Auto News for Jan. 19 – When a simple Rolls is just not enough

 The very rich could just wander into a Rolls-Royce showroom and pick out a car. But for the super-super rich their new wheels have to be better than the one parked next to them at the country club.

 So Rolls has a special “Bespoke” department to meet their desires.

 In 2017, one client wanted a “Sweptail,” what we could call a fastback that paid homage to the Rolls of the 1920s and 1930s. He or she got one. “Bespoke, motor car like no other,” the maker said.

 Another drew its inspiration from the ancient art of Arabic calligraphy while the Ghost “Elegance” became the first Rolls to be finished in a paint infused with diamonds. (Your body shop would be so impressed.)

 Yet another model had a screen that stretches the entire width of the dash panel for displaying art works. And the “Wraith Busan Edition” had a rear pillar motif that echoes the latticework for traditional Korean “Hanok” screen doors.

 It certainly will be fun to see what Rolls comes up with this year to keep “the customer satisfied, satisfied.”

 GM will not have to pay $1 billion in stock as part of a settlement with owners of cars with defective ignition switches. A judge ruled the trust overseeing claims against the “old” GM acted in bad faith and never signed the settlement agreement with GM.

 The Takata air bag inflator recall just got bigger. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has added 14 additional automakers that will be added to the recall.

 To see if your vehicle is involved, go to www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter your vehicles VIN number. It appears on the driver’s side of the dashboard.

 

  

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Auto News for Jan. 18

 

McLaren christening
A christening of sorts for McLaren’s new carbon fiber plant in Yorkshire, England. The firm staged a spectacular light show, after which a McLaren performed a series of doughnuts to leave a trail of fresh rubber on the center’s floor to christen it – McLaren style.
When it comes on line, the facility will produce carbon fiber tubs for the company’s cars, McLaren’s first plant outside Woking, England.

A new study from the EPA concludes that Mazda has achieved the highest overall Manufacturer Adjusted Fuel Economy for the 2016 model year. This is the fifth year in a row that Mazda claimed the first place finish.

Ford’s stock took a tumble the day after executives said 2017 earnings would fall short of Wall Street expectations. In heavy trading, Ford shares closed down 7 percent Wednesday. It cited unfavorable currency rates overseas and higher costs for steel, aluminum and other metals as well as investments in mobility and autonomous vehicles. The automaker will release its complete financial report on the 24th.

GM announced that the 3.0-liter turbo diesel that will be available in its Chevy Silverado pickups will be manufactured at its plant in Flint, Michigan.

 

 

Auto News for Jan. 17 – An Electric Ferrari?

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 After once indicating that he was not a fan of all-electric cars, the head of Fiat Chrysler told reporters Ferrari will produce, at some point, a high performance electric to compete with Tesla. Sergio Marchionne also said Ferrari will introduce an SUV by late next year or in 2020 and it will be the fastest of its kind on the market.

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 The Volkswagen Atlas has been named “Best of 2018” by Cars.com for its ability to “comfortably haul seven adults and plenty of cargo.” Other winners were:

 Best Pickup Truck of 2018: Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

 Eco-Friendly Car of the Year: Chevrolet Bolt EV 

 Family Car of the Year: Chrysler Pacifica

 Luxury Car of the Year: Audi A4

 Most Fun-to-Drive Car of the Year: Volkswagen Golf GTI

 A new survey of 1,134 drivers finds that nearly half expect to see more fuel efficient vehicles on the road this year, and 41 percent expect “environmentally – friendly vehicles,” such as electrics, to become more mainstream. The biggest trend for the New Year? Thirty-two percent said it will be self-driving vehicles.

 And it doesn’t appear that the SUV/crossover trend is slowing. Nearly 32 percent said an SUV is their vehicle of choice.

 When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, 57 percent said they would clean the interior of their vehicle on a regular basis.

 The poll was a venture of Capital One and the GM BuyPower Card.

 Infiniti expects more than half of its global sales to be comprised of electric vehicles by 2025. Its chief executive officer told the Automotive News World Congress the company will introduce vehicles with electrified powertrains from 2021.

 Volvo has opened what it calls a climate-neutral manufacturing plant in Skovde, Sweden, or one that has switched to renewable heating. All heating supplied to the plant is generated from waste incineration, biomass and recycled bio-fuels. The company said it would continue to work with energy suppliers in all regions to “secure further access to renewable energy.”

Auto News for Jan. 16 – New off-road vehicles announced

 

 

 A redesigned Jeep Cherokee was unveiled this morning at the Detroit Auto Show, the last ceremony of its kind at this year’s event.

