Posts By: Matt Posky

By on October 22, 2020

GMC

With the Hummer EV Edition 1 selling out over what would constitute an extended lunch break, General Motors is clearly aware it has a hot commodity on its hands. While that may not continue into subsequent model years, the electrified monstrosity is seeing demand comparable to what we witnessed with Dodge’s Demon and GM has a similar solution in mind.

Rather than allowing dealers to see what they can get away with on the standard Hummer pickup when it goes on sale next year, GMC will be implementing a strict no-haggling policy. That’s undoubtedly going to be a blow to dealers thinking they could clean up on markups and a blessing to customers who don’t want to spend a few extra grand on their already expensive midlife crisis.

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By on October 22, 2020

Tesla continued to prove itself as the electric automaker par excellence by posting its fifth profitable quarter in a row on Wednesday. The California-based (for now) automaker reported a net income of $331 million and a 39 percent improvement in revenue to $8.8 billion.

Of course, a huge amount of that money came via regulatory credits Tesla sold to its rivals. By nature of being an EV manufacturer, the company was able to sell $397 million in environmental absolution while helping its own bottom line. Though third-quarter deliveries were quite strong as automotive revenue jumped 42 percent to $7.6 billion.

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By on October 22, 2020

It hasn’t been what we would call a tranquil year for Continental. The German parts supplier spent the summer preparing for one of the worst financial periods in its 149-year history and apologizing for its involvement with the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis) by hiring an independent researcher to chronicle their forced-labor practices in detail. The dark trip down memory lane served as a strange interlude from the company’s financial concerns, which re-manifested in September when Continental announced it would have to eliminate around 13 percent of its existing staff  or about 30,000 employees.

News has broken that the supplier’s 2020 troubles didn’t end there. German prosecutors also made their rounds on September 22nd, stopping at Continental facilities in Hanover and Regensburg as part of an ongoing investigation into Volkswagen’s Dieselgate fiasco from 2015.

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By on October 21, 2020

With Ford having discontinued the Fusion sedan to prioritize higher-margin models, the automaker will need to select a different unit as its preferred platform for self-driving test mules. It will need to choose wisely, too. According to the company, its fourth of generation autonomous test vehicles will foreshadow real-world commercial endeavors using the technology.

On Tuesday, Ford and Argo AI announced that it would be the Escape Hybrid carrying the torch of technology. Starting this month, models fresh from the factory will be modified with the “latest advancements in sensing and computing technology.” The crossover will then be exposed to the most rigorous testing regimen the automaker’s ongoing AV program can muster. From there,  the Escape will serve as the architecture and platform Ford has decided will bring its autonomous vehicle service to life.

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By on October 21, 2020

Politics have corrupted just about everything under the sun over the last few years. Practically everything is political in 2020 and if you have an opinion about that, it had better be the correct one and sanctioned by your preferred party. After all, having an approved take is far more important that an accurate one. But what of the automotive industry? Where do the carmakers fall on the supposedly important spectrum?

Well, we know that the UAW predictably endorsed Joe Biden for president way back in spring. But those heading the companies distributing union members’ paychecks quite literally came to Donald Trump in 2017 to ask that he take it easy on them. Obama-era regulations had made efficiency mandates so strict, that automakers had become convinced they’d be unable to meet them in the years ahead. While Trump’s relationship with the industry often runs hot and cold, he pushed for a fueling rollback that placed federal authorities at odds with California and kicked off a regulatory conflict of epic proportions.

Assuming Biden wins the election, those stringent emissions mandates will undoubtedly come back into play  surrounded on all sides by his climate and environmental justice proposal, which makes a federal investment of $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years. While automotive exclusives are hesitant to share their regulatory fears with the general public, especially as they attempt to put on the greenest face possible for marketing purposes, there are real concerns that the U.S. could embrace policies similar to Europe. That could force a change of course for a few companies and complicate the overall trajectory for the U.S. market.

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By on October 21, 2020

Making good on its promise that the future will be electric, Volvo has readied the XC40 Recharge P8 compact crossover for a spring debut. Though it doesn’t seem to have secured an idyllic price tag. The electrified XC40 starts at $54,985, including a $995 destination fee, which makes it around $20,000 dearer than the gasoline model. That’s a lot of dough for such a small vehicle, even after federal (and potentially state) tax incentives shave a few thousand off the top. Surely customers will be getting a top-shelf automobile on par with the Tesla Model 3 Performance, if not better, to help that MSRP make some sense. But the math just isn’t working out in Volvo’s favor based on the specs given. Model 3 destroys it in every metric that isn’t headroom because it is not a crossover.

