The Truth About Cars » BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:00:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 » BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com OEMs Suspend Vehicle Sales In Russia Amid Volatile Currency Situation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/oems-suspend-vehicle-sales-in-russia-amid-volatile-currency-swings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/oems-suspend-vehicle-sales-in-russia-amid-volatile-currency-swings/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:02:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962674 With the Russian ruble experiencing a near collapse in value, multiple OEMs have decided to suspend sales of its vehicles in Russia. According to a statement sent to Just-Auto, GM’s Russian arm said “In view of the volatility of [the] rouble exchange rate and with the aim to manage its business risk, GM Russia has decided […]

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With the Russian ruble experiencing a near collapse in value, multiple OEMs have decided to suspend sales of its vehicles in Russia.

According to a statement sent to Just-Auto, GM’s Russian arm said

“In view of the volatility of [the] rouble exchange rate and with the aim to manage its business risk, GM Russia has decided to temporarily suspend wholesaling of vehicles to its dealers in Russia as of 16 December, 2014,” said a GM Europe statement emailed to just-auto. At the same time we confirm all Cadillac, Opel and Chevrolet vehicles already purchased by customers will be delivered on the agreed price. We are monitoring the situation.”

Bloomberg is reporting that Audi and Jaguar Land Rover have also suspended sales amid uncertainty in foreign exchange markets. Toyota, Volkswagen are set to adjust their prices in the near future to reflect the new exchange rates.

Russian auto sales have spiked in recent weeks as consumers sought to buy up hard assets to protect against a falling ruble. But the erosion on value of the Russian currency have left several OEMs exposed to currency risks. According to Bloomberg’s report, BMW could stand to lose as much as $135 million dollars due to the recent drop in the ruble.

 

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NHTSA Ready To Force Nationwide Takata Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nhtsa-ready-force-nationwide-takata-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nhtsa-ready-force-nationwide-takata-airbag-recall/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962073 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to force Takata and three of its clients into a nationwide recall over the catastrophic failure of the supplier’s airbags. The Detroit News reports the agency will bring Ford, FCA US and BMW to court if necessary, compelling the automakers to recall 5 million affected vehicles in […]

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to force Takata and three of its clients into a nationwide recall over the catastrophic failure of the supplier’s airbags.

The Detroit News reports the agency will bring Ford, FCA US and BMW to court if necessary, compelling the automakers to recall 5 million affected vehicles in addition to those already recalled.

The first act in bringing the named parties to trial will be a formal demand letter issued to all concerned. Upon refusal, the NHTSA will file a suit against each party in U.S. District Court, a process that could last for months, if not years.

The die was cast when Takata rebuffed the agency’s request earlier this month to expand its recall efforts beyond high-humidity locations in warm climates around the United States, including Florida and Hawaii.

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Tesla’s Tanking U.S. Sales And The World Of Automakers Falsifying Sales Numbers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/teslas-tanking-u-s-sales-world-automakers-falsifying-sales-numbers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/teslas-tanking-u-s-sales-world-automakers-falsifying-sales-numbers/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958665 The auto journo world is in a tizzy because electric automaker Tesla refuses to post its car sales numbers on a monthly basis and the numbers they do divulge are suspicious as they are without detail and they vary widely from actual registration numbers. Our friends at Jalopnik ranted about it last week, calling on Tesla to start […]

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Teslas in a row Courtesy ibtimes.com

Tesla’s first fleet deal? Around 100 Model S’s were sold to a Las Vegas startup taxi service.

The auto journo world is in a tizzy because electric automaker Tesla refuses to post its car sales numbers on a monthly basis and the numbers they do divulge are suspicious as they are without detail and they vary widely from actual registration numbers. Our friends at Jalopnik ranted about it last week, calling on Tesla to start reporting sales consistently. They based their story on a report by Seeking Alpha that deduced that Tesla may have as many as 12,000 unsold Model S’s, based on registration figures and the automaker’s quarterly financial reports.

We say congratulations, Elon Musk, you truly are the head of an American car company now, as reporting bogus sales numbers to the press is a normal part of an automaker’s modus operandi. Auto manufacturers claiming they sold more cars than they actually did is nothing new.  Sales numbers in the US are based on those deliveries reported by dealers, not when the automakers wholesale the vehicles to the retailers as some believe. Carmaker execs at times may be motivated to look good to their bosses or shareholders or to outsell a rival. They will then pressure, coerce and bribe dealers with one-time cash incentives to have them report bogus sales at month or year-end, often to the dealer themselves as loaner or demonstrator cars.  The vehicles are never driven and then sold as new, ideally as quickly as possible as their warranty clocks are ticking. Dealers who do not comply are thus put in an unfavorable price disadvantage with competing same-brand stores.

The Japanese automakers pioneered this practice during the high-demand, low supply days. At American Honda from the 1970s to the early 1990s, dealers reported every unsold car as sold at the end of each month or they risked losing precious future allocations. Those were the days when every Honda dealership employee “bought” a dozen cars a year and then the dealer would turn to the white pages of the phone book to find more “buyers.” It is not an urban car legend that a California Honda dealer once sold Accords to customers named “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck.”

In December 2012 BMW North America, in their zeal to beat Mercedes-Benz in the US, reported 37,399 vehicles sold, an amazing 69% higher than their 2012 average monthly sales rate, thus claiming the US luxury brand crown. That December the industry rose 21% over the 2012 average due to it being the heaviest incentive month of the year and this no doubt contributed to the rise in Bimmer sales. However, BMW dealers that I spoke with in January 2013 complained that half of their inventory had been reported as sold in December.  BMW got tons of pub for beating Benz but few noticed that when actual registration numbers came out a few months later it was revealed that Mercedes-Benz outsold BMW for 2012. Incredibly, in one of the few occasions where the media sniffed out this practice, the Wall Street Journal had reported about BMW’s shady sales numbers just months before.

It was one thing to report cars sold as loaners or demonstrators under the direction  of the factory; it is another to do report ghost sales when your dealership needs the incentive cash to stay afloat. We covered the story of a South Carolina Suzuki dealer who was convicted of fraud earlier this year for doing just that. It probably did not help his case that he was also convicted of a cornucopia of illegal advertising and finance practices.

