By on November 2, 2018

tesla model 3

Due to China’s increased tariffs on U.S.-manufactured vehicles, Tesla’s sales have taken a moderate beating there. Like any automaker hoping to move metal within the region, it wants a solution and seems to have come up with one. While there appears to be little hope of the brand’s larger vehicles circumventing the nation’s 40 percent import duty, there’s still hope for the Model 3.

The plan is a familiar one. (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2018

Nissan Leaf 2018 factory

On Wednesday, we reported General Motors’ plan to buy out salaried employees as part of a long-term cost-cutting strategy, with further reductions in headcount looking likely. Despite its healthy profits, GM knows industry forecasters predict a period of economic hardship and continuously dwindling car sales. OEMs need as much money as they can cling to in order to weather the costs associated with advancing their collective shift into electrification and autonomous vehicles, while at the same time preparing for a global trade war.

A bad moon is rising and every manufacturer needs a way to cope.  (Read More…)

By on July 23, 2018

While the rest of the world will be able to enjoy the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback, the United States is patiently waiting for the sedan. Since Americans won’t be privy to the liftback model, it’s to be four doors or nothing.

This is our first look at the model without camouflage and, while it resembles the A-Class hatchback to a large extent, there are some aspects unique to the sedan. The most evident change will be the rear end but, as the teaser image doesn’t show that portion of the car, we’re left analyzing the front bumper — which scales down the oversized air inlets and ditches the slats.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the changes weren’t entirely aesthetic. It claims the vehicle’s shape results in a drag coefficient of only 0.22. That beats the outgoing CLA Coupe (along with the BMW 5 Series) as the most aerodynamic production car in the world.  (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2018

Image: Toyota Motor Corp

Ever since Ford announced its abandonment of traditional passenger cars that aren’t the Mustang, automakers have been very clear to specify whether or not they plan to do the same. The majority seem to feel as if cars have a place in the market. That said, very few manufacturers are increasing sedan output when crossovers and sport utilities are presently so lucrative. For example, Lexus owes the majority of its volume to higher-riding liftbacks, but recently made the promise to maintain a diverse production portfolio.

Accounting for roughly one third of its total volume, cars aren’t the brand’s biggest money maker anymore. But Toyota’s luxury arm believes ditching them now would be an imprudent strategy. Perhaps Lexus is keeping an eye on fuel prices, or maybe it just realizes it can’t play the game in the same manner as the already truck-focused Ford.  (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2018

Toyota Motor Corp. is upgrading plants in Ontario to ready them for the next generation of the RAV4. The investment goes toward the retooling of two separate assembly lines at an estimated cost of one billion Canadian dollars (or roughly $780 million USD). While Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Woodstock will continue building the standard version of the crossover, TMMC Cambridge will handle the hybridized variant.

As a result, assembly of the Toyota Corolla will be moved out of Ontario and into Alabama, where the automaker is building a new facility via it’s recent partnership with Mazda. A portion of the funds going toward the project will also be reserved for research and development within the province.

(Read More…)

By on May 3, 2018

During Tesla’s earnings conference call, the one that didn’t go so well, CEO Elon Musk spent some time explaining the company’s strategy to bring Model Y into production. He even went so far to set a date for the electric CUV, saying it would introduce a “a manufacturing revolution” within the next two years.

Wait, wasn’t the buzz that the modestly sized Model Y would be entering in production in 2019? According to Musk, it was not. But we know suppliers were accepting preliminary bids for contracts with the automaker already and it was reported that Tesla had said a November 2019 production date was “possible.” Pushing it ahead a few months, isn’t a big issue, especially since it hadn’t made an official announcement. But Musk said that was never the deal, saying that Tesla intends to commence assembly on the crossover in 2020.  (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2018

mercedes-benz a-class 2019

Mercedes-Benz plans to launch eight cars off the back of the new A-Class and, unsurprisingly, a bunch of them will be crossovers. While North America will have to wait until fall for the A-Class sedan, Europe will see the hatchback much sooner. However, those models are just the start of the upscale brand’s drive to push the platform into every segment its size limitations allows.

The hatch will remain the smallest model, but CEO Dieter Zetsche says Mercedes-Benz needs to keep its rivals on their toes — and the automaker intends to tap the MFA2 platform for that honor. While the expanded lineup gives MB an edge universally, we know which automaker the company is most concerned with: BMW.  (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2018

Did you ever the the feeling that the Tesla Model S was just an S-Class for EV enthusiasts? Mercedes-Benz sure hopes so, because its CEO, the mustachioed Dieter Zetsche, recently let fly that the brand has a full-sized electric under development called the EQ S. While Mercedes’ core lineup will welcome all manner of hybrid and mild-hybrid powertrains in the years to come, Zetsche says the brand will also start building fully electric vehicles by way of its EQ line.

The EQ nameplate is something we’ve heard a lot about in the past, but its true purpose has yet to be defined by Daimler. Typically, we’ve only seen EQ badging added to concept vehicles promising electrification, with no additional details. But new claims from the CEO suggest the category may be reserved for models that use batteries as their only power source.  (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2018

lincoln navigator grille badge lincoln logo

While both Buick and Cadillac have a healthy lead over Lincoln in terms of domestic deliveries, the space between them is far more pronounced in China. At home, Ford moved 111,159 examples of its premium marque in 2017 against Cadillac’s 156,440. However, China’s Caddy sales clocked in at 175,489 last year — a number Lincoln could only muse about in its wildest fantasies.