 It sports a new look up front but retains the seven slot grille demanded by Jeep fans. Like so many new models at the show it has have dieting.

 Jeep said the new Cherokee is 200 pounds lighter while retaining its legendary off-road abilities. The cargo area has been expanded, the standard infotainment screen is now two inches larger at 7 inches, while the 8.4 inch display remains an option.  

 There is a new engine option, a 2.0-liter turbo four with 270 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque and that is more torque than the 3.2-liter V6 which carries over along with the 2.4-liter four. The new four is matched to a 9-speed automatic.

 Also new is a hands free power liftgate.

 Look for the new Cherokee in the first quarter.

 Mercedes displayed its new G-Class off road vehicle with LED headlamps, advanced driver assistance systems, a high-quality interior with leather seats and a new suspension. Additionally, options such as the Exclusive Interior Plus with diamond-stitched leather provide even more customization.

 

 Under the hood is a 4.0-liter V8 biturbo with 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque matched to a new 9 speed automatic with a torque converter specially designed for those going off road.

 Occupants benefit from more space in virtually all areas, with an option of multicontour seats with various massage functions, rapid heating and ventilation.

  But make no mistake, this is a premier off road vehicle despite all the luxury touches thanks to its standard ladder-type frame, the three 100-percent differential locks and low range off-road gear reduction – the G remains a true G.

 Ground clearance is a hefty 10.6 inches to the front axle gear and an improved 9.5 inches between the axles.

 The new G wagon will go on sale here in the U.S. later this year.

 Elsewhere:

 GM is optimistic entering 2018 and it is projecting record 2017 earnings per share adjusted at the high end of the previously stated range of $6.00 to $6.50 a share.  

 One reason for future optimism is expected strong demand for the new Silverado pickup with the revamped GMC model to follow.

 “The all-new full-size truck family that launches this year will generate very strong returns for years to come,” said GM President Dan Ammann.

 Several readers have asked how the Lincoln Navigator could win the “North American Truck of the Year” award without an open truck bed to the rear.

 The journalists who vote on the winners spent a considerable amount of time talking about this very issue.

 For Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press it came down to this:

 “If it tows like a truck and hauls like a truck, it’s a truck,” he said in the paper.

 The Navigator can tow 8,700 pounds and that sets it apart from vehicles such as the Volvo XC90 and that is how it ended up in the truck category, he added

 I wonder if another award category should be added to end the confusion, but I guess if we can have 4-door coupes …

  Fiat Chrysler could be cash positive by June, a prime goal of CEO Sergio Marchionne. Further, he said the company would not be sold off to Chinese auto firms in whole or in part.

 Marchionne is expected to step down as CEO later this year or early next year.

  

 

  

 

 

 

Wrapping up Detroit – Day One

Acura to Toyota

By Ron Amadon

Acura calls it the “most extensive” redesign in more than a decade – the unveiling of the 2019 RDX prototype.

Acura RDX Prototype

It has undergone a top to bottom remake and is the first to embrace Acura’s new design language.

In addition to a stiffer and lighter body and an Acura exclusive platform, the RDX gets an all new powertrain with a 2.0-liter turbo four matched to a ten speed automatic. For 2019, there is the return of Acura’s Super-handling All Wheel Drive and four distinct drive modes; Sport, Sport+, Comfort and Snow.

It rides on a 2.5 inch longer wheelbase and is 1.2 inches wider so there is more room inside. Front seats are 16 ways adjustable, and are heated and ventilated.

The new Touchpad Interface is an Android based operating system projected on a 10.2 inch screen and an available head up display. There is also a new voice recognition system.

Sounds? An optional 710 watt audio system designed by Panasonic that uses four ultra-thin ceiling mounted speakers.

The 2019 RDX will launch in mid-year.

Also in the Motor City this morning was the global debut of the 2019 Kia Forte. It will come with Kia’s first in-house designed variable transmission and other changes that it said should deliver an estimated 35 combined mpg.

2019 Forte
Standard equipment will include an 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Overall length is up 3.2 inches to 182.7 inches with 15.1 cubic feet of cargo room. Head room is up by a half inch.

The 2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle four can be matched to either a six speed manual or the “all-new Intelligent Variable Transmission.” It is said to have a step-shift-like feel at wide open throttle.

A 320-watt Harmon Kardon sound system available.

Look for the new model to go on sale here in the U.S. later this year.

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A redesigned Veloster lit up the Hyundai stand with an appealing Model N performance version sporting a 2.0-liter turbo four with up to 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.

And it will come with a six-speed manual tranny!

Also on board is an “electronically controlled” suspension with multiple track tuned driving modes.

