The Truth About Cars » Product Planning http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:54:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Product Planning http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/product-planning/ Toyota Looking To Conquer Africa http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/toyota-looking-to-conquer-africa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/toyota-looking-to-conquer-africa/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:58:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798514 Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Bakkie

Though Toyota already has a presence in South Africa, the automaker is eyeing the last untapped market in the world: The African continent.

Automotive News reports Toyota patriarch Shochiro Toyoda gave his son, current president Akio Toyoda, a mission last year to explore markets outside of the “Asia-Europe-America” sphere, especially those where the younger Toyoda had not visited. His travels took him to a knockdown factory in Kenya, where there are 40 cars per 1,000 people according to IHS Automotive, laying the early groundwork for an all-out campaign to get as much of the final frontier as possible.

Success in the market may have to come in the long term, however; IHS predicts GDP per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa won’t reach the threshold of $3,000, as well as the ownership rate of 70 units per 1,000 people, until 2030 at the earliest. Toyota Africa CEO Johan van Zyl, who is scouting for new factory locations outside of South Africa, knows this reality well:

It’s a growing market, a market with a future. We have quite an ambitious [annual sales] target. But we must also understand, this is not going to happen overnight. We have to put the right things in place. And that is what we are busy doing, to ensure that we have the right foundation for the business in the future in Africa.

In the meantime, the automaker will launch the Quest compact in South Africa next month. The Quest — based upon the previous-gen Corolla — will help boost production towards full capacity at Toyota’s Durban plant; while max capacity is 220,000 annually, current production is 160,000 units per year. Unlike many auto makers, Toyota is not pursuing a new brand or platform for their new, low-cost car.

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Cadillac Flagship, Redesigned LaCrosse To Be Made In Detroit By 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cadillac-flagship-redesigned-lacrosse-to-be-made-in-detroit-by-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cadillac-flagship-redesigned-lacrosse-to-be-made-in-detroit-by-2016/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:30:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798938 2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

In light of General Motors’ recent announcement of a $384 million investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, two vehicles from Cadillac and Buick could wind up being produced alongside the next-generation Volt.

Edmunds reports IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley expects Cadillac’s all-new flagship to be produced in late 2015, with the Buick LaCrosse — currently assembled in Fairfax, Kan. — joining the flagship in 2016 for the latter’s next redesign.

Though GM hasn’t said much about the flagship, industry insiders claim the vehicle will be aimed at the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class, and may be priced as much as $100,000.

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New PSA Boss Tavares Prepares To Rebuild Company http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-psa-boss-tavares-prepares-to-rebuild-company/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-psa-boss-tavares-prepares-to-rebuild-company/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:15:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=797482 Carlos Tavares

Though PSA Peugeot Citroen secured funding in a three-way deal between itself, the French government and Dongfeng, new boss and former Renault COO Carlos Tavares has a hard road ahead of him as he rebuilds the ailing automaker.

Reuters reports Tavares will focus using the joint venture it shares with Dongfeng to go after 1.5 million sales by 2020, bring exports to Southeast Asia and establish a research center. He will also tighten up both working capital and the number of models sold in each market, as well as squeeze savings from PSA’s suppliers.

However, development woes, pricing issues on some models, and the use of heavy discounts and incentives are all roadblocks on Tavares’ “Back in the Race” plan expected to be issued in full Monday, as well as currency challenges in Latin America and Russia and lower-cost products from around Asia.

As part of the plan, Tavares is expected to halve the number of models it currently offers. On the bright side, the 308 and 2008 both delivered a combined 5.2 percent sales increase in the first two months of 2014, as well as an 8.5 percent Q1 2014 gain over PSA’s home market.

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Future Ford Explorers, Expeditions Could Wear All-Aluminium Bodies http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/future-ford-explorers-expeditions-could-wear-all-aluminium-bodies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/future-ford-explorers-expeditions-could-wear-all-aluminium-bodies/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:36:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793281 Explorer Sport rear quarter, picture courtesy Michael Karesh

As previously reported by TTAC earlier this year, future Ford Explorers and Expeditions could one day wear aluminium bodies.

Edmunds reports the SUVs could easily go aluminium should Ford decided to do so based on the higher base prices of both vehicles being able to sustain the higher cost of the metal. The Explorer and Expedition could see improved fuel economy from the several hundreds of pounds lost as a result.

Alongside aluminium, Ford also aims to improve the engines, transmissions and aerodynamics in their lineup as the automaker seeks to reduce CO2 emissions annually by 4 percent to meet ever-stringent global standards.

