The Truth About Cars » Luxury http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:32:39 +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 » Luxury http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/luxury-news-blog/ 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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Tesla Idles Plant For Two Weeks For Model X-Related Production Upgrades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/tesla-idles-plant-for-two-weeks-for-model-x-related-production-upgrades/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/tesla-idles-plant-for-two-weeks-for-model-x-related-production-upgrades/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871402 tesla-model-x

Those who just ordered their Tesla Model S may need to wait a bit, as the premium EV automaker has idled its California factory in order to tool up for the upcoming Model X SUV.

Bloomberg reports the reconfiguration — including 25 new robots on the floor and other modifications — began June 20, and will conclude in two weeks to the tune of $100 million and a 25 percent increase in production.

Tesla has given its assembly workers the option of reporting for maintenance and training shifts during their time off, as well as using that time for vacation.

Once completed, the newly upgraded floor should pump out some 1,000 units of the Model S per week, as well as allow for both the S and the X to be screwed together next to each other. Pricing for the EV-SUV has yet to be announced.

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Daimler, BMW Collaborate On Wireless Charging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-bmw-collaborate-on-wireless-charging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-bmw-collaborate-on-wireless-charging/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866826 Mercedes S 500 PHEV

Daimler and BMW just announced a collaboration to help speed up development for wireless charging of both EVs and PHEVs, with the former’s Mercedes S500 PHEV as the test subject.

Autoblog Green reports the system in question will use coils in both the vehicle and charging platform, the latter installed in a garage floor or other stationary point. The system will charge an EV or PHEV at a rate of 3.6 kW, with an efficiency rating of 90 percent.

As for the guinea pig, the S500 PHEV will come with 436 horsepower and around 480 lb-ft of torque between its twin-turbo V6 and hybrid powertrain. In turn, the sedan can travel up to 20 miles on electric-only power, and net the chauffeur 84 mpg on the way to and from his employer’s private resort. The S500 PHEV is due in showrooms this September.

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2016 Cadillac SRX May See Local Production In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-cadillac-srx-may-see-local-production-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-cadillac-srx-may-see-local-production-in-china/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862161 01-2013-cadillac-srx-ny

On the strength of rising SUV sales in China, General Motors will likely add production of its next-generation Cadillac SRX in the emerging market in order to better capitalize on said sales.

The Wall Street Journal reports Cadillac as a whole is doing well in China, sales rising 72 percent from January through May 2014 to 33,760 units with the SRX making up the bulk of those sales at 14,496 units, a rise of 23 percent for the crossover in the same five-month period compared to 2013. The current model goes for ¥420,000 ($67,770 USD), and has been on sale in China since 2009.

The new SRX would likely arrive as a 2016 model, with the hope Chinese production would help the automaker avoid tariffs on imported models; the crossover is only assembled in Mexico at the present. GM itself has big plans for its premium brand, including a $1.3 billion plant in Shanghai, and a goal of 300,000 units sold/10 percent share of China’s premium market by 2020.

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Mercedes: Maybach Trim To Potentially Grace GL-Class http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mercedes-maybach-trim-to-potentially-grace-gl-class/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mercedes-maybach-trim-to-potentially-grace-gl-class/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 10:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861473 2013-Mercedes-Benz-GL450-4MATIC-main_rdax_646x396

Not content with only the S-Class receiving the Maybach treatment for a potential shout-out in Lorde’s next jam, Mercedes-Benz wants to take the Maybach trim line to the next level: The GL-Class.

Motoring.com.au reports the automaker wants to give a super-luxury makeover to the seven-passenger premium SUV as it seeks to make Maybach to luxury what AMG is to performance. Should this indeed follow the upcoming S-Class by Maybach — based upon the two-row W222 sedan over the three-row pullman at the top of the class — the GL will retain its architecture while receiving styling tweaks and S-Class technology, such as semi-active suspension with body-roll control.

