Auto News for Sept. 16 – VW – Electric in Paris

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 Volkswagen, still bogged down in litigation over its diesels, has released teaser photos of an all-electric car that it will debut at the upcoming Paris Auto Show. Reports out of Europe indicate the Golf sized electric will have a range of 260 to 300 miles on a full charge. The big show opens to the press on Sept. 29 & 30.

 Tesla, as you know, likes to sell its cars directly to the public without an established dealer network. That flies in the face of a law in Michigan that requires vehicles be sold through a dealer. And thus, the state has turned down Tesla’s application to sell its all-electric offerings in the motor state. The automaker may appeal the decision to the courts.

 Fiat Chrysler is recalling about 2 million vehicles to fix a flaw that might keep airbags from deploying in an accident. FCA acted after three drivers were killed and five others were hurt in accidents. Involved in the recall are 2010-14 Jeep Patriot and Compass, 2010-14 Dodge Avenger, 2010-12 Dodge Caliber, 2010 Chrysler Sebring and the 2011-14 Chrysler 200. This recall is not related to the much larger Takata airbag issue.

 If you are driving a 2016 Hyundai Tucson with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic tranny, your vehicle has been named in a recall if it was manufactured between May 20, 2015 and May 31, 2016. Hyundai said the vehicle may not accelerate from a stop due to a software malfunction. Check with your dealer for further information. All that is required, apparently, is a reprogramming of a transmission computer in about 41,000 Tucsons.

 Mitsubishi Motors announced the end of a national auction of the very last Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition produced in North America with the winning bid of $76,400. The proceeds from the auction will benefit Feeding America Riverside/San Bernardino and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, California. The Final Edition model features a 5-speed transmission paired with a turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder 2.0L engine. That makes the Final Edition the most powerful mass-produced Evolution ever built with 303 horsepower.

Auto News for Sept. 15 – Ford moves to Mexico – GM Generates

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 Ford announced it will shift all production of its small cars to Mexico but that now only affects the Focus and C-MAX. Smaller cars generate less profit for automakers, thus the shift by Ford and Fiat Chrysler to move production where labor costs are less. But there are indications that jobs may not be lost at the most affected U.S. plant in Michigan, as Ford replaces lost product with production of new vehicles such as a mid-sized pickup. Focus and C-Max production will switch to a new $1.6 billion plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, according to the Detroit News.

 Ford also announced it is on target to deliver 12 new performance vehicles by the end of the decade. The vehicles build on the huge market success of the Ford GT, Shelby Mustang GT350 and GT350R, Focus RS, Focus ST and F-150 Raptor.

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 And in a meeting with investors, the company defended its investments in autonomous vehicles, ride sharing companies, and even rent-a-bikes. In the short term, CEO Mark Fields said that will reduce earnings, but holds the promise of a nice payoff down the road.

 “As we expand to be an auto and a mobility company, we’re not moving from an ‘old’ business to a ‘new’ business. We’re moving to a bigger business,” Fields said. “The world is moving from simply owning vehicles to owning and sharing them. That’s why we are expanding to sell more vehicles and provide transportation services at the same time,” Fields said. Those investments, recall expenses, and other items means the company will fall below the $10.2 billion in profit projected for this year.

 Looking ahead, Ford expects its core business adjusted pre-tax profit to improve every year from 2016 through 2018. Yet Ford shares closed down 1.9% yesterday.

 And Ford will introduce 13 “new electrified vehicles” by the year 2020 and predicts that autonomous vehicles could account for up to 20 percent of vehicle sales by end of the next decade.

 Elsewhere:

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 General Motors plans to generate or source all electrical power for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100 percent renewable energy — such as wind, sun and landfill gas — by 2050. “Establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “This pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs.”

 Automotive News reports Ford, Volvo and Rolls-Royce are skipping this year’s Paris Auto Show to concentrate on luring in customers on the internet. The big shows with lavish displays are costly, and the growing feeling among executives are that there are better ways to get in touch with customers.

 AN also reported that Toyota will invest $150 million in its Tijuana, Mexico plant to step up production of the Tacoma pickup.

 Magna International announced it will manufacture the new 5-Series sedan for the BMW Group at its contract assembly facility in Graz, Austria. The production, which is expected to begin in 2017, will be split with BMW Group’s manufacturing plant in Dingolfing, Germany. The partnership between Magna and the BMW Group began in 2001.