The earliest an all-aluminium Explorer or Expedition could come is 2018, as the U.S. metals industry is stepping up aluminium production in anticipation of more Ford products extensively using the lightweight metal.

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GM Invests $449M Into Next-Gen Volt Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-invests-449m-into-next-gen-volt-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-invests-449m-into-next-gen-volt-production/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:10:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791273 2013 Chevrolet Volt Exterior-001

General Motors announced Tuesday that it would invest $449 million into the two plants responsible for assembling the Chevrolet Volt in preparation for the next generation of the plug-in hybrid’s arrival in 2016.

The Detroit News reports $384 million will immediately go into the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant for body shop tooling, equipment and other plant upgrades, while the remaining $65 million heads for the Brownstown Township battery assembly plant for expanded production of GM’s advanced lithium-ion batteries, as well as any future technologies that come down the road. The investments are expected to last for the next two years, and would add 1,400 new jobs to both facilities.

As for what fruit the investment will bear, GM vice president of North American manufacturing Gerald Johnson announced the next generation of the Volt will roll into showrooms in 2016 as a 2016 model, with production slated to begin in the autumn of 2015. Though he didn’t go further into what the new Volt would bring to the table, a number of analysts said the PHEV would likely gain an improvement in range over the 38 miles currently provided in electric-only travel.

Further, two new vehicles will accompany the new Volt within the next couple of years, including the Buick LaCrosse — expected in mid-2016 — and an all-new large Cadillac sedan set to be the brand’s flagship that would begin production around the same time as the next-gen PHEV.

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NHTSA Asked To Investigate Impala Airbags, GM May Compensate Recall Victims http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/nhtsa-asked-to-investigate-impala-airbags-gm-may-compensate-recall-victims/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/nhtsa-asked-to-investigate-impala-airbags-gm-may-compensate-recall-victims/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 11:59:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=790113 '06-'09_Chevrolet_Impala_Taxicab

Bloomberg reports the Center for Auto Safety, citing a government petition from former General Motors researcher Donald Friedman, is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open a defect investigation into 2003 – 2010 Chevrolet Impalas over a glitch in the car’s software that could “misread a passenger’s weight,” preventing frontal airbags from deploying. The agency has 143 records of fatalities linked to failed airbags in the Impala, 98 of which noted the occupants were wearing seat belts at time of death.

The request reflects growing concern over the algorithms used in advanced airbags, designed to meet strengthened U.S. regulations in 2003 after previous airbags were found in 300 cases to prove fatal to small adults and children due to excessive force upon deployment, and where improvements could be made.

Going in-depth regarding the April 2006 sign-off of the improved version of the out-of-spec ignition switch linked to the ongoing 2014 GM recall crisis, Automotive News found that while midlevel engineer Ray DeGiorgio put his signature upon what turned out to be the validation sign-off presented before the Senate hearing last week, former engineers have noted that said document was merely placing “a bow” on a package built upon by several engineers before presentation to GM. The resulting paper trail could shed more light on how the decision came to be made, as the anonymous engineers told the publication said decision to change the part would need to go through several checks and balances before signing-off on the upgraded part.

As for out-of-spec parts in general, Automotive Industry Action Group senior program manager for quality Scott Gray says that while a part may be “out of tolerance,” it may not be “the root cause of a failure” unless said part “affects a component’s fit, form or function.”

At that point, the part would go through two industry-standard protocols: Failure Mode Effects Analysis, and Production Part Approval Process. The first is a constantly updated document that gives engineers the tools needed to evaluate the out-of-spec part and related components in determining where problems could arise prior to approving a design. The second, used by suppliers, determines whether or not the part can be built, with automakers paying for tooling only upon successful completion. Further, if even a single tiny change occurs with the part, the entire part must undergo the protocol again.

CNN Money reports GM is debating on whether or not to compensate affected customers whose relatives were either injured or killed in recall-related accidents prior to the automaker’s emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. Should GM do so, the liability shield established in the bankruptcy would fall, opening itself to 2,500 lawsuits left behind with “Old GM” in so doing.

Finally, Autoblog Green reports Chevrolet will make an announcement today regarding the next-gen Volt involving a boost of 1,400 jobs and $450 million spent in preparing both the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and Brownstown Township battery plant for the updated EV. Speculation of what will be announced include a new platform for the 2016 Volt to an all-new unnamed EV, as well as Opel receiving a vehicle priced lower than the Ampera.

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Leaked Documents Link Anti-Union VW Incentive Offer To TN Governor’s Office http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/leaked-documents-link-anti-union-vw-incentive-offer-to-tn-governors-office/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/leaked-documents-link-anti-union-vw-incentive-offer-to-tn-governors-office/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:15:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=786417 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

Leaked documents linked to the United Auto Workers battle for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. point to a connection between Governor Bill Haslam and the German automaker regarding a $300 million incentive in exchange for over 1,300 jobs at a proposed SUV plant within the state.