Mercedes board member in charge of research and development, Dr. Thomas Weber, sees potential in the growing super-luxury SUV segment — led by the likes of Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini — for his employer to mount its own offensive, opining that it’s only a matter of “how fast and how parallel” Mercedes can bring the GL-Class by Maybach into production.

As for where the new SUV would turn up, the Middle East, Russia and the United States are among the key markets up for consideration.

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2015 Audi A3 Sedan Sales Outpacing Supply, Stealing From Honda, Toyota http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-audi-a3-sedan-sales-outpacing-supply-stealing-from-honda-toyota/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-audi-a3-sedan-sales-outpacing-supply-stealing-from-honda-toyota/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 11:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860769 Audi S3 Limousine

The 2015 Audi A3 Sedan is doing quite well for itself in the United States since its arrival back in April of this year, even if the hipster parties during the sedan’s U.S. unveiling more than likely just amused the automaker’s traditional clientele instead of attracting younger buyers as the party plan intended.

Autoblog reports Audi of America sold 2,452 A3 Sedans in June alone, with just over 25 percent of consumers under the age of 30. That particular group of young Audi drivers are new to the automaker, brand conquests over Honda and Toyota.

As for buying one right now, there may be a line ahead of you: Audi is still stocking its dealer network with the $30,795 sedan, with a wait as long as 30 days for those wanting specific features for their A3. The line may grow longer, however, when the automaker’s A3 E-tron arrives in Q2 2015, with every one of Audi’s U.S. dealerships being granted the opportunity to sell the PHEV.

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BMW: No M Badge For 4 Series Gran Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-no-m-badge-for-4-series-gran-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-no-m-badge-for-4-series-gran-coupe/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860745 bmw-4-series-m-sport

Those who were looking forward to a smaller version of BMW’s M6 Gran Coupe can stop holding their breath: the automaker is declining to produce the M4 Gran Coupe.

CarsGuide.com.au reports BMW’s M sales boss Jörg Bartels confirmed the decision not to proceed during the Australian launch of the new 3 and 4 series last week:

That is a negative. It was definitely considered, but there is no plan to build an M4 Gran Coupe. Part of the reason is expected production volume, but also the 4 Series Gran Coupe is built in a different factory to both the 3 Series (sedan) and 4 Series (coupe), so there is a lot of challenges there.

The M badge is set to grace both 3 and 4 series in their respective sedan and coupe configurations, as well as the M4 Convertible, while the 3 Series Gran Turismo — like the 5 Series version — will do without.

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2015 Acura TLX To Start At $30,995, Arrives In August http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-acura-tlx-to-start-at-30995-arrives-in-august/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-acura-tlx-to-start-at-30995-arrives-in-august/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 10:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858553 2015-Acura-TLX-22

After a bit of a delay to sort out a few kinks, the 2015 Acura TLX — the new sedan replacing both the TL and TSX — will finally arrive in August with a base MSRP of $30,995.

Autoblog reports the base price of admission is just $360 more than the outgoing TSX, and nets would-be leasees a 2.4-liter I4 pushing 206 horsepower to the front line through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, while its Precision All-Wheel Steer helps the TLX take on corners and parallel parking. Consumers can add a Technology Package to the base offering, bringing the MSRP up to $32,025.

For those who want more, however, the TLX can be had with a 3.5-liter V6 paired with Acura’s nine-speed automatic, delivering 290 horses to either the front or — with the addition of Super Handling All-Wheel Drive — all four corners. Price of admission begins at $35,220 for the base V6, $44,700 for the top-of-the-line V6 SH-AWD Advance.

Finally, Acura is offering early adopters special introductory pricing and a $500 allowance toward purchases of Acura Genuine Accessories through its Acura Advantage program, as well as unique lease and APR rates. The doors are open from July 7 through September 2, with delivery to come no later than Halloween.

