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By on December 6, 2019

2017 Ford Focus Titanium Hatchback, Image: Ford

In July, we covered a scathing report that criticized Ford Motor Co’s usage of the DSP6 dual-clutch transmission found in the third-gen Focus and sixth-gen Fiesta. The hardware was surrounded by controversy, with company insiders highly critical of its implementation. Claims arose that the unit wasn’t performing as intended throughout its development, with corporate lawyers expressing serious doubts as to whether DTC technologies (which were relatively new at the time) were the automaker’s best choice.

Hindsight seems to have proven them right. The PowerShift DSP6 turned out to be a turd the company polished to the best of its ability and then put on sale, leading to more headaches. Officially, the manufacturer has said the vehicles were safe when introduced and have remained so. Still, Ford is well aware of the tranny’s issues; since the problems came to light, the automaker has extended warranties and encouraged service centers to repair their problematic transmissions.

While a kind gesture, some remain concerned that Ford appears to be sweeping the whole issue under the rug. Customers are angry, claiming the automaker should have never put the unit into production — a move that resulted in civil litigation. But that doesn’t appear to have ever been a real possibility. Those who tried to stop the DSP6 claim they were doomed to failure from the start.  Read More >

By on December 6, 2019

gm

Automakers jump through hoops to tease upcoming models or put eyes on just-released ones. General Motors, it appears, has chosen an altogether new avenue for its marketing efforts.

Yes, that image you see above is real. The Chevrolet Suburban will now join the likes of Christina Applegate*, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and other celebrities we can’t think to name in receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. At least the star doesn’t mention the model’s upcoming rear suspension swap. Read More >

By on December 6, 2019

While U.S. auto sales are expected to slump further this year, continuing a trend in the industry, certain products seem impervious to market pressures. Take the Toyota Tacoma, for example. Hardly the newest kid on the block, the Tacoma nonetheless manages to consistently retain buyers while capturing new ones.

Like its parent company, the Tacoma just posted its best-ever November sales month. And wouldn’t you know it — early results are in, and the new Corolla seems to be a hit. Read More >

By on December 6, 2019

vw

A longtime design presence in the Volkswagen family will take on a new title in the new year. The automaker has announced that Klaus Bischoff (seen above, to the left of North American CEO Scott Keogh), currently head of design for the Volkswagen brand, will oversee design work for the entire VW Group range.

Replacing him in his current role will be Jozef Kaban, a man whose last position involved designing some of the most expensive cars on earth. Not that he hasn’t already done that at VW, though. Read More >

By on December 6, 2019

gm

Cars are out, crossovers are in. This is as true as saying the sun rises in the east or that the slow air leak in your back tire will eventually get worse. It’s a given, and, with the current onslaught of crossovers now trickling into previously unexplored white space, your choice has never been greater.

2019 may be remembered as the year automakers broke out of traditional segments and began inserting boxy products into that narrow window between existing models. Chevrolet, Buick, and Mazda all decided it was a good idea to pursue buyers in tweener segments. The question today is: have any of these supposedly right-sized products moved you to consider a brand you’d normally have ignored? Read More >

By on December 6, 2019

2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T - Image: Honda

TTAC regular David Holzman writes:

Sajeev,

My best friend has a 2019 Honda Accord with gas direct injection. Recently, Scotty Kilmer raised questions about the potential longevity — or rather potential lack thereof — of that engine.

I would expect Honda to have done a good job in designing that engine, but my friend is worried. Can you shed any additional light on this?

Read More >

By on December 5, 2019

Plenty of planks found in the quickly hammered out UAW-Ford contract can be found in the tentative deal forged between the United Auto Workers and Fiat Chrysler. Following approval from the National UAW-FCA Council, the agreement reached last weekend goes to members for final approval (or rejection) on Friday.

The two sides reached an agreement far quicker than some predicted, but the final word on the deal will come from workers.  Read More >

By on December 5, 2019

BMW is walking back its controversial decision to charge an annual subscription for the use of Apple’s CarPlay in its vehicles. We quickly complained about it, worried that it would spur a new trend of charging customers for the privilege of accessing what is normally standard content.

