By on May 27, 2020

Nissan and Renault opted against a full merger on Wednesday, but neither side seemed to feel now was the time to disband the alliance and see how they might fare as a solo act. Every member of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance took time to address financial concerns last year, encouraging further product integration as a cost-mitigation strategy. Despite Nissan shareholders and staff clearly losing interest in the French-led confederation, the brand seems to understand that leaning upon its allies might be the only way to get through a period of increasing economic uncertainty.

Mitsubishi slashed its 2020 financial forecasts ahead of the coronavirus pandemic by over $500 million while the other two issued numerous profit warnings in the latter half of 2019. Now the world is exiting lockdowns and assessing the economic damage they caused. Obviously, this is not the time to be burning bridges, even if some alliance partners aren’t enthralled with what’s probably waiting on the other side(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 April 28, 2020

lincoln navigator grille badge lincoln logo

Rivian and Ford Motor Co. are nixing plans to deliver a jointly developed Lincoln EV. Despite Lincoln President Joy Falotico saying the model would deliver one of the most tranquil and luxurious driving experiences on the planet back in January, Lincoln told dealers on Tuesday that development would be scrapped.

Ford invested $500 million in Rivian last year. The collaborative project was intended to deliver a high-end, battery driven vehicle built on the “skateboard” platform underpinning Rivian’s R1T pickup and R1S SUV. Had the project not been taken behind the shed and shot this week, an assumed mid-size Lincoln crossover would have arrived in 2022.

(Read More…)

By on April 3, 2020

On Thursday, NASCAR announced the planned debut of the next-generation stock car is being pushed back until 2022. The new breed was originally expected to take the field at next year’s Daytona 500, but the COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly made that impossible.

“Due to challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the debut of the Next Gen car will be delayed until 2022,” John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation, said in a statement. “The decision was made in collaboration with the OEMs and team owners. We will continue to develop the Next Gen car, and a revised testing timeline will be shared when more information is available.” (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2020

With the United States on pause for the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve been left scratching our heads as to how it might impact the timetable of numerous vehicles slated to debut later this year. Apparently, working remotely isn’t as big a hassle for engineers as one might assume — provided the car is nearing completion. Ford is reportedly continuing development of the all-electric Mustang Mach-E by allowing staff to tweak and test prototypes from their homes.

Ideally, the crossover would be spending more time on factory proving grounds while being fussed over by a full complement of engineers. Yet Ford faces a situation where that’s not possible and doesn’t want it stalling the model’s launch. This is the automaker’s first real attempt at a purpose-built EV and the timing is important. A bad impression could send investors running for the hills; meanwhile, any delay would bring the Mach-E that much closer to obsolescence in the minds of customers.  (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 January 31, 2020

BMW Group has delayed the development of a next-generation Mini Cooper, citing a need to reduce cost and comfortably navigate Britain’s trade relations with the European Union after Brexit.

Considering Europe has had since June of 2016 (when the referendum took place) to figure all this out, it feels silly that the region is still in a panic. Yet that’s reality in which we live. Despite the United Kingdom voting to withdraw from the European Union years ago, the decision received an immense amount of pushback. Negotiations stalled, arrangements went unmade, and the UK eventually voted in a gaggle of Conservatives in the last election — giving them a strong majority in Parliament.

That new political makeup, which includes Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meant Brexit could finally happen. But it doesn’t undo the wasted years that failed to produce a comprehensive trade deal between the UK and EU, or the resulting complications. (Read More…)

By on January 29, 2020

As part of its planned $740 million campus development project in Detroit’s Corktown, Ford is planning a vehicle testing site behind the once-abandoned Michigan Central Station. The land was already earmarked to serve as home base for the company’s latest mobility projects, so the space will be used for exactly that. However, due to location’s size, it’ll probably be relegated to projects outside the normal automotive scope.

