Posts By: stephwillems

By on June 15, 2019

2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: Volkswagen

The results of a Friday vote are in, and Volkswagen can breathe a sigh of relief. Five years after the United Auto Workers first attempted to place the automaker’s Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant under its umbrella, a second vote has yielded the same results.

Weeks and months of acrimony, ads, accusations, and other seemingly unavoidable aspects of union organizing led to a narrow win for the no-union side. As before, Southern auto plants remain just beyond the grasp of the UAW. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2019

fca

Fiat Chrysler is no stranger to paying the piper when it comes to its less-than-stellar fleetwide emissions, with steep fines and pricey regularly credit deals keeping the automaker’s accountants busy on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some sort of relief is on the way in the form of a $10 billion electrification plan, the results of which will see 17 electrified (electric, plug-in hybrid) models enter the fray by 2022. That’s the intent, anyway. To give the looming crop of green Fiats and Jeeps a better chance of success, FCA has partnered with a pair of European utilities — providing customers with a way of fueling their vehicles. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2019

Image: FCA

Large U.S. companies hoping to side-step the 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods by appealing to the government aren’t having much luck. Since July, the U.S. has imposed the tariff on billions of dollars worth of goods from the People’s Republic, leading to financial fallout for automakers heavily invested in the region.

And it seems no one complained more than General Motors. Tesla, Nissan, Fiat Chrysler, and Uber also sent in official gripes in the hopes of receiving an exemption, only to have the door hit them on the way out. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2019

Lincoln Motor Company

That didn’t take long. After six years spent crafting the design language of Lincoln’s growing stable of vehicles, design director David Woodhouse abruptly resigned earlier this week. The 50-year-old’s connection with parent Ford Motor Company was a long one — 20 years, since his days at Ford’s Premier Automotive Group.

The mystery as to where Woodhouse would land next is over. On Friday, Nissan announced the former Lincoln designer will go to town on the next generation of the brand’s vehicles. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2019

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid - Image: Toyota Canada

Fans of excessive idling will want to consider a 2019 Toyota model rather than a 2020. The automaker has announced two new safety features destined for most of its lineup for the 2020 model year, one of them being a system that shuts off the engine if left running for too long. How long? That’s for Toyota to decide.

The second feature is one employed by automakers with unconventional transmission shifters that really want to keep litigation at bay. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2019

You’ve probably just read about the Performance Appearance Package foisted on the doomed Chrysler 300. Now that your heart rate has returned to a resting level, here’s another Fiat Chrysler options bundle for your consideration: the Ram 1500 Classic’s Sub Zero Package.

The first new Ram grab bag offered to customers in what seems like eight minutes, ticking the box for Sub Zero prepares customers for a season literally no one wants to think about in mid-June. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2019

2017 Chrysler 300C - Image: FCA

Brace yourselves and hide the kids. The Chrysler 300, an aging full-size sedan whose best sales days are long behind it, wants to add a little flair to its top-flight 300C model.

No, there won’t be a monster of an engine borrowed from a Satanic-sounding Dodge. There won’t be head-turning paint options. Instead, Fiat Chrysler will endow its glitziest model with something found on the lesser-ranked 300S. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2019

Steph Willems/TTAC

On the way to meet a longtime friend for dinner last night, your author stopped off to gawk at old cars at a local cruise night event — a common occurrence when the snow isn’t flying.

Thank God for retirees with plenty of resources and lots of free time. I fear what will happen to these rides after the old guys lose their license. And, because this is TTAC and not one of those other sites, you’re not about to hear a bitter, angsty screed about Boomers and their undeserved money and opportunity, etc, etc.

Anyhow, one beauty beckoned to me from across the lot. A 1955 sedan with a badge that should prove unfamiliar to American readers urged me to take a closer look, prompting a bit of rumination about modern-day choices. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2019

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

Volkswagen is close to sealing a deal with Ford Motor Company for the next phase of the two companies’ fledgling alliance. The German giant seems poised to join Ford in its pursuit of self-driving technology through Argo AI — the autonomous startup Ford sunk $1 billion in back in 2017. Paving the way for some sort of tie-up or investment, VW this week ended its partnership with another self-driving startup, Aurora Innovation.

