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By on February 15, 2020

Audi engaged in a publicity stunt this week to prove electric vehicles can be legitimate workhorses, capable of towing sizable items long distances without issue. While most EVs aren’t actually rated to tow anything, Audi’s e-Tron is supposedly able to haul a few thousand pounds worth of whatever behind it.

Audi Tulsa and Audi ONE, Audi of America’s Herndon-based electrification strategy team, supported the all-volunteer Oklahoma Chapter of the Electric Auto Association in testing that theory by taking one from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the Fully Charged Live electric-car event at Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

Under idyllic circumstances, the 500-mile journey should have depleted the crossover’s 95-kWh battery pack twice. However, Audi’s press release seems to indicate using an EV to tow a trailer is anything but ideal, and the resulting figures prove it.  Read More >

By on February 14, 2020

Drivers in North America have urged Toyota to export the 268-horsepower GR Yaris pretty much since the day it was announced. There’s even a Change.org petition to get the European variant shipped to Canada. Still, it always seemed like an impossible dream. An ultra-powerful subcompact doesn’t have mass appeal here and the model isn’t actually the same car as the one sold in Japan.

However, Toyota may not leave North American consumers empty handed. The automaker has heard the Western wailing and is working on a plan to appease the market. While the GR Yaris may be a bridge too far, something akin to the hot hatch is reportedly in development to cover for its absence.  Read More >

By on February 14, 2020

Volkswagen has had to spend mountains of money since being caught using illegal software to hide excessive diesel pollution during regulatory testing five years ago. As if millions of vehicle buybacks and repairs weren’t costly enough, VW also had to contend with billions of dollars in regulatory fines and countless consumer lawsuits — and the hits keep on coming.

While the United States enacted swift justice upon VW, Europe has been slower to take action. That, in addition to EU laws making it much more difficult for class-action suits to get off the ground, meant Europeans received nothing as VW’s American customers saw checks cut to the tune of $20,000 apiece. Germany has only allowed class-action lawsuits since 2018, providing an opportunity for Volkswagen to continue playing legal hardball. But it’s been backpedaling all across Europe.

Citing a breakdown in negotiations with German consumer association VZBV, which was attempting to reach a settlement deal for German customers attached to its class-action suit, the automaker said Friday it is willing to offer €830 million (about $899 million).  Read More >

By on February 14, 2020

gm

We’re not talking about a digital threat here; no, it’s more just one more headache caused by the viral outbreak rampaging through the Chinese manufacturing heartland — the source of so many components crucial to domestic auto production.

At General Motors, a supply chain disruption is the last thing the company needs after weathering an expensive 40-day strike at its U.S. plants last fall. The automaker is now attempting to allay fears of idled plants in the wake of an ominous social media post. Read More >

By on February 14, 2020

Of all the production upsets born of coronavirus-caused supply chain disruptions, the idling of Fiat Chrysler’s Kragujevac, Serbia assembly plant is certainly not near the top. Not for American consumers, anyway.

The automaker announced Friday that the plant, home to the unloved Fiat 500L, will be offline until sometime late in the month. If U.S. inventory suffered, would anyone notice? Read More >

By on February 14, 2020

Unlike the 1956 Packard Predictor concept, which foretold nothing but GRIM DEATH for the once-proud marque, Hyundai’s Prophecy is living in happier times. The Korean automaker is on the upswing again, thanks to an influx of crossovers, but the brand’s future shares an uncertainty with other automakers. Namely: will anyone buy their electric cars?

Bound for next month’s Geneva Motor Show, the Prophecy hints at the shape of electric Hyundais to come. Read More >

By on February 14, 2020

A lofty, high-performance electric vehicle currently headed down the Kia product pipeline is, like all EVs, something of a gamble. For the mainstream Korean automaker, it’s also a departure.

Heralded by last year’s striking Imagine concept, the upcoming coupe-like crossover will clearly be a way for Kia designers to make a name for themselves — and, Kia hopes, a way for big-bucks buyers to get more for their money. Read More >

By on February 14, 2020

Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse Cabriolet; A 217; 2018 - Image: Mercedes-Benz

As cost-cutting born partly of stricter environmental mandates take hold across the industry, low-volume specialty cars and less-popular body styles are getting a rethink. Model lines are being consolidated or dropped, leaving the consumer with less choice than before.

At Mercedes-Benz, which currently fields a dizzying array of vehicles spanning the gamut (minus the pickup segment), the future holds less selection for the consumer who likes to go his or her own way. Bound for the chopping block are the stately S-Class coupe and convertible, and two four-doors also look to be on the way out.

