Auto News for June 22 – Kia, Genesis Top Survey

 Kia K900Genisus coupe 

 J.D. Power is out with its annual report on the number of problems experienced during the first 90 days of ownership of a new vehicle. It’s conclusion?

 New-vehicle quality is at its highest level ever, improving a significant 8% from last year, with improvements across seven of the eight categories measured, with 27 of the 33 brands in the study improving their quality compared with 2016.

 That is not to say there are no problems, and the leading area is well known.

 Audio/communication/entertainment/navigation continues to be the area where new vehicle owners experience the most glitches. But even there, we see a 2.8 percent improvement over 2016.

 Kia ranks highest in overall initial quality for a second consecutive year, and its brother in law, Genesis, ranks second overall. They were followed by Porsche, with Ford and Ram tied for fourth. On the other end of the chart were Jaguar and Fiat.

 The most improved brand was Mini. Other improved brands were Ram, Acura, Volvo, and Ford.

 The parent company receiving the most model-level awards for its various brands is Hyundai with five model-level awards, followed by General Motors and BMW, each with four.

 Power’s Initial Quality Study is based on responses from nearly 80,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2017 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership.

 This Independence Day, a record-breaking 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home, taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways, according to AAA. With 1.25 million more travelers than last year, 2017 will be marked as the most traveled Independence Day holiday weekend ever. “Combined, strong employment, rising incomes and higher consumer confidence bode well for the travel industry, in particular this Independence Day weekend,” said Bill Sutherland.  A total of 37.5 million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year.

 The national average gas price is four cents cheaper than this same time last year and a contributing factor to the increase in travelers on the roads this Independence Day.

 We advised you earlier of AAA’s prediction that oil prices will likely continue to fall this month. Yesterday, they hit a low not seen since last November. On world markets this morning, crude was off another 15 cents all on worries that supply will exceed demand. So there is the chance that over time this price decline might show up at your favorite gas pump.  

 Reuters reports this morning that Takata will file for bankruptcy protection on Monday. It faces billions of dollars in liability losses around the world. The filing is expected to come in Tokyo.

 Driverless shuttle vans are coming to the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Two 15 passenger all-electric vehicles will be circling the campus this fall.

 Bloomberg reports Tesla has reached an agreement with Shanghai to explore the idea of setting up vehicle production there.



Auto News for June 21 – Focus Prod. to China

Ford announced that its all-new 2019 Focus will initially come from China with “additional variants” coming from Europe later.
“No U.S. hourly employees will be out of a job tied to the new manufacturing plan for Focus. Production of the current North American Focus at the Michigan Assembly Plant continues through mid-2018. Following that, the plant will be converted to produce the Ranger midsize pickup truck in late 2018 and the Bronco midsize SUV in 2020,” Ford announced.

The plan will save $1 billion in investment costs over an earlier proposal to manufacture the Focus in Mexico. Ford cancelled that plan earlier this year.

Further, Ford announced a $900 million investment in its Kentucky plant to build the new Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. That move, the company said, would secure “1,000 U.S. hourly jobs…”

These are the first major announcements since Jim Hackett replaced Mark Fields as Ford’s CEO.

The Detroit Free Press said Ford currently manufactures the Focus at two China plants.


Toyota’s redesigned 2018 Camry will carry a starting price of $23,495 for the base “L” model on up to a $34,950 start for the top-of-the-line XSE V6. Those prices do not include shipping. The new Camry is due in showrooms late this summer with more horsepower for the gas and hybrid models and “Class-Leading” estimated fuel economy. It will be offered in five trim models.

Inside is a 10-inch color Head-Up Display; a seven-inch multi-information display within the instrument cluster, and an eight-inch audio/navigation/HVAC control panel that’s integrated into the center console in a “modern, flush-surface design.”

New powertrains include a 2.5-liter four and a 3.5-liter V6 paired with a new eight speed automatic. The 2.5 is rated at 206 horsepower and 176 hp in the hybrid. A total of 301 horsepower is the rating for the V6 with 267 lb-ft of torque.

Younger drivers alert! A “Guest Drive Monitor” is available, so be careful behind the wheel.
Most of the Camrys sold in North America are assembled at the Georgetown, Kentucky plant.

