Posts By: stephwillems

By on February 21, 2020

It seems a rowdy (or perhaps lonely) Valentine’s Day evening turned into a somnambulant early morning in Troy, Michigan, where police responded to a report of more than one driver asleep in a McDonald’s drive-thru lane at the same time.

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck behind a solitary crossover or minivan in which every last occupant is ordering a full meal — with very specific condiment criteria — this boozy drive-thru tale could be your worst nightmare. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2020

ford

Given that domestic full-size pickups generate more money for their respective builders than a war bonds drive, every redesign is fraught with danger.

OEMs walk an especially fine line in this segment, fearful of making a vehicle too bland or too similar to the previous generation, but understandably nervous about breaking out of the box and alienating loyal return customers. Polarizing styling isn’t a recipe for success — the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado taught us a lesson about that (though GM might disagree).

As it prepares for a launch later this year, spy shots of the upcoming Ford F-150 reveal enough to show Ford’s playing it safe… but not too safe. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2020

Tesla’s Model Y has already started production, scheduled to reach consumers by the end of March, but until today there was no official range rating. That’s all changed now, and those standing in line for the automaker’s new compact crossover have reason to smile. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2020

Forgive us for mentioning the coronavirus, or whatever it’s called now, once again. As the highly infectious illness spreads in China (and now South Korea and Iran), a staggering piece of data shows what happens to a country’s auto sales when the one-party state won’t let citizens leave their home. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2020

Tesla won its day in German court Thursday, with the Berlin-Brandenburg judiciary brushing aside an injunction that halted the clearing of 92 hectares (227 acres) of forest. The electric automaker needed those woods gone in order to build a new assembly plant serving European customers.

Unfortunately for Tesla, opposition came in the form of environmentalists who, for some reason, didn’t like the idea of paving paradise to build an electric car factory. While the logging can now continue, Tesla still doesn’t have the go-ahead to built the massive Gigafactory itself. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

Denizens of the United States, you should forget about the word “Golf” and just focus on the “GTI” designation. That’s all you’ll really need to know about, what with Volkswagen opting to ditch the slow-selling Golf in favor of the hotter (GTI) and hottest (R) variants of its compact hatch.

The final inhabitants of a rejiggered U.S. product lineup have yet to be set in stone, but the GTO variant of the upcoming eighth-generation Golf is surely on its way. Today brought our first glimpse of the model. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

JLR/YouTube

Automakers go to great pains to show off their vehicles in the best possible light. Via the deft touch of their respective marketing teams, ordinary machines suddenly grow the ability to do the impossible: getting the hopelessly nerdy guy his dream girl, soothing inconsolable babies, and performing feats of strength that would leave even Frank aghast.

In official pictures and film, the worst fate to befall a vehicle is normally an artistic splattering of mud around the wheel wells. Perfection is always a car wash away.

Not so in the “ad” just released by Jaguar Land Rover, which piggybacks on the exploits of a filmmaking team and gives them all the marketing support they ask for in return. Despite JLR using a Bond movie to its benefit, it’s good to see a vehicle being put to its full potential in a commercial — and sustaining damage in the process. It harkens back to those old Volvo ads of yore, in which abuse factors heavily. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

hyundai

Since the automatic transmission’s birth shortly before the outbreak of World War 2, driver input and road load have dictated what gear a traditional autobox finds itself in. But what if a tranny could instead predict the optimal gear for the road not yet travelled?

That’s a question Hyundai and sister division Kia claim to have answered. Enter the company’s just-announced Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift System. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

If you recall our piece from yesterday, automakers like Nissan are counting on Chinese workers to return to their factories on February 21st, thus preventing a widespread parts shortage that could idle plants on a global scale. That date would be the first day of resumed work in Hubei province following a government-mandated shutdown of all facilities — a tactic aimed at halting the spread of novel coronavirus.

If workers return Friday, the thinking went, the supply chain disruption currently afflicting the world’s automakers won’t be too bad. Well, bad news.

China now says Hubei won’t come online until March 11th. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

honda

With the refresh bestowed upon the wild Honda Civic Type R for 2020 comes a unique variant few Americans will get their hands on. However, unlike European buyers, those 600 lucky customers will at least get a radio and air conditioning.

The Type R Limited Edition takes what’s already a potent, attention-grabbing machine and dials up the track-readiness — but not the power. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

It started with a quip delivered in the TTAC chatroom, in which yours truly equated his computer’s speed to that of a base Chevy S-10. Naturally, any mention of low-rent vehicles from the 1980s and ’90s sent the crew into a frenzy of nostalgia.

Seems the long-gone crop of compact General Motors pickups went through a number of entry-level mills before settling on the 2.2-liter unit that carried penny-pinching buyers through the model’s second generation. Which leads us to the question: What, in your opinion, is the worst four-banger fielded by an American automaker since 1980? (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2020

Nissan titan assembly Canton Factory

It wasn’t long ago — just a day, actually — that Nissan’s already embattled CEO told shareholders he’d happily be fired if the company’s turnaround efforts fall flat.

Less than a week after posting its first quarterly loss in a decade, Nissan now fears that a supply chain disruption born of the Chinese coronavirus outbreak could idle plants worldwide. It’s the last thing the company needs. (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2020

A perplexing vehicle we discussed not long ago has never been cheaper, but don’t expect to read about it in an ad.

The Volkswagen Arteon, a large-ish midsize premium sedan that exists despite the presence of Audi beneath the VW Group umbrella, was apparently struck by Cupid’s arrow on Valentine’s Day. Contained in that arrow (fired from a window at VW of America HQ) was incentives. (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2020

Image: FCA

One of the most fervent wishes of late Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was to see Jeeps enter the garages of consumers in as many countries as possible. The brand’s expansion in past years has been considerable, but not every model is having an easy time, and not all markets have proven receptive.

This week, residents of a country mourning the impending loss of a home-grown brand learned that a Jeep model will soon be no more. Don’t expect an outpouring of angst, however, as they’d already given up on it. Even the Ford EcoSport sells better. (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2020

nissan

Nissan hopes a new service announced Tuesday will entice brand aficionados into paying a sum well above that of your average monthly loan payment for the privilege of swapping between vehicles. The pilot project targeting Houston drivers carries the name “Nissan Switch.”

Yes, as it faces trouble in the U.S. and abroad, the struggling company is following in the footsteps of other automakers and giving the subscription model a go. (Read More…)

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