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By on April 30, 2017

2018 Lexus LS F-SPORT

With crossovers on the rise, and more car-like than ever, Toyota’a global branding chief Tokuo Fukuichi knows that Lexus sedans need to offer more to customers or prepare to join the Tyrannosaurus rex in extinction. Lexus has shifted to become SUV-inclusive, but sedans still comprise a large portion of its lineup.

Lexus’ strategy is to improve the driving dynamics on its sedans to a level that crossovers cannot match, using the lower center of gravity to their advantage. It also wants to make its more traditional cars more appealing to a broader and less-stodgy consumer base. Assuming the plan works, Toyota’s premium brand won’t need to engage in any automotive genocide, eliminating sedans altogether. However, like any automaker, Lexus is still likely to transform its lineup to appease on-trend demands — which could include a station wagon.  (Read More…)

By on April 30, 2017

Nissan Sentra NISMO 2017 debuta en el Auto Show de Los Ángeles

Nissan is about to embark on a global expansion plan that would double the number of models wearing the NISMO performance badge. The brand says that it is aware that enthusiasts only make up a small fraction of prospective buyers, but it doesn’t want to ignore them — especially in segments where NISMO hasn’t left much of an impression. For North America, that means trucks. However, Nissan says the it is seriously considering adding the emblem to crossovers, MPVs, and even minivans. Assumedly, since the Quest was retired in 2016, the company is referring to new models.

The timeline for the tuner sub-brand has set for itself wraps in 2020. By then, Nissan wants 100,000 NISMO specific sales annually, up from last year’s 15,000. How it plans to accomplish that is slightly worrying, however.  (Read More…)

By on April 29, 2017

[Image: The Boring Company/YouTube]

Break out the acai berry juice — there’s another futuristic transportation vision emerging from the fevered mind of Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

During a TED talk in Vancouver on Friday, Musk teased an image of his company’s upcoming electric big rig. The vehicle, scheduled for a September reveal, isn’t the only truck bound for Tesla showrooms — the automaker expects to debut a pickup in the next 18 to 24 months.

While we’ve known about the impending semi truck for some time, Musk also choose Friday to drop a video showing what he feels is the Next Big Thing in efficient transportation: underground electric sleds for your car. (Read More…)

By on April 29, 2017

[Image: Kia Motors]

We’re not talking about the K900 flagship sedan, as Kia’s luxo barge actually gets people talking — mainly due to its slow sales and LeBron James connection. No, the model lying in the casket this morning bowed out of people’s minds long before it vanished from Kia’s product cycle.

The Forte Koup.

Kia has confirmed there’ll be no future for the two-door variant of its popular Forte, though the writing was on the wall for some time. On the company’s website, too. (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

1-Ethanol-Gas-006

Higher-octane fuel holds more energy than bargain basement gasoline, giving it the potential to generate more horsepower and deliver highly marketable fuel economy figures to automakers. It should be at the top of every car manufacturer’s wish list. But, because an extra-high octane rating would warrant an extra-large bill at the pump, muscle car owners are left hunting for that one station that sells 94.

Unlike Europe, it’s a low-octane lifestyle here in North America, though hushed, tentative first steps are being taken to give car manufacturers what they so desperately crave.

Still, no automaker wants to say it. (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

self-driving uber advanced tech center autonomous car

Anthony Levandowski, the man at the nucleus of Alphabet Inc.’s intellectual property lawsuit against Uber Technologies, has abandoned his position as the team lead for the firm’s autonomous vehicle development.

Uber explained that Levandowski’s new role is less critical and has no authority over the company’s LIDAR technology, which he is accused of stealing from Alphabet’s Waymo when it was still part of Google. Since the lawsuit, Uber has done everything possible to distance itself from the man without outright firing him.  (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

2017 Volkswagen model range – Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group is about to drop gas and diesel engines like names at a swank party.

The automaker’s CEO has announced a multi-billion push to prepare the company for a much more stringent marketplace, part of which includes giving its internal combustion engine lineup a haircut.

Speaking at an auto industry conference in Vienna, Matthias Müller said the company needs to boost the efficiency of its engines by 10 to 15 percent to stay ahead of picky European and American regulators, Reuters reports. Reaching that goal carries a price tag of $11 billion, spread out over the next five years.

Up to 40 percent of the company’s engines won’t survive the operation, Müller claims. (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

After the reveal of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Dodge Demon at the New York Auto Show, I thought all the hooplah would be over. We all did. Little did I know Automotive News’ editorial board would pen a screed calling for the Demon’s banishment from American roads, which then caused others to cry foul at the bylineless editorial, and subsequently triggered Larry Vellequette — the author of the original piece — to double down on his thoughts, name attached.