We’ve arrived at a Sophie’s Choice moment. Read More >

By on February 14, 2020

In the last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn we pitted three compact pickup trucks from Japan against one another. The year was 1972 — still fairly early in Japan’s truck presence on North American shores. The distant year caused many commenters to shout “We are young!” and then claim a lack of familiarity.

Fine! Today we’ll move it forward a decade, and talk trucks in 1982.

Read More >

By on February 14, 2020

Image: Lucid Motors

Marc writes:

Hi. Long-time reader, and have had a past question answered. With all the hype surrounding electrification, there is one aspect I see little discussion about — the impact on the service and parts business. If the majority of profits at a dealership comes from service and parts, what is the impact of no oil changes, etc, and the myriad of ICE parts that electric vehicles don’t have? Jiffy Lube, Aamco, Midas, all done.

The economic implications are huge. Your thoughts?

Read More >

By on February 13, 2020

You’re going to feel like an idiot if you previously went out and purchased the new Toyota Supra, as the manufacturer decided to make some major improvements on the 3.0-liter inline-six for the 2021 model year — bumping up output, tweaking the suspension and adding some new options. It also decided to offer the 2.0-liter variant that was formerly prohibited from gracing our shores. And Toyota is upgrading the model’s standard equipment too, regardless of trim level, by swapping the 6.5-inch center display for an 8.8-inch screen.

But we want to make you feel as bad as possible, so let’s open with how much more horsepower the 2021 model makes when compared to the 3.0-liter GR Supra you bought last year (when dealer markups were impossible to avoid). Toyota has outfitted the twin-turbo BMW B58 with a redesigned exhaust manifold and new pistons that lower the engine’s compression. In itself, that’s not a recipe for a lot more power, but it sets the stage for Supra to endure higher turbo boost pressures and some meaningful factory tuning, resulting in 382 peak horsepower. That’s 47 more ponies than the complete garbage you took out a loan on last year, dingus.  Read More >

By on February 13, 2020

Not that there’s ever a good time for a global pandemic threat, but the coronavirus currently sweeping through Asia really could have scheduled itself more conveniently. China was already in the midst of an economic downturn when the virus reared its ugly head, with the country’s automotive sector having just moved backward for the second year in a row. The outbreak, centered in the Hubei province’s capital of Wuhan, is guaranteed to worsen the issue.

Responsible for about a tenth of China’s automotive manufacturing power, the region has basically gone dark since the outbreak picked up steam late last month. Over 50 million people are now presumed to be under house arrest due to the Chinese quarantine. Forbidden from going outside, they’re hardly likely to risk infection and government ire just to put for a few hours at their local factory. They also aren’t going to run out to their nearest dealership to support the ailing economy — but that’d be the first place to go after the sequestration ends.

If I were in their shoes, I certainly wouldn’t be taking the bus for a while. Read More >

By on February 13, 2020

If a report in Car and Driver is correct, Porsche’s Leipzig assembly plant will soon be home to two overlapping eras — internal combustion, and what comes next. The site, upgraded in the previous decade, handles production of the Macan, which Porsche claims will don an all-electric powertrain for its next generation.

Not so fast, say company insiders. Read More >

By on February 13, 2020

A friend once had a ’94 Olds 88 with delaminating paint, souring the Olds ownership experience and causing him to pine for his recently departed ’86 model. The newer model’s hood and trunk lid looked like hell, but at least he wasn’t alone in his misery (there were a lot of peeling 1990s GM cars on the road at the time).

Toyota owners, on the other hand, are used to bragging about their vehicles’ longevity, dependability, and solid resale value, making issues like peeling paint a black eye in an otherwise wholesome relationship. It’s worth noting that they’re among the most loyal customers on the market.

These owners will be happy to hear the automaker plans to cover the cost of applying a whiter shade of pale to the exterior of their older Toyota models. Read More >

By on February 13, 2020

Dave Pericak, former head of Ford Performance and now responsible for the brand’s icon models, told CNET on the sidelines of the Chicago Auto Show that evolving environmental regulations have forced the automaker to reassess how it views performance.

“A lot of countries are changing regulations so quickly, and so much, they’re almost forcing the performance products out,” he said.

“Our job is going to be two-fold,” Pericak continued. “One is to figure out how to continue to make performance that will exist in some of these regulated countries, even our own, and how do you do it so it’s a global offering?”

It’s a good question. Environmental regulations have indeed forced automakers to downsize displacement and re-familiarize themselves with turbocharging. Electrification is an option growing in popularity too, with many global automakers tossing battery packs into vehicles of all sizes at no small cost to themselves.  Read More >

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