The Truth About Cars » Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 11:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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 » Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/industry/ One Of The Best Jobs In The Auto Industry? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/one-of-the-best-jobs-in-the-auto-industry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/one-of-the-best-jobs-in-the-auto-industry/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:51:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873362 Click here to view the embedded video.

I’m honored to say that we have a few members of the B&B who are involved with Ford Australia, but sadly, Neil Trickey isn’t one of them.

Trickey’s official title is “Prototype Build Co-Ordinator”, and his duties include camouflaging new cars before they hit the road. While Trickey’s exact tactics are trade secrets, the short video above shows us how some tape, spray paint and special Lycra coverings are used to disguise design changes on prototypes. Trickey also mentions “transfers” being used – which are the technical term for the new type of camouflage with odd looking patterns that are meant to reduce how visible the styling changes really are. But since the Falcon only had minor changes to the front and read end, Trickey went old school.

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Outstanding Subprime Loan Balances Hit 8-Year Highs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/outstanding-subprime-loan-balances-hit-8-year-highs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/outstanding-subprime-loan-balances-hit-8-year-highs/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:24:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873226 445x350x20subprime-blog480-445x350.png.pagespeed.ic.uIhvuYIPjL

Buried in a feel good story about auto loans comes the news that subprime auto loans are at levels that we haven’t seen in nearly a decade.

Citing data from Equifax, Automotive News reports

The credit bureau also noted originations and total outstanding balances for subprime auto loans — defined as loans to customers with credit scores of 640 or below — also hit recent highs.

Equifax said subprime originations were 2.6 million units year to date through April, representing 32 percent of all auto loan originations. The total outstanding balance of subprime auto loans was $46.2 billion — the highest in eight years, the credit bureau said.

Don’t expect that 32 percent figure to let up any time soon. The glut of credit available for auto financing - driven by securitized auto loans sold as investment grade instruments – is going to keep the auto financing business alive and kicking for the foreseeable future.

But don’t worry, guys. This time, it’s different.

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In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker takes it on the chin in its quarterly report; the analysts have their say; GM Korea could allow its workers to build the next Cruze if only they would put down the picket signs; 45 attorney generals are investigating the February 2014 recall; and CEO Mary Barra will be the keynote speaker for a connected-vehicle forum.

Autoblog reports GM made a net income of $200 million for Q2 2014, in comparison to $1.2 billion during Q2 2013. Speaking of $1.2 billion, that was how much the automaker paid in recall-related repairs this quarter, with a $900 million charge ready for future recall campaigns. Finally, $400 million has been set aside for the Feinberg compensation plan, though $200 million may be added down the road.

Meanwhile, Automotive News collected a number of analyst quotes regarding the poor Q2 2014 showing, including KBB.com’s Jack Nerad proclaiming that while the automaker may be handling recalls better these days, “it is paying for past sins in terms of the bottom line.” Michael Krebs of AutoTrader.com adds that GM “would have had an outstanding quarter” were it not for the ongoing recall parade, and both Brian Johnson of Barclays Capital (but not of AC/DC) and Morningstar’s David Whiston believing brighter days ahead in Europe and outstanding success in China.

Speaking of the Asia-Pacific, GM Korea management informed the employee’s union that if the latter calls off its impending strike over stalled wage negotiations, the next-gen Chevrolet Cruze would be built in its Gunsan facility. The factory — where the Orlando and current-gen Cruze are assembled — is one of four under GM Korea, and boasts a production capacity of 260,000 units per year.

Back at home, The Detroit News reports GM is under investigation by 45 attorney generals over the February 2014 ignition switch recall, as well as auto safety agency Transport Canada. On the federal level, CEO Mary Barra stated she hasn’t met with the prosecutors or the grand jury regarding the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigations into wire and bankruptcy fraud related to the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy proceedings.

