Auto News for April 25 – High Court Rules on GM Ignitions

Auto News for April 25

 The GM ignition switch case may be far from over after a decision from the Supreme Court. See:

 States are not capturing enough data to determine if highway crashes were caused by driver fatigue, texting, or the use of illegal drugs, according to a report from the National Safety Council. It said accident reports in many states lack fields or code for police to record such causes. States are also failing to capture data on such causes as teen driver restrictions, the use of advanced driver assistance technologies, and infotainment systems. “The road to zero deaths is paved with potholes,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.

 “In too many cases, we are gathering the ‘what’ but not the ‘why’ and better data will enable us to make better decisions,” Hersman said.

 Tesla said it will double the number of quick charging stations globally to more than 10,000 by the end of the year. Here in the U.S., Tesla said it will increase the number of stand-alone Supercharger stations by 150 percent. The number of stations at destinations such as hotels will also be stepped up. Tesla will build larger sites along its busiest travel routes that will allow several dozen cars to be charging simultaneously.

 After a worldwide tour, the One-Millionth Mazda MX-5 Miata to be produced has returned home to Hiroshima, Japan. Thousands of fans signed their names on the bodywork during the tour. The car will now be displayed at the company’s headquarters.

 Ford claims the Mustang is now the best-selling sports car in the world and cites IHS Markit Global automotive registration data. The Mustang, once only sold here in the U.S., is now available in 140 countries and six more will be added this year. Ford said sales are up 6 percent on international markets.

 Fiat Chrysler announced that Waymo will add 500 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to expand its self-driving program. FCA previously delivered 100 minivans, modified for self-driving, to Waymo during the second half of 2016. Production of the additional 500 minivans will ramp up beginning next month. Waymo will then outfit these vehicles with its self-driving technology.





Auto News for April 24 – Type R IS very fast!

 The Civic Type R has claimed the title of world’s fastest production front-wheel-drive production car by lapping the famed Nurburging’s North Loop in 7 minutes and 48 seconds. Honda said that is over three seconds faster than the previous FWD record.  Video footage of the benchmark lap can be viewed on Honda’s YouTube channel at

 What makes its go? A high-performance 2.0-liter VTEC TURBO engine – with peak output of 306 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine, which makes the Type R the most powerful Honda ever sold in America, is manufactured in the U.S. at Honda’s Anna, Ohio plant. It will go on sale here in late spring, and should be an absolute blast to drive.

 Owners of the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle have now racked up more than two million miles on the roads of Southern and Northern California. These fuel cell CUVs have emitted only clean water vapor, and by so doing, have replaced approximately 760 tons of CO2 emissions that would have been emitted by vehicles of similar size and capability, Hyundai said. There are roughly 140 of the fuel cell vehicles on the road.

 Could this be the case here? One in three (32%) of motorists try to avoid completing driving maneuvers for fear of getting them wrong, according to new research from Kwik-Fit. Parallel parking tops the list of most commonly avoided moves with 30% of drivers admitting to giving it a miss whenever possible.

The study, commissioned by the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company found that motorists’ fear of putting their car through various maneuvers peaks during their driving test but often never entirely leaves them even after many years of experience.

Saturday Road Test – 2018 Volkswagen Atlas



                  2018 Volkswagen Atlas

             Three Rows From Chattanooga  

By Ron Amadon

HERDON, VA. – It is not just us.

 In Europe, SUV’s account for one in four sales as consumers turn away from cars and demand grows for large luxury models.

 Despite government moves to bolster demand for electric cars in China, SUV sales rose 21 percent in the first quarter of this year. Electric car sales were up by only four percent.

 Here at home, cars are sitting longer on dealer lots as people flock to crossovers, trucks and SUV’s, and like their European neighbors, large and luxurious selections.

 Now comes the Atlas, a three-row SUV with room for seven that, at 198 inches long, is roughly the size of a Ford Explorer or Nissan Pathfinder. Assembly will be carried out at the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

 The largest VW offered here in the U.S., the Atlas has a longer wheelbase than rivals at 117.3 inches and that allows adults to be comfortable in a very accessible third row. Even with the third row seats in the up position there is lots of storage left over, 21 cubic feet, for their gear and that is more than most of the competition. Entry and exit is aided by a second row seat that folds and slides forward at the touch of a lever.

 With all seats up, the Atlas will seat seven and offer 96.8 cubic feet of cargo hauling with the second and third rows folded.

