Category: Platforms

By on November 13, 2017

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - Image: Mitsubishi

It’s hard to go anywhere without hearing it. Co-workers whispering at the water cooler, long waits at the drive-thru window while the staff argues amongst itself. It’s hard to get a word in edgewise.

People are talking about Mitsubishi.

If you’ve called #fakenews on this, well, you’re right. But that isn’t to say no one’s talking about the down-on-its-luck automaker, which recently saw salvation at the hands of the Nissan-Renault Alliance. There’s more vehicles coming to the threadbare brand and, while the company’s focus remains on lucrative SUVs, that doesn’t mean Mitsubishi won’t flesh out the lineup with something traditional. Read More >

By on November 10, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Beetle

We’ve been talking about the next Volkswagen Beetle — well, a few of us have — ever since the restyled two-door dropped the “New” moniker and flatted out its roofline a tad.

While the 2012 reshaping gave the model a new lease on life, it also seemed to be the plucky coupe’s end point, stylistically speaking. Where do you take a model from there, without erasing the retro charm that wooed buyers in the late 1990s? Maybe it was time for the model to die. Not surprisingly, reports arose last year claiming the Beetle had a date with the chopping block.

And yet, that rumor never really went anywhere. The model remains, its official future still in limbo. However, it seems Volkswagen brass is coming around to the idea that the Beetle deserves a permanent place in the company’s lineup, though not in the layout we’ve grown accustomed to.

Any new New Beetle will be rear-wheel drive, says VW chairman Herbert Diess. Read More >

By on September 18, 2017

2017 Chrysler 300C - Image: FCA

If Chrysler’s model lineup was a parade, you wouldn’t have to wait long before crossing the street. With just two models on offer — the Pacifica minivan and elderly 300 full-size sedan — following the ill-fated 200’s demise, the Chrysler brand’s U.S. sales volume has fallen to a six-year low.

Plans are afoot to repopulate the meager stable, but the first of two new models — both crossovers — won’t arrive until the end of the decade. In the meantime, the only “new” product you’ll see is a refreshed 300. After a $3,345 price cut for 2018, the 300 appears destined for more buyer enticements in 2019. Read More >

By on September 16, 2017

Hyundai santa cruz concept

After Hyundai’s American division canned former CEO David Zuchowski for failing to meet internal sales targets last December, it’s no mystery what Job One is for the new guy.

Kyung Soo Lee, a 61-year-old veteran of the company who started his career back in 1982, takes the helm of a troubled ship next week, Hyundai announced Thursday. As president and CEO, Lee (Kenny to his friends) is responsible for reversing a dismal sales trend that sunk his predecessor, as well as the company’s U.S. fortunes. Read More >

By on August 17, 2017

2017-hyundai-next-gen-fuel-cell-suv, Image: Hyundai

Hyundai isn’t about to let Tesla hog all the eco glory. The automaker has announced a near-term roadmap for green vehicle production, promising 31 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, and fuel cell models by 2020, shared between the Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands.

Having already joined the fray with its compact Ioniq, offered in hybrid, plug-in, and EV flavors, the company wants a larger presence in the fledgling (but growing) EV scene. To this end, it’s planning long-range, high-end EVs built on a dedicated platform, as well as a much-needed crossover that dispenses with gas stations altogether. The Kona, which arrives in the U.S. in gas-powered guise this winter, serves as a body donor.

Will a 242-mile electric crossover give Elon Musk reason to sweat? Read More >

By on June 10, 2017

Mitsubishi Lancer GT, Image: Mitsubishi Motors

If you were to walk into a Mitsubishi showroom in the United States today, you’d be treated to two passenger cars, two utility vehicles and promises of more utility vehicles to come. Why, the 2018 Eclipse Cross is on the way! You know, the compact crossover named after a entry-level sports car?

If you’re looking for a Mitsubishi-branded car with more than three cylinders that won’t be extinct in a few months, you’re out of luck. In fact, if you’re hoping for any word on whether the brand will ever bring a new car to North America, you’ll have to wait until this fall, around the same time the long-in-the-tooth Lancer bows out of the U.S. market. Read More >

By on May 25, 2017

[Image: Ford]

After Monday’s corporate shakeup at Ford Motor Company, which saw former CEO Mark Fields replaced with Jim Hackett and the elevation of Joe Hinrichs and Jim Farley up company ranks, the automaker has announced more appointments.

To fill the job left by Hindrichs, who moved from president of Ford North America to head of global operations, Ford has named its product development boss and chief technical officer as a successor. Raj Nair, 52, will officially take on the role June 1st, reporting to Farley, Ford’s new head of global markets.

Below Nair, a slew of changes are afoot. Read More >

By on May 22, 2017

2018 outback

With the exception of Mazda and — until its Outlander PHEV finally lands on U.S. shores — Mitsubishi, Subaru remains one of very few automakers to completely eschew electrified powertrains.