As far as Tesla sales this year, here are the facts as near as we can determine: Automotive News has estimated Tesla’s reported sales in the US through October were 19,530 units. Actual registration numbers for the same period were 11,731 cars, a full 40% below the sales figures.  Further, these registration figures show Tesla off 22% from the same period in 2013.  Other sources have pegged the drop off at 26% this year.  This may explain why Tesla may be dabbling in the fleet market for the first time, as pictured above.

Elon Musk responded to these reports by saying they are selling every car they build and his team issued a response saying that don’t report monthly sales because, “the media tends to read all sorts of nonsense into deliveries.” They also pointed out that a car could be sold one month and not registered until the next. Why, yes, just like every other automaker.

 

Elon Musk Courtesy static1.businessinsider.com

If GM or Ford stopped reporting monthly sales and started spewing such drivel, the press would vilify them but the rules are different for Musk.  If he told the media that Tesla sold 200,000 cars one month, outsold all the other luxury carmakers combined and that he personally just got back from Mars, the slobbering press would not question him and resultant news stories would send Tesla stock into orbit.

Don’t get us wrong. We think that a new auto company selling 15,000 high dollar electric cars annually in the US through a unique, direct sales channel is an incredible accomplishment.

The Tesla Model S is one of the most innovative cars available today and Musk is one of this century’s greatest entrepreneurs, not to mention an amazing PR man. Who cares if can’t tell us the truth about how many cars his company sells?

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Lower Fuel Prices Not Slowing U.S. Car Sales At BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/lower-fuel-prices-not-slowing-u-s-car-sales-bmw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/lower-fuel-prices-not-slowing-u-s-car-sales-bmw/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 13:01:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958529 Passenger car sales in the United States are up just 1% as the overall industry has grown more than 5% through the first eleven months of 2014. America’s two best-selling premium brands, however, are enjoying more encouraging passenger car numbers in 2014. Quickly decreasing fuel prices are not, as of yet, slowing car volume at BMW […]

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Mercedes-Benz BMW USA sales chartPassenger car sales in the United States are up just 1% as the overall industry has grown more than 5% through the first eleven months of 2014. America’s two best-selling premium brands, however, are enjoying more encouraging passenger car numbers in 2014. Quickly decreasing fuel prices are not, as of yet, slowing car volume at BMW in the least.

BMW car sales are up 12% through the first eleven months of 2014 on the strength of the 3-Series and 4-Series, which account for more than six out of every ten BMW passenger car sales. As the chart’s red line shows, the percentage of BMW’s volume generated by cars was as low as 59% in March, as high as 77% in July and 76% in October, but slid back somewhat to 67% in November.

Mercedes-Benz car volume is up 4.4% this year, although the brand’s cars tumbled 18% in October and 7% in November. Again, as the chart shows in the green line, Mercedes-Benz’s SUVs and crossovers accounted for 36% of non-Sprinter Mercedes-Benz volume in March, a figure which rose as high as 38% in May and 39% in October but fell to 37% in November.

We were clear about the reasoning behind charts like this a week ago, so we won’t go into the justification for displaying figures like these again. Are fuel prices a factor in pushing luxury SUV/crossover sales upward? Perhaps, but the numbers for these two top-selling luxury brands manifest little change.

And there are other contributing factors. Mercedes-Benz now sells their most affordable crossover, the GLA, which didn’t go on sale until September, and the new C-Class is only just beginning to play a role. Meanwhile, X6 volume dried up in August, September, and October as BMW USA waited for the new model to arrive.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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A 21st Century 318is http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/21st-century-318is/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/21st-century-318is/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:22:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960225 You haven’t been able to buy a BMW 318is since L.A. Law was on the airwaves, but BMW just introduced the next best thing. A 3-cylinder BMW 2-Series Coupe. Jalopnik reports that BMW is introducing a 218i coupe, powered by the 1.5L 3-cylinder turbo mill from the base Mini Cooper. Pumping out 136 horsepower and 162 […]

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218i

You haven’t been able to buy a BMW 318is since L.A. Law was on the airwaves, but BMW just introduced the next best thing. A 3-cylinder BMW 2-Series Coupe.

Jalopnik reports that BMW is introducing a 218i coupe, powered by the 1.5L 3-cylinder turbo mill from the base Mini Cooper. Pumping out 136 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, the 218i is about as quick as an old 318i, hitting 60 mph in roughly 9 seconds. By American standards, this is dreadfully slow for a BMW (even an X1 can hit the speed limit in 6 seconds), but in Europe, where the car will be sold, it’s just fine.

For now, if you want a BMW packing a triple, you have just one option: the i8 supercar.

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Volkswagen Unveils Plans For 5 Series/E-Class Fighter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volkswagen-unveils-plans-5-seriese-class-fighter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volkswagen-unveils-plans-5-seriese-class-fighter/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957841 The world is not enough for Volkswagen AG, as it now has plans to introduce a mid-size sedan to slot between the Passat and the Phaeton. AutoBild reports the proposed model will do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sedan and wagon variants on the table, with U.S. and Chinese markets […]

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The world is not enough for Volkswagen AG, as it now has plans to introduce a mid-size sedan to slot between the Passat and the Phaeton.

AutoBild reports the proposed model will do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sedan and wagon variants on the table, with U.S. and Chinese markets receiving the sedan while the Europeans can buy either style.

Regarding platforms for the sedan, VW is considering either its MQB architecture — following the next-gen Passat in 2017 — or Audi’s MLB platform, which underpins the A6. Power is expected to come from four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, and would be linked to all four corners via DSG and Audi’s Quattro AWD system.

The proposed base price for the model would begin at €37,500 ($46,500 USD), and would be assembled in either China, Mexico or North America. The new model would go on sale sometime near the end of this decade.

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Undisguised Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe Still Looks Like A Mash-Up Of An S-Class And A Wart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/undisguised-mercedes-benz-gle-still-looks-like-mash-s-class-wart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/undisguised-mercedes-benz-gle-still-looks-like-mash-s-class-wart/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 23:28:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957610 Not long ago, I described the Mercedes-Benz GLE as “a cross between the new S-Class coupe and a growth of the Human Papilloma Virus.” I stand by that statement. A completely unoriginal derivative turd, the GLE is basically an X6 rip-off made by Mercedes-Benz. Even worse, it wears an “AMG” badge, despite sharing nothing with the […]

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Not long ago, I described the Mercedes-Benz GLE as “a cross between the new S-Class coupe and a growth of the Human Papilloma Virus.” I stand by that statement.

