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By on February 18, 2020

Image: Porsche AG

While car fires may not be commonplace, they still happen. Your author saw a Buick Century burning itself into nothing along the West Side Highway not more than three months ago. Local media referenced it as the probable cause for midday delays, but it would have earned its own story had it been a rarer model.

Exotics and electrics garner headlines when they do their best impression of kindling; regular cars only get attention when they’re catching fire en masse. In addition to the warm feeling one gets when learning a car they can’t afford has destroyed itself, there are loads of people who are curious about the dependability of burgeoning technologies. Hypercars are often on the bleeding edge of available tech and are assembled in low volumes. As a result, eyebrows are raised anytime one goes up in smoke for no apparent reason.

Electrics vehicles are in a similar situation. Reportedly poised to take over the world someday, they’ve yet to saturate the market and still stand out wherever they’re parked. Battery fires, which offer the departments tasked with fighting them new challenges, have also become a point of interest after a batch of EVs in Asia turned up the heatRead More >

By on February 18, 2020

Despite the reborn Aviator stumbling out of the gate this past summer, the Lincoln brand otherwise had a good year. Sales rose 8.3 percent in 2019, making it the best year for the resurgent brand since 2007.

Lincoln brass see an even better year ahead, projecting a retail sales bump of 20 percent. Read More >

By on February 18, 2020

Tesla Model S sales have taken a backseat to the electric sedan’s hot-selling Model 3 sibling, but the model remains a valuable asset for the automaker. For one thing, it offers the most range of any Tesla vehicle. Now, buyers of both the Model S and X can expect greater driving distances, all thanks to a product upgrade added several months ago.

Real-world range is another matter, and on that front there’s reason for Porsche Taycan buyers to smile. Read More >

By on February 18, 2020

Last week, Renault reported its first significant loss in a decade (€141 million) and a 3.3-percent decline in annual sales for 2019. It now expects a flat 2020 and claims it needs to commit itself to a €2 billion restructuring program over the next three years. Alliance partner Nissan also anticipates a weak year, and is doubling down on its own restructuring efforts by showcasing an eagerness to do whatever it takes to restore profitability.

However, the French government wants Renault to slow down and think about things before it starts shuttering local factories. Owner of a 15-percent stake in the automaker, it doesn’t wish to see its investment doing anything embarrassing. As such, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned the company to be exceedingly careful with how it handles business in France, urging it to avoid any measures that might negatively impact domestic employment rates.  Read More >

By on February 18, 2020

2019 Honda Odyssey - Image: HondaSales of minivans in the United States in 2019 plunged below Great Recession levels as every member of the existing quintet reported sharp year-over-year declines.

The 408,982 sales produced by the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, and Toyota Sienna in calendar year 2019 were a far cry from the 1.1 million sales produced by the sector in 2005, or even the 553,506 sold three years ago. But after hovering just below or above 3 percent of the market for half a dozen years, and after overall volume showed signs of recuperation through the middle half of the last decade, the segment’s 2019 collapse suggests we haven’t reached bottom yet.

At the current rate of decline, America won’t even acquire 300,000 minivans next year.

It’s a shame.  Read More >

By on February 18, 2020

2019 Nissan Kicks badge

Dismally poor performance in a key market has left Nissan’s freshly minted CEO, Makoto Uchida, with no other option than to cut deeper.

Already, the struggling automaker’s North American arm has faced a workforce furlough, severe restrictions on travel, pared-down build configurations on new models, and a host of other cost-cutting efforts, but the present situation calls for more.

Replying to angry shareholders in Japan, Uchida promised to be merciless. Read More >

By on February 18, 2020

A Cadillac crossover that heralds a slew of other electric models will make its public debut in April, Cadillac executives told dealers on Monday. The meet-up, reported by Automotive News, comes as General Motors readies a surge of EVs over the next few years. Cadillac will play a major role in that product transition.

Per that same meeting, Cadillac’s dealer council has created a subcommittee made up of dealers and brand execs to help smooth the entry of gas-free product. Read More >

By on February 18, 2020

Sometimes the toy in the window is just a little too dear for the parent of a young child. Fast-forward a few decades and the shiny thing on the dealership floor is priced just north of what that same kid’s wallet can handle. Such is life.