Finally, Barra will be the keynote speaker at the 21st World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in Detroit September 7. The event, focused on connected vehicles, will attract 10,000 guests from 65 countries to share and discuss ideas, challenges and strategies regarding the burgeoning scene. Barra’s keynote will focus on the future of intelligent transportation.

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Ford Falcon Receives New Face http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-falcon-receives-new-face-in-its-twilight-age/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-falcon-receives-new-face-in-its-twilight-age/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873042 ford-falcon-xr8-1

This will be the face of the last of the V8 interceptors for Ford’s Falcon, and that’s only the beginning.

Autoblog reports the Falcon’s new face is in line with the upcoming Mustang, as well as the Fusion and Mondeo. Unlike the front-drivers, however, the Falcon’s new look — beginning with the XR8 — will come with firepower in the form of a 5-liter supercharged V8, as well as a trio of six-cylinder engines and the EcoBoost four-pot.

Other touches include LED tail lamps meant to show off the Falcon’s backside to the Commodores trailing behind it, and headlamps with that are specific to the Australian sedan. Beyond this, the Falcon’s facelift is but a mid-cycle refresh for the record books.

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Nissan Loses Money On Every Leaf Replacement Battery Sold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kuhlman-nissan-loses-money-per-leaf-replacement-battery-sold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kuhlman-nissan-loses-money-per-leaf-replacement-battery-sold/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873026 2011_Nissan_Leaf_SL_--_10-28-2011

In June, Nissan announced that Leaf owners could obtain a replacement battery pack for $5,500 upon trading in the old unit. While a boon to said owners, the automaker is losing blood on the deal every time a pack is sold.

Green Car Reports interviewed Nissan vice president of global communications Jeff Kuhlman, who explained that the low price for the new pack was the result of his employer subsidizing the price, though he declined to state how much Nissan spends per replacement. Thus, no profit is being made at this time off of the exchange.

However, Nissan isn’t yet hurting on this “customer-first” initiative. According to Kuhlman, no one has taken the automaker up on its Leaf battery replacement program.

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Audi Leaves CVTs Behind For Dual-Clutch Automatics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/audi-leaves-cvts-behind-for-dual-clutch-automatics/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/audi-leaves-cvts-behind-for-dual-clutch-automatics/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873010 34 - 2012 Audi A7 - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

CVT haters, rejoice: Audi’s latest set of Multitronic CVTs will be the automaker’s last.

According to The Motor Report, the automaker believes it has done all it can with CVTs, and will instead focus on the S-tronic dual-clutch automatic family of transmissions. Both the S-tronic and traditional automatic offerings will fill the void left behind when the models so equipped with Multitronic are updated or replaced.

However, Audi may also do away with the traditional automatic, as well. Currently, the automaker is hard work on an S-tronic built to handle the torque loads and AWD that are being handled by eight-speed autos at present. No word on when the traditional auto’s day may come to pass.

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Ford Loads The Scales With Apples And Oranges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-loads-the-scales-with-apples-and-oranges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-loads-the-scales-with-apples-and-oranges/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872970 15F150SnowPlow_01_HR

From Jalopnik‘s Andrew Collins comes the discovery that Ford’s “weight savings” between the 2014 F-150 Lariat and the 2015 Lariat isn’t entirely a fair comparison.

As Collins reports, Ford confirmed that the two trucks were not quite the same. The 2014 had a 5.0L V8, while the 2015 had the all-new 2.7L Ecoboost V6.

Collins writes

Their defense; the new 2.7 is meant to be comparable to a “mid-range V8,” which the 5.0 is (the 2.7 is just 5 lb-ft of torque shy of the 5.0′s output, but the V8 makes 35 more horsepower). They’ve also been suggesting that the 2015 V8 (and 3.5 EcoBoost) may get a power bump, for what it’s worth.

But the fact remains; a 2015 F-150 5.0 Lariat SuperCrew V8 exists, and that would have been a more direct comparison against the outgoing truck.

