Nissan Leaf Rumored for Discontinuation [UPDATED]
In 2010, Nissan launched the first globally-marketed electric vehicle in history. Known as the Leaf, the model offered a paltry 73 miles between charges when it was introduced. But deserves loads of credit for being a useful, friendly runabout that avoided many of the strange design choices other manufacturers leveraged to set their EVs apart. Reviewers frequently praised the Nissan Leaf as a great second car for running errands, noting that it was both comfortable and had enough space to swallow up most items you’d want to snag on a trip into town.
Kia Rumored to End Stinger and K5 Production, Brand Says Nah
Following reports that the Hyundai Sonata may not be long for this world, there have been rumbling that the fate of the Kia Stinger and K5 sedan may also be in jeopardy.
The reasoning is obvious. After years of crossovers seeing an increased share of the global market, automakers have been dumping sedans so they can sell products that come with higher margins. A sizable percentage of the population has also been sold on the theory that higher-riding vehicles are automatically safer than their road-hugging counterparts. While that is endlessly debatable between models, there are aspects of crossovers that make real sense for the modern era. Storage capacity is typically better than what you’d find on a similarly sized sedan and the lengthened suspension travel can help the vehicle absorb the impact of pothole-laden streets that seem to be cropping up everywhere.
Volkswagen Passat Passes Away
The final Volkswagen Passat has rolled off the assembly line in Chattanooga, Tennessee, ending the model’s extended run on the North American market.
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and introduced in 1973 using the VW/Audi B1 platform, the Passat arrived in the United States as the Dasher and was sold as a midsized luxury vehicle to people in the market for an imported economy car. The model carried different names in other parts of the world and even saw a few unique monikers used in the U.S. (e.g. Quantum) to help differentiate between the hatchback, sedan, and wagon variants sold throughout the 1980s. But it was officially known as the (B2) Passat by 1990, regardless of format.
2022 Acura NSX Type S Confirmed as Model's Swan Song
Having recently revived the Type S moniker for its performance products, Acura is keen to get the label on the famed NSX before it’s discontinued. The mid-engine, hybrid-electric sports car will be leaving us next year. But not before the Honda Motor Company attempts to build the finest example ever to grace the pavement.
Acura has said the vehicle will be produced in limited quantities, with a scant 350 units being the outside envelope. However, 300 of those are supposed to be reserved for the United States, where take rates are higher and consumers appreciate salt-of-the-earth supercars that don’t need to have Italian roots or cars to be manufactured in places with long, European-sounding names. The NSX is assembled at Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio, where the town motto happens to be “Where the Grass is Greener.”
Ford Ending Production of Mustang Shelby GT350/R
Even the most capable of race horses eventually reach that day where they’re taken out behind the stables to be shot or stabbed — whatever happens to them after they’ve passed their prime. The same is true in the automotive realm, with the only difference being that the cars are not eventually turned into food for my cat.
Ford has decided to end production of the track-focused Mustang Shelby GT350/R this year. Introduced in 2015, the model uses a 5.2-liter “Voodoo” V8 with a flat-plane crankshaft for some of the nicest naturally aspirated action money can buy. On the current model year (which will also be the last) 526 horsepower is sent through a Tremec six-speed, with performance further aided by a transmission cooler, limited slip rear axle, track-worthy suspension, upgraded Brembo brakes and super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber.
If you’re one of the few individuals who needs a good track-day vehicle, you could certainly do worse. And now you’ll have to because dealer orders already ended.
Mercedes-Benz, Only With Less Fun
There’s a plan afoot to more carefully align Mercedes-Benz’s U.S. product offerings with consumer demand, all the while saving the automaker money. The result, Automotive News reports, will be a lineup lacking the flair and whimsy the brand once enjoyed.
Fans of two-door variants, especially, stand to lose out under this new strategy.
BMW M2 Ends European Production This Fall
BMW is ending production of the M2 Competition and M2 CS for the European market this fall. The 370-horsepower coupe proved a hit with enthusiasts, offering a straightforward package reminding us that simplicity is often a virtue, but it’s living on borrowed time on the Old Continent, as is the hardcore 410-hp CS variant.