Mary Culler, director of Michigan Central Station’s redevelopment, teased what the site might look like further down the line at the Detroit Policy Conference on Wednesday. The prospective testing ground was clearly shown in a slide during her presentation, located at the site of the station’s old loading area. However, the site isn’t expected to be operational until 2023, as the book depository and station renovations take precedence.  (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 15, 2020

Thanks largely to its status as a niche product, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ have been on deathwatch for years. But their saving grace as stellar machines to drive has kept them from being abandoned. The Toyobaru Twins still receive quite a bit of love, even if the affection is not spread around all that liberally. Despite this, both models are expected to receive a successor.

While a quick glance at their sales record makes this seem like a losing strategy, Toyota remains obsessed with rebuilding its reputation within motorsport (often with help from another manufacturer). Toyota head Akio Toyoda has even expressed a personal dream of returning to an era where the company has revived — or replaced — its most iconic performance models. The Supra and 86 are already here, leaving room for the Celica and/or MR2. Ditching the 86 would be a step backwards, even if it only moved 3,398 units in the United States last year — its worst showing to date.  (Read More…)

By on December 17, 2019

The perpetually cautious Toyota has decided to adhere to industry norms by promising to launch its latest advanced driving technologies on commercial vehicles first. This announcement works in tandem with the Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development’s (TRI-AD), which has a fancy new headquarters focused on delivering “safe mobility by bridging Silicon Valley’s innovation with Japanese craftsmanship.”

The decision to prioritize commercial vehicles is relatively common. Most companies developing self-driving tech believe there are loads of cash to be found in autonomous taxi services and automated fleets. Large firms operating an entire fleet of AVs will also be better equipped to purchase and service them. Heavily dependent upon camera equipment and sensors, self-driving vehicles will need to be constantly maintained to ensure they are clean and functional. Toyota also sees possibilities in mobile shops and ambulatory hospitals, according to Reuters, which would require similarly high levels of attention. (Read More…)

By on November 22, 2019

Maserati has something cooking in the kitchen and we’re now getting “spy shots” of its new test mule, though the images were released by the manufacturer’s PR department. While we don’t mind automakers showing a little leg, framing corporate marketing materials as covert information is a trend we wouldn’t mind seeing scaled back. It’s not that we don’t want to see vehicles ahead of their official release — it’s just not a terribly effective ruse.

It did, however, whet our appetite. The camouflaged mule represents a major departure from the brand, looking like a cross between Alfa Romeo’s 4C and the Noble M400. In fact, we’re already presuming the model shares plenty of its DNA with Alfa, as that’s been Fiat Chrysler’s modus operandi for a while. Maserati claims the engine (at least) will be totally new and entirely unique to the brand.  (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2019

With BMW and Daimler already getting cosy via their autonomous vehicle partnership, the duo plans on bringing self-driving (SAE Level 4) tech to the masses by 2024. While other automakers have promised more advanced autonomy on a shorter timeline, the reality of the situation is that true self-driving capabilities are proving difficult and expensive to produce. By partnering up, the Germans believe they can continue their quest while sharing the financial burden of development.

The more the merrier, apparently. According to Germany’s Wirtschaftswoche, Audi will be the next guest to arrive at the party. Daimler and BMW’s previous release stipulated that the pair would focus on the joint development of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways, and automated parking — with the goal of seeing those technologies adapted for passenger vehicles by 2024.  (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2019

Space may be the final frontier, but humanity’s efforts in up there resulted in new and advanced technology down here. Some of that technology has found its way into the automobile. Since it’s the 50th anniversary of humans first stepping foot on the moon, it may be a good time to check out some of the space-inspired tech in your car.

Nissan created an infographic highlighting some of the tech. Tires are the most important part of any car, and modern winter tires can trace some of its roots to the space program. Nokian developed winter tires in the 30s, but Goodyear’s special tires for the lunar rover needed to remain pliable at -195 degrees. Those are conditions that aren’t experienced on Earth.

(Read More…)

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