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By on November 13, 2019

Volkswagen Chattanooga Tower

Volkswagen’s investment into its U.S. manufacturing presence doesn’t end with an expansion of its only domestic assembly plant. The battery packs needed to power a new range of fully electric models will originate at the same site.

The automaker announced the kickoff of construction Wednesday, detailing how it plans to spend its $800 million. Read More >

By on November 13, 2019

fca

The jury’s out on how long we can expect the Fiat brand to linger — on life support — in the North American market, but the coming model year will see an improvement to one Fiat model. A model that hasn’t performed nearly as well as many would have thought.

For 2020, a crossover sharing its underpinnings and drivetrain with the far more popular Jeep Renegade amps up its looks in a bid to get noticed. Read More >

By on November 13, 2019

Depending on where you live, the newest variants of the Toyota Camry and its big brother, the Avalon, may arrive too late to help you conquer any wintry weather. This winter, anyway. Slated to arrive in North American markets starting early next spring, the two sedans boast something unfamiliar to owners of these long-running models: All-wheel drive.

In an announcement that took many by surprise, the automaker claims these new AWD sedans can thank the new-for-2019 RAV4 for their existence. A little engineering work later, and here we are. The 29-year drought of AWD Camrys has ended. Read More >

By on November 13, 2019

Image: Ford Expedition Funkmaster Flex EditionBad product decisions cost auto manufacturers money, yet history provides us with many such examples. In today’s QOTD, we’re going to consider the best of the worst in poor automotive decision making. Present or past, anything goes in today’s inquiry. What vehicle makes you really wonder “what were they thinking?”

Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

best performance tires

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


Yes, yes — we’re aware of the date on the calendar. While most of the East Coast is getting buried in snow, the middle part of the country is enduring untold misery falling from the sky, and the less said about road conditions in high elevations, the better.

Like time and gas from last night’s tacos, though, this too shall pass. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of forward planning, which is why we’ve assembled a gallery of performance tires to mount to your rig when conditions finally permit.

Not all of the tires presented here are direct competitors. Rather, we’ve taken a cross section of the segment, some of which are meant for supercar lap times and some of which are meant for eating up Autobahn miles. We’ve hit up the folks at TireBuyer to bring you a few of the best performance tire options this year, presented in alphabetical order.

Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Noise-canceling technologies have become a handy little tool wedged inside the belt of many automakers. Aimed at reducing unpleasant road noise, most systems invert incoming sound waves to produce an exact negative of the ambient sound you don’t want to hear. They work best when you don’t notice them, which is pretty much always, but Hyundai Group claims there’s more work to be done before the tech is perfect.

As a result, the Korean manufacturer has developed an upgraded version of its current active noise control setup (ANC), one it calls “the world’s first Road Noise Active Noise Control.” Rather than simply piping in sounds designed to offset road noise, the new system (referred to as “RANC” by the automaker) also analyses in-cabin sound to make adjustments to help nullify unpalatable engine and road drone.  Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

A yet-to-be-revealed engine that’s kept the rumor mill in Mopar circles churning continues to make its possible presence known. It’s an engine supposedly tapped for a new line of Fiat Chrysler products, and might find a home in existing vehicles, too.

It’s an engine that comes to the table with (arguably) the sexiest cylinder layout on the market: six of ’em, all in a row. Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Fulfilling earlier promises that the company had hit a wall and might require several years to recover, Nissan reported a 70-percent decline in quarterly operating profit on Tuesday. It also pulled back its full-year operating profit forecast by 35 percent to 150 billion yen, representing the automaker’s worst annual performance in 11 years. The business now expects to see global retail volume somewhere around 5.2 million vehicles (down from estimates 5.5 million).

