Category: Product Planning

By on February 18, 2017

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD

In the dark days of the recession, as General Motors was frantically attempting to save itself from the abyss, many thought it odd that the automaker’s GMC division was saved while a storied brand like Pontiac met its executioner. As for Saturn and Hummer, well, let’s just say far fewer tears were spilled over those deaths.

Clearly, GM saw long-term profitability in its carless brand — a prediction that has since panned out. From a low point in 2009, GMC sales doubled to 558,697 units by 2015. However, it isn’t the number of vehicles sold that’s the sweet spot for the automaker — it’s the number of GMCs sold in top-end Denali trim.

At GM’s utility brand, luxury versions of non-luxury vehicles are proving increasingly popular. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

GMC Unveils Terrain and Terrain Denali

Volkswagen’s emissions scandal may have killed that company’s diesel presence in North America, but it didn’t kill demand for diesel engines in general — especially ones that don’t pollute like Chernobyl and end up in the trash heap.

At least, that’s General Motors’ take on it. The automaker hopes to fill the void created by VW’s oil-burning absence and, in doing so, score some points with the EPA. With diesel engines now available in five vehicles you won’t see on a worksite (and five more that you would), GM has high hopes it can erase memories of its 1980s diesel woes. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

Jeep Wranglers Coming Down The Line In Toledo

To get its Toledo Assembly Complex ready for the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles needs to go dark for a little while, meaning extended vacays for thousands of employees.

The proper term would be “temporary layoff,” but in an autoworker’s life, a job you know you can go back to makes these hassles forgivable. In this case, Toledo needs six months to retool. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

Autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid Fr

Apparently, it’s not just Uber drivers who enjoy extended naps behind the wheel.

Ford engineers, tapped to put the company’s self-driving technology on the fast track to production, are taking the off-ramp to Slumberville so often that the company has had to get other engineers to devise ways of keeping them awake.

It turns out that riding in the driver’s seat of a self-driving car is as conducive to glassy-eyed lethargy as reading about “mobility solutions.” Read More >

By on February 16, 2017

ferrari_812-superfast_ta-1024x768

Vehicle names are often lies. Take LTD, for example. Demon? No proof of possession, at least none that can be recognized by the Catholic Church.

Ferrari, on the other hand, has introduced a new Geneva-bound model that aptly sums up its purpose through its name: Superfast. Yes, the Ferrarri 812 Superfast is, unsurprisingly, just that.

As a successor to the F12 Berlinetta, the 812 Superfast needs to do things in a gutsier manner than the model that came before. It’s also the 70th anniversary of the first Ferrari-badged car, so it only made sense for the prancing pony to make this model its fastest and most powerful production offering to date. Read More >

By on February 16, 2017

aston martin db4 gt

Who loves stick shifts? Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer loves stick shifts!

In an industry that’s rapidly heading towards autonomous vehicles, “mobility solutions” and other high-tech dreams of a 21st century society, Old World charm is becoming increasingly hard to find. Leave it to a British automaker to take a stand for old technology.

During a speech at the Canadian International Auto Show this morning, Palmer declared his devotion to the antiquated row-your-own transmission, stating that Aston Martin will always keep the three-pedal lifestyle alive. Read More >

By on February 16, 2017

2018_hyundai_accent_exterior_3quarter_low-2

Does it look familiar?

If you haven’t seen a new product from Hyundai in the past year and a half, your answer is probably a half-hearted “maybe.” However, the 2018 Hyundai Accent borrows enough design cues from the larger Elantra that the answer should be a solid “Oh, definitely.”

Introduced today at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, the fifth-generation Accent promises more of the things that matter: interior room, length, width, acceleration and fuel economy.

It also breaks from the past in another way. Due to its growth spurt, the Accent — once among the most diminutive cars on the road — can now be classified as a compact. Read More >

By on February 16, 2017

2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Trail - Image: Toyota USARidicule it if you must, but the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure gives the people more of what the people want.

Yes, consumers are buying utility vehicles for reasons related to hatchback practicality, all-wheel-drive availability, and peer review equivalency. But they’re also buying SUVs and crossovers — more often than cars now — because they sit up high.

