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By on August 19, 2017

toyota safe and sound teen, Image: Toyota

Teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any demographic. Younger drivers are most likely to use their phones while driving or speed in high-traffic areas, and roughly half of all accidents associated with younger drivers were single-vehicle crashes. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among individuals under 20.

Keeping younger drivers safe is a major concern for institutions like the National Safety Council, but some automakers have their own initiatives. Toyota, for example, had TeenDrive365, which provided a series of online videos aimed at encouraging safer driving habits. While the automaker abandoned that program after 2014, resulting in all of its content mysteriously vanishing, Toyota still seems keen on keeping young motorists on the road and out of the morgue.

However, what’s the best way to encourage responsible driving? Teens don’t like being placated, and they probably know the laws better than older drivers (as they’ve passed their written test far more recently). With this in mind, Toyota thinks humiliation may be the key. The automaker has made mortifying easily embarrassed teens the central theme of its new safety app.  Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

Toyota Factory Kentucky

The funny thing about job creators is that they don’t always, you know, create any jobs. So, when a business lets slip that it might have 4,000 positions on offer in the near future, every state with an unemployment rate higher than zero takes notice.

Mazda and Toyota’s joint factory — codenamed Project Mitt — is one such example, and now over a dozen U.S. states are simultaneously competing for the opportunity to host the $1.6-billion factory and the thousands of direct and indirect jobs it will yield.

When the Japanese automakers publicly revealed their cooperative venture a couple of weeks ago, they made it clear they had not yet picked a site — sending economic development offices into a frenzy. But what locale will emerge victorious has a lot to do with what the region can offer the manufacturer, including potential tax incentives, tempting job training programs, and investments into infrastructure.

An affordable and abundant workforce is also desirable — an element that distinguishes many states from one another. But no single area has everything on offer, leaving the final decision of where to build up in the air.  Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

2017 Lexus ES300h panel gaps - Image: © Timothy CainWe’re auto writers. By our very nature, we’re irritable complainers, apt to harp and carp. Yet while we enjoy a humorous headline, needling readers, and looking far into the future, you’ll more likely find us sharing photos of horrendous automotive disappointments on TTAC’s digital HQ, Slack.

Sometimes the disappointments are obvious and consequently publicized. Departed managing editor Mark Stevenson, for example, profiled a 2015 Ford Edge Titanium’s build issues in late 2015.

Panel gaps are one means of quantifying perceived quality. Industry observers and many customers use perceived quality to make educated guesses about future real quality. If a vehicle appears to be built well, surely it is. If a vehicle appears to be built poorly, how much worse is the quality of assembly under the skin? Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

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First it was Geely. Then Dongfeng. Now add Guangzhou Automobile Group to the list of Chinese automakers that have denied interest in acquiring Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

FCA has seemingly been seeking a dance partner for a merger or acquisition for a year or two now, and the company’s stock rose earlier this week when Automotive News reported that a “well-known Chinese automaker” had made an offer to acquire FCA. The company has a market value close to $20 billion. Automotive News reported that the offer was rejected for not being enough.

Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

UAW-Chrysler National Training Centre (Norwood Jewell on left), Image: UAW-Chrysler National Training Center

On the surface, the UAW-Chrysler National Training center is a facility offering a helping hand to blue-collar workers looking to improve their employability. But the widening spending scandal involving former top brass at both the union and automaker has exposed a previously unknown use for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles-funded NTC: a trough of cash at which to gorge oneself.

Two weeks after former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles financial analyst Jerome Durden, indicted for funnelling $4.5 million in training center funds to other execs, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, the scandal has spread to existing execs.

The Detroit News reports current United Auto Workers Vice President Norwood Jewell (seen above, on left) became the recipient of some of those funds in the form of a high-powered gift: a $2,180 shotgun. Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

Karen Radley Acura screenshot - Image: Karen Radley Acura websiteIt made perfect sense. In 2009, when Hyundai wanted customers to view its new Genesis luxury sedan as a premium bit of kit, Hyundai did not compare the Genesis to the Sonata. In an early marketing campaign, Hyundai’s voiceover said the Genesis is “as spacious as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, yet priced like a C-Class.”

When the time came to market the Genesis R-Spec, Hyundai reached way upmarket to compare 0-60 mph times with the Porsche Panamera. Hyundai wasn’t under the mistaken impression that the Genesis would steal thousands of sales from $100,000 Benzes and Porsches. But Hyundai was crafting an image. Hyundai didn’t require you to believe that the Genesis was a viable S-Class alternative — the company just wanted you to understand that this is premium-oriented S-Class-sized sedan at a C-Class-like price.

Long before the Hyundai Genesis tried to cultivate a premium persona, Acura was failing to keep up with Lexus in the quest to be viewed as a true luxury rival for the German establishment. It’s still a problem. So Acura dealers are now just trying to make sure you understand that the Acura TLX is better than the Audi A4 Lexus ES Infiniti Q50 2018 Honda Accord. Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

made-in-usa

When Donald Trump took office, one of his first presidential acts was to rally domestic automakers for a series of meetings and promise to remove regulatory barriers. As the administration was a self-described ally to the car industry, the claim appeared genuine. There was some tough talk about foreign involvement but, for the most part, Trump appeared to be in domestic manufacturers’ corner.

As focus shifted toward the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, automakers had one request: to not impede cross-border trade. It was their primary concern leading up to this week’s talks.