WTVF-TV reports the incentives were contingent “to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee.” By the time Volkswagen entered into election talks with the UAW in January, however, the Haslam administration formally notified the automaker that it was withdrawing the offer, citing that it had kept the offer on the table past the 90-day window normally reserved for incentives when the incentive in question had no such expiration date.

Though Haslam has denied any such connection to the incentive — dubbed “Project Trinity” — U.S. Senator Bob Corker claimed as early as February of this year that the offering would be made should the workers at the Chattanooga plant vote against representation by the union.

As for the UAW, organizer Gary Casteel stated the following in response to whether the now-public documents were a game-changer in the union’s appeal to the National Labor Relations Board over the election results:

To me, it puts pressure on the state to do what they should have done in the first place — and that’s give the incentives with no strings attached, just like they would any other company, union or non-union.

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Marchionne’s FCA Looks To Sell 6 Million Units http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/marchionnes-fca-looks-to-sell-6-million-units/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/marchionnes-fca-looks-to-sell-6-million-units/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=786433 marchionne

Should Sergio Marchionne’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles be able to deliver on his expectations, the merged automaker will be able to move 6 million units annually, enabling FCA to become a player on the global stage.

The Detroit News reports Marchionne met before Fiat’s shareholders in the final meeting at the automaker’s Turin, Italy headquarters before FCA relocates to the Netherlands, stating what he expects out of FCA in the post-merger years to come:

By 2018, Fiat will be able to make more than 6 million cars. I don’t want to give any details of the plan, but we are going in that direction.

For 2014, Marchionne stated FCA aims to sell between 4.5 million and 4.6 million units on the strength of United States and Asia markets, collecting some $128 billion in revenues, and between $828.6 million and $1.1 billion in net profit. The goal of selling 6 million units has been an oft-mentioned one by Marchionne, who believes that the volumes necessary to achieve scale will only increase in the future.

Until then, his current goal is to have Chrysler and Fiat completely merged by the end of 2014, with a multi-year business plan to be presented in Detroit by May. Marchionne believes the new plan can be run “by purely financing on debt.”

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Aston Martin Teaming Up With Daimler For Premium SUV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/aston-martin-teaming-up-with-daimler-for-premium-suv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/aston-martin-teaming-up-with-daimler-for-premium-suv/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 19:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785633 SC06_Aston_Martin_Vanquish_green

First Bentley, now Aston Martin wants an SUV for their lineup, with plans to team up with Daimler to make that vision reality.

Bloomberg reports the plan is related to a 5 percent stake in Aston Martin sold to Daimler last year in return for sharing technology with the English automaker, such as Mercedes AMG building V8 engines with Aston in the latter’s upcoming models.

Currently, talks are at the early stages, with signs of the new SUV not expected to come for another three years at the earliest. Aston is also debating whether or not to build a crossover using its own technology.

As for Aston overall, the automaker aims to sell 7,000 cars annually by 2016 by catering to demand in North American, South American and Asian markets.

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Tesla Leads Charge To Replace Side Mirrors With Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-leads-charge-to-replace-side-mirrors-with-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-leads-charge-to-replace-side-mirrors-with-cameras/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:08:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785609 Tesla Model X Concept

Should Tesla and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — including General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen — be successful in their petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, new cars could soon have cameras instead of side mirrors.

Automotive News reports the petition — on the heels of the agency mandating rearview cameras by 2018 in all light-duty vehicles — explains cameras could do the same job as mirrors while allowing for increased aerodynamics:

In light of future greenhouse gas and corporate average fuel economy requirements beginning in 2017, camera-based systems represent an opportunity to increase vehicle fuel efficiency through improved aerodynamics by eliminating externally mounted mirrors.

Current regulations place cameras as a supplement to side mirrors, with Nissan, Honda and Mercedes-Benz offering such systems, while Volkswagen’s XL1 is one of a few vehicles to do away with mirrors by using cameras in their stead.

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UK Diesels 21 Percent Cleaner Than A Decade Ago http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uk-diesels-21-percent-cleaner-than-a-decade-ago/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uk-diesels-21-percent-cleaner-than-a-decade-ago/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:30:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=782033 Peugeot_3008_HYbrid4_header

A study issued earlier this month by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has concluded that modern diesel engines in the United Kingdom are 21 percent cleaner than that were a decade earlier.

