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By on December 11, 2019

The European Union has approved a 3.2 billion-euro fund to promote the research and development of battery technology, with cash pouring in from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden. While Brussels has been on an electrification push ever since Europe fell out of love with diesel, now may not be the best time to double down on EVs.

We recently covered China’s ailing automotive market, noting the poor performance of new energy vehicles (which fell by at least 40 percent vs the previous November). We’ve also covered a survey showing how eager the nation’s consumer base appeared to be to purchase them, with both writer and readership wondering how reliable those figures actually were. Our collective dubiousness appears to have been valid. Despite being the top region for EV sales, new data from Bernstein Research claims about 70 percent of the 1.2 million electric or gasoline-electric hybrid models sold in China over the past year went directly to government or corporate fleets. When the government started removing subsidies, sales plummeted with little private interest to soften the impact.

Europe may be on a vaguely similar path. While worldwide EV sales are up about 13 percent through October, sales in North America are down 2 percent (at 301,000 deliveries), with Europe rising 37 percent (to 395,000). That’s partially due to European cities being closer together (with more charging points between them), though most EU member states also offer various electric vehicle purchasing incentives and tax exemptions. They’ve likewise adopted stricter environmental rules that make EVs more appetizing to own in the future.  Read More >

By on December 11, 2019

You jokers should know by now that this author is an unapologetic truck guy. When something new in the segment is introduced, it is studied by these jaundiced eyes until all the details are absorbed. My browser history is a mash of truck configurators and off-road websites. Plus a few recipes for southern barbecue.

That sound you heard yesterday was your author crashing over furniture to get a good look at the new 2021 Tahoe and Suburban. Growing up in a 1978 Blazer, these rigs and their ilk have an unreasonable hold on my heartstrings. While pricing wasn’t announced, it definitely put this Truck Guy in a Chevy state of mind.

For the 2020 model year, let’s see what the soon-to-vanish Impala has to offer the Ace of Base shopper.

Read More >

By on December 11, 2019

Image: VW

Lusted after by no writer upon its debut, the intentionally inoffensive, strength-projecting Volkswagen Atlas did exactly what the automaker intended. It gave the brand a viable challenger in the midsize utility vehicle space, luring Americans into its Teutonic cabin and generating the margins necessary to help fund VW’s electric vehicle push.

The Atlas is a hit, and the coming year sees it undergo its first refresh. Details follow. Read More >

By on December 11, 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, the future of the sedan has never looked dimmer. A number of sedans die with the current model year, with the majority of funerals happening at American brands. For now, let’s pick out some bright spots in our sedan offerings before the herd is thinned considerably in 2020.

Up first this week are the small sedans.

Read More >

By on December 11, 2019

gm

Eighty-five years after its debut, the Chevrolet Suburban is still looking to conquer new lands. This time around, that seized territory lies between the front and rear bumper of the vehicle, and that goes double for its shorter body-on-frame sibling, the Tahoe.

Introduced Tuesday night in the birthplace of it all, Detroit, the 2021 Tahoe and Suburban mark the greatest leap forward in the models’ lineage to date. There’s acres more room, but the big-ticket items lie under the hood and within the rear wheel wells. Read More >

By on December 10, 2019

Volkswagen Group can’t seem to escape the rippling effects of its 2015 emissions cheating scandal. It wasn’t long ago that the automaker was subjected to surprise raids from German prosecutors, still investigating its regulatory malfeasance. On Monday, Canada threw its hat into the ring — charging the company with importing roughly 128,000 vehicles into the country in direct violation of its environmental laws.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) announced VW is facing 60 counts of breaching the Canadian Environmental Protection Act by selling automobiles that fell outside the prescribed emission standards. Broken down, that includes 58 counts of contravening the law between 2008 and 2015 with two counts of providing misleading information.  Read More >

By on December 10, 2019

Daimler

Every TTAC reader’s favorite Mercedes-Benz, the subcompact GLA, will soon appear with a new body in tow. It’s taller and more bulbous than before, but it’s also more suited to the segment it’s supposedly a member of: the subcompact crossover segment.

