Alphabet Inc.’s intellectual property lawsuit against Uber Technologies, has abandoned his position as the team lead for the firm’s autonomous vehicle development.

Uber explained that Levandowski’s new role is less critical and has no authority over the company’s LIDAR technology, which he is accused of stealing from Alphabet’s Waymo when it was still part of Google. Since the lawsuit, Uber has done everything possible to distance itself from the man without outright firing him.  Read More >

By on April 28, 2017

2017 Ford F-150 Lariat - Image: Ford

What a difference a few (hundred thousand) recalls make. In a sales market best described as stagnant, a widespread vehicle glitch can dog an automaker’s balance sheet. That seems to be the case at Ford Motor Company, which saw its first-quarter profit fall 35 percent on a combination of factors — not the least of which was a pair of recalls of engine fires and faulty door latches.

Elsewhere in the domestic market, General Motors rode to the financial finish line with a record post-bankruptcy net income while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles climbed further into the black. Read More >

By on April 27, 2017

Tesla Factory California

Tesla Motors has smooth-talked its Californian workforce out of unionizing for some time, but the labor war is now being waged on two fronts.

Since acquiring German supplier Grohmann Engineering, that company’s workforce has accused Tesla of unfair wages and dissolving established business ties to focus solely on the upcoming Model 3. Elon Musk was forced to personally reassure Grohmann, now called Tesla Advanced Automation Germany, to keep it from syncing up with autoworkers’ union IG Metall and going on strike.

Since the supplier is an essential part of the Model 3’s timely production, Tesla has changed tactics and is now throwing more money at Germany and promising extra jobs in the hope of avoiding work stoppages. It also apparently removed the company’s CEO and founder, Klaus Grohmann, after repeated clashes with Musk over the firm’s future.  Read More >

By on April 27, 2017

[Image: Volkswagen/Youtube]

It was hard not to like the funky Volkswagen T-Roc concept when it appeared at pre-diesel scandal auto shows. Two doors! A targa-like removable top! Pillarless side glass! A low-slung, athletic body primed for on- and off-road adventures!

C’mon, folks — that’s fun stuff. Sadly, reality intervened, and the production-bound T-Roc is not the party animal it was in college.

In a revealing teaser video issued by VW, a camouflaged T-Roc is seen blasting through an arid landscape, presumably on its way to your driveway. It’s our best look yet at the model, which is scheduled to bow in Europe later this year and is reportedly green-lit for a utility-hungry America.

Minus its compact dimensions and optional 4Motion all-wheel drive, there’s clearly something missing from this production vehicle: everything that made the concept interesting. Read More >

By on April 27, 2017

pumping-gas fuel

A slew of automakers are scheduled for a Thursday meeting with the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation to go over existing Obama-era efficiency rules. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will both be on hand to discuss — and likely reassure — manufacturers on the future of the guidelines.

In March, President Donald Trump ordered an extensive review of U.S. light vehicle fuel-efficiency standards for the 2022-2025 time frame, despite the Obama administration locking them in well ahead of the midterm review’s April 2018 deadline. The decision was rushed to maintain the administration’s climate change policy and avoid any tampering from incoming Trump appointees. While there remains much to be done before the standing emission limits can be rolled back, wheels are now in motion.  Read More >

By on April 27, 2017

[Image: Daimler AG]

Remember when the boxy little Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster bowed with its innovative retractable hardtop back in 1997? The model provided Germanophiles with an alternative to the BMW Z3 and gave the brand a healthy injection of youthful, downmarket sportiness.

Well, the recently refreshed two-seater — which adopted the SLC moniker for 2017 — seems to be running on a combination of gasoline and borrowed time. Read More >

By on April 27, 2017

2013 Mazdaspeed 3 - Image: Mazda Canada

My, how time flies. Nearly half a decade has passed since Mazda, undoubtedly an automaker that believes in performance, last offered a Mazdaspeed product.

Not since 2004 and 2005, when 5,142 Mazdaspeed MX-5s were delivered in the United States market, has Mazda’s most obvious performance car been available in a power-up version.

Not since the first-generation Mazda 6’s 2005/2006 Mazdaspeed tenure has Mazda’s midsize sedan been offered in performance guise.

And after following up one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars of its era, the Mazdaspeed Protege, with the Mazdaspeed3 in 2007 and another in 2010, Mazda hasn’t had a hot hatch contender to battle the Volkswagen Golf GTI and R, Ford’s ST and RS models, the Honda Civic Si (and now Type R), the Subaru WRX, and Mini’s Cooper S since 2013.

So, is Mazdaspeed dead? Read More >

By on April 26, 2017

bmw grille

As vehicle sales growth gradually cools off, BMW has found itself continuing to lose ground to its competitors — but it wasn’t always this way. The company spent years as the luxury brand par excellence before seeing the likes of Jaguar, Tesla, and historic rival Mercedes-Benz begin syphoning off its consumer base.