Despite lacking any fully electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid model (the unloved Crosstrek Hybrid met a quiet death last year), Subaru’s U.S. customer base continues to expand at a rapid clip, but a gas-only strategy can’t survive forever. Environmental regulations the world over insist Subaru should follow the lead of its rivals and build something without pistons.

Well, Subaru plans to. However, unlike many of its rivals, the automaker has indicated it might take a different path towards this goal. Read More >

By on May 18, 2017

2016 Mazda2, Image: Mazda

It was January of 2015 and I was standing in a small venue in Montreal. The space was dark save some access lighting and red spotlights pointed at a sheet-covered car.

A few moments later, the sheet was pulled off, and Mazda Canada announced the 2016 Mazda 2 would be coming to The Great White North.

Eleven months later, Mazda Canada would reverse that decision, citing other all-new products — namely the CX-3 and MX-5 — requiring Mazda’s full attention. After all, the small automaker didn’t want to spread itself too thin, and it wasn’t like the previous-generation Mazda 2 set the sales charts on fire — on either side of the border.

In America, Mazda North America Operations had zero intention of selling the subcompact in any region other than Puerto Rico. Yet, year after year since the model went on sale in other global markets, Mazda continues to certify the Mazda 2’s emissions system with the California Air Resources Board, effectively making it eligible for retail sale in any of the 13 “CARB states” and District of Columbia.

Meanwhile, Mazda says it still has no intention to sell the Mazda 2 in America. What’s going on? We reached out to Mazda to get an answer.

Read More >

By on May 4, 2017

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn’t getting any. By that we mean profits, as the electric automaker reported a $397 million first-quarter loss yesterday, adding to the red ink spilled in the previous quarter.

While the company’s revenue rose 18.4 percent in Q1 and deliveries climbed 12 percent, spending on Model 3 production more than offset the increase in cash flow. Musk took the loss in stride, playing the long game in a quarterly investors call, and claimed a combination of higher production numbers and lower operating costs will send those gray clouds packing.

Finances aside, the conference call yielded far more interesting topics, including details of the upcoming Model Y. Also, it seems people are becoming confused by Tesla’s naming strategy, and Musk has no one but Ford — and a dirty mind — to blame. Read More >

By on May 2, 2017

lexus-es-silver-lining-metallic-gallery-overlay-1204x677-lex-esg-my16-0011

In a manner of speaking, that is. A recent report cast doubt on the future of Lexus’ rear-drive performance sedan, the GS, claiming that development of a next-generation model was off the table. That would make next year the GS’ last.

While Lexus wouldn’t confirm the report, a spokesperson’s choice of words was enough to add to the rumor. In a marketplace that’s big on SUVs and downright miserable to cars, it would make sense for Lexus to get ahead of the “too many cars” problem faced by the likes of Hyundai and pare down its lineup.

Now, another report says Lexus will call on a different model to fill the gap. Read More >

By on April 27, 2017

[Image: Daimler AG]

Remember when the boxy little Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster bowed with its innovative retractable hardtop back in 1997? The model provided Germanophiles with an alternative to the BMW Z3 and gave the brand a healthy injection of youthful, downmarket sportiness.

Well, the recently refreshed two-seater — which adopted the SLC moniker for 2017 — seems to be running on a combination of gasoline and borrowed time. Read More >

By on April 18, 2017

[Image: Audi AG]

If the future is electric, it’s also crossover heavy. Volkswagen and Audi plan to dominate two tiers of that fledgling segment by the turn of the next decade with the production version of two crossover EVs revealed today.

The selection of the Auto Shanghai 2017 show for the unveiling wasn’t a fluke of timing. Both automakers plan to field a slew of electric models in China, while saving certain high-profile products for North American and European markets.

Bet on these two models eventually making the cut. Read More >

By on April 5, 2017

Opel Insignia Grand Sport

General Motors’ sale of Opel to France’s PSA Group sparked much debate on what the European division’s loss would mean for Buick, which holds strong product ties with the German manufacturer.

The new Buick Regal, which bowed today in liftback and wagon bodystyles, shares its architecture with Opel’s new-for-2017 Insignia. At the 2018 model’s Detroit-area launch, GM’s executives downplayed the impact on its Buick division, claiming there’s no disruption in sight for the brand. Read More >

By on February 6, 2017

Longer, sleeker, and lighter than before. That’s the gist of General Motors’ next-generation Opel Insignia, the Euro midsizer that provides the template for Buick’s upcoming Regal.

Long in the tooth and a little cramped, the Regal is poised to shed its cloak of invisibility by adopting the Insignia’s E2XX platform and most of its styling cues for the 2018 model year. Expect greater interior volume, up to 440 pounds of weight loss, and an available V6 powerplant.

Oh, and expect a wagon, according to a TTAC source. And not just any wagon — a faux crossover that GM, crossing its fingers, hopes can lure buyers away from the overstocked buffet of lifted utility options. Read More >

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