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Low-Cost Tesla EV To Use Steel To Hit A4, 3 Series Pricing Levels http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/low-cost-tesla-ev-to-use-steel-to-hit-a4-3-series-pricing-levels/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/low-cost-tesla-ev-to-use-steel-to-hit-a4-3-series-pricing-levels/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857993 550x365xtesla-model-s-logo-550x365.jpg.pagespeed.ic.C2rTVvi0LG

Though Tesla’s low-cost EV won’t be able to put the E in between the S and the X, it will be able to meet its price target thanks an alloy swap in its construction.

Autocar reports steel instead of aluminum will make up the low-cost EV, which CEO Elon Musk stated will be 20 percent smaller than the Model S. The steel construction will likely be assembled through bonding and rivets, as well.

The use of steel will allow the new EV — expected sometime between late 2016 and early 2017 — to better compete against the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series on price, backed up by the reduced cost in battery production once the Gigafactory goes online at the same time as the low-cost Tesla arrives in showrooms.

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2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan To Receive Speed-Camera Warning System http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-hyundai-genesis-sedan-to-receive-speed-camera-warning-system/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-hyundai-genesis-sedan-to-receive-speed-camera-warning-system/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 11:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857105 2015-Hyundai-Genesis-main

Speed cameras are the bane of any driver’s existence, especially if they’re more trouble than they’re worth for the municipality who experiments with them for a contract period of several years. Future Hyundai Genesis owners in Korea, however, may have a new tool at their disposal that should make dealing with the long lens of the law much easier on the wallet.

Drive.com.au reports the new generation of the Korean premium sedan will use GPS and braking technology to help would-be Alex Roys down to the limit in time to wave hello at the camera. Hyundai representative explained to reporters at the Genesis Sedan’s unveiling in Seoul how the system would work:

It knows there is a speed camera there, it knows where the speed camera is and it will adopt the correct speed. It will beep 800 metres before a camera and show the legal speed, and it will beep at you if your speed is over that.

The system will work best at fixed and average speed cameras, but not against mobile units. Meanwhile, the same self-braking tech used in the preemptive camera evasion will also bring the sedan to a halt to prevent a collision should such an event arise.

Alas, the system won’t be available to U.S. drivers anytime soon, while Korean drivers may have to wait a bit until after the Genesis makes its local debut in October of this year.

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Lincoln Nearly Axed By Mullaly, Saved By Fields http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lincoln-nearly-axed-by-mullaly-saved-by-fields/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lincoln-nearly-axed-by-mullaly-saved-by-fields/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 11:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856513 2015 Lincoln MKC

Today marks the day Mark Fields becomes CEO of Ford, taking up where now-former CEO Alan Mullaly leaves off. This day may also mark the day Lincoln begins its slow climb back from the brink, especially when Mullaly once considered killing the brand before Fields became its champion.

Bloomberg reports Lincoln, then struggling to find footing after years of assimilating Fords upmarket with no unique product in sight, would have gone the way of Mercury had not Fields and global marketing chief Jim Farley convinced Mullaly that the brand was worth saving. Now that he is CEO, Fields will be leading the effort to bring Lincoln up to fighting trim.

The first product of this effort is the MKC, which shares its mechanical base with the Ford Escape and its 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four with the upcoming Ford Mustang. However, the crossover’s design is 85 percent unique to itself, and has premium features on par with its competitors — BMW X3, Audi Q5, Acura RDX — including soft-touch leather and parallel-parking technology. The crossover follows the MKZ — whose delayed roll-out over technical gremlins prompted the debate over Lincoln’s fate — and will be later joined by a redesigned MKX and the replacement for the MKS.

The MKC will be aimed at drawing buyers from premium brands like Cadillac and Lexus, Ford owners wanting to move up, as well as young first-time buyers and empty nesters looking to downsize. The road back to the top will be long, however; though U.S. sales climbed 21 percent during the first half of 2014 with 37,251 models leaving the showroom, annual sales are 65 percent down from the brand’s peak in 1990.

