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By on February 25, 2020

While many are still under the impression that Chinese automakers will never manage to wrangle the North American automotive market, Geely’s ownership of Volvo Cars and Polestar has already proven them wrong. The Chinese manufacturer purchased Volvo in 2010, with savory bodywork and sumptuous interiors doing much of the heavy lifting with consumers. Performance-focused Polestar wasn’t purchased until a few years later, but the theme remained largely the same — move toward electrification, don’t forget about safety, and try to build the sexiest car possible while maintaining an aura of respectability.

So far, it’s worked rather well. Polestar is now eager to drive that message home via its new Precept concept vehicle. The company claims the car reveals “a vision of the brand’s future direction and a clear expression of intent.” Since we’re fluent in marketing speak, we’re pleased to tell you that sentence is not entirely meaningless.  Read More >

By on February 25, 2020

The National Safety Council just released its estimates for U.S. roadway fatalities in 2019, and there’s good news to share. Deaths declined for the second consecutive year. According to the NSC, traffic fatalities reached an estimated 38,800 last year, representing a 2-percent decline from 2018 and and a 4-percent decline against 2017.

While the NSC said the decline came “after several years of spikes,” we found the claim to be mildly misleading. Even though 2015 and 2016 posted meaningful increases in roadway deaths, safer streets have been in fashion since the 1970s. Most years since then have resulted in fewer crashes, with sporadic bad periods sprinkled throughout. If you’re interested in some supporting data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. roadway fatalities per 100,000 people averaged around 26.01 in 1972. That figure fell to just 10.28 by 2014, with the combined 2015-2016 increases bumping it up to just 11.59 per 100,000 people.  Read More >

By on February 25, 2020

As we told you last week, the rampaging coronavirus outbreak and subsequent restrictions on movement has forced Chinese automakers to use technology in new ways. With sales plunging and millions barred indoors, auto giant Geely turned to online retailing, allowing customers to order and configure cars from home. The automaker even allowed for test drives to take place at the buyer’s residence.

One aspect of the epidemic was the cancellation of a splashy February 14th sales launch for the new Icon small crossover, which hit the market this week. The event may have been scrubbed, but Geely still found a way to use the virus to its advantage.  Read More >

By on February 25, 2020

You may recall the autonomous Linen LEAP shuttle service that launched in Columbus, OH earlier this month. Well, the city placed the program on pause last week because someone fell during an abrupt stop. Smart Columbus, the group responsible for the service, has taken both EasyMile EZ10s off their route for assessment by the manufacturer.

Additional details kept us hip to how the program has done so far. According to local outlet WCMH-TV, the twin shuttles have moved 50 people around the Linden area since launching on February 5th. That averages out to a little more than three riders per day, which we don’t have to tell you isn’t great value for the money when the entire project costs millions. But that was never Smart Columbus’ plan. The intended goal was to connect a subset of carless residents in one neighborhood with essential services and other parts of the city.

That aspect of the scheme hasn’t gone seamlessly, either.  Read More >

By on February 25, 2020

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Give Ford credit – the Blue Oval could, at any time, create a special Mustang Bullitt that’s little more than an appearance package.

Yet, the current Mustang Bullitt, like the one offered a decade ago, isn’t just a GT with cosmetic changes. It’s a certified bruiser that goes as well as it shows.

Read More >

By on February 25, 2020

Image: Lucid Motors

First came the renderings, then the concept car, then the money, then the factory, then the braintrust. Now, Lucid Motors has a supplier to power it all.

On Monday the Silicon Valley electric vehicle startup, which hopes to shake up the premium EV market with its plush and powerful Air sedan, announced a partnership with a trustworthy battery maker. Read More >

By on February 25, 2020

A rocky past year hasn’t dislodged Jim Hackett from his lofty perch in the Glass House, nor does the CEO feel he’s destined for the door. This assertion comes after a dismal earnings report born of recalls, a botched product launch, and ongoing streamlining efforts, the latter of which hasn’t given Ford’s stock the bounce many had hoped for.

Why does Hackett feel so confident? Friendship. Read More >

By on February 25, 2020

If you’ve taken stock of the latest electric vehicles coming out of Germany, you’ll notice a clear trend: they’re not futuristic machines. While the vehicles’ powertrains are unconventional, the bodywork is strictly by-the-book — there’ll be no confusion among onlookers as to what badge belongs on that e-Tron, EQC, or Taycan.