As I maintained earlier this week, a lot of this stuff isn’t worth much, until we see a full table of engine specs, curb weights, towing and payload capacities and fuel economy figures. For now, we’re getting carefully packaged tidbits of info from Ford PR.

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Chrysler’s Crossover Will Share Minivan Architecture http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chryslers-crossover-will-share-minivan-architecture/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chryslers-crossover-will-share-minivan-architecture/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:37:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872946 550x366x2014-Dodge-Duranto_00141.jpg.pagespeed.ic.pOnDvu-PCw

What’s obvious to us isn’t always clear to the rest of the automotive world. To anyone who frequents TTAC, the upcoming Chrysler three-row CUV was destined to be built off of the minivan platform, but some other corners of the auto world didn’t seem to get the memo. Chrysler brand boss Al Gardner took the time to clear that up.

Speaking to Motor Trend, Gardner all-but confirmed that the front-drive crossover will share the next-gen front-drive architecture that will be utilized by the next-generation vans. A close reading of FCA’s 5-year plan, as well as Chrysler’s overall product portfolio suggests that the three-row crossover is a great way to help lower their CAFE rating, especially with a plug-in hybrid variant – which the new minvan will have from the get-go. You can bet that the CUV will get this technology as well.

According to MT, the Dodge Durango was ruled out because “simply isn’t large enough for many customers in the segment and is too aggressive”. I can’t say I agree with the former, but even so, it’s a moot point. Leveraging the front-drive architecture, with its superior fuel economy, regulatory and packaging characteristics is a no-brainer for a company that badly needs to put a dent in its CAFE ratings.

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Exclusive: General Motors Working On Sonic EV With 200-Mile Range http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/exclusive-general-motors-working-on-sonic-ev-with-200-mile-range/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/exclusive-general-motors-working-on-sonic-ev-with-200-mile-range/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:26:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872874 450x337xSonic-LTZ-front-450x337.jpg.pagespeed.ic.JeJw11oIyx

The upcoming pure electric vehicle being discussed in the wake of the Opel Ampera’s demise will also be sold in the United States, in the form of a Chevrolet Sonic.

The Sonic-based EV will reportedly have a 200 mile range, which will presumably come from the new battery that LG Chem (battery supplier for the Volt) is working on right now. That will arrive in 2016, which suggests that the Sonic EV won’t be introduced until at least that date.

The Sonic EV will also be built in Michigan, which will allow GM to gain regulatory credits for selling a pure EV that is also made in America. The Chevrolet Spark EV, which is built in Korea, is not eligible, and has a range of just 82 miles.

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Buick Prepares For Rental Fleet Dominance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buick-prepares-for-rental-fleet-dominance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buick-prepares-for-rental-fleet-dominance/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:16:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872850 Opel_Cascada_Innovation_2.0_BiTurbo_CDTI-550x366

Automotive News is reporting that the Opel Cascada will make it Stateside in 2016. Aside from giving Buick a fresh new product that isn’t a crossover, the Cascada arrives at an opportune time to capitalize on a small but important niche: the rental market.

With the demise of the Chrysler 200 convertible and VW Eos, rental fleets now have an alternative to the pony car twins for their convertible car class. Believe it or not, not all rental car clients want a Mustang or a Camaro, and the front-drive packaging of the Cascada allows for some packaging efficiencies that aren’t there in a rear drive setup (luggage space, anyone?).

Normally, fleet sales, and daily rental specifically, is treated as a last resort for undesirable product. But in this case, The Cascada is in a position to corner a market that, while declining, is currently wide open – something that GM is familiar with.

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EPA In “Consideration Phase” Of Real-World Fuel Economy Testing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/epa-in-consideration-phase-of-real-world-fuel-economy-testing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/epa-in-consideration-phase-of-real-world-fuel-economy-testing/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872818 EPA HQ

As reported earlier, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to put automakers through real-world testing of their MPG claims. However, the agency is asking this be done on the track instead of the highway.