But what if you and the OEM were able to strike a compromise — a reduction in power for a fairly significant drop in price? Read More >

By on February 18, 2020

True to form, Fiat Chrysler has attempted to keep the Chrysler 300 relevant by offering rolling paint and package options. With sales bottoming out at 29,213 U.S. deliveries in 2019, the model is likely not long for this world. However, that’s hardly a good reason for the manufacturer to abate the time-honored tradition of trying to seduce a few more customers through new upholstery and some distinctive badging — both of which will be available for purchase in 2020, in addition to the obligatory paint updates.

Chrysler’s sizable sedan also sees price increases nearly across the board. While you’ll hardly notice the difference on most rear-drive trims, all-wheel drive models tack on an additional $250-370 against last year’s pricing. Think of it as an opportunity to further sharpen your negotiating skills, something we imagine your local dealership will be expecting you to do anyway.

If you want the big discounts, try to find holdovers from the 2019 model year. If you want the latest appearances packages that’ll guarantee you have the freshest 300 from the factory, read on.  Read More >

By on February 17, 2020

BMW had a decent 2019, besting historic rival Mercedes-Benz with 324,826 U.S. deliveries — a 4.4-percent improvement over the previous year. The brand expects more good news in 2020 as new product begins to hit its stride and more models start arriving. While the company currently enjoys an almost even sales breakdown between cars and crossovers, BMW National Dealer Forum Chairman Patrick Womack said its Westernmost offerings could be further refined.

U.S. dealers want a sumptuous German wagon to compete with European marques already providing one. Read More >

By on February 17, 2020

Kia

Kia Motors has revealed the next-generation Sorento ahead of its global debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, providing a better look at the midsize crossover than the spy shots that recently emerged from Korea.

Compared to the current-gen model, which delights in its approachable blandness, the new Sorento aims for a brawnier look. Recent CUV introductions — like the 2019 RAV4, for example — are proof of the industry’s belief that family-minded car buyers still want to be notice… and feared.

In Kia’s case, the Sorento’s design team may have gone too far in some regards. Or maybe they went just far enough. Read More >

By on February 17, 2020

Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China, the Beijing auto show has reportedly been postponed. While the event was supposed to take place at the end of April, making its yearly trade with the similarly biannual Shanghai trade show, organizers have decided it’s not worth the risk.

Over 70,000 people have reportedly contracted the virus thus far, with the death toll estimated to be somewhere around 1,700. The White House recently said it did not have “high confidence in the information coming out of China,” estimating higher figures. Travel and shipping bans further complicate the matter. Germany’s Automobilwoche said exhibitors wouldn’t be able to ship displays into the country anyway, referencing health notices sent to global logistics organization CIETC.  Read More >

By on February 17, 2020

GM Thailand

The news that General Motors will exile Holden to the Island of Lost Brands overshadows changes set to occur elsewhere in the world, all part of the automaker’s plan to cut costs via a streamlined global footprint.

China, despite its current problems, is still seen as a market with great growth potential, but the same can’t be said for another Asian nation. Read More >

By on February 17, 2020

2021 Kia Seltos

We all know what happens to you and me when we assume, and a lot of folks will assume the 2021 Kia Seltos shares its bones with the also-new Hyundai Venue.

I know I did, and when I questioned Hyundai to fact-check myself, I didn’t get a clear answer (as the two companies tend to silo their information from one another).

The assumption that the Seltos is just a re-boxed Venue is wrong. The Seltos, despite playing in the same class as the Venue and being similar in size, is actually based on a different Hyundai – the Kona.

Yes, the Kona that I mostly like (in top-trim form) and Bark ripped (in lower trim) to shreds. The same Kona that Chris also dinged for pricing problems.

Not that you’d know it from looking at it. The Seltos has a busier, more futuristic look than the Kona, although it doesn’t have the latter’s odd headlight placement. Like the Venue, it offers two-tone styling, and at first glance it looks more like the boxy Venue than the wedge-shaped Kona.

Hence, the assumptions.

Read More >

By on February 17, 2020

Image: Ford

Dealers privy to Ford’s launch plans claim the coming of spring will bring about the reveal of two Bronco-badged vehicles. One of those public debuts is the moment Blue Oval aficionados have waited decades for.

According to dealers who spoke to Automotive News in the wake of last weekend’s NADA Show in Las Vegas, Ford plans to reveal the Bronco and lookalike unibody Bronco Sport in March and April, respectively, assigning the two nameplates a considerable amount of projected volume. Read More >

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