Hybrid Cars reports the group’s New Car CO2 Report also found modern diesels to be 27 percent more economical than in 2003, greatly aided by technologies — including stop-start and common-rail systems — in reducing emissions and running costs.

Average UK vehicle CO2 output fell 29.1 percent over the past 14 years to just 128.3g/km, achieving the 130g/km target set by the European Union for 2015.

For their part, Bosch — one of the manufacturers at the forefront of advancing diesel technology — says it will continue to move diesels forward in the march toward further cleanliness and efficiency, going so far as to include hybrids — such as the Bosch-augmented Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 — in order to meet the 2020 standard of 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer.

 

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Congressional Hearings Loom As Switch Swap Raises Questions At GM http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/congressional-hearings-loom-as-switch-swap-raises-questions-at-gm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/congressional-hearings-loom-as-switch-swap-raises-questions-at-gm/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 13:30:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=780281 800px-Pontiac_G5_coupe

General Motors is facing two separate lawsuits related to failures of the ignition switch recalled last month, while also preparing to bring their case before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee next month, led by a representative who honed his skills upon Firestone.

Meanwhile, reports of a quiet swap between the defective ignition switch and an improved switch in 2006 – a swap that may have violated internal protocols -may have serious repercussions for GM and now-bankrupt supplier Delphi.

Finally, a test drive gone wrong results in a GMC Yukon left to burn, whose prompt investigation is only the beginning of a long learning process in how GM handles safety in the future.

Reuters and Just-Auto report two lawsuits were filed against GM over the weekend in Minnesota and California. The former, filed in state court on behalf of three teenage girls severely injured or killed in a 2006 crash involving a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, is considered to be the first wrongful death lawsuit since the recall was issued.  Robert Hilliard of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales is seeking $50,000 for each of the families affected, and names “New GM” as defendant.

The second, filed in federal court as a national class action by Michaels Law Group, cites fraudulent behavior on GM’s part over the ignition switch and subsequent recall. Founding firm member Johnathan Michaels called the automaker’s actions “an unfortunate chapter” in United States history, and proclaimed GM “allowed products to be put in the stream of commerce, knowing that people would die.”

Reuters also reports U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, penned a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking the Department of Justice to demand GM establish a fund “to fully compensate consumers who suffered injury, death or damage” as a result of the ignition switch. He also suggested said fund could be applied while the DOJ conducts their investigation into the recall, one of many being conducted by various federal parties, including the Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Bloomberg says Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, one of 32 House Republicans to back the 2008 bailouts and former co-chair of the Congressional Automotive Congress, will be take part in hearings on April 1 when the committee meets with GM CEO Mary Barra and other executives in a hearing to discuss what happened with the recall. Fourteen years earlier, Upton took on Ford and Firestone over the Explorer’s defective tires, resulting in the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act of 2000 now affecting both General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Regarding the NHTSA, the Detroit Free Press reports Senator Dean Heller of Nevada sent a letter to agency acting head David Friedman asking for answers by the end of the month as to why the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation “declined to forward in both 2007 and 2010 on any vehicle recall recommendation” despite receiving direct access to necessary information from GM. Heller also wants to know what if any threshold complaints need to cross before further investigation is taken.

Back home, GM’s knowledge of the defective component — and its subsequent silence — may also claim Delphi under the wave of red flags the automaker ignored at its peril. Automotive News says the litigation protection established for the supplier during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy process could fall if Delphi was found to have committed fraud by not disclosing their part in the ignition defect during proceedings.

Within the Renaissance Center, USA Today says GM learned in 2007 of a 2005 fatality when a Maryland teen, Amber Marie Rose, lost control of her Cobalt and crashed into a tree while intoxicated. The report noted the airbags had not gone off as intended, with the cause linked to the switch set to “accessory” instead of “on.”

Meanwhile, Automotive News reports the in-house-designed switch — the result of the automaker wanting to do more on its own amid rising warranty costs in the mid-1990s — didn’t meet the specs required of it until its redesign in 2006, nine years after engineers were asked to design the part. However, the improved part retained its old part number when former GM engineers claim it shouldn’t have, while GM remained quiet on the matter until 2013 when a wrongful death lawsuit from Georgia started the ball rolling on the issue.

In the wake of the ongoing maelstrom, GM appointed long-serving engineer Jeff Boyer to the newly created position of vice president of global safety. Boyer will report to Barra on all safety concerns and recall decisions. Automotive News says this is just the first in a series of moves the automaker is taking to show how it has changed since emerging from bankruptcy and government ownership over the past few years, but has a long road ahead in making substantial progress regarding its long-standing bureaucratic culture.

