Auto News for Oct. 19 – Years Worth Of Tesla 3’s Sold Out


 Customers who have placed recent orders for the Tesla 3 may not take delivery until well into 2018, according to USA Today. Tesla insists this does not indicate a change in production dates for the lower priced electric, but rather robust demand for the car. If current schedules hold, Model 3 production will commence in mid to late 2017. Elon Musk has tweeted that a year’s worth of production has already sold out.

 Nothing final yet, but a judge in San Francisco has said he is inclined to approve the $14.7 million settlement between U.S. regulators and Volkswagen in the diesel emissions case. A final decision is expected on Oct. 25. The deal requires VW to buy back or repair about 475,000 2.0-liter diesel vehicles that have devices that evade pollution tests but do not meet emissions regulations once on the road.  

 If you own a 2016 or 2017 Jeep Wrangler it may be subject to recall to fix air bags that may not inflate in a crash. The Detroit News said a wiring glitch may cut off signals to the air bag computer. Owners will be notified when to bring their Wranglers to a dealer for repair.


 Subaru said the 2017 Impreza sedan will carry a starting price of $18,395, or $100 over the 2016 model. The 2017 rides on a new Global Platform that Suby says results in a more refined interior, improved crash protection and ride comfort. It will be the first Impreza manufactured in the U.S.





Auto News for Oct. 18 – Ford To Idle Some Plants Due To Slow Sales


 Ford will idle two plants in the U.S. and two in Mexico this month due to slowing sales. That will include one of two plants that produce the F-150 pickup, one of the company’s bread and butter products. Closing for a week will be the Louisville plant that produces the Escape and Lincoln MKC and the Kansas City facility that produces the full size pickup. Demand for the F-150 declined 2.6 percent in September.


 That report surfaced as Edmunds reported that truck loyalty has reached a record high and no brand commands better loyalty than Toyota. Truck loyalty – which is defined as the rate of truck trade-ins that went toward the purchase of another truck – was at 74 percent through the first nine months of 2016. By comparison, the next highest loyalty rates were vans at 52 percent and compact SUVs at 47.3 percent. This year’s truck loyalty rate is higher than at any other time since Edmunds started tracking trade-ins in 2005. About 70 percent of owners who have traded in their Toyota pickups for another truck this year opted for yet another Toyota. The rate squeaks past loyalty rates for Chevy truck owners (69.5 percent) and Ram owners (68.1 percent). Toyota’s strong loyalty is primarily attributed to its popular midsize Toyota Tacoma; Edmunds estimates that nearly 75 percent of Tacoma trade-ins this year have gone toward the purchase of another Tacoma.

 Tesla said it announce a new product or service on Wednesday, adding little further information other than it will be something “unexpected by most.” The announcement was originally scheduled for Monday, but got bumped up two days.

 Check out for a picture of the ZR1 Corvette being tested in an urban environment. And it wasn’t alone!


Auto News for Oct. 17 – Plug in Mini & Hot New Hyundai


   There is a plug-in hybrid coming from Mini with the battery concealed under the rear seats. An electric motor powers the rear wheels while the gas engine takes care of the front. There will be a Save Battery mode whereby the gas engine takes over and the battery can retain its charge. The new model will be based on a redesigned Countryman and may appear in 2019 according to various reports.


 Hyundai Motor America and Bisimoto have again partnered for the SEMA show, this time developing a 1,040 horsepower, rear-drive “Santa-Fast” SUV. Bisimoto is well known for street, show and race vehicles. The Bisimoto “Santa-Fast” Santa Fe is no exception, pumping out the power from a flex-fuel turbocharged, Hyundai-based 3.8L Lambda V6 power plant positioned longitudinally and driving the rear wheels. It carries a six speed manual transmission.


