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By on August 3, 2020

2020 Mazda CX-30 profile

The not-quite-subcompact CX-30 arrived at just the right time for Mazda, appearing at the tail end of what had been a grim 2019 for Mazda. Just as sales of the new tweener crossover matured, the pandemic hit.

As volumes struggle to regain potency across the industry, the new arrival in the Mazda stable helped the automaker post back-to-back monthly sales increase in June and July, replacing volume lost among the brand’s passenger cars — and then some. Read More >

By on August 3, 2020

Last week, New Hampshire became the first state to grant flying cars access to public roadways, despite the fact that they don’t currently exist.

That said, House Bill 1182 only references “roadable aircraft,” with an aim to establish a commission to study the on-road usage of non-traditional motor vehicles. While flying cars remain anchored to our collective imagination, airplanes that can be rigged to drive on public roads technically already exist.

New Hampshire is just attempting to give them some leeway via the bill while also slipping in some new laws making it easier to revoke licenses if someone ever refuses to take a blood test, as well as withholding motor vehicle registration renewal privileges to anybody found driving in a “manner that evades toll collection.” There are also numerous revisions to construction projects related to tolling within the state. You didn’t think Bill 1182 would just be about establishing inspection and registration requirements for flying cars, did you?
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By on August 3, 2020

hyundai

If you’re like this writer, you pine for the long-ago days when walking into a bar only carried the risk of embarrassing inebriation and possibly violent confrontation, not a viral infection that could leave any of us on gasping on life support. We all wish things were normal.

While the coronavirus hasn’t cleared out,  you wouldn’t know that looking at Hyundai’s U.S. sales tally for July. The automaker raised eyebrows and bucked the industry trend by posting a year-over year gain last month. Read More >

By on August 3, 2020

Today’s Rare Ride popped up on the Internet recently, hailing from the archive of Long Forgotten Concept Cars. This particular concept happens to be a high-riding off-road cabriolet, created from a Frankenstein-like amalgam of Mercedes-Benz parts and custom fabrications by French alteration firm Heuliez.

Buckle up — it’s gonna get weird.

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By on August 3, 2020

Jaguar Land Rover has increased its savings target for the year to $3.3 billion (£2.5 billion) following a $540 million (£413 million) pre-tax loss for the quarter ending in June. Losses are hardly uncommon within an industry shaken by the pandemic, but JLR went into this year already confronting an uphill battle.

In 2019, the company was deep in the midst of a restructuring plan aiming at $2.5 billion in life-sustaining savings. Unfortunately, the move required the elimination of thousands of positions as it tried to imagine the effects of Brexit and contend with falling sales in its largest markets. That includes China, which the firm assumed would offer continued growth in the months leading up to coronavirus’ big debut and increasing political tensions between the Communist Party of China and United Kingdom. Read More >

By on August 3, 2020

Image: Nissan

Nissan’s future will not see it become everything to everyone, and certainly not in all markets. The 2010s, and the market share-chasing, globe-straddling expansionism that characterized that decade’s car-buying orgy, are violently over.

Also soon to be over, apparently, is the Nissan Maxima’s gasoline-powered powertrain. Read More >

By on August 3, 2020

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was on top of his game during an interview with Automotive News last week. By that, we mean his ego and various personality quirks came through like a shaft of sunlight parting a fog bank.

Musk announced during the talk that his company performed no customer research before designing and revealing the polarizing and still-not-clearly-legal Cybertruck to would-be buyers, laughing at the idea. If folks don’t like it, he said, there’s a plan. Read More >

By on August 3, 2020

Lordstown Motors

The question of how fledgling EV maker Lordstown Motors plans to fund production of the Endurance pickup has been answered. On Monday, the owner of GM’s former Lordstown Assembly plant announced a merger with a blank-check company, with a cash-raising NASDAQ listing as its goal.

Lordstown Motors plans to finalize the merger with DiamondPeak Holdings Corp., which is already listed on the NASDAQ, by the fourth quarter of this year — after which the combined entity will carry the symbol “RIDE.” Read More >

By on August 3, 2020

2005 Volvo S60 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’ve documented 60 discarded Volvos since I started my junkyard history project, but 58 of those Swedes were born in the 20th century, and 44 of those rolled off the assembly line before 1990. Just as I’ve done with BMWs in recent years, I’m going to try to document some of Göteborg’s (and maybe Hangzhou’s) newer products in my favorite kind of car museum.