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Rolls-Royce SUV To Arrive In 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/rolls-royce-suv-to-arrive-in-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/rolls-royce-suv-to-arrive-in-2018/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850810 SCA665C50EUX84409

Just like Volkswagen’s Bentley and Audi’s Lamborghini, BMW’s Rolls-Royce is entering the premium SUV game, ready to ferry oil-rich princes and the hardest of Wall Street’s power lords to their appointed rounds.

Autobild reports the premium SUV — currently dubbed the Cullinan, whose namesake comes from the 3,000-carat diamond — will debut in 2018, and will be priced between the Ghost and the Phantom at €275,000 ($340,000 USD).

Power for the aluminum SUV is expected to come from 6.6-liter V12, which may be directed through the all-wheel drive system found in the BMW 7 Series to the wheel/tire combo from the upcoming X7. A PHEV variant of the Cullinan is also in consideration.

As for where the SUV will turn up, the United States and the Middle East are potential markets.

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Daimler-Nissan JV To Build Next-Gen CLA, Unnamed A-Class At Mexican Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/daimler-nissan-jv-to-build-next-gen-cla-unnamed-a-class-at-mexican-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/daimler-nissan-jv-to-build-next-gen-cla-unnamed-a-class-at-mexican-plant/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850794 2014 Mercedes CLA

Aside from Infiniti sharing engines with Mercedes, the Daimler-Nissan joint venture will also lead to production of the next-gen CLA and an A-Class sedan at Nissan’s plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Automotive News Europe reports Daimler’s board will approve the decision within the next two weeks. Although the GLA crossover was supposed to go over to Mexico originally, insiders claim that the CLA and the unnamed A-Class will take its place.

Production is set to begin in time for exportation to the United States in 2017, with an Infiniti compact — built upon Mercedes’ FWD bones — to join the CLA and A-Class. Annual output is expected to be around 100,000 to 150,000 units.

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Cadillac’s Peffer Resigns Amid Falling Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/cadillacs-peffer-resigns-amid-falling-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/cadillacs-peffer-resigns-amid-falling-sales/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 11:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850122 bill-peffer

Sales of Cadillac’s lineup have fallen as of late in comparison to last year’s figures, prompting the brand’s U.S. vice president of sales and service, Bill Peffer, to resign his post.

The Detroit News reports Peffer handed the reins over to interim vice president Kurt McNeil last Tuesday. McNeil is General Motors’ vice president of U.S. sales operations, and held Peffer’s post once before, from 2011 through 2012.

Peffer was hired last autumn by GM from Nissan, where he served as the latter’s CEO for the brand’s operations in Australia, replacing the previous brand’s VP, Chase Hawkins, for “violating a company policy.” Hawkins was VP for one year prior to his firing.

Sales in the United States are down 2.3 percent year-over-year from January through May of this year, the XTS and ATS leading the way with 20 percent less sales in the same period compared to what they were in 2013. Though GM leadership are hoping for double-digit growth in 2014, Peter Nagel of IHS claims Cadillac will only gain 5 percent in U.S. sales this year, far from the 22 percent experienced the previous year.

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Maserati Sells As Many Units Through June 2014 As It Had For All Of 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/maserati-sells-as-many-units-through-june-2014-as-it-had-for-all-of-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/maserati-sells-as-many-units-through-june-2014-as-it-had-for-all-of-2013/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=847945 Maserati-Alfieri-Concept-01

Maserati may have had a slow 2013 as far as sales go, but the Italian brand is on pace to sell within the first half of 2014 as many cars as it had in the last year.

Reuters reports CEO Harald Wester said that while the United States was Maserati’s biggest market, China, Italy and Europe as a whole were making big sales waves for the brand, likely helping it move 15,400 units both in 2013 and the first six months of this year. He added that Maserati was on pace to hit its mark of 50,000 units sold annually by 2015, and 75,000 by 2018 as part of parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ five-year plan.