Edmunds reports the plans are in the “consideration phase,” with the aim of bringing claims in line with what drivers experience on the road, according to an unnamed EPA spokeswoman:

EPA is considering requiring automakers to perform supplemental test-track audits of production vehicles to validate the values for aerodynamic drag and tire friction, which are important data inputs for our laboratory fuel economy testing. Augmenting EPA’s existing pre-production procedures with post-production audits of real-world factors will help further ensure that the data used in EPA labels accurately reflect the vehicles consumers find on dealer lots.

She goes on to clarify that the testing should occur on the track, and that the agency is “not considering creating public roadway test procedures” to replace the results currently gained in the lab.

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Which Will Be Our First Renault? Mitsubishi Or Ram? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/which-will-be-our-first-renault-mitsubishi-or-ram/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/which-will-be-our-first-renault-mitsubishi-or-ram/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:30:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872338 800px-Renault_Trafic_II_front_20080120

First it was Mitsubishi that inked a deal with Renault Samsung to bring their wares over here as Mitsubishi branded cars. Now Fiat is getting into the action, by having Renault produce an unspecified commercial vehicle.

Renault and Fiat announced a vaguely worded deal to have Renault build a commercial vehicle for Fiat starting in 2016. There is no indication of what it could be, but now that the Ram ProMaster lineup is firmly Fiat-based, it’s not out of the question. Between that and the Samsung SM5, we’ll have an even better idea of all of the wonderful oddities currently off limits to our unsophisticated automotive palates…

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Ford Expects V6 Engines To Make Up Over 70 Percent Of F-150 Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-expects-v6-engines-to-make-up-over-70-percent-of-f-150-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-expects-v6-engines-to-make-up-over-70-percent-of-f-150-sales/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:30:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872362 550x399xford-f-150_r-550x399.jpg.pagespeed.ic.G6qdiAdN5g

Not that long ago, buying a half-ton pickup with anything other than a V8 engine was looked upon as a sign of mental illness or an inadequate reserve of masculinity. The introduction of the Ford Ecoboost V6, as well as Ram’s gasoline and diesel V6s has shifted the tide more towards smaller cylinder counts, but Ford is projecting a big shift in take rates for the next-generation F-150.

According to Autoblog, Ford is projecting that roughly 28 percent of F-150s will be equipped with the 5.0 V8, while roughly 56 percent of buyers will opt for either the 2.7L or 3.5L V6 Ecoboost engines. The remainder, about 15 percent, will go to the base 3.5L V6. As to the other 1 percent? Perhaps there’s a CNG powertrain lurking somewhere in the shadows, Ford’s projections aren’t entirely rigorous, or the reporter in question is just bad at math, as reporters tend to be.

Right now, Ecoboost engines account for about 45 percent of F-150 sales, and even though everyone has an opinion on the efficacy of a turbocharged V6 engine in a full-sized pickup, nobody can deny their commercial success. Ford’s V6 push is also being aimed at potential buyers of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size trucks, with Ford’s own PR team already taking shots at the new GM trucks before full curb weights, mpg figures and other specs have been released for either truck.

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Japanese Government To Push FCVs Via $20k Subsidy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/japanese-government-to-push-fcvs-via-20k-subsidy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/japanese-government-to-push-fcvs-via-20k-subsidy/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872802 Toyota_FCV_featured

With Toyota ready to make big moves with its 2015 FCV, the Japanese government is ready with their own big move: $20,000 USD in incentives.

Autoblog Green reports the government will offer buyers of the hydrogen-powered sedan $20,000 in subsidies, which may bring down the reported $69,000 MSRP down to $49,000; EV subsidies in Japan max out at $8,500 per vehicle for comparison.

Meanwhile, the FCV will likely sell for $50,000 in the United States when it leaves the container ships next summer, and will be joined by Honda’s own FCV — name to be determined later — sometime in 2015.

