Posts By: Matt Posky

By on August 20, 2019

It would appear that nobody notified Mercedes-Benz that the minivan segment is shrinking faster than male genitals dunked into icy water. Fortunately, while large MPV sales similarly dwindled in Europe by around 30 percent last year, there may be enough positive heat on vans and electric vehicles leftover for the manufacturer to try and bundle both into one package. Enter the Mercedes-Benz EQV — the next arrival for the EQ sub-brand and first non-commercial, electric luxury van offered by an established automaker. Sounds like a niche market.

While not officially scheduled to debut until next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the EQV has already been teased as a near-production prototype at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Daimler’s also felt comfortable enough to showcase the finished vehicle online, saving a handful of details for the German trade show.  (Read More…)

By on August 20, 2019

It’s no secret that Volvo dealers aren’t keen on the factory subscription plan. Last December, the California New Car Dealers Association even asked the manufacturer to end Care By Volvo on the grounds that it was taking business away from storefronts. The automaker responded by saying the service had proven popular with consumers, attracting new customers to the brand while reassuring dealers that version 2.0 of the subscription plan had been approved by the Volvo Retailer Advisory Board and would give shops more to do.

Rather than take the wait-and-see approach, the California New Car Dealers Association petitioned the state’s New Motor Vehicle Board. Last week, the group unanimously voted to direct the state’s DMV to investigate Care by Volvo and four claims that the service violates provisions of the California vehicle code — potentially leading to disciplinary actions.  (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2019

Ford may be phasing out the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans in the near future, that doesn’t mean you won’t see some the next time you’re visiting the dealership. Last week, the company announced a recall of 103,374 vehicles in the United States, 4,002 in Canada and 1,023 in Mexico due to bunk seatbelt anchor pretensioners.

According to the notice, increased temperatures generated during deployment of the driver or front-passenger pretensioner could degrade the tensile strength of the cable below the level needed to effectively restrain an occupant. (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2019

Image: Ford

We’re not going to sugarcoat it — Cadillac routinely bests Lincoln in terms of sales. General Motors’ luxury marque constantly carves out a larger portion of the domestic market and has managed to make global inroads Ford’s premium division has not. For example, Cadillac saw 228,043 deliveries in the People’s Republic of China last year. Lincoln only saw 55,315.

However, the race at home is much closer. Last year in the United States, GM shipped 154,702 premium-badged cars to Ford’s 103,587. But Cadillac has been losing ground in North America while Lincoln has remained comparatively stable, slowly rebuilding its strength. Cadillac may still outsell Lincoln overall, but the gap is beginning to narrow.  (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2019

vision 2.0 NHTSA Autonomous vehicles

Over the past year the automotive industry has carefully walked back the expectations surrounding autonomous cars. Yet pretty much any change in rhetoric constitutes retracted goals. With numerous companies predicting self-driving fleets of commercial vehicles before 2021, the bar couldn’t have been set much higher.

A lack of progress is partly to blame. However, a bundle of high-profile accidents have also shaken public trust — especially after it was found that Uber whistleblower Robbie Miller was trying to alert the company to issues with its self-driving program just days before one of the company’s autonomous Volvos was involved in a fatal accident with a pedestrian.

That’s not the half of it. In April, Miller released a study claiming self-driving vehicles were actually recording incident rates higher than that of your typical motorist. Contrasting data from the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) and the California DMV, he concluded that autonomous test vehicles created more injuries per mile than the average human motorist with a few years of practice.  (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2019

Image: Subaru

Earlier this month the insurance comparison site Insurify passed around a study of the car models most likely to receiving speeding tickets. The worst offenders were all rather predictable, with Subaru’s WRX leading the charge. Other models, like the Scion FR-S and Volkswagen Golf GTI, helped paint a clearer picture — one that pointed toward younger motorists with a preexisting interest in speed.

While “Quick Cars Go Fast” isn’t the most compelling headline, Insurify released another study this week detailing America’s most accident-prone vehicles. The speeding study was pretty cut and dried, but this one is a bit more mysterious. What goes into an automobile that makes it perfect for crashing?  (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2019

A federal probe that’s been dropping United Auto Workers staff like flies has another one in its crosshairs, this time with ties to General Motors. Up until now, the investigation has primarily involved members connected to the union’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles department or the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. But, according to court records filed Wednesday, retired UAW-GM Center for Human Resources board member Michael Grimes is also formally accused of corruption.

Grimes becomes the ninth individual to be slapped with corruption charges and the first with links to an automaker outside of FCA. He is not, however, alone. Court documents suggest he’s one of several UAW officials suspected of accepting bribes and kickbacks from automakers; they’ve just yet to be named.  (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2019

Audi’s E-Tron has become the first battery electric vehicle to receive the coveted Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+ award. However, considering the group rarely tests EVs, it may soon find itself with company. The IIHS requires an automobile to earn high marks in six crashworthiness evaluations, as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and a good headlight rating to be eligible for the commendation.

