Posts By: Matt Posky

By on January 24, 2020

The German equivalent of AAA, Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC), has long been a proponent of a limitless Autobahn. However, the group recently walked back its zeal for the cause amid demands from environmental groups to enact speed limits in a bid to curb emissions.

While most of the Autobahn has the same posted limits you’d find on most North American highways, there are plenty of sections where people can drop the hammer and go as fast as conditions permit. Safety advocates have often raised an eyebrow, encouraging regulators to limit additional sections of the roadway, but universal limits have always been a bridge too far. Now that environmental groups have joined the fray, the issue has garnered a lot more attention.  (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2020

Porsche Cars North America is the latest automaker to join the expanding list of manufacturers abandoning monthly sales reports in favor of a quarterly format. Detroit has made the changeover entirely, with General Motors swapping to quarterly reports in 2018, only to be followed by Ford and Fiat Chrysler the following year. While Asian manufacturers tend to prefer monthly updates, both Hyundai and Nissan are considering trying quarterly reports within the next twelve months.

As for the German manufacturer, Automotive News cited Porsche as wanting to keep a better eye on the bigger picture. But the plan also runs some risks, especially when some automakers are on the monthly schedule and others report just four times per year.  (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2020

Image: Mahindra & Mahindra

On Wednesday, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) said it will review an administrative law judge’s initial determination, made in November, that Mahindra’s Roxor looks suspiciously like a Jeep product.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles filed a trade complaint with the ITC in 2018, claiming the Roxor infringes on Jeep’s “trade dress” — a term used to identify trademarked images or general appearance of a product. Not quite a patent, it exists on the fringes of intellectual property laws, frequently making trade dress issues difficult to navigate.

The judge’s recommendation was that regulators issue a cease-and-desist order and prohibit any Mahindra vehicles or parts that infringe from entering the country. Meanwhile, the commission is still in the midst of its own investigation — which opened in September of 2018 — and now estimates finishing its inquiry by March 20th.

From there, the U.S. Trade Representative would have two months to make a final determination. Of course, now that Mahindra has updated the look of the 2020 Roxor (below the break), the whole issue could be moot.  (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2020

The extended UAW GM strike of 2019 was the longest the automotive industry endured in a couple of generations. At the time, General Motors said the situation would delay production across its entire model lineup, including the 2020 Corvette. The mid-engined C8 is all-new, encouraging plenty of interest. It was assumed the model was destined to be sold out months before the strike occurred.

While GM later confirmed models were still available, it warned that the strike might delay its launch and could impact dealer allocations. In November, the manufacturer said the C8 wouldn’t arrive until February of 2020, though the latest word from retailers indicates GM will cut back on allocations of the C8. (Read More…)

By on January 22, 2020

The FCA-PSA merger is progressing nicely. According to Fiat Chrysler CEO Michael Manley, the joint timeline established last month is totally feasible. Both companies hoped to get this settled before 2022; Manley now believes everything could be settled within the next 12 to 14 months.

The manufacturers have inked a binding agreement — worth an estimated $50 billion — to collaboratively prepare themselves to fend against slowing global demand and the unpleasantly high cost of developing greener vehicles to appease regional emission laws. They’re also attempting to establish an effective comprehensive strategy for the numerous auto brands involved in the deal. While we speculated about Chrysler’s future yesterday, over a dozen other marques that cater to fairly specific customer groups also need to be considered.  (Read More…)

By on January 22, 2020

Earlier this month, two GM engineers were arrested in Bowling Green, Kentucky for illegally street racing the new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette. Three Stingrays were present, but only two of the men were caught breaking the law. Kentucky State Police stopped Alexander Thim and Mark Derkatz on January 8th, on Lovers Lane in Bowling Green, for exceeding the road’s 45-mph speed limit.

Thim was busted doing 120 mph while Derkatz settled on a nice, round 100 mph, according to local outlet WNKY. However, even 26 mph over the limit would be enough to haul them into custody and set court dates that could end in a suspended license. It seems the two men were also fired from General Motors for hooning the mid-engined C8 before the general public was provided the opportunity. (Read More…)

By on January 22, 2020

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump threatened to impose fresh tariffs on European automotive imports if the region can’t work out a trade deal with the United States. The good news is that the U.S. is already in the opening stages of negotiation with the United Kingdom, which is due to leave the EU at the end of January. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has even said a key benefit of Brexit is the ability to negotiate with countries like the U.S. independently.

Unfortunately, the rest of Europe doesn’t seem as eager to do business — encouraging Trump to fall back to tariff threats. But there’s clearly a retaliatory angle here. In 2018, the EU threatened punitive tariffs on traditionally American items like whiskey and motorcycles as a response to Trump’s intent to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. He’s targeting French goods this time, mentioning 100-percent fees on imported luxury goods from France (champagne, handbags, etc.), additional levies on digital services, and a 25 percent duty on European cars.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Chrysler has certainly changed since emerging from the ashes of the Maxwell Motor Company in 1925, spending the better part of the 20th century purveying all manner of car to the American public. The current century has seen the company merge with Daimler, followed by Fiat. Now it’s cozying up to PSA Group, leaving many to wonder what purpose Chrysler serves beyond being the corporate namesake.