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Panoramic Sunroofs Killed The Volkswagen Eos http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/panoramic-sunroofs-killed-the-volkswagen-eos/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/panoramic-sunroofs-killed-the-volkswagen-eos/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872298 1024px-2007-2011_Volkswagen_Eos_--_03-30-2011_2

Volkswagen has officially announced that the Eos hardtop-convertible is coming to an end. Not entirely surprising, given that the convertible market has been dwindling some time and shows few signs of life. But one of TTAC‘s industry sources shed some light on an interesting threat to the convertible market.

According to our source, the take rate for panoramic sunroofs has a correlation with the decline in the popularity of convertibles. Lacking access to that (very proprietary) data, it’s impossible to corroborate this assertion, but perhaps the B&B, especially those in the industry, have some insight into the matter.

As a two-time convertible owner, I understand that the idea of a convertible is romantic and enticing, but the reality is often the opposite. Hot summer days can lead to sunburns and sweaty scalps, while winters without a lined top (like the Thinsulate-lined roof in the Jaguar F-Type) can be nearly as miserable as being outdoors. If you’re ever stuck in traffic in an open-roofed car, you will fry like an egg on the engine block of Ted Nugent’s truck.

I happen to dislike panoramic sunroofs for the greenhouse effect it can have on a car’s interior, but many people seem to find them to be a fun novelty, and a viable alternative to a real soft top convertible.

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General Motors Issues Six Recalls For 720,000 Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-issues-six-recalls-for-720000-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-issues-six-recalls-for-720000-vehicles/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872770 2014 Chevrolet SS in Red

Wednesday, General Motors issued six recalls for a total of around 720,000 vehicles, all assembled within the last five years.

Autoblog reports the following have been recalled:

  • 2010 – 12 Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain/Cadillac SRX; 2011 – 12 Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse: Bolt used to secure height adjustor actuator in vehicles with powered seats may loosen on its own, if not fall out, allowing the seat to move freely; 414,333 recalled.
  • 2013 – 14 Cadillac ATS, Buick Encore; 2014 Chevrolet Caprice/SS, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac ELR; 2014 – 15 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra: Incomplete weld of seat hook bracket assembly, may require track replacement; 124,008 recalled.
  • 2011 – 13 Buick Regal; 2013 Chevrolet Malibu: Single-bulb burnout of turn signal failing to notify driver of issue, reprogramming needed; 120,426 recalled.
  • 2014 Chevrolet Impala: Bad electric ground on power steering module of belt-driven electric steering models — caused by misplaced paint — may lead to sudden loss or reduction of steering power; 57,242 recalled
  • 2014 – 15 Chevrolet Spark: Improperly fastened lower control arm of Korean-built models could lead to separation from the steering knuckle; 1,919 recalled.
  • 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon Denali: Incorrect retaining nut in interior roof rail could puncture or tear roof-mounted airbags upon deployment; 22 recalled.
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Cell Phone Bans Failing To Curb Accident Rates http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cell-phone-bans-failing-to-curb-accident-rates/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cell-phone-bans-failing-to-curb-accident-rates/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872738 texting behind the wheel of death

If any legislators were hoping banning cell phone use behind the wheel would cut down on accidents and fatalities linked to distracted driving, it may have been all for naught according to a handful of studies on the matter.

Autoblog reports the most recent study, published in Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, looked over the before and after regarding California’s 2008 ban in the year it went into effect. The findings? After six months, cell phone-linked accidents fell from 66.7 per day to 65.2. Another study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute looked over claim rates in 2009 and 2010, finding that ban or no ban, the song remained the same.

As for why this is so, associate professor of economics Daniel Kaffine of the University of Colorado posits drivers are either ignoring the bans outright, using hands-free technology that still distracts drivers, drivers are distracted by other things — ranging from the radio to the kids fighting in the back — and/or cell phone use isn’t as bad as once perceived.

