Category: Product Planning

By on October 21, 2017

All-New Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Compact SUV - Image: Mitsubishi

Last year, Nissan answered Mitsubishi’s prayers by purchasing a majority stake in the struggling Japanese automaker. The company had started out strong in North America at the dawn of the 20th century, with U.S. sales topping 345,000 in 2002. Six years later, volume had fallen by nearly 85 percent.

Mitsubishi was a dead brand walking, at least on these shores.

Now adopted by a wealthy parent, Mitsubishi has access to Nissan’s technology and platforms, but don’t expect the two automakers to start joint production of new products anytime soon. Only two new models — one with a horrible name, the other a long-delayed niche vehicle — will appear in showrooms before the end of the decade.

Still, Mitsubishi is planning for a 30-percent bump in U.S. sales by early 2020. Product isn’t the sole player in the company’s new growth strategy. Read More >

By on October 21, 2017

2017 Buick LaCrosse rear - Image: Buick

As part of a larger group of automotive publications, TTAC has access to a variety of content. We wanted to bring you some of the unique content we think lives up to TTAC’s standards and offers legitimate insight or a properly critical viewpoint to car evaluation. This story, by GM Inside News editor Michael Accardi, showcases Buick’s latest attempt to boost flagging LaCrosse sales.

NHTSA documents discovered by GM Inside News reveal Buick will expand its Avenir sub-brand in 2018 with the addition of the LaCrosse.

As the full-size sedan market continues to crumble, and the LaCrosse carries a production-crippling 204-day supply of inventory, Buick will push its flagship sedan further into the premium sphere as it attempts to chase unsatisfied luxury shoppers with its new top-shelf Avenir line. Read More >

By on October 17, 2017

Polestar 1, Image: Polestar

There’s something missing from the efficiently named Polestar 1, the first production vehicle unveiled by the world’s newest car brand: a Volvo badge.

Anyone who’s ever seen Volvo’s 2013 Concept Coupe will surely recognize the similarities between the two vehicles, but the slinky personal luxury coupe seen here is the one you’ll actually see plying a roadway near you, if you’re so lucky. Polestar, once a performance arm of Volvo Cars but now its own standalone subsidiary, plans a range of high-end electrified performance vehicles, of which the Polestar 1 is merely the first.

Packing a 600-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain and a body to die for, the 2+2 grand tourer makes great use of its sister division’s architecture, all paid for by corporate overlord Geely. The obvious similarities to the Volvo S90 isn’t an accident, as a bespoke version of that model’s platform lurks beneath its curvaceous flanks. However, that isn’t to say the Polestar 1 is just a Volvo in disguise. Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

2019-land-rover-discovery-svx-downhill

While still famous for premium-trimmed vehicles with off-road capabilities, Land Rover has taken a hard left onto luxury avenue in recent years. Rumors are stirring that the brand has sacrificed some of its utilitarian edge for creature comforts — especially with the release of the ultra-stylish Range Rover Velar.

With the Defender yet to peak its headlamps over the horizon (and rumored to be electrified), JLR is hoping to get back some of its overlanding chops by affixing the SVX badge onto more models. However, the company’s Special Vehicle Operations unit will only touch Land Rovers — allowing Range Rover to maintain its suburban chicness while not muddying the two brands’ identities.  Read More >

By on October 14, 2017

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

Tesla employees jockeying for scarce parking spaces outside the company’s Fremont, California assembly plant and Palo Alto headquarters could soon find it easier to locate a spot.

The electric automaker reportedly laid off hundreds of workers this week — a move that comes at an particularly stressful time for the company and its employees. At just 260 units, third-quarter production of the long-awaited Model 3 sedan fell far short of predictions, with CEO Elon Musk blaming production bottlenecks for the slow trickle of highly sought-after vehicles.

Meanwhile, the exact nature of the fired employees is the subject of some debate. Read More >

By on October 13, 2017

Kia Stonic and Soul - Images: KiaIt seems so obvious as to be unmistakable. You’ve been selling an unexpectedly successful Kia Soul for nearly a decade, turning it from what was thought to be a niche-market idea into one of your most popular products.

Do that again.

Hence, here cometh the Kia Stonic. It’s not bound for America, at least not yet, but the Stonic serves elsewhere as the Kia version of the Hyundai Kona. Only unlike the Kona, the Stonic is — like the Soul — a front-wheel-drive subcompact-based “utility vehicle.”

Cargo volume? Virtually identical, at 12.4 cubic feet for the Stonic and 12.5 cubic feet for the Soul. Pricing? In the United Kingdom, the Soul stretches from £14,310 to £23,565, starting slightly below the Stonic’s £16,295 entry point and rising above the Stonic’s top-spec £20,495 price.

This overlap in price, mission, and size is exactly what the doctor ordered, so we have a few vital recommendations for Kia’s rivals. Read More >

By on October 13, 2017

Ford storage bin patent, Image: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Cargo covers only hide so much. And at the end of the day, your SUV’s cargo area is merely a receptacle for refuse — you can’t tote the contents around outside the vehicle without a stolen shopping cart.

If a patent application filed by Ford Motor Company bears fruit, your cargo hold will have everything you need for tailgate parties, camping trips, and, just maybe, a long wait at the border. Read More >

By on October 11, 2017

2018 Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package, Image: FCA

You’ve decided to stay in the minivan fold. Or, to Fiat Chrysler’s delight, you’ve decided to join it. Just because your Pacifica spends its days shuttling around colorful little Playskool houses and playing Paw Patrol videos on the seatback media screens doesn’t mean it shouldn’t also strike terror into the hearts of passers-by on the mean streets of America.