Officially, the merger isn’t supposed to impact any FCA or PSA brands. But the Chrysler brand isn’t exactly a model of industrial health. Its current lineup consists of four vehicles, one of which (Voyager) is just the lower-trim version of the non-hybrid Pacifica. The minivan sales are enviable, comprising over half of all vehicles sold within the segment for the United States last year — if you incorporate the Dodge Caravan — but Chrysler’s overall trajectory leaves much to be desired.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Following confirmation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it will look into a petition calling on the agency to formally investigate 500,000 Tesla vehicles over reports of unintended acceleration, the automaker took to the internet to defend itself.

On Monday, Tesla issued a blog post to say the allegations against it are wrong. It believes claims of unintended acceleration are erroneous, pushed by someone hoping to scoop up Tesla shares at a lower price so they can be swiftly flipped.

The short-seller defense is a popular one with CEO Elon Musk. He’s previously called short sellers “value destroyers,” repeatedly suggesting that the practice should be made illegal. But it’s also in his interest to keep Tesla’s stock ludicrously high, which it is. Despite being several times smaller than either General Motors or Ford, Tesla’s market worth has surpassed their combined value.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Mitsubishi is under investigation by German prosecutors for the suspected use of illegal defeat devices on diesel engines. As usual, the probe was kicked off by a series of raids — practically a cliche at this point.

Germany has certainly ran with the concept after U.S. regulators faulted Volkswagen for using illegal defeat devices to cheat diesel emission testing procedures in 2015. The reality is that regulators are cracking down the world over since the scandal, with Deutschland taking extra precautions to ensure other domestic brands don’t shame themselves like VW did.

Investigators are looking at 1.6-liter and 2.2-liter 4-cylinder Euro 5 and Euro 6 diesel engines and asking individuals who own Mitsubishi models (built after 2014) with those units to contact the police.  (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2020

With General Motors razzing Ford back in 2015 for optioning an aluminum truck bed to save weight, thus improving fuel economy, it couldn’t pull off a similar move without a sea of mouths wailing warnings of hypocrisy. GM has been playing catch-up with the Blue Oval’s full-size pickup since forever, always framing the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado as the more robust choice. The company even launched an advertising campaign to prove its steel truck bed was the tougher option.

When the General’s full-sized trucks underwent a weight-loss program of their own, it was decided anything that opened or closed should be aluminum while the bed absolutely had to stay high-strength steel. Otherwise, it would be guilty of the same mistakes it accused Ford of. Despite throwing shade at Ford’s claimed lack of sturdiness for over a decade, the aluminum-sucks angle has been reeled back immensely over the last couple of years. GM even attempted to wipe all evidence of a comparative rock-drop test from the internet, possibly because it’s finally decided to embrace aluminum itself.

However, there’s already an alternative to the high-strength steel GM currently offers — the CarbonPro bed available on the GMC Sierra Denali and AT4 — and the manufacturer has prepared another stunt show to test its mettle.  (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2020

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

While I don’t particularly agree with all the criticisms Lee Iacocca has thrown at Japan, his most polarizing claim (published in Playboy, no less) — that its citizens certainly know Jeep because “they saw enough of them in World War II” — has bizarrely continued to ring true. As far as American automotive brands go, Jeep has been Japan’s favorite for a while. And it only needed to tamp down its relationship to “The Big One” slightly to get there.

However, the sales game is always relative.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing brands on the market, Jeep only netted itself 13,360 deliveries in Japan for 2019. But consistent growth since 2013 has to account for something, especially when the overall market is performing so poorly. At the very least, it shows American brands can make some amount of headway on a nut Iacocca believed uncrackable.  (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2020

While other manufacturers are downsizing engines and sticking turbos anywhere they’ll fit, Mazda has attempted to maintain a home for naturally aspirated motors — engines it believes should be sized appropriately for their intended application. On paper, this appears to be giving the competition an edge. Yet Mazda remains committed to offering the right tool for the job, introducing naturally aspirated Skyactiv engines with unusually high compression ratios. The latest, Skyactiv-X, combines spark-controlled gasoline combustion and compression-ignition diesel tech with a 24-volt mild-hybrid system.

The system delivers 178 horsepower and 164 lb-ft of torque in 2.0-liter guise, plus MPG improvements of up to 20 percent vs the old Skyactiv-G. But there’s a problem. With Mazda attempting to go upmarket, an economy-focused powertrain has to deliver in whatever region it’s sold, and introductory Skyactiv-X units are now viewed as too small for the United States. The result? The technology’s delayed arrival in North America, despite its deployment via the new 2.0 liter found in the 2020 Mazda 3 and CX-30 sold in Japan and Europe.  (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2020

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agreed to review a petition requesting the agency formally investigate 500,000 vehicles manufactured by Tesla Motors. The petition cites 127 consumer complaints to NHTSA involving models produced since 2012 and asks the NHTSA look into 500,000 units it believes may need to be recalled.

Many of the complaints involve incidents of unintended acceleration when attempting to park vehicles; others cite events where a vehicle’s advanced driving systems (namely Autopilot) led to erratic behavior or crashes in traffic. On Friday, the agency said it would look into the issue.  (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2020

While it still makes appearances at tuner events and car shows, the Nissan 370Z has roughly the same marketing heat as a pair of secondhand shoes. Last year, Nissan only moved 2,384 in the United States, with another 701 being sold in Europe — suggesting the decade-old (albeit fun) coupe may have outlived its usefulness years ago.

Its successor remains elusive, but persistent rumors claim Nissan is working on something to replace the venerable Z. Despite the manufacturer withholding any kind of confirmation, details leaked from dealer meetings suggest the brand is going with a heritage-inspired look, tapping vintage Z models for the design. (Read More…)

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