Why would BMW kill off the car often pointed to by auto journalists as the best in its entire lineup? You’re welcome to hazard a guess, though most, including this outlet, would point to strengthening emission regulations in Europe as the likely offender.
Acura RLX: Add Another Grave to the Sedan Cemetery
Yes, it’s true. The news that marred your sunny and/or drenching weekend cannot be ignored: the slow-selling, highly complex Acura RLX flagship will not stage a return for 2021.
If it did, would anyone have noticed?
That’s doubtful, given the model’s shrinking sales volumes.
Dodge Grand Caravan Gets a Date With Death; Plant to Shed 1,500 Jobs
It’s not unexpected, but it still comes as a blow. The impending loss of the Dodge Grand Caravan stands to sadden lovers of the industry’s longest running, most inflation-resistant minivan, but it’s a truly bitter pill for workers at Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant.
As reported yesterday by Canada’s Financial Post, the Grand Caravan — darling of Lee Iacocca, chariot to young soccer players for decades — will cease production at the end of May.
RIP: BMW 6 Series
Admit it — when you think of the BMW 6 Series, it’s the long prow of the mid-80s 633 or 635 CSi nosing into your brain, not the oddly-shaped 2019 640i xDrive Gran Turismo. That sleek Reagan-era coupe can continue to roam throughout your mind for years to come, as it won’t have any competition.
For the 2020 model year, the last bearers of the 6 Series designation fade from the American landscape, joined in their vanishing act by an unloved 3 Series four-door with a liftback.
Audi A3 Cabriolet Reportedly at Death's Door
We’ve got some shocking news for convertible fans. The Audi A3 Cabriolet is still on sale in North America.
Did you forget that it existed? We sure did. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem we’ll have going into 2020, as this is to be the model’s last year. Of course, this changes next to nothing as we haven’t seen one in the wild some time. In fact, it’s difficult to recall the last occasion any automotive outlet even bothered reviewing one.
As the spiritual successor to VW’s now-defunct cabriolets, the open-air A3 occupies an interesting place in the market. It’s a little pricey for most parents looking to treat their college-aged daughters, with a starting MSRP of $39,000, and lacks the oomph and prestige of Audi’s other drop-top offerings.
A Hybrid Many Didn't Know Existed Will Soon Disappear Completely
“Nissan will not offer the Rogue Hybrid for model year 2020. We will continue to focus efforts on the best-selling Rogue and new 2020 Rogue Sport,” said Nissan spokesperson Kevin Raftery following the release of a 2020 Rogue pricing sheet that omitted any mention of a hybrid. Raftery did not disclose how many Americans actually took home a Rogue Hybrid during the model’s brief lifespan.
Ford's Small Car Purge Continues Apace
Two months and change after Ford Motor Company ceased production of North America’s smallest Blue Oval vehicle, Europeans are waking up to news that their tiniest offering has a date with death.
The Ka+, a name this writer can’t read without imagining a Bostonian pronouncing the word “car,” will disappear from the marketplace thanks to —what else? — fuel economy regulations that disproportionately impact small vehicles.
Wagenless: VW Ditches SportWagen and Alltrack in America
Volkswagen is abandoning SportWagen and Alltrack versions of the Golf in the United States. You already know why; crossovers are all anyone ever thinks about anymore. While we’re over here having sweaty fever dreams about sedans and extended hatchbacks, the rest of America is pulling up graphic crossover comparisons online — with the blinds tightly drawn, hopefully.
The front and all-wheel-drive wagons apparently could not keep up with VW’s crossover lineup, which currently accounts for more than half of Volkswagen’s sales in the U.S. and is only expected to get bigger.
Farewell, Sleeper: Ford Pulls the Plug on the Fusion Sport
It doesn’t come as a surprise, but it still hurts to learn that Ford’s modern-day take on the ’60s family performance sedan will die with the 2019 model year.
While the automaker’s doomed Fusion nameplate will live on for 2020, the brawny, all-wheel drive Sport variant will not. The automaker confirmed the model’s discontinuation on Monday, meaning performance-minded Blue Oval breeders must now turn their attention (and lust) to the brand’s ST-badged crossovers.