Finally, The Los Angeles Times reports a 2015 GMC Yukon taken for a test drive in Anaheim this weekend suffered from what Anaheim Police Department Lieutenant Tim Schmidt says was “some oil leak or some fluid leaking” during the drive, leading to a catastrophic fire once the driver pulled over upon losing control of the vehicle. Autoblog adds GM will be investigating the matter “very soon,” as per the words of spokesman Alan Adler. No one was hurt in the incident.

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Chrysler Hellcat V8 Could Unseat Viper V10 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/chrysler-hellcat-v8-could-unseat-viper-v10/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/chrysler-hellcat-v8-could-unseat-viper-v10/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 13:09:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=780489 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

For over a year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been working on a Hemi V8 dubbed the Hellcat, which set to debut in a revised Dodge Challenger. However, the Hellcat could prove a challenge to the SRT Viper’s V10, possibly unseating the venerable monster from the throne.

Automotive News reports the rumored V8 has caused an internal debate within FCA, in particular what it would mean for the Viper when the Challenger receives the engine. SRT brand boss Ralph Giles told Hot Rod magazine:

We have a situation where, you know — we may have a situation — where the flagship car is not the most powerful car in our arsenal … how do we explain that to ourselves? So we have an internal horsepower race as well as an external one.

While the Viper’s naturally aspirated V10 pushes 660 horsepower, the SRT variant of the Challenger — pitted against the Ford Mustang GT500 and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 — is rumored to put out as much as 700 horses .

The 2015 Challenger is rumored to debut in New York next month.

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BMW To Bring X7 SUV To Spartanburg http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-to-bring-x7-suv-to-spartanburg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-to-bring-x7-suv-to-spartanburg/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:50:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=780505 BMW Spartanburg

BMW’s Spartanburg, S.C. plant, home of the X Series, will soon have a new member joining the family, in the form of the X7 fullsize SUV.

Automotive News reports BMW will announce the X7′s arrival later this week, and will spend heavily to prepare the plant for production of the three-row, seven-seat vehicle in a bid to chase a global sales record for themselves, with output expected to increase to 400,000 units annually from the current increase of 350,000 per year.

Though BMW remains mum, the majority of X7s are expected to remain in the United States, with production starting as soon as 2017. Meanwhile, the new X4 will go into production this year.

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Tesla Reader’s Digest Vol. 1: The Politics Of Dancing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-readers-digest-vol-1-the-politics-of-dancing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-readers-digest-vol-1-the-politics-of-dancing/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:19:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=779249 Tesla Roadster and Model S

In the first edition of the Tesla Reader’s Digest, Washington state makes nice with Tesla’s business model as Arizona ponders doing the same — while fighting three other states for the right to host Tesla’s Gigafactory, no less. Meanwhile, General Motors pens a letter to Ohio asking the state to force the EV automaker to play by the same rules as they already do, pricing of the Model S falls in Europe, and Edward Niedemeyer offers his view on how Tesla can topple the auto dealer monopoly.

The Detroit News ran our former EIC (originally published at Bloomberg View) a few inches to explain the situation Tesla faces with its revolutionary-for-the-United States model of doing business from the rent-seeking opposition found in the entrenched dealer franchise system. Though the automaker has already been locked out of Texas and New Jersey due to such opposition thus far, Niedermeyer offers that CEO Elon Musk has a few potential allies — including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, eBay, Costco and TrueCar — who could help him and the U.S auto industry as a whole bring about a future where all automakers can sell directly to customers.

Reuters and CNN Money report the states of Washington and Arizona are or soon will be signing legislation allowing Tesla to market directly to consumers; previously, the automaker’s sole Washington direct-sales efforts were in Seattle, whereas Arizona only allowed showrooms, pushing sales across the border to California.

The Washington legislation came as a result of campaigning from that state’s Tesla-owning constituents with help from a lobbyist, which will allow the automaker to expand into more cities while forcing every other automaker — upcoming or long-established — to sell through franchise dealerships, a situation advocates claim will need to be remedied when legislatures return to Olympia next January.

Arizona, however, is coming around to help improve the state’s chances in becoming the home of Musk’s grand energy project, the Tesla Gigafactory. Autoblog Green also reports Tucson has not only a suitable site for the 1,000-acre, 10 million-square-foot battery factory, but the tax incentives to lure 6,500 jobs away from Nevada, Texas and New Mexico.

As for the other three states, New Mexico is working on an economic package, while Nevada remains silent on their moves, and Texas has incentives galore in spite of banning direct-sales, the latter of which could hurt the state’s chances.

