Category: Product Planning

By on May 22, 2017

2017 smart fortwo cabrio electric drive (Euro spec image)

Will anyone notice? Mercedes-Benz certainly hopes so, as it recently choose to ditch gasoline powerplants altogether and make the Smart sub-brand an all-electric affair.

The automaker announced pricing and specifications for its 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive coupe and convertible today, billing the two-seater as one of the cheapest EVs you can buy. The droptop variant remains the only electric convertible you can get your hands on, should that be your thing.

While many scratch their heads and wonder why Smart continues to exist in North America, the automaker hopes to entice consumers with a lower starting price and added range. Read More >

By on May 22, 2017

2018 outback

With the exception of Mazda and — until its Outlander PHEV finally lands on U.S. shores — Mitsubishi, Subaru remains one of very few automakers to completely eschew electrified powertrains.

Despite lacking any fully electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid model (the unloved Crosstrek Hybrid met a quiet death last year), Subaru’s U.S. customer base continues to expand at a rapid clip, but a gas-only strategy can’t survive forever. Environmental regulations the world over insist Subaru should follow the lead of its rivals and build something without pistons.

Well, Subaru plans to. However, unlike many of its rivals, the automaker has indicated it might take a different path towards this goal. Read More >

By on May 22, 2017

hyundai-kona-teaser

Hyundai, which found itself lagging behind its rivals in the lucrative crossover and SUV market and figured it should do something about it, is having trouble getting its desperately needed subcompact crossover into production.

The 2018 Kona, which we’ve so far seen only a portion of, is part of a better-late-than-never product push by the Korean automaker. A new small crossover was needed to to mine a growing segment and boost Hyundai’s flagging U.S. sales, but the reality of building cars in Korea has thrown up a roadblock. Read More >

By on May 19, 2017

[Image GM]

General Motors seems to hope buyers of its upcoming diesel Chevrolet Cruze hatchback are interested in both fuel economy and tossing around their new purchases with reckless abandon.

When it goes on sale this fall, the 2018 Cruze diesel hatch will offer a standard six-speed manual transmission, as well as something you won’t find on its diesel sedan sibling — the RS Package. It looks like “fun diesel” is the new “clean diesel.” Read More >

By on May 18, 2017

[Image: Nissan]

It won’t come with a minimum of 808 horsepower, nor will there be a crate to turn it into a dragster. However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles raised the bar on how to intrigue fans (and annoy journalists) with its weekly pre-reveal teasers for the Dodge Challenger Demon, and who is Nissan to ignore FCA’s success?

The Japanese automaker has embarked on a summertime teaser campaign leading up to the unveiling of the next-generation Leaf “later this year.” Back in March, Nissan tweeted that the new Leaf would appear at a global launch event in September before going on sale before the end of the year.

So, what lies in store for the long-in-the-tooth electric’s replacement? Read More >

By on May 17, 2017

Volvo D4

Volvo Cars is prepared to lower the curtain on diesel engines. Rising standards for nitrogen oxide emissions — and the cost associated with reducing them — has guided the automaker away from oil burners and into the loving arms of gasoline. “From today’s perspective, we will not develop any more new generation diesel engines,” CEO Hakan Samuelsson told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

That is not to suggest Volvo won’t get some serious mileage out of its last batch of diesels, though. The automaker has no plans to abandon the motors outright, suggesting it could march onward with its current lineup for at least a few more years. Diesels would also help Volvo meet corporate fuel economy targets while it gets new super-economical electric powerplants ready for market.  Read More >

By on May 17, 2017

2018 Jeep Wrangler Hurricane Turbo Spy Shot, Image: © 2016 Spiedbilde/The Truth About Cars

Should you expect Ford Fusion levels of engine choice in the next-generation Jeep Wrangler? A new report claims yes, you should.

A source who claims connections at a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plant has told Jalopnik the upcoming 2018 model will host six engines, but a rational take on the matter would suggest readers not get their hopes up — at least, not in the U.S. Read More >

By on May 16, 2017

2016 Hyundai Sonata, Image: Hyundai Motor America

He lost his job for it, but Kim Gwang-ho, a 25-year Hyundai veteran at the automaker’s Seoul, South Korea facility, knew he needed to speak out.

