Category: News Blog

By on July 24, 2017

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass - Image: JeepIf the rate of growth FCA’s Jeep brand experienced in the United States in 2016 could be carried forward into 2017, Jeep would sell 1,000,000 SUVs/crossovers this year.

Count the zeros. 1 million.

For a company that sold fewer than 300,000 vehicles per year coming out of the recession, that’s an absurd figure.

Jeep earned 5.4 percent of the overall auto market in the first half of 2016, yet through the first half of 2017, Jeep’s market share has taken a dive to 4.8 percent. In a market gone mad for utility vehicles — where sales of SUVs/crossovers are up 6 percent, year-over-year, despite the market’s downturn — no-car Jeep is losing sales faster than every auto brand aside from Chrysler and Smart.

Worrying? According to Jeep boss Mike Manley, Jeep is, “exactly where I thought we would be in the U.S.” Read More >

By on July 24, 2017

Infiniti QX70 2015

Infiniti is closing the casket lid on the QX70 after a lifetime of middling sales. Despite being on the cutting edge of the premium crossover craze, the model never garnered the same attention — or praise — it received when it was still called the FX.

Dealerships have been notified by the manufacturer that the model won’t return for 2018. The news was later confirmed by an Infiniti spokesperson who explained the brand wanted to focus its attention on the QX50 — which typically outsells the QX70 by a factor of two-to-one in any given month. The automaker sold 16,299 QX50s in North America in 2016, while only delivering 6,742 examples of the midsize QX70. Read More >

By on July 24, 2017

2017-ford-fiesta-hatchback

After months of speculation as to the fate of the Ford Fiesta in North America, as well as months of hazy non-answers from communications staff, Ford Motor Company’s B-segment program manager, Robert Stiller, has stated that the subcompact car segment in Dearborn is dead.

No more Ford Fiesta.

After going on sale in the U.S. in mid-2010 as a 2011 model, the Fiesta’s American seems destined to end this year. Buyers in Europe and overseas — always a reliable draw for itty-bitty cars — are guaranteed a seventh-generation model. Oh boy, do they ever receive a new model. The 2018 Fiesta bows not just as a three- or five-door hatch, but also in luxurious Vignale and soft-roading Active trims.

Over here? Hug your 1.0-liter EcoBoosts tightly and shed a tear, Fiesta fans. The little guy appears doomed for the chopping block. Can Ford interest you in a subcompact crossover? Read More >

By on July 23, 2017

dodge demon

Even though we knew the limited supply of Dodge’s SRT Demon would drive up prices astronomically, Fiat Chrysler still made a valiant effort to reduce markups by prioritizing deliveries to dealerships offering the vehicle at (or below) MSRP. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work as intended.

This was especially true after some dealerships found a workaround by having intermediaries on eBay auction off the right to buy one of their Demon allocations. Instead of selling the car above the $86,090 sticker, which forces Dodge to omit custom nameplates and other Demon perks, they’re allowing prospective buyers to bid on the “privilege” of purchasing a Demon at the manufacturer’s stipulated value — for thousand of dollars. Read More >

By on July 23, 2017

Volkswagen Blue

Government authorities are concerned that Germany’s automakers have been running one of the biggest CARtels in history. Allegedly active since the 1990s, automakers used secret working groups to remain in cahoots on decisions regarding technical issues, suppliers, and cost suppression. The groups may have even set the table for Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal by encouraging regulatory cheating.

Major manufacturers had apparently agreed on the size of the tanks containing AdBlue, Germany’s preferred diesel treatment fluid to reduce exhaust emissions, and decided the units should be small to keep fluid prices up. When the entire system turned out to be insufficient in meeting regulatory guidelines, illegal software manipulation became the alternative solution.  Read More >

By on July 22, 2017

2017 Jeep Wrangler boasts LED headlamps.

As the next-generation 2018 Jeep Wrangler draws ever closer to its debut, an anonymous source who apparently attended a cozy, invite-only Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealer meeting has spilled his or her guts.

The unconfirmed powertrain details leaked to JLWranglerForums shed light on what to expect under the slightly longer hood of the lighter, more aerodynamic Wrangler. It seems FCA’s battle with the Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t squashed its desire for a diesel Wrangler. Read More >

By on July 22, 2017

2018 Cadillac XTS, Image: General Motors

You can’t compare the traditional passenger car segment to the Titanic speeding towards an iceberg, as the once market-leading segment tore its hull open on that crossover-shaped berg long ago. Cars, especially in North America, are rapidly taking on water and sinking by the bow.

Against this backdrop, a recent — and unconfirmed — report predicting looming death for six General Motors car models came as no shock, though it did raise questions. Would GM really drop a famous nameplate like the Chevrolet Volt? The Cadillac CT6 is barely more than a year old — surely the division wouldn’t go to the expense of building a flagship, then take it behind the barn?

The deaths foretold in the Reuters report would be carried out by 2020, the source claimed. While he didn’t speak to the lifespan of the Volt or the Chevrolet Sonic and Impala, nor the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen responded by saying Cadillac’s four-sedan lineup remains safe. Yep, those three sedans will be just fine, he said. Wait, what? Read More >

By on July 21, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

General Motors is taking the slow and steady approach when it comes to sales of the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, which might be the right path for a highly complex new car. Reviews show it to be a well-composed vehicle with decent fit and finish but, like any new car, there are some teething issues.

Like many of the other models in its class, the Bolt’s windshield is shaped and angled to maximize the vehicle’s efficiency. It works well in most regards, but one aspect has proven troubling. In top-line Premier trim, the Bolt comes with an interior trimmed in what GM calls Light Ash Gray and Ceramic White, paired with a dashboard that is also (very) light gray in color. Due to the dash’s relatively smooth surface, this color combination causes significant glare on sunny days — to the point where certain owners don’t feel safe driving it.

