By on April 11, 2019

To our collective horror, Ford decided not to sell the new Fiesta ST in North America. Instead, the automaker chose to cull its passenger car lineup during a period of declining demand and profitability in order to focus on higher-margin trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. No one in this office is particularly excited about the idea, but most of us could rationalize our hurt by trying to see things from Ford’s perspective and focusing on the bottom line. However, Ford is just rubbing salt into our wound at this point.

While the 2019 Ford Fiesta ST has abandoned its turbocharged 1.6-liter four-banger for a more Euro-friendly 1.5-liter triple boasting the same 197 horsepower and more torque, the United Kingdom also receives a limited-run Performance Edition that would have made a nifty little runabout/track day hooligan. Sure, it probably wouldn’t have been a hit here. But we would at least like to have the opportunity not to buy it.  (Read More…)

By on January 16, 2019

british-leyland-mini

With Britain’s parliament rejecting Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest Brexit deal, European automakers stand to face some strong headwinds in the near future. As of now, no clear path lies ahead. Many believe the European Union will continue playing hardball, punishing Britain for leaving. But, even if it doesn’t, loads of regulatory and trade issues must be resolved in short order to avoid problems.

There’s also no shortage of hyperbole surrounding the issue. Just this morning I heard cable news call it “the largest crisis in Britain’s history,” as if World War II never happened. A channel away, another outlet proclaimed how splendid it would be for trade between the United Kingdom and United States.

Regardless of which side of the fence you fall, there’s more at stake here than Theresa May’s job. Automakers, who like consistency above all else, worry a no deal plan for “British independence” could be tantamount to flipping the industry table. They don’t like being caught up in the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and there appears to be an endless list of issues to contend with.  (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2018

British vacuum magnate James Dyson has decided to construct his company’s planned electric vehicles in Singapore, rather than his home country. The choice prompted a mild uproar in the UK, as Dyson was a major proponent of Brexit.

However, he’s also still a businessman. China currently buys more EVs than any other nation on the planet, a fact that’s unlikely to change any time soon, and it’s typically more affordable to manufacture there than risking importation. This is especially true of automobiles. Officially, Dyson has said his business’ “center of gravity” has begun shifting toward Asia, accounting for nearly three quarters of the company’s revenue growth last year.

C’est la vie, as the British say.  (Read More…)

By on April 29, 2018

Tesla Model S 85D Instrument Panel, Image: © 2016 David Marek/The Truth About Cars

If you’re wondering how many times this website has complained about people mishandling semi-autonomous driving systems, we’ve completely lost count. However, if you want further evidence that we are justified in constantly wringing our hands over the matter, you’re in luck.

On April 20th, Bhavesh Patel plead guilty to “dangerous driving” at St. Albans Crown Court in the United Kingdom. The term driving is a bit of a misnomer, though. Because Patel was actually sitting in the passenger seat of his Tesla Model S 60, while his vehicle traveled down the motorway driver free. The incident, which took place in May of last year, was caught by a fellow commuter and subsequently reported to authorities. Obviously, we had to find footage of the unbridled stupidity.  (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2018

After four years of consecutive growth, the United Kingdom’s automotive market has tanked for 12 months straight. The culprit is, of course, dwindling diesel sales.

Thanks to European governments latching onto the fuel as the cleaner alternative to “petrol” throughout the 1990s (subsequently incentivizing the fuel as a way to meet aggressive CO2-reduction targets), diesel-powered autos accounted for roughly half of all new auto sales between 2009 and 2017 . But diesel is now “evil” and everyone in Europe has started avoiding it.