A completely unoriginal derivative turd, the GLE is basically an X6 rip-off made by Mercedes-Benz. Even worse, it wears an “AMG” badge, despite sharing nothing with the great AMG cars of past and present. It is little more than a sop to consumers in the BRIC countries, and a naked play at profit and volume by Daimler.

One part of me wishes them well for shrewdly playing off the needs and wants of the legions of people who would buy this thing. The other part of me wants to reach for the liquid nitrogen canister and cryo-therapy this thing off the face of the earth.

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BMW: We’re Not Working With Tesla On Anything http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/bmw-working-tesla-anything/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/bmw-working-tesla-anything/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 11:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954977 Were you hoping BMW and Tesla would join forces for the future of electrification? Not so fast. According to Wirtschafts Woche, a BMW representative stated the company will not be buying shares in the California-based automaker, nor offering much more than its carbon fiber technology, which BMW states is open to all comers. The Bavarians […]

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Were you hoping BMW and Tesla would join forces for the future of electrification? Not so fast.

According to Wirtschafts Woche, a BMW representative stated the company will not be buying shares in the California-based automaker, nor offering much more than its carbon fiber technology, which BMW states is open to all comers. The Bavarians believe the only benefit from a relationship with Tesla would be in favor of the latter, claiming CEO Elon Musk would enjoy the PR from such a collaboration.

The statement comes on the heels of an interview by Der Spiegel with Musk, who proclaimed his company was in talks with BMW to “collaborate on battery technology or charging stations,” something that was news to BMW. The automaker also has no interest in working on a battery factory with Tesla, stating such things can be purchased from its suppliers. Musk said he had plans to build a factory in Germany within five to six years.

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BMW Unveils 3 Series PHEV Prototype, Plans For Future PHEVs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/bmw-unveils-3-series-phev-prototype-plans-future-phevs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/bmw-unveils-3-series-phev-prototype-plans-future-phevs/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954681 BMW’s i Series is lending its technology to the automaker’s core portfolio, spurring a new generation of PHEVs in so doing. The automaker introduced the prototype for the 3 Series PHEV in France, which pairs a four-cylinder gasoline engine — based on the TwinPower Turbo mill — with an electric motor, both of which are […]

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BMW 3 Series PHEV platform prototype

BMW’s i Series is lending its technology to the automaker’s core portfolio, spurring a new generation of PHEVs in so doing.

The automaker introduced the prototype for the 3 Series PHEV in France, which pairs a four-cylinder gasoline engine — based on the TwinPower Turbo mill — with an electric motor, both of which are linked to BMW’s eDrive technology found in the i3 and i8.

Beyond the 3 Series PHEV, BMW plans to deploy eDrive among the rest of range, with the aim of having PHEVs handle long-distance travel while pure electrics — and possibly hydrogen down the road — deal with urban mobility requirements. The system will also help the Bavarians deliver high-performance models whose emissions fall under 100 g/km of CO2, with future PHEVs models expected to provide 100 kilometers of range in full-electric mode, 20 kWh of capacity in their lithium-ion packs, and a combined power rating of 500 kW.

From 2015 forward, the eDrive system will be assembled in the automaker’s plant in Dingolfling, creating 200 jobs surrounding the technology, with “many tens of millions of euros” invested into the plant over the next five years.

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Oh, Chris Harris, You Brilliant Man http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/oh-chris-harris-brilliant-man/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/oh-chris-harris-brilliant-man/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 22:33:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=953553 Everybody loves YouTube personality, gentleman racer, and autojourno-of-the-moment Chris Harris, and I mean everyone. I can still vividly recall a party I attended in New York earlier this year where a lady friend of mine saw Chris and exclaimed in a kind of hysteria that was no doubt aided by the Hendrix-esque combination of painkillers […]

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Everybody loves YouTube personality, gentleman racer, and autojourno-of-the-moment Chris Harris, and I mean everyone. I can still vividly recall a party I attended in New York earlier this year where a lady friend of mine saw Chris and exclaimed in a kind of hysteria that was no doubt aided by the Hendrix-esque combination of painkillers and alcohol she’d managed to swallow, “He’s just adorable!” She then proceeded to totter in his general direction. Since she was (is) six feet tall in her heels and Mr. Harris is about five foot five, this was quite terrifying to Mr. Harris and he promptly hid behind Matt Farah, which is always a solid place to hide.

Luckily for Chris, Travis Okulski happened to wander in at about that time and divert my companion’s high-volume attention. “IT’S TRAVIS! THE GUY WHO CRIED DURING THE PEPSI COMMMERCIAL!” What a night that was, dear readers. Did you know that the last time I started dating someone under five foot nine or so, the Deepwater Horizon was still functioning properly? We’re talking about an entire volleyball team’s worth of tall girls here. Anyway, back to Mr. Harris. He’s written something rather interesting on Jalopnik today, and I’m only feeling slightly smug about it.

Years from now, when the smoke of history clears, another name will be added to that list of designers who were capable of re-imagining the automobile. Born and raised in the American Midwest, Christopher Edward Bangle joined BMW with a rather singular goal in mind: to create what would be only the second major design direction in the company’s history. His complete and utter success in this task has permitted BMW to become a major player on the global stage; along the way, he rewrote the design language for the entire auto industry.

So I wrote in February of 2009 for Speed:Sport:Life, in a column that would later on appear on TTAC. (It’s also in — shhhh! — my book, which is coming out after Christmas some time, I hope.) That was nearly six years ago, but my then-controversial ideas are now being co-signed by more than a few people.

That’s fine with me, because I was right then about Bangle and I’m still right. Without Mr. Bangle and his new approach to vehicle surfacing, automotive styling would have struggled to this present day with the additional vehicle body height that is the primary characteristic of a “modern” automobile. Think of the original Ford Focus and its breadvan chic. That’s what every car would look like nowadays without flame surfacing. Tall, tippy, cheap, and not-so-cheerful. If you think the BMW X6 or Acura MDX is hideous now — as I certainly do — imagine the same vehicle with flat flanks.

