Auto News for July 31 – Porsche Announces Hot Numbers For Its Electric

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Porsche has released more information on its Taycan electric car that will have a total system output of 600 horsepower, and a Porsche like 0-60 in less than 3.5 seconds. Porsche also said it will have a range of more than 300 miles when it goes on sale next year.

It may not look that way but the pronunciation is “TIE-con” according to Motor Trend.

How much? That information comes later.

Auto makers release their July sales figures tomorrow and most forecasters are looking for lower numbers. J.D. Power, LMC Automotive and Edmunds are all looking for slower sales believing that sales peaked over the 4th of July holiday weekend and then cooled for the rest of the month. There was also one less selling day compared to July of 2017.

Thanks to strong demand for its crossovers and SUV’s in the U.S. and its motorcycles worldwide, Honda has posted a nearly 18 percent profit increase in its latest quarter. The automaker raised its profit forecast for the year by 8 percent.

Some minor changes have produced 26 more horsepower and a bit more torque in the 2019 Mazda MX-5RF. That brings horsepower to 181 @ 7,000 rpm and torque to 151 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm thanks to a host of internal improvements. The redline will be 700 rpm higher.

2019 Mazda Miata RF

Mazda said the 2019 hardtop/convertible will start at $32,345 for the Club model on up to $34,410 for the Grand Touring. They hit showrooms next month.

A new GT-S Package for MX-5 Grand Touring with the 6-speed manual transmission will bring a front shock tower brace, limited-slip rear differential and Bilstein dampers.

MX-5 RF models with the GT-S Package will also come equipped with the hand-painted black roof that had previously only been offered in the U.S. on the 2017 MX-5 RF Launch Edition.

Auto News for July 30

Consumers looking for a long-lasting vehicle that can reach 200,000 miles or more should consider an SUV, according to a new study by car search engine iSeeCars.com.

The findings reveal that seven out of the 10 vehicles most likely to last 200,000 miles are SUVs, while the remainder of the list includes one vehicle in each of the pickup, passenger car, and minivan categories.

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The Toyota Sequoia topped the list of vehicles with more than 200,000 miles followed by the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Suburban, Toyota 4Runner, and the GMC Yukon.

Classicars.com did an exhaustive study of the most popular muscle car classics in each state of the union going over more than 45 million searches on the net.

Topping the list was the 1969 Dodge Charger, followed by the 1967 Ford Mustang, ’69 Camaro, ‘65 Mustang and the ‘65 Mustang Shelby Cobra. Check out Classic’s web site to find out which car was the most popular in your state.

Hot on the rumor mill this morning is word that Ford might introduce a pickup smaller than the Ranger and based on the new Focus platform, one that just might find its way to the U.S. market sometime in the future.

Automobile magazine was first with the story. In the global marketplace, it would replace a small truck sold as the Courier and manufactured in Brazil. Stay tuned.

The European car market has rung up its best first half performance of the century based on vehicle registrations. A total of 8.6 billion cars were registered, a gain of 2.7 percent and just like here in the U.S. the increase came in the area of trucks and SUV’s.

VW group is now the top selling SUV maker in Europe.

“Car makers continue to update and modernize their traditional models, while the range of SUVs on offer continues to grow and appeal to all kinds of budgets and needs,” said analyst Felipe Munoz.

Saturday Road Test – Lexus IS300 AWD


Sorry To See This One Go

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – John Denver once sang, “Gee, it’s good to be back home again.”

But not this time. I was disappointed that a day long drive was over because the IS300 just spent several hours spoiling me.
The 10-way adjustable leather clad heated and cooled bucket style driver’s seat coddled me with only a couple of adjustments of the lumbar support. (The front passenger seat is 8-ways adjustable).

And oh my, the Mark Levinson audio system was spectacular in its sound reproduction. Seventeen speakers and 835 watts of power will do that.

It is offered only in the Navigation package, ($2,835), and is well worth the money. Treat your ears and plug in your favorite music!
That package also adds a 10.3 inch infotainment screen with voice command, up from the standard 7 inch offering.

You might have to explain to younger passengers that the round thing in the center dash is an analog clock. A rather nice touch I would say.