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2015 Toyota Yaris Has “European Flavor”, We’re Afraid To Ask… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/872122/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/872122/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872122 2015_Toyota_Yaris_001

 

Toyota is touting a new “European flavor” for the 2015 Yaris. I’m not sure what that means, but it does evoke bad memories of the chevre I left in my suitcase after coming home from the Paris Auto Show. All jokes aside (and that was bahhhhh-d), our Yaris will likely be built in France, but Toyota is looking for a way to both incorporate that into their messaging, and avoid telling everyone that their new subcompact is built by a bunch of socialist surrender monkeys. It’s not easy to explain the poor economics of building a subcompact car in Japan, but telling American consumers that its made in France is likely even more difficult. Not much has changed mechanically, and the 4-speed automatic still remains. C’est la.

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Been Dacia’d And Confused For So Long It’s Not True… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/been-daciad-and-confused-for-so-long-its-not-true/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/been-daciad-and-confused-for-so-long-its-not-true/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:50:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872090 420x280xvauxhall-viva-fr.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Q1f1uLPQ4g

General Motors took the step of killing off Chevrolet in Europe earlier this year, and has long attempted to position Opel and Vauxhall as mainstream but slightly more premium offerings (analogous to how Volkswagen was once marketed in the United States). And that makes news of a new line of budget cars all the more confusing.

Just-Auto reports that Opel and Vauxhall will launch two new budget models to attract customers who may have previously opted for Chevrolet cars. First is the new Viva, based on the next-generation Chevrolet Spark. A small SUV, set to rival the Dacia Duster, is also being considered.

Rather than aiming for a brand that specifically targets no-frills motoring, it appears that GM is aiming to emulate Skoda, which at least has some measure of style and chic appeal, even as it positions itself as a value brand. The new Viva looks to be a pretty stylish car, but the brand positioning appears to be contradictory. How can Opel and Vauxhall aspire to sell pseudo-premium sedans like the Insignia while also pushing a new line of budget cars? Then again, nobody can ever accuse GM of having a consistent or coherent brand strategy in Europe.

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UAW Aiming For Works Council In Tennessee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/uaw-aiming-for-works-council-in-tennessee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/uaw-aiming-for-works-council-in-tennessee/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:22:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871474 0

The UAW’s new “voluntary” union local at VW’s Tennesse assembly plant will be aiming for the first Works Council at a North American plant.

Just-Auto reports that Gary Casteel, the UAW’s secretary-treasurer, told the outlet

“The commitment of this Local is to form the first works council – we intend to negotiate the first German-style works council.”

The announcement comes on the heels of VW global works council head Bernd Osterloh being appointed to the board of directors for Volkswagen Group of America. Osterloh, who has previously made waves over any moves that would harm union organization, will be a powerful ally for the UAW, and their union allies in Germany.

Osterloh’s appointment to the board could very well have been a concession to the powerful IG Metall union, which has ties to both Osterloh and the UAW. Having exhausted all other options, including a plant vote on organization and an appeal to the National Labor Relations Board, Osterloh’s board seat and the “voluntary” union are the last options the UAW likely has in their arsenal.

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Lord, I Was Born A Ramblin Van http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lord-i-was-born-a-ramblin-van/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lord-i-was-born-a-ramblin-van/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870458 hyundai-cargo-van-spy-photo-01

Is Hyundai making a play for the commercial van market in North America? Automotive News seems to think so.

These spyshots (from AutoGuide.comshow Hyundai testing a new large commercial van somewhere in Europe, whereas AN caught it testing in California. Either way, it’s clear that Hyundai wants in on the action that the Sprinter, Ram ProMaster and Ford Transit are eagerly targeting.

 

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SAE J2601, J2799 Standardize Hydrogen Fueling, Increase FCV Range http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/sae-j2601-j2799-standardize-hydrogen-fueling-increase-fcv-range/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/sae-j2601-j2799-standardize-hydrogen-fueling-increase-fcv-range/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871970 hydrogen_fueling_station

It took 13 years, but SAE International has introduced a new standard for hydrogen fueling stations: SAE J2601.