So I was right. But if you’d rather hear Chris Harris say it, then see for yourself. Over to you, Mr. Dickinson:

 

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All The Minis Are Down Except The One That Counts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/minis-except-one-counts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/minis-except-one-counts/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:38:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950297 They’ve been certified, although not with the fuel economy figures we first heard. They’re available, although many Mini buyers will want their cars individually tailored. And as a result, U.S. sales of Mini’s core model – the one they call the Hardtop – jumped 64% in October 2014. All other Mini variants posted fewer sales […]

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2015 Mini Cooper SThey’ve been certified, although not with the fuel economy figures we first heard. They’re available, although many Mini buyers will want their cars individually tailored. And as a result, U.S. sales of Mini’s core model – the one they call the Hardtop – jumped 64% in October 2014.

All other Mini variants posted fewer sales in October 2014 than in October 2013. In some cases, the declines represented significant losses.

As the current Clubman is phased out, sales of the elongated Mini slid 98% to just 15, a loss of 932 units. Convertible sales slid 20%; Roadster volume was chopped in half, year-over-year. The Coupe, always rare and expected to soon die along with the Roadster, was down 74% to just 24 units. Paceman volume slid 42%. The Countryman, the best-selling Mini bodystyle over the first ten months of 2014 with a 7% increase in year-to-date sales, was down 9%.

As a result, the massive 1068-unit increase from Mini’s best-selling model was overshadowed by declines from the brand’s six other cars, resulting in a 7% loss for the brand in October 2014. Through the first ten months of 2014, Mini USA volume is down 20%. After generating 19% of BMW of North America’s volume at this point in 2013, Mini has produced just 14% of the company’s sales in 2014.

mini usa sales chartYet the bright spot couldn’t be brighter. This is not an obscure improvement from one of the brand’s mostly ignored cars. The Hardtop, Mini’s most traditional three-door hatchback, in Cooper and Cooper S form, is Mini. It is likely the brand’s least opinion-dividing car. It’s also their most affordable model.

This car was sorely needed in Mini showrooms. Total non-Countryman/Paceman sales were down 7% in 2013 as the Hardtop variant fell 8%. Cooper Hardtop sales had decreased on a year-over-year basis in 18 of 20 months leading up to October. Through the first three-quarters of 2014, Hardtop volume was down 36%, a loss of 7501 units.

We may not see huge 64% improvements added to the Mini Cooper Hardtop’s sales each month in the near future, and whatever gains it does achieve may be offset by continued losses of other models, and then buoyed again by the arrival of a five-door. But as a sign that Mini’s still kickin’, October’s total for the brand’s most popular model was an especially strong one.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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NHTSA, USDOT Demand National Recall Action From Takata, Automakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949217 While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity […]

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While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity zone previously established in an earlier recall.

The NHTSA also issued a General Order to the airbag supplier and 10 automakers — BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota — requiring all to submit documents regarding “completed, ongoing or planned testing” of the supplier’s inflators outside of the current recall zone, with the goal of having all involved come correct with the agency and the American public about what they all plan to do about the airbags. Takata alone received a Special Order, regarding the propellent used in its airbags.

Responses to both orders are due by December 5.

Three of the 10 automakers involved with the General Order — Ford, GM and Honda — may likely have the hardest time replacing Takata completely. Per Bloomberg, the trio worked closely with the supplier to develop special features for their vehicles — Ford’s Adaptive Steering system, GM’s front center airbags — features that would take a while to work out with a new supplier if a deeper relationship were to take hold.

Meanwhile, only 6 percent of the 8 million vehicles equipped with Takata’s airbags have been repaired thus far, a rate critics of the supplier and its client base find appalling. The pace isn’t likely to quicken, however; Toyota says it would take a year at minimum to test and replace its units with those from other suppliers, while Nissan said doing the same for itself wasn’t feasible.

Returning to the Beltway, Reuters reports Takata had presented documents to the NHTSA linked to a 2009 accident involving its airbags, only for the agency to decline, as it had closed its investigation on the supplier and Honda, whose vehicle was involved in said accident. The NHTSA informed the news agency that the documents “would not have added to the agency’s understanding of the issues involved in that particular investigation.”

Speaking of Honda, senior executive Rick Schostek admitted before Congress that his company failed to notify the NHTSA or its customer base about the issues with Takata’s airbags, promising to offer consumers a loaner if their affected vehicles are repaired quickly due to supply shortages. As for Takata’s Hiroshi Shimizu, Automotive News says he went on the defensive, going so far as to claim that it was “hard” for him to “answer yes or no” to several questions asked by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, much to the dismay and bemusement of the committee members.

Prior to the call for a nationwide recall, the regional-specific actions, as well as the NHTSA’s order to consumers to have their airbags replaced immediately, contributed to public anxiety over whether or not the airbag before them would disfigure or kill in an accident. According to Bloomberg, Takata itself believes a national recall would only further exacerbate those fears, potentially diverting resources “from where they’re needed, putting lives at risk.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Monclova, Mexico facility where the defective units were assembled had issues from the moment it opened its doors in 2000. Aside from the units made in 2001, 2002 and 2012, an explosion in 2006 — one some workers claim was fueled by the same ammonium nitrate used in Takata’s airbags as a propellent — jump-started a production run where quality slipped against hourly quotas. Whether the top brass knew of the problems, however, is a different story, as it never sent permanent staff to Mexico from its headquarters in Japan.

Over in Germany, BMW is working with the supplier to have its airbags made closer to home in Freiberg, transferring production from Mexico. The move only applies to BMW, who expects additional production to come online by mid-December. Alternative arrangements would take two years and “divert attention from current recall efforts,” per the automaker.

Finally, U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Stephanie Erdman gave her testimony before Congress, detailing what had happened to her when a vehicle turned in front of her 2002 Honda Civic in September 2013. According to The Detroit News, the resulting injuries and ongoing surgeries led to a lawsuit against Honda, whose certified dealership in Destin, Fla. failed to notify Erdman of the February 2010 driver’s side airbag recall or what would happen if the airbag deployed in the wrong conditions, nor did the dealership replace the unit in question. She also feared that once the spotlight subsides on Takata et al, the problems would still be there, and urged Congress to continue to hold all accountable for their actions.

