Auto News for April 20

Honda is teaching younger drivers how to operate a car with a stick shift. Yesterday it hosted more than 50 until now automatic tranny operators at a special event in San Gabriel, Ca.

It is in the auto maker’s interest since it offers 16 vehicles that require the driver to select all the proper gears.

“There’s something special, something intimate and pure about being in complete control of your car,” said Sage Marie, Assistant Vice President of Honda communications. “In a fast-coming world of autonomy, we mustn’t forget some of the simple joys that have been part of driving since the very beginning.” Amen to that!

Just to teach them what they were missing, one of the cars they could drive was the Civic Type R.

VW will take its all-electric race car to Pikes Peak this weekend in an attempt to set a new record in the hill climb. The I.D. Pikes Peak will be driven by world-class driver Romain Dumas.

For more than 100 years, it has been the most spectacular hill climb in the world of motor racing. Volkswagen took part with an iconic and spectacular twin-engine Golf in 1987 but came up just short of victory. The goal is now to settle that score by setting a new record for electric cars.

General Motors Co. announced today the election of eBay President and CEO Devin Wenig to its Board of Directors. GM said he would bring “significant expertise in technology, global operations and strategic planning to our board.

GM’s unit in South Korea has delayed a possible bankruptcy filing and will continue wage talks with labor leaders until Monday. The original date for a union agreement was today. GM is seeking concessions to bolster its money losing unit.


Auto News for April 19 – Cadillac Sacks Leader

 Auto News for April 19

 After four years on the job, Johan de Nysschen is out as the head of Cadillac replaced by Steve Carlisle, most recently president and managing director of GM Canada.

 GM said de Nysschen is leaving the company immediately.

 “We appreciate Johan’s efforts over the last four years in setting a stronger foundation for Cadillac,” said General Motors President Dan Ammann. “Looking forward, the world is changing rapidly, and, beginning with the launch of the new XT4, it is paramount that we capitalize immediately on the opportunities that arise from this rate of change. This move will further accelerate our efforts in that regard.”

 The Detroit News said Cadillac has struggled to appeal to younger buyers and rebuild lost credibility among top-tier luxury brands.

 Ford said its upcoming F-150 pickup with the 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine has an EPA estimated rating of 30 mpg highway, 22 mpg city and 25 mpg combined.

 “Even a few years ago, customers wouldn’t have imagined an EPA-estimated rating of 30 mpg highway would be possible in a full-size pickup, but our team of crazy-smart engineers rose to the challenge,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice president, product development and purchasing.

 The diesel powered pickups will begin shipping to dealers in May.

 Chrysler should be happy with this news. The Pacifica has been named “Family Car of Texas,” as well as “Green Car of Texas,” and “Minivan of Texas.” All that came from the Texas Auto Writer’s Association.

  Motorcycle maker Ducati is working on radar systems that would alert riders of vehicles in the “blind spot” and traffic approaching at high speed from behind among other things. Ducati said the system is in “the pipeline” for 2020.




Auto News for April 18



 Ever wanted to own a Rolls-Royce 1914 Silver Ghost chassis or a 1914 Rolls Armored car? Armortek Ltd, which claims to be the world’s leading maker of 1/6th scale models is offering them.

 “Consisting of over 2,200 metal parts (each) these are the most detailed and accurate scale metal kits ever offered to the public,” the company said. Development of the kits took almost a year.

 The result is a model that is not only highly-accurate but engineered to levels that set a new standard in scale automobiles, it claims

 For more info, check out:

 These are not inexpensive models, selling for about $4,186 each at current exchange rates.

 Ford announced that Mustang is the top selling sports coupe globally for the third straight year. It cited a study from IHS Markit that said 2017 registrations totaled 125, 809 cars around the world.  

 Ford also announced, on National Mustang Day, that the car will compete for the first time in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series – the stock car racing’s top league.  

