Category: Product Planning

By on June 9, 2020

Since the dawn of the new century, the automotive industry has been forced to revise electrification timelines for a cavalcade of reasons. Development programs have proven costly, the economy has taken a turn (or turns) for the worse, customers haven’t responded in great numbers, and the materials necessary for battery have been in short supply for many. Throw in the trouble some companies have had with programming such cars or ending up with electric vehicles that want for truly enviable range and you’re beginning to see the whole, problematic enchilada.

It wasn’t all that long ago that General Motors promised over 20 new all-electric models by 2023. Granted, this promise was made in 2017 — during a time when the industry couldn’t possibly have foreseen the global hardships that would befall us or known we’d have the ability to remember what was said just a few years prior. The messaging has changed, either because mainstream automakers cannot provide the kind of cars that will continue to spur EV adoption, or because they no longer hold much interest in trying.  Read More >

By on May 29, 2020

2019 Dodge Challenger T/A 392

Dodge has been rumored to be working on a Challenger American Club Racer (ACR) for a while, encouraging your author to enact Google Alerts anytime the applicable terms crop up online. We hit pay dirt Thursday when Allpar issued insider information on the vehicle’s progress.

While you may have encountered previous ACR models from Dodge, most were likely within striking distance of a racetrack or beating your britches off in virtual racing experiences. The formula is basic, even if the execution is not. Dodge models with a preexisting racing pedigree are modified to be more track worthy; typical alterations include upgraded tires/wheels, adjustable suspensions, bigger brakes, closer gearing, slick aerodynamics, and aggressive weight reductions that throw NVH concerns to the wind. They’re track-day monsters, with all other responsibilities being secondary.  Read More >

By on May 14, 2020

Toyota

Lexus hasn’t been quiet about its need for crossovers. The brand went into the fad (it can’t last forever) underprepared with a fleet largely comprised of sedans; now it’s rumored to be developing a sub-$30,000 product following the launch of its subcompact UX model.

While a little surprising that Toyota’s luxury arm would pursue such a modestly priced vehicle, especially since it previously said cheap cars were a nonstarter, itty-bitty crossovers are in fashion right these days— and probably a good way to increase sales volume in select markets. Such a car would also give Lexus an opportunity add another model with a smaller-than-average carbon footprint, pleasing government regulators.

Serving as the basis for this hypothetical model will be the Toyota Yaris Cross. The Lexus allegedly carries the BX name and will serve as an unlikely candidate for the North American landscape. It may, however, see action in Europe and Asia if the manufacturer decides to pull the trigger.  Read More >

By on May 8, 2020

New Tesla Roadster

Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared on the Joe Rogan Podcast this week, mentioning that the resurrected Roadster stands to see less love as the company turns its focus to other projects. Rogan, who already owns a Model S P100D and is an avid car collector, said he was interested in picking up the new Roadster once it becomes available. To that, Musk had some bad news. Higher-volume cars would have to come first.

“Roadster is kind of like dessert,” he said. “We gotta get the meat and potatoes and greens and stuff.”

The rest of the interview saw the two men discuss Musk’s opposition to unconstitutional lockdown orders resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as humanity’s growing need for symbiosis with technology in order to ensure we’re not left behind as artificial intelligence begins to surpass us — boring stuff that has nothing to do with cars.  Read More >

By on May 4, 2020

A lot of people gripe about BMW losing its edge. Formerly reserved for the greatest performance vehicles in its lineup, the M designation has migrated to encompass a rather large subset of the BMW fleet. While this has undoubtedly helped the brand boost its sales for years, it also muddied the waters of what constitutes an M.

In the past, BMW’s M vehicles denoted a marked increase in horsepower and real-world performance. Now they’re intermixed with M Sport trims that split the difference between standard fare and bonkers M in terms of output. And they haven’t been turning up the dial lately. In fact, the performance division of all German automakers seem to have slowed down on maximizing performance while the core business prioritizes fuel efficiency and electrification — largely because it’s expected of them by regulators.

