Category: Product Planning

By on April 11, 2019

Yesterday, we discussed Volkswagen trouble in finding the perfect recipe for affordable electric cars. Today, its BMW’s turn, and a broader look at how electrification is affecting Germany on the whole.

Reducing auto emissions has become immeasurably stylish in countries across the globe, with Europe doing some of the heaviest lifting via stringent regulatory measures. As a result, Germany’s automotive sector intends to go green and push EVs to the forefront. While BMW may not have committed itself to electrification quite so thoroughly as Volkswagen, the company isn’t sitting around while the competition does everything. The company is making concerted efforts of its own. Still, there are drawbacks to upending established supply chains and dumping a fortune into developing an entirely different type of car.  Read More >

By on April 10, 2019

Even with affordable electric vehicles cropping up on the global market, their budgetary nature is relative. While the industry promises that EVs will offer the world an affordable, mechanically simple and green alternative to traditional internal combustion models, they’ve yet to deliver. That’s not to suggest e-cars are failures, just that the technologies involved are still maturing.

Battery prices will continue to decline and eventually governments won’t always need to incentivize EV purchases through tax credits. But we’ve yet to reach the point where it makes just as much financial sense to buy a small EV as it would a gasoline-powered econobox. That could soon change. Read More >

By on April 3, 2019

Auto manufacturers don’t always get things right on the first try. Altering existing product takes time and lots of money, two things which aren’t always easy for OEMs to pull together.

Today we ask: When did a vehicle change or evolve during its production, only to still fall short of expectations? Read More >

By on March 27, 2019

The unlikely alliance between BMW and Daimler, solidified earlier this year, is in the opening stages of producing something tangible. The duo are already said to be working on a joint platform for electric vehicles, which the German business publication Manager Magazin claims will underpin a new EV from BMW.

Called the i2, the battery-powered subcompact is to be slotted beneath BMW’s existing i3. While rumored to be similar in size, the i2 will abandon the i3’s carbon fiber body in an attempt to minimize costs and broaden appeal. Daimler would follow by producing its own version, likely using Mercedes-Benz’s EQ sub-brand.  Read More >

By on March 22, 2019

As the future of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ began looking rather bleak in the West, we spent the the better part of this year trying to figure out the automakers’ next move. While both automakers were rumored to have something in development, subsequent reports looked less promising. Much talk surrounded what Subaru might do if Toyota pulled out of their next cooperative endeavor.

Maybe we were all just worked up over the sudden surge of special-edition models heralding the final stage in the vehicle’s lifespan. Still, with only minor reassurances coming from either manufacturer, concerns mounted. Some even floated the idea that Japan’s base-level Supra could eventually replace the 86 globally. However, it seems these fears were overblown. Toyota has confirmed that a new 86 is in development in conjunction with Subaru.  Read More >

By on March 21, 2019

Despite having risen from the grave in 2007, following its brief stint as the Ford Five Hundred, the Taurus has been reburied. The last example rolled out of Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant a few weeks ago (to make room for SUVs), though the car lives on in China. However, we doubt you’d be interested if the manufacturer suddenly began exporting them.

A seventh generation of the Ford Taurus was introduced there in 2015, looking like a hybrid of the American sixth-gen and Australia’s FG X Falcon. A mid-cycle refresh is right around the corner, and you’ll probably be glad it’s staying in China.  Read More >

By on March 21, 2019

Image: FCA

Following reports that the Fiat 500 would see the inclusion of a new all-electric powertrain in 2020, Fiat Chrysler has confirmed the model will actually become a dedicated EV — foregoing internal combustion entirely.

While the vehicle’s overall dimensions are to be retained, FCA chief marketing officer Olivier François said the small car would place additional emphasis on attainable urban luxury and electrification.

“Premium is the way we will go with the EV 500,” he told AutoExpress in a recent interview. “A new 500, totally renewed. A new object. Totally electric. It’s kind of an urban Tesla, with beautiful style. Italianess, dolce vita in an electric car. It’s the polar opposite of Centoventi.”  Read More >

By on February 12, 2019

A dated product lineup, questionable fuel economy across the board, a general need for some reworking. These are all issues with Fiat Chrysler’s offerings in North America. Today we’ll try and come up with some solutions.