Right on cue, or perhaps a little belatedly, Chrysler is adding a hint of menace to a decidedly non-menacing model with the return of the S Appearance Package to its minivan stable. Last offered on the defunct Town & Country, the package does for the Pacifica what it does for the 300 and what it did for the departed 200.

Bring on the darkness. Read More >

By on October 10, 2017

Ferrari emblem logo

Despite months of denial, Sergio Marchionne confirmed that Ferrari will put a sport utility vehicle into production on Monday. “We’re dead serious about this,” Marchionne said at the New York Stock Exchange earlier this week. “We need to learn how to master this whole new relationship between exclusivity and scarcity of product, then we’re going to balance this desire to grow with a widening of the product portfolio.”

The working title for Ferrari’s SUV is “FUV” and its confirmation undoes months of Marchionne’s claims that it would “never be built.” In February of 2016, the CEO even said he would have to be shot and killed before Ferrari made an SUV. For his sake, we hope that is no longer a provisional aspect of the build.  Read More >

By on October 10, 2017

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Last week brought quite a flurry of excitement for eager Jeep Wrangler aficionados. The long-awaited next-generation JL model has steadily revealed its secrets in dribs and drabs, but last week’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration filing appeared to reveal one of the biggest nuggets to date — a horsepower figure for the model’s 2.0-liter turbocharged “Hurricane” four-cylinder.

368 horsepower. Even from a unit expected to arrive with power in the neighborhood of 300 hp, this figure came as a shock. 368 hp isn’t “in the neighborhood” — it’s eight blocks over, past the train tracks, and in a better part of town.

Well, to all of you anticipating a real screamer of a Jeep, it’s time to hold your breath once again. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has updated its NHTSA filing. Read More >

By on October 9, 2017

mahindra_genio_2-2_crdi_crew_cab_2014_14298510989

The United States Postal Service put out a call for bids for a new delivery vehicle to replace its aging Grumman LLV a couple of years ago. We haven’t heard much about the process since then, other than the fact that the USPS secured funding and selected five finalists.

We recently uncovered a NHTSA filing submitted by Mahindra Automotive North America that may give us a better idea of what we can expect for the future mail truck.

Mahindra filed VIN documentation for 10 configurations of their version of the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle in May of this year. The document shows two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, gasoline and mild hybrid versions as required by the USPS bid. Read More >

By on October 9, 2017

General Motors SURUS platform

“Old soldiers never die,” the saying goes, “they just fade away.”

And that’s exactly what General Motors, no stranger to U.S. military products, did following the Cold War. The company that once produced the Cadillac-built M5 Stuart tank and Buick-built M18 Hellcat tank destroyer in World War Two sold its military products division — GM Defense — to General Dynamics in 2003.

However, just because Stryker and LAV III light armored vehicle production is now someone else’s responsibility doesn’t mean GM isn’t interested in fulfilling the military’s needs. The company still ships engines and transmissions to the Army, but according to a new report, the automaker is once again planning an official military division. Read More >

By on October 6, 2017

General Motors SURUS platform

Regardless of whether it’s brought upon us by climate change, divine intervention, or civil unrest, the end times are right around the corner — and the government is going to need a rugged and versatile vehicle for the impending apocalypse. The automaker with the chops to deliver such a platform? General Motors.

Apparently not Skunk Works levels of classified, GM publicly announced the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) on Friday morning. While not the classic image of a motorized vehicle, the design is intended to serve as the underlying architecture of governmental and commercial transports alike. While the specific government applications are a question mark, the platform’s fuel cell system allows it to run silently with a minimal heat signature — making it ideal for sneaking men and munitions behind enemy lines.

At least, that’s the theory.  Read More >

By on October 6, 2017

Toyota Tj Cruiser concept

Okay, maybe not the specific vehicle itself, but the key feature that sets it apart from every other crossover/SUV on the road or in conceptual blueprints.

Seen here is the just-revealed Toyota Tj Cruiser, a commodious concept car heading to the upcoming Tokyo Auto Show. “Tj,” Toyota tells us, is a combination of “toolbox,” which this versatile box-on-wheels can certainly be, and “joy,” which you’ll certainly be feeling when behind the wheel. Take the company’s word for it — there’s joy here.

Whether you find it ungainly or endearing, the Tj Cruiser seems to be an answer to a question few are asking. However, TTAC was one of those askers. Read More >

By on October 5, 2017

bullitt mustang

For the 2017 model year, Ford decided to discontinue the color green in the Mustang’s paint palette. Called “Guard,” the tone was a faintly metallic deep green and it was as savory to the eyes as it was rare to see on the street. Fortunately, the automaker is returning the hue to its pony car for 2018. However, it looks like it will only be available on a special edition model known as the “Bullitt” — meaning Steve McQueen’s green machine is also making a return to the lineup.

While not the same 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT fastback from the titular film, Ford has twice offered homage editions of contemporary models. The first movie-inspired Mustang arrived in 2001, with a second launching in 2008.

Earlier this year, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson posted a video highlighting his role as Ford’s new brand ambassador, with sketches of the current-generation green Mustang adorned with Bullitt-like trappings seen in the background. It was a clever publicity stunt and we figured it was just a matter of time before the automaker made an announcement.  Read More >

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