 The first series points race for Mustang will be the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2019.

 National Mustang day marked the car’s 54th birthday. It all started at the World’s Fair in New York April 17, 1964.

 Tesla will halt production for three to five days to complete “comprehensive” upgrades to its highly automated production line, according to an internal e-mail obtained by Jalopnik.  

 This will allow the production of 3,000 to 4,000 Model 3’s in May, increasing to 6,000 per week by the end of June with a 24/7 production schedule.  

 “Any Tesla department or supplier that is unable to do this will need to have a very good explanation why not, along with a plan for fixing the problem…” Musk said.

 The company will add 400 people per week for several weeks to meet the new target.

 Tesla has not commented on the leaked e-mail.

 Buick has unveiled an all-electric concept SUV in Wuzhen, China that it said has a range of up to 370 miles on a charge and a 0-60 in four seconds.

 The “Enspire” features a “surround skyline” interior with an OLED display screen and “intelligent augmented reality technology based head-up display system.”  

 Why introduce it in China? Because it is the brand’s biggest market.

 No word on when or if the Enspire will be mass produced.


Auto News for April 17 – Gas Prices Rise To New Highs

The national gas price average has hit its highest price since mid-2015 at $2.71 a gallon with “more expensive gas prices on the horizon,” AAA has reported.

Today’s gas price average is 18 cents more than a month ago and 30 cents more than one year earlier.

“Expensive crude oil prices, unrest in the Middle East, strong domestic demand, record production rates and global oil supply surplus have created the perfect storm to drive spring gas prices toward new heights,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.

“Consumers can expect gas prices to increase another 5 to 10 cents this season, but the national average is not expected to reach the $3 mark.”

Over the past year prices have increased the most in California and Utah, and the least in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Following the weekend’s air strikes in Syria, it is likely prices will go higher. Although Syria is not a major oil producer, tension in the country could ripple to other countries in the region and restrict global oil supply flows, AAA said.

Toyota Lexus are starting work on a system that would allow vehicles to “talk” to one another and to the surrounding environment. The goal is to place the “Dedicated Short-Range Communications” systems in some vehicles starting in the year 2021 and across their lineups by the mid-2020’s.

DSRC will broadcast information such as location speed and acceleration as well potential hazards such as slow or stopped vehicles ahead, or signals, signs and road conditions. The system would use short-range wireless technology.

“By allowing vehicles’ intelligent systems to collaborate more broadly and effectively through DSRC technology, we can help drivers realize a future with zero fatalities from crashes, better traffic flow and less congestion,” said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America.

The technology is already in use in Japan.
BMW is back with the Ultimate Driving Experience, a five-city nationwide driving program that will provide consumers with the opportunity to experience a full lineup of BMW vehicles.

Highlights of the event include an autocross driving course, and a BMW Teen Driving School course based on the program taught at the BMW Performance Centers in Spartanburg, SC, and Thermal, CA and a BMW M Car Control Clinic.

The program kicked off in Washington, D.C. and will move on in May to East Rutherford, N.J., in June to San Francisco, in August to Los Angeles with the wrap up in November in New York City.

Owners of certain Kias can now control a number of vehicle functions —such as start and stop the engine and heat or cool their cars, depending on model and model year—using simple voice commands from the comfort of their home.
UVO Skill allows owners to lock doors, sound the horn and flash the lights, and start and stop charging their plug-in or electric vehicle whenever they choose.

What’s needed is a device with Amazon Alexa4 like Echo or Echo Dot and one of the following Kia vehicles with compatible UVO hardware: Niro PHEV, Soul EV5, Optima PHEV and K900.1

Set-up is accomplished via the Alexa companion app.



Auto News For April 16 – The Downside To The Popularity Of SUV’s

 Approximately 1,500 jobs will be lost when GM eliminates the second shift at its Lordstown, Ohio plant, due to slowing demand for the Chevrolet Cruise manufactured there.