 Ever fancy driving a McLaren on ice? The company will hold such an event some 200 miles into the Arctic Circle “in one of the most expansive winter testing facilities in the world” in Ivalo, Finland. Guests will experience the McLaren 570S Coupe tackling a variety of track configurations, encompassing both ice and snow surfaces. Away from the track McLaren is teaming up with local travel provider Luxury Action to offer a program of winter activities, including a husky safari and snowmobile expedition. Guests will be accommodated in a luxury hotel that was once the home of the President of Finland, who probably never thought of driving a McLaren on ice and snow either.

 Canadian autoworkers union members have ratified a new four year contract with Fiat Chrysler that calls for the automaker to invest about $330 million into its plants north of the border. Talks now turn to Ford.




Auto News for Oct. 14 – 2017 – CR-V Unveiled With a Turbo


2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V

 It won’t go on sale until this winter, yet Honda has released pictures of the “completely redesigned and reengineered 2017 CR-V.” The EX and higher trim levels will feature the model’s first turbocharged engine, a 1.5-liter four rated at 190 horsepower or five more horsepower than the current engine. Inside, Honda said the CR-V will offer top-of-the-class space and the best rear seat legroom in its class. For those tired of Honda’s much criticized sliding lever on the touchscreen, the new CR-V will feature a physical volume knob. Other features include remote engine start, dual-zone climate controls, heated side mirrors, an Electric Parking Brake, rear USB charging ports, front passenger seat with 4-way power adjustment and driver’s seat with 8-way power adjustment and 4-way power lumbar support and heated front seats. The suite known as “Honda Sensing” will be standard equipment on EX and higher trims. That brings Collision Mitigation Braking with Forward Collision Warning and pedestrian sensing capability, Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control with low-speed follow and Lane Keeping Assist. Additional new driver-assist technologies include available Blind Spot Information, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor and Auto High Beam headlights. Pricing information will come at a later date.

 The Detroit News reports Fiat Chrysler will unveil an Alfa Romero SUV at the Los Angeles Auto show next month. It is expected to carry the name Stelvio. And that’s all FCA is saying at this point. My guess is that it will be based on the Fiat 500 X.

 Keynote speakers at the Consumer Electronics trade show next year will be Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Ford’s CEO Mark Fields. Cars are becoming a bigger feature at the CES with about 210,000 square feet devoted to them, with emphasis on self-driving vehicles.

 Automakers are quickly adopting Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to their models. Both will appear on more than 100 models next year, when less than year ago they were offered on about 50.

 Germany’s Federal Motor Authority is telling Tesla owners that the Autopilot feature requires their attention and involvement at all times. It said this is not a fully automated driving device, and that Germany’s laws require the driver to be in complete control of their vehicle at all times.

 They are not selling well, so Subaru is pulling the production plug on the Crosstrek Hybrid, the company’s first production hybrid. It will be discontinued for the 2017 model year, according to Automotive News.


Auto News for Oct. 13 – Toyota/Suzuki Marriage? New BMW 5 Series

  Toyota and Suzuki says they are considering some type of alliance. As the cost of developing new product continues to soar, especially in the areas of electric cars and self-driving vehicles, analyst believe that we will see more partnerships in the future. The two automakers would not discuss what type of alliance they are discussing, whether that might be business partnership or Toyota taking a stake in the smaller automaker. The New York Times reports that the agreement could open up some foreign markets to Toyota. They already share one thing – both are still run by their founding families.


 BMW has unveiled the 2017 5 Series with emphasis on tech such as Remote Control Parking and Advance Driver Assistance Systems that clear “the way towards semi-automated driving.” The 5 Series also lost up to 137 pounds thanks to increased use of magnesium, aluminum and high strength steel. A 3.0-liter inline six is the top engine with 335 horsepower, a 35 hp increase, and 332 lb-ft of torque. In the 540i sedan look for a 0-60 in 4.9 seconds, the maker said. Shave two-tenths off that if you opt for the 540i xDrive. All models will be available with all-wheel drive. Inside the infotainment screen grows to 10.3 inches with input coming from gesture controls, a rotary controller, or the touch screen. Prices were not announced, and BMW said you can look for the new model to arrive in the U.S. in February after a coming out party at the Detroit Auto Show in January.