Speaking of direct-sale bans, Automotive News reports General Motors penned a letter to Ohio governor John Kasich over concerns his state could open the door to Tesla. GM’s senior vice president of global communications and public policy Selim Bingol explains his employer’s viewpoint:

We understand discussions are ongoing over legislation which could provide a broad exemption for a single manufacturer, Tesla Motors Inc., to circumvent long-established legal precedent on how new motor vehicles are marketed, sold and serviced in your state.

GM is not alone, as lobbyists representing the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association warned the state legislature last week that by allowing Tesla to sell directly to consumers, it would allow all automakers to do the same, casting the franchise model to the wind.

Finally, Tesla may be fighting a different battle in Europe. Inside EVs reports pricing of the Model S has dropped in Germany and Netherlands 6,700 euro and 4,000 euro respectively to 65,300 euro and 66,200 euro. Though Tesla cites currency appreciation against the dollar, low demand and lack of a sufficient Supercharger network may be to blame.

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Diesels, Refinement Key To Kiefer’s Vision Of Future GM Engine Development http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/diesels-refinement-key-to-kiefers-vision-of-future-gm-engine-development/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/diesels-refinement-key-to-kiefers-vision-of-future-gm-engine-development/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:30:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776809 Steve Kiefer

General Motors head of global powertrain and former Delphi senior vice president of powertrain systems Steve Kiefer aims to steer engine development toward a brighter future, one influenced by his love for diesels, quietness and refinement.

Automotive News reports Kiefer’s vision may have begun to come to fruition this week with the debut of the new Ecotec family of engines slated to power 25 percent of GM’s global lineup by 2017. The eleven engines are based on older-though-proven technology found in the cam chains, blocks and other components, resulting in a family with lower NVH than previous engines. The new Ecotec family is a reflection of Kiefer’s method of improving existing technology to accomplish what competing engines already do — such as Ford’s EcoBoost — for little cost in development and assembly.

Speaking of Ford, both the Blue Oval and the General are collaborating on a new generation of nine- and 10-speed transmissions for their respective pickups, with the latter expected to arrive in two years. Though no word has been said on whether GM will either use diesel power or smaller gasoline engines in their fullsize trucks, Kiefer’s experience on the supply side of the industry — especially in regards to knowing what the competition is doing to be green and efficient — could prove valuable in the long run.

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Volvo Drive-E Modular Engines Lay Foundation For Future Hybrids http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volvo-drive-e-modular-engines-lay-foundation-for-future-hybrids/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volvo-drive-e-modular-engines-lay-foundation-for-future-hybrids/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:01:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776865 volvo-drive-e-engine000-1

Beginning with the 2015 model year, Volvo’s S60, V60 and XC60 will come with the automaker’s new Drive-E Volvo Engine Architecture family of small three- and four-pot gasoline and diesel engines, laying the foundation for PHEVs down the road.

Autoblog Green reports the VEA engines now making their way into 2015 models include a turbo/super-four gasoline monster pumping 302 horsepower, a 240-horsepower turbo-four, and a twin-turbo-four diesel good for 178 horses. All three displace 2 liters under the bonnet, and are mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission designed to Drive-E’s goal of enhancing fuel efficiency.

By MY 2017, Volvo will introduce an additional pair of 2-liter turbocharged gasoline engines and a trinity of 2-liter turbodiesels, all organized in two clusters of four split between performance and economy. The economical gasoline engines are expected to range between 148 and 186 horsepower, while the diesels will move 118 to 147 horses.

The VEA family came about in 2007 during Volvo’s time with Ford, where the automaker’s engineers used Ford engines to build upon their own ideas, only to realize a better way by making the business case for building their own engines so as to not disturb Ford’s manufacturing processes.

However, when the case was presented to CEO Alan Mullaly, Mullaly directed the Swedes to future owner Geely, as Ford was in the process of selling Volvo to the Chinese automaker at the time. The VEA project became a key part of the sale to Geely in 2010, receiving a huge push to the tune of $11 billion, shared with Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture set to underpin future vehicles.

Speaking of the future, the engines were designed with PHEVs in mind, and thus include necessary components that could be easily connected to an electric motor system fitted either with the engine — thanks to the latter’s compact size — or in the rear of the vehicle. At present, the VEA Drive-E family offers stop-start technology, brake regeneration, CVVT and more.

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BMW Looking To Increase US Production For Sales Record http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-looking-to-increase-us-production-for-sales-record/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-looking-to-increase-us-production-for-sales-record/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 12:54:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776457 BMW X4 01

Chasing after a sales record and a 10 percent rise in pretax profit for 2014, BMW looks to increase output at the automaker’s Spartanburg, S.C. plant.