 Fiat Chrysler posted sales increases in nearly every major European market in August with sales up 20.4% year-over-year. And our neighbors across the ocean like Jeeps just as much as we do. Sales were up 22% driven primarily by the Renegade.

 

  

 

 

Auto News for Sept. 14 – Pittsburgh has the Pirates & Uber

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 Uber is testing a fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh with an engineer in the driver’s seat ready to take full control if necessary. Riders have to agree to be part of the free ride program on selected routes in a handful of cars. The mayor said autonomous vehicles are “something the world is shifting to” and he wants the city to be in the forefront.

 “This pilot is a big step forward. Real-world testing is critical to the success of this technology. And creating a viable alternative to individual car ownership is important to the future of cities,” said Uber.

 Check out autonews.com for a spy picture of what might be the mid-engine Corvette. And Motor Trend’s website has a spy picture of a Kia subcompact crossover being tested in the heat of Death Valley. Check motortrend.com for that one.

 Budweiser is teaming with Lyft to provide up to 80,000 free rides home to help reduce drunk driving. The “Give a Damn. Don’t Drive Drunk” program will roll out in New York, Colorado, Illinois and Florida and is said to be the largest partnership of its kind between a beverage and ridesharing company. Each Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, Budweiser will share a unique code on its Facebook and Twitter channels, which consumers 21+ can enter into the Lyft app to claim a $10 free ride credit to be redeemed the following weekend.

 When it comes to good car deals, Kelley Blue Book said the Ford Focus leads the pack in the area of Cash Back and Financing Deals. The best lease deal is on an Infiniti Q50.

 In the area of global luxury car sales, Mercedes increased its lead over BMW last month, While BMW registrations increased 5 percent, Mercedes saw a 12 percent increase. SUV and crossover sales were the main reasons for the increases.

 

 

 

Auto News for Sept. 13 Bolt Range – 238 miles

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 Chevrolet always said the upcoming all-electric sub-compact Bolt would have a range for 200 miles or so. Now they have a solid figure. The EPA-estimated range is 238 miles on a full charge. It will carry an expected MSRP below $37,500 before federal tax credits of up to $7,500 when it appears in dealer showrooms later this year.

 Ford will switch from Sony to B&O for its premium audio systems in model year 2017. Bang & Olufsen is now owned by Harman International by the way. Sony and Ford traced their marriage back to 2003.

 Saying the “next decade is really going to be defined by the automation of the automobile,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said the company will roll out a driverless car by roughly the year 2025. And he said the goal is to make it affordable to a wide audience and not just those who are in the market for luxury wheels.

 Insurance bills could go down by as much as 20 percent by the year 2035 and potentially more once autonomous cars hit the road in greater numbers. That’s according to a report from Aon Benfield, a global reinsurance and capital advisor firm. But it also warned that bills might go up for various reasons as the technology first hits the streets of the U.S.

Auto News for Sept. 12 – GM Recall, Ford likes Bikes

Auto News for Sept. 12 

 GM is recalling 3.6 million Buicks, Chevrolets, GMC and Cadillac vehicles from model years 2014-17 to update computer software that in rare cases may keep airbags from deploying in a crash. The automaker said one death and three injuries have been linked to the defect. Check below to see if your vehicle is included in the recall.   

Buick LaCrosse 2014-2016

Cadillac Escalade 2015-2017

Cadillac Escalade ESV 2015-2017

Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit 2014-2017

Chevrolet Corvette 2014-2017

Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2014-2017

Chevrolet Silverado 2500 2015-2017

Chevrolet Silverado 3500 2015-2017

Chevrolet Spark EV 2014-2016

Chevrolet SS 2014-2016

Chevrolet Tahoe 2015-2017  

Chevrolet Trax 2014-2017   

Chevrolet Suburban 2015-2017

GMC Sierra 1500 2014-2017

GMC Sierra 2500 2015-2017

GMC Sierra 3500 2015-2017

GMC Yukon 2015-2017

GMC Yukon XL 2015-2017 

 Ford will acquire Chariot, a San Francisco based on demand shuttle service that it says will expand beyond the “City by the Bay.” It provides point-to-point transportation that backers say reduces rush hour congestion using Ford Transit vans. The automaker is also stepping up its involvement with a San Francisco based bike sharing company that will expand to at least five additional markets over the next 18 months.

 Tesla announced a software update to its Autopilot system that Elon Musk said would have prevented a recent fatal crash involving one of its products. Musk said owners can look for the update in the next week or so. Instead of relying on cameras, the update will have cars using radar to obtain a better fix on what’s going on around the car and warn the driver when they should take full control.