Chevrolet’s Bolt managed to achieve the necessary ratings in all categories, save for headlight illumination. The same was true for Tesla’s Model S — though that vehicle also received an “acceptable” rating for the small frontal overlap crash test. Other EVs have yet to undertake a full complement of tests, potentially giving the E-Tron a bit of a head start.  (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2019

Nio, one of China’s biggest EV startups, is confronting difficult times, though the primary reasons for its plight are less than obvious. Automotive startups have a low survival rate, but Nio was presumed to be the next big thing in vehicular electrification. It looked poised to become one of the few EV companies that would survive in Asia, likely serving as China’s response to Tesla, and even had a successful Formula E racing team to showcase its engineering might.

We sad had because Nio sold that team this year. It also needed to recall 4,800 vehicles after reports of three catching fire, endured a sizable sales drop, witnessed its share price plummet, announced plans to layoff 10 percent of its workforce, and just lost one of its co-founders.  (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2019

When General Motors debuted the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, the automaker promised it would start below $60,000. It’s just barely been able to keep that promise at $59,995, which incorporates the obligatory $1,095 destination charge, but it’s still an impressively low target for a mid-engined performance vehicle. You can, of course, option out Chevy’s C8 Stingray to a much higher price tag.

Fortunately, even if you go absolutely mental on the options, you’ll still be saving yourself some cash vs any of the Corvette’s chief rivals. For example, a bare-bones Porsche 911 starts at $98,750 while the Corvette has to move up two trim levels and take on loads of extras before it surpasses $80,000. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2019

With another global recession looming on the horizon, executives at General Motors and Ford are busy touting the merits of being prepared. On Tuesday, the financial heads of both automakers were present at a J.P. Morgan Conference in New York to explain the steps being taking to mitigate economic disaster.

While financial hardship is not yet a guarantee for the United States, the ongoing trade war with China has impacted the cost of doing global business. Likewise, most sizable automotive markets are either underperforming or have surpassed peak growth levels. Depending upon the severity of the anticipated recession, GM claims its “downturn planning” could include postponing non-essential capital expenditures and shifting toward lower-priced automobiles. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2019

2015-Ford-Focus-15

Ford took some heat after reports emerged that it was well aware of the issues plaguing the PowerShift transmission found in third-gen Focuses and sixth-gen Fiestas. While the automaker has issued numerous recalls on the vehicles in question, the transmission was never officially included. Instead, Ford provided impacted owners with extended warranties on the problematic DSP6 tranny and issued a software update.

Hoping to quell public outrage, the manufacturer said on Wednesday that it will stretch the warranty on certain 2014-16 model year Focus and Fiesta vehicles by two years and 40,000 miles. It also announced that software updates are incoming for customers who found the six-speed dual clutch a nonstop headache. While not quite a recall, it puts Ford on the hook for transmission repairs some customers had to pay for out of pocket.  (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2019

Mini’s upcoming Cooper SE, the brand’s first all-electric model, goes on sale in 2020. Based off its initial specifications, we assumed it wouldn’t be incredibly popular. While output is a serviceable 135 kilowatts (roughly 184 hp), the model’s small 32.6-kWh battery pack only allows for 146 miles of range using the optimistic European testing cycle. While that would have made it highly competitive in the early days of modern electrification, it’ll be at a disadvantage when stacked against the likes of the Tesla Model 3 or Chevrolet’s Bolt.

We presumed this would manifest as weak demand, leaving Mini to tug uncomfortably at its collar. But the Cooper SE is already outperforming the BMW i3 in terms of sales, and it isn’t even slated for production until November.  (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

Last week, the Center for Auto Safety announced it had reached out to America’s ride-hailing giants to encourage them to stop allowing drivers to use vehicles under active recalls. The group’s release references a Consumer Reports study from this spring that alleged 1 in 6 automobiles commissioned by Uber and Lyft had unresolved defects in the NYC and Seattle areas.

“Unrepaired recalled vehicles are dangerous and can kill or injure drivers, passengers, bikers, or pedestrians. Exploding Takata airbag inflators which have resulted in at least 24 deaths worldwide, GM ignition switch failures which have resulted in at least 170 deaths in the U.S., and hundreds of other less-publicized defects pose equally significant threats to public safety,” explained the advocacy group. “Yet, recent studies from Consumer Reports and others have found concerning numbers of rideshare vehicles with unrepaired recalls on the Uber and Lyft apps.” (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

Image: Nissan

Nissan won’t be extending the same commitment it has for small cars to its full-size pickup line. The automaker recently told U.S. dealers that it would begin scaling back its Titan offerings, partly due to a new Titan looming on the horizon. Nissan intends to unveil the new pickup in the fall. Meanwhile, existing Titan sales could be a lot stronger. The model can’t really compete against domestic brands, despite also being manufactured in the U.S.

The Titan’s annual sales are less than monthly Ford F-Series deliveries. Extrapolated, Nissan moved 50,459 units in 2018 against the pickup sales king’s 909,330. But the Titan even has trouble competing with the likes of the GMC Sierra, which saw 219,554 domestic deliveries last year.

According to Automotive News, Nissan’s evolved pickup strategy focuses on prioritizing what works for the passenger market — which means turnings its back on single-cab models and the Cummins diesel engine available in the Titan XD. (Read More…)

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