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By on November 16, 2019

2018 Ford F150 assembly line -Image: Ford

Avoiding the six-week strike that marked the end of contract negotiations between the UAW and General Motors, unionized workers at Ford ratified a four-year labor deal on Friday by a fairly narrow margin.

Roughly 55,000 UAW-affiliated Ford workers voted 56.3 percent in favor of the new deal, which carries many of the benefits secured through the earlier GM contract. It’s on to Fiat Chrysler after this. Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

autonomous hardware

The terminology surrounding self-driving technologies and advanced driving aids has started to earn quite a bit of criticism in the wake of publicized crashes and growing outcry from consumer advocacy groups. For years, the industry has treated all assistance technologies as equal — placing everything on a sliding scale developed by SAE International.

It’s actually a good metric if you’re familiar with SAE’s autonomous ranking system. But to a layperson the differences between SAE Level 2 and 5 don’t mean a whole lot, despite offering completely different experiences. Automakers also have terms of their own, some of which could easily lead customers to believe their products are far more capable than reality allows.

Automotive News recently published an op-ed calling for clarity, and it was so good, we felt inclined to share.  Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

Image: Audi

Eleven months after making interim CEO Bram Schot a permanent fixture in the big chair, Audi AG’s board has found someone else to lead the luxury brand.

Markus Duesmann, a mechanical engineer who served as BMW’s board member in charge of purchasing until his contract ran out in September, will take over from Schot on April 1st, 2020. Schot has apparently decided to leave Volkswagen Group at the end of March “by best mutual agreement.” He got the job after his predecessor, Rupert Stadler, was arrested for suspected involvement in the company’s diesel emissions scandal. Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

Volkswagen Group has decided to increase spending on the development of electric and digital technologies over the next five years to 60 billion euros ($66 billion USD). The automaker estimated the revised strategy amounts to slightly more than 40 percent of its investments in property, plant and equipment, and all research and development costs during the planning period.

Of that sum, 33 billion euros are expected to go directly toward the development of new electric vehicles. The increase allocates roughly €12 billion annually for hybridization, electric mobility and digitalization. The old plan set aside 8.8 billion euros per year. Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

You would think that I would know better by now, right? That after literally years of doing this whole “What Car Should I Buy” thing (which sounds a lot like the name of a series on a competing blog that started after “Ask Bark” become the most widely read feature at TTAC), that I would realize people always take immense amounts of my time and virtually never follow my advice. But when I had a close friend ask me for help with buying a car for his wife, I mean, of course I said that I’d help. As I recently saw a fellow automotive writer say, I guess I’m a “gluten for punishment.”

Sounds painful.

Not because I actually expected them to take my advice, of course, but because this was going to be a chance to actually negotiate a deal in person. And if there’s one thing Ol’ Bark loves, it’s going toe-to-toe with a car dealer — it’s literally my favorite thing to do. Since I’m not planning to buy a car any time soon, this would be the next best thing.

So here’s the situation: my friend got married a couple of years ago to a young lady from his home country of Colombia, who is relatively new to the States and doesn’t have much credit history. Unfortunately, prior to this, my friend had also gone through a nasty divorce which caused him to declare a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, so they were in a bit of a pickle when it came to financing. They had bought an older Nissan Versa for cash last year, but the transmission was on its last legs, and the cost of fixing the car would have been 2-3 times the actual value. Buying that car had eaten up nearly all of their cash on hand, so they needed to find a cheap, cheerful, and reliable car that would allow her to build up some credit history and also provide solid transportation — all for less than $250 a month.

Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

2018 Buick Regal TourXRecently I reached out to you, dear readers, for some suggestions on replacing a 2012 Subaru Outback. The wagon has occupied my driveway for the past two years, but, for reasons outlined previously, it’s time for it to go. My initial idea for a replacement was a Kia Niro, but that didn’t seem like it was going to pan out. So I turned to the real experts around here.

Comments poured in, and four suggestions were clear. Let’s narrow things down a bit.

Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

At a private event in Rome this week, Ferrari introduced its newest model — the Roma. Described by Ferrari Commercial Director Enrico Galliera as an automobile for “people who would like to drive a sports car, or a Ferrari, but are a little bit afraid of Ferrari and sportscars,” it boasts one of the worst marketing taglines imaginable.

It also has a key fob that’s embarrassing to carry around — assuming shame is an emotion still within your repertoire.

While high-performance exotics aren’t widely known for being tasteful, Ferrari has always had a thin veneer of respectability brands like Lamborghini lacked. Owning one gave off the impression that you might have a mild appreciation for brand heritage or some interest in motorsport. At the very least, the prevailing prejudices would presume you were a probably a car snob with strong opinions and nuanced tastes.

Unfortunately, the Roma (Rome) and its gaudy key are helping to dissipate that formerly effective illusion.  Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

1992 Cadillac Brougham Emblem, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The past 24 hours has been all about electric propulsion and domestic nameplates, and this tidbit is right up the same street.