While the XC40 Recharge comes in below its larger European counterparts on price, and often by a fairly narrow margin, its maximum range is an EPA-estimated 208 miles. That places it within striking distance of the bigger electrics manufactured by Audi or Jaguar. But Tesla will happily sell customers a Model Y boasting 326 miles of range for about $10,000 less than the XC40. The only downside is that the American brand’s sales success has already exhausted its allotted federal tax credits, meaning you’ll get more money from the government if you buy something Swedish-Chinese.

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By on October 20, 2020

Genesis has been planning a mid-cycle update for the G70 sedan for a while and has been obliging us with previews showing off how good its designers are at their jobs for months. But Hyundai Motor Group recently previewed the model in South Korea to prove that the improvements made went beyond mere aesthetics.

While the split headlamps and updated grille bring the model more in line with other Genesis products, sacrificing a bit of visual menace for a more upscale appearance, technological changes ensure it’s no less capable from a performance standpoint. Next year, the Genesis G70 will receive a new sports+ driving mode that tightens engine and transmission programming to squeeze out every ounce of performance available, a new dynamic AWD system featuring a built-in drift mode, and an exhaust with active valves to make the V6 sound as sweet as possible on demand.

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By on October 20, 2020

Toyota Test Drive Track at NYIAS, Image: Twitter by New York International Auto Show

After numerous postponements led up to a cancellation in 2020, the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) is coming back for 2021  four months later than planned. On Tuesday, organizers announced that the event would be delayed until August to take advantage of planned expansions at the Javits Center providing additional room for vendors and guests.

Scheduling during the summer also gives it the best possible chance of existing for 2021. Many are worried New York City will reenact strict health protocols over the winter that could easily stretch into April, when NYIAS normally takes place. Depending upon how strict those mandates are, any sizable indoor event could be dubbed illegal by city officials.

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By on October 15, 2020

Ford badge emblem logo

Ford is joining the lengthening list of automakers that cannot adhere to European emissions mandates this year and is pursuing the popular option of simply buying carbon credits from rivals who managed to sell more than a few electrified vehicles.

Under the EU rules, manufacturers can “earn” carbon credits by selling more EVs. But legacy automakers were hamstrung all year by the pandemic and Ford is on the hook for a recall of its Kuga (Escape) PHEV. The Blue Oval recalled almost 21,000 examples of the plug-in hybrid in August, asking owners not to drive the crossover in its electric-only mode and to avoid charging the battery. While alarming in its own right, Ford said the recall effectively makes it impossible for it to meet 2020 EU emission quotas. It is now seeking partners for an “open emissions pool” and is hardly the only manufacturer doing this.

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By on October 15, 2020

While van sales have been trending downward for years, the likelihood of your average American being forced to live inside one feels like it should be higher than ever. But deciding which model is best for living out the rest of your days in relative isolation isn’t going to be easy. Realizing that there’s a growing demand for escape vehicles and regular old RVs, automakers and coachbuilders have been trying to make the market more accommodating.

On Tuesday, Ford Motor Co. threw its hat into the ring by announcing that the 2021 Transit would be adding new “recreational and business options” to help get customers the kind of vehicles they need to get through these difficult times.

“With many Americans working from home and practicing social distancing during the pandemic, the popularity of recreational vehicles has soared at the same time package delivery has seen incredible growth,” explained Tiffany Chang, Ford fleet brand strategy manager. “Our new 2021 Transit options help people design the recreational vehicles of their dreams and help enable our commercial customers to more efficiently deliver goods and services across the country.” (Read More…)

By on October 15, 2020

On Wednesday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) urged manufacturers to disclose any unapproved hardware or software that might place a vehicle’s emissions outside of the acceptable parameters of legality. CARB said those who comply would be subjected to reduced penalties and reminded everyone that it’s going to be opening a state-of-the-art testing facility that will be better at catching cheaters in 2021. It’s so advanced, the board suggested it might even be able to catch totally new violations.

You’ve likely seen this tactic employed by an exasperated parent or substitute teacher. An illicit substance is found tucked away somewhere and they parade it around demanding whoever owns it to fess up immediately or face harsher consequences later. This obvious trap is best avoided by committing a lesser crime right then and there or being so obstinate that you’re issued a minor punishment just for being annoying  thus freeing you of suspicion for the pornography Mr. Lawson found taped beneath the bleachers.