In product news, Wester proclaimed the Levante SUV would head for the showroom late next year or sometime in 2016, followed by the Alfieri in hardtop and convertible forms. Meanwhile, no new factories would be built, with an effort on filling current plants to full capacity in its fight to best the Germans in the sales game.

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2015 Acura ILX Hybrid Leaves US Market, Stays In Canada http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-acura-ilx-hybrid-leaves-us-market-stays-in-canada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-acura-ilx-hybrid-leaves-us-market-stays-in-canada/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845801 ILX vs Verano 4

Those considering a premium hybrid will have one fewer option in the United States when MY 2015 rolls around: Acura has discontinued sales of the entry-level ILX Hybrid in the land of the free.

Autoblog reports the brand is responding to consumer demand — or lack thereof — in its decision to cut the hybrid model from the rest of the ILX lineup, which now will consist of a 2-liter I4 paired with a five-speed automatic and a 2.4-liter I4 with a six-speed manual. Price of admission for 2015 will be between $27,050 and $29,350, depending on options.

The ILX Hybrid arrived in 2012 as a 2013 model, but only 2,660 copies had left U.S. showrooms between then and May 2014. However, the hybrid will still have a home in Canada, where parent company Honda has vowed to continue sales. The 2014 edition of the ILX Hybrid starts at $35,190 CDN, and is powered by a 1.5-liter I4 with an integrated electric motor, both of which are mated to a CVT.

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2015 Infiniti ESQ Caught In The Wet In Spy Photos http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-infiniti-esq-caught-in-the-wet-in-spy-photos/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-infiniti-esq-caught-in-the-wet-in-spy-photos/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=843345 infiniti esq 1

Yesterday, we received word of the China-only Infiniti ESQ crossover, which is really the Nissan Juke minus the Nissan. Today, we have some spy shots and some information on the ESQ.

CarNewsChina reports the ESQ will enter the market by the end of the year, and will have few differences in appearance with the Juke, though most consumers won’t likely know about the badge-engineering exercise on the showroom floor; the Juke is not sold at all either as an import or as a locally made product.

Infiniti’s crossover will be assembled by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture, and will have the same 1.6-liter turbo delivering 200 horsepower and 184 ft-lb of torque to all four corners via CVT as the Juke Nismo. No price of admission has been given thus far.

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US Nissan Plant To Supply Engine For Euro-Special Infiniti Q50 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/us-nissan-plant-to-supply-engine-for-euro-special-infiniti-q50/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/us-nissan-plant-to-supply-engine-for-euro-special-infiniti-q50/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 11:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842922 2014 Infiniti Q50

In its fight against the big premium brands in Europe, Infiniti is calling upon some German-designed American firepower for its Japanese-made, Euro-market special Q50 sedan.

Automotive News reports the Q50 will receive a 2-liter turbo-four from an $319 million Infinti-only line inside Nissan’s engine plant in Decherd, Tenn.; total overall production is expected to reach 250,000 annually while employing 400. The same engine will be used by Mercedes in its next-generation C-Class launching this year from the German automaker’s factory in Vance, Ala.

The plan, set to begin in late June, is part of a product-sharing agreement between parent companies Renault-Nissan and Daimler, as well as a checkbox for Infiniti’s to-do global portfolio expansion list.

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Alfa 4C Arrives In 86 North American Showrooms, Brings 342 Pounds Of Luggage http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/alfa-4c-arrives-in-86-north-american-showrooms-brings-342-pounds-of-luggage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/alfa-4c-arrives-in-86-north-american-showrooms-brings-342-pounds-of-luggage/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=841969 Alfa-Romeo-4C-17

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has just released their initial list of dealerships who will have the right to sell the Alfa Romeo 4C to North American customers, while the sports car will bring 342 pounds of luggage for the trip from Modena to the selected showrooms.