 The 2017 Ford Super Duty has hauled home the coveted “Truck of Texas” award from auto writers in that state. More than 71 vehicles were evaluated in the annual event with the winner announced in a community called “Dripping Springs.” The Nissan Armada was named the SUV of Texas and the Volvo XC90 the crossover of Texas.

 Ground has been broken for a full automated parking garage in the Oakland neighborhood known as Hive. We are not sure if people move there from Dripping Springs.


 Sold out! Mazda has sold out of the 1,000-car allocation for the 2017 MX-5 Miata RF launch edition. That is the Miata with the folding hardtop. When ordering opened on October third, the cars sold out in just 13 hours. Deliveries to customers will being early next year.



Auto News for Oct. 12 – A Rolls-Royce of the Future & a Self Balancing Bike


 A concept car named the “Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100” made its North American debut in Santa Monica, California. RR said it “defines the future of luxury mobility.”  It is a self-driving car, freeing drivers “of all effort and encumbrance.” The interior, or “Grand Sanctuary” has a centerpiece that is a “beautiful sofa” clothed “in the most opulent fabrics.” The “Grand Arrival” feature is said to create a stage “for our important passengers as they arrive at their ultimate destination. It is an expression of our intrinsic understanding of the possibilities for a true luxury brand and the desires of its customers.”


 GM has confirmed that the Chevrolet Cruze will be available with a 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel and customers will be able to choose either a six speed manual or a nine speed automatic transmission. Chevy did not release any specs for the engine, but if it is the same as the one offered in the Equinox then it will be 236 lb-ft of torque and 136 horsepower. The diesel will first appear in the spring in the Cruze sedan, and later in the hatchback.

 Cars may not be exactly hot sellers, but SUV’s are and that is why General Motors is adding a third shift and 650 workers at its Spring Hill, Tennessee plant. It produces the Cadillac XT5 and the GMC Acadia.

Toyota is recalling 92,000 Prius models to fix a parking brake problem. The recall covers 2016 and 2017 models. It said the parking brake could become imperative and allow the vehicle to roll away and potentially become involved in a crash if it is not in Park while the ignition is on. If you own one of the recalled cars, look for a notice in the mail or check with your dealer.


 If we can have self-driving cars, why not a self-balancing motorcycle? In the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 concept bike active assistance systems of the future will automatically balance the motorcycle both out on the road and when stationary. And because the bike has technology to prevent accidents and hazards, BMW said no helmet or other protective gear would be needed. Special glasses will allow operators to see critical operating information without looking down. Obviously, all this is way off in the future, but BMW said the “Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 stands for the ultimate riding experience. Liberated from the need to wear a helmet and protective clothing, the rider is able to enjoy the forces. Acceleration, wind and nature as in touch with the surrounding world, savoring every moment.”








Auto News for Oct. 11 – Mustang Production Halted


 Ford is halting production of the Mustang for a week to match production capacity with slowing demand. Mustang sales dropped 32 percent in September, as the Camaro outsold Mustang for the first time in almost two years. Chevy dealers were offering more generous incentives. Workers at the Flat Rock, Michigan Ford plant will be paid during the one week shutdown that will end Oct. 17. As consumers turn their attention to crossovers and SUV’s, sales of both the Mustang and the Camaro have declined this year.


 Canada’s largest auto workers union has reached a tentative contract agreement with Fiat Chrysler, one minute ahead of a strike deadline. The four year proposal must now be ratified by the rank and file. It calls for some major investments in the Brampton Ontario Assembly Plant.