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Los Angeles 2014: BMW X5 M, X6 M Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-bmw-x5-m-x6-m-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-bmw-x5-m-x6-m-revealed/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:50:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=947953 Forget DMX: BMW is giving it to you times two, with the unveiling of its M-enhanced X5 and X6 crossovers. Both Xs boast a 4.4-liter V8 with twin-scroll turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and BMW’s Valvetronic airflow-regulation system. The end result: 567 horses and 553 lb-ft of torque pushed through all four corners via an M-tuned […]

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Forget DMX: BMW is giving it to you times two, with the unveiling of its M-enhanced X5 and X6 crossovers.

Both Xs boast a 4.4-liter V8 with twin-scroll turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and BMW’s Valvetronic airflow-regulation system. The end result: 567 horses and 553 lb-ft of torque pushed through all four corners via an M-tuned eight-speed auto, moving the crossovers from naught to 60 in 4 seconds.

The X5 M and X6 M receive the usual M-specific treatments throughout, while also saving the driver’s wallet at the pump, delivering a 20 percent boost in fuel efficiency per the European cycle; EPA cycle figures will come soon enough.

That said, the wallet will feel pain: $100,000 base for the X5 M, $103,000 for the base X6 M. Both crossovers will arrive in U.S. showrooms next spring.

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Expanding Portfolios Overwhelm Automakers, Consumers Alike http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/expanding-portfolios-overwhelm-automakers-consumers-alike/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/expanding-portfolios-overwhelm-automakers-consumers-alike/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946586 With as many plentiful lineups as the eye can see, consumers are beginning to feel overwhelmed, as are the manufacturers who are coming to realize that too many choices are just as bad as offering too few. Yahoo Finance reports automakers like Porsche, Audi and BMW are reaching a point where their respective lineups may […]

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With as many plentiful lineups as the eye can see, consumers are beginning to feel overwhelmed, as are the manufacturers who are coming to realize that too many choices are just as bad as offering too few.

Yahoo Finance reports automakers like Porsche, Audi and BMW are reaching a point where their respective lineups may soon — if not already — overlap themselves, prompting consumers to go as far as to use Excel just to find the exact model and array of features they desire.

Auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast the growth among German automakers would peak at 230 total models in 2018, then begin to flatten out as they cut production costs and improve differentiation among their portfolios, while also injecting what they sell with the latest technologies available at the time.

However, while automakers like Porsche and PSA Peugeot Citroën are implementing caps or drastically cutting down their offerings, others, such as Mercedes-Benz and Opel, plan to add more vehicles to their lineups. The expansions could lead to situations where models can only be seen in virtual showrooms — such as what has happened for BMW — as well as most consumers walking away from buying any vehicle or feeling less satisfied with the one they do buy, due to feeling overwhelmed.

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Cain’s Segments: Compact Luxury Crossovers In October 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/cains-segments-compact-luxury-crossovers-october-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/cains-segments-compact-luxury-crossovers-october-2014/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 13:47:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944937 In the span of two months, the BMW X1 went from possessing no true direct German competition to finding challengers on two fronts. That’s not to say the X1 was never a viable, though slightly smaller, challenger to the rivals of BMW’s own X3. But the X1 was sitting on the bottom rung of the […]

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mercedes-benz-gla-2In the span of two months, the BMW X1 went from possessing no true direct German competition to finding challengers on two fronts.

That’s not to say the X1 was never a viable, though slightly smaller, challenger to the rivals of BMW’s own X3. But the X1 was sitting on the bottom rung of the ladder, and it’s no longer resting their on its own.

Audi USA sold 243 Q3s during the month it which it first went on sale in the United States, August 2014. Another 1092 were sold in August. October results, visible in the accompanying table, position the Q3 at the bottom of the three-car category.

(Want to add the Buick Encore into the mix? It sells far more often than any of these cars – 4780 copies in October; 41,213 year-to-date – but it’s 26% cheaper than the Q3 in base form, 22% less costly than the X1, and 26% less expensive than our final subject, the Mercedes-Benz GLA.) Sales of the Q3’s big brother, the Q5, were up 6% to 3571 units in October. 2014 appears set to be the Q5’s fifth consecutive year of annual U.S. sales growth.

Auto
October 2014
October 2013
% Change
10 mos. 2014
10 mos. 2013
% Change
Audi Q3
683 2,018
BMW X1
 2,073 3,059 -32.2% 17,801 21,407 -16.8%
Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
2007 2,998
Total
 4,763
3,059  55.7%  22,817  21,407  6.6%

The BMW X1 reached a sales peak of more than 4300 units in March of this year but has averaged fewer than 1800 monthly sales, down from more than 2200 last year. The X1 is part of a five-pronged SAV lineup at BMW that’s enjoyed a 6.5% sales increase in 2014 despite significant declines from the X1 and X6. X3 sales are up 26% to 28,808 this year. X5 sales have risen 9% to lead the range with 36,376 sales. As you can see, X1 volume fell by nearly 1000 units in October, but the Q3 and GLA did much more than make up for those losses.

The GLA, a Mercedes-Benz CLA-related tall hatchback that you can call an SUV or a crossover or a CUV if you like, is also part of a five-member SUV/crossover lineup. The GLA, along with the more costly and larger G, GL, GLK, and M-Class, generated 39% of the Mercedes-Benz brand’s non-Sprinter sales in October. The GLA’s presence may have had an impact on the GLK’s total in October, the GLA’s second month, but if so, it was only the slightest of impacts. (Mercedes-Benz reported 991 U.S. GLA sales in September.) GLK volume slid 4%, a loss of just 107 units, after rising 21% during the first three-quarters of 2014. But GLK inventory of late hasn’t been as strong as it was earlier in the year, and the GLA therefore may have had little to do with the decline.

The lesson? If “luxury” automakers are going to sell more new vehicles, they’ll do so with less costly vehicles. And if they’re going to sell more of these less costly vehicles, the easiest way to do so will be to turn those vehicles into high riders, or at least vehicles with the appearance of increased ride heights. They’re not huge sellers – yet – but nearly one out of every 20 Audis soldnin October was a Q3. BMW has relied on the X1 for 7% of the brand’s U.S. volume this year. Likewise, 7% of the vehicles sold in Mercedes-Benz showrooms last month were GLAs.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Quote Of The Day: The Sports Car Is Dead http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/quote-day-sports-car-dead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/quote-day-sports-car-dead/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 17:04:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944129 “The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales, said in an interview at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Munich. “Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover.” Speaking to Automotive News, Robertson noted that SUVs and crossovers have replaced the sports car’s […]

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“The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales, said in an interview at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Munich. “Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover.”