That’s because Ford exports all of its luxury vehicles to China, while GM tends to build them locally. But the Lincoln brand shows a lot of promise in Asia. Ford moved roughly 80,000 vehicles in the People’s Republic in 2017 and 54,124 of those models wore the Lincoln cross. In theory, if Ford could localize and bolster its product lineup within the country, a higher volume would be all but assured. It’s a theory the automaker intends to test, too.  (Read More…)

By on December 1, 2017

2019 Subaru Ascent Touring, Image: Subaru of America

Subaru says it will invest $140 million into its production facility in Lafayette, Indiana, to ensure assembly of the 2019 Ascent goes off without a hitch. The cash will go toward helping the automaker meet the growing demand for SUVs in North America and provide 200 additional jobs for the region.

Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) currently produces the Impreza, Legacy, and Outback. But it’s scheduled to add the Ascent early next year. The investment covers a factory expansion, new equipment, and tooling to support higher production volume.  (Read More…)

By on November 13, 2017

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

Patience, as we’ve been told, is a virtue. Therefore, the most virtuous individuals occupying the ball of mud we call Earth must be the Tesla faithful currently awaiting their pre-ordered Model 3 sedans. The speed of the vehicle’s launch has been sedate, to say the least. Tesla Motors finds itself plagued by production bottlenecks, which hasn’t helped the already long wait times facing those who dropped a sizable wad of bills just for the privilege of eventually owning its latest model.

However, the lengthy intermission between launch and ownership doesn’t appear to be diminishing their love for the company — a testament to the brand’s difficult-to-tarnish image. Fans of the automaker seem content to wait it out in tranquility like Siddhartha Gautama under the tree of enlightenment.  (Read More…)

By on November 12, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – Image: Toyota

Despite President Trump giving Toyota significant praise for its continued investment in the United States last week, the success of the automaker’s production plans hinge on the continuation of NAFTA — something the Commander in Chief has been vehemently opposed to since his well-before his inauguration.

Toyota and Mazda’s $1.6 billion factory is anticipated to yield 150,000 Corollas annually and free-up assembly facilities in Mexico that would build the Tacoma pickup. However, if the North American Free Trade Agreement is dissolved, anything produced south-of-the-boarder could be subjected to the chicken tax. Were that to happen, Toyota would be placed into quite a predicament and faced with high import taxes on any trucks it had hoped to ship to the U.S. (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2017

Tesla Model S Grey - Image: Tesla

Lately, we’ve been guilty of the same behavior as a lot of other well-rounded and objective automotive publications — bashing Tesla Motors. It hasn’t been done maliciously, but we’d be lying if we said the divisive hype and hate surrounding the company didn’t bother us. However, since the summer launch of the Model 3, a slew of happenings at Tesla have have raised unanswered questions.

The biggest question surrounds the cause of the company’s rather severe production delays. Tesla also fired hundreds of employees this month, without any clear answer as to why, and seems to have shelved a cross-country trip aimed at highlighting the progress made with its Autopilot driver assistance platform.

None of this would be quite so noteworthy if its stock valuation wasn’t still stratospherically high and CEO Elon Musk hadn’t publicly promised so much — but that isn’t the reality we’re living in. Now, with the company reporting its third quarter earnings on Wednesday evening, we’re hoping to get some clarity on what exactly is happening in Fremont, California.  (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2017

Ford Escape Titanium badge logo, Image: Ford Motor Company

After much speculation, Ford CEO Jim Hackett has finally outlined where his company’s dollars will be spent in the foreseeable future. Hackett spent his summer performing what Ford called a “four-month deep dive” into the company’s strategy and business operations to see what changes needed to be made. His conclusions? This may surprise a few readers, but Ford will continue building and selling automobiles.

Alright, that isn’t a bombshell, but the brand is trying to frame itself as the Ford you’ve always trusted while also letting everyone know it’s still a “mobility company” with its eyes fixed on tomorrow. Without the public relations veneer, that plan translates into a reduced number of production models and trims, more money for electrification R&D, less for internal combustion engines, and a significant reduction in material costs.

Hackett’s address also served to reassure the nervous shareholders who ousted his predecessor, Mark Fields. Ford’s stock declined more than 30 percent during Fields’ tenure and many complained that his vision of transitioning from a traditional automaker to a Silicon Valley look-alike was partly to blame. Hackett did everything in his power to ease those fears.

“We’re going to be in the vehicle business moving both people and goods. Some myth about not being in the car business is gone,” Hackett told Wall Street. (Read More…)

By on August 6, 2017

Müller-Ötvös and Rolls-Royce Phantom

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is on track to become the highest volume automaker in the world someday. Management is keeping it under wraps but volume has been exploding over the last few years. For 2014, the brand delivered a record 4,063 cars, up 12 percent on its volume for 2013 — closing the gap with Toyota’s 10.23 million global sales.

Unfortunately, Rolls’ five year volume streak didn’t last but it is creeping back up after some minor setbacks. For 2016, the brand announced its second highest ever annual sales result in the marquee’s 113-year history, up 6 percent on its 2015 results, for a total of 4,011 global sales. While it looks like the premium automaker has — once again — placed Toyota’s volume back in its sights, Rolls-Royce doesn’t want to get too cocky and has implemented a strategy that should keep the customers pouring in.  (Read More…)

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