Category: Product Planning

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 >

By on October 25, 2019
Yesterday, TTAC reported on a leaked video (quickly confirmed by Ford) that showed an all-new “Mustang-inspired” model due for debut in November. A sleek, four-door CUV appears on the screen. Highlighted in silhouette, its design represents so many familiar Mustang cues. It’s the Mustang of the future, and it’s a future that will be electric and have four doors.
By on October 1, 2019

Despite delivering what could be considered a desirable premium EV with the I-Pace, Jaguar Land Rover admits it’s not entirely sold on the idea of electric sport utility vehicles. Due to their size, SUVs and crossovers are inherently heavier than traditional sedans — placing them at odds with the goal of maximizing efficiency.

More mass means diminished range. While this can be offset by a manufacturer installing larger battery packs, that increases costs and ultimately adds more heft to the single heaviest component in an EV. Large electrics bring other issues to the engineering table, too.

“The larger the vehicle the larger the aero challenge. If you’re not careful you end up with such big batteries and you make the vehicles so heavy that as you race down the autobahn the range disappears,” Nick Rogers, JLR’s head of engineering, told media at the company’s revamped engineering and design center in Gaydon, England. Read More >

By on September 17, 2019

Audi Q8 Concept NAIAS Rear, Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson/The Truth About Cars

Yesterday, the illustrious and quite tall Matthew Guy asked about the most linguistically pleasing model names. I tossed out the AMC Ambassador as a model that rolls off the tongue in a flood of satisfaction.

AMC Ambassador — it’s like one of those old, alliteration-addicted British airliners like the Bristol Brabazon or Vickers Vanguard. Actually, one airliner to roll out of the UK at the time was the Airspeed Ambassador, so AMC’s biggest offering had a friend on the other side of the pond.

While we’re not here today to talk about names per se, we are about to delve into wordplay again. What automotive term gets under your skin? Read More >

By on September 12, 2019

Image: Audi

You might not have noticed but Audi has been quietly reducing the complexity of its lineup by eliminating certain content combinations, often in select markets. Here, the biggest change was the elimination of the manual gearbox for 2019. But Audi said it needed to be done due to there being an abysmally low take rate for besticked vehicles in North America.

Apparently, the automaker is just getting warmed up on tamping down the configurations. In an recent chat with Autocar, Audi CEO Bram Schot said there was plenty more work to be done. Having already reduced the number of model variants in certain regions by 27 percent, compared to last year’s options, the CEO said the manufacturer still wasn’t where it wanted to be.  Read More >

By on September 12, 2019

Mazda’s Salamanca plant is adding the CX-30 to its production line, ensuring its cars-and-crossovers strategy launches as planned. With the Mexican facility already manufacturing the Mazda3, it’s not a shock to see the compact added to the factory lineup as the pair utilize the same platform. In fact, Salamanca is already undergoing retooling to make sure it can incorporate the CX-30 and there were swirling rumors that the company’s official factory announcement would happen sometime this month.

While no formal announcement has been made, the company confirmed the move with Automotive News on Wednesday. Miguel Barbeyto, president of Mazda Mexico, said the facility had been selected partially due to the CX-30’s role as a global product. Mexico has free-trade agreements with numerous nations that Mazda believes will help it efficiently distribute Mexican-made product throughout Europe and North/South America.  Read More >

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