Auto News for June 20 – VW & Ford, Audi & Hyundai Alliances

The experts have long predicted that marriages of a sort would continue in the auto world as makers come to grips with the high cost of planning and producing the cars and trucks of the future.

Now four have agreed to be at least best buds.

Volkswagen and Ford are exploring several joint projects including the development of a range of commercial vehicles. But they stressed that any alliance would not involve equity arrangements, including cross ownership stakes.

“Ford is committed to improving our fitness as a business and leveraging adaptive business models – which include working with partners to improve our effectiveness and efficiency,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s president of Global Markets. “This potential alliance with the Volkswagen Group is another example of how we can become more fit as a business, while creating a winning global product portfolio and extending our capabilities.”

Dr. Thomas Sedran, Head of Volkswagen Group Strategy said, “Markets and customer demand are changing at an incredible speed. Both companies have strong and complementary positions in different commercial vehicle segments already. To adapt to the challenging environment, it is of utmost importance to gain flexibility through alliances.”

And there is more this morning.

Hyundai and Audi announced they have entered into a multi-year “patent cross-licensing agreement” covering a wide range of fuel cell electric vehicles to include components and technologies.

The two said they would make joint efforts in developing fuel cell vehicles to lead the industry to “a more sustainable future.”

One Hyundai official called the agreement “the fastest way to a truly zero-emission world.”

Volvo today inaugurates its first U.S. manufacturing plant, in Charleston, South Carolina, given them plants in all three major sales regions.

The Charleston plant starts production of the new Volvo S60 premium mid-size sports saloon in the autumn of 2018. From 2021, the factory will also build the next generation of the Volvo XC90 large premium SUV. Cars built at the plant are destined both for the domestic U.S. market and international export.

Mazda is adding some horsepower to the fun to drive MX-5 Miata for 2019. The 2.0-liter four will now be rated at 181 horsepower at 7,000 rpm with 151 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. That compares with 155 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 148 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 in the 2018 model.

For 2019 there is also a new exhaust system that is said to produce “richer sound quality.”

Also just ahead, an available brown canvas soft top,  black metallic 17-inch wheels, a newly telescoping steering wheel, easier-to-open doors and revised door stops and revised cup holders and seat levers.

Look for the new one to arrive in showrooms this fall. It should be even more fun to drive!

The Korean Trio of Genesis, Kia and Hyundai were the top three nameplates in the just released J.D. Power Initial Quality Study for 2018.

It measures the number of problems experienced during the first 90 days of ownership, and Power said overall quality is now at its highest level ever. Quality improved across six of the eight categories, with 21 of the 31 brands showing gains from 2017.

Domestically, Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler all topped the industry average for improvements.

At the bottom of the list were Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Auto News for June 19 –

A mixed bag when it comes to the latest report on gas prices with the AAA saying the national average is two cents cheaper this week at $2.90 gallon. But that is 60 cents more than motorists paid a year ago.

“If demand continues to strengthen and inventories decrease in the weeks ahead, motorists can expect gas prices (to) do a reversal and start to increase again,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA gas price expert. “AAA expects the national gas price average to range between $2.85 and $3.05 through Labor Day, likely seeing the summer’s highest prices in June.”

Another factor that will influence gas prices in the near and long-term will be outcomes from the June 22 OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria.

What do you think? If Suzuki were to import its compact Jimny off road vehicle here in the states, would it sell?


Suzuki just released pictures of the upcoming offering with a front end design that looks like a Jeep. From all indications, it would be an inexpensive and rugged off roader. Suzuki autos pulled out of the U.S. market in 2012.

Cadillac is investing $175 million to prepare its plant in Lansing, Michigan, to build two new sedans that will replace two existing models, believed to be the ATS and the CTS. The new cars are not expected to hit the market until 2021 or so. GM is not revealing too much information about all this.

Auto News for June 18 – Audi Official Arrested

Audi’s chief executive, Rupert Stadler, has been arrested in Germany in connection with the ongoing investigation regarding emission tests of diesel powered vehicles.

The BBC reported that officials in Munich said Stadler was detained because he might seek to suppress evidence in the case.

Last month, Audi said some A6 and A7 cars might have emission software issues.

Feast your eyes on the just announced BMW M850 xDrive coupe that makes its return to these shores after two decades on the missing car list.

BMW 8-Series coupe

In brief:

It will launch with 523 hp and 553 lb-ft torque from a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 and an 8-speed automatic with power sent to all four wheels.

0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and a limited top speed of 155 mph.

Optional Carbon Fiber roof.

Pricing will be released closer to the on sale date this fall.

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The top audio system is worth noting: A Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound with a 16-channel amplifier with an output of 1,375 watts.

Of course, there are top grade leather seats and lots of stitching inside. Some interior controls can be trimmed with illuminated glass.

Kia’s Niro hybrid wagon has captured the Top Safety Pick Plus award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when equipped with optional front crash prevention and high-intensity discharge headlights.

It earned good ratings in crashworthiness tests, including the newest evaluation, the passenger-side small overlap front test. The good crashworthiness ratings also apply to the Niro Plug-In Hybrid.