Two days later and the issue has become a major sticking point; placing auto industry groups from Canada, Mexico, and the United States at odds with the current administration. As NAFTA talks began in Washington, D.C., automaker and parts groups from all three countries began outright pleading with U.S. negotiators to abandon their push for tighter rules of origin. Now they are formally opposing it.  Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

2017 Dodge Viper Snakeskin Edition GTC was inspired by the origi

They closed the Viper line at Conner, they’re selling to Chinese
What was once the “engineering company”, now trembles on its knees
The money went to swift sedans, that need cash on the hood
There ain’t nobody left who thinks the Journey’s any good
And the Roadkill squad they’re restless, they need somewhere to go
As Sergio and I look out tonight from Desolation Row

We’ve said goodbye to the finest, fastest American track car ever produced and, although I don’t know exactly why it failed, I have my theories. The only question left is: Could it come back? Is there room for any sporting car from FCA besides the 500 Abarth and the super-sedans from both sides of the Atlantic?

Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Limited - Image: VolkswagenThe old new Volkswagen Tiguan will cost $3,350 less than the new new 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan.

Known now as the Tiguan Limited, a basic 2017 model rides on 16-inch steel wheels with no cargo cover, front-wheel drive, and the premium-fuel-swilling 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder.

Priced from $22,895 including a $900 destination charge, the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Limited undercuts the second-generation Tiguan by $3,350 and the non-Limited 2017 Tiguan by $2,965. Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Passat - Image: VolkswagenVolkswagen of America confirmed last evening via email the alteration of the Passat and Beetle engine lineups for the 2018 model year.

In examining updated EPA mpg figures for the 2018 model year — as one does — we noticed a curious change. The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle Dune achieves slightly better highway fuel economy, 34 mpg, than the non-Dune 33-mpg 2018 Volkswagen Beetle.

By the by, after posing a handful of questions to Volkswagen of America spokesperson Mark Gillies, TTAC learned that the 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that served as the base engine in the Volkswagen Passat and Volkswagen Beetle from 2014-2017 is out. It gives way in the 2018 Passat and Beetle to the second-generation Tiguan’s EA888 Gen3B 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

The result? Better fuel economy and more torque. Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

Tires

TTAC Reader DeSoto writes:

Greetings, Sajeev — longtime reader, first time writer, and I enjoy the content your column adds to TTAC! (Woot! — SM)

I recently acquired an all-wheel drive 2014 Cadillac CTS with about 15,000 miles on its factory 255/35 R19 Pirelli P7 run-flat tires. Looking ahead to an upcoming 3,500 mile driving trip, I have concern for the durability/drivability of the run-flats. The CTS is not equipped with any wheel-changing tools (jack, wrench, spare tire/wheel). A spare tire assembly (for the CT6) is available online, but I believe the standard compact spare is too small in diameter to be compatible with the 19-inch wheels on the AWD drivetrain.  I prefer the freedom of having the option of changing a tire myself and continuing on my way, rather than waiting hours for assistance. I am thus considering, in order of my current preference: Read More >

By on August 17, 2017

car salesman in car dealership with key, Image: Kzenon/Bigstock

Like all companies, auto dealerships are in the business of making money and dealer-installed options are frequently a good way to markup a vehicle’s final price. While that’s great for shops, new cars don’t really need rustproofing or fabric protection. Of course, that doesn’t keep salesmen from occasionally tacking those services on for a few hundred dollars extra though.

One optional extra you actually may want to take advantage of is VIN etching. While this is something you can do at home for cheap, most dealers will gladly do it for a significantly larger fee. But it doesn’t do you any good if the store doesn’t actually follow through with the service and charges you for it anyway — which is exactly what happened at a Nissan dealership in New York.

Nissan of New Rochelle was caught charging customers for an unwanted VIN etching service that they frequently didn’t even apply to cars. Now the dealer has agreed to pay nearly 300 customers more than a quarter of a million dollars in restitution and issue a public apology for its shady practices.   Read More >

By on August 17, 2017

EcoBoost Mustang Burnout, Ford Motor Co.

If you believe certain segments of the media, we’ll soon be able to avoid the drudgery of turning a steering wheel, pressing and releasing pedals, and — gasp! — shifting gears.

The inevitable onset of self-driving vehicles, tech aficionados and urbanists tell us, will bring traffic fatalities down to zero, somehow remove all congestion from the road, and turn our lives into a never-ending sojourn of blissful tranquility. Never again will you take that aimless and unprogrammed late-night drive, just for the hell of it. Never again will you bother with buying and owning a car. Automakers will simply turn their driverless cars loose, emptying driveways while filling streets with hands-off ride-sharing pods.

Not so fast, says Ford’s newly minted CEO. Read More >

By on August 17, 2017

last-viper

It’s a wrap on the Dodge Viper. FCA’s flagship supercar just rolled down the assembly line for the last time. In production from 1992 to 2010 and from 2013 through 2017, we’re hoping this is just another three-year hiatus for the snake. But, as production is ending indefinitely, we have no way of knowing if that will be the case.

What is assured is that the Viper’s current incarnation is over. Ralph Gilles, FCA’s head of design, posted a series of photos on social media documenting the vehicle’s last two production models as they made their way out of Detroit’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, the Dodge Viper’s home since 1995. Read More >

By on August 17, 2017

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar - Image: Land RoverIt’s 2017. If this isn’t The Year Of The Luxury SUV, then surely we’re fast approaching The Year Of The Luxury SUV.

Therefore, Land Rover can pretty well do whatever it wants. “A brand like ours,” says Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern, “has this ability to stretch.”

Bentley Bentayga rival? “Absolutely,” McGovern says.

Identically sized Range Rovers? “If they had two personalities then they’ve both got equal appeal but to different customers,” McGovern tells Automotive News Europe.

There’s no reason to doubt Land Rover’s self-belief. Read More >

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