It may not be so cut and dried. BMW CEO Markus Flasch has taken a keen interest in the M division, saying “we have to be very careful to preserve what M stands for” while evolving the brand. More recently, he said the automaker had no intent to cap output to appease anyone, claiming that the company’s performance arm has to think carefully about the future.  Read More >

By on March 6, 2020

Back in 2013, Aston Martin signed a deal with Daimler to supply the next generation of its performance vehicles with Mercedes-AMG engines and electrical systems. That arrangement is now coming to an end, as AMG has decided to replace its 4.0-liter V8 with a hybridized four-cylinder unit that’s more efficient. While the older Mercedes-sourced mill will linger in Aston Martin’s Vantage, DB11, and DBX luxury crossover, the manufacturer will eventually need to find its replacement.

Fortunately, it already has a motor in mind.  Read More >

By on March 4, 2020

Still in the midst of a $1.4-billion restructuring plan that aims to cut 10 percent of its workforce, Mercedes-Benz is reconsidering what its product lineup should look like moving ahead. While most of the doomed models will be chosen due to lackluster demand (e.g. X-Class pickup) plenty will be nixed as a result of tightening emission laws. Mercedes parent Daimler issued two profit warnings in 2019 after the luxury brand was fined $960 million in an emissions-cheating settlement. Like many automakers, it was also hemorrhaging cash through its investments in electrification.

An apt analogy for the automotive industry’s stampede toward EVs would be lemmings hurling themselves off a seaside cliff — but not because of the popular misconception that the critters are intentionally committing mass suicide. When lemmings collectively off themselves, it’s the result of migratory behavior gone awry. They simply bunch up and move in a singular direction, largely unaware of the consequences.  Read More >

By on February 26, 2020

Poised deliver a super-sized sport utility vehicle to a brand that doesn’t have anything in its lineup to compete with the likes of the Chevy Suburban, Ford Expedition or their more-premium alternatives, Jeep’s returning Grand Wagoneer is probably about a year from entering production. Eager to check on Jeep’s progress, our sister site AutoGuide spoke with brand head Jim Morrison this week.

Most of the interview centered around the new Gladiator Mojave and how important it was not to taint the Jeep brand by forgetting what it’s supposed to represent — getting groovy off the pavement. Morrison also touched on the Wagoneer, however, hinting that we’ll get our first official taste very soon.  Read More >

By on February 4, 2020

Ford Motor Co. may have accidentally given away the launch date of the next-generation Mustang. Last month, the company issued a job posting in Flat Rock, Michigan for a “Wind/Road Noise and Air Leakage Plant Vehicle Team Engineer” who would see off the current model before becoming “the final sign off on the Ford 2023 Mustang S650 vehicle program.”

The current ‘Stang uses the internal code S550 for factory identification, so the S650 designation make a lot of sense for its successor. No one had to break out the Enigma machines and put in weeks of hard work to crack that code. The listing makes it clear as day that the position will involve shoring up the next Mustang until it’s airtight and ready for customers in a couple of years.  Read More >

By on January 27, 2020

Anybody with more than a casual interest in the automotive industry will tell you the relationship between Nissan and Renault is falling apart. Even the alliance’s founder, executive-on-the-run Carlos Ghosn, says it’s on the cusp of going under. But existing employees have tried to be a little more optimistic, acknowledging that the business partnership has become strained while making suggestions to correct its course.

One plan involves pushing more collaborative projects, which is one of the main reasons for forming an industrial alliance. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has already said both sides are committed to making the partnership succeed, citing joint projects as a primary focus. Alliance engineers will meet in Japan at the end of January to discuss new development programs — and attempt to revive a few that fell by the wayside.  Read More >

By on January 17, 2020

While it still makes appearances at tuner events and car shows, the Nissan 370Z has roughly the same marketing heat as a pair of secondhand shoes. Last year, Nissan only moved 2,384 in the United States, with another 701 being sold in Europe — suggesting the decade-old (albeit fun) coupe may have outlived its usefulness years ago.