Speaking to Automotive News, Robertson noted that SUVs and crossovers have replaced the sports car’s function as a status symbol, while emerging markets tended to gravitate towards large sedans that one can be driven in.

While those of us who love driving will scoff at the notion that a CUV could ever replace a sports car as the most desirable automobile, market data has shown that the CUV is the most desirable body style not just in North America, but in many emerging markets – in both locales, it serves as a symbol of affluence and high status, despite what we may consider to be inferior attributes vis a vis a passenger car.

The other factor is that driving conditions have changed. Increased congestion, urbanization and a demonization of speeding (backed by harsh, if not draconian penalties) has made the notion of a sports car an outmoded one for many people. Even the latest 991 Porsche 911 GT3 has abandoned the manual transmission. And while Porsche claims this was done in the name of technological advancement, let’s not fool ourselves: it was a careful, calculated move designed to appeal to the poseur who wants the GT3 because of its racing heritage, despite never intending to take it on track, much less above 60 mph.

 

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Capsule Review: 2015 BMW X1 28i http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-bmw-x1-28i/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-bmw-x1-28i/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 19:13:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=941049 At a base price of $30,900, the BMW X1 is the cheapest new vehicle you can buy with a Roundel. That price tag, as well as the crossover body style and a lack of a manual transmission, hasn’t endeared the X1 to the BMW faithful, or the enthusiast crowd. When a friend of mine asked […]

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At a base price of $30,900, the BMW X1 is the cheapest new vehicle you can buy with a Roundel. That price tag, as well as the crossover body style and a lack of a manual transmission, hasn’t endeared the X1 to the BMW faithful, or the enthusiast crowd.

When a friend of mine asked for suggestions for a compact CUV, I initially suggested segment favorites like the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5. She ended up stopping by the BMW dealer, drawn in by the heavily subsidized lease deals and the idea of driving something with a roundel on the hood.

She ended up walking away with the X1 shown above: a 28i xDrive model with the Technology Package, Driver Assistance Package, Panoramic Moonroof and heated front seats. A $32,700 CUV (base price for an AWD X1) suddenly rang up to $41,720. A backup camera, front and rear parking senors, navigation, Satellite radio and wood trim are just some of the items that you have to pay extra for – and you still don’t get real leather (though the Sensatec leatherette is quite good). Of course, you have to pay to play if you want a German luxury vehicle (specifically, the badge that comes with it). At least the X1 has a value add. It’s still quite good to drive.

With its roots in the outgoing 3-Series, the X1 still feels, well, like a proper BMW, and not like the reasonable facsimile of a 3-Series that is the defining vehicle for this generation of Bimmer. Hydraulic power steering is still present on the all-wheel drive X1, though it’s not as heavy or direct as the E90 3-Series. Nevertheless, its far ahead of what one could expect from the F-Series 3 and 4-Series cars, which feel like a video game force feedback wheel in comparison.

The now-ubiquitous 2.0L turbocharged I4 and 8-speed automatic transmission are present on the X1, and while the N20 engine may lack the character of the much-loved I6, it delivers plenty of power. 240 horsepower is on tap, but with 260 lb-ft available from just 1250 rpm, the X1 never lacks forward motivation. The 8-speed transmission is a great match for this motor, delivering great fuel economy (on a trip from Indianapolis to Nashville, we just touched 29 mpg despite doing 70 mph on the Interstate) while also reacting with verve when a downshift was called for.

Dynamically, the X1 doesn’t seem to suffer from a slightly higher ride height and center of gravity. The culprit here appears to be the Goodyear Eagle LS run-flat tires, which I suspect impose an artificial ceiling on the car’s dynamic envelope. But for the target buyer, they do the job just fine. The ride is quiet and comfortable, and those interested in something more performance oriented can opt for the Sport package, which comes with a brawnier wheel and tire package (and likely, a harsher ride).

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As this graphic from Car and Driver shows, the X1 is dimensionally similar to the 328i wagon – but that doesn’t seem to insulate it from verbal barbs from the enthusiast community, which regards it with the same kind of disdain it tends to reserve for the Nissan Rogue. I’m not one to talk – I held that view until I actually drove the X1 and realized that it’s basically a wagon, but not marketed as such, lest the X1 become a commercial failure. I know that my friend feels the same way. She was all set to buy a Volvo V60, but as a new immigrant to the United States, she had no credit, and was thus given no lease or financing options. If that weren’t the case, she might have been one of a handful of people who bought a new Volvo station wagon. But now she’s behind the wheel of a BMW wagon, marketed as a crossover and sold for thousands of dollars less than a comparable 328i wagon. She’s as happy as I am impressed by the least expensive Bimmer. If only it had a manual.

The owner provided this vehicle to TTAC for the purposes of this review.

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Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce SUVs Still Waiting For Green Light http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/lamborghini-rolls-royce-suvs-still-waiting-green-light/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/lamborghini-rolls-royce-suvs-still-waiting-green-light/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935290 Saving away for either a Lamborghini Urus or the Rolls-Royce SUV with no name (yet)? You may end up in an Aventador or Wraith instead if neither one are green-lit. According to AutoCar, the £180,000 ($289,000 USD) new-age Rambo Lambo is awaiting the go-ahead from Audi, which an anonymous insider claims will come when economic […]

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Saving away for either a Lamborghini Urus or the Rolls-Royce SUV with no name (yet)? You may end up in an Aventador or Wraith instead if neither one are green-lit.

According to AutoCar, the £180,000 ($289,000 USD) new-age Rambo Lambo is awaiting the go-ahead from Audi, which an anonymous insider claims will come when economic and geopolitical conditions calm down:

We are convinced the Urus can significantly boost global sales, but the financial conditions need to be sound. Right now, there are signs we may be heading for a downturn in the markets due to various factors, including trouble in the Middle East, although this is not reflected in the current sales situation, which puts us ahead of 2013.