  BMW and Hyundai have two models that ranked highest in overall customer experience with vehicle technology, according to a new study from J.D. Power. Getting the favorable ratings were the BMW 2 series and the 4 series, along with the Hyundai Genesis and Tucson. Collision avoidance had the highest usage and overall satisfaction. In contrast, owners were least satisfied with their navigation systems. “For any technology in a vehicle, it’s critical that the owners want it, are aware they have it and know how to use it,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. “It is alarming how many technologies consumers have in their vehicle but aren’t using because they don’t know they have them or don’t know how to use them. Both of these knowledge gaps have long-term implications for future demand.” Dealers play a critical role in whether or not a technology is used, J.D. Power said. When the dealer takes the time to explain the technology or provide a demonstration, it not only makes the owner aware they have the technology, but also helps them understand how to use it, which means they are more likely to use it, continue to use it and, because they see the value, want it in their next vehicle. A total of 17,864 vehicle owners were surveyed.

 Ford reported that Lincoln sales nearly tripled in China during the third quarter.


Auto News for Oct. 10

morelo%20empire%20liner%20bedroom%20and%20panoramic%20roof morelo%20empire%20liner%20kitchen

Had to share with you the ultimate motor home, one with under-floor heating, rain shower and even a garage for storing a car. Called the “Lamborghini of the leisure vehicle world” for its high torque engine, the “Empire Liner” comes from the German motorhome maker Morelo. It includes a panoramic roof that provides views from the spacious double bed. And this rig is not small, coming in at 37 feet long and powered by a 7.7 liter six. Well equipped, and “built using only the highest quality materials,” the MSRP is something around $475,509. No word on whether any will ever make it to the U.S. market.

 Globally, September was a good month for Jaguar Land Rover with sales up 28%. The old bottom line was helped by strong demand for its products in China. Sales here in North America rose by 23%.


 Hyundai said drivers have now racked up more than 1,500,000 miles in its Tucson Fuel Cell vehicles in California. More than 125 of the fuel cell crossovers have been delivered since its introduction in 2014.

  BMW will unveil a new 5-Series on Thursday saying it is “on the way toward automated driving.” More to come.

 Germany’s Parliament has passed a resolution calling on the European Commission to ban the sale of vehicles with combustion engines starting in 203. If adopted, only zero emission vehicles will be allowed on EU roads.

Saturday Road Test – A Sleepy Hollow Van


2017 Sedona

                          Kia Sedona

          Ichabod Crane’s Kia to a Better Ride

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Your number came up and you have been selected to haul stuff and costumed creatures to the fall harvest festival including more pumpkins than you thought nature could produce. Well, at least they were pre-carved.

 But here is your chance to show off to all those who scoffed at that van in your driveway at a time when society dictates the ride to Sleepy Hollow be carried out in a big honkin’ SUV.

 So it will be revelation time when you demonstrate how easy it is to load the deranged dentist carved “Cucurbita Pepos” into your new Sedona.

 With the second and third row seats appropriately adjusted, the Sedona has a cargo capacity of about 142 cubic feet. Helping the pumpkin hauling is a third row split folding 60/40 bench seat that retracts seamlessly into the rear cargo floor.

2017 Sedona

 Now, let’s put the seats up and go get the band.

 The Sedona XL will seat eight and, if some are grown up ghost and goblins, they will enjoy what is called “First Class” lounge seating in the second row. It can be moved rearward for added legroom and there are retractable leg rests and winged headrests. Try to find all that on your next commuter airline ride.

 If the passengers are young, costumed and have just hit the ice cream shop here is where drivers will love “Fine Feature” number one. Standard equipment is seat covering that provides “anti-microbial protection from spills, anti-static protection from irritating electrical shocks as well as stain-repelling and stain-releasing fabric characteristics.” Seats one, kids nothing.

 A Halloween treat is the hands-free rear liftgate that automatically opens when the key fob is sensed for three seconds. A programmable function can be tailored to the user’s height preference to dramatically reduce noggin knocking.

 Okay, we’re loaded, so let’s hit the road. Sedona power is a 3.3 liter V6 with 276 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 248 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm mated to a six speed automatic. There was more than enough power to easily escape the “headless horseman.”