Auto News for June 15 – Fusion Taxi introduced – Rolls Says Rumors Are Not True

    

 With parts carried over from their police cruisers, Ford has introduced a Fusion Hybrid Taxi and a Transit Connect taxi that will be offered with an optional diesel.

 The Fusion is said to offer an EPA estimated combined fuel economy rating of 38 mpg, a figure that should catch the attention of fleet owners.

 Powertrain offerings total: one. A 2.0-liter four with 141 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 129 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm. Add in the hybrid system and you end up with 188 combined horsepower.

 Ready for pot holed city streets, the Fusion gets a police tuned suspension with increased ride height, high performance steel wheels and School Bus Yellow paint.

 Interior trim is designed for long life with optional vinyl seating and floors or heavy duty cloth seating.

 The unveiling at a gallery in downtown Washington was a bit of a surprise after Ford announced, in its five year plan, that it would discontinue, in time, all of its cars with the exception of the Mustang.

 A Ford spokesman said the Fusion Taxi will around “for a long time.” And Ford earlier announced the Fusion may remain in the model lineup for several more years. That perhaps could be as a taxi only.

 The Transit Connect diesel is a 1.5-liter matched to an 8-speed automatic. Final EPA economy ratings will be announced early next year.

 It will seat five and with the third row deleted, there is room for a wheelchair.

 Rolls-Royce, the automaker, wants you to know it is in good shape financially. Some concern was voiced after Rolls-Royce, the aircraft engine maker, announced it will cut 4,600 jobs over the next two years mainly in office staff.

 The automaker and the aircraft engine maker are two separate companies.

 “In light of the news emanating from Rolls-Royce PLC today, and to avoid any potential confusion in the media, RollsRoyce Motor Cars wishes to clarify that it is in excellent health and enjoying sustained global success across its model range. There are no plans for job reductions,” said the luxury auto maker.

 It added the newly announced Cullinan SUV has been in hot demand “and the new model already has a full order booked well into next year.”

 Some auto shows seem to be on the decline as automakers seek different, and more economical ways to introduce new product. But not the London show.

 After record braking attendance at the 2018 exhibition, backers announced they will double floor space while they gear up for what they feel will be twice as many show-goers in 2019.

 All eyes will be on London at that time, since it will be the first post-Brexit motor show. The question is, how many European auto makers will display their wares.

 

  

Auto News for June 14 – VW will pay big fine, and a first for GM

That illegal software in diesel powered vehicles just cost Volkswagen $1.1 billion in Germany. The company agreed to pay the fine imposed by the city of Braunschweig. The software enabled the diesels to pass emissions tests but then exceed those limits once on the highway. Roughly 10.7 million diesels were sold globally.

“Volkswagen AG accepted the fine and it will not lodge an appeal against it. Volkswagen AG, by doing so, admits its responsibility for the diesel crisis and considers this as a further major step towards the latter being overcome. As a result of the administrative order imposing the fine, the active regulatory offence proceedings conducted against Volkswagen will be finally terminated, the company said.

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GM has named Dhivya Suryadevara as its new Chief Financial Officer, and she will become the first woman to guide GM’s financial affairs. She will assume here new job in September.

The current CFO, Chuck Stevens, will retire next March and will serve as an advisor in the interim. Stevens has been with GM for four decades.
Suryadevara has been vice president, Corporate Finance since July 2017.

Elon Musk has purchased $25 million worth of additional Tesla stock in what is being viewed as a vote of confidence to shareholders. His stake in the electric car maker is now said to be worth $11.6 billion.

Bentley is celebrating Sewing Machine Day, yes there is such a thing, by recognizing the people and technology behind its world-class, industry leading stitching and embroidery.

The 120-strong dedicated sewing team in Crewe, England, are highly experienced artisans – some having as much as 40 years’ experience to their credit.

As is Bentley tradition, the longer-serving members of the team are charged with passing on their knowledge and experience to the apprentices. The humble sewing machine has always played an integral part in the brand’s near-100-year story.

Auto News for June 13

 

 Tesla will cut about 3,500 workers or roughly 9 percent of its workforce to back Elon Musk’s promise to make the company profitable in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

 The cuts are almost entirely focused on salaried position and not line staff. Musk said the cuts will not affect Model 3 production targets and he called the cuts “difficult but necessary.”

 The company is facing a large backlog of orders for the Model 3.

 Tesla shares closed with a 3.2 percent gain yesterday.

 Ever want to own a 1961 Chrysler 300G with a big 413 cubic inch Cross Ram engine, original Saddle Tan leather interior and just 63,800 miles on the clock? It will be auctioned off among 600 classic and collector cars June 22-23 in Portland Oregon by Mecum auctions.

 Also on the block will be a rare 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Z16 that underwent a rotisserie restoration and features a Muncie M20 4-speed transmission and a matching-numbers 396/375 HP engine.

 Nissan is celebrating the 15th birthday of its plant in Canton, Mississippi where more than four million vehicles have rolled off the line.