Reuters reports the plant is undergoing the necessary work needed to increase annual production of the automaker’s X Series from 300,000 to 350,000, with BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer explaining that the U.S. market was one of great potential; thus, the plan to increase capacity. This would be in addition to the 400,000 units BMW aims to assemble in China after necessary investments raised capacity from 300,000 a year ago.

Though Reithofer remained mum on exact figures for how many of the SUVs will exit Spartanburg, as well as whether or not the automaker will introduce the X7 large SUV, he reiterated BMW’s goal of selling over 2 million units this year, having come close with 1.96 million in 2013. He also expects “group profit before tax to rise significantly” this year in spite of “ongoing volatile business conditions.” BMW COO Friedrich Eichiner later clarified Reithofer’s statement, claiming the figure to be “somewhere in the range of a high single-digit and a double-digit amount.”

Augmenting the expanding production, 12 new models are set to debut in the second half of 2014, including the 2 Series, 2 Series Active Tourer, and the i8.

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GM Unveils New, Clean-Sheet Ecotec Family http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-unveils-new-clean-sheet-ecotec-family/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-unveils-new-clean-sheet-ecotec-family/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 04:10:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776425 GM Ecotec New Trinity

General Motors has unveiled a new generation of their Ecotec engine family, whose 11 three- and four-pot powerplants will find a home under the bonnets of 27 models by 2017.

Automotive News reports the new clean-sheet engines range from a turbocharged 1-liter I3, to a 1.5-liter turbo-four, feature modular design for efficient assembly, consist of aluminium heads and blocks, and include VVT, dual overhead cams with four valves per cylinder, and water-cooled exhaust manifolds among other offerings. Power in the family ranges from 75 horses/70 lb-ft of torque, to 165 horsepower and 184 lb-ft.

The first of the new engines, the aforementioned I3, is already under production, and will debut under the hood of the Opel Adam later this spring, while the 2015 Cruze will come with a turbocharged 1.4-liter and a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter for the Chinese market. No word on when the Ecotec engines will debut in North America, however, let alone which vehicles will receive them.

GM expects annual volume to reach 2.5 million units by 2017 once all five factories responsible for their production are in full swing. The factories are located in Michigan, Mexico, China, Hungary and South Korea.

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VW Confirms New Turbodiesel Due Later This Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-confirms-new-turbodiesel-due-later-this-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-confirms-new-turbodiesel-due-later-this-year/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 10:15:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=775585 VW EA288 TDI Diesel Engine

Fans of Volkswagen diesels will be thrilled to know that later this year, the automaker’s latest 2-liter turbo-four will be available for the 2015 Golf, Jetta, Passat, Beetle and Beetle Convertible.

Autoblog reports the new EA288 TDI will produce 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, with an additional 10-horsepower boost for road train-passing emergencies. Other features include EGR, an intake manifold with integrated intercooler, and low-friction camshaft bearings.

Though the turbodiesel will arrive in five VW models for the 2015 model year, all Audis and Volkswagens will eventually receive the EA288 as the automaker phases out the current 2-liter TDI; 12 such models are in showrooms at present, with 105,899 units sold in 2013.

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No Replacements For MINI Coupe, Paceman, Roadster http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/no-replacements-for-mini-coupe-paceman-roadster/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/no-replacements-for-mini-coupe-paceman-roadster/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 12:38:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=774977 2012 Mini Coupe

BMW’s MINI may not replace the Coupe, Paceman or Roadster when their day comes, opting to focus on three “pillar” models that allow the brand to be “more relevant to more people,” according to MINI head of product management Oliver Friedmann.

Automotive News Europe reports Friedmann’s first priority for MINI “is to roll out a portfolio that has strong pillars,” with each pillar being clear in what it means to the overall brand. With the original hatchback and Countryman identified as the first two pillars, a potential third pillar could come in the form of a compact model based upon the Clubman concept shown in Geneva.

As for the Coupe, Paceman and Roadster, Friedmann says the trio aren’t a priority to the brand at this time, with the possibility all three may end up in the crusher of history in the near future.

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BMW, Mercedes Downsize Number Of Architectures For Future Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-mercedes-downsize-number-of-architectures-for-future-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-mercedes-downsize-number-of-architectures-for-future-vehicles/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:01:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773881 bmw-2-series-active-tourer-11

In order to accelerate development of new models while also cutting costs, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are downsizing the number of architectures to be used in future vehicles in their respective lineups.

Automotive News Europe reports Mercedes will be down from nine platforms five years ago to four platforms by 2016, with the first — the MFA — already in showrooms as the CLA; the MFA-underpinned B-Class and GLA will arrive in United States showrooms later this summer. The move would allow Mercedes to move safety systems from their flagship S-Class to lower classes more quickly than in previous years.