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By on October 14, 2020

Canada’s preferred choice in unions, Unifor, warned that contract negotiations with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were progressing slower than anticipated over the weekend. By Wednesday, news of a strike had begun brewing over social media. Local 444 was issuing FCA-WAP bargaining updates on Twitter and Facebook that included marching orders in the event that the day’s discussions didn’t end in a handshake.

“To ensure we are prepared for a strike, or strike coordinators have been working to finalize the details needed in order to begin, if and when necessary,” the union wrote to members. “If a tentative agreement is reached by 11:59pm October 14th, without an extension in place, then Local 444 along with brothers and sisters across the country at all FCA facilities will be on strike. As the talks continue late into the night, any updates will be posted to our social media pages and web page.”

That scenario is looking increasingly likely, especially as Unifor has explained there was little progress to report all afternoon. It also opened this week suggesting contract talks were “not quite where we feel [they] should be with this limited amount of time left on the clock.”

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By on October 14, 2020

Enthusiasts are up in arms about the departing Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 because they already know its Mach 1 replacement won’t be able to compete with it on a racetrack. This was by design, however. Ford wants something a little more street friendly and easier on people’s wallets. It can also save on production costs by utilizing components that helped make the GT350 an engineering marvel, without relying on its pricey V8 with the flat-plane crankshaft. The Mach 1 gets the same 5.0-liter V8 found inside GT models, tweaked to deliver 480 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque.

On the 73rd anniversary of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier (aka Mach 1) in the Bell X-1 “Glamorous Glennis,” Ford decided to tell us how much the upcoming model will cost so it could begin taking orders. The automaker has settled on $52,915 (including destination), placing the Mach 1 a healthy $4,000 above the Bullitt Mustang and nearly ten grand below the outgoing GT350.

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By on October 14, 2020

hyundai-sonata-eco-grille logo

It’s often difficult to keep track of who is heading which automotive conglomerate. Topps never issued a trading card line devoted to industry professionals and there’s no show we’re aware of that catalogs the corporate history of car manufacturing focused entirely on management. Whenever someone is named in a car documentary, it’s only because they were incredibly important to the program or instrumental in seeing the company through a difficult period. That, or they happened to be one of those people’s damned children.

Nepotism is a problem in most industries but the automotive sector seems to be among the worst offenders. While some amount falls within the acceptable parameters rooted in the familial ties of yesteryear, when these businesses were much smaller entities, plenty of placements seem designed to keep wealthy offspring occupied through adulthood. It’s probably a sweet gig if you can get it but the phenomenon itself makes it difficult to determine which blood-related hires are placeholder people and who’s the genuine article.

For example, Hyundai Motor Group has just appointed Eui-Sun Chung (49) as its new chairman. He will be succeeding his father, Mong-Koo Chung (81), and comes from the automaker’s founding family. But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest Chung may actually be the ideal man for the job.

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By on October 14, 2020

Those of you familiar with vintage motorcars will recall that there was once a period in history where hood ornaments weren’t the classy exception but the rule. Automakers have been affixing their corporate iconography to the top of vehicles since before there were seat belts, tapping members of the animal kingdom, indigenous leaders who opposed the British (back when such things were acceptable), winged letters of the alphabet, rocket ships, and just about everything else one could imagine wanting to stick atop an automobile. But most of those have been modified to suit the times and/or relocated onto the grille in an effort to avoid impaling pedestrians (Ed. note: And perhaps theft. I think my grandparents had the hood ornament stolen off their mid-’90s era Buick once. — TH).

While a few companies attempted to get around government safety regulations by implementing flexibly mounted hood ornaments designed to avoid stabbing the person you’ve already done the disservice of hitting with your car, just about all of them have given up the ghost by 2020. The only notable exception is Rolls-Royce, which has spent a fortune designing a spring-loaded device that snaps its famous Spirit of Ecstasy (aka the Flying Lady) down inside the engine bay whenever a moderate amount of force is applied.

The company has since decided to update its ornament to allow drivers to retract it on demand. It has also started offering a £3,500 option that makes Spirit of Ecstasy an illuminated crystal bauble that has suddenly run afoul of the European Union’s new light pollution regulations. Rolls-Royce will need to remove it from its brochures and customers will be forced to neuter their vehicles if they want to be compliant with the law.

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