Autoblog reports all but four dealerships will be in the United States — the remaining four are in Canada — and the majority of those will be concentrated in three of the 33 states on the initial list: California, Florida and Texas. The chosen ones were drawn from a list of existing Fiat and Maserati dealerships, and though expected cities like Los Angeles, Orlando and Austin will be among the chosen, a few big names didn’t make the first cut, including New York, Seattle and Louisville, Ky.

Meanwhile, the chosen dealerships “will have a unique staff dedicated to the brand’s premium market clientele,” per the words of Chrysler Group vice president of network development Peter Grady. The dealerships are undergoing “an intensive curriculum” to ensure the success of the 4C and limited-edition 4C Launch Edition as FCA presses forward toward its goal of over 300 Alfa dealerships in North America.

As for the 4C itself, Jalopnik says the sports car packed on an additional 342 pounds to its 2,153-pound Euro-spec frame for the U.S. market, coming into port at 2,495 pounds. Aside from the usual federalization mandates, some of the weight comes from the standard air-con and radio equipped in the U.S.-spec model.

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Volkswagen To Triple SUV Lineup In Fight Against Toyota For Total Global Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/volkswagen-to-triple-suv-lineup-in-fight-against-toyota-for-total-global-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/volkswagen-to-triple-suv-lineup-in-fight-against-toyota-for-total-global-sales/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=836730 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-02

With Toyota still in its sights, Volkswagen plans to triple the number of SUVs in its lineup in its fight for the top sales podium among the Global Three.

Bloomberg reports the current offerings — the midsize Touareg and compact Tiguan — will soon be joined by the upcoming seven-passenger CrossBlue-based SUV that will either be assembled in Mexico or Tennessee, coupe and long-wheelbase versions of the Tiguan, the Touareg and a subcompact based on either the Taigun or T-ROC concepts. The strategy would provide VW with the opportunity to meet Toyota across the latter’s range on its way to beat the Japanese automaker in global deliveries by 2018, and would build brand strength in the United States and emerging markets such as China.

Meanwhile, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche are also moving further into the SUV market, ranging from the Cayenne and new Macan — both of which are expected to account for 64 percent of all Porsche sales by next year, according to IHS Automotive — to the Q1 in 2016 and Urus in 2017. The overall game would net Volkswagen an operating profit boost over 6 percent of sales over the current rate of 2.9 percent, as SUVs are considered to be more profitable than other vehicles.

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S&P Delivers Junk Status On Tesla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/sp-delivers-junk-status-on-tesla-stock/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/sp-delivers-junk-status-on-tesla-stock/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=833497 550x365xtesla-model-s-logo-550x365.jpg.pagespeed.ic.C2rTVvi0LG

Though still riding high all over equity markets, Tesla’s debt offerings took a severe hit in status when Standard & Poor’s bestowed a rating of junk status due to increased possibility of default by the EV automaker.

Automotive News quotes Standard and Poors

[Tesla has a] arrow product focus, concentrated production footprint, small scale relative to its larger automotive peers, limited visibility on the long-term demand for its products and limited track record in handling execution risks that could arise in managing high volume parallel production.

The automaker issued $920 million of 0.25 percent unsecured convertible senior notes due in 2019, another $1.38 billion in 1.25 percent unsecured convertible senior notes with a date in 2021, and a previous issue of such notes due in 2018 totaling $660 million. The notes are being used to fund two Gigafactory projects and further development of the Gen III EV platform meant to underpin the compact vehicle formerly known as the Model E.

In the meantime, the rating company expects the debt to remain stable over the next 12 months in part to improvements on the company’s gross margins. The rating also offers the potential for high returns for investors who know the risks and rewards the status entails.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly termed Tesla’s stock as “junk”, when it should have referred to Tesla’s debt offerings. We regret the error.