Meanwhile, BMW will go from five to two platforms — one for RWD, one for FWD –between its namesake brand and Mini. The latter debuted with the redesigned Mini not too long ago, and will also underpin the 2-Series Active Tourer officially unveiled in Geneva last week.

As for the RWD platform, BMW R&D board member Herbert Deiss says it will arrive in 2016 under the next-generation 7 Series. Both consolidations were brought to life to allow more affordable expansion of each brand’s lineup.

BMW’s i Series will not take part in the consolidation, nor will Rolls-Royce.

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Fushou: Donfeng’s Dragon Won’t Eat PSA’s Lion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/fushou-donfengs-dragon-wont-eat-psas-lion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/fushou-donfengs-dragon-wont-eat-psas-lion/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:08:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773753 Peugeot Display in China Circa 2013

In light of fears regarding the three-way deal between Dongfeng, PSA Peugeot Citroen and the French government leading toward a time where Dongfeng would take the reins of the ailing automaker, CEO Zhu Fushou assured his company would not do so.

Automotive News Europe reports in an interview between Fushou and French newspaper L’Alsace, the 14 percent stake in PSA is a “win-win cooperation, not a purchase deal but a way to help PSA return to growth.”

In return for a capital increase of 3 billion euro — made up of 800 million euro contributions from both the Chinese automaker and the French government in exchange for 14 percent of PSA — the two automakers will begin work on conquering the Asia-Pacific automotive market with an aim of 1.5 million units annually, as well as helping Dongfeng better compete against local rivals.

As for Europe, the deal will help PSA reduce its share of vehicle sales in its local market from 62 percent to 50 percent as focus turns toward emerging markets, including Russia and South America. In turn, 10,000 jobs will be cut in the next three years as part of the recovery plan for the French automaker.

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VW Group, Led By Porsche, Aiming For 10 Million In Sales By Year’s End http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-group-led-by-porsche-aiming-for-10-million-in-sales-by-years-end/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-group-led-by-porsche-aiming-for-10-million-in-sales-by-years-end/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 11:37:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=771258 Porsche-911-991-Targa-01

Volkswagen Group’s goal of selling 10 million units annually may come as soon as the end of 2014, with Porsche leading the way in operating profitability.

Automotive News reports the target, originally set for 2018, is on-track to come this year, according to CEO Martin Winterkorn. The group sold 9.72 million units last year, beating General Motors to become the world’s second-largest automaker.

Fueling the growth are rising volumes in Europe and China, and introductions of over 100 models between now and the end of 2015, including new and updated SUVs for Volkswagen and Porsche.

Speaking of Porsche, the premium sports car brand’s profit earnings tripled to 2.58 billion euro last year, while those of VW and Audi fell to 2.89 billion and 5.03 billion, respectively. Overall revenue for Porsche totaled 14.3 billion euro on sales of 155,000 units worldwide.

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Ellinghaus: Cadillac Could “Easily Flourish” In Australian Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ellinghaus-cadillac-could-easily-flourish-in-australian-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ellinghaus-cadillac-could-easily-flourish-in-australian-market/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 10:05:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=771210 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Sometime in the future, Cadillac global marketing boss Uwe Ellinghaus believes Cadillac could enter the Australian market, being able to “easily flourish” under the proper conditions established on top of the goodwill the brand already has in the country.

Auto Advice reports however the main goal for Cadillac is to go after what Ellinghaus calls “low-hanging fruit” markets:

We see the opportunity [in Australia] and we want to expand into as many markets as we can afford, but it’s also fair to say we have so much growth potential unexploited in China, even in the US, Canada, Russia, Dubai, Mexico… This is the lower-hanging fruit.

We have limited resources and great opportunities elsewhere that we need to make a very careful plan when to enter which market.

Regarding where Cadillac could enter the Australian market, he says the space soon to be vacated by the Holden Commodore would be the perfect point of entry. Offering the brand for Commodore prices, though, would be easier said than done as far as a business case is concerned, pointing toward both the BMW M Series and Mercedes AMG as to where pricing would occur for Cadillac’s high-performance lineup. He also had high hopes for the CTS, and the SRX and Escalade, with the latter two finding huge success in Australian burgeoning SUV marketplace.

As for when Cadillac would enter the scene, Ellinghaus says an introduction would occur near the end of the 2010s at the earliest, and would be headed by one or two models converted to right-hand drive. This follows an near-entry into the market back in 2008 before turning back at the last moment, though not before exporting a few vehicles and appointing dealers to sell them.

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