By on September 4, 2019

Last year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced a €5 billion plan to set the table for more palatable electric vehicles — including hybrids — and boost capacity utilization at its Italian facilities. Roughly one fifth of that total will go toward the launch of a compact crossover from Alfa Romeo and Fiat’s upcoming Panda hybrid.

Numerous Italian trade unions (AQCF, FIM, FISMIC, UGLM, and UILM), after speaking with the manufacturer, have confirmed the Pomigliano plant will undergo some retooling in preparation for the new models. Meanwhile, FCA confirmed the cost to Reuters — stipulating that the total investment for the two models would be “closer to 1 billion than 500 million euros.”  (Read More…)

By on July 22, 2019

With Oliver Zipse confirmed as BMW’s new chief executive, practically everyone theorized on how he was going to shake up the strategy established under former-CEO Harald Krüger — which revolved around gradually introducing more EVs via a highly flexible architecture. While we were disinclined to agree, a swath of industry experts and media outlets claimed this was a terrible blueprint for the brand and expected Zipse to come up with something different.

However, he looks to be offering more of the same. That begs the question as to why Krüger actually left the company and taints the validity of suggestions that his product strategy was internally viewed as a failure(Read More…)

By on June 17, 2019

Demand for Hummer vehicles peaked in 2006 before being obliterated by the financial crisis and a spike in domestic fuel prices. Considering the brand’s most eco-conscious model (the H3) averaged somewhere around 14 mpg in the city, the nameplate probably survived longer than it should have. It took on defunct-status in 2010.

Having failed to sell off the brand, General Motors is still sitting on the property and rumors are stirring that it might be making a comeback… as an electric luxury marque.

Despite sounding like the mad ravings of drug-addled lunatic, GM has its reasons for considering bringing Hummer back to life. Jeep sales took off like cat with its tail on fire after the recession, with annual domestic volumes going from 231,701 units in 2009 to a whopping 973,227 in 2018. It’s doubtful that GM missed that or forgot that it had access to an easily identifiable brand with similar ties to the military and off-road adventure. (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2019

Despite the recent development of a high-MPG, low-emission gasoline four-cylinder, Mazda’s future depends on lowering its emissions footprint even further. With regulators — especially those in Europe — backing ever more stringent environmental standards, Mazda hopes to avoid Fiat Chrysler-like penalties by adding a product at odds with the brand’s heritage. An electric vehicle.

With the help of its partners, Mazda’s new EV will make an appearance next year, followed up with a crop of plug-in hybrids buyers are more likely to take home. (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2019

Following announcements that Toyota would be working on a shared electric vehicle platform with Subaru, as well as a jointly developed crossover, the brand conducted a press conference on Friday regarding its decision to “popularize BEVs.” While the announcement didn’t deal with the specifics of cutting-edge tech, auxiliary business opportunities, or even a total shift toward battery electric vehicles, it did represent a major commitment from a manufacturer that’s notoriously cautious in its decision making.

Opening the conference, Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi focused largely on the challenges of electrification. Terashi said Toyota’s intent has always been to support “social progress” and curb CO2 emissions while acknowledging that it had only made formal commitments to electrification within the last couple of years. However, he showed that the automaker has been busy within that time, and had several initiatives in the works aimed at repositioning Toyota as a mobility brand, by outlining the company’s extremely complex EV strategy.

Buckle up, because there is a lot to this — including some new cars.  (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2019

Planned successor for Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, Ola Källenius, says Mercedes-Benz will significantly reduce development costs under his supervision by accelerating alliances throughout the industry. This, of course, has everything to do with electric cars, as that’s all auto executives seem capable of discussing anymore.

“The cost structure of the electric car is above that of the combustion engine car. We are working hard on lowering this,” Källenius said on Monday. “We need to work on the cost of vehicle architectures. From where we are now, we need to make a significant step by 2025 in terms of cost.” (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2019

Maserati promises it will steer clear of widespread electrification. And yet, it’s unclear whether this is part of a bold corporate strategy that sees electrification as the less-promising path forward, or simply the result of the brand’s current financial situation.

Regardless, the firm’s North American leader, Al Gardner, says it’s not in the cards. While Maserati fully intends to insert more plug-in vehicles and hybrids into its lineup by 2022, it vows to stop short of killing the internal combustion engine. Of course, we know that’s a promise no automaker can expect to keep indefinitely. All it takes is one important change in management to readjust a brand’s corporate trajectory, but Maserati appears safe from total electrification for the time being.  (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2019

mini electric concept

Automakers find themselves in the midst of a widespread electrification effort. However, the slow adoption rate of these vehicles has created some trepidation. Rather than roll out fleets of EVs en masse, most manufacturers have chosen to adopt platforms allowing for multiple powertrain configurations, relegating electrics to entirely new sub-brands or transforming lesser nameplates into EV brands.

Daimler is a good example of this. Mercedes-Benz has its EQ sub-brand, while Smart was rejiggered into a nameplate entirely focused on “electro-mobility.”