It looked to be in denial for some time, but it is now evident that Bayerische Motoren Werke has become painfully aware of its own shortcomings. The company has even begun holding employee rallies to address its problems and potentially scare the crap out of workers. Since January, the German automaker has taken its marketing team, factory managers, 14,000 engineers, and a portion of its general workforce through day-long events that illustrate just how far it has fallen.   Read More >

By on April 26, 2017

[Public domain]

The frustration never seems to end for Hyundai executives. After last year’s Korean labor strife and political scandal, the brand now faces flagging fortunes in the all-important North American market, all thanks to a car-heavy lineup that once guaranteed piles of profit.

Now, the automaker faces the same problem in another global growth engine — China. While that market has also discovered its love for crossovers and SUVs, there’s another problem that Hyundai can’t turn around by rushing a new vehicle to production. Hyundai, it seems, can’t do a damn thing about high-altitude defensive missiles. Read More >

By on April 26, 2017

2017 Buick LaCrosse - Image: Buick

Native advertising is funny. Not because native advertising, the kind of marketing that appears as though it is the content of a specific publication aside from a disclaimer or two, shouldn’t exist. In a land of free speech, companies should be permitted to tell stories in just about any way they wish to do so.

No, native advertising humors me when it becomes obvious just how difficult it was for a company to strike the right balance. Honesty is key, or else credibility is lost. The Truth About Cars can’t say, “TTAC is the best automotive site on the internet with the best writers and the best design,” because it’s not believable.

On the other end of the spectrum, The Truth About Cars shouldn’t run an automotive website comparison test in which TTAC doesn’t win. “Golly, Jalopnik sure is some good car blog, and while we dun paid for this here piece of native advertising, we’re gonna give the victory to the Gawker folk.”

Somewhere in between is the proper blend, a blend for which Buick searched long and hard in a comparison test paid for by Buick in a Buick vs. Lexus comparison test for Automobile Magazine.

There are no secrets here. The article says “Sponsored Content” across the top. The author is listed as Buick.

The winner of the comparison test? Oh, you’ll never guess. Read More >

By on April 25, 2017

Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn, the CEO for both Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, says a full merger between the two automakers is out of the question. Instead, he wants Mitsubishi to get its act together and strengthen the greater alliance, which also includes Renault. Nissan purchased a controlling stake in Mitsubishi for $2.3 billion in 2016 after the smaller automaker weathered years of profitability issues and admitted to posting misleading fuel economy estimates.

While Ghosn agrees that Mitsubishi and Nissan should co-develop a select number of vehicles, he wants to help the brand bring itself back from the brink by focusing on its strengths and fixing its weaknesses.

“A full merger is not on the table. We want Mitsubishi to reform itself,” said said at the opening ceremony for a new Mitsubishi factory in Jakarta on Tuesday.  Read More >

By on April 25, 2017

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate – Image: Mercedes-Benz UK

News that the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wagon would arrive in North America with a diesel powerplant and all-wheel drive caught many industry observers by pleasant surprise early last year.

But it’s been 15 months since Mercedes-Benz announced at 2016’s Montreal Auto Show that the C300d 4Matic would be sold in Canada, albeit not the United States.

Not a crossover, not tall, not be-cladded, not even remotely intended for mass consumption, the C-Class Wagon was destined to be a cult favourite — that’s right, favourite — in The Great White North. However, eight months after the announcement, there was still no C300d 4Matic wagon in Mercedes-Benz’s Canadian showrooms. Blame Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal for delaying the certification.

Yet TTAC was told just yesterday the C-Class Wagon will appear in Canadian showrooms later this summer with a, how do you say in the Canadianese… minor change, eh? Read More >

By on April 24, 2017

General Motors Renaissance Center

Last week, General Motors’ long-idled Venezuela assembly plant fell into the hands of the country’s autocratic government, sparking the automaker’s exit from the strife-ridden nation.

With its material assets out of its hands, the automaker’s Venezuelan subsidiary jettisoned the plant’s entire 2,700-person workforce today, Reuters reports. It did so in as abrupt a manner as the takeover itself. Meanwhile, the government wants to chat. Read More >

By on April 24, 2017

[Image: Tesla Motors]

With the “affordable” Tesla Model 3 on its way to an anticipated July production date, the company has promised to double the number of fast-charge plug-in points to feed the company’s growing fleet.

The electric automaker has already installed over 5,400 Supercharger outlets and about 9,000 lower-voltage Destination Charging connectors at various locations around the globe. In North America, Tesla promises a 150-percent increase in the number of charging points. However, don’t expect many of those stations to look like the photo above. Read More >

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