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Tesla: Toyota Desires Battery R&D Partnership, Panasonic Wants Gigafactory For Itself http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/tesla-toyota-desires-battery-rd-partnership-panasonic-wants-gigafactory-for-itself/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/tesla-toyota-desires-battery-rd-partnership-panasonic-wants-gigafactory-for-itself/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 20:14:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829906 Toyota Panasonic TF108

Though Toyota will soon end its battery program with Tesla for its RAV4 EV crossovers, the automaker aims to remain R&D partners on battery technology. Meanwhile, Panasonic wants to be the only producer involved in Tesla’s Gigafactory production.

Reuters reports the company plans to invest in stages, with the final amount and timeframe not yet known; Tesla seeks a total $3 billion from outside investors in addition to the $2 billion it invested into the project. Panasonic’s current lithium-ion business has performed well as Tesla seeks more batteries for its Model S, having gone as far as to sign a contract last October with the automaker for around 2 billion battery cells by 2017. The company itself aims to take the top spot on the podium by end of FY 2018, where it plans to make $4.43 billion annually from all battery production activities.

Meanwhile, Automotive News reports Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America CEO and president Osamu Nagata wants to continue working with Tesla on battery technology as the three-year agreement for the latter to supply 2,600 packs for the former draws to a close:

Tesla has quite a clear business strategy for developing a better battery. [Automakers] as well as suppliers need to work on developing better batteries.

Toyota is currently turning its focus on fuel-cell technology, which Nagata hopes his employer can show “the very strong capabilities” of the vehicles using the tech in order to convince more people “of the potential and possibilities” fuel cell vehicles — such as Toyota’s own upcoming FCV — have to offer.

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Study: 51 Percent Of Chinese Consumers Snub Japanese Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/study-51-percent-of-chinese-consumers-snub-japanese-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/study-51-percent-of-chinese-consumers-snub-japanese-vehicles/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 11:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829337 Nissan Teana

Though Japanese automakers are doing all they can to win over Chinese consumers, a study led by Bernstein Research found anti-Japanese sentiments among 51 percent of 40,000 surveyed may be a barrier to further success in the growing market.

The Wall Street Journal reports the nationalistic attitude toward Japan is highest in developing cities such as Changsha, Dongguan and Xian, where automakers hope to strike it rich in the future. Bernstein analyst Max Warburton adds that while the Japanese and their joint-venture parnters will do well in the near future, “the one thing that comes out most clearly is that most Chinese really want a German car… ultimately the market will belong to the Germans.”

In the near term, those surveyed found Japanese vehicles to be less expensive to own and more comfortable than German and American offerings, and superior to vehicles manufactured by South Korean automakers. Nissan, the nation’s largest Japanese brand, was described as being for older consumers with families who have lower incomes than other brands, as well.

Aside from nationalism, the Japanese may also have a hard time breaking into the premium market, with only 41 percent surveyed willing to pay over 300,000 yuan ($48,000) for a Japanese premium vehicle.

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European-Backed UN Amendment Brings Autonomous Vehicle Future Closer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/european-backed-un-amendment-brings-autonomous-vehicle-future-closer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/european-backed-un-amendment-brings-autonomous-vehicle-future-closer/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 11:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826642 Mercedes-Benz S500 Autonomous Limo

While autonomous vehicles are still in the early stages of testing, a few of the European members of the United Nations have laid the groundwork for the self-driven future to come sooner than later.

Reuters reports the U.N. Working Party on Traffic Safety received last month an amendment to Article 8 of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic backed by Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and Austria that would allow drivers of autonomous vehicles to take their hands off the wheel so long as as the vehicle’s system “can be overridden or switched off by the driver” at any time.

Should the amendment pass through the myriad of red tape within the organizing body, 72 countries — the United States, China and Japan withstanding — would have to work the new legislation into their law books.

