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…)

By on June 27, 2019

Having recently announced plans to “popularize” battery electric vehicles, Toyota now expects half of its global volume to stem from electrified cars by 2025. That’s five years sooner than originally promised.

Toyota may seem perpetually averse to change but it has been making a lot of moves behind the scenes to ensure it’s at the forefront of a shifting market while also trying to future proof itself in the event that electrification winds up being a dead end. The plan is rather complex and, as I don’t want to re-write a 900-word article, I would like to redirect you to the relevant information.

However, as nuanced as Toyota’s overall strategy may be, the company is still going to need to spend truckloads of cash to remain in the game. With that in mind, the Japanese automaker appears to be investing $2 billion to develop electric vehicles in Indonesia over the next four years — with hybrids being first on the docket.  (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2019

2019 Jaguar I-Pace

On the eve of D-Day, a British automaker and its German rival have teamed up to defeat a modern foe: spiraling development costs born of electrification. Europe’s going green these days, and the need to ditch diesel (and eventually gas) to satisfy the boys on Brussel, coupled with a general cooling off in Western demand, is placing strain on automaker budgets.

The cure, OEMs believe, is collaboration. In a world where BMW hopped into bed with its closest German rival on the mobility front, an electric powertrain partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and Bimmer doesn’t seem all that weird. (Read More…)

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 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…)

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