Here’s a Ghent-built S60 with a super-rare three-pedal setup, found in a Denver self-service yard. Read More >

By on August 1, 2020

Quite suddenly, large electric pickups have become the hottest thing you can’t yet buy. But they’re out there, looming, just waiting to see whether demand for this embyonic segment materializes.

Ford, General Motors, Rivian, Tesla, and Lordstown Motors all have a stake in the game, with the next two years promising to reveal exactly how much pent-up thirst exists for these battery-bound behemoths. Watching from the sidelines is Fiat Chrysler, an automaker whose historical aversion to EVs is a matter of record.

Not surprisingly, FCA plans to take a wait-and-see approach. Read More >

By on July 31, 2020

With regulatory bodies the world over forcing the automotive sector to prioritize efficiency over mightiness, industry rhetoric has gradually shifted away from the powertrain. While every brand still wants to squeeze out all available power from ubiquitous four-cylinder motors, providing excess is only a priority in a handful of cases catering directly to enthusiasts.

The idea of a big, brutish luxury car with a monstrous engine still exists, but it’s being supplanted by technology-driven features catering to tech-focused minds and the green movement. Modern luxury is based in connectivity, applications, and distancing one from the experience of driving altogether  or at least that’s what the automotive industry now seems to believe.

And they may have a point. While we’re well aware those advocating “mobility” desperately want it so that they can tap into your data (to enhance revenue using the same grimy business tactics favored by big tech firms), carmakers also need something shiny to dangle in front of consumers so we’ll buy the latest and greatest product. The tech sector is also booming right now, and the industry’s dying to get investors back on its side after seeing the Wall Street performance of EV companies  especially Tesla Motors.

Even the traditionalists at Toyota are buying into it, announcing an important push into software development as they attempt to craft the next industry-standard operating system for cars. It’s also the song Volkswagen Group has sung ever since Dieselgate. Meanwhile, Audi recently explained its own commitment to software after its parent company (VW) tasked it with ensuring the botched launches of the ID.3 and Mk8 Golf don’t become commonplace.

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By on July 31, 2020

This isn’t the first time we’ve learned of an “all hands on deck” situation taking place at a U.S. assembly plant. Recall this report from earlier this month, in which sources claimed managers and other white-collar employees hit the floor at General Motors truck plants in a bid to cover absent workers.

It was inevitable, given the reality facing companies hoping to maintain full production amid a viral pandemic. The latest report comes out of Marysville, Ohio — home to an enormous Honda assembly operation. Seems even accountants had to don hardhats. Read More >

By on July 31, 2020

The automotive industry has borrowed an estimated $132 billion since the world started taking the coronavirus more seriously, according to a recent analysis by Bloomberg.

Despite migrating around the planet months before anyone thought to close down a single airport or suggest masks were necessary, March is broadly viewed as the start of the pandemic in the Western World, as that’s when most governments started taking direct action and businesses started looking for handouts. Still, it’s exceptionally difficult to follow the money if you didn’t devote yourself entirely to the task of tracking payments while under shelter-in-place orders.

We do know that a lot of money was being thrown around, however. Car dealerships were among the largest recipients of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds in the United States, garnering anywhere from $7.5 billion to $12 billion in government aid to maintain staff. Plenty of criticism over exactly where that money went arose as the press questioned which businesses were more deserving and who was just taking advantage of the system.

But it’s only the tip of the iceberg. PPP funds don’t need to repaid unless they weren’t earmarked entirely for payroll purposes; the government also used the program to send over $600 billion to support banks in extending low-interest loans to companies during the pandemic. The automotive industry was one of the largest beneficiaries of that arrangement.

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By on July 31, 2020

Rare Rides has featured many an Alfa Romeo in past editions, but none as new as today’s 8C. With its very striking design, a limited manufacturing run, and a very high price when new, the low-slung coupe was instantly rare. A daring coupe from a small Italian manufacturer.

Let’s go.

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By on July 31, 2020

2020 Jeep Gladiator MojaveJeep sent me a desert-running rig, and I took it to the grocery store.

Let’s back up a bit. Jeep introduced the Gladiator Mojave at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, with the intent of this trim being meant for blasts across the desert, while still being as capable as any Gladiator, if not more so, on a rocky trail.

I was all set to join others in the automotive media on a junket to drive the Mojave, almost certainly in the actual desert, in Southern California this spring. Then the world shut down.

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