And the RAV4 Adventure sits up a little higher. Improved towing capacity, black wheels, more black cladding, and “dirt-inspired styling” have, however, led Toyota Canada to call the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure the Toyota RAV4 Trail.

Yes, Trail — a name Toyota off-road enthusiasts will know well. Why isn’t Toyota using the Trail name in the United States?

Because the Trail, my friends, has ended. Read More >

By on February 15, 2017

Land Rover Defender (wikimedia commons)

Last year, we reported on how British chemical company Ineos had approached Land Rover, asking for permission to build a copy of its now-deceased Defender. Land Rover responded unequivocally, stating, “There is no way this is happening.”

Hold on, not so fast there.

Read More >

By on February 15, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta - Image: Ford Europe

It’s been nearly three months since Ford introduced the seventh-generation Fiesta B-segment hatchback. We’ve still not received any U.S.-market specifics for the 2018 Ford Fiesta.

At the time, you may recall TTAC’s Steph Willems saying, “Because this was a Ford of Europe event, we’re still waiting on U.S.-specific details.”

But December and January and half of February flew by, and Ford’s U.S. PR corps still has no information to provide regarding the new subcompact. In fact, on Valentine’s Day, the day for committing to a loved one, we asked Ford to confirm the new Fiesta for the United States.

Ford declined to do so.

Is the new Ford Fiesta DOA?  Read More >

By on February 14, 2017

smart fortwo electric

It would appear that the Smart money is literally on electric cars. Daimler says it plans to stop selling combustion-engined Smart models in North America entirely. If you live in the United States or Canada and want a goofy gas-powered mini car, you’d better buy one now.

Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler has issued a letter to dealers explaining that the sale of Smart cars with gasoline engines will stop when the 2017 model year ends this fall. Read More >

By on February 14, 2017

Eclipse Cross

Today, Mitsubishi announced that its next model will be called the Eclipse Cross, acknowledging the defunct sport compact beloved by enthusiasts and teenage girls alike while simultaneously spitting on its memory. “Cross is short for crossover,” Mitsubishi helpfully explained in its announcement, as if anyone would have had trouble piecing that puzzle together.

“Eclipse is a word used to describe an astronomical event,” the Japanese automaker continued. “Marrying stylish coupe lines with the freedom of movement the SUV genre gives, the Eclipse Cross’ beautiful, dynamic form serves to bring about the same sense of excitement and inspiration as the diamond ring seen immediately before and after a total solar eclipse does.”

That’s sounds a lot better than saying it looks a lot like a Honda CR-V with a dash of Outlander.  Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

mbgmaybach

Few vehicles offer the snob appeal and image enhancement of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, but seriously wealthy Benz buyers interested in comfort are going to hire a private driver and purchase something with a Maybach badge. Of course, that limits them to a tarted-up S-Class, or so it was before the introduction of the G650 Landaulet — which is, quite possibly, the dumbest vehicle currently entering production.

While the Landaulet’s forward-most occupants are treated to the nice but relatively unchanged interior from the G-Class, the rear is an extravaganza of luxury to be enjoyed in or out of the elements. Much like the Mercedes-Maybach S650 Cabriolet, it is a convertible. Unlike the Cabrio, however, the only person to benefit from the folding top is the multi-millionaire riding in the back. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Image: Volkswagen of America

A border tax placed on Mexican goods bound for the United States would be a worst-case scenario for struggling Volkswagen.

The automaker, which already knows a few things about worst-case scenarios, is waiting on pins and needles to see if the proposed tax prices its small cars out of the market. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

Malibu Redline

Chevrolet is introducing a new Redline trim for most of its current models. Actually, I should say it’s reintroducing the trim because Red Line — styled as two words — was pre-bankruptcy General Motors’ designation for Saturn’s signature performance models.

Unlike the Saturn models, the Chevy Redlines don’t offer appear to offer any dynamic advantages and are simply mid-level trimmed vehicles with special wheels and paint. That’s sort annoying when GM has decided to name the cars after the maximum safe speed of an engine. I cannot believe I’m saying this but it kind of makes me nostalgic for the sporty Saturns.  Read More >

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