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Matt Posky

By on May 25, 2022

Stellantis has been discussing the prospect of reviving the Lancia brand for months, hinting that the returning Delta would even be part of the deal. While technically still active, the historic Italian company has devolved into a swath of rebadged Chrysler products and now produces the Ypsilon (based on the Fiat 500) as its singular offering in Europe.

However, some die-hard fans of the nameplate took umbrage with the matter after it was revealed that the Delta would be an all-electric vehicle in October of 2021. As time went on, the manufacturer vowed that the model would be a worthy successor to performance models like the HF Integrale. But continued insisting upon electrification being an essential component of Lancia’s revival and has formally introduced its overarching plan for the marque(Read More…)

By on May 25, 2022

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

Stellantis has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to criminal conspiracy charges relating to emissions requirements on over 100,000 diesel-powered Ram and Jeep products sold in the United States. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) was previously on the hook for $800 million in civil penalties over a so-called “defeat device” equipped to the automaker’s 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine. Allegations began in 2017 as regulators were hunting for compliance violations in the wake of Volkswagen’s massive emissions scandal from a couple of years earlier.

(Read More…)

By on May 25, 2022

Last week, Volkswagen’s supervisory board reportedly told management that it needed to work on improving the company’s software division. Though that should hardly be surprising considering how often digital glitches have delayed product launches and forced the automaker to issue sweeping recalls.

Software gremlins stymied the launch of numerous ID-badged EVs, the Mk8 Golf, and a handful of other vehicles from VW Group’s many subsidiaries. But the issues have persisted, with customers citing electrical troubles and noting that the automaker’s novel touchscreen interfaces are brutally unresponsive. Some of the problems were deemed so heinous that the company eventually recalled literally every current-generation Golf sold within its native Germany. But it’s going to have to do a lot more if it’s serious about leveraging computer code as the cornerstone of an evolving business model and the board of directors seems keenly aware of that fact.  (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2022

While hardly the most modern vehicle in Toyota’s lineup, the 4Runner has developed a reputation for being a versatile body-on-frame SUV with the ability to actually tackle off-road trails — rather than simply looking the part.

This year, the model is celebrating its 40th birthday and Toyota has opted to issue a special edition limited to 4,040 examples. The vehicle in question comes with the 4Runner’s 4.0-liter V6, five-speed automatic transmission, and some visual embellishments designed to set the vehicle apart. These include bronze-colored wheels, bronze-colored badging, and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) stripes down the side. But those are just the broad strokes.  (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2022

Following word that Mercedes-Benz wanted to refocus on producing high-end luxury vehicles with loftier profit margins, the German automaker has decided to eliminate dealerships in Europe so it can move on a direct-sales model similar to what’s offered by Tesla.

The company is reportedly eliminating up to 20 percent of its dealerships in its home country and roughly 10 percent globally (with a focus on Europe). This follows previous assertions by Mercedes that half of the brand’s domestic sales will be done via an “agency model” by 2023. Following an agreement with its own dealer network, the company said late in 2021 that it would begin eliminating the traditional scheme of dealers buying their vehicle stock based on market conditions with consumers coming in to haggle. The new plan puts more financial pressure on Mercedes and eliminates any chance of price negotiation. Meanwhile, dealers will get some cash for every vehicle sold and whatever after-sales services they can render. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2022

S&P Global Mobility has reported that the average U.S. automobile is now 12.2 years old, which it said represented a 2 percent increase since 2021. While relatively modest, the general trend for the last five years has been for vehicles to get older as drivers attempted to milk more life from beleaguered hardware.

Much of this has been attributed to North America’s broadening wealth gap and general improvements in vehicle longevity. If you look back at Department of Transportation data from the 1990s, the average age of a car was under nine years. By 2007, the typical car would see its 10th birthday before scrappage and the number has continued to climb from there. Much of that is due to households having to make do with tighter budgets, which was arguably made easier by modern powertrains that can easily exceed 100,000 miles before needing any serious maintenance.  (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2022

Mercedes-Benz has said it will cut back its entry-level offers to better prioritize premium vehicles with loftier margins. While this strategy has become relatively uncommon throughout the industry, even among some mainstream brands, Mercedes has historically been synonymous with high-end luxury cars. One wonders why it bothered chasing volume to begin with, especially since it doesn’t seem to have panned out for the company.

While executives had previously hinted at its revised strategy in interviews, Mercedes officially unveiled its plan to investors on Thursday. The German brand will focus investments on top-of-the-heap models like the S-Class at the expense of entry-level products that have failed to garner juicy profits.  (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2022

Honda has begun teasing out the electric Prologue in earnest, with its latest offering being a sketch of what appears to be a lifted Civic. Though what we’re actually seeing is the brand’s newest “adventure-ready” SUV tapping into the same inoffensive design language that now graces the ever-popular sedan.