Read More >

By on July 21, 2017

vintage diesel fuel pump

With Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City all pledging to ban diesel vehicles from entry within the next few years, the fuel’s future doesn’t look particularly bright. While citywide bans like these are becoming increasingly popular in Europe, diesel vehicles still account for almost half of the continent’s registered vehicles.

Germany, which has been speedily moving away from the fuel since Volkswagen’s emissions fiasco, provided more than its fair share of those diesel-powered models. It’s been mulling over how to handle it’s own regulatory matters pertaining to the fuel and the rest of the European Union’s intense pressure doesn’t seem to have fazed it.

Instead of enacting the same transportation ban on diesel vehicles as seen in Paris, Germany has decided to furnish its automakers with the opportunity to clean up their act. Industry officials and politicians have agreed to implement software updates on existing vehicles specifically to keep them eligible for operation within major metropolitan areas. Considering Mercedes-Benz just offered to “voluntarily” recall 3 million Euro-spec cars fitted with diesel engines, that’s incredibly good timing. Likewise, Volkswagen Group claims it will update 850,000 Porsche and Audi vehicles equipped with larger diesel motors.  Read More >

By on July 21, 2017

lotus evora gt430

With the Evora getting on in years and Lotus Cars under new ownership thanks to China’s Geely, it’s just a matter of time before the swift little sports coupe is replaced with something fresh and exciting. That means it’s time for the automaker to roll out special editions of its old models. However, it could be argued the company’s low production volume makes every Lotus Evora special — thus making the new GT430 variant extra special, as its assembly tops off at 60 vehicles.

Like the Evora 400 and Sport 410, the GT’s numeric moniker denotes its horsepower rating of 430 claimed units. The manufacturer states the GT430 uses the same Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter supercharged V6, but with vastly improved cooling. While 20 prancing ponies doesn’t sound like a game changer, the upgraded Lotus is about 300 pounds lighter than the Evora 400 and 57 pounds less than the 410 — all due to a svelte suspension and plenty of carbon fiber.  Read More >

By on July 21, 2017

2018 Hyundai Kona - Image: Hyundai“Each model will have its own identity.” – Luc Donckerwolke,
senior vice president, head of Hyundai Motor Design Center

Finally, long after the Nissan Juke, Subaru Crosstrek, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3, Hyundai is ready to launch the Kona subcompact crossover, at least in moderate volumes.

The Hyundai Kona is hardly a Tucson Lite; not remotely an Accent Allroad. An unusual face and bizarre use of cladding are all the more obvious because of the Kona’s tidy dimensions.

But while the 2018 Kona showcases a new Hyundai utility vehicle design language, Hyundai’s design leadership promises that future models won’t merely be enlargements of the same. Read More >

By on July 21, 2017

Ford GT Job 1, Image: Sam VarnHagen for Ford

Handcrafted automobiles are a rarity these days but, if you add enough digits to the vehicle’s price tag, companies can still find a handful of buyers willing to fund the expensive production method. One model included on that short list is the Ford GT, the iconic American mid-engine two-seater assembled in Canada. With the help of Multimatic, Ford can usually slap one together every 24 hours under ideal circumstances.

Unfortunately, deliveries of the GT are starting to fall behind. It’s a little embarrassing, especially when you consider Ford only wants to build 250 a year, but it’s also entirely understandable, as a large portion of the assembly process seems to involve pushing the chassis around on a dolly through a mostly empty factory. You can’t rush perfection, and handcrafted perfection takes even longer.

At least, that’s what the automaker cites as the reason for the delivery delay.  Read More >

By on July 21, 2017

Image: 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, image © Corey Lewis

Power and performance. Luxury and emotionBalance and elegance. These are the seductive adjectives experts in automotive marketing insist can be found in a company’s newest offering, especially in the premium sports sedan segment.

After spending time on the back roads of Tennessee with the revised-for-2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, is the marketing hype true? Does it really deliver all the desirable adjectives you’d like in your premium sports sedan offering?

In a word, no.

Read More >

By on July 21, 2017

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Nissan Navara - Images: Mercedes-Benz & NissanAustralia’s pickup truck markets wants to know: is the Mercedes-Benz X-Class more than just a badge-engineered Nissan Navara?

“This is hardly a double badge,” Mercedes-Benz Vans’ global boss Volker Mornhinweg told Motoring.

But there’s a tendency to see matters another way. The production X-Class, not yet bound for North America’s nonexistent premium midsize pickup truck market, isn’t exactly a carbon copy of the X-Class Concept shown in late 2016.

Moreover, that X-Class gear lever looks downright familiar to Navara drivers. Read More >

By on July 21, 2017

Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant Cadillac CT6 - Image: GMThe possibility, or even the necessity, of turning General Motors’ Hamtramck, Michigan, passenger car assembly plant into an SUV/crossover facility in the next half-decade has the company considering the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Volt, Buick LaCrosse, and recently launched Cadillac CT6.

According to a report in Reuters, General Motors is in talks with the United Auto Workers about replacing the increasingly unpopular products currently built in Hamtramck with in-demand utility vehicles. Also in question is the future of the Michigan-built Chevrolet Sonic and the Canada-built Cadillac XTS, which has enjoyed stays of execution in the past.

On average, GM had a 111-day supply of the six models in its U.S. showrooms heading into July 2017. 70 days’ worth of supply would be appropriate. Combined, the Impala, Volt, LaCrosse, CT6, Sonic, and XTS account for 6 percent of GM’s U.S. sales in 2017.

In 2008, the Impala, LaCrosse, and the Sonic’s Aveo predecessor — merely three of the nameplates — accounted for 12 percent of a much more voluminous GM U.S. operation. Read More >

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