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By on June 29, 2017

2014 Kia Sorento EX-008

If there’s one thing shared by members of ISIS and the Western world, it’s an appreciation for the utility and versatility of high-value crossovers. Yes, even militant, fundamentalist killers have a myriad of needs requiring the likes of a Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sorento.

As Iraqi forces continue their push into territory previously seized by members of the Islamic State, visual evidence has emerged of the desperate tactics employed by the retreating fighters. Perhaps the most surprising are a plethora of Korean crossovers outfitted for battle. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

2017 McLaren 570S yellow - Image: McLarenSUVs aren’t the only means of success in the global auto industry in 2017.

Sports cars, supercars even, appear to be a useful means of sourcing profits, even for a relatively young automaker such as McLaren.

It’s often said that the one way to make a small fortune racing cars is to start with a large fortune. The theme is just as accurate when it comes to automotive production and sales.

Yet McLaren, which began series production of road cars only seven years ago, saw its profits jump 70 percent, year-over-year, to USD $12 million in 2016 as global sales doubled.

More than one-third of the McLarens sold in 2016 are found driveways in North America. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta Vignale - Image: FordAt TTAC, we’ve been doubtful of the Ford Fiesta’s future for many months.

It’s not merely the condition of the subcompact market, where sales are down 17 percent so far this year, that causes us to doubt.

It’s not only the Fiesta’s relative North American youth — it’s only been on sale since 2010 — that makes us wonder about the car’s long-term viability.

Indeed, our doubt isn’t even centered on those two factors combined, or on the fact that the Fiesta is on track for fewer sales in calendar year 2017 than the Nissan Versa has already produced.

No, we find it difficult to believe in the Fiesta’s prospects because Ford won’t even discuss the Fiesta’s North American future. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

2015 Ford Transit, Image: Ford Motor Company

There’s a problem underneath 2015-2017 Ford Transit models and, until the Blue Oval figures out a long-term fix, owners and operators of all Transit variants can expect a new driveshaft flexible coupling every 30,000 miles.

The automaker has announced a safety recall for 402,462 Transits sold in North America in order to prevent instances of driveshaft separation caused by a faulty flexible coupling. Ford seems to have become aware of a looming problem with each vehicle’s driveline, which apparently isn’t nearly as robust as the automaker had hoped. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

2016 BMW 330e iPerformance - Image: BMWBMW intends to unveil an all-electric 3 Series at the Munich Auto Show in September, according to German business newspaper Handelsblatt.

Will BMW report the intake of hundreds of thousands of $1,000 deposits for an all-electric, next-generation BMW 3 Series? Probably not.

But which car are you more likely to purchase: a 3 Series EV from long-heralded BMW with roughly 250 miles of range, or the much-hyped, oft-discussed Model 3 from nascent Tesla, production of which should be in full swing by the time the 3 Series EV appears?

This may be the next Mustang vs. Camaro, a quasi Accord vs. Camry battle to end all Accord vs. Camry battles, an F-150 vs. Silverado skirmish without the 87 octane. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

Repair Auto Mechanic Car Automobile Service

How did you celebrate Warren Brown Day? What? You didn’t know about Warren Brown Day? Well, my friend, allow me to fill you in. If you are a subject of the Washington, DC metro area, then June 15th was officially Warren Brown Day for you. The day celebrates Warren Brown’s contributions to automotive journalism. This came as a great surprise to me; as far as I knew, Mr. Brown’s primary contribution to automotive journalism was finding a way to get around the Washington Post‘s policy on accepting luxury travel.

It occurred to me that maybe the city was honoring a different Warren Brown, so I went back and checked the original article in American Journalism Review to make sure that I had the right guy. Once I started re-reading it, however, I quickly forgot all about Mr. Brown and his Italian vacation, because the most important story Frank Greves tells in his overview of automotive journalism has nothing whatsoever to do with the perks of the business.

(Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

nissan leaf charging electric car

Federal tax credits for electric vehicles won’t last forever, especially under the Trump administration. While it’s difficult to quantify exactly how many people saw the $7,500 rebate as the deciding factor to “go green,” there is little doubt that it factored into the final purchasing choice of some buyers.

California has made the promotion of zero-emission vehicles a matter of great concern. With General Motors, Nissan, and Tesla all gradually approaching the 200,000-unit quota for vehicles eligible for the tax rebate, the state doesn’t want to see buyers lose purchasing incentives prematurely. With that, California is considering a bill that would provide discounts to EV shoppers at the time of purchase, essentially reducing the sticker price before the car even leaves the lot.  (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Bowling Green Assembly Plant - Image: GMGeneral Motors no longer expects the U.S. auto industry to collect more than 17.5 million new vehicle sales in 2017.

GM’s chief financial officer, Chuck Stevens, revisited the automaker’s U.S. sales forecast and turned the wick down from the mid-17-million-unit range, according to Automotive News, to the low-17-million-unit range.

That’s not a low number. In fact, 2017’s reduction of some 300,000 sales across the industry, year-over-year, would produce the second-best year for auto sales since 2001.

But reduced demand is complicating matters for the entire industry, most particularly for large automakers with excessive inventory. (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry SE white - Image: ToyotaExcited at the prospect of an all-new midsize sedan despite a drastic decrease in demand for midsize sedans, Toyota is ramping up employment at the Camry’s assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.

