Category: News Blog

By on June 1, 2020

A Tesla Model 3 became one with an overturned box truck in Taiwan on Monday, raising another red flag for advanced driver-assist features. Since we routinely crap upon driving aids — which never seem to work when and how you need them — we’ll keep this one under 650 words. Fortunately, our task has been made easier by preliminary reports lacking much information and a sizable language barrier.

The incident took place on Taiwan’s National Highway 1 near the Zhongshan High Chiayi Water Section, with the car allegedly operating in Autopilot mode. Video footage shows the Model 3 keeping to the leftmost lane with ample time to stop for the overturned delivery vehicle. There’s even a person standing in the road (likely the truck’s driver), flagging cars to warn them of the giant obstacle. The Tesla, however, failed to notice any of that until it was too late and ended up going through the trailer’s roof.  Read More >

By on June 1, 2020

Over the past decade, regular reports that Chinese automakers were readying a major push into the North American market became commonplace. We started seeing them move out of trade show basements to take up some of the most desirable real estate on the main floor. While some of the product clearly wasn’t yet up to snuff, one could imagine budget-focused products flooding the U.S. and Canada after a few years of polish. However, the last time that seemed like a likely scenario was 2018.

Chinese brands are still trying to break into the untapped North American market; some even have physical office space set up within the United States. However, Sino-American relations have soured dramatically over the past few years, and new financial hurdles have made wrangling a new market extremely difficult.  Read More >

By on June 1, 2020

I must make a confession. Of all the vehicles on the market today — a diverse crowd if there ever was one — no car’s rear end annoys me more than that of the Lexus IS.

The brand’s sporty compact offering went in a controversial direction for its third generation, entering the 2014 model year with half-melted ice cream cone styling. Seems the taillights suffered worst from the heat, as the red plastic managed to bleed nearly all the way down to the rear wheel well. And the first-gen was so clean!

For Gen 4, it seems Lexus is prepared to correct this mistake. Read More >

By on June 1, 2020

2018 Lexus RX 350

The new vehicle market has stopped marching. For three weeks in a row, sales in the U.S. plateaued, mirroring COVID-19 case levels in many locales. Try as they might, neither doctors nor dealers seem capable of eradicating all of the bad and returning the country to its coronavirus-free, spend-happy ways.

Things take time.

If you’re a purveyor of premium cars, however, things are looking up. If mainstream’s your bag, uncertainty reigns. And if you thought Memorial Day Weekend sales offers would stimulate the industry and kick-start a renewed sales climb, well, you were out of luck. Read More >

By on June 1, 2020

Mexico is attempting to accelerate parts production to ensure North American automakers have enough components on hand to stay operational. The response to the pandemic saw manufacturing stalled worldwide as governments assessed whether or not we’d soon be living through a plague of biblical proportions. While fate decreed a repeat of the Black Death would not be necessary, untold damage resulted in numerous business sectors.

The automotive industry hardly went unscathed. Lockdowns stopped sales in many markets for months and plunged supply chains into turmoil as OEMs shut down to ensure staff were helping to “flatten the curve.” With the public’s interest shifting rapidly away from coronavirus mandates toward demonstrations about police brutality and racial justice, or simply devolving into riots because people are pretty angry about how poorly 2020 is playing out, suppliers and automakers are gradually moving back to more normal production schedules.

This has been easier said than done. But it is being done, and that’s the important thing.  Read More >

By on June 1, 2020

sirens. Shutterstock user vchal

This past weekend I had an encounter with the police.

No, I wasn’t protesting the death of George Floyd. Instead, I was approximately 25 miles away from the area in Chicago where protests occurred, sitting in a Mercedes-AMG, surgical mask on, while a very polite police officer (also masked) wrote me up for violating the speed limit.

I’d gone to my favorite back road – Chicagoans, especially North Shore residents, know well the ravine along Sheridan Road – to test this AMG. I’d be heading home with some unexpected paperwork.

Read More >

By on June 1, 2020

toyota

By bestowing a name once associated with the Prius on its top-selling RAV4 crossover — while adding beefed-up electric motors, battery pack, and charging port for good measure — Toyota catapulted the compact CUV’s power and price.