 “As the market continued to undergo historic changes, it required us to reduce production rates and take numerous down weeks to match production with lower customer demand for compact cars,” GM said in a statement. “The car market remains important to GM and Chevrolet since it represents 36 percent of industry retail sales. The small car segment also brings new and conquest customers to Chevrolet.”

 The shift will be eliminated on June 15.

 One union official told the Youngstown PA newspaper that the announcement was a “painful kick in the gut.”

 GM eliminated the third shift at Lordstown last January and concerns are being raised about the future of the facility.

 But GM is not alone.

 Various reports say Jaguar Land Rover will cut 1,000 jobs in the UK as demand slows for diesel powered vehicles due to higher taxes, new diesel regulations and concerns over Brexit.

 JRR will also slow production at two plants. A high percentage of the vehicles manufactured in the UK are diesels. The affected workers were all on a short term contract.

 Land Rover sales in the UK slumped 20 percent in March while Jaguar sales fell 26 percent.

 Here is a good excuse to share with you pictures of what arguably is one of the extremely rare cars in the world – a1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer ‘Boat Tail.’ After being named Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance the car is scheduled to return to the UK for the first time since 1958 at a classic car show in late August.

 Its current American owner has just completed a multi-year project of restoring the car to its former glory.

 Would this car turn heads as it roared down Main Street in your town?






Auto News for April 13 -Musk Says Company Will Be Profitable In Q3

Elon Musk is challenging reports that his car company will likely need to raise additional capital during the second half of next year. The forecast came from the credit rating agency, Moody’s. Others have forecast the firm may need an influx of cash this year.

In a Tweet this morning Musk said, “The Economist used to be boring, but smart with a wicked dry wit. Now it’s just boring (sigh). Tesla will be profitable & cash flow+ in Q3 & Q4, so obv no need to raise money.”

He was referring to a long story in the “The Economist” outlining the problems that Musk’s auto firm has experienced, including production problems regarding batteries and the Model 3.

Most auto makers reported rising sales in March, but how long that will last may be up in the air. Edmunds said consumers may experience sticker shock if they’re heading to the dealership for the first time in a few years.

Thanks to a combination of rising interest rates, longer loan terms and higher average transaction prices, Edmunds said a buyer could pay more than $6,500 to purchase a new vehicle than they did five years ago.

During the first quarter of 2018, interest rates on new-vehicle loans grew sharply each month, culminating in an annual percentage rate average of 5.7 percent in March 2018, compared to 4.4 percent in March of 2013. On top of that, the average amount financed reached $31,020 compared to $26,533 in 2013 and loan terms have stretched to 69.5 months compared to 65.7 months five years ago. Then add in indications from the Fed that it will likely continue to raise interest rates.

Consumers may want to consider leasing a new vehicle, Edmunds said, but that would come with mileage restrictions not found in an outright purchase.

Also, look for a car that as a low APR offer, something Edmunds says is slowly disappearing.
“If you’re willing to keep an open mind toward brands and models that you might not be familiar with, you can still get a great financing deal.”

Hagerty, the global company specializing in insuring classic cars, is out with a new list of ten cars now in production that are likely to become “highly collectible 30 years down the road.”

The “Hagerty Hot List” for 2018 includes (in alphabetical order):
Audi RS 3 ($54,900) – An inline-five cylinder developing 400 horsepower in a nimble sedan makes for a spirited drive that you can’t help but love.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE ($69,995) – This Camaro with the 1LE track handling package is proof that the golden era for American muscle car wars is happening right now.

Dodge Challenger SRT Demon ($85,000) – 840 horsepower factory-built drag-race car with modern technology that helps you launch and grip at the drag strip. Enough said.