In March, diesel sales declined by 37.2 percent — leaving the once dominant fuel with just 32 percent of the new car market. Unsurprising, as the new trend in Europe is the widespread (future) banning of the fuel in city centers. April’s sales are expected to be even lower, as the British government’s new taxes on diesel vehicles come into effect. Those fees and a weakened pound, which practically everyone has attributed to Brexit, forced new car sales in the UK down by 16 percent.  (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2018

Ford Escape Titanium badge logo, Image: Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company has a lot invested in Europe. While the continent spent decades operating facilities under the lose leadership of Ford of Britain, Detroit acquired direct ownership in 1950. From there it extended its influence dramatically, buying up established European manufacturers near the close of the 20th century. But things haven’t always been good; economic hardships have been par for the course and things haven’t been easy in a long time.

Presently, Ford makes around $75,000 in profit for each of its employees in the United States. In Europe, that number is about $4,300 per worker. While we’re sure that makes domestic line workers feel entitled to a small pay increase, the point is that the profit margins across the pond are pretty slim for Ford.

However, unlike General Motors, the company doesn’t want to abandon the region. The automaker says it’s taking a renewed interesting in figuring how to keep profits up and is avoiding any speculation that it might duck out of Europe entirely. But let’s revisit its hardships over the last decade so we can establish a framework for why Ford is having a rough go of it.  (Read More…)

By on November 17, 2017

JLR Autonomous Testing

Jaguar Land Rover has taken its first steps into the scariest part of autonomous development — real world testing.

As most automakers are already deep into R&D work on self-driving cars, luxury manufacturers like JLR cannot afford to be late to the party. In today’s world, premium automobiles are less about ride quality or cabin space and more about having the latest and greatest tech. A big, comfortable car isn’t hard to come by — they used to build them all the time. They also aren’t particularly expensive, especially if you shop on the used market.

However, a 2005 Lincoln Town Car in the driveway doesn’t scream “prestige” to the neighbors. But an autonomous Range Rover that parks itself in the garage while you get the mail is something else entirely. If you had a vehicle like that, the guy across the street would have difficulty even holding your now-powerful gaze — shamed by his own car’s clear inferiority. Imagine what kind of price you might pay to have that kind of mastery over another person. Now you can see why this technology is so important to JLR. (Read More…)

By on October 17, 2017

british-leyland-mini

While some of Europe saw modest auto sale gains through the first nine months of 2017, the region has mirrored North America’s decline in deliveries since the end of the summer. The United States saw eight consecutive months of declining sales this year, with a positive bump in September and better than expected volume in Canada.

Europe, meanwhile, saw the inverse. Passenger car registrations fell 2 percent year-over-year to roughly 1.43 million deliveries in September, despite August seeing a 5.6-percent improvement. Overall, 2017 has the makings of a unsatisfactory sales year for both regions. But Europe seemed to be doing alright before the U.K. suddenly stopped buying cars.

British registrations took a massive nosedive after Brexit. By September, it represented a monthly decline of 9.3 percent, compared to Germany’s 3.3 percent slide. Even though the rest of the continent saw a gain in sales, having Europe’s two largest markets lagging guaranteed the net loss.  (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2017

Mini Cooper 5-door production line Oxford - Image: BMW UKAuto sales in the United Kingdom tumbled 9 percent in July 2017, a fourth consecutive year-over-year monthly decline for a market that had surged to record-high levels in the first-quarter of 2017.

A transitioning period for the Ford Fiesta — entering a new generation that is almost certainly not bound for North America — dropped the UK’s normal best-selling vehicle out of the top spot for a second consecutive month. Another Ford, the Focus, took over as the UK’s top-selling automobile as total sales at Ford, the UK’s top-selling brand, plunged 24 percent compared with July 2016.

Ford’s drop was by no means the only sharp decrease. Losses of more than 20 percent were also reported by Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Citroën’s DS brand, Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot, and Vauxhall.

Apparently, Brexit is to blame. (Read More…)

By on July 30, 2017

burned f430, Image: South Yorkshire Police

A driver in the United Kingdom obliterated a Ferrari after only a single hour of ownership. Not that it’s easy to tell from the photographs, but the vehicle in question used to be a Ferrari F430 Scuderia prior to its transformation into smoldering wreckage.

