Auto News for May 31

After an update that reduced stopping distance by nearly 20 feet, Consumer Reports has now given the Tesla Model 3 its recommendation.

Before the software update, the car recorded one of the longest stopping distances the magazine has seen in an emergency 60-0 stop.

CR still has issues with wind noise, a stiff ride, and uncomfortable rear seat but Tesla said it has made production changes to address those concerns.


The last 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has rolled off the assembly line in the first step toward making horsepower history at the June 20-23 Barrett-Jackson Northeast Auction. The limited-production Demon and the last 2017 Dodge Viper hand-built American supercar will be auctioned as a pair with 100 percent of the hammer proceeds from the sale going to the United Way.

Production of the 840-horsepower Demon was limited to one model year and 3,300 cars.

Where do you put the keys to your new ride at night? Experts say a tin coffee can is where they should be because otherwise tech thieves and copy code from your key fob and steal a vehicle or just gain access without an owner’s knowledge, the Detroit Free Press reported.

But the coffee can will block the electromagnetic field whether the can contained regular java or decaf.

Automakers will release their May sales figures tomorrow. Some forecasters are predicting sales will be higher this month given an extra sales day, but others says sales will be one percent lower.

Jaguar Land Rover is developing off-road self-driving SUV’s in a multi-million dollar project. The goal is to produce a “fully capable” vehicle in any condition, dirt, rain, ice, snow or fog. The vehicles will combine acoustic, video, radar, light detection and distance sensing data live in real-time.

Auto News for May 30


 Nissan will cut back production by as much as 20 percent according to the Detroit News, citing a report in a Japanese newspaper. The move is related to sagging auto sales. A company spokesman declined comment. Nissan has two plants in the U.S., in Tennessee and Mississippi.

 Fiat Chrysler will announce its plans for the next five years during a day-long briefing at its proving grounds in Italy on Friday. Various reports give no hint as to what this might entail for production here in the U.S. with more speculation focused on European plants and the elimination of some models. Stay tuned.

 Over the long holiday weekend, the national gas price average has held steady for five days at $2.97, signaling that prices may be stabilizing as we head into June. This development comes as crude oil prices start to fall following some of the highest prices in three years, said AAA.

 Yet three states have been added to the list of those with a gas price average of $3 or more. Four states are said to be pennies away from joining that list.  

 The Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog called on the California Department of Motor Vehicles today to investigate what the groups call deceptive marketing practices and representations made by Tesla.

 The two groups allege that statements by Tesla and Chairman Elon Musk violate the state’s newly enacted Autonomous Vehicle Regulations. Those rules say a company cannot make statements leading people to believe a vehicle is autonomous when it does not meet the definition of autonomous vehicle spelled out in the regulations, which took effect earlier this year.

 The groups’ call for action came one day after a Tesla in Autopilot crashed into an unoccupied police car in Laguna Beach. The Tesla driver suffered minor injuries, but refused transportation to the hospital.

 Tesla has said the Autopilot should not be used as a fully autonomous feature, but Musk has predicted it can reduce accidents by a factor of 10.

 Mazda has now cranked out 50 million vehicles in Japan. The milestone was reached 86 years and seven months after Mazda produced its first three-wheeled truck in late 1931.

 Honda has now been making lawn mowers for 40 years.

 Congratulations to Michael Cole for being named Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at Kia Motors America. He will report directly to Kia’s president and CEO.

 Augmented reality is coming to U.S. car repairs for the first time at scale as Porsche starts rolling out “Tech Live Look” at its 189 dealers. The system connects dealership technicians to remote experts via smart glasses for a live interaction that can shorten service resolution times by up to 40 percent. It will to allow remote experts hundreds of miles away to see what a service technician is seeing and provide feedback while the tech works hands-free.

 Thinking about buying a Nissan Z car? Prices for the 2019 370Z entry level coupe and the Roadster models will remain unchanged at $29,990 and $41,820.




2019 Acura RDX
The 2019 Acura RDX will arrive in most showrooms on Friday with a starting price of $38,295. That is $1,300 more than the 2018 model.

All-wheel drive models will begin at $40,295 a gain of $1,800.

Out is the old 3.5-liter V6 replaced by a 2.0-liter four with 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque married to a 10-speed transmission. Torque-wise that is an increase of 28 lb-ft.

Acura said the new model will ride on an exclusive platform with an upgraded interior.

The Detroit Free Press reports that we should learn within the next six weeks how organizers will revamp the city’s auto show. It appears the 2019 will remain a winter time event, but future shows may move to a warmer spot on the calendar and offer more outdoor events such as test drives in electric cars.

BMW and Mercedes have pulled out of the show as have Land Rover and Jaguar as well as Mazda, Volvo, and Porsche.

