Category: Platforms

By on January 14, 2019

Image: GM

Everyone else is doing it. And, if lawmakers on this side of the Atlantic start going the way of their European counterparts, traditional American luxury will need a shot of cleanliness. Even if they don’t, a fickle U.S. public might suddenly fall in love with the green lifestyle and give a big middle finger to internal combustion road cruisers.

Not wanting to be left without a savior in this future scenario, and needing some electric American prestige to sell to discerning Chinese buyers, Cadillac unveiled this piece of emissions-free hardware on the eve of the North American International Auto Show. It’s not vaporware, General Motors insists. Read More >

By on December 18, 2018

Image: Audi

Customers won’t get a chance to buy an Audi E-tron SUV until next year, but, if money’s tight, they might want to hold off for a while. The German brand’s first electric utility vehicle (seen above) arrives in the second quarter of 2019, carrying a base price of $74,800 — at least once the launch editions clear out. More E-trons will follow, including a Sportback version of the SUV and a top-flight GT sports sedan.

Green, but still requiring plenty of green to plunk one in your driveway. Audi apparently has a solution for budget-minded premium EV shoppers, and it plans to make it happen with help from Volkswagen. Read More >

By on October 31, 2018

Pretty much everything is on the table at this point. At least, that’s the way it looks to industry observers. The partnership announced between Ford and Volkswagen back in June has the potential to birth any number of outcomes — from jointly developed commercial vehicles (the initial aim), to badge-swapped overseas small cars, autonomous vehicle hardware, and perhaps even borrowed electric vehicle architecture.

As it prepares the launch of its MEB-platform electric vehicles, Volkswagen’s not saying “no” to letting Ford have a piece of the action. Read More >

By on August 17, 2018

Image: Ford

Earlier this year Ford announced the impending removal of all passenger cars from its lineup, save the Mustang and — if we’re creative about what qualifies as a car — the lifted Focus Active. However, the automaker says it intends to fill the void over the next five years.

Speaking at a press event leading up to the Woodward Dream Cruise, an annual Detroit event celebrating classic automobiles, Ford product chief Hau Thai Tang said the brand plans to add nine nameplates by 2023 — effectively replacing the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Taurus, C-Max, and Flex, while adding in three additional models.

Before you start getting over-excited about the potential return of the Ford Fairlane or Torino, seven of these vehicles fall into the pickup or utility segment. That leaves two open spaces for prospective sedans or, more likely, quirky electrics.  Read More >

By on August 10, 2018

Image: Ford

Frankly, it’s doubtful many people imagined anything else.

Not content with just foisting a new Bronco on us (while keeping the design under wraps for an infuriating length of time), Ford will debut a new small SUV alongside the returning nameplate. Just don’t expect any sharing between the two.

According to a Ford exec, the “Baby Bronco” will do its best to mimic old Broncos of yore, despite sharing parts with the Escape and Focus. A body-on-frame bruiser this ain’t. Read More >

By on August 6, 2018

2016 Land Rover Range Rover fording - Image: Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover’s mysterious Road Rover name, now trademarked, has been the subject of speculation ever since the British automaker began tossing it around in internal communications. As the company prepares a slew of new or redesigned models based largely around a versatile new architecture, the name has cropped up again.

It seems “Road Rover” won’t appear on the flanks of the mystery vehicle, even if it is built. Read More >

By on July 11, 2018

Image: Ford

The attractive Ford Fusion seems to be on track to linger around a bit longer than its passenger car stablemates, even in its current form. Focus, Taurus, and Fiesta production should wrap up by the middle of next year, with the Fusion’s end date currently shrouded by haze. All signs point to the current midsize sedan ending its run in 2021.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a new Fusion waiting to replace it. Read More >

By on June 2, 2018

2018 Dodge Challenger Shakedown

When the first LX-platform Chryslers appeared in late 2004, buyers who had long grown wary of the automaker’s products took solace in the fact that the new 300 and Dodge Charger/Magnum borrowed so many components from bedmate Mercedes-Benz.

While not a direct carryover, the front and rear suspension, floorpan, and five-speed automatic transmission (among other items) all boasted German heritage. DaimlerChrysler found itself with a hit on its hands. Thirteen years later, after many updates and styling refreshes, LX cars still trundle off Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario assembly line and into the waiting arms of North American traditionalists.

It was long expected that, after FCA hit snooze on a planned 2019 platform swap, we’d see new underpinnings for the old rear-drivers by 2021. Hold your horses, says CEO Sergio Marchionne. Read More >

By on May 24, 2018

Volvo, back from near death and feeling pretty pleased with itself, wants to capitalize on the modular platform found beneath the XC40 compact crossover. With 80,000 orders for the new-for-2018 ‘ute under its belt, the Chinese-owned Swede plans to spawn more models and reassert itself in the small car space.