In the last piece, Mr. Vellequette claims, “It is still a stupid idea for Fiat Chrysler to outfit the Dodge Demon as a high-performance drag racer and then sell it to the motoring public in a form that makes it inherently more dangerous off the track.”

He’s not wrong. Drag radials come fitted to the Demon from the factory, and he claims they’re “prone to lose traction in even a light morning mist under that much torque — regardless of electronic intervention.” I won’t argue with that.

But I will argue with the logic upon which Mr. Vellequette bases his call for exorcising this Demon from America’s roads, and who he thinks should do something about it.

(Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

Earlier this week, I told you about the fellow who was convinced the Dodge Demon was unsafe at any speed. I did not agree, of course; the Demon has been carefully designed to present considerably less risk to its occupants than, say, a swing-axle Beetle in high-wind conditions.

Which leads to a question: if the Demon is not the deadliest car of recent times, what is?

(Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

2016/2017 toyota tacoma

Toyota of North America is recalling 228,000 Tacoma midsize pickups from the 2016 and 2017 model years. The affected vehicles may be leaking oil from their rear differentials. If left unchecked, the affected component could eventually seize — opening the driver up to a sudden flurry of new problems, like losing control of the vehicle moments before a horrific crash.

However, these leaks seem to cause only a gradual depletion of lubricant, giving owners plenty of time to enjoy some unpleasant warning noises as their truck’s differential slowly destroys itself.

While public complaints on the issue haven’t been overwhelming, checking in with enthusiast forum TacomaWorld led to a posting where owners reported an unpleasant howling noise coming from the rear of third-generation trucks. Several also admitted to having their differentials replaced prematurely after visiting service centers, with no information from Toyota as to why.   (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

2017 Ford F-150 Lariat - Image: Ford

What a difference a few (hundred thousand) recalls make. In a sales market best described as stagnant, a widespread vehicle glitch can dog an automaker’s balance sheet. That seems to be the case at Ford Motor Company, which saw its first-quarter profit fall 35 percent on a combination of factors — not the least of which was a pair of recalls of engine fires and faulty door latches.

Elsewhere in the domestic market, General Motors rode to the financial finish line with a record post-bankruptcy net income while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles climbed further into the black. (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

hyundai-kona-teaser

Hyundai has teased its entry into the subcompact crossover segment in the past but only acknowledged that it would have at least one thin LED headlamp, be called the Kona, and finally serve round out the company’s SUV lineup. On Friday, the company released another teaser to give us a better sense of what the little crossover will actually look like.

For starters, the thin LED strips are now running lamps positioned above the vehicle’s actual headlights, à la Nissan Juke. However, Hyundai appears to have accomplished it in a much more understated manner than Nissan. Unlike the Juke, the Kona has its light strips running just below the hood opening and very near the actual illumination sources. It’s a lot less funky, but should be interesting enough to set it apart from the rest of the segment — an important consideration, as there’s much more stylistic variation between subcompact crossovers than between their compact equivalents.  (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

NanoCar Race Poster

Tata’s Nano is a very small car, but it’s more than brobdingnagian compared to the vehicles racing this weekend in Toulouse, France.

The first international nanocar race — organized by the materials scientists at Centre Nationnal de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and its Centre d’Elaboration de Matériaux et d’Etudes Structurales (CEMES) — brings motorsports down to the molecular level. Four teams will compete under the observation of a special, four-tipped scanning tunneling microscope on a racecourse made of gold atoms just 100 nanometers long.

(Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

Peugeot 208, Image: PSA Group

When you’re hot, you’re hot. And when you’re the architect of a leasing promotion gone bad (by way of being too successful), you’re fired.

PSA Group reportedly canned its top German managers after a scorching lease deal on Peugeot 208 hatchbacks sent the country’s residents clamoring for wildly discounted French cars.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

 

old tires

TTAC commenter Felix Hoenikker writes:

Sajeev,

I am in the process of replacing at least two tires on my ’74 Mercedes 450SL. The current tires are P205/70R14 Bridgestone RE 900 performance tires. They came with the car when I bought it privately in the summer of 2001.

I’ve been slowly — and I mean slowly — restoring the SL, and have only driven it about 10,000 miles since taking ownership.

Recently, I discovered the front left tire is wearing down much faster than the other three.

(Read More…)

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