Honda Civic Type R ($34,100) – The performance at an impressively low price point compared to its competition means it should attract many new enthusiasts. Well-preserved examples will be sought after when today’s young fans one day seek out the cars that made an early impression on them.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk ($86,000) – In today’s SUV dominated culture, FCA is clearly owning the high performance end of this segment. 707 horsepower in an all-wheel-drive application that can also hold its own on a track is the best example of bridging the modern-day power wars with a hint of practicality.

Jeep Wrangler ($26,995) – For more than 70 years the “Jeep” has been synonymous with off-road capability and has generations of followers. High production numbers mean many will survive and continue to supply the off-roading crowd with vehicles eager to be modified.
Kia Stinger GT ($38,350) – Kia has rightly earned a spot on this list with the Stinger GT. Its combination of looks, performance and relatively low price point signals that the company is serious about attracting driving enthusiasts.

Lexus LC 500 ($92,500) – This is the most exciting Lexus since the LFA with a larger displacement engine in an era when smaller displacement with forced induction is the trend.

Porsche 718 Cayman/Boxter GTS ($79,800) – Vintage Porsches have a global fan base and the company is continuing to feed its fans with exciting cars like the GTS package in this duo that includes 365-horsepower from a mid-mounted engine.

Subaru WRX STI Type RA ($48,995) – The WRX has a long history that has developed its own tribe of brand champions. The limited production of 500 Type RAs makes this the instant collectible of the 2018 Hot List.
The man who ran the Volkswagen brand for years, is now the CEO of the entire company. VW’s version of a Board of Directors this morning promoted Herbert Diess as CEO replacing Matthias Muller who ran the auto firm during the turbulent era of the diesel emissions scandal.

Auto News for April 12



Photo: James Lipman /
Robert Duffer, writing for the Chicago Tribune, notes that one option for those considering a Rolls Royce Phantom is rather unique. Rolls will chop down a tree in the owner’s yard and turn it into trim pieces for the Phantom’s interior. And I thought the hidden umbrellas were exceptional.

Key Safety Systems, a seatbelt maker, has completed its acquisition of Takata, the much troubled air bag maker. It is a $1.6 billion deal. Takata’s president stepped down when the deal was completed. Key is based in Michigan, but its parent company is located in eastern China. The company said it would produce safety equipment of the “highest quality and reliability,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

For the second consecutive year, Michelin earned top customer satisfaction scores and swept all four segments of the 2018 J.D. Power Original Equipment Tire Satisfaction Study. It captured top honors in the Luxury, Passenger Car, Performance Sport and Truck/Utility segments.

The 2018 Kia Sedona minivan qualifies for the Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when equipped with optional front crash prevention and good-rated headlights. It hasn’t yet been rated for passenger-side small overlap front protection. An acceptable or good passenger-side rating is a requirement for Top Safety Pick+, the Institute’s highest award.

In Tesla developments:

Reuters reported that production of a small sport utility vehicle, the Model Y, will begin in November of next year.

As the company continues to struggle to meet production goals for the Model 3, CEO Elon Musk told CBS that he is back sleeping on the floor of his factory. Tesla has a goal of producing 5,000 of the Model 3’s a week by the end of June.

And the family of a man killed in the crash of a Model X in California has hired a law firm to explore its legal options. The vehicle was being operated on Autopilot at the time of the crash and the law firm claims that may have led to the accident.

Two federal safety agencies are looking into the crash.

Tesla said the operator received two warnings to put his hands back on the steering wheel before the crash, citing vehicle logs.

Auto News for April 11 – Here Is The 2019 Focus


 Redesigned from the wheels up is how Ford describes the 2019 Focus that will go on sale here in the states next year. It will be imported from China.

 A 4-door sedan, 5-door estate/wagon and 5-door hatchback body styles will be offered depending on the market. Which models and trim levels will reach these shores will not be revealed until we get closer to its U.S. launch date.  

 More passenger and cargo room are part of the package but globally Ford will reduce the number of “configurations” by as much as 92 percent in a cost cutting move.