 There will be two engine selections: A 2.0-liter 235 horsepower turbo four with 258 lb-ft of torque or a 3.6-liter V6 with a more robust 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. Both come with an 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode. The four will be offered with front wheel drive only, while the six offers either front or VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive. Only the six was available for a get acquainted test drive with the four making its debut sometime after the six appears in showrooms next month.   

 In a short outing here in suburban Virginia, the larger offering delivered more than adequate acceleration, and the 8-speed was a smooth operator.

 The interior design will be familiar to any VW owner, just larger and more spacious. The leather clad seats were instantly very comfortable with a minimum of adjustments. Luxury touches were abundant, the steering wheel was right sized, and the driving position felt (almost) sporty.

 Excellent sound reproduction came from the 12-channel, 480 watt Fender audio system with a dozen speakers. VW said Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are friends with the large 12.5 inch center display system.

 Operators will be able to dial in extra traction in AWD models with On Road, Snow, Off Road and Custom settings. And there are four driving modes, Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual.

 Atlas will not shrug when it comes to model choices. S, SE, SE w/Technology, SEL and SEL Premium will be offered.

 With interior luxury touches, better than expected handling and ride, the Atlas should more than meet the expectations of consumers seeking a solid, quiet, and easy to drive, slightly larger than midsize SUV.

 Allow me again to applaud VW designers for making a third row seat with adequate head and leg room along with ease of access that really does allow Atlas to haul seven people. Too many three row SUV’s offer only enough room out back for small children.  

 Atlas pricing starts at $30,500 for the late arriving turbocharged 2.0-liter four. For the base model six, the bottom line comes to $31,900 on up to a $48,490 base for the very well-equipped SEL Premium that I drove. Atlas is scheduled to appear in showrooms next month.


 At the end of the test drive, I thought, “Wow, has VW design come a long way from the days of my uncle’s bare bones bus.” As I remember my Aunt wanted zero options and in the end, the dealer kicked in the AM radio!



Auto News for April 21 – Automatic Everything?

 Is the manual transmission dead? Will everything we buy going forward be an automatic that can change gears faster than any human can? Check out a great article by Detroit News columnist Henry Payne for the answers. If you enjoy driving, you MUST read this:

 Honda will invest $124 million to create a “multifunctional `aeroacoustic wind tunnel” at its research center in East Liberty, Ohio. It will aid in the development of more fuel efficient vehicles, and “will drive the next generation of wind noise reduction.” They hope to break ground in late summer.

 This should catch the attention of enthusiasts! A new BMW M4 CS with 454 horsepower or 29 more than the existing model. That results in a 0-60 below the four second mark at 3.8 seconds. Top speed is 174 for the limited edition coupe. The first ever BMW M4 CS will be built at the BMW plant in Munich and will be available at U.S. dealerships in 2018 with pricing announced closer to market launch.

 Subaru has announced pricing for the 2018 WRX and WRX STI models that will arrive in showrooms this spring. The WRX will start at $26,995 and the STI model at $36,095.

 Genesis announced pricing for the 2018 G80 luxury midsize sports sedan starting at $41,750. The 3.3L turbocharged V6 2018 Genesis G80 Sport trim which is arriving next month will carry an MSRP of $55,250.

 Tesla is recalling some of its Model S sedans because the parking brake may refuse to disengage. Involved are S models built between February and October of 2016.



Auto News for April 20 – Atlas, Tiguan & Long Warranties


 VW said the Atlas SUV and the revamped 2018 Tiguan will carry the best transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty among SUV’s in America, six years or 72,000 miles whichever occurs first. That coverage will be transferrable beyond the first owner.

 The Atlas will start at $30,500 for the four cylinder turbocharged 2.0-liter four. Opt for the 3.6-liter six and the base price increases to $31,900. Check back on Saturday when there will be more on VW’s first three row SUV including some first drive impressions.

 With the exception of Gen Y1, all other generational groups are becoming more skeptical of self-driving technology, which poses a new challenge to car manufacturers and technology developers, according to a new J.D. Power study.

“In most cases, as technology concepts get closer to becoming reality, consumer curiosity and acceptance increase,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and HMI research at J.D. Power. “With autonomous vehicles, we see a pattern where trust drives interest in the technology and right now, the level of trust is declining.”

 A total of 40 percent of Boomers do not see any benefits to self-driving vehicles. Yet virtually all age groups embrace technologies that assume some control of vehicle operating functions. Examples include allowing devices to take control of infotainment systems and driving and parking technologies.

