Posts By: stephwillems

By on April 2, 2020

We told you yesterday how zero-interest financing exploded in popularity in the final two weeks of March, as governments everywhere belatedly clamped down and automakers had to pull out all the stops to lure frightened buyers out of their homes. Despite many would-be buyers not taking the bait, for some, zero-percent/84-month loans proved as irresistible as topless pics of a young starlet on the beach.

At the same time, drivers who stood no chance of netting that coveted no-interest loan were also headed to dealers. (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2020

GM

With all domestic assembly plants shuttered for some length of time and sales barreling towards zero in many markets at the end of March, the coming few months could play out in a number of ways. Sure, no crystal ball can be expected to return bang-on predictions, but that’s not stopping analysts from crafting a number of plausible scenarios.

As projected by J.D. Power, April looks like a wash for new vehicle sales, but the recovery could be more rapid than some fear. Or, just as easily, it might not be. (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2020

Maybe self-isolation is getting to me. Maybe the lack of balcony, deck, backyard, or sprawling property rife with plant life and woodland critters is having an impact, forcing this urban writer with his small carbon footprint into wild daydreams of wide open spaces and the road less traveled. Maybe there’s not enough booze kicking around.

Come to think of it, that could be the problem.

Anyway, as we continue enjoying a springtime of fear, uncertainty, and vastly reduced travel options, let’s turn our minds to a less-talked-about aspect of personal vehicles. (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2020

We’ll have a full tally of first-quarter U.S. auto sales for you tomorrow, but the expected declines in volume have far more to do with what happened in the past two weeks than anything afflicting individual companies in the months prior. If your gig is industry analysis, things have never been wilder.

Analysts at J.D. Power had their hands full tabulating exactly what happens when 265 million Americans are suddenly told not to leave their homes. (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2020

Despite the grand proclamations from various mass-market automakers about the imminent arrival of an all-electric future, not everyone’s so eager to hop on board. Many OEMs have proven hesitant to pump too many dollars into EV development. Further up the societal ladder, luxury automakers, especially those from Germany, have no choice but to pad their lineups with EU-pleasing electrics, but the ultra-lux crowd is a different story.

Rapid movement in trendy new directions is typically not a defining feature of this rarified class.

Bentley, a marque that conjures up images of leather and wood as much as it does large displacements and prodigious thirst, isn’t immune to the eco-conscious (and regulatory) pressure heaped upon automakers these days. It does plan to field an EV, but it won’t happen for a while. And when that model does arrive, it may tread a very different path than the Germans. (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2020

ford

It would be great if pandemics arrived with clear time frames in tow. Alas, this is not the way nature works. And for companies dependent on workers, um, working, the unpredictability of a viral outbreak means every cost-saving measure is on the table.

At Ford, which has already announced a hiring freeze and executive pay cuts, existing efforts might not be enough to stabilize its balance sheet. (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2020

There’s no question that Toyota wishes posters of its cars were found on the bedroom walls of more teenage boys, and, to its credit, it’s made headway on that goal. Supra, anyone? Then there’s the TRD Camry and Avalon, which might raise eyebrows if found in said posters.

That said, the injection of sport into the brand’s once staid lineup seems poised to target the lower end of things. We’ve seen the overseas GR Yaris, an exciting hot hatch not bound for these shores, but Toyota’s focus now seems to be turning to higher-volume small cars. This is where things could get interesting for North America. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2020

“If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.”

If that quote soars over your head, I don’t want to know you. The infamous Seinfeld incident in which an eager-to-impress George reveals to his colleagues that he’s not a team player (at the same time sparing himself from becoming violently ill), riffs on the homogeneity of upper office environments. The forced social collectivization of a corporate in-group.

Climb the ladder high enough and you’ll wear the same brands, enjoy the same timepieces, drink the same booze, and golf the same courses. Or so the perhaps dated view of these things goes. Now, what about cars? (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2020

gm

We can’t tell you how the Chevrolet Trailblazer, reborn as a vastly different vehicle for 2021, drives (thanks to a first drive program scuttled at the 11th hour by coronavirus), but at least we can tell you what to expect at the pump.

As the model starts quietly trickling onto dealer lots at a time when most Americans are scared to leave the house, the Environmental Protection Agency has gotten around to testing the model’s full range. Two three-cylinder engines and two transmissions are on tap. Let’s take a look. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2020

Frankfurt Auto Show 2016

Despite its relatively faraway late-September date, organizers behind the Paris Motor Show say the show cannot go on in its current form.

The “seriousness of the unprecedented health crisis” facing both the world and the show means the event, slated to kick off at the city’s Porte de Versailles on September 29th will pare back several elements. However, depending on how the coronavirus pandemic plays out, some satellite events could still go ahead. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2020

Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

Imagine the exasperation among the six or so people who would have bought this thing after hearing that the slinky wagon version of the Volkswagen Arteon won’t make it stateside. Imagine!

Yes, it appears that the vehicle previewed in a mess of alluring spy shots is not en route to the United States in a fleet of USAF C-17s, part of an all-out effort to get desirable product to the most receptive market as quickly as possible. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2020

genesis motors

Gazing at the next-generation Genesis G80, it’s not hard to believe that the fledgling brand’s design boss once penned the lines of Bentley models.

All-new for 2021, Genesis’ midsize sedan aims to lure premium shoppers out of their German machines and into a Korean conveyance. The brand obviously doesn’t see this as a step down. Far from it. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2020

North American International Auto Show organizers broke with tradition this year by moving the premier trade event, for decades held in January, to a more pleasant and marketable June date. Now they’ve broken with tradition again — by scrapping the thing altogether.

The reason behind it is so glaringly obvious it hardly needs to be stated, but the specific, logistical reason is even more grim: the show’s venue, Detroit’s TCF Center (née Cobo Center), is turning into a field hospital. (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2020

For some reason, Ford and General Motors’ efforts to fill gaps in the medical supply chain have garnered considerable press. This has a way of happening when the President yells at you in public.

Tesla and Fiat Chrysler have stepped up to the plate to help out, too, filling a need in a country hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. A collective effort is good, but Toyota Motor North America wants others to know it’s a member of the same team. Make use of us, it’s telling others. (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2020

Image: GM

One should never pay too close attention to social media, but sadly, that’s where a lot of diplomacy takes place these days. Especially today.

Since dawn broke over the nation Friday, President Donald Trump has chastised General Motors and Ford for their perceived foot-dragging in getting much-needed ventilators into production, urging them to pick up the pace and suggesting that he might invoke the Defense Production Act — a wartime measure aimed at aligning industrial output with America’s immediate defense needs. In this case, the enemy is microscopic, but packs a punch.

We’re already on it, Ford and GM replied. (Read More…)

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