Autoblog Green reports J2601 will enable fueling of FCVs at 35 and 70 megapascals (MPa) of pressure, delivering 3- to 5-minute fueling times like those of gasoline-powered vehicles. This will likely be good news for all involved in the hydrogen movement, especially as infrastructure is only in the embryonic stage at this point — most located in California.

Meanwhile, another standard — SAE J2799 — will better enable communication between the FCV and the pump via wireless transmission, helping to boost driving range to over 300 miles per tank via a high State of Charge, or SOC.

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Galhotra Takes The Reins As Lincoln’s New President http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/galhotra-takes-the-reins-as-lincolns-new-president/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/galhotra-takes-the-reins-as-lincolns-new-president/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871938 ashwani-kumar-galhotra.img.1375822969106

As one of his first major moves since becoming CEO, Ford’s Mark Fields named vice president of engineering Kumar Galhotra as president of Lincoln, effective September 1.

Automotive News reports Galhotra, who will report directly to the new CEO, will be the premium brand’s first president since Al Giombetti left the post in 2007. The move will also reduce executive vice president of global sales, service and marketing Jim Farley’s role with Lincoln, which will be focused on marketing the brand once Galhotra takes over.

The new president — an engineer and product executive who has worked with Lincoln, Ford and Mazda in the past — will bring his marketing experience to the table as Lincoln prepares to launch in China later in 2014; he headed Ford’s Asia Pacific division from 2009 to 2013, and helped bring about the new Ranger pickup to market.

Speaking of the division, engineering director Jim Holland will move from there to replace Galhotra as Ford’s vice president of engineering, reporting to global product development chief Raj Nair.

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Daimler To Enter FCV Market In 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-to-enter-fcv-market-in-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-to-enter-fcv-market-in-2017/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871914 Mercedes Blue Efficiency

While Japanese and Korean automakers like Toyota and Hyundai are jumping into the hydrogen game, Daimler plans to begin its own journey in 2017.

Automotive News interviewed Daimler head of corporate research Herbert Kohler about his employer’s hydrogen plans. Kohler briefly reflected on how Daimler were questioned on focusing upon fuel-cell technology before everyone else, stating that if an automaker wasn’t now at least considering the game, it would have to ask itself “some uncomfortable questions.”

As for the timetable of releasing an FCV by 2017, he states that while Daimler had planned to do so by 2015 at the latest, its joint partnership with Nissan and Ford to develop the technology will give all three time to bring the tech’s high costs down amid increasing volumes by the time 2017 rolls around.

Finally, when asked how much Daimler would charge for their FCV — in light of the $68,000 price tag for the 2015 Toyota FCV — Kohler says his employer’s goal is to price its FCV on par with “the hybrid version of a comparable model.”

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Tata To Enter Global Passenger Market With Help Of Jaguar Land Rover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/tata-to-enter-global-passenger-market-with-help-of-jaguar-land-rover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/tata-to-enter-global-passenger-market-with-help-of-jaguar-land-rover/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871890 Tata-Xenon-11

Having done well with Jaguar Land Rover in its portfolio, Tata Motors is now turning to its premium subsidiary for its own foray into passenger cars and SUVs.

Drive.com.au reports the parent company is using the technical and design know-how JLR to begin growing its passenger vehicle line in Australia and beyond, though Darren Bowler, managing director of importer Fusion Automotive, assures that no badge engineering would occur between the two brands.

What would be shared, according to Bowler, would be platforms and engines, such as the global platform underpinning the upcoming Nexon SUV that could “be used as an Evoque… a Tata, [or] a Jaguar,” as well as the Ingenium family of four-cylinder engines that will soon turn up under the bonnet of many a JLR product.

In the meantime, Tata Australia plans to tackle the medium- and heavy-duty markets with the Ultra and Prima, both joining the light-duty Xenon.

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