“We are revisiting all our assumptions, and as you can see that is why we revised down our forecast for sales volume for the full year,” incoming CFO Stephen Ma explained to Reuters after releasing its first-half results for 2019 (ending September 30th). That was swiftly followed by the announcement of an extraordinary shareholders meeting to decide on proposals for current directors leaving their positions (Hiroto Saikawa, Yasuhiro Yamauchi, Thierry Bolloré) and the new director nominees.  Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Image: Honda

Count Honda among the dwindling number of automakers that believe a sudden market shift to electric drive technology is little more than a pipe dream. As you read yesterday, the company’s CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, is on the record as saying, “I do not believe there will be a dramatic increase in demand for battery vehicles, and I believe this situation is true globally.”

While rival automakers like Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru have teamed up to advance their electrified ambitions, Honda chose to take it slow and go its own way. Its efforts have already born fruit, and continue to do so. Honda was the first automaker with a mass-market hybrid, but the ensuing two decades has seen the automaker temper its expectations of a fickle, gas-loving public. The brand’s product reflects its outlook.

So, how’s that product doing? Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

2019 Hyundai Kona front quarter

Crossovers are our future, it seems. Every time I crack open another issue of this dusty website, I’m confronted and confounded by the proliferation of tall (and not-so-tall) hatchbacks in every possible size category.

The 2019 Hyundai Kona is, for the moment, the smallest of five crossovers in the Hyundai lineup – at least until the inexplicably-smaller Venue shows up very soon. Where does it fit? Or is it destined to be a misfit?

Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Certain Fiat Chrysler dealers aren’t happy with the inventory buildup that took place over the summer, claiming the automaker is headed back to the bad old days with the creation of a sales bank.

FCA, which just sealed a merger agreement with France’s Groupe PSA, claims its inventory is under control, touting a significant reduction in unsold vehicles during the third quarter. Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Kia

A decade — isn’t that hard to believe? — after the debut of the radically styled third-generation Kia Optima, the automaker has another salvo waiting to launch against midsize boredom. Trailing its equally daring 2020 Hyundai Sonata sibling by a model year, the revamped 2021 Optima ditches the downgraded clothes that appeared in its closet for 2016.

Like Hyundai, Kia feels that style is its best bet to capture attention — and buyers — as the midsize sedan market contracts. Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Toyota and Japanese weather information provider Weathernews Inc. have been running tests aimed at improving the accuracy of rain forecasts by using driving data from connected cars — or, more specifically, their windshield wipers. Based on the assumption that wiper operations correspond with the presence of precipitation, matching the severity to speed settings, the pair feel they can leverage customer information to close info gaps created by low-altitude rain clouds that are difficult to track.

With an official announcement issued earlier this month, both companies are framing this as an effective way to bolster roadway safety and offer new services to its customers. But it also raises the usual round of privacy concerns re: connected vehicles, while potentially offering some interesting and useful features — like localized flood warnings and other traffic advisories.  Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Image: Ford

No, we’re not talking about the long-gone Honda Element today, but perhaps one day we will. As bad as vehicle design was in the 2000s, the Element at least offered buyers a quirky choice in their family hauler.

Today we’re talking about that fun, exciting, aspirational ride you bought to cruise the warm, sun-baked streets of Anytown, North America back in late spring or early summer… and what happened come November. Read More >

By on November 11, 2019

The tide of praise and promise that swept in at the impetus of the 21st century to support electric vehicles is receding. The same goes for the entire concept of autonomy — though this has been pulling back faster than Nicholas Cage’s hairline, and with only a fraction of its grace. Over the last few years, the number of voices shrugging off advanced technologies has increased, creating a rift between cynics and believers.

While largely disinterested in the ramifications of the technology, automakers have also tamped down their previously bloated expectations. Those pushing alternative powertrains and vehicular autonomy are becoming more based, but so too are the companies that never bothered chasing them quite so zealously in the first place.

Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo says his company still has serious doubts as to just how lucrative electrification and mobility projects will actually be, suggesting the costs and complications of such technologies probably aren’t worth pursuing as a primary objective.  Read More >

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