Two adults should find comfort in the 60-40 rear seats that also fold for additional cargo space, not a bad addition considering the smallish 10.8 cubic foot trunk.

Flexibility is the word for entering and exiting the IS with its rather low roof. The interior was nicely trimmed and materials were in line with the asking price, yet the hard black plastic topping the center console looked out of place.

The Lexus mouse like controller for operating the infotainment system was hyperactive. It was easy to sail right past the selection you wanted on the screen, even if those selections were being made while the car was parked.

Adding to the joy of the drive was the smooth as silk V6. A 3.5-liter with 260 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 236 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 4,800 rpm. The redline came at 6,600 rpm. Lexus claims a 0-60 in 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 130 for the AWD model. It feels faster than that.

Matched to a fast acting 6-speed automatic with paddle shifts the IS always delivered plenty of power for highway merging, passing and topping our test mountains.
Premium fuel is recommended with an EPA rating of 19 mpg city, 26 highway for a combined 22. I came in at 23.7 mpg.

Looking ahead to the winter, (after all there are only five months of shopping days until Christmas), the all-wheel drive system can vary front to rear torque distribution from 50/50 to as much as 30/70.

All IS sedans feature ECO, NORMAL, SNOW and SPORT modes. Since it is July, I selected SPORT the most.

Weather sealing, something not normally mentioned here, got quite a work out during the test week with the greater Washington, D.C. area receiving record amounts of rainfall, most of it coming in monsoon like short lived downpours. The IS remained bone dry.

A sign at a nearby church is offering “ark building” classes!

Bottom line.

The IS300 is a nice blend of power, handling and luxury that made for a delightful week of driving. It boasts a long list of standard equipment, and allow me to recommend the Comfort Package and the aforementioned Navi Package.
Prices start at $38,210 for the rear wheel drive 4-cylinder model, and $40,660 for an IS with all-wheel drive and the six.

The test car came with $5,270 worth of options and with transportation figured in the bottom line price came to $46,625.
Factoid:

You might wonder how to select the intermittent windshield wipers. You push the “Auto” button at the end of the right side of the steering wheel stalk as opposed to moving the lever up and down.

Auto News for July 27

The Zurich hospital that treated Sergio Marchionne said the Fiat Chrysler executive was seriously ill for more than a year prior to his death. But he apparently did not disclose his illness to the company. A statement from FCA said it was not aware of his serious illness and it did not comment on the hospital’s announcement.

Family members informed the company that Marchionne was seriously ill last Friday, but did not include any details citing medical privacy. The following day, FCA named Jeep executive Mike Manley as its new CEO. His family announced the auto leader’s death from complications from shoulder surgery on Wednesday.

Elsewhere:

Audi electric

Audi announced it will start taking orders for its first all-electric vehicle starting on Sept. 17, the day the e-tron will make its global debut at an event in San Francisco.
Audi said it will be a five passenger SUV aimed at the heart of the premium market and will appear in showrooms in early 2019. The e-tron will be the first of three battery-electric vehicles that Audi plans to debut by 2020, with nearly 30 percent of its customers in the U.S. anticipated to go electric by 2025.

Wall Street did not take kindly to the earnings report from Ford with its shares closing down nearly 6 percent and below the $10 mark at $9.89 a share. This is the first single digit close since 2012. The markets were not happy that Ford has released few details of its turnaround plan that it said would cost up to $11 billion.

GM closed down 2.3 percent to $36.75 after it posted a higher profit but trimmed its outlook due to expected higher costs for raw materials.

Auto News for July 26

  

 Tuesday was not a good day for the nation’s automakers.

 Tariff induced higher prices for steel and aluminum, unfavorable currency exchanges, and slowing sales for some in China cut into second quarter earnings announced by the Detroit three automakers.

 All three lowered their profit outlooks for the rest of the year and all three said they expect those higher commodity costs to continue in 2019.

 Both Ford and Fiat Chrysler reported slower demand in China. GM said it was hurt by currency exchange rates in Argentina and Brazil.

 Ford said its ongoing restructuring plan could cut into pre-tax earnings over the next three to five years by $11-billion. It postponed a scheduled September huddle with analysts to discuss the plan saying it will be held when details of the plan become clearer.  