On Thursday, the company said it would throttle up production of the XC40 at its Belgian assembly plant, which will soon boast quite a bit of usable space. The S60 sedan’s headed to South Carolina later this year. Meanwhile, the V60 wagon sibling will move most of its production to a Swedish plant.

What does this mean for the United States? Perhaps more than you’d expect. Read More >

By on May 22, 2018

Ford badge emblem logo

Ford’s upcoming “Mustang inspired” electric crossover, which appeared (or didn’t, really) in a video shown the Detroit auto show, stands to ride on a new architecture that doesn’t bring to mind either the Mustang or the Explorer.

While a new report doesn’t provide us with an OEM-sourced image of the 2020 crossover, which may carry the Mach 1 name, it gives as sense of what to expect in terms of size. Read More >

By on May 18, 2018

Daimler AG has announced an investment of 500 million euros ($589 million) for its plant in Hambach, France, to start production on a compact electric car for the Mercedes-Benz EQ brand. Known as “Smartville,” the complex was purpose built in the 1990s to supply the automaker with the first batch of Smart ForTwos and has been humming along ever since.

While numerous outlets have billed the model as a “Tesla fighter,” the rumor mill claims this vehicle is quite a bit smaller than the Model 3. That sounds reasonable enough, considering the new model would be produced in the same facility as the electric ForTwo and cabrio. However, the multi-million dollar investment will presumably go toward expanding the factory and procuring the EQ its own assembly line. We’ve heard nothing about the new Mercedes being a rebranded Smart vehicle.

There are actually a lot of gray areas to navigate here. While Mercedes spent a lot of time billing EQ as an electrified subsidiary, it’s already tacking the name onto electric Smart cars. The nomenclature now seems intended for any Daimler model with an electric powertrain, plus cleverly styled concept vehicles. Spyshots of the EQC sport utility vehicle, Mercedes’ first official entry into its broader EV effort, show the heavily camouflaged vehicle looking very much like the standard GLC-Class — not the concept EQs we’ve seen in the past.  Read More >

By on May 1, 2018

Image: Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Oh man, they even got the paint right. Who knew retro design cues could feel so authentic?

Hold on, that’s not the upcoming midsize Chevrolet Blazer — it’s a 1979 model (in alluring Cheyenne trim). Obviously, General Motors expects the public to hold fond memories of the Blazers of yesteryear, otherwise it wouldn’t affix the brawny, rugged name to its newest crossover. Yes, crossover. The Tahoe, which replaced the two-door K5 Blazer back in the mid ’90s, remains the top choice for drivers looking for bowties and body-on-frame construction.

However, there’s plenty of space between the newly downsized Equinox and sprawling Traverse. Into the breach drives the Blazer. Read More >

By on April 16, 2018

Beneath the recently unveiled next-generation Ford Focus is an architecture that stands to proliferate through the Ford ranks, underpinning models as large as the Ford Edge.

While American consumers won’t see the new Focus until the latter half of 2019, well after buyers in Europe and China (where the U.S.-bound model will be built), the unnamed platform, which barely got any type of billing during the model’s reveal, stands to bring Ford’s front-drive vehicles into the third decade of the 20th century. Read More >

By on March 26, 2018

2017 Volkswagen Amarok, Image: Volkswagen

Buyers in foreign markets enjoy far greater midsize pickup choice than their counterparts in North America. Besides the usual products from General Motors and Ford (the latter of which we’re only just being introduced to), there’s offerings from Mitsubishi, Fiat, even Volkswagen. Has decades of full-size truck dominance made North America too unforgiving for smaller entries? Sales of the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and Chevrolet Colorado say otherwise.

There’s midsize ground to be gained here, but no new model faces a guarantee of success. Volkswagen, which sells the body-on-frame Amarok (seen above) overseas, apparently wants to find out how Americans would feel about a smaller, lighter entry in the midsize pickup game. According to sources, it wants to find out this week. Read More >

By on March 6, 2018

Image: Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen’s Vizzion of the future — a fully autonomous concept car with an all-knowing hologram chauffeur and suicide doors — just came back down to Earth. The sedan will now start life as a normal car, albeit one with two electric motors and all-wheel drive.

Positioned as the flagship of Volkswagen’s upcoming line of I.D.-badged electric models, the Vizzion is on track to start production in 2022. With this car, VW gains a lower-priced alternative to vehicles like Tesla’s Model S and Porsche’s Mission E. Read More >

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