 Overseas, Ford is promising a luxury Vignale model, a sportier ST, an “adventure-oriented” Active along with a Titanium trim to be sold only in Europe. All Focus models will ride on a new platform.

 Pictured are models to be sold in Europe.

 Honda said that it has now sold one million vehicles equipped with its package of safety features known as “Honda Sensing.”

 In the 2022 model year it will be standard equipment across the board.

  Sensing includes:

 Collision Mitigation Braking System that can apply brake pressure when an unavoidable collision is determined

 Forward Collision Warning that can detect the presence of vehicles in front, activating audio and visual alerts to warn the driver if they are at risk of collision

 Lane Keeping Assist that helps bring the vehicle back to the center of a detected lane when lane drift is determined without the use of turn signals.

 Road Departure Mitigation adjusts steering and braking if you cross detected lanes without signaling

 Adaptive Cruise Control maintains a set following interval behind detected vehicles as well as maintain a set speed

 The package has resulted in significant reductions in collision claim severity, claim rates for damage to other vehicles or other property, and claim rates for injuries to people in other vehicles or others on the road, Honda said, citing a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute.

 Various reports in Germany say Volkswagen may replace CEO Matthis Mueller when its Supervisory Board meets on Friday. Those reports say the top job will be turned over to Herbert Diess, a former BMW official who is now head of the VW brand.

 VW said only that it is contemplating a management reshuffling.

 In the first quarter of 2018, Porsche delivered around 63,500 vehicles worldwide, equivalent to an increase of six per cent compared with the previous year. This represents the most successful first quarter in the sports car manufacturer’s history. The U.S. market recorded the largest overall growth, with deliveries increasing by 10 per cent. Strong demand for the 911 and Panamera helped drive the results.

 Way up, some 8,858 feet up in the French Alps, an outline of the Land Rover Defender has been drawn in the snow to mark the brand’s 70th anniversary.

 The one-off snow art was created to announce World Land Rover Day on April 30th, exactly 70 years since the original Land Rover was first shown to the world at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show.







Auto News for April 10 – The 2020 Silverado revealed (sort of)

 We start the day with one mean looking pickup. Chevrolet has released a photo of the 2020 Silverado HD that will debut next year. It will be the third new truck in the lineup in just 18 months.

 The next-generation Silverado HD is designed for the specific priorities and needs of heavy-duty truck customers. On-road testing will begin in the near future.

 More product information will be provided next year, with the first production models scheduled to roll off the assembly lines in Flint, Michigan, in the third quarter of 2019.

 Imagine charging your electric car without a wire or a plug. The Hyundai-Kia tech center has developed such a system in conjunction with Mojo Mobility.

 The system works by using an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two coils—a transmitter on the ground and a receiver on the bottom of the vehicle. The driver simply parks the car above the transmitter to begin charging and then energy is sent through an inductive coupling to an electrical device, which uses that energy to charge the electric vehicles’ battery.

 There is no current plan to offer the wireless charging system on production vehicles for sale to consumers; however, the success of this development project suggests similar systems are possible on future Kia electric vehicles.

 Subaru has announced the two-millionth sale of its Outback model in the U.S.  The company’s consistent annual sales growth allowed it to achieve the milestone in a third of the time that it took to reach the first millionth sale set in June 2011.  

 The two millionth Outback was sold at Subaru Pacific in Hawthorne, CA.

 Gas prices have held at their highest price of the year – $2.66 – for one week, according to the latest AAA study.

 And motorists are seeing fluctuating prices at the pump from state to state with jumps as high as 12-cents in Utah and declines as much as 7-cents in Michigan since last Monday.

 “Gas prices are only a penny away from topping the $2.67 high of 2017,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “The price is likely to increase as spring brings warmer weather and the switchover to summer blend gasoline, but hopefully we will only see mild jumps in coming weeks.”

 In a recent trip to Bethesda, Maryland, I saw one station charging over $4 for a gallon of premium.