 

 

 

Saturday Road Test – Mazda 3

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                            Mazda 3 Grand Touring

                            i-ELOOP and Jinba Ittai   

 By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Good chefs like my Grandmother eschew cookbooks and add a pinch of this and a small helping of that when making a favorite dish.

 In the end, the featured dish always comes out much better than the printed version thanks to those little touches.

 Same for the Mazda 3.

 What sets it apart from the other compact cars is the sporty ingredients that make it fun to drive.

 And the fun starts with the 2.5-liter engine housed in the tested top-of-the-line Grand Touring model – a robust 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm with 185 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm. The standard 6-speed automatic joined in the party to produce a zero to 60 in about 7.5 seconds, yet it feels faster from the driver’s seat.

 You can thank i-ELOOP, (no relation to Alley Oop), for fuel economy that came to 27 mpg in the city, 37 highway, for a combined 31 mpg. My average dipped below that to 29 mpg perhaps because it was such a great driving experience that it hurt when they picked it up after seven most delightful days.

 Oh, what is i-ELOOP you ask? It is a capacitor that uses electricity captured during coasting and braking to power accessories. That takes the burden off the alternator and kicks out an extra mpg or two. Plus, it is a great name.

 A well thought out suspension works in complete harmony with the engine, transmission and steering to make back road carousing entertaining. Your initial and lasting perception will be that small compacts are just not supposed to be this much fun to drive.

 Those who think cornering G’s are something you put in a soufflé will not be impressed with the somewhat stiffer suspension and choppier ride that is part and parcel of that crisp handling. Some may also find the interior just a tad noisier than expected.

 Girls and boys who “just want to have fun” will find it just right. Okay, dated reference but you get the idea. After all, there is a reason why the 3 made Kelley Blue Book’s list of the ten “Coolest Cars” this year.

 It would be my commendation to pop for the top of the line trim model because it spiffs up the interior with leather trimmed sport seats that will hug your bod. The driver’s seat is 6 ways adjustable with lumbar alterations and the front seats were heated.

 Also the steering wheel and shift lever were leather trimmed while rear passengers get am arm rest cup holder.

 Those sitting out back might find the available space just a touch on the tight side. Storage space with the 60/40 folded down is average for this type of vehicle.

 The government gave the 3 five stars out of five for crash protection, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gave it a top rating in moderate overlap and small overlap front offset testing. So there is some peace of mind here, aided by a long list of safety features including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and stability control.

 Further, owners can expect better than average reliability according to Consumer Reports.

 With a lengthy list of options the test car carried an MSRP of $30,270. You can reduce that by $1,750 by opting out of the Appearance Package.

 Since 2013, the Mazda 3 has produced millions of miles of enjoyable driving and that carries over to the 2017 models as well. And it picks up a new term, the “Jinba Ittai” driving experience or “horse and rider as one.”

 This involves a wide variety of factors such as braking, turning, and accelerating to more closely match inputs from the driver, including load transfers to the front and rear tires thus “enhancing responsiveness and stability” Mazda said.

 The result is a “natural driving feel enhanced by quicker and more precise control than is possible for a human driver to achieve.”  It also improves handling and stability on wet and slippery roads.

 Further, the 2017 is said to be 3dB quieter over rough roads thanks in part of improved sound insulation.

 So an already slick little compact just gets better. I can recommend the 3 wholeheartedly. The 2017 is now in showrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auto News for Sept. 9 – Lexus & Porsche At The Paris Show

lex-ux

 The name may not be inspiring but Lexus has taken the wraps off a compact crossover called the UX that will make its international debut at the Paris Auto Show on September 29th. “The Lexus UX Concept takes Lexus’ bold design language to the next level. Its strongly differentiated identity is meant to appeal to a progressive, urban audience living in a connected environment,” said the company. And aside from the picture, that’s about all we know about the UX this morning.

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 Also at the Paris show, Porsche said it will reveal the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid with standard all-wheel drive and an electric range of up to 31 miles. The plug-in hybrid has a top speed of 172 mph, with 516 lb-ft of torque. Look for a fast 0-60 of 4.4 seconds, a new eight-speed transmission and a twin-turbo V6. The 2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is expected to appear in North America by the summer 2017. Pricing will be announced at a later date.

 GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra has topped Fortune magazine’s list of the nation’s Most Powerful Women for the second consecutive year. She was cited for raising revenue, handling the ignition switch crisis, and investing in Lyft.