FCA US LLC Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

Dodge has announced how its limited edition 840-horsepower Demon will be allocated to its dealers.

To be eligible to order a Challenger SRT Demon, dealers must have sold more than one SRT Hellcat in the last 12 months.
Dealer allocation will be based on 60 percent SRT Hellcat and 40 percent Charger and Challenger sales performance.
Dealers can only order as many Demons as they are allocated.
Demons sold at or below MSRP will receive priority scheduling resulting in lower serial numbers.
Demons sold for a price that exceeds MSRP will be produced after priority production is completed.

The drag strip ready car will carry an MSRP of $84,995 including a $1,700 gas guzzler tax. Production of limited-edition, serialized, single model-year (3,000 United States/300 Canada) Demon begins later this summer; deliveries to Dodge//SRT dealers to begin this fall.

It is being called the “biggest single investment in Bosch’s more than 130 year history.” The German firm will construct a $1.1 billion plant that will produce chips that can be used in a variety of ways including autonomous cars. Construction of the plant in Dresden, Germany, will be complete in 2019 the company said to meet the growing demand for semiconductors. It claims that every car sold has an average of nine chips made by the company.

Auto News for June 20 – Gas – Cheap-Good Yes?

This past week more than half of gas stations nationwide were selling petrol for less than the national average of $2.29, according to the AAA. At 56 percent of stations, consumers could fill up for less than $2.24 as prices dropped in all but four states. Prices in South Carolina have fallen below $2 a gallon the auto club said, while California is close to dropping below $3 a gallon. While demand hit new heights over the Memorial Day weekend, it has dropped in the first half of June. Increased production could lead to even lower prices for the rest of this month, the auto club concluded.

Mercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan, 2017
Automotive News reports Mercedes will offer a more affordable “A” class sedan here in the U.S. Dealers got a chance to see the new model at a recent gathering in Florida, but there has been nothing officially released by M-B. But an “A” class concept was teased at the recent auto show in Shanghai. That vehicle was, give or take an inch or two, the size to the CLA sedan that is now on the market.
At the show, Mercedes said this marks a whole new design.

“Our Concept “A” Sedan shows that the time of creases is over”, said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG. “With its perfect proportions and a sensual treatment of surfaces with reduced lines, it is the next milestone of Sensual Purity and has the potential to introduce a new design era.”

The front end is marked by Power Domes and the “deep Panamericana grille tilted toward the front,” MB said of the concept.

Thus far, there is no indication when the new A Class will appear here, and certainly it will not carry forth all of the styling touches of the concept. But MB is hoping that a lower price will attract younger buyers to the brand who will stick around when it comes to trade up time.

A 500-page report has concluded that Tesla was not at fault in a fatal 2016 crash of a Model S with a semi. The National Transportation Safety Board said the car was being operated in autopilot mode, and the driver, who was killed in the accident, was advised several times by the cars’ systems to take control of the vehicle prior to the collision. NTSB said the operator kept his hands off the wheel “for the vast majority of the trip.”

And various reports say Tesla is close to a deal that would allow the company to manufacture cars in China.

Auto News for June 19- Accord Teased!




2018 Honda Accord Concept Sketch

 This morning, Honda released a drawing of what its new Accord will look like when it is unveiled on July 14. It will be the 10th generation of the midsize sedan and in May the Accord was the top selling sedan in the country. Earlier, Honda announced the 2018 model will come with a choice of two direct-injected and turbocharged engines paired with either a 10-speed automatic, a CVT, or a 6 speed manual transmission. But the V6 has turned up missing. The sedan is said to have undergone a complete remake from the ground up.

 The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq received the 2017 Green Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. Ioniq is the first eco vehicle to offer three distinct electrified powertrains on a single, dedicated vehicle platform – the Ioniq Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid and Electric models. Stick around. I will have more on this car in the near future.

 Ever want to experience what a good idea your seat belt is when your car flips over? Now a special “Tumbling Car” will give passengers an experience of just how vital a seatbelt is in a moving car. The Tumbling Car will take passengers for a spin – quite literally – while showing how their seatbelt will hold them in place, even when the car is rotating or hanging upside-down. It’s a spectacular reminder that you should always wear your seatbelt.