Tires are of the ultra-high performance category, with standard 225/40R18 Michelin Pilot SuperSport summer tires for the 18-inch wheel design and exclusive-compound 235/35R19 Pirelli P-Zero summer tires for the available 19-inch alloy wheel.

As engine speed approaches redline, the N-design center cluster displays a progressive sequential shift indicator, alerting the driver of an impending shift point for maximum acceleration.
Drive Modes include Normal, Sport, N, Eco and N Custom, differentiating engine throttle response, engine speed rev-matching, exhaust note, active differential tuning, suspension damping rates, steering feel and yaw-control characteristics. N Custom mode allows comprehensive driving character preferences via customizable settings for each tunable driving attribute.

This puppy should be a blast to drive when it appears in the fourth quarter!
Over at Infiniti came the midsize Q Inspiration Concept, with an eye catching exterior and interior design that could be giving some hints about where the company’s future designs are headed.

INFINITI Q Inspiration Concept

It is powered by a four cylinder turbocharged variable compression ratio engine – one that combusts much like a diesel but runs on gasoline.

INFINITI Q Inspiration Concept

ProPILOT is said to be the next stage in vehicle autonomy that allows the driver to delegate more stressful operating tasks to the car, but to always retain ultimate control.

The cabin follows a minimalist approach, with a concise and clean interior design enveloping the driver and passengers.

“The INFINITI Q Inspiration previews something that could appeal to a younger audience, who seek modern design and new technologies to inspire and empower them,” said Christian Meunier, INFINITI Global Division Vice President.

Riding into the hall on its New Global Architecture, came the redesigned Toyota Avalon.

It will share many of its updates with its brother, the Camry.

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Avalon firsts include an optional adaptive suspension something that might spice up handling. Like many of the new offerings displayed this morning, the Avalon underwent a bit of a growth spurt.

It sports a two inch longer wheelbase, and is just under an inch wider than the current model.

‘Git up and go comes from either a 2.5-liter hybrid four or the 3.5-liter V6 which will appear on most models. Toyota did not release any power figures. Hybrid models come with a CVT while the six mates with an eight speed automatic.

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Apple CarPlay enters the picture for the first time, and Avalon will offer integration with Amazon Alexa.

It should appear on dealer lots later this year.

 

 

Ram Joins The Fight

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

2019 Ram Truck
Not to Be Left out

By Ron Amadon

Some are calling it “truck wars” at the Detroit Auto Show. Ford hails the return of the Ranger, and Chevrolet shows off the new Silverado.

Now Ram has unveiled what it calls the “No Compromise Truck.”

The 2019 Ram is said to be nearly 225 pounds lighter than the previous model, with a stronger, yet lighter steel frame.
It features a maximum payload of 2,300 pounds and a max trailer tow of 12,750 pounds.
Fiat Chrysler said the new design is more aerodynamic, rides on a “next generation air suspension,” and has the largest front brakes in the segment.

A “mild” hybrid system has been added to the 3.6-liter V6 and the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engines for improved fuel economy. They are matched to an 8-speed automatic.

Your ears will get a workout with the Harman Kardon audio system with 19 speakers and a 900-watt amplifier, 10-inch subwoofer and active noise cancelation.

The 2019 is said to be longer and wider with an overall cab length increase of four inches. There are a dozen different storage configurations in the center console.

A 12 inch touchscreen offers a 360 degree camera view, and split-screen capability among other items.

And a power tailgate will be offered controlled by the key fob, or an interior switch – either can also lock the gate.

“The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 delivers a no-compromise approach to the full-size truck segment with strength, durability, technology and efficiency,” said Mike Manley, Head of Ram Brand. “

Let the truck wars begin!

The Lexus of Tomorrow

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                      Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept

                       The Flagship Crossover

 By Ron Amadon

 A day of new vehicle introductions at the Detroit show began with the curtain coming off a Lexus concept with an eye catching interior.

 Lexus said it is designed to allow the driver to concentrate on the task at hand by removing knobs and buttons in favor of motion-activated controls and a minimalist display directly ahead.

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 Rear seat passengers get the same seats as those in front with display screens for adjusting climate settings.

 A “Chauffeur” mode “allows for hands-free operation thanks to the vehicle’s by-wire steering, braking, acceleration, lights and signals.”

 Want to engage Park or Reverse? Buttons on the steering wheel do that. 4D Navigation and route information are displayed on an in-dash monitor and rear seat screens.

 The concept is four inches longer than the Lexus RX at 197.4 inches. It is a good indication of where Lexus’ styling and design is going next in the red hot crossover segment of the market.