Over at BMW, the Grey Poupon delivery wagon — set to move out of mainly Chinese showrooms at £200,000 ($321,000) — is still in the design phase. Board member for the high-end premium brand, Peter Schwarzenbauer, said the proposals are closing in on BMW’s vision for the SUV, but if the execs can’t be convinced that the final design resembles a Rolls-Royce, the vehicle will not be built.

Both SUVs are expected to enter production in 2017.

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NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934178 If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed. Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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Automakers, Utilities Collaborate On Plug-In Cloud Charging Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932394 A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing. Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along […]

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Ford Focus EV Cloud Charging

A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing.

Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along with the 15 companies, Sumitomo Electric Industries and the Electric Power Research Institute, are developing a platform that would use the cloud to better manage energy usage and grid efficiency “while still meeting the needs” of PHEV and EV owners. The platform is called the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform.

OVGI would operate as follows: an owner would plug their car in as usual, then set a time for when the vehicle would be back on the road. The utility company could then send a message to the car to stop charging during peak power use, or, if doing so would hinder the vehicle’s ability to get back on the road, allow the vehicle to continue charging until it was ready to go.

In turn, the companies could offer their customers incentives to offer their plug-ins to the grid through lower rates on electricity usage. Customers can opt-out, charge elsewhere, or have the vehicle ignore the request.

The first OVGI test is occurring this week at Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center, where the tech will be demonstrated before federal, state, automotive and utility representatives and officials.

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Piston Slap: The E-Z Out for My BMW, Minivan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-7/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-7/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 12:19:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=929906 TTAC regular psarhjinian writes: I just bought a E46 3-Series that needs some care (hey, it was cheap!) and snapped off both bolts holding the alternator to (I think) the oil filter housing. I’ve gotten the alernator off, but the last inch-or-so of the threaded section of one bolt is broken off. Thank you, BMW for […]

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Gotcha! (photo courtesy: http://f30.bimmerpost.com/)

TTAC regular psarhjinian writes:

I just bought a E46 3-Series that needs some care (hey, it was cheap!) and snapped off both bolts holding the alternator to (I think) the oil filter housing. I’ve gotten the alernator off, but the last inch-or-so of the threaded section of one bolt is broken off. Thank you, BMW for using steel bolts in an aluminum block.

Question one: What’s the best method for getting these out? I might be able to back them out with a reversing bit, but there isn’t a lot of clearance (can’t centre-punch it; it’s not a clean break) and I would really, really not like to take the OFH off.

Same car, second question: these things leak PS fluid like crazy out of the reservoir (“they all do that”, but I’m replacing the reservoir and hoses anyway, and the clamps BMW uses just suck…). Combined with a hole in the fender and a prior owner who lived on a dirt rural road, this has created a mini Tar Sands in the engine compartment. What’s the best way to clean out an engine bay when you live in a rental and don’t have a outside water tap? I don’t want to take the car to a carwash and pressure-washer-blast it for fear of making things worse.

Third question: on my wife’s Pontiac Montana (2007) there’s an awful, junky rattling from the front driver’s side over even small bumps, and stretches of bad pavement sound like the van is going to shed parts, and if I rock the car side-to-side I can hear a clink/clank from the wheelwell. Since I need one working car, I need to keep downtime to a minimum and can’t go on a fishing expedition. Where should I be looking and what should I replace?

Sajeev answers:

The best way? It’s via screw extractor (aka E-Z Out) but that’s really the hard way: LSX-FTW swap is the far smarter route.  Sure, it’s more expensive and far more labor intensive.  But you’ll never have to curse BMW for their poor choice in fasteners, hose clamps, and everything else that nickel and dimes you at the E46’s age.  And when the engine is out, you go right ahead and get some shop towels, soak them in engine degreaser and wear some rubber gloves.

Only slightly joking, considering your follow-up email…

psarhjinian added:

Question 1: had to take the oil filter off, tried to use an easy-out on the bolt. Broke the easy-out inside the bolt. Local machine shops won’t touch it and a new OFH is going to be cheaper. So that’s that question answered, dammit.

Question 2: Let’s say that getting the PS reservoir off has made even more of a mess, so this applies.

Question 3: Still here.

Sajeev concludes:

Question 1: Getting a replacement junkyard part is often the best move (time and value-wise, even for BMW spec spares), even if a machine shop would take your money for the work. This isn’t a Cord 812 or something, there are plenty of spares lying around.

Question 2: Don’t worry, take it to the coin-op car wash and use their engine cleaner.  If you are really worried about your rubber lines, electrical connections, etc check the BMW’s “weak spots” that a power washer could get. Then cover them up with a plastic baggie.  Modern cars lack distributors, I don’t see a problem if you refrain from shooting every little thing with high pressure water.  If you are super paranoid, take a can of compressed air to shoot at the spark plug wires/ignition wiring plugs if the BMW doesn’t immediately fire up after being washed.

Question 3: Could be several things, but this seems to suggest worn strut mounts.  The replacements are dirt cheap, but don’t buy until you are sure that’s the problem.  A clean bill of health via mechanic’s diagnostic fee is worth the peace of mind, if you don’t trust your eyeballs when you remove the wheels and look for yourself.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Paris 2014: 2015 BMW X6 Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-2015-bmw-x6-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-2015-bmw-x6-revealed/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 18:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=924153 Now capable of doing burnouts, the second-gen BMW X6 arrived at the 2014 Paris Auto Show with RWD for the first time. Just like the roomier X5 upon which the new X6 is based, the SUV is available as an sDrive35i model, whose twin-turbo inline-six moves 300 horsepower to the back. The same engine delivers […]

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Now capable of doing burnouts, the second-gen BMW X6 arrived at the 2014 Paris Auto Show with RWD for the first time.

Just like the roomier X5 upon which the new X6 is based, the SUV is available as an sDrive35i model, whose twin-turbo inline-six moves 300 horsepower to the back. The same engine delivers the goods through all four corners as the xDrive35i, with the xDrive50i upping the ante with a 4.4-liter V8 pushing 445 horsepower. All models receive an eight-speed auto standard.