 The Blue Oval’s bottom line was also hurt by parts plant fire that slowed production of its profitable F-150 trucks.

 GM trimmed its profit outlook to $6 a share from an earlier forecast of $6.30 to $6.60 a share. Ford missed Wall Street earnings expectations with second quarter earnings down by nearly one half. Net profit fell 35 percent at Fiat Chrysler due to slower sales in Asia and slowing demand at Maserati.  

 FCA announced its results just hours after the passing of its long-time leader, Sergio Marchionne.

 Falling sales in the U.S., Japan and Europe resulted in a 29 percent profit decline at Nissan in its fiscal first quarter. The company said new product introductions, such as the Kicks subcompact and Altima later this year should turn things around in the U.S.

 A sad note this morning. Warren Brown, a wonderful man who for many years wrote about cars for the Washington Post, died early today after a long illness.

 His engaging reports on new cars and trucks interspersed with reflections about life on the road were a delight to millions of readers in the Post’s Sunday editions.

 On top of all that, he was an outgoing, friendly man who treated the stars of auto reporting and the beginners with equal warmth.

 I will miss him as will everyone involved in the auto industry here in the Washington, D.C. area. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family this morning.

Warren was truly one of the good guys here on Earth.

 

  

 

  

 

Sergio Marchionne – Auto Industry Leader & Outspoken Turnaround Specialist – Dies At Age 66

BREAKING NEWS

Sergio Marchionne, 66, died in a Zurich Hospital this morning apparently from complications following shoulder surgery.

The official announcement came from John Elkann, a member of the Agnelli family that controls Fiat Chrysler.

“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone, he said.
“I believe that the best way to honor his memory is to build on the legacy he left us, continuing to develop the human values of responsibility and openness of which he was the most ardent champion.
“My family and I will be forever grateful for what he has done. Our thoughts are with Manuela, and his sons Alessio and Tyler.

Earlier, reports said the 66-year-old Marchionne was on life support in a Zurich hospital with complications from earlier shoulder surgery.
An Italian news agency, citing unnamed sources, said the auto industry leader had cancer that developed in bones and connective tissues. The agency said the former CEO had a stroke during surgery and was put into a coma with irreversible brain damage, according to the Detroit News citing the Italian news agency this morning.

There has been no confirmation of that from Fiat Chrysler.

Last Saturday, FCA replaced Marchionne has its leader with Jeep brand chief Mike Manley saying their long time CEO would not be returning.
Marchionne turned around both Fiat and Chrysler eliminating millions in debt to the point where the company reported a net profit of $1.2 billion in the first quarter of this year. Reversing that debt was one of his key goals.

In 2011 he was named one of Time magazine’s “Most Influential People in the World” and a year later was named “Michigan Manufacturer of the Year.”

He joined the Fiat board in 2003 after a career in other businesses and two years later became its CEO. His first goal was to return the automaker to profitability which he accomplished by downsizing and restricting management.

Marchionne played a key role in the formation of a strategic alliance with Chrysler in 2009 where he became the company’s CEO. Just two years later, Chrysler posted its first profit in five years.

He was known for his casual attire of a black sweater and open neck shirt, seldom wearing a formal business suit. A trait that he said made it quicker to get ready for work in the morning.

Marchionne was known as a “shoot from the hip, go-go guy” said one labor leader and “very upfront” said another. Others said he was a chain smoking workaholic.

Some did not like that plain spoken style but others acknowledged that you always knew where he stood on issues.

Even in his college days in Canada, professors said they could tell that Marchionne was “going somewhere.”

One time Chrysler CEO, Thom Lasorda, called him a “legend” and “the very elite league of automotive CEO’s.”

The Italian-Canadian business leader drove high powered Ferraris, which are a part of the FCA empire. He once wrecked one saying, in the car business “sometimes you crash.”

His hard charging style and his ability to turn around struggling companies will long be remembered.

The auto biz is mourning the loss of a giant this morning.

 

Breaking News

 Sergio Marchionne, the man who turned around the fortunes of Fiat and Chrysler has died in a Zurich hospital at the age of 66.