The same can be said for the production-previewing BMW Concept i4 arriving in Geneva on March 3rd. BMW’s first electric sedan (Gran Coupe, per the automaker’s description) is designed to look like a normal higher-end BMW and go like a normal higher-end BMW. The model’s styling and output is no happy accident. Read More >

By on February 25, 2020

Recent subscription-related news arising from the bottom and top ends of the automotive social ladder has this writer thinking about freedom — freedom of choice, of movement, and of personal wealth. Popular topics these days, what with the budding Jacobins burning up Twitter with their guillotine fantasies.

But enough about auto journos.

As automakers dip their toes in the subscription model pool, offering customers not just a vehicle but a whole range of models for a monthly fee, we have to ask: to what OEM would you pay a relatively princely sum in exchange for unlimited vehicle access? Read More >

By on February 24, 2020

Subaru plans on delivering the goods in 2021 when it debuts the next incarnation of its flagship performance model. Rather than incrementally improving the WRX line as it has in the past, Subie looks to be kicking down the stable doors to drag as many horses as possible back to the factory for canning beneath the WRX STI’s hood.

A recent report from Forbes claims Subaru’s engineering team has targeted a minimum of 400 horsepower and 361 lb-ft of torque for the next STI. While the outlet initially referenced the motor as entirely new, it later clarified that it was technically the same 2.4-liter FA24 that currently powers the brand’s Ascent crossover — and was already assumed be adapted for use on the next WRX among those paying close attention. However, it’ll have to undergo quite a bit of work to deliver the figures being claimed.  Read More >

By on February 24, 2020

That feels like an apt description of the print mags found in your average (used) Mercedes-AMG driver’s home, but feel free to disagree and tell us to go back to 2003.

Anyway, as it seeks to tap customers’ wallets in new and exciting ways, Mercedes-Benz has added to its existing Mercedes-Benz Collection vehicle subscription service, offering exclusively AMG-badged vehicles for the first time. Access will not be cheap, nor will it be widespread.  Read More >

By on February 24, 2020

Since you’re probably sick of reading about how the new coronavirus is gradually making its way to your doorstep, we’ll keep this one brief. An outbreak in Italy has thrown the government into action, closing public spaces for one week as 220 more people came down with the illness since Friday.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is similarly hoping to mitigate the spread of the virus by restricting access to its European facilities. A letter issued to suppliers and prospective visitors explains that FCA will refuse anyone who has been in any of the 13 Italian municipalities affected by the virus outbreak — and the same goes if they’ve visited any Asian countries within the last 15 days.  Read More >

By on February 24, 2020

Audi has reportedly paused assembly of its all-electric e-Tron to address production issues that include battery supply bottlenecks. It’s not uncharted territory for the model. Audi had to delay the model’s launch over claimed software changes in 2018, though it was known that corporate parent Volkswagen Group was having trouble with battery supplier LG Chem at the time. Since then, the crossover’s short life has been a well-publicized series of victories and failures.

Outselling rivals like the Jaguar I-Pace by a margin of almost two to one, Audi delivered 5,369 e-Trons in the United States in 2019 despite it not being available for the full year. Competition was closer in Europe, with the Audi still moving in larger volumes. The model also received favorable crash test ratings and was awarded with the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ designation.

However, supply problems never really abated. Every few months brought a new rumor that Audi was suffering from battery shortages, possibly forcing it to idle production. A battery fire scare prompted the factory to voluntarily recall the first batch. While the impact of these issues was rarely as serious as feared, their persistent nature caused many to wonder how ready the industry actually is for the transition to EVs.  Read More >

By on February 24, 2020

Don’t let the title fool you — what we’ve got here is not a Mitsubishi at all, but rather a Hyundai. The late Eighties were confusing times at Mitsubishi, and deals with other OEMs were made left and right.

Today’s Precis is an Excel by any other name.

Read More >

By on February 24, 2020

It’s well established by now that electric driving needn’t be an exercise in sedate tree hugging. Horsepower and performance are just as big a driver in today’s marketplace as the old issue of range, at least according to the minds behind the slew of potent EVs coming down the pipe.

Having just released its Euro-market ID 3 electric hatchback, soon to be followed up by an ID 4 compact crossover and a range of larger models, Volkswagen is considering a sportier application for its dedicated EV architecture. Read More >

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