BMW Group will likely take a similar route with Mini. The brand’s first fully fledged EV is fast approaching, with the company repeatedly suggesting that it might reposition itself as an electric-focused nameplate. Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member and Papa Bear to Mini, Rolls-Royce, and BMW Motorrad (motorcycles), is the man responsible for overseeing the shift, and has offered up a tentative glimpse into Mini’s future.  (Read More…)

By on March 7, 2019

Image: 2018 Honda Civic Type R

Honda’s hottest front-driver, the Civic Type R, may be homeless once the company’s Swindon, UK assembly plant closes in 2022, but its future will not end there.

Based on comments made at the Geneva Motor Show, it seems the next-generation model will likely tone down its appearance while accepting a helping hand from electrification. (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2019

The German Association of the Automotive Industry, known in its native tongue as Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), says its members have formally committed themselves to investing 60 billion euros (roughly $68 billion USD) into electrification and vehicular autonomy over the next three years.

The claim was made as part of a larger announcement serving as a rundown for what German automakers hope to achieve in a period where nothing seems certain.

The European Union, along with China and several other nations, have committed themselves to embracing electrification in a bid to lower emissions and modernize roadways. “In the next three years, we will invest over 40 billion euros in electric mobility, in addition to a further 18 billion euros for digitalization, and the development of networked or automated vehicles” said VDA President Bernhard Mattes, adding that German automakers anticipate 100 EV models on offer to the public by the end of that period.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2019

Cadillac is at a crossroads. While the brand has enjoyed growth in Asia, domestic volume never fully recovered from the Great Recession. It’s come back a bit, with sales dipping and rising between years, but hasn’t managed to keep pace with the overall market. As of 2018, Cadillac possesses the lowest share of the U.S. market in the brand’s recorded history. Fortunately, the fourth-quarter arrival of the XT4 helped to Cadillac stabilize sales as the year drew to an end.

However, General Motors wants the luxury arm to become a legitimate success and prove the automaker’s effort to develop advanced powertrains and new technologies weren’t in vain. Cadillac is positioned to become manufacturer’s leading electric brand and GM’s newly appointed president, Mark Reuss, has acknowledged this is sort of its last chance at greatness.  (Read More…)

By on January 19, 2019

Are the 66,716 Americans who helped take the venerable Dodge Challenger to a new sales record in 2018 just Luddites, rebelling against a rising tide of electrification and autonomy? Maybe, but the era of a Challenger line powered solely by gasoline is drawing to a close.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley addressed the muscle car’s future at this week’s Detroit auto show, admitting that, at some point, the Challenger needs to grow greener. That means venturing into the unsexy world of electrification — an unthinkable act for some American muscle purists. (Read More…)

By on January 3, 2019

Yesterday brought two snippets of news concerning your tax dollars and lovers of virtuous cars. The first being an across-the-board price drop at Tesla aimed at countering the company’s reduced EV tax credit; the second, General Motors’ confirmation that time’s running out for the $7,500 bounty on its own vehicles.

Nissan’s next in line to cross the 200,000 vehicles threshold marking the beginning of the credit phaseout, followed by Ford and probably Toyota. Notice there’s no mention of Fiat Chrysler here. As of November, sales of qualifying vehicles at FCA amounted to just over 37,000 — meaning the brash automaker will likely enjoy government incentivization long after its rivals resort to limited manufacturer perks to stoke sales. $7,500 to serve as a big green bow placed atop any vehicle FCA dreams up.

And herein lies your job. (Read More…)

By on December 11, 2018

2020 Porsche 911

Any measure of change to the 911 reliably sends Porsche purists into a tailspin worthy of the car’s legendary snap-oversteer thirty years ago. It has been suggested that the 911 was the leading cause of death of doctors, lawyers, and – erm – entrepreneurs in the ‘70s and ‘80s than anything else, including cocaine.

Those diabolically catastrophic handling traits have long been exorcised, of course, along with air cooling and church pew seating. With each change, anoraks have wailed into their Porsche Design espresso cups.

What will be said about a hybrid 911? Well, according to one source, they’ll at least be able to say it’s the most powerful 911 ever made.

(Read More…)

By on November 21, 2018

Lamborghini has talked a lot about electrification over the last few years, remaining careful never to commit to anything. While meager production rates seriously limit the environmental impact of its vehicles, the Italian automaker is nonetheless subject to the same pressure to go green as larger brands. Almost a decade ago, the brand vowed to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of its vehicles by roughly one third while simultaneously covering the factory roof with solar panels. It later hinted it might implement widespread turbocharging, much like Ferrari, or go the electrification route.

The greenwashing trend continues today, likely encouraged by Lamborghini’s suddenly eco-conscious parent, Volkswagen. Facing an important crossroad, and surrounded by regulatory and environmental pressures, the company has chosen its path. While Lamborghini’s Stefano Domenicali still seems gently apprehensive, the CEO claims plug-in hybrids will be the best way forward for the brand.   (Read More…)

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