In addition to the rear- and all-wheel drive models, the X6 can be had in xLine or M Sport trim. The former brings more luxurious leather and cosmetic enhancements, the latter adds an aero kit and optional M suspension. Other available features include: Bang & Olufsen sound system, HUD, parallel parking assistant, and a revised chassis that offers nearly 50:50 weight distribution and stiffer torsional rigidity.

The X6 will leave the factory floor in Spartanburg, S.C. for showrooms later this year. Price of admission begins at $60,550.

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BMW, Baidu Team Up For Automated Driving Trials In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/bmw-baidu-team-automated-driving-trials-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/bmw-baidu-team-automated-driving-trials-china/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921665 BMW has teamed up with the Google of China, Baidu, to begin work on automated driving trials in Beijing and Shanghai. According to Reuters, BMW says its group of research vehicles have already covered “thousands of kilometers” up and down the autobahns of Germany, and is now embarking “on a further research project which will […]

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BMW has teamed up with the Google of China, Baidu, to begin work on automated driving trials in Beijing and Shanghai.

According to Reuters, BMW says its group of research vehicles have already covered “thousands of kilometers” up and down the autobahns of Germany, and is now embarking “on a further research project which will pave the way for highly automated driving in China as well.”

The cars for the Chinese project expansion will be tackling the nation’s multi-level highways and other infrastructural challenges in Beijing and Shanghai, relying upon Baidu’s map and cloud services on-the-go to aid in a given vehicle’s navigation.

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Bark’s Bites: Let’s Play TTAC Fantasy Garage! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/barks-bites-lets-play-ttac-fantasy-garage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/barks-bites-lets-play-ttac-fantasy-garage/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=915874 All across America, every Sunday (and Monday…and Thursday, I guess), men and women glue their eyes to television screens to watch the National Football League’s latest public relations gaffe teams and players duel on the gridiron. However, the popularity of these games often has nothing to do with the teams playing or the cities/states they […]

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All across America, every Sunday (and Monday…and Thursday, I guess), men and women glue their eyes to television screens to watch the National Football League’s latest public relations gaffe teams and players duel on the gridiron. However, the popularity of these games often has nothing to do with the teams playing or the cities/states they represent.

It’s all about Fantasy Football, man! That’s right, people who’ve never played or coached a single down of competitive football in their lives can live vicariously through the players that they picked for their weekly lineups. In fact, people often are faced with the dilemma of rooting against their favorite teams so that they can get fantasy points.

So what if we could take the game that is responsible for the highest rated show on television and make it all about what we care about—cars? Of COURSE we can!

The way many fantasy leagues work is that they have a dollar amount assigned to each player, and teams can only spend up to the pre-determined “salary cap” for their league. For example, you might really want Peyton Manning, but your team salary cap is $100M and Manning would count $25M, so it might behoove you to choose Russell Wilson, who only counts $600K against the cap.

So let’s play Fantasy Garage! The average price of a new car in the United States is $32K, so we’ll use that as our number for figuring out our salary cap—nine classifications x $32K=$288,000. Use MSRP, not market pricing. We’ll use market segment classifications, and you’ll need to pick a car for each classification without going over the cap to create the “best” garage you can. You must pick a car that can be bought new for the 2014 or 2015 model years.

The classifications are (examples in parentheses):

Two-seater sports car (MX-5, Boxster, F-Type, Z4, Corvette)

Four-seater sports/pony car (Camaro, Mustang, Challenger)

Subcompact (B segment—Fiesta, Fit, Sonic, Versa)

Compact (C segment—Cruze, Focus, Civic, Sentra, 2 series)

Mid-size (D segment—Accord, Camry, Altima, 3 series)

Full-size (E segment—300, Taurus, Impala, A6)

Small CUV/SUV (CX-5, Escape, X3, Equinox)

Mid-size CUV/SUV (Grand Cherokee, Explorer, Highlander, Q7)

Pickup Truck (all sizes—Canyon, Silverado, F-150, RAM 1500, Tundra, Titan)

Here’s my version—see if you can beat me (it’s all subjective but I’m the final judge).

Two-seater: 2015 Mazda MX-5 sport ($24,765)

Four-seater: 2015 Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack ($35,420)

Sub-compact: 2015 Ford Fiesta ST w/Recaro package ($23,235)

Compact: 2015 VW Golf GTI Autobahn ($30,415)

Mid-size: 2015 BMW 435i ($49,950)—or the 335i variety if you insist on playing by the rules.

Full-size: 2015 Chevrolet Impala 2LT ($31,110)

Small SUV/CUV: 2015 Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD ($26,215)

Midsize SUV/CUV: 2014 Ford Flex SEL AWD ($32,495)

Pickup Truck: 2015 GMC Canyon SLE All-Terrain Package ($33,195)

Did it! My Salary Cap number is $286,800, giving me $1200 of room to spare in case my Fiesta transmission blows.

All right, now it’s your turn—quibble with my picks and make your own. Remember, pick one car for every category, and you cannot go over $288,000. Go!

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Generating Content http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/generating-content/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/generating-content/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:16:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913042 A heretofore unknown publication dubbed Gadget Review published a video outlining  “How to Charge BMW’s i3 Electric Car in a Desert (or Any Where)” using a Honda generator. I’m sure that somebody somewhere thought that this would be a great concept for “shareable” content (including the part where the host attempts to run the generator […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

A heretofore unknown publication dubbed Gadget Review published a video outlining  “How to Charge BMW’s i3 Electric Car in a Desert (or Any Where)” using a Honda generator. I’m sure that somebody somewhere thought that this would be a great concept for “shareable” content (including the part where the host attempts to run the generator inside the vehicle). The actual idea didn’t yield a ton of juice for the i3’s battery, but the idea of using generators to assist EV charging isn’t entirely unknown.

Long before the Chevrolet Volt, GM’s EV experimented were far cruder, and involved, you guessed it, Honda generators rigged to battery packs as an ersatz range extender. According to a former GM engineer and friend of TTAC, the generator would kick in as the batteries depleted themselves, allowing the prototype vehicle (a Geo Storm) to recharge the batteries and make its way home. “Some of those guys ended up working on the EV1 and are still at GM,” he told us. “I bet that’s where the inspiration for the Volt came from.”

This begs the question – why not just get the i3’s optional from the get-go, and avoid this problem altogether?

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