Read More >

By on February 11, 2019

Subaru Legacy 2018 Logo Emblem Grille

Subaru’s sales in the United States effectively tripled in the past decade, making it the most important market for the brand by a wide margin. However, the automaker has had to expend quite a bit of energy in its home country of Japan to address recalls and regulatory scandals over the last few years.

While the duality hasn’t caused issues on a global scale, many observers wonder how long its good fortune will last. In America, Subaru is a feel-good brand that uses love as a core marketing concept to improve sales. In Japan, it has become synonymous with overworking employees lacking compensation, regulatory scandals, sudden work stoppages, and recalls. Many believe it’s only a matter of time before Subaru of America will have to contend with Japan’s issues, and evidence exists that problems are already beginning to surface in the West. Read More >

By on February 4, 2019

2013 Mazdaspeed 3 - Image: Mazda Canada

These days it seems as though every automaker, no matter how small, has a performance division on hand to offer up the occasional heart-pounding model variant to be coveted by enthusiasts. However, it only seems that way. Many brands have to go without.

Despite once branding itself as the everyday performance brand, Mazda hasn’t delivered a new Mazdaspeed vehicle since 2010. This left us wondering if the brand’s performance division would ever return. We even asked the company to weigh in on the situation back in 2017, with Mazda suggesting that all of its models are performance oriented (before saying it couldn’t comment on future products or any associated speculation). Subsequent inquiries were met with nearly interchangeable explanations.

Similarly dissatisfied, the folks at Road & Track adjusted their line of questioning in the hopes of prying more information out of Mazda. Rather than asking what’s happening with Mazdaspeed, they asked what it would take to see it produce another automobile. Unfortunately, the answers aren’t particularly encouraging.  Read More >

By on January 31, 2019

January was peppered with claims that the Subaru BRZ And Toyota 86 aren’t long for this world. Rumors, which began spreading last year, stated the models weren’t selling well enough for either brand to rationalize continued sales, and those rumblings came to a head during the North American International Auto Show. There, seemingly every outlet asked engineers and executives what’s to become of them.

This week, outlets began reporting that Japanese automotive tabloid Best Car is preparing an article for its upcoming February issue explaining that Subaru and Toyota have “deviated on their development policies” and plan to break their collaboration on the Toyobaru twins. Read More >

By on January 30, 2019

On Monday, Matthew Guy asked all of you to nominate vehicles that were ahead of their time. Those rare occasions where vehicles anticipated the desires of consumers, even before said desires were fully formed. Today, we flip it around and talk about Hall and Oates lyrics vehicles which were out of touch or behind the times, even when new.

Read More >

By on January 28, 2019

While the closing day of the 2019 National Automobile Dealers Association meetup revolved around charitable opportunities, engineering equality in the workplace, and a talk from author, pro golfer, and USAF veteran Major Dan Rooney on the merits of personal accountability, the rest of the event focused more directly on the auto industry.

One of the larger announcements came from Jack Hollis, general manager of Toyota North America’s Toyota division, who told dealers that his company intends to introduce 19 entirely new, redesigned, or refreshed vehicles over the next three years — focusing on utility models, but not ignoring cars. Toyota and Hollis are adamant that the brand can take advantage of other manufacturers abandoning sedan sales by both keeping them in its roster and continuing to improve them. Still, they acknowledge that SUVs and crossovers are essential in wrangling today’s buyers.

The secret, according to Toyota, is having a diverse lineup. However, pure electrics (and maybe minivans) don’t make the list, at least until sales data makes a better case for them.  Read More >

By on January 19, 2019

Image: Ford

Stop the presses. Ford’s Fusion sedan, a member of the passenger car crowd Ford sentenced to death last year, will at least outlive its non-Mustang stablemates.

While American-market Focus and C-Max production has already dried up, followed soon by the Taurus and Fiesta, Ford was never clear on when exactly the Fusion midsizer would bite the dust. The exact date of its impending death remains a mystery, but there’s now assurances from Ford that Fusions will continue rolling into dealers until at least the 2020 model year. Read More >

By on January 19, 2019

Are the 66,716 Americans who helped take the venerable Dodge Challenger to a new sales record in 2018 just Luddites, rebelling against a rising tide of electrification and autonomy? Maybe, but the era of a Challenger line powered solely by gasoline is drawing to a close.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley addressed the muscle car’s future at this week’s Detroit auto show, admitting that, at some point, the Challenger needs to grow greener. That means venturing into the unsexy world of electrification — an unthinkable act for some American muscle purists. Read More >

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