Hot on the heels of General Motors’ ratified UAW contract, in which the automaker pledges to keep its once-endangered Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant open, an automotive forecaster claims there’s more product headed to that facility than initially thought. Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

1979 Lincoln Continental Bill Blass Edition Profile, Image: © Forest Casey

Despite what the media tells us, kids have a lot of dumb ideas. That said, plenty of youngins possess a wit and canniness that defies their years, sometimes — perhaps even often — making them better company than obnoxious know-it-alls in their 20s.

I used to babysit a coworker’s son by taking him to the bar, so these sentiments come from experience.

Thinking back to one’s own childhood, it’s often embarrassing to recall the things we believed at the time; things that the march of time revealed to be untrue. In regard to the automotive realm, what beliefs did a younger you hold as an unshakable truth? Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

TTAC Commentator MacMcMacmac writes:

Good day Sajeev,

I am contemplating doing something I never thought I would… buying a GM product. A used GM! I have recently negotiated the purchase of a home which will result in me commuting roughly 30 km to work, one-way. Now, that doesn’t seem like a whole lot, considering it will be mostly highway, but it is roughly 10 times as long as my current commute. My 2009 Focus is getting shabby, and although it has proven to be exceptionally reliable, age and road salt is taking its toll on the bodywork. So in light of this, I have decided it is time to find my next vehicle.

I was positively inclined toward the Cruze as soon as it came out. When I read its diesel made not a whole lot less torque than my old 5.0 LX, I was shocked. For me, the gutlessness of four-cylinder engines is something that truly destroys the enjoyability of any vehicle afflicted with one. I guess that old 302 loping down the road spoiled me for effortless engine response, despite it being nothing special nowadays in terms of output.

I am thinking this 2.0 turbo oil burner might provide the best of both worlds at a reasonable buy-in. Do you or anyone on the board have any experience with the Cruze Diesel in terms or reliability, durability and general liveability? This would break my streak of buying five Ford products in a row. The Cruze Diesel in question is a 2014 with 80K, no rust, leather, yadda-yadda….The diesel engine premium seems to have been eaten by the first owner, as the price seems in line with gas Cruzes of the same age.

Has this engine/transmission proven reliable over the long haul?

Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

Mach E

Your humble editor made a beeline for In N’ Out Burger upon landing at LAX, as Midwesterners are wont to do, and while I munched on my meal, I discovered via the Twitterverse that the details of the Ford Mustang Mach E, which I am about to see up close tomorrow, were leaked. Spoiled, like a Hollywood movie on Reddit.

Ford flew media out to the Los Angeles Auto Show early so that we could spend time with the Mach E, all for some enterprising forum user to leak the info before showtime.

To be fair, the specs could be inaccurate, or could change. But here’s what hit the Web earlier tonight, thanks to the Mach E Forum.

Read More >

By on November 14, 2019

Image: GM

A new report from Edmunds tries to make a case against Ford and General Motors placing their small- and medium-sized cars on an iceberg and setting it adrift. We don’t even need to see the metrics to agree. Ditching cars for higher-margin crossovers and SUVs always seemed a little short-sighted. Without entry-level models, you’re likely to get fewer entry-level (i.e. new) customers, and several of the models axed from North American lineups happened to be the most enjoyable to drive.

Selfishly, we like to see plenty of variety among mainstream brands.

Edmunds’ concern isn’t so much about Ford and GM losing money; rather, it’s more about the automakers setting themselves up for failure further down the line. The analysis revealed that 42 percent of Cruze and Focus owners are choosing to stay in the passenger car segment, rather than spending a little (or lot) more to purchase crossovers and SUVs. Meanwhile, 23 percent of Cruze owners and 31 percent of Focus owners who traded in their car in 2019 ended up buying something similar from a competing automakerRead More >

By on November 14, 2019

gm

A new Buick arrives from across the Pacific early next year, and it may be priced in a manner that relegates the hot-selling Encore to the runner-up spot.

The Encore GX, which aims to split the size difference between Encore and Envision, may be larger than its subcompact sibling, but it sheds one cylinder beneath its hood. It also doesn’t add much in the way of cost, pricing guides reveal. Read More >

By on November 14, 2019

On Thursday, Daimler made an announcement confirming earlier reports that it plans to cut roughly ten percent of its management staff as part of a broader restructuring plan. Financial hardship has become a sign of the times for the auto industry. Most sizable manufacturers are coming off an investment spree aimed at developing new-energy vehicles, autonomous driving systems, and connected services. Unfortunately, those commitments came at roughly the same time the world’s largest auto markets started to collectively plateau.

A broad approach no longer seems feasible for all but the absolute largest automakers on the planet. We’ve seen many attempt to downsize through restructuring or by entering inte partnerships with other firms to share costs — sometimes both. Knowing this as well as anyone, Daimler issued two profit warnings this year as Mercedes-Benz was fined $960 million in an emissions-cheating settlement while hemorrhaging cash through EV investments.  Read More >

By on November 14, 2019

UAW

They’re not calling it that, but we are. The United Auto Workers, rocked by scandal and indictments stemming from an ongoing federal corruption probe, is embarking on a serious clean-up operation in a bid to maintain its autonomy.

Under the direction of Acting President Rory Gamble, the union has outlined a series of reforms intended to keep the federal government from stepping in and grabbing the tiller. Read More >

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