 And it will tow up to 3,500 pounds.

 Acceleration was on a par with the competition, but gas mileage was not the greatest. The EPA calls for 17 city mpg, 22 highway, for a combined of 19 mpg. I came in at 21 in mostly interstate and rural road travel.

 What you will notice, in those rare moments when you are alone in the van, is how quiet it is thanks to extensive wheel-house padding, double-seal sliding doors and expanded use of sound-deadening foam in the engine compartment.

 Then you might final discover “Fine Feature” number two.    

2017 Sedona

 The top-line SXL features standard ultra-soft Nappa leather trim seating surfaces throughout the cabin, the same leather found in Kia’s flagship luxury sedan, the K900.

 I liked the fact the shift lever was on the center console despite the loss of some storage space. If the festival is a long drive to the next state over, you will find the seats very comfortable and easily adjustable. Limber adults can fit in the third row!

 Even over pockmarked suburban streets in need of a fix, the SXL delivered a smooth ride and handling was on a par with the competition. What about safety, especially with the kids on board?

 The Sedona has earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star overall vehicle safety rating. Also a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, its highest mark.

  All models come with standard safety features such as Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control System, Brake Assist System, Hill-start Assist Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Antilock Braking System.  

 The 2017, appearance wise, is a carryover but adds Autonomous Emergency Brake, Dynamic Bending Light for improved visibility around corners, acoustic windshield, and redesigned steering wheel and transmission gear shift knob.

 Keeping with tradition, the Kia offers a long list of standard equipment. There was just one option on the test van, a $2,700 SXL Technology Package with Xenon headlights, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning System, Surround View Monitor, and Smart Cruise Control.

 That brought the bottom line to $43,295. If that sounds too steep for the family budget, there are five trim levels available

 What you get is an excellent warranty and build quality, lots of features, and a note to the neighbors that you are a bit anti-social for not bringing home a crossover or SUV.

 Just to show off, park the Sedona in the driveway, turn on the headlights and dispense the Halloween goodies from there.  

 Do watch out for the headless horseman.





Automobile News for Oct. 7 – The Death of Brock Yates


 One of the greatest auto writers of all time, Brock Yates, has died at age 82 after a bout with Alzheimer’s disease. Along with the ramblings of David E. Davis, Yate’s column was a must read for me back when they were featured in Car & Driver. He was managing editor of the magazine in the mid 60’s and stayed on its pages until 2006. One of his best stories was taking a Corvette, of all things, up the muddy Alaska Highway normally the realm of 4X4’s. Safety experts aside, he created the Cannonball Run coast to coast rally over public roads that also gave birth to a very successful movie of the same name that Yates wrote. His pedal to the metal writing style often infuriated automakers, and in 1983 he authored the book, “The Decline And Fall of the American Automobile Industry” in which he attacked the isolationism of Detroit and the car company’s reluctance to produce small economical cars as the imported car boom took hold. He said its leaders grow up together, go to school together, play golf together, retire to the same communities and “simply have no concept of the real world.” Brock, the auto writing universe will never be the same without you and DED.  

 If you had a first generation MyFord Touch and SYNC infotainment system and continually cursed it out, you were not alone. So did the family of Henry Ford. Check out:

 Honda observed National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, (yes, there is such a thing), by announcing that the five passenger Clarity Fuel Cell sedan will appear in California before the end of the year. It will have a refueling time of three to five minutes and a driving range “anticipated to exceed 300 miles.”

 A study by the University of Michigan shows average fuel economy dropped one tenth to 25.2 mpg last month, most likely due to the increasing popularity of full size SUV’s and pickups. But that figure is well above the average of 20.8 mpg when the study began back in October of 2007.

 The production of Fords in Australia has come to a halt after 91 years. High production costs were among the reasons that Ford made the move. GM and Toyota are also shuttering production down under.