 Ford is expanding a recall involving faulty door latches and as a result, cut its 2015 pretax profit forecast from $10.8 billion to about $10.2 billion. Named in the recall were the 2013-15 Ford C-Max cars and Escape sport utility vehicles, 2012-15 Focus cars, 2015 Mustang cars and Lincoln MKC SUVs and 2014-16 Transit Connect vans. The expanded recall covers an additional 1.5 million vehicles, and Ford said that meets a request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Wall Street was not rattled by all this, as Ford shares closed yesterday up three cents.

 

Auto News for Sept. 8 Adjust Your Seats While Skydiving?

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Land Rover claims its Intelligent Seat Fold technology allows Discovery owners to configure their seating through a remote app on their smartphone from anywhere in the world. So a sky diver jumped from a plane with the Royal Navy Parachute Display team in Britain, and found he was able to change the seating layout while free falling at 125 mph and before he had to deploy his parachute. Adventurer Bear Grylls admitted that he was “not sure many people” will use the technology this way but said it should be a “real winner for busy families” whether or not they sky dive.

bentley-flying-spur-w12-s

It is being called the first four-door Bentley to achieve a top speed in excess of 200 mph. The new Flying Spur W12 S sports a 0-60 in just 4.2 seconds according to the builder en route to a top speed of 202. Making all this happen is a 6.0-liter twin turbocharged 12 cylinder engine producing 626 horsepower and a mind boggling 605 lb-ft of torque. Of course, there are all the expected luxury touches of a Bentley, along with a retuned suspension that beefs up the handling without spilling the wine being enjoyed by rear seat passengers. In short said Bentley, “This is a powerful sedan that the most discerning drivers will appreciate – and every passenger will adore.”

The global autonomous cars market is expected to reach 138,089 units by 2024, according to a new study by Grand View Research. It is a research and consulting company based in San Francisco. It said the growing acceptance of semi-autonomous technologies, such as Adaptive Cruise Control, automatic parking, and forward collision avoidance, is anticipated to pave the way for the adoption of driverless automobiles over the next seven years. An upsurge in the demand for increased comfort and convenience, particularly in countries with an aging population, is expected to propel the driverless vehicles demand over the forecast period, Grand View said. However, it cautioned that the “high price of driverless vehicles may act as a hindrance” for market growth.

Jay Leno goes drag racing in a Toyota Camry against an opponent in a classic car. Do check out the video at:

http://www.motortrend.com/auto-news/

 

Auto News for Sept. 7 – Many Not Ready For An Electric

Eighty-one percent of those surveyed by ReportLinker said they are not ready yet to buy an electric vehicle, even though 52 percent felt it was a good return on investment. Consumers see several drawbacks to owning an EV, including an underdeveloped recharging infrastructure, price to purchase, and the speed of recharge. Yet the most immediate barrier may be consumer knowledge – many were not familiar with the auto brands that are leading the way on EV development. While not mentioned in the report, there is always the current low price of gasoline to be considered. When gas price rise significantly, for instance, Toyota sees a marked increase in demand for the Prius.

Meanwhile, Experian Automotive said we are borrowing more than ever to buy a new or used vehicle. Between April and the end of June, Americans racked up a total of $1.02 trillion dollars in vehicle loans – the second quarter in a row that total loan volume topped the $1-trillion mark. But Experian said there was only a slight rise in the delinquency rate.

ford-fnl

Ford and the NFL have signed a three year agreement making Ford Trucks the official truck of the football league. Fans also can enter the Built Ford Tough Toughest Ticket sweepstakes for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Super Bowl, plus a 2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty customized to showcase their favorite NFL team.

Automotive News said Renault expects diesel engines to disappear from its lineup due to the cost of bringing them into compliance with emission standards.

New car sales in Germany rose 8.3 percent in August with Volkswagen sales rebounding from a 13 percent drop in July to a 16 percent increase last month.

volvo

Do you remember the Volvo 121 that was introduced to the world now 60 years ago? On the home front it was called the Amazon but it was spelled Amason prior to its release. In 1959, three-point seatbelts became a standard feature in the car. It is estimated that at least one million lives have been saved by the three-point belt over the course of its 57-year lifetime, Volvo said.

 

2017 Should Be a Wonderful Year

If my calculations are correct as this item goes to press, (that’s the old term), 117 days must evolve before they drop the ball before thousands of frozen solid New Yorkers in Times Square and welcome in the year 2017.

But once again, that is not the case if you build cars and trucks. For them 2017 is already here. And my bet is that while people are still skiing at Vail and Aspen, auto makers will be raving about their 2018 models.