 Gen Z, (I guess the ones that take a lot of naps), has the highest interest in all alternative mobility types, including 50% indicating they are definitely/probably interested in mobility sharing/co-ownership.

 Power predicts that older drivers will eventually come around on the issue of full self-driving cars as the technology evolves.

 GM has halted production in Venezuela after the government took control of a plant that employs about 2,700 workers. GM is vowing to fight the takeover in the courts. The country has been suffering food shortages and high inflation that have sparked demonstrations.


Auto News for April 19 – A Special Report

 No matter how dependable your car or truck is, sooner or later you will need some new parts. But where do they come from and how do they get to a dealer?

 Important considerations, because the last thing you want to hear is that your car or truck will be in the garage longer than expected due to a lack of needed parts.

 Now that is less likely to occur, thanks to a new 400,000 square foot Fiat Chrysler Parts Distribution Center in Winchester, Virginia, that just had its grand opening. A facility that represents a $12.2 million investment by FCA.

 From the picture you can see that this is a huge facility, and my feet can testify to that following a tour. How big is big?

 It will serve over 200 dealers and process an astounding 9.2 million pieces annually.

 Parts arrive from producers at a loading dock near the front of the center, where they get a bar code and then are sorted out with big parts toward the rear of the facility, and smaller parts to the front. They are stacked on shelves right to the ceiling, about 25 feet high.

 No fear, they have special equipment to get them down safely and there are articulated sorting carts to cut down on forklift use. They contain special partitions for various parts to make sorting easier and reduce the chance of damage on the way to the loading dock.  

 A special area is set aside for the parts that are expected to be in big demand.

 Dealers submit orders that are processed by more than 70 workers on two shifts who will sort through more than 50,000 total part numbers. Hence, the bar codes!

 An unexpected touch was the addition of more than 80 skylights to let in some natural light. FCA said the building is likely to be certified by the United States Green Building Council for its energy saving and environmentally friendly design.  

 The parts are loaded on to 24 tractor trailers on a daily basis and the semis will travel more than 20 established routes in the Mid-Atlantic region under contract with DHL.

 All of this is aimed at reducing any delay in repairing your car when it is in for repairs.

 Accessories also make up some of the inventory and to back that up, a mighty mean looking black Jeep Wrangler was displayed near the podium with just about everything one could add to it.

 I asked to take it home, but it was spoken for.

 “This new Parts Distribution Center builds upon or mission, allow us to more quickly and efficiently serve our dealers and customers, delivering the parts they need when they need them,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service for FCA.

 In short this facility forever changed my idea of what, in essence, a warehouse can be. It was light, bright, safe and employee friendly though the use of modern technology and methods.   


Auto News for April 18 – Best Interiors

 WardsAuto has unveiled its 10 Best Interiors list for 2017, spotlighting seven brands making the list for the first time, while three returning winners introduced groundbreaking designs and features that may win over new customers. 

 This year’s winners are:

Alfa Romeo Giulia ($50,490 as tested)

Bentley Bentayga ($278,730)

Buick LaCrosse ($50,270)

Honda CR-V ($34,635)

Lexus LC 500 ($102,995)

Lincoln Continental ($72,870)

Maserati Levante ($90,000)

Mazda CX-9 ($45,855)

Mini Countryman ($38,450)

Subaru Impreza ($29,260)

 “We strive every year to compile a list that is diverse, representing as many segments and price points as possible,” says Drew Winter, senior content director at WardsAuto.

 Lexus, Honda and Mazda were the return winners.

 Pictured are the Alfa and Bentley interiors. 

 Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.39. This price is six cents more expensive than one week ago, nine cents more than one month ago and 35 cents more than one year ago, said AAA.

 The national average is at its highest price this year and has now increased for 13 of the last 14 days. Pump prices in 48 states and Washington D.C. have moved higher over the last week, led by the switch over to more expensive summer-blend gasoline and increased driving demand.

 The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is applying more stringent criteria to its list of recommended used vehicles for teens, as recent safety improvements have moved down to lower-cost used cars, SUVs, minivans and pickups. For the first time, small overlap front crash protection has been factored in for the best choices section of the list. And the bar has been raised for the less expensive good choices as well, with better side and head restraint ratings required. To help families find safer vehicles that fit within their budgets, IIHS began publishing a list of recommended used vehicles for teens in 2014.

The latest update includes 49 “best choices,” starting under $20,000, and 82 “good choices,” starting under $10,000. Interested parties can see the updated list at: