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By on August 23, 2019

The United Automobile Workers are tallying strike votes as union leadership decides which contract terms are worth fighting over. While this is par for the course in any contract negotiation with General Motors, Ford, or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, this year’s talks have been mired in scandal and economic uncertainty.

Despite the continued strength of the U.S. economy, the automotive industry has been busily preparing itself for a global recession — encouraging quite a bit of restructuring over the past year. Meanwhile, the UAW finds itself the subject of a federal corruption probe that has severely undermined its credibility. We know that at least one automaker, Fiat Chrysler, was actively bribing union officials. Following the recent conviction of the former head of the union’s FCA Department, Norwood Jewell, General Motors has also been implicatedRead More >

By on August 23, 2019

On Friday, Volkswagen Group announced the recall of 679,000 U.S. vehicles that could roll away due to an electrical problem. Apparently, silicate buildup can accumulate on the shift lever micro switch and trick the car into thinking the vehicle is in park.

As a result, some customers might be able to remove their key before the car has actually been made stationary — creating problems among the highly inattentive. Read More >

By on August 23, 2019

Image: Lexus

The Lexus GS, a midsize, rear-drive sports sedan that first rode into the North American market in 1993, is today a slow-selling model in danger of discontinuation.

For 2020, one member of the GS lineup will indeed bite the dust. Read More >

By on August 23, 2019

With Mercedes-Benz already offering illuminated badges as a factory option, we knew it was only a matter of time before BMW responded. According to Bimmerpostdealerships will soon offer “Chrome Iconic Glow Kidney Grilles” as an option.

The accessory is exactly what it sounds like. BMW either looks to be trying to steal a bit of Mercedes’ thunder or this is a touching tribute to Mercury vehicles from the early 1990s. Obviously, we’re hoping it’s the latter scenario.  Read More >

By on August 23, 2019

Image: Volkswagen 2017 e-Golf VW

It’s become something of a fascination for this writer: scrutinizing the latest car commercial to earn the wrath of Britain’s all-seeing Advertising Standards Authority — an ominous and monolithic-sounding name if there ever was one.

One assumes there’s a moisture-stained, Brutalist-style concrete structure dedicated to preserving the sensibilities of UK viewing audiences somewhere in the greater London area. Bureaucrats and other pencil-pushers file in after abandoning their Austin Allegras and Morris Marinas in a rain-soaked parking lot, umbrellas in hand.

Having said that, let’s move on to the latest car company to run afoul of the UK ad cops: Volkswagen. Read More >

By on August 23, 2019

Earlier this summer, Acura and Team Penske invited me to Road America to watch them test their ARX-05 racecar in advance of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series race.

After I left, I thought I was done with on-site coverage – I figured I’d write my story and have it go live the day after the race, so I could include the results.

I was wrong.

Read More >

By on August 23, 2019

BMW Spartanburg Assembly Plant Factory

The trade war between the United States and China heated up again Friday, with the People’s Republic pulling a U-turn on its treatment of U.S.-built vehicles. Come mid-December, China will hit inbound U.S. vehicles with a 25-percent tariff. Auto parts will see a 5-percent tariff.

The new — well, resurrected — auto tariffs are a reactionary measure, coming after U.S. President Donald Trump proposed, then delayed, the levying of a 10-percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods. While some import taxes will hit in September, the full range of tariffs is expected to come into effect on December 15th. China’s auto tariffs, first levied last year and lifted earlier this year as an olive branch gesture, are part of a larger raft of tariffs impacting $75 billion of U.S. goods. A 5- to 10-percent tariff hits non-auto U.S. goods on September 1st.

It’s no wonder every automaker wants to build Chinese-market vehicles within that country’s borders. Read More >

By on August 23, 2019

Image: GM

Aside from Tesla fans and aficionados of various European exotics still stuck in development, the chief performance spec that concerns most electric vehicle buyers is not acceleration — it’s range. How many miles will this thing go before stranding me in the dark?

For most buyers on the lower end of things, getting maximum miles for your money is top of mind, and Chevrolet’s Bolt has offered an impressive EPA-rated range of 238 miles since it first rolled off lots in December 2016. Apparently, GM felt that wasn’t enough. Read More >

By on August 23, 2019

If you’re any kind of a car enthusiast, or you just think the personal automobile is a terrific transportation device, this news has got to be chilling. The cross-party Science and Technology Select Committee of Parliament has issued a report that says that if the United Kingdom is to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, private automobile and truck ownership must end.

Oh, and if you think your morally pure Tesla or some other EV is going to protect your privilege for personal transportation, no, the environmental Jacobins are coming for all privately operated motor vehicles. Read More >

By on August 23, 2019

TTAC Commentator haroldhill writes:

Dear Sajeev,

My wife is driving (and loving) her 2009 MINI Cooper which has been a delight and remarkably trouble-free for 10 years. However, it recently developed a problem which has befuddled us and our highly reputable independent mechanic as well.

Under certain conditions the engine stumbles, feeling somewhat like an erratic misfire on one cylinder or fuel starvation; however, the stumbling vanishes when accelerator load is increased. The required conditions are: fully warmed up (10-15 minutes of driving), engine speed between 2700 and 3300 rpm, and light throttle appropriate to steady cruising. The stumbling will eventually bring on the “check engine” light and a P115C error code (Mass Air Flow).

If the engine is turned off for a few minutes (e.g. for a highway rest stop) the stumbling will disappear and won’t reappear until the car has been driven for another ten minutes, suggesting the fault is something remote enough from the engine that it can cool substantially in five minutes. After a few uneventful driving cycles, of course, the “check engine” light turns itself off. Thanks for nothing. On the other hand, this would be how I got it through emissions inspection…

Thus far the Mass Air Flow Meter has been replaced twice and the Throttle Body once. The latter seemed to help for awhile but I can’t be sure because it’s only recently that I’ve pinned down the exact conditions that will reliably bring this problem on. My wife, who does most of the driving, is a bit of a leadfoot and generally has much less trouble with this stumbling.

Our wonderful mechanic would appreciate any ideas or suggestions.

Read More >

By on August 22, 2019

On Saturday, Nissan’s North American dealerships found themselves with a problem. A power outage at the automaker’s data center in Denver disabled a system dealers use to order vehicles, procure parts, check on recall statuses, obtain rebate information, and file warranty claims. As a result, the manufacturer’s communications in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico were disrupted. “Some of our dealer business applications have run in a reduced capacity using manual processing,” Nissan said on Wednesday.

Dealers were not pleased. Read More >

By on August 22, 2019

With BMW and Daimler already getting cosy via their autonomous vehicle partnership, the duo plans on bringing self-driving (SAE Level 4) tech to the masses by 2024. While other automakers have promised more advanced autonomy on a shorter timeline, the reality of the situation is that true self-driving capabilities are proving difficult and expensive to produce. By partnering up, the Germans believe they can continue their quest while sharing the financial burden of development.

The more the merrier, apparently. According to Germany’s Wirtschaftswoche, Audi will be the next guest to arrive at the party. Daimler and BMW’s previous release stipulated that the pair would focus on the joint development of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways, and automated parking — with the goal of seeing those technologies adapted for passenger vehicles by 2024.  Read More >

By on August 22, 2019

We talked up the amazingly real Toyota Avalon TRD recently, making note of its lofty, second-from-the-top price point, but now the second TRD sedan shoe has dropped.

According to pricing guides seen by CarsDirect, those of you salivating at the thought of taking a Camry to the next level — and frankly, who isn’t — can expect to pay significantly less for the smaller of Toyota’s two testosterone-fueled sedans. Five figures less. Read More >

By on August 22, 2019

Hyundai is bringing a retro-future concept vehicle to the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. Called the 45, the car appears to be an electrified hatchback and has the stated mission of helping the brand shape future EV designs. While we’ve only seen a single teaser image of the model thus far, we like where this is heading.

The automaker says the 45 was “inspired by looking back at the brand’s first model in the 1970s,” meaning the Ford Cortina is (and probably always was) off the table. The South Korean manufacturer is likely referencing the rear-drive Pony subcompact. It certainly appears to be the correct shape and the taillight location is similar enough for us not to rule it out. However, the total package seems to be more inspired by the DeLorean DMC-12 and 1980s concepts like the Citroën Karin or Ford Maya.  Read More >

By on August 22, 2019

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess shot down rumors of a potential investment in electric car maker Tesla on Thursday, shortly after a German magazine claimed the VW boss was hot for the idea.

Manager Magazin, whose English translation is unknown, reported that the American automaker’s battery and software prowess had Diess thinking of a share buy, with an unnamed VW manager claiming the CEO “would go in right away if he could.” Read More >

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