For those looking to get off the line in a hurry while using less fuel, what kind of pocketbook pain awaits them in a new RAV4 Prime? Read More >

By on June 1, 2020

The course Infiniti plotted to guide it safely through the 2010s met with bad weather and hidden shoals, leaving Nissan’s premium division idled and taking on water. Sales dried up, as did its once-promising partnership with Daimler. Even a restyled compact crossover with an innovative engine failed to raise anyone’s pulse upon its 2018 debut. The thud could be heard for miles.

As it embarks on an austere new midterm plan designed to solidify its financial standing, Nissan has a new course in store for Infiniti. Say hello to the “Nissan-plus” brand. Read More >

By on June 1, 2020

All-New 2018 Ford F-150 - Image: Ford

As so-called auto writers, a good number of us spend a great deal of time configuring dream rides online and very little time walking into dealerships and actually buying anything. Someone has to support the used market, I guess.

Today we’re going to focus on a vehicle once used almost solely for hard work but now used just as much, if not overwhelmingly so, for domestic drudgery and commuting. It’s also the most popular vehicle in the country, and one that offers the option of more power for little extra price. Read More >

By on May 29, 2020

Ghana has banned the importation of cars older than 10 years in a move designed to attract automotive plants. As a major importer of second-hand vehicles, the West African nation is largely dependent upon cars discarded by other nations. However, the country’s leadership wants it to become an automotive hub for at least a healthy chunk of the continent. This is a relatively new yet persistent dream for the nation, and it includes a bizarre roster of characters we don’t quite know what to make of.  Read More >

By on May 29, 2020

The same week that Nissan outlined a supposedly sustainable path forward, alliance partner Renault did the same thing, revealing a blueprint for a streamlined business and pared-down workforce in the years ahead.

Annual production will be cut, plants will be shuttered, and about 15,000 employees will be let go, the automaker said. The company’s problem was thinking too big, its interim CEO remarked — something Renault’s former boss might disagree with. Read More >

By on May 29, 2020

Amid widespread suspicion of other human beings and the general sense that public transit is a terrible way to travel when COVID-19 lurks everywhere, Uber has rolled out a feature offered overseas to some of its U.S. customers.

Instead of hailing a ride to the grocery store (or what have you), then dialing up another for the ride back, what if you could just keep your driver for the entire trip — like some sort of big shot? Read More >

By on May 29, 2020

Tesla shareholders are scheduled to vote in July on whether or not the brand should start advertising product like every other automaker on the planet. It’s something the board and CEO Elon Musk have long resisted, and not without good reason. As a car brand, Tesla probably enjoys more free publicity than anyone else.

Musk has effectively mastered social media. He knows what buttons to press to earn more attention, and his one-man campaign has helped the company get where it is today more than the slickest ad copy could have hoped to.

Tesla also managed to spin this into a strength against would-be critics. Anytime someone laughs at the brand for not spending on traditional marketing, its acolytes point to the Musk talking point that cash is better used for development — a claim that holds some real weight, thanks to the brand having some of the most desirable electric vehicles on the market. But Tesla’s mystique won’t last forever, and it won’t be able to count on Elon Musk’s upper echelon Twitter game indefinitely.   Read More >

By on May 29, 2020

There’s inventories to be filled with trucks and crossovers, and time’s wasting. After staging a cautious, production-limited restart of its North American assembly plants on May 18th, General Motors is prepared to put its foot down, boosting output at numerous locations.

Hungry dealers can’t wait. Read More >

By on May 29, 2020

A seldom-mentioned player in the compact crossover arena, the Chinese-built Buick Envision had a complicated introduction to the U.S. market, landing in the middle of the 2016 model year with only pricey uplevel trims in tow.

Buick quickly rectified the problem, adding lower-tier fare and sinking the Envision’s entry price to a more palatable level. Still, the model failed to make a big splash in a hugely competitive segment, with sales peaking in 2017, its first full year on the market. Can this second-generation model make up for a bad first impression? Read More >

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