The European-backed amendment now means automakers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW can move beyond testing their autonomous and semi-autonomous offerings toward delivery to showrooms throughout the continent, all without waiting for Google and other U.S. interests to bring the technology to market. Mercedes in particular delivered an S-Class limo in response to the search engine giant’s own efforts last August which drove the Bertha Benz route between Mannheim and Pforzheim, Germany without driver input.

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Volkswagen’s Cervone Returns To GM As Global Communications VP http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 10:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826618 GM Next

Autoblog reports Volkswagen Group of America executive vice president of group communications Tony Cervone is returning to the GM fold as the automaker’s senior vice president of global communications. According to CEO Mary Barra, Cervone “brings an ideal mix of outside perspective and experience that compliments a deep background in GM and today’s global auto industry.” Prior to his return, he also served as the vice president of communications for United Airlines and Chrysler Group, where he spent 14 years before his decade-long previous service to GM. Cervone succeeds Selim Bingol — who resigned from the company in April “to pursue other interests,” and will report directly to Barra.

Speaking of “outside perspectives,” Automotive News chronicles the story of how a trio of Southern gentlemen helped to bring the spotlight upon the out-of-spec ignition switch at the heart of the February 2014 GM recall. Leading the charge, attorney Lance Cooper had sought answers into the death of Brooke Melton at the wheel of her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. Cooper retained a number of experts in his case, including auto shop owner Charlie Miller and materials engineer Mark Hood, both of whom discovered the switches in Melton’s Cobalt and related vehicles performed differently than those found in 2007 and later models. The evidence gathered would help cement the settlement for his client’s family, as well as pave the way for the recall.

Moving toward the present, victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg may end up sorting through a mountain of data as he works out the details for a compensation package between GM and the 35 families affected by the switch. Between the time the first vehicles left for showrooms in late 2002 through 2012, 1,752 individuals died in accidents involving the vehicles under the February 2014 recall. Though the link may be tenuous in most of the cases, each one may open an opportunity for affected groups to lay some of the blame at the door of GM’s comptroller.

Looking toward the future, GM and AT&T will offer a number of 4G LTE connected-car packages beginning next month to consumers, ranging from $5 for a few hours of streaming music to $50 for several showings of “Frozen” for the little ones in the back. However, demand for the service may not be what the automaker expects, as consumers who don’t have company on the road often may wonder why they need a connected car with 4G. The concern isn’t helped by the delay of an app suite — featuring offerings from NPR and The Weather Channel — which would allow owners access without using their smartphones; the delay is over quality concerns, according to GM.

In brand news, GMC is doing very well for itself as of late, being the healthiest among GM’s four brands left standing after the 2009 bankruptcy. The “professional-grade” line of trucks, SUVs and crossovers are leaving their bow-tied brethren behind for the premium market, bumping into Cadillac more often than may be comfortable for some within GM’s hallowed halls. That said, GMC’s demographic prefers to remain low-key in opposition to the flash that brings the celebs to Escalade’s yard, even if the Yukon XL Denali is within spitting distance of the Caddy’s $72,690 base price.

Leading the charge is Buick-GMC boss Duncan Aldred, who is looking forward to where GMC will go while shaking off the shadow of Buick’s “senior citizen” image within the United States. The former Vauxhall managing director sees similarities between Buick and Vauxhall/Opel, and aims to rehabilitate its image through a marketing strategy that may use “shocking and polarizing” messaging to prove his point. As for GMC, Aldred says he sees its future “as really exciting in an Audi-esque kind of way,” with plans to push the Denali line further up the mountain toward the summit.

Finally, CarNewsChina has the first official photos of the facelifted Chinese-market Chevrolet Aveo, which takes its looks from the upcoming Cruze. The Aveo will be priced between 81,800 yuan and 114,800 yuan ($13,113 to $22,732 USD), with power from 1.4- and 1.6-liter engines under the bonnet. Made by the GM Shanghai joint-venture between GM and SAIC Motor, the newly styled compact will arrive in showrooms in June for the sedan, July for the hatchback.

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