 The announcement came from the group chairman, John Elkann this morning who said, “Unfortunately, what we feared has some to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone.”

 More to come

Auto News for July 24 – Gas Prices Up & Down This Month.

 Nationwide gas prices rose four cents in the first half of July, but then declined in the second half of the month, according to AAA. The auto club said the national average is now $2.84 a gallon, its lowest level since early May.

 “July gas prices have been on a roller coaster ride, but appear to be on a downward slope at the moment. If demand and supply stay consistent, prices have the potential to stabilize barring any major events – geopolitical or natural disasters,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “The market is also following this up and down trend lately. Last week, crude prices dropped below $70 a barrel for the first time since June, but then returned above the price point to close out the week.”

 Let us applaud Honda for one addition to the 2019 HR-V. A new audio display with volume knob!!!!!

2019 Honda HR-V

2019 Honda HR-V

 

 The new ones will carry a starting price of $21,515 including delivery.  The Touring trim adds multi-element LED headlights, leather-trimmed seats & power driver’s seat while the Honda Sensing suite of active safety and driver-assist features is now available on EX trims and higher.

  Pickup trucks are catching on elsewhere. A report said they now head the list of Britain’s most desirable used vehicles.

 Tesla has responded to a Wall Street Journal report that it asked some suppliers to rebate payments. Tesla said it asked less than 10 suppliers for reductions in capital spending on projects that began two years ago but are still not complete. In mid-morning trading Tesla shares were down $1.33 or just under one-half percent.

 

Auto News for July 23 – New Leader at FCA – Marchionne Suffers Surgery Setback

   A New Leader at Fiat Chrysler

 With “profound sorrow” the auto maker reported that “unexpected complications arose while Sergio Marchionne was recovering from surgery” and those complications “have worsened significantly …”

(Marchionne on the left, Manley on the right.)

 Enough that he was unable to return to work, so the Board of Directors named Mike Manley of Jeep as Chief Executive, a move that is expected to ratified by shareholders in the near future. Manley was head of the Jeep brand since mid-2009 and head of Ram since late 2015.

 A native of Great Britain, Manley has been with FCA since the year 2000.

 No further information has been released regarding Marchionne’s condition.

 “I am profoundly saddened to learn of Sergio’s state of health. It is a situation that was unthinkable until a few hours ago, and one that leaves us all with a real sense of injustice, said John Elkann, Chairman of Exor and FCA said when he learned the news.

 “My first thoughts go to Sergio and his family.”

 “What struck me about Sergio from the very beginning, when we met to talk about the possibility of him coming to work for the Group, even more than his management skills and unusual intelligence, were his human qualities, his generosity and the way he understood people.”

 “He taught us that the only question that’s worth asking oneself at the end of every day is whether we have been able to change something for the better, whether we have been able to make a difference,” Elkann said.

 The BBC said Marchionne suffered complications from surgery on his right shoulder. He had announced his plans to step down from his post in 2009.

 Marchionne turned around the fortunes of Fiat, reduced crippling debt levels at FCA, and last June unveiled a plan to put the auto maker on a course to double profits and begin paying dividends to shareholders for the first time since 2014.

 He was well known for his casual attire, a black sweater, never a tie, and open neck shirt. Why? He said, in essence, it made it easier to get ready for work in the morning.

 Top Gear called him, “one of the car world’s giants,” and I agree.

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 As expected, the 2019 Detroit Auto Show will be the last to be held in winter.

 Starting in 2020 it will be held in June opening up the possibility of adding attractions outdoors, something not feasible in a Michigan winter. The hope is, this will grow into a city wide celebration.

 Backers of the show decided they had to take action after many automakers announced they would no longer stage exhibits, searching instead for lower cost ways to introduce new product that would also increase their time in the public spotlight. Or simply put, more bang for the buck.

 The 2020 show will begin on June 8th.

 Hyundai’s Le Fil Rouge concept car makes its North American debut at the 40th Annual Concours d’Elegance of America in Plymouth, Michigan, July 27–29.

 The concept car introduces Hyundai’s new ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ design theme, which will appear on all future Hyundai vehicles, ranging from sedans to SUVs.

 And it is one very beautiful design, me thinks!