McLaren said its plant in Woking England has now cranked out 15,000 cars, and that’s a record high. It comes seven years after production began.

Remember the old VW bus that was outfitted as a camper? It is a big hit in England where VW Commercial Vehicles has just assembled its 100,000 camper. Known as the California there production is heading for a new record this year.

VW camper

The milestone 100,000th vehicle is a “California Ocean” model with two-tone Candy White/Starlight Blue Metallic paintwork with matching dark blue pop-up roof sides and awning, cycle rack, navigation system, kitchen units, wood-look flooring among other goodies. It came with a 2.0-liter four and all-wheel drive.


Saturday Road Test – Platinum Energi

2018 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi

Luxury and Economy

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Just as millions hit the road for the long holiday weekend, they are due for a bit of a shock when that gauge on the dash nears “Empty!”

You see for this holiday weekend, gas prices are at their highest level in four years hitting $3 a gallon or more in 17 states and if your trusty steed has a strong preference for premium, don’t be surprised to see that price jump to $4.


Various studies have found most motorists are not terribly concerned about how much comes out of their account as their tank fills.

If you are among those seeking relief allow us to tell you about a gas sipper that also a quiet, comfortable, well-appointed sedan. (For now.)

That would be the Ford Fusion Platinum Energi plug-in that offers the equivalent of 97 MPGe, and 42 mpg when you are just running on the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gas engine. Miles Per Gallon equivalent is a measure of the average distance traveled per unit of energy consumed.

The test car will go 21 miles on pure electric power with a claimed total range of 610 bladder busting miles on both gas and electric. For the week, I came in at 39 mpg all on regular petrol.

With a full battery charge, owners get a total of 195 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm.

Remember that fuel economy is the name of the game here and not acceleration, with a 0-60 in about 8 seconds. The powertrain has to move a heavy car, at over 4,000 pounds.

The Energi insignia on the test car indicates it has a larger lithium-ion battery than the plain Fusion hybrid, but it also eats up a large portion of trunk space, something to keep in mind if you are heading out on a trip.

On the interstate the Fusion was a pure delight, the Platinum Edition filling the interior with luxury touches including a fine Sony 12-speaker audio system, heated and cooled 10-way adjustable leather clad front seats, and a likeable rotary shift dial.

One the down side, entering the rear seats forces the prospective passenger to duck down due to the sloping roof design. Knee and leg space were tight for a 6’ passenger if a similar sized person sits up front. The 110 volt outlet was a nice touch.

The updated Sync system is light years better than the previous Ford system and it welcomes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

For the economy minded driver there were ample report cards available to show just how frugal they are.
The right side cluster display grows leaves and vines for instance so frugal operators get a rapidly growing garden, while flooring the accelerator is like Weed Be Gone.

Other indicators show how close you are to the gasoline engine on/off threshold when in electric mode. A nice touch was the lighted ring around the plug in socket. When the ring is completely lit, you are good to go.

Check the owner’s manual for a lot more. But with the little four humming along there is no need for range nervousness. Noise levels are low, the ride is smooth and handling is neither too hard nor too soft.

One two occasions, the perimeter alarm sounded for no explainable reason.

Then there is a matter of price for all this economy. Remember, the test Fusion was a top-of-the-line Platinum edition with options such as $595 for the White Platinum paint, $695 for the 18” aluminum wheels, and $225 for the rear inflatable seat belts, (a very worthwhile addition.)

Add in $875 for shipping, subtract $2,000 for the Fusion energy discount and you get a total test car price of $41,695. In line with most of the competition but perhaps enough to make some consumers happier with their less frugal current ride.

But there may be a deal to be had here. Remember that Ford will curtail the manufacture of all of its cars with the exception of the Mustang.
So dealers might be looking to quickly rid their lots of the soon to be extinct.


Auto News for May 25 – Honda Civic Type R truck? It’s for real!

 Auto News for May 25  

 The column will take some time off over the long holiday weekend and resume on May 29. Please take some time over this period to pay your respects to those who have died in our nation’s wars.

 Perhaps take a trip to your local cemetery, find the grave site of just one fallen soldier, and put your hand on the headstone and say, “Thank you.”


 Motor Trend, quoting a Japanese newspaper, said Honda is working on an all-electric version of the Fit. Whether it will ever make to its way to the U.S. is not known at this juncture. The goal is to introduce it in China during the first half of 2020.

 Wilder than that, set your sights on a Honda Civic Type R pickup truck!!!  It was created by a team at the Honda plant in the UK.

 To create the Project P concept, the team used a pre-production version and adapted the design rearwards from the B-pillars of the car, with sweeping lines from the roofline to the back hiding a flatbed loading area in the center of the car where the rear seats and storage space would normally be.

