Category: Product Planning

By on January 18, 2017

checker-pickup-1

Being a non-conformist used to mean driving a German or Japanese car. For those who really wanted to make a scene, Sweden was more than happy to provide a quirky Volvo or Saab. Well, that strategy is out. Everything’s just too mainstream.

What’s an individualist to do? Electric cars have become too commonplace, and regulations make building your own car too much of a hassle. Enter Checker, which tentatively plans to build two offbeat versions of an already offbeat classic starting next year. Read More >

By on January 18, 2017

Mini Cooper Countryman John Cooper Works

Mini’s largest model is about to get the most powerful engine currently available to the brand from its parent company, BMW. The company will offer up its 2018 Countryman as the latest John Cooper Works model, adorned with polarizing paint jobs and a powerful 2.0-liter turbo.

While the idea of a performance crossover might seem like an oxymoron, as well as being a bit impractical — especially considering Mini already makes a quicker and more nimble JCW Cooper with the same engine — there’s a precedent of the concept workingRead More >

By on January 18, 2017

volkswagen i.d. buzz concept

If we’re to believe a source inside Volkswagen, 2022 could bring a latter-day Summer of Love.

The company’s latest Microbus concept — the eye-rollingly named I.D. Buzz — might not stay a concept for long, an insider claims, stirring hope in eco-conscious Germanophiles and fans of the original hippie wagon. Read More >

By on January 17, 2017

2018 Ford Mustang

After luring journalists away from last week’s Detroit auto show for a sneak peak, Ford is ready to show the world its new 2018 Mustang.

That face. Online backlash was moderate to severe when leaked b-roll footage of the new ‘Stang appeared online last night, with some wags claiming the updated model must be unhappy. Beneath the downturned face, however, there’s a host of upgrades designed to satisfy performance-minded enthusiasts.

On that front, ‘Stang purists can breathe a sigh of relief. The 5.0-liter Coyote V8, rumored to be replaced by a 4.8-liter unit, won’t disappear after all. But one long-running engine choice had to skip this party to attend its own funeral. Read More >

By on January 17, 2017

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept - Image: Hyundai

Two years have passed since Hyundai dropped the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept at 2015’s North American International Auto Show.

A small, stylish, affordable, diesel-powered trucklet? Give’er the green light, the internet says.

Hyundai has consistently supplied plenty of information in the 24 months since the truck’s debut to stoke Santa Cruz-oriented hype. “There is a very high probability we get the approval of the truck soon,” now-departed Hyundai USA boss Dave Zuchowski said 20 months ago.

Soon? Clearly not.

Acknowledging Hyundai is “working as hard as we can to make it happen,” Hyundai’s vice president of corporate and product planning, Mike O’Brien, told Car And Driver that Hyundai is still not entirely certain the Santa Cruz is bound for production. Read More >

By on January 17, 2017

Hyundai Tucson, Image: Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Company and its Kia affiliate are starting off the New Year with a promise to float barges full of cash to U.S. shores.

The automaker has announced a plan to funnel $3.1 billion into its American operations over the next five years, handily killing two birds with one stone. Not only would it (potentially) placate President-elect Donald Trump’s thirst for non-Mexican automotive investment, it would also fix a thorny problem facing Hyundai’s vehicle lineup. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

2018 Lexus LS

The next-generation Lexus LS flagship’s top-to-bottom revamp took some fans by surprise when it was revealed ahead of the Detroit auto show. Not only did it do away with a formal roofline, a V8 engine — which has powered the model since its inception — was no where to be found, replaced by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.

It appeared as if convention wasn’t the only thing Lexus planned to ditch, as a hybrid model was neither announced, nor teased. As it turns out, Lexus did tease an upcoming hybrid variant — we just needed to look closer. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

gmmansteptitle

General Motors loves to poke at its competitors, especially when it comes to trucks. We’re all familiar with its recent barrage of ads attacking Ford for using aluminum in the F-150’s bed, but another ad from 2009 may be coming back to bite them.

The ad in question made fun of a new feature that extended a step and handle from the tailgate of the F-150. Chevrolet didn’t have anything similar at the time, so it decided instead to make an ad mocking the step and making it seem like a feature for unmanly weaklings. Chevy resurrected a similar feature in the bumpers of some trucks a few years later, though a recent set of patents shows the automaker is almost replicating the step they ridiculed eight years ago. Read More >

By on January 14, 2017

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz, Image: Volkswagen

It seems that even Volkswagen executives realize you can’t keep showing off different variants of the same concept before the public grows weary of the tease.

At the North American International Auto Show this week, visitors to Detroit feasted their eyes on the eleventy billionth latter-day VW Microbus concept, this time called the I.D. Buzz. Okay, maybe that number is a bit high, but the folks from Wolfsburg have kept up a steady trickle of retro Microbus concepts for 16 years. This time, it’s fully electric. No wheezy four-cylinder (or raucous five) in sight.

Naturally, the automaker hopes this latest concept’s name doesn’t prove a lie, but this latest offering — and the atmosphere around it — feels different. The mood implies it’s now or never for the concept — not just this one-off vehicle, but the concept of a reborn Microbus altogether. Read More >

By on January 13, 2017

Toyota Yaris hot hatch

Toyota promised the world a Yaris hatchback that would valiantly rise above the role of a plain-Jane commuter car, and here it is.

Expected to premiere at the Geneva Motor Show this March, the high performance three-door subcompact borrows inspiration, parts, and probably a name from Toyota’s Gazoo racing division.  Read More >

By on January 12, 2017

1971_dodge_demon (Wikimedia)

Here’s some sage advice: there’s no known way to use snippets of Metallica’s ‘Fuel’ in an automotive video without prompting audience eye-rolling. Scientists are working around the clock, but hopes remain dim.

The song appears towards the end of a teaser video produced by Fiat Chrysler’s Dodge division, featuring a snarling, caged beast that suddenly shape shifts into a fiery demon once released. There’s no new vehicle in sight — just a Ram Heavy Duty pulling the cage. More videos will follow, we’re told, but it’s the name that’s the focus here.

Demon. Read More >

By on January 12, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry – Image: Toyota“When you get into next year and you look at 2018, I believe with these three products
and the excitement they bring back to that segment, I don’t see it falling anymore.”

– Jack Hollis, Toyota Motor Sales USA’s VP of marketing

U.S. sales of midsize cars tumbled by more than 250,000 units in 2016 even as new vehicle volume rose to record highs. The rate of decline was sharper than the decline experienced by the car sector at large. Only Chevrolet, with the all-new Malibu, and Subaru, with the relatively low-volume Legacy, sold more midsize cars in 2016 than in 2015.

Fleet sales excluded, retail data manifests a worsening of results as the year wore on. According to J.D. Power’s PIN December Industry Health Report, midsize car market share fell below 10 percent for the first time ever.

But Toyota USA’s marketing chief, Jack Hollis, believes 2017 could mark the end of the midsize decline, and 2018 sales of midsize cars could even begin to increase. Read More >

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