Its successor remains elusive, but persistent rumors claim Nissan is working on something to replace the venerable Z. Despite the manufacturer withholding any kind of confirmation, details leaked from dealer meetings suggest the brand is going with a heritage-inspired look, tapping vintage Z models for the design. Read More >

By on January 3, 2020

BMW will debut a new version of its very green i3 EV at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week. The compact hatchback has been reimagined for the future — and BMW’s future is one of less usability and much greater expense. You’ll need hired help.

Read More >

By on December 11, 2019

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

Despite the current-generation Dodge Durango seemingly having been put into production immediately after the solar protoplanetary disk focused enough cosmic debris to assemble our humble little planet, it still moves in decent volumes in the United States. Officially in service since MY2011 (a little more recent than previously stated), sales of the 3rd-gen Durango are still going strong near the end of its life cycle. Deliveries run about 65,000 per year. That’s roughly the same annual volume it’s had since a mild refresh in 2014, and rather impressive considering the model has gone largely unchanged — save for a few performance-focused updates in its later years.

Unfortunately, this heavyweight doesn’t offer idyllic fuel economy. It’s decent for a vehicle with a curb weight between 4,500 and 5,500 pounds, and I’m routinely impressed with the highway miles Dodge manages to eek out from its big V8s, but it’s not ambitious in an era where maximizing mileage is an almost mandatory pursuit. The best the Durango can muster is 19 city/26 highway with its entry-level Pentastar V6.

That is, until the mild-hybrid variant arrives in 2020.  Read More >

By on November 5, 2019

Image: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, by Corey Lewis

“How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?” – Charles de Gaulle

I have a friend, one whose living room is decked out in red shag carpeting, who often jokes that his tastes in fashion and other trappings of life tend to straddle the line between respectable and… over the top. Cheeseball, in other words. Many times I’ll find myself suggesting, in that delicate manner long-time friends are so good at, that perhaps he’s teetered off that fence and fallen solidly on the wrong side of it.

In the auto realm, cheese is more than ever relegated to the aftermarket, but perhaps OEMs haven’t left this dairy product entirely in the past? Read More >

By on November 4, 2019

Celebrating 30 years of existence, Infiniti announced it was time for a sea change this week. While sales have improved since the recession, last year saw a modest decline in volume that carried over into 2019 in a big way. Year to date, Nissan volume is down 6 percent, with Infiniti posting a 17.1-percent loss — we discussed this earlier in the day, if you’re interested.

Most of this saga is occuring in the United States, where Infiniti sources the bulk of its sales. China and Europe are footnotes for the manufacturer. Yet Infiniti would very much like to improve its global appeal, so it’s banking on EV adoption as being the next global consumer craze.

Considering how many countries are embracing stringent emission goals, Nissan’s premium arm could be making a wise choice. However, the U.S. hasn’t been quite so eager to push (or embrace) automotive electrification — meaning Infiniti could be endangering the one market that’s keeping it afloat. Unfortunately, the status quo doesn’t seem to be working, either — encouraging the automaker to adopt alternative powertrains and design cues in the coming years.  Read More >

Recent Comments

  • EBFlex: “The typical lack of quality that Ford puts into every vehicle made.” you can say that for FIAT as well....
  • Imagefont: Putting a powerful V8 in a Wrangler would be monumentally stupid. The 3.6V6 is perfectly adequate....
  • Art Vandelay: And these are all stupid anyway per these hallowed forums. The Telluride is whatcha need!
  • ajla: I’ll have to see how it works out. The Pentastar doesn’t do it for me though and I don’t like...
  • Art Vandelay: Isn’t the current one in the 40’s and still getting MSRP?

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