The engineer blew the whistle on his employer, reporting the automaker to both South Korean and American officials after uncovering evidence Hyundai was covering up a defect in several of its models. Kim even published internal documents to back up his claim.

Kim, 55, was fired from his job, but authorities took note. As a result, a further 240,000 vehicles — totaling 12 models — have been added to a recall already 1.4 million strong. Read More >

By on May 15, 2017

2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 front – Image: Mini USA

Forget all about a Mini sedan, roadster, or even an extra-small two-seat hatchback. The British automaker isn’t having any of it.

Despite earlier reports to the contrary, Mini has no immediate plans to diversify its current lineup, preferring to wait until the next-generation Mini rolls along before going nuts (if indeed it ever does). In the meantime, are you interested in a crossover or near-crossover? Read More >

By on May 15, 2017

[Image: Autohome.com.cn]

The crossover is king and Cadillac doesn’t have nearly enough of them. As it works to correct that problem, the automaker hasn’t completely forgotten about the segment that once made it the first name in American automotive opulence.

As many of its models are now global, it’s not surprising our first view of the refreshed Cadillac XTS front-wheel-drive sedan hails from China — General Motors’ main growth engine. Read More >

By on May 14, 2017

2016 Honda CR-V - Image: Honda

With trucks and crossovers dominating more of the market every month, Japanese automakers are making every effort to bring in new models that will satisfy consumer demands. Soundly constructed economy vehicles have long been the cornerstone of most Japanese nameplates but, with reliability improving among many brands and fuel efficiency being less important to consumers, we’re seeing a shift in the Far East.

Everyone from Toyota, Mazda, Honda, and Nissan have all expressed plans to focus on light trucks this year. Some Japanese brands are even banking on the continued growth of the segment to stage their comeback. “I think SUV sales will continue growing even if gas prices rise,” Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko explained, citing the consumer appeal of higher seating and overall sense of safety. “The SUV segment is increasing its market share worldwide, and this is where we have long been strong,” he said. “So, we will continue to make full use of this technology.”  Read More >

By on May 13, 2017

[Image: Nissan]

The success of Nissan’s e-Power system in the Japanese-market Note hatchback has company brass considering a trans-Pacific trip for the technology.

Should it arrive stateside, e-Power stands to give Nissan an edge in low-priced electrification — potentially undercutting the price of compact hybrid rivals by thousands. Unlike conventional hybrids and plug-in models, Nissan’s system burns gasoline every moment of the drive, despite an electric motor doing all the pulling work. Read More >

By on May 11, 2017

[Image: BMW AG]

It once sat at the pinnacle of BMW’s model podium, but cutting-edge technology, German opulence and a choice of eight or twelve cylinders couldn’t keep the 8 Series in production. It was only rival Mercedes-Benz’s decision to push the S-Class into the luxury stratosphere that compelled the Munich automaker to consider climbing the luxury ladder again.

Now, a year after the automaker trademarked a slew of 8 Series model names and insider sources assured us of its return, BMW has officially confirmed it. The 8 Series will reappear next year. Read More >

By on May 11, 2017

mazda cx-5

Diesel power has traditionally proved a tough sell in the United States, at least among light-vehicle buyers. If it doesn’t belong on a worksite, chances are a vehicle’s engine choices have remained gasoline-only since the model’s debut.

While the high-mileage technology suffered a black, sooty eye from the Volkswagen affair, several automakers are gambling on Americans want of higher torque figures and improved fuel economy — the rosy promises of diesel motivation. Mazda, the only automaker without a hybrid or electric vehicle in its stable, plans to add a diesel CX-5 to its gas-only U.S. fleet later this year.

The automaker knows exactly how many it wants Americans to buy. If this litmus test on wheels reaches the pre-determined mark, expect to see more zoom-zoom diesels appearing in local showrooms. Read More >

By on May 10, 2017

toyota camry

Even as it develops efficient new platforms and streamlines its operation where it can, Toyota finds itself against the ropes as a falling yen and rising costs sends profits tumbling. Its end-of-fiscal-year financial statements, released today, are enough to send bean counters to the medicine cabinet in search of antacid, while the company’s president warns of more trouble ahead.

To Akio Toyoda, the increasingly gloomy picture has all the hallmarks of a failing sports team. Read More >

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