The South Yorkshire Police said fire and rescue services were on the scene when they arrived, “squirting water all over some kind of sporty motor” that had careened some fifty meters off the M1 highway before exploding into flames. Miraculously, the vehicle’s owner survived with only a few scrapes but his ego may not have made it. Taking some mild joy in the wealthy man’s plight, the department wrote on social media the officers on the scene “asked the driver what sort of car he ‘had’ to which he replied ‘It was a Ferrari.’ Detecting a sense of damaged pride he then said ‘I’ve only just got it, picked it up an hour ago.'” (Read More…)

By on July 11, 2017

2016 Hyundai Genesis Right Hand Drive - Image: Hyundai UK“The Genesis was never built for the European market,” Hyundai UK director Tony Whitehorn says. “It was conceived for the Korean and American markets.”

And now, with the second-generation Hyundai Genesis sedan languishing in the United Kingdom while Hyundai launches the Genesis brand in North America, the Hyundai Genesis Americans now know as the Genesis G80 has been discontinued as in the UK.

Still follow? (Read More…)

By on July 5, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Golf - Image: Volkswagen UKThe Volkswagen Golf was the best-selling new vehicle in the United Kingdom in June 2017, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

So what, you say, the Golf is historically a European powerhouse, a fine car by all accounts, just one that’s not entirely suited to American sales success.

But for the Golf, typically a top five car, to earn outright best seller status in the UK, something had to give.

At just the right time, when the Ford Fiesta was at a weak point, the Volkswagen Golf stepped up with a 29-percent year-over-year increase despite shrinking demand across much of the UK market. The result: the Golf ended a Ford Fiesta streak that had been in good standing for 29 months.
(Read More…)

By on May 4, 2017

BMW 3 Series (E90), Image: BMW

If you’re in Manhattan on a Wednesday night, you need to head to Arthur’s in the village and catch the 10 p.m. set by soul singer Allyson Williams. She has one of the all-time great voices, expressive and touching, and she has a rotating group of crack musicians backing her up.

A few years ago, I sprawled out in Arthur’s in the middle of a post-auto-show drinking binge when Allyson decided to cover Chaka Khan’s “Through The Fire.” For a chance to be with you, the song says, I’d gladly risk it all. At the time, I took it as a personal rebuke from the Fates for having abandoned the woman I loved. Although I’ve returned to the scene many times since then, I’ve never heard her sing the tune again. Maybe I imagined it. Hard to say.

If you really love someone, you’ll endure a lot to be with them. And that’s the problem facing Eddie, although in his case it’s not a matter of going “through the fire.” Rather, it’s a question of shipping across the pond.

(Read More…)

By on February 15, 2017

Jaguar Shell Payment App

New advancements at Jaguar keep on coming. In addition to the new Ingenium engine we reported on earlier today, Jaguar has also announced an in-car payment system for use exclusively at Shell stations.

Gassing up will soon be such a breeze for Jag owners, they’ll want to do it all the time. Shell no doubt encourages this behavior.

(Read More…)

By on December 15, 2016

2016 Ford Fiesta green 3-door - Image: Ford UKThe Ford Fiesta is the most popular car at TTAC.

We don’t mean to say that TTAC’s audience researches the Ford Fiesta more often than any other vehicle. Nor are we suggesting that the Ford Fiesta is the consensus favourite among TTAC’s vast contributor network. Rather, there are a total of three Fiestas spread across TTAC driveways: the managing editor’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost, an ST at the home of our advice columnist, and another ST in the family of TTAC’s editor-at-large.

That’s an impressive level of marketplace penetration for a car that generates just 0.3 percent of the U.S. auto industry’s new vehicle sales volume. Yet across the pond, the very same car owns an industry-wide 4.5 percent of the overall new vehicle market.

2016 will be the eighth consecutive year in which the Ford Fiesta claims the title of the United Kingdom’s best-selling vehicle. Not only is the consistency remarkable, so too is the authority with which the Fiesta scores its victories. (Read More…)

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