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Matt Posky

By on June 24, 2021

Stellantis plans to extend the typical summer downtime at a couple assembly plants while relaunching production at Windsor Assembly next month. The Canadian van factory will be see two shifts returning on July 5th, while its Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois and Toluca Assembly Plant in Mexico will be idled due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage. This has become a common tactic within the automotive industry, with our doubting it’ll be the last occasion we’ll be reporting on extended summer vacations.

Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. appears to have lost its technology chief to Amazon. Ken Washington was hired into Blue Oval after a sting with Lockeed Martin in 2014 and will be leaving the automaker next month to become vice president of software engineering for the tech giant.  (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2021

The Honda Civic hatchback has arrived and managed to match the 11th-generation sedan’s clean looks so completely, that we’re wondering how many people will be able to spot the differences from afar. It’s a major departure from the previous generation, where the hatchback represented some of the boldest styling the company ever tried. Honda has clearly tried to build something less polarizing this time around, with current Civics taking a lot of influence from the fifth generation cars — which are best known for their tastefully understated exteriors, general ubiquity, and being one of the most frequently modified automobiles in history.

Those Civics were also largely indistinguishable from each other when viewed from the front. That’s true today as well, with the only glaring distinction between the body styles being the modern hatchback’s bubble butt and unique taillights. There are also a few trim pieces that separate the two. But the most meaningful differences revolve around packaging, with the hatchback offering more options than it used to.

There is an unfortunate exception, however.  (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2021

The 2021 Acura TLX Type S is currently being shined up in showrooms around the country in the hopes of catching the eye of people that still remember the brand formerly produced a handful of downright excellent performance vehicles. It’s specifically trying to recapture the magic of the TSX — which the rest of the world knew as the fun version of the Honda Accord — and appears to have been built under a similar philosophy.

Rather than committing itself to ludicrous levels of power or an overabundance of attitude, Acura has attempted to deliver a balanced, tasteful luxury vehicle that can still scramble like an egg. While the previous offspring of this mindset made do with roughly 200 horsepower, the TLX Type S produces a much more meaty 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque and recently dropped some additional marketing materials to drive that point home now that it’s on sale.  (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2021

Volkswagen Group has been prattling on about electrification for years and ultimately decided that Audi would be the tip of its progressive spear. The brand has cachet as both a luxury and performance division, while simultaneously possessing VW’s magical ability to produce vehicles that don’t become an eyesore after you’ve had them in the garage for a decade.

While transitioning toward EVs runs the risk of spoiling that, Audi is clearly the VW property best positioned to come after would-be Tesla customers and is not hesitant to issue reminders that it’s serious about being a global leader when it comes to battery-driven vehicles. On Tuesday, the Ingolstadt-based company announced plans to exclusively launch electrically driven automobiles from 2026 onward — adding that it doesn’t even plan on selling internal-combustion vehicles by 2033.

But these rules won’t apply to the Chinese market, which will be flush with internal-combustion vehicles produced within its borders years after the rest of the world has apparently lost the option to purchase them.  (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2021

Hyundai

Hyundai is sharing heavily doctored images of the upcoming Elantra N, offering a taste of what its performance arm plans to do when unleased upon the rest of the company’s lineup. Unlike N-Line products, which are more about supporting modest performance upgrades with visual embellishments, N models are basically as hardcore as the manufacturer can build a vehicle while still attempting to turn a profit.

Thus far the formula has only had sufficient time to produce the 275-horsepower Veloster N — a hatchback that seems intentionally designed to dunk on the more reserved Volkswagen GTI. But the Elantra is rumored to embrace the Veloster’s powertrain and a similar personality, resulting in something relatively unique for our market.  (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2021

While it’s not scheduled to make any public appearances until the United Kingdom’s Goodwood Festival of Speed kicks off in July, Genesis is dropping photos of the G70 Shooting Brake like it’s just days away from hitting the market.

Not our market, of course. The manufacturer shrewdly decided to leave the wagon in Europe, angering thousands of North American drivers who beg for vehicles like this with no intention of ever buying one. But it sure looks nice, with Genesis managing to stretch the bold design of the G70 sedan while adding a substantial amount of cargo capacity.  (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2021

As the resident sourpuss, I make it my business to complain about every industrial hypocrisy that crosses my path and the automotive sector has kept me so busy that there’s hardly any time left to address my own failings. Though I do have to confess that I sometimes feel guilty about how frequently I’m compelled to gripe about electric vehicles. Provided that you’re willing to work with their charging limitations and less-than-impressive ranges, EVs have a lot to offer even in their current state. But the way they’ve been marketed has been so consistently disingenuous that I often end my days on the cusp of a frustration-induced aneurysm.

The winds appear to be changing, however.

After years of watching the industry bang its head against the wall, the media seems prepared to shift its position. Accelerated adoption of pure electrics doesn’t seem to be happening and too many EV startups have ended up being little more than an opportunity for investors to throw away money. Increasingly fewer people ask me about battery-powered cars in a way that suggests true enthusiasm. Excitement has given way to dubiousness as more people have begun to ponder if electrics are really all they’re cracked up to be.  (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2021

Subaru Legacy 2018 Logo Emblem Grille

The global semiconductor shortage has been particularly hard on Western automakers, though it’s not been peaches and cream for Asian brands. Following news that Nissan had run into issues resulting in additional downtime this summer, we’ve learned that Subaru is currently operating with a scant, nine-day supply of product and will be required to conduct more plant closures due to a lack of chips.