The German manufacturer originally said the subscription fee was necessary in order to offer wireless updates aimed at keeping the user interface evolving with phones. This was soon proven not to be the case, as other manufacturers already offer that exact service for free. BMW wanted to charge $80 a year (or $300 for a 240-month plan) after providing CarPlay free of charge for 12 months. Now, it will be gratis.  Read More >

By on December 5, 2019

Introduced last year, Genesis’ third — and newest — model is the G70, a value-packed rear- or all-wheel-drive sports sedan aimed at BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class intenders. We could throw the Jaguar XE in there, too, but no one buys that car.

Like its Kia Stinger platform mate, the G70 kicks up its feet with the help of a base 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four or uplevel 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6. However, on the horizon looms a larger, more potent entry-level powerplant. Read More >

By on December 5, 2019

The largest automotive recall in history just got a little more inclusive. Takata is recalling another 1.4 million vehicles after the airbag-related death of a BMW driver. The German manufacturer has issued three recalls covering roughly 116,000 U.S. vehicles containing the faulty equipment, saying it is aware of at least one fatality in Australia, plus a few injuries.

By now, you’re probably familiar with the issue. Takata supplied tens of millions of defective air-bag inflators over several years. The units are prone to exploding in the event of a crash, spraying metal shrapnel inside the cabin, after its propellant becomes compromised by nothing more than moisture. This has led to many senseless deaths, the largest automotive recall in history, and Takata declaring bankruptcy two years ago before its purchase by China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp.  Read More >

By on December 5, 2019

TTAC Logos

Perhaps it’s fitting that in the post-LA auto show haze, we’re getting a mild refresh of our own.

Read More >

By on December 5, 2019

2018 Chevrolet Impala, Image: General Motors

Just a couple of days ago, your author’s eyes were drawn to a brand spankin’ new, dark red Chevrolet Impala sitting in a parking lot — one made all the more distinctive by black five-spoke steel wheels. Tis the winter season, after all.

The Impala’s design always garnered a nod of approval from this writer, a person whose former ME once referred to as a raging GM apologist, though the model’s rear-seat headroom is definitely lacking. It’s also a Chevrolet and not a Mercedes-Benz. All of that aside, fans of traditional full-size sedans, especially those of the domestic variety, can mark two dates on their calendar. The Impala is leaving forever, and it seems the model’s Cadillac CT6 factory mate will not get the lease on life some expected. Read More >

By on December 5, 2019

UAW

In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, former UAW Acting President Rory Gamble, who took over the top spot when scandal sunk former prez Gary Jones, has been appointed president of the union.

The ongoing federal corruption probe into the UAW hasn’t ended, but Jones’ presidency did after media outlets named him as one of the shadowy UAW officials mentioned in embezzlement-related court documents. First order of business for Gamble after taking over last month? Clean up the UAW’s act. Read More >

By on December 5, 2019

Image: GM

A battery plant mentioned in General Motors’ recently ratified UAW labor contract will soon become a reality in the hard-hit city of Lordstown, Ohio. That locale recently saw the lights go out at GM’s Lordstown Assembly, which closed its doors this spring after the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Cruze. The plant’s now in the hands of a fledgling electric automaker.

On Wednesday, GM announced the spending of $2.3 billion and the creation of 1,100 jobs in Lordstown — a necessary move to supply the automaker with battery packs for its electric vehicle push. Read More >

By on December 5, 2019

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Despite the average transaction price of your typical automobile climbing higher than ever before, there’s a lot of disagreement as to whether this actually amounts to more spending once inflation has been taken into account. Studies frequently show inflation-adjusted valuations climbing gradually over the years, resulting in MSRPs a few grand higher than what you might have spent in decades prior. Still, newer vehicles tend to have a much greater level of content and the ability to outlast something from 1970, helping to rationalize the difference. Data taken from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) actually suggests the average expenditure per vehicle actually peaked in the late 1990s before creeping back down.

Meanwhile, we keep hearing reports about the average transaction price of passenger vehicles settling above $37,000 for 2019. Cross referenced against the BEA data, that’s about $5,000 dearer than in 1999 — once you’ve shifted everything to present-day dollars. Blame people’s inability to say “no” to options, crossover popularity, or anything else you want. It won’t change the problem, especially as the wealth gap continues to widen between the haves and have nots.

Automakers know that sales are stagnating and Ford CEO Jim Hackett thinks he’s come up with a solution — and it’s a familiar one. It’s decontenting time.  Read More >

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