 Oh, and the name is French for “common thread.” Hyundai said the concept is a “reinterpretation” of a 1974 concept that set the stage for future designs.

 Tesla shares dropped sharply this morning on reports it is asking suppliers for refunds to help the automaker reach profitability. Elon Musk has predicted it would be in the black in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

 The Wall Street Journal broke the story. The markets have voiced concern about Tesla’s cash flow.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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Ford EcoSport SES
Beats 9 hours in a 737

By Ron Amadon

On The Road in Pa. – Just saw on the news how some airlines are jamming more mini micro seats into their jets by reducing the size of the onboard outhouse.

Just what you wanted to hear after booking passage from South Florida to the Pacific Northwest.

That story came to mind after a 9 hour trek through Maryland and Pennsylvania in Ford’s subcompact crossover, the EcoSport.

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All during that drive the leather and cloth upholstered buckets were very comfortable with nary an inflight adjustment through York, Harrisburg, and points west and then return to Mary-land. Manual lumbar support was a nice touch.

Kudos to Ford for a clean, modern and properly laid out dash design as well SYNC3 which was housed in an 8”inch screen just above the center console.
SYNC3 is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and is easy to become friends with.

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One tip. Audio buffs would do well to opt for the optional B&O PLAY Premium Audio System by HARMAN.

In the SES there are two USB ports and two 12-volt power points.

But while those up front should be comfortable, the rear seats offer scant knee and leg room for adults. They really are just for children.

EcoSport offers 50 cubic feet of storage with those seats folded and 21 cubic feet with them in the upright and locked position. Both measurements are on the generous side for this size vehicle.

Consumers can choose between a 1.0-liter, 3 cylinder turbo with 123 horsepower or a 2.0-liter, 166 horsepower I-4 with 149 lb-ft of torque which was on board in the test car. You want that one.

Max horsepower is extracted at 6,500 rpm with max torque kicking in at 4,500 rpm. 0-60 in about ten seconds and a top speed of 117 mph with the weight of the EcoSport, at 3,300 pounds, one factor.

Fuel economy was not all that great dropping to 19 mpg when the six-speed automatic and the 2.0 liter were pushed during a romp on twisty roads.

Things improved during the long trip for an overall week long average of 26 mpg. EPA rates the EcoSport at 27 city, 29 highway for a combined 28 mpg.

Just 13.6 gallons of unleaded regular fills the tank which is satisfying when you pay the bill, but shortens the range between pit stops.

Handling and ride were fine with noise levels well under control on the interstates except when rpm limits were neared. Overall, noise levels were better than some rivals by my ears.

EcoSport suffered from poor visibility to the right and left rear due to the design of the roof pillar. So the Blind Spot Detection was a welcome addition.

Part of my testing of cars upon arrival is to see how many of day-to-day functions can be achieved without checking any manuals. How to open the rear door on the EcoSport was a challenge.

There was no remote open button on the dash or key fob or tucked in next to the license plate light. So on to the book.

The button that unlocks the door is under a chrome strip next to the right tail light. One would get accustomed to this but it is a rather unique placement. This is not a hatch, but a door that opens right to left, not nice if it is raining and a design that would make loading difficult in certain parking situations.

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Tidbits:

Safety features include a review camera and a post-crash alert system which we hope you never need.

Front and 4-wheel drive are available with the test model offering the latter, the only model where it is available. Attention Minnesota and Montana!

The Fiesta based EcoSport rides on a 99 inch wheelbase and is 161 inches long. It is comparable size wise to the Kia Soul and the Hyundai Kona which are an inch or three longer.

People ask about these things, so we will tell you the exterior is Canyon Ridge Metallic.

There are four trim models with SES and Titanium holding down the top spots.

Prices start at five bucks under $20,000 for the base S model with the 1.0-liter engine. The SES starts at $26,880. No price was given for the test car but with some extras and transportation one can edge closer to the $30K mark.

Down the road it will be interesting to see if this made in India subcompact crossover becomes one of the many electric powered vehicles the Blue Oval will offer.

If that is the case, let’s hope the addition of an electric motor or two gives this buggy the added power that it really needs while improving economy.