The styling is neutral, perhaps even a little dull. But it’s unlikely to put anybody in a bad mood and is still rounded off in all the places one would expect from an EV. The Prologue looks as though it could come from Lucid, just with a dash of rugged design from Rivian and underpinned by Honda’s current design language. There’s little to gripe about, though there’s also not much to ogle.  (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2022

The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is confirming what local agencies have already been suggesting. Last year represented another sizable increase in U.S. roadway fatalities, pitching up by 10.5 percent over the elevated death rate witnessed in 2020. The agency has estimated that 42,915 people were killed in 2021, whereas 2020 resulted in 38,824 fatalities — a 7.1-percent increase over the declines seen in 2019. While the current situation is not nearly as bad as the rates witnessed during the 1970s, this still represents the highest per capita fatalities in sixteen years and everyone is trying to get a handle on why.

Traffic deaths have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic, confusing everyone who counts crashes because the supporting data also shows that there was a lot less driving being done during the period. Historically, years where people are disinclined from hitting the road due to a beleaguered economy tend to represent far fewer traffic-related fatalities. We can see this happening in 1942 when the U.S. braced itself to enter World War II by rationing everything from fuel to rubber. Another glaring example takes place in 1932, as the nation reached the darkest point in the Great Depression. In fact, there are very few examples of per capita improvements in on-road deaths from the pre-war period, and those that do exist coincide directly with economic recession.  (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2022

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and a dozen related trade groups are petitioning Congress to crack down on stolen catalytic converters. The emission control devices are loaded up with valuable metals and are relatively easy to steal if you’re slim enough to get beneath a parked car and happen to have a reciprocating saw handy — making them prime targets for cash strapped criminals, especially now that material prices are on the rise.

Cities across the country have reported an increase in catalytic converter theft this year. While a majority of police departments are estimating a year-over-year increase of under 40 percent, some have said their figures are substantially larger. In March, Las Vegas Police Department estimated there were 87 percent more vehicles with hacked apart exhaust pipes in 2022. Philadelphia was even higher, reporting a staggering 172 percent increase in dismantled exhaust systems.  (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2022

Last week, a group of Republican attorneys general decided to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision to reinstate the waiver allowing California to set its own limitations on exhaust gasses and zero-emission vehicle mandates that would exceed federal standards.

The agency approved the waiver after it had been eliminated as part of the Trump administration’s fuel rollback on the grounds that it would create a schism within the industry by forcing automakers to produce vehicles that catered to the Californian market at the expense of products that might be appreciated in other parts of the country. However, Joe Biden’s EPA sees things differently and has aligned itself with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in giving the state more leeway to govern itself in regard to emissions policing.  (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2022

Rivian

Ford Motor Co. has decided to continue offloading Rivian stock, with the burgeoning electric vehicle manufacturer at roughly $24 per share. After divesting itself of 8 million shares earlier this month, Blue Oval sold another 7 million ahead of the weekend — leaving itself holding about 9.7 percent of the company.

With 86.9 million shares leftover from the sale, Ford remains a relevant stakeholder. However, investors are growing worried that the legacy manufacturer will continue dumping Rivian as a way of salvaging future losses. Ford, which previously owned some 102 million shares in Rivian, endured a massive $3.1-billion loss in its first quarter as the value of its investment in the company slumped. Worse still, investors are souring on tech and EV stocks in general. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2022

General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford Motor Co. collectively decided to reinstate masking mandates in Michigan over the weekend — stating that the impacted factories were in areas with high levels of COVID-19.

The automakers had lifted mask requirements for employees after the backlash against government-backed restrictions and mandates hit a fever pitch in March. While protests had begun swelling by the fall of last year, the Canadian Freedom Convoy that was forcibility disbanded in February drew national attention to the issue. Despite Detroit manufacturers suggesting they would walk back restrictions (if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was okay) for months, ditching masks initially involved a series of stipulations about vaccinations and job titles. It wasn’t until public outrage spilled over into the real world that sweeping changes began to occur.  (Read More…)

By on May 13, 2022

Despite the United States confronting some of the highest energy prices in its history, the Biden administration has canceled oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), national fuel prices are averaging out to a whopping $4.43 per gallon of regular gasoline. Diesel is much higher at $5.56 and is speculated to endure mass shortages in the coming months as reports from the Northeast have indicated there are already seeing record-low inventories. Over the past twelve months, fuel prices have risen by nearly $1.50 per gallon and most market analysts expect rates to continue moving upwards through the summer. Though they’re not all in agreement as to who should be blamed for our current predicament.  (Read More…)

By on May 12, 2022

The last few years have certainly been interesting for Nissan. After clawing its way back from financial disaster in the early 2000s, the company endured one of the most high-profile and scandal-ridden management shakeups in automotive history by 2018. It also became desperately unprofitable while incurring negative growth, with the remaining leadership deploying an aggressive restructuring plan designed to help get the business back on track.

Those efforts appear to have been successful. (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • RHD: Agreed about the lack of colors. A lot of new vehicles look like they just clearcoated the primer.
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