Be all that as it may, here is an entirely arbitrary list of some interesting 2017’s to start the post Labor Day week.

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Buick LaCrosse

Buick’s full-size sedan gets a complete redesign for 2017 sporting “the new face of Buick” that will be seen in other upcoming models. While “longer, lower and wider” than the previous model, the 2017 is 300 pounds lighter. It will be powered by a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 310 horsepower with 282 lb-ft of torque matched to an 8-speed automatic. One feature that will grow on you is the massaging seats. If you have never driven a car with this feature, you are in for a pleasant surprise.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevy Bolt

This subcompact is likely to be one of the most talked about 2017 cars with its all electric drive and estimated 200 mile range on a full charge. Despite some reports to the contrary, GM insists that the Bolt will go into production at the Orion Assembly Plant near Detroit “by the end of 2016.” At 164 inches, it will be three inches shorter than the Chevy Trax. The interior will sport a 10.2 color touch screen display with a “widget-based flip-board style” of operation and there will be room for four adults. Chevy said the Bolt will be priced in the low $30,000 range, and that of course, is sans any tax breaks that come with electrics. In case you were wondering, the best charging system will give the driver 90 miles of cruising in about 30 minutes. But will charged up potential customers be confused by a showroom with both a Volt and a Bolt?

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Ford F-150 Raptor

Right up front let me say this is the most fun one can have in a full sized traditional pickup. Lots of power, lots of off road capability, all in a mean styled pickup. Now don’t be turned off by the addition of a V6 power plant. This one should deliver 375 horsepower with a hefty 470 lb-ft of torque with a ten-speed automatic. Interested parties can choose from a SuperCab or SuperCrew body in a truck that will be 500 pounds lighter than the previous offering. Ford announced that sticker prices will begin at $49,520.

GMC

GMC Acadia

The totally new Acadia went on a diet to end all diets. It will be 700 pounds lighter and 7.2 shorter in the 2017 model year. Enough so that GM can offer a 2.4-liter four as the standard engine good for 194 horsepower with 190 lb-ft of torque. Optional will be a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 310 horsepower for the midsized SUV. Despite that size reduction GMC said three row seating will still be offered along with a new All Terrain model offering “enhanced off-road capability.” A standard rear seat alert can remind the driver when an item, or child, has been left in the second or third row seats. It sounds like the Acadia will be a solid offering in one of the hottest sectors of the market these days.

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Jaguar F-Pace

A bit late to the show but sporting a slick design is Jaguar’s entry into the “medium luxury SUV” market. Not really designed for those seeking off road experiences, this one is highway cruiser that can be had with a Supercharged 380 horsepower V6 that Jaguar said can give drivers a most responsive 0-60 of 5.1 seconds. The “Touch Pro” infotainment system features a 10.2 inch touch screen and there is a 12.3 inch HD instrument cluster with full screen navi display, and a laser head-up display as well. All wheel drive, of course. Pricing starts at $42,390.

Impreza

 

Subaru Impreza

Probably the hottest selling brand on the market right now, Subaru for 2017 gave the Impreza a new platform, and a Sport Version with 18-inch wheels, Sport suspension and Active Torque Vectoring. As always, All-Wheel drive is standard on Premium, Sport and Limited trim lines. The 2.0-liter four gains four more horsepower for a total of 152. It will be linked to a CVT tranny with a 7-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddles. Added in the safety department is Reverse Automatic Braking that can apply the brakes if an obstacle is detected while reversing course. The Limited’s leather trimmed interior features a 6-way power driver’s seat that is the first of its kind in the Impreza. It is expected that Suby’s record of reliability and long life will continue with the new model.

Volvo V90V90 interior.

Volvo V90

You have talked about it several times around the old dinner table, and the last thing you want is a crossover or an SUV, one or more that can be found in every neighborhood driveway. Enter Volvo’s brave move into the station wagon market with the very upscale V90 based on the S90 sedan. Among the features is “Pilot Assist” a semi-autonomous drive technology, along with “large animal detection” and run-off the road mitigation. Buyers can select a 2.0 liter turbo four at 250 horsepower, while a supercharger ups things to 316 horsepower with 295 lb-ft of torque. Both come with an eight-speed automatic. The interior is positively luxurious (see the picture) with a 9-inch touchscreen, lots of wood and leather. Early reviewers have said the V90 just might revive a dead segment in the U.S. Look for it in showrooms next year.