Posts By: Matt Posky

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…)

By on August 12, 2019

The U.S. Navy has decided to convert the touch screens installed on its destroyer fleet back to mechanical controls after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) cited them in the fatal collision between the USS John S McCain and tanker Alnic MC in 2017. They were also referenced in the collision report released after the USS Fitzgerald collided with the ACX Crystal container ship. While the reports dealt largely with crews being improperly trained on the system’s various functions, the complexity of the graphical interface was cited as a potential issue in itself.

This encouraged Naval Sea Systems Command to conduct fleet surveys in the hope it could get a handle on how officers felt about the systems. The result? Crew members said they wanted more physical controls, echoing the cries of automotive safety advocates the world over.  (Read More…)

By on August 12, 2019

While public interest in crossovers has encouraged Nissan to rejigger its global offerings, the automaker has refused to abandon small sedans. It’s something we’ve seen across the board with Japanese automakers. As the crossover craze hit full swing, both Toyota and Honda said that abandoning entry-level automobiles might mean leaving first-time buyers behind. Despite crossovers bringing in more customers and money, small sedans and hatchbacks have a tendency to reel in new, young customers. Japanese brands sees the prospect of gaining life-long patrons as an advantage, especially as other automakers (*ahem, the Detroit Three*) shift away from such vehicles.

Nissan’s situation is more complicated. It can’t ignore its bottom line after last months’s dismal financial report, and rumors abound that it will soon begin to pair down its lineup. However, that will not involve culling its small-car offerings.  (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2019

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Mike Manley said the automaker will not have to pay fines for failing to meet the demands of tightening European air quality regulations. But that’s not because the automaker is actually going to adhere to them. FCA has been pretty open in explaining its willingness to simply endure fines or, conversely, buy enough carbon credits to circumvent the issue entirely. And, over the next two years, the latter strategy will be how it copes with the EU’s pollution mandates.

It’s not ignoring efficiency, however. FCA still plans on releasing an improved Fiat 500 BEV while expanding its hybrid offerings via the Jeep brand this year. It’s just easier (and cheaper) to buy credits in advance, knowing the manufacturer will need them.  (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2019

The futuristic world of personal transportation sans ownership was, once again, called into question after Uber posted its largest-ever quarterly loss on Thursday. The $5.2 billion dollar dent was accompanied by a Q2 that also showcased slowed growth, the worst the ride-hailing firm has ever seen.

While Uber attributed a large portion of its losses ($3.9 billion) to the employee stock compensations it needed to issue after its initial public offering in May, the remaining $1.3 billion still represents increased losses over last year’s results. Uber also said it expects to lose $3 billion through the end of 2019.

Despite revenue continuing to grow to roughly $3.1 billion, up 14 percent from last year, it’s the slowest quarterly growth rate in Uber’s history. However, the company claimed that “healthy growth” is what it’s primarily seeking at this time — and made a point of noting so on numerous occasions.  (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2019

While Lotus Cars’ world premiere of the Evija hypercar was easily the biggest announcement made by the company in the past ten years, another major announcement slipped in beneath the radar this week. Apparently, Lotus has a new logo.

Whilst browsing the brand’s latest press releases, we noticed it had uploaded some new photos of the Evija and a gaggle of snapshots from its new partnership with the Norwich City Football Club. Despite European soccer sponsorships holding this author’s interest about as well as a sieve holds water, something looked a little off about the Lotus emblem emblazoned on the Evora and Exige models parked outside of the renamed “Lotus Training Centre.”

Why Lotus decided to bury its new branding announcement deep within a press release about its favorite sports club is anybody’s guess. Perhaps it felt the changes to the logo weren’t extreme enough to warrant a separate announcement.  (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2019

Following news that Acura is restoring the Type S designation for future high-performance models, the brand announced it would also expand its selection of heritage colors. While the NSX is already available in Berlina Black, the company says it will debut Indy Yellow Pearl for the 2020 model year at this month’s Monterey Car Week.

The hue is a throwback to the Spa/Indy Yellow that graced 1st-generation models and managed to stick around on 20 percent of NSXs produced between 1997 and 2003. It looks as though Acura’s future lies partially in its past, which is fine by us.  (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2019

We’ve got some shocking news for convertible fans. The Audi A3 Cabriolet is still on sale in North America.

Did you forget that it existed? We sure did. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem we’ll have going into 2020, as this is to be the model’s last year. Of course, this changes next to nothing as we haven’t seen one in the wild some time. In fact, it’s difficult to recall the last occasion any automotive outlet even bothered reviewing one.

As the spiritual successor to VW’s now-defunct cabriolets, the open-air A3 occupies an interesting place in the market. It’s a little pricey for most parents looking to treat their college-aged daughters, with a starting MSRP of $39,000, and lacks the oomph and prestige of Audi’s other drop-top offerings.  (Read More…)

By on August 7, 2019

The fuel economy rollback posited by the Trump administration remains a hotly debated issue within the automotive community. Unfortunately, it has become mired in political nonsense, making decrypting the real-world impact of embracing or shunning it rather difficult. Consumer Reports recently took a stab at making sense of the matter, coming out in favor of balking at the notion of a rollback on the grounds that it would ultimately raise fueling costs.

Last year, the administration proposed capping fuel economy and emission standards at 2020 levels, instead of allowing them to rise annually as under existing regulations. The opposition, fronted by California, is vying to maintain the existing standards — with the possible compromise of delaying them by one year.  (Read More…)

By on August 7, 2019

With the American public growing less inclined to visit car dealerships, Ford Motor Company is toying with an interesting solution — setting up shop in your local mall. The concept will be similar to the storefront Jake and Elwood crash through in The Blues Brothers after noticing “the new Oldsmobiles are in early this year.” It’ll be small, limited to a couple of showroom models, and will serve as a satellite for local dealerships.

However, shopping malls aren’t nearly as popular as they were in the 1980s. Back then, people actually left the house to do their shopping. But there’s still hope. Many malls are rebranding themselves as shopping centers and focusing more on experiential services and the kind of goods you wouldn’t want to purchase sight unseen. The rest continue to wither on the vine.  (Read More…)

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