 (Shades of the old Subaru Brat!!!)


 Finished in Rally Red, the concept retains the iconic rear wing associated with both the FK2 and FK8 Civic Type R, which is movable to allow unfettered access to the rear of the truck.

 Using the same powertrain, suspension and gearbox as the Type R, it is estimated Project P will complete the 0-   62 mph sprint in under six seconds and reach a top speed of over 165 mph. It also possesses the same driving modes of comfort, Sport and +R, Project P offering both ride comfort as well as a unique racing capability on track.

 Phil Webb, head of car at Honda UK, added: “This Civic Type R Pickup Truck concept by the special team at our Swindon-based plant demonstrates the passion and commitment of the team there – going above and beyond outside working hours to deliver the final product. There are no plans to put this in to production but we will be using it to transport our lawn and garden products as and when required!”

 Subaru announced its 2019 WRX will carry a starting price of $28,000 including delivery. The WRX STI will start at $37,480. That compares to 2018 model prices of $27,855 and $36,955. The STI will gain five more horsepower for the New Year to 310.

 Instead of moving out, this car company is moving back into Detroit. Ford is moving its electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle business teams into a refurbished former factory in the Corktown neighborhood of the Motor City.

 Talks are continuing on a more extensive redevelopment plan involving Ford acquiring a long abandoned Michigan Central railroad station in the neighborhood. The Detroit News reported an announcement on that one is expected in mid-June if the acquisition talks are successful.






Auto News for May 24 – $3.3 million for the fastest car!

Bugatti #100
Bugatti celebrated the delivery of its 100th Chiron, the fastest car on Earth. The buyer is said to be located in the Middle East and the lucky owner was able to afford $3.3 million for the new custom made wheels. That for a 1,479 horsepower vehicle with an 8.0 liter 16 cylinder engine with 1,180 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is 261 mph. The speedometer goes to 310! Only 500 Chiron models will be produced.

Chicago is the number two destination city for U-Haul trucks with an 11 percent increase year over year. The number one city will be announced later.

The rest of the top 10 Destination Cities are: Columbus (10); Charlotte (9); Philadelphia (8); Austin (7); Las Vegas (6); San Antonio (5); Brooklyn (4); and Orlando (3).

If we are not moving, where are we going? Hankook, the tire people, took a look and found that Miami and Denver are this year’s most popular summer destinations for those taking road trips. Other popular cities are New York, Palm Springs and Atlanta.

And as drivers hit the road, what will be the first song on their travel playlists? “Life is a Highway” takes the number one spot for top road trip songs this summer.
Those who do travel face the highest Memorial Day gas prices in four years according to AAA. The national average for a gallon is now at $2.93. If that sounds like a lot of cash, we paid $3.65 a gallon over the same holiday in 2014.

Auto News for May 23 – No GPS? No Worry! CR Will Test Model 3 again

  Let’s have some fun to start the day! I highly recommend Steven Petrow’s column in today’s Detroit Free Press on what it would be like to chuck your GPS and go back to old fashioned printed paper maps. Or just take a drive somewhere just to see where you end up. 

 Here is a link. Enjoy!

 Consumer Reports says it will test its Model 3 Tesla again after it receives updates to improve the car’s braking performance. In CR tests it took 152 feet to halt the car from 60 mph which the magazine said was “far worse than any contemporary cars we’ve tested.” Elon Musk said engineers are working on a fix and if all goes well it will be deployed OTA to the Model 3 fleet this weekend.”

 Edmunds predicts that new vehicle sales will increase 16 percent from April and 3.5 percent from May of 2017.

 “The summer selling season is off to a healthy start,” said Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds manager of industry analysis. “Despite rising gas prices, shoppers are clearly demonstrating their confidence in the strength of the economy as they continue to seek out larger, more expensive vehicles.”

 The Memorial Day holiday is also expected to contribute to increased sales.

 Hyundai said its recent partnership with data firm Xevo will allow you to, one day, pay for coffee, gas and parking using their car’s infotainment screen. Xevo also will help create the Hyundai Wallet payment platform that securely stores the customer’s credit cards or PayPal account information.

 While the average new car costs more than $35,000, there are still plenty of vehicle options available at a more affordable price, without sacrificing on comfort and style. The editors at Kelley Blue Book have named what they feel are the 10 Coolest New Cars Under $20,000 for 2018:

 Mazda 3

 Honda Civic

 Hyundai Kona

 VW Golf

 Jeep Renegade

 Subaru Impreza

 Honda Fit

 Hyundai Elantra

 Chevrolet Sonic

 Two longstanding criteria – that the vehicle is both fun to drive and fun to own – are critical among the deciding factors of what Kelley Blue Book editors freely admit is a very subjective “cool factor.”