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By on July 22, 2016

2015-Chevrolet-CorvetteZ06-003-sm

Two years of owner complaints and embarrassing media coverage forced Chevrolet to do something about the Corvette Z06’s overheating problems.

The automaker plans to dial down the engine temperature of 2017 models by installing a new hood with larger vents and a modified supercharger cover, hopefully ending the overheating warnings that plagued Z06 models that ventured onto the track. Read More >

By on July 22, 2016

2013 Dodge Dart GT

“If you’re a serious carmaker and you can’t make it in this segment, you’re doomed.”
— Sergio Marchionne, September 2012

“There’s nothing wrong with the car.”
— Sergio Marchionne, January 2013

“We have decided to de-focus, from the manufacturing standpoint, to de-focus on the passenger car market.”
— Sergio Marchionne, January 2016

The launch was flubbed by an emphasis on manual transmissions. The brand lacked the reputation of a competitive builder of small cars after 15 years of Neons and Calibers. Trim and engine variants were, sometimes, poorly aligned. The market for passenger cars began to shrink even as the overall auto industry expanded. Demand for the Dart, limited even at its peak, dried up as most Dart competitors posted modest declines.

The reasons for the Dodge Dart’s demise are many. At the end of its run, however, the Dodge Dart’s production end in September 2016 represents a premature euthanization. After Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ boss said less than seven months ago that the Dart, along with the larger Chrysler 200, would be withdrawn from the marketplace “over a prolonged period of time,”

FCA has now clarified that “prolonged” equals only three-quarters of a year.

What’s the hurry? Jeep. Read More >

By on July 21, 2016

BYD

As the saying goes, if you can’t sign a supply agreement with ’em, buy a part of ’em.

That’s clearly not a saying, but that’s what Samsung Electronics Company just did with Chinese electric automaker BYD, handing over $440 million deal for a 1.9 percent stake in the company. According to Bloomberg, a Samsung subsidiary was turned down by China as an approved supplier of batteries to the automaker, so the electronics giant tried another door. Read More >

By on July 21, 2016

BMW pickup

If you’ve ever though the backseat and trunk in your 3 Series would be a perfect place to put a long, flat cargo space for hauling dirtbikes, start planning a move to Australia.

According to Motoring, the German automaker is considering fielding a pickup variant Down Under — a move once thought impossible, but now looks much more likely, thanks to Bimmer’s rival. Read More >

By on July 21, 2016

Accord-2

Everything old is new again: for the first time since the demise of the LX-i hatch some 28 years ago, there is going to be a fastback-profiled Accord in American Honda showrooms. The remarkably unhelpful spy shots show a wide, low rear window that wouldn’t be out of place on a first-generation Toyota Camry but which in the public imagination is currently more closely associated with the Audi A7 “four-door koo-pay”.

There’s no solid information yet on what powertrains will motivate this new Civic-derived Accord, but the general consensus is that we have seen the last of the J35 SOHC V6 engine in this application. Future upscale Accords will likely hew to the modern 2.0-liter turbo four-banger line as seen everywhere from Kia to, er, Hyundai. It’s more than a little depressing to see Honda’s traditional leadership philosophy fall apart like this. The company that once shocked the world with the Accord hatchback now waits to see what the Koreans do and then falls in line behind them.

We do, however, have one last model year of the current Accord left to run. Which means that there’s still time for Honda to assert its traditional values and send a love letter to the hooligans, street racers, and adjunct professors who have supported the brand over the past forty years — and they can do it without so much as a letter to the EPA.

Read More >

By on July 21, 2016

General Motors #AMERICA

General Motors is busy phoning friends and posting on its Facebook wall after it made record net revenue in the second quarter of 2016 and boosted its net profit by 157 percent.

A net revenue of $42.4 billion is a high point for the company, even though the automaker’s global sales were flat compared to this time last year, with 2.4 million vehicles sold. Is it any wonder GM isn’t concerned about its falling market share? Read More >

By on July 21, 2016

Meet Graham

What would your body look like if it evolved to survive a car crash?

That’s the question a group of Australians had in mind when they created Graham, a disturbingly lifelike creation designed to show how vulnerable our bodies are in a low-speed impact. Read More >

By on July 21, 2016

Cadillac Man, Robin Williams

Imagine that you owned a successful business. For many of you reading this today (including me), you don’t have to imagine, because you’ve done it. If you owned anything from a lemonade stand to a global airline, you’d have a pretty good idea of your costs and profits. You’d know which advertising sources worked best for your business. You’d strive to know where your customers came from. You’d have a system for hiring and training employees.

You’d do all of this and more, because you must have all of your ducks lined up in pretty little rows to be successful.

Well, that is unless you’re a car dealer. In that case, you may have no idea about any part of how your business works and still make money hand over fist.

Don’t believe me? Over the next several weeks, I’ll prove it to you. Today we’ll start with a simple concept that befuddles most dealers: online merchandising.

Read More >

By on July 21, 2016

Tesla Building Circa March 2015

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s vision for his company’s future covers all the automotive bases, from personal vehicles to commercial trucks and transit fleets.

In a blog post on Tesla’s website, Musk spelled out the steps of his “Master Plan, Part Deux” — a long-term update of his previous decade-long business plan. With the Model 3 on the way in late 2017, the old plan has come to an end, so the company’s founder is looking for other things to power with electricity. Read More >

By on July 21, 2016

2016 Mazda 3 sedan red

Enthusiast praise for the Mazda3 began before the current-generation compact Mazda arrived in late 2013. Previous iterations benefited from hugely positive reviews. “We’re going to love the 3 once it arrives in America,” Automobile wrote in December 2003. Credit for dynamic excellence was the norm a generation later. “Steering is direct and the suspension is firm enough for spirited driving and equally competent at soaking up bumps,” said AutoGuide in early 2009. I haven’t hesitated to get in on the action, writing in my second review of the latest compact Mazda, “The Mazda3 is still the best compact car you can buy.”

It’s therefore not surprising to see that in a five-way compact car comparison for the magazine’s July edition, Car and Driver named the 2016 Mazda3 i Grand Touring the winner of the test. Car and Driver handed the Mazda 203 points, 44-percent more than the fifth-ranked 2016 Nissan Sentra SL achieved.

Industry observers also won’t be surprised to learn that Car and Driver’s fifth-ranked Nissan Sentra produced 139-percent more first-half sales than the Mazda, while the other three losers all roundly outsold the Mazda, as well. Read More >

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