 This rather unique car will be on display and demonstrated at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK starting June 29th. Wish it would head to these shores.

 A combination of record numbers of miles driven, increased frequency and severity of collisions, and extreme weather has crimped U.S. auto insurer profitability, resulting in rate increases for 26% of customers and a strain on customer satisfaction.

 According to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Auto Insurance Study released today, price satisfaction declined this year, even as other areas of the overall customer experience have improved.

 The study finds that the number of customers receiving an annual rate increase of more than $200 per vehicle has more than doubled during the past four years, and that’s having a profound effect on customer satisfaction. Power said auto insurers have to do a better job of improving the perception of value in the services they provide.

 The least satisfied customers are in Texas following a rash of losses stemming from hail storms.




Saturday Road Test – 2017 Honda CR-V

                          Honda CR-V Touring

                             Award Winning                                    

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – The awards keep coming in for this redesigned and reengineered, fifth generation Honda including a spot on Car and Driver’s 10 Best Trucks and SUV list.

 C&D cited the CR-V’s ride and handling, safety, technology, comfort, practicality and economy. U.S. News and World Report called it one of the “Best Cars for the Money.” Well, okay, it’s not a car but you get the idea.

 But there’s more. Kelley Blue Book called it one of the “Best Family Cars of 2017,” and it earned a Top Safety Pick Plus designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, its highest rating.

 There is an even longer list of awards for the CR-V in its rookie season, making it sort of the auto industry’s answer to the Yankee’s Aaron Judge.

 So what do we have here? A Touring model at the top of the trim packages that also include, from the bottom, LX, EX, and EX-L.

 All but the LX come with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four rated at 190 hp @ 5,600 rpm and 179 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm. All models come with an improved CVT, in fact one of the better examples that I have driven.      

 For the record, this operator still prefers a six speed traditional automatic.

 Unique to the Touring are LED Headlights, Roof Rails, 18” Aluminum Alloy Wheels, Hands-Free Access Power Tailgate, and a 330-Watt Premium Audio System with Nine Speakers among other items.

 A Moonroof, Honda’s one of a kind blind spot monitor, heated outside rear view mirrors, electric parking brake, rear USB charging ports, and Walk Away Auto Lock are other desirable additions.

 On a long weekend trip to the hills of Pennsylvania it was easy to see why and how the CR-V racks up accolades like “Wonder Woman.”

 It was economical, comfortable, extremely well assembled, and quiet enough inside to almost get me in trouble. Oops, I had no idea I was at 85 in a 70. That gives you an idea of how refined the powertrain is and how reduced the noise level is inside. Fortunately the brave folks who enforce the laws were out catching other bad guys.

 Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 27 city, 33 highway and 29 combined. I came in at 31.

 There was more than adequate power from the 1.5-liter turbo four to merge onto I-83. It and the CVT never broke sweat coping with the many steep hills in what was once coal country. Handling was above average for a compact crossover perhaps due to the fact that one of the engineers assigned to the CR-V worked on the original NSX.

 For 2017, the interior is larger with more room for adults in the second row and additional cargo hauling space, now totaling 75.8 cubic feet. In fact, Honda claims the CR-V has the most rear seat legroom in the sector.

 A volume knob was added to the 7-inch multi-function touchscreen, but frankly I found it easier to control the audio system using the steering wheel buttons. Android Auto and Apple Car Play are now accommodated.

 The feel and appearance of interior materials were that of a more expensive ride.

 Some minor glitches inside. A nice addition would have been some padding along the left side of the center console where a driver’s knee and leg rest. The blue high beam indicator light lives in the upper corner of the third instrument cluster and is buried behind the steering wheel. And a tuning knob would be a great addition to the audio system.   

 But these are offset by the many positive aspects of this new CR-V, along with Honda’s tradition of a very long operating life.

 Nicely equipped, the test CRV would appear in your driveway for $34,595 including $900 for delivery. It is a bargain in today’s market.

 Still not convinced that it is a SUV you should try out? How about this? The CR-V has been a hot seller with some 4 million purchased since it was introduced back in 1997.

 The people have spoken.

 Factoid: The new CR-V will be produced at three plants in North America – in East Liberty, Ohio; Alliston, Ontario, Canada; and, for the first time, in Greensburg Indiana.