With 700 additional manufacturing workers helping to launch the 2018 Toyota Camry, employment at Toyota’s Kentucky facility grew to 8,000, more than at any point in the plant’s three-decade history.

Toyota also builds Avalons and Lexus ES350s in Georgetown. (The Venza, a former Georgetown wagon, is dead.) But it’s the Camry, especially this all-new 2018 Camry, that will bring glory to the Kentucky plant if glory can indeed be brought.

Jack Hollis, the Toyota division’s group vice president and general manager, strongly believes the Camry is the beginning of a pro-sedan wave in America. In an extended interview with Autoline, Hollis spoke highly of the 2018 Camry’s potential, and of the potential for the entire car sector once the Camry stimulates demand.

“I think you’re going to see the entire sedan market pick up,” Hollis told Autoline, before hedging only a bit. “We’ll see a year from now.” (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

BMW 2 Series, Image: BMW

BMW plans to streamline its manufacturing process by providing fewer model variants and eliminating less popular engine or equipment options. The goal here is to free up capital for research and development spending in the coming years, according to a Wednesday announcement from the brand’s chief finance officer, Nicolas Peter.

With most German automakers already pushing heavily into the realm of electric vehicles, BMW’s strong presence in China is forcing it to further bolster its efforts in EV development. The country’s particularly aggressive emission regulations and mandates on electric vehicle sales means any manufacturer hoping to persist within its borders will have to ensure 12 percent of its fleet is electric by 2020 — and BMW isn’t ready.

As a result, the automaker is trimming fat wherever it can find it. Unfortunately, that means eliminating the manual gearbox for the 2 Series in the United States and abandoning certain engine options for models across the globe. While BMW wasn’t explicit as to which motors won’t be returning, odds are good it will be the fun ones that don’t sell as well, plus the diesels.  (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

jaguar XE SV Project 8

Jaguar is doing another run of its extremely limited production SVO cars. We haven’t seen a new one since the decked-out Project 7 F-Type arrived in 2014, adorned with its conspicuous spoiler and upgraded internals. The British automaker is now doing the same for the XE SV Project 8, resulting in the most powerful sedan in its long history.

In addition to some extremely loud bodywork, Project 8 is equipped with a 592 horsepower, 5.0-liter supercharged V8, connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission delivering power to all four of its wheels. Jaguar claims it can hit 60 mph in a scant 3.3 seconds and possesses a top speed of 200 mph, which also makes it the quickest accelerating model Jag has ever produced. It’s one hell of a refresh for the subdued XE.  (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

Ford GoBike, Image: Ford

Let’s say it altogether: Mobility! That’s what Ford Motor Company is up to in the tech-obsessed Millennial enclave of San Francisco. No longer will you have to turn to a truck, SUV or Mustang for rear-wheel Blue Oval motivation, and emission levels from the automaker’s latest vehicle depend solely on where the rider ate.

Yes, Ford has diversified itself right into the realm of bicycles, but don’t think for a second you’ll be able to take one home for a quick custom job. These rides must remain factory stock. While the automaker’s plan to blanket the Bay Area in bicycles might seem like a quick way to score green points for the Super Duty maker, there’s actually a team devoted to creating more of these ventures.

Still, Ford’s new GoBike network isn’t immune from the same challenges faced by its automobile division. You see, competition looms on the horizon. Competition with more power. (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet - Image: © Timothy Cain250 years ago, in Prince Edward Island’s 1767 land lottery of 64 parcels, Lot 20 was scooped up by Theodore Houltain and Thomas Basset.

Encompassing the communities of Malpeque Bay, Clinton, French River, Park Corner, Sea View, and other hamlets, and possessing fewer than 1,000 people, Lot 20 is a gem along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s a gem I thought I knew well, at least until I took possession of our new family home earlier this week. Last night, with my friend Jeff The HR Manager operating as a tour guide, we traversed virtually every road on Lot 20 in the company of a 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet.

We reached antisocial speeds, as AMGs are prone to do. We consumed fuel, as twin-turbo V6s are inclined to do. We made inappropriate noises, as Mercedes-Benz’s Dynamic Select Sport+ mode (with the Performance Exhaust System’s button also depressed) is wont to do.

And we made friends, as convertibles have always and will forever do. (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

Image: 1988 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, via Craigslist

Check out these two words: Turbo Coupe. They roll off the tongue nicely, and all car enthusiasts should know exactly they mean — or used to. In 2017, they usually mean someone with a mullet is nearby, driving a beat-to-hell Thunderbird with peeling logos and ruined paint. Likely while listening to Whitesnake.

Our example today is what the term Turbo Coupe used to mean. It is perfect, painted a gleaming black, and on the floor there’s a five-speed manual. Here I go again…

(Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

INFINITI and Stephen Curry announce global partnership - Image: InfinitiIn the world of celebrity pitchmen, there’s a big leap between, oh, Jared Fogle at Subway, for example, and Andy Murray at Jaguar.

In the world of basketball’s best, there’s less of a gap between LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Now combine the world of celebrity pitchmen with the world of NBA superstars. LeBron James quite famously falls under the Kia umbrella.

But what automaker wouldn’t want the best player on the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors? Steph Curry, Nissan’s premium division announced today, is the new global ambassador at Infiniti. (Read More…)

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