As well, news could soon be forthcoming about a much-rumored electric vehicle pact between the two automakers. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2019

Ford’s F-150 Raptor represents the pinnacle of off-road performance for adventurous full-size truck buyers — it’s a vehicle capable of blasting through brush (not that you would) with its extra-wide stance and enlarged fenders, running full-bore across the backcountry with the 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque on tap from its high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, and sticking bone-crushing landings with the help of its long-legged suspension.

And still buyers wish for more. According to one report, the Raptor could be due for an engine upgrade that puts the correct number of cylinders beneath the hood. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2019

Image: Hyundai

Hyundai blanketed the rollout of its new three-row Palisade with descriptive terms that positively oozed luxury and refinement. Hell, just the name of the thing should conjure up a swanky seaside image or two.

It’s clear the Korean automaker feels its eight-passenger crossover (successor to the Santa Fe XL, formerly just “Santa Fe”) stands on par with its foreign competitors, as its price reflects this newfound feeling of confidence. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2019

2016 Ford Explorer

This isn’t the first recall for Ford vehicles with rear ends that may step out of line, but it’s certainly the largest. On Wednesday, the automaker announced the recall of 1.2 million Ford Explorers in the U.S. out of fear that rear suspension toe links could fracture, leading to a loss of control.

The recalls covers 2011-2017 Explorer models, with Ford saying the issue has already caused one driver to veer into a curb. Over the past three years, several suspension recalls have dogged this generation of Explorer; the cause of the potential fractures ranged from improper welds to the accumulation of a certain type of mud.

Speaking of that mud, it’s more of a menace than originally thought. In a separate recall, Ford today called for the return of four Ford and Lincoln models sold in Canada to replace vulnerable rear toe links. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2019

kia

Often referred to as a “Korean Buick” (sometimes, a “better Buick“), the Kia Cadenza sits in a corner of the vehicle theater where audience attendance is way down. The brand’s largeish midsize sedan gained a new generation for 2017, upping the model’s style and content, and it looks like Kia’s not ready to let a member of its unusually diverse passenger car lineup go ignored for too much longer.

For 2020, the sedan’s just-revealed K7 Korean twin undergoes a significant refresh, adding a touch of menace to the car’s exterior. We should see these same changes on the North American-market Cadenza in short order. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2019

Toyota Mirai Clean Billboard, [Image: Toyota North America]

Toyota and Hyundai have reportedly suspended sales of the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai and Nexo in Norway after one refueling station went up like the Hindenburg.

Local media reports that, on Monday evening, a Uno-X station in Sandvika suffered a “huge explosion” that injured two nearby drivers after the shock wave caused their vehicles’ airbags to deploy. It’s a black eye for a fuel that, despite the best efforts of a handful of determined automakers, can’t seem to make much headway in the marketplace. (Read More…)

By on June 11, 2019

2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV - Image: Chevrolet

If you’re stinking rich, few things stand in the way of any purchase. For plebs consumers of lesser means, pocketbook considerations factor much more heavily into all purchases. You author, by the way, feels pretty good about stockpiling discount meat in his freezer.

When it comes to electric vehicles, limited range and higher sticker prices serve as roadblocks to widespread consumer adoption, regardless of passionate lectures from politicians and online people. There’s progress being made on both issues, but spiffing new green rides remains a go-to method of stimulating sales. A pile of someone else’s cash on the hood goes a long way to sealing a deal.

In Canada, the U.S., and other developed nations, that EV cash comes from your friends and neighbors, not the manufacturer. And if Canadian data from May shows anything, it’s that the appearance of a modest rebate does little to get buyers in the mood to go green. Go big or go home? (Read More…)

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