Having already stalled its Yajima plant on multiple occasions, as well enacting work stoppages at Subaru of Indiana Automotive (its U.S. facility), this is hardly where the brand wanted to find itself going into the warmer months. On Friday, Subaru announced it would be idling two plants in Japan’s Gunma prefecture this July.  (Read More…)

By on June 18, 2021

We’ve got more bad news about Lordstown Motors. Following several volleys of bad mojo ending with the departure of its upper management, the EV startup has informed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday that it doesn’t have any binding purchase orders or commitments.

That’s not what the company was saying several months ago. Hell, that wasn’t even what it said earlier this week when President Rich Schmidt told the Automotive Press Association the company had enough orders to support two years of production. Since the ability to sell automobiles is a somewhat relevant factor in an automaker’s long-term success, we’re getting concerned that Lordstown isn’t long for this world.  (Read More…)

By on June 18, 2021

At the start of the year, the city of Chicago announced that it would be changing rules pertaining to traffic enforcement as part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s updated 2021 budget package. But the one that was causing the most concern among motorists was a provision to have speed cameras issue tickets to anybody traveling 6 miles an hour over the posted limit, rather than the previous cutoff of 10 MPH. While just a singular aspect of the city’s plan to resolve a $1.2-billion deficit, it turned out to be one of the most controversial items and appears to have resulted in a tenfold increase in fines.

According to local affiliate CBS Chicago, data from a public records request indicated that during the 36-day period before and after the change took effect on March 1st, citywide ticketing went up from 35,784 citations in the weeks before to a massive 398,233 in the proceeding weeks.  (Read More…)

By on June 17, 2021

It’s always nice to get a break from the endless stream of industry marketing materials about electrification, though this week’s impromptu theme still involves going green. Following news that General Motors is considering changing its drug testing policies to exclude marijuana, there has been heavy coverage of an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study claiming states that have legalized recreational use of cannabis are seeing more crashes.

But the framing seems wildly irresponsible as it fails to highlight the problem being heavily tied to individuals operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana and alcohol combined. It’s more or less what the IIHS attempted to do in 2018 with help from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). Our guess is that the duo is seeking out fresh reasons for insurance companies to raise rates in regions that have legalized pot because even their own research complicates the issue.  (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2021

There is plenty of electrification news this week, despite the brunt of consumers remaining seemingly disinterested in the automotive segment that’s entirely dependent upon batteries. General Motors recently announced that it would be increasing its EV investments through 2025 to $35 billion, noting that some amount of the funding will also be going toward autonomous vehicle development.

Meanwhile, Stellantis confirmed that it’s planning a quartet of battery-driven automobiles offering more utility than the pint-sized Fiat 500e. Those vehicles aren’t supposed to see assembly until 2024 and there are lingering questions about where the firm plans on building battery plants. But the UILM union has confirmed that the upcoming models are likely to be midsized and built at the company’s Melfi plant in Italy. (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2021

Volvo-owned Polestar has announced that its upcoming “performance SUV” will be manufactured within the United States, starting late in 2022. The model will be assembled alongside other Volvo products at the Swedish company’s facility in South Carolina. It also provides an opportunity for Chinese parent Zhejiang Geely Holdings to make meaningful moves on the North American marketplace and less ammunition for critics to reference the EV-focused Polestar as a foreign brand.

“Polestar 3 will be built in America, for our American customers,” said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath. “I remember the great response when I first shared Polestar’s vision here in the USA and I am proud that our first SUV will be manufactured in South Carolina. From now on, the USA is no longer an export market but a home market.” (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2021

Rumor has it that the semiconductor shortage is going to be leaving Nissan facilities operating in North America to contend with a difficult summer. This issue appears to have been largely unavoidable but it’s hardly the position a manufacturer hoping to launch a comeback tour wanted to find itself occupying.

But, before we make this look like some failing on the part of Nissan, let’s take a look down memory lane to see some of the other companies that were negatively impacted by the chip shortage this year.  (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2021

Flint Truck Assembly is the only standing reminder of General Motors’ formerly impressive commitment to Genesee County, Michigan. Other representations include a myriad of crumbling factories that were closed decades ago and the area’s preponderance of vintage, high-mileage Buicks retained out of utility after the employment situation turned sour. Saying that the region has fallen upon hard times would be a grotesque understatement.

But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t still automotive jobs to be had. Despite GM reducing its Flint workforce from roughly 80,000 in the mid-1970s to fewer than 10,000 in 2010, the truck plant is still operational and reportedly looking for 450 temp workers to help fill in scheduling gaps for the 5,100 union-represented staffers it currently employs. Unfortunately, it’s been having trouble finding enough bodies, though the UAW has a solution. It believes that General Motors should stop drug testing, especially now that Michigan has legalized recreational marijuana use.  (Read More…)

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