TTAC News Round-up: Mitsubishi Has a Plan, Volvo Wants You Online, and FCA Throws Down
Mitsubishi confirms it is going to shoehorn another SUV into its lineup to tempt those utility-hungry Americans.
That, Volvo wants everyone to buy S90s from their beds, Fiat Chrysler isn’t having a dealer’s trash talk, UAW bolsters its ranks, and your gas is going up … after the break!
Mitsubishi thinks bigger
Mitsubishi Motors isn’t the biggest player on the automotive scene, but it’s trying hard to move forward from an era that had many questioning its survival in the U.S.
After showcasing the U.S.-bound 2017 Outlander PHEV and Mirage G4 sedan at the New York Auto Show, Mitsubishi’s North American vice-president Don Swearingen told Car Advice the near future is all about boosting SUV sales:
“Mitsubishi will take  Outlander up in width and length. The Outlander Sport ( ASX ), we’re taking that down a bit in size [the next-generation car is due as soon as 2017]… in the middle will be a new CUV.”
The new utility vehicle will draw design inspiration from the radically-styled XR-PHEV II concept vehicle (seen above) that was displayed at last year’s Geneva Motor Show.
Let your fingers do the walking
Volvo knows you’re a busy person, so it’s offering the opportunity to buy an S90 with your iPad during a coffee break.
Pricing for the flagship S90, which goes on sale this summer, has been announced and orders opened, but driving to your local dealership doesn’t have to be part of the buying process.
Volvo Concierge, a new service accessed through the automaker’s website, over the phone or through email, will walk prospective buyers through the ordering process, much like the guy who makes your burger at one of those fancy fast food restaurants.
It will be interesting to see if other high-end automakers follow Volvo’s lead to draw in dealer-phobic customers.
The S90 starts at $47, 945 for the base T5 Momentum, rising to $53,945 for the all-wheel drive T6 Momentum. Opting for Inscription trim (which turbocharges the car’s luxury amenities) adds a minimum of $3,000 to the price of both models.
“Oh, it is ON!” — Fiat Chrysler
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is fighting back against a group of Illinois dealerships that targeted the automaker with a civil racketeering lawsuit.
The Napleton Automotive Group-owned dealerships filed the suit in January, claiming the automaker paid them to inflate sales data, but FCA has come out calling the allegations a smear job, Automotive News reports:
In its response Thursday, FCA seeks to have the Napleton dealerships’ suit dismissed entirely, saying it is “replete with conclusory allegations, substitutes vitriol for plausibility, and relies on wholly illogical theories devoid of any legal support.”
FCA’s response alleges that the Napleton dealerships had sued FCA after the automaker had notified Napleton’s “crown jewel” — Napleton’s Arlington Heights Motors in Arlington Heights, Ill. — that it had failed “to achieve the minimum level of sales that it had agreed to in its dealer agreements.”
FCA measures dealership performance with a “minimum sales responsibility” metric, and claimed the trouble began after it said it wouldn’t exempt Arlington Heights from its contractual obligation.
Upward climb continues at UAW
United Auto Workers added 5,200 new union members to its ranks in 2015, pushing its numbers up 15 percent compared to the depths of the recession in 2009, Automotive News reports.
It’s the sixth straight year of gains for UAW, but the tally pales in comparison to membership totals from the pre-recession era:
That is still down dramatically from the more than 700,000 members the UAW had in 2002 and from its all-time high of nearly 1.5 million members in 1979 …
Last year, the UAW reached new four-year contracts covering about 150,000 workers with General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, four months after talks began.
Expect a few more burgers hitting the grill on May 1.
Gas is going up; buyers suddenly weigh Suburban and Volt
National average gas prices popped above two bucks a gallon yesterday as oil prices crawl back from their earlier lows, but is it time to put off buying the new SUV?
There’s much more to the price of gas than commodity prices for oil, and it drivers shouldn’t expect a steady climb at the pumps this year, says the New York Times:
But there are a variety of other factors pushing gasoline prices up, particularly on the West Coast. A recent power outage at Exxon Mobil’s refinery in Torrance, Calif., a plant that has still not fully recovered from an explosion early last year, has slowed gasoline production …
Much of the recent price rise is from changes in seasonal driving habits, including spring break road trips. At the same time, many refineries are retooling to produce summer blends, which leads to a temporary decline in local fuel production.
The U.S. Department of Energy is still projecting lower average gas prices this year than in 2015, barring unforeseen disasters or conflict.
[Images: Outlander PHEV, XR-PHEV II: Mitsubishi Motors]
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- JMII This is why I don't watch NASCAR, it just a crash fest. Normally due the nature of open-wheel cars you don't see such risky behavior during Indy car events. You can't trade paint and bump draft with an Indy car. I thought it was a sad ending for a 500. While everyone wants a green flag finish at some point (3 laps? 5 laps?) red flagging it is just tempting people too much like a reset button in a game.The overall problem is the 500 is not a "normal" race. Many one-off competitors enter it and for almost every driver they are willing to throw away the entire season championship just to win the "500". It sure pays way more then winning the championship. This would be like making a regular season NFL game worth more then the Super Bowl. This encourages risky behavior.I am not sure what the fix is, but Indy's restart procedures have been a mess for years. If I was in charge the rule would be pit speed limiter until the green flag drops at a certain place on the track - like NASCARs restart "zone". Currently the leader can pace the field however they wish and accelerate whenever they choose. This leads to multiple false and jumped starts with no penalty for the behavior. Officals rarely wave off such restarts, but that did happened once on Sunday so they tried to make driver behave. The situation almost didn't happen as there were two strategies in the end with some conserving fuel and running old tires, driving slower with others racing ahead. However the last caution put everyone on even terms so nobody had advantage. It always gets crazy in the last few laps but bunching up the field with a yellow or red flag is just asking for trouble.
- Tim Healey Lol it's simply that VWVortex is fertile ground for interesting used cars!
- Jalop1991 I say, install gun racks.Let the games begin!
- EBFlex For those keeping track, Ford is up to 24 recalls this year and is still leading the industry. But hey, they just build some Super Dutys that are error free. Ford even sent out a self congratulatory press release saying they built Super Duty’s with zero defects. What an accomplishment!
- Norman Stansfield This is what you get when you run races to keep the cars bunched together for more excitement. F1 doesn't seem to have this problem after the first few laps.
That Outlander PHEV is going to be a hit. Not. First, Mitsubishi buyers have no idea what that is. Second, Mitsubishi dealers have no idea what that is. They probably think Mitsubishi of American listened to them and gave them a way to tender the 12v car battery while Outlanders languish on the back fence line. Third, how much is it anyway? Like $40k?
I'm liking that Mitsu CUV concept, it looks like they managed to get the Lexus spindle grille right. After spending time in my new boss' Nissan Murano, the Outlander looks positively restrained. I still think that FCA and Mitsubishi should join forces. If FCA is going to abandon the CUSW platform (at least for cars), I'm pretty sure Mitsu could whip up a couple of decent sedans for the B and C classes. It's not like they haven't done it before for Chrysler. I would still love to see FCA (whether they subcontract to Mitsu or anyone else for that matter) bring the 2006 Dodge Hornet Concept to life. But maybe that would compete too closely with the RAM ProMaster. Although, I'm not aware of a big push to sell the ProMaster in the passenger variant, either. EDIT: I forgot about the Fiat Strada. There's another place FCA could strike a new direction, that will probably sell. I still believe there's a desire for a little pickup similar to the ones from 30 years ago. Oh well, I guess I will keep on dreaming.