The previous GLA, which had an unhappy sibling in the form of the now-defunct Infiniti QX30, suffered from practicality concerns. With its small overall size and low roofline, interior volume was hardly cavernous. This time around, Mercedes-Benz wants to correct past mistakes. Read More >

By on December 10, 2019

China’s car market, officially the world’s largest, is bracing for its second year of negative growth. November was the fourth consecutive month of declining year-over-year sales, representing an improvement from October despite volume dropping 4.2 per cent below last November’s tally. Unfortunately for China, the downward trend has not been the exception, but the rule.

According to the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) was hoping for better. “The market failed to live up to expectations of a strong rebound in November,” said Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the CPCA. “Consumer demand remained weak as people are reluctant to spend on big-ticket items due to worries about a bleak economic outlook.”

This matters in the West because domestic manufacturers have bent over backwards to try and improve sales within the region, expending no small amount of energy or capital in the process. China’s citizenry are also changing their tastes to cope with a weakening economy, and it would be wise to look at the choices they’re making.  Read More >

By on December 10, 2019

Not long ago, Rare Rides featured a top-line Fiat 2100 sedan that was rebodied at the order of Abarth into the luxury 2200 Coupe Allemano. Today we have a look at a subcompact Fiat that received a similar treatment. It’s an 850 Special, Vignale-style.

Read More >

By on December 10, 2019

2020 Hyundai Sonata N Line

We all have that one friend who puts Tabasco sauce on everything. Even foods that aren’t meant to be spicy are doused – this person has to give their food a kick.

Hyundai’s 2020 Sonata N Line is sort of the midsize sedan equivalent of that.

I flew to Arizona to test the redesigned 2020 Hyundai Sonata, and while there I got a surprise – I’d be driving an N Line prototype part of the way back to the hotel from lunch.

Read More >

By on December 10, 2019

Remember the ridiculously long lead-up to the release of Dodge’s Challenger SRT Demon? That never-ending trail of breadcrumbs leading to the hottest LX-platform car to date? Yeah, that one.

The teasing grew tiresome after a while. Many buyers and writers (circles that rarely cross) were about to get up and leave the bar, until FCA finally debuted the limited-run, 840-horsepower drag beast.

Well, it looks like FCA’s on the make again. Read More >

By on December 10, 2019

Maybe Land Rover isn’t so removed from its former parent, after all. Whereas Ford saw the resurrection of the Bronco nameplate as an opportunity to butch up an Escape, Land Rover apparently sees the return of the storied Defender as an excuse to push its lineup downmarket.

No, not with the Defender itself — the range-topping SUV will only go upward in price, Autocar reports, but the opportunity lies in sprinkling some of its design magic over a new entry-level model. Read More >

By on December 10, 2019

2020 Ford Escape

The Mustang Mach-E isn’t yet available for public consumption, leaving a trio of hybrid SUVs as the brand’s electrified vanguard. For 2020, the Escape returns to its hybrid past, joined by the newly electrified Explorer and its plug-in Lincoln Aviator twin.

EPA figures have been revealed for all of these beasts, so let’s take a look at what gas savings that additional expenditure can get you. Read More >

By on December 10, 2019

Night Court was ranked No. 21 on the Nielsen ratings and Nike execs were contemplating what eventually became the “Bo Knows” campaign when Chrysler’s Ultradrive automatic entered production in Indiana.

Boasting four speeds and a protective limp-home feature soon to be the butt of jokes, Ultradrive was Chrysler’s go-to FWD tranny for many a year. As you read yesterday, the original four-speed version will end production in 2020. Yet memories linger… perhaps even yours. Read More >

By on December 9, 2019

There has been plenty of talk regarding BMW’s plan to gently boost the power figures of select M models. The crossover segment is getting crowded and rival automakers are upping the ante to offer desirable alternatives. Ford’s Edge has often felt a bit too expensive for mainstream tastes but, when optioned correctly, seemed the perfect bargain remedy for BMW’s X3. The 355-hp Edge ST further encouraged this mindset by matching the M40i’s output at a fraction of the price.

It’s hardly the only option, either. Dodge will happily show you a 360-horsepower Durango R/T while Jeep fits you for a Grand Cherokee using the same motor. Regardless of your final decision, both undercut BMW’s pricing by a wide margin — forcing you to spend more if you want comparable might from Germany. As a result, BMW plans to spruce up the powertrains going into the 2020 BMW X3 and X4 M40i xDrive.   Read More >

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