Auto News for Feb. 8 – Cheapest to own for five years

Kelley Blue Book is out with a list of the 2018 vehicles with the lowest projected ownership costs over a five year period. “Having this information at their fingertips, consumers could save money down the road by choosing a vehicle that best fits their needs and their long-term budget,” said Mike Sadowski, general manager for Kelley Blue Book.
Here are the winners:

SUBCOMPACT CAR: Chevrolet Spark
COMPACT CAR: Toyota Corolla iM
MID-SIZE CAR: Hyundai Sonata
MID-SIZE SUV/CROSSOVER: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
FULL-SIZE CAR: Chevrolet Impala
HIGH-END LUXURY CAR: Porsche Panamera
SPORTS CAR: Chevrolet Camaro
MINIVAN: Honda Odyssey


Lexus new all-wheel drive three row crossover will carry a starting price of $50,620. The RX450hL will go on sale in April. Step up to the AWD Luxury model and the starting price goes to $54,555.

2019 Transit Connect Wagon

Diesels aren’t dead yet. Ford said its 2019 Transit Connect Wagon will be offered with a 1.5-liter diesel “targeted to return an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of at least 30 mph on the highway.” But the final EPA estimate is not expected until early next year. The diesel will be matched to an 8-speed automatic.

FCA US LLC Fiat 500

Fiat said all of its 500 models will come with a 1.4-liter turbo engine with 33 more horsepower than last year’s offering. The 2018 models with 134 horsepower will appear in showrooms in the second quarter.

Tesla has posted a record loss of $675 million in its fourth quarter, and said it is on course to meet its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week by the end of June.

Tesla has pushed that production goal back four times. Battery production and assembly line problems were cited for the delays.

Shortly after trading commenced this morning, Tesla shares were down 1.7 percent on the NASDAQ or $6.18

Subaru has posted a third quarter operating profit that fell below what analysts were expecting due to currency matters and an air bag recall. It expects full fiscal year net profit to also miss analyst predictions. All this despite strong demand for its products here in the U.S. where it sells 60 percent of its cars.


Auto News for Feb. 7 – Checks For GM Workers

Profit sharing checks will be going out to about 50,000 GM union workers for up to $11,750 under the provisions of a labor contract signed in 2015.

This after the automaker reported $12.8 billion in pretax profits last year, but also a net loss of $3.9 billion due to a number of one-time factors. Those included charges related to its sale of Opel and Vauxhall and tax reform.

Wall Street liked the report and GM shares closed nearly 6 percent higher Tuesday.


Hyundai has released its first look at the fourth generation Santa Fe that will make its world premiere in March. It is said to ride on a longer wheelbase and feature all of the expected safety equipment. The new model will first appear at the Geneva auto show.

A total of 6,475 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been sold globally with more than half calling California home. Of the remaining countries, the lion’s share went to Japan, according to a report from Information Trends of Washington. Three-quarters of the total sold came from Toyota.


A comment:

One cannot help but wonder if Elon Musk should have used the money spent to launch that Mars rocket yesterday to instead increase production of the long promised Tesla Model 3. USA Today said more than 400,000 people have put down deposits on the lower priced model but production has yet to match company projections.




Auto News for Feb. 6 – Gas Prices Move Higher – Again!

  The cost of filling up your car or truck continues to climb according to AAA, in fact, prices are up 18 cents a gallon nationwide from late December and up 3 cents in just the last week.

 The nationwide average price is now $2.61 a gallon.

 “Every motorist in the country is paying more at the pump year-over-year. At 18 cents, Utah is seeing the smallest increase and California is feeling the biggest increase at 52 cents compared to the same time last year,” said Jeanette Casselano. “Strong demand coupled with steadily rising oil prices means filling up will continue to cost consumers more this month. In fact, the last time the national gas price average was this high, but under $3 gallon in February was in 2010.”

 But yours truly has seen $3 a gallon for 87 octane fuel in Montgomery County, Maryland.

 The nation’s least expensive gas is in Texas, at $2.36 a gallon.

 By 2022, one company will invest more than six billion euros in e-mobility, focusing on both plug-in hybrids and purely electric vehicles. “Alongside development of our models with combustion engines, we are setting an important course for the future with this decision,” Porsche said. All this works out to be more than six billion dollars.

 Porsche has joined a group that has a goal of creating 400 rapid charging stations along major European routes by 2020. Here in the states, it is working with all 189 dealers to install fast charging stations.

 Toyota said for the final nine months of 2017, North American sales were down slightly as was operating income. But global sales were higher and net revues rose 8.1 percent. It believes that a weaker yen will raise net profit to perhaps record levels going forward and offset possible weaker sales here in North America.


 Nissan said it has no timetable for the addition of a V6 to the Titan pickup truck offerings. Motor Trend said it has been two years since Nissan said it would add the six to its lineup. Even without it, the Titan has been a good seller when compared to its predecessor.





Auto News for Feb. 5 – Hot Nissan Snow Fighter

Nissan Armada Snow Patrol 

  The Nissan Armada Snow Patrol will make its world debut this week at the Chicago Auto Show – a mean looking snow conqueror that is a one off project. It has a three inch suspension lift, extreme off road tires massive front bumper, light bar and roof rack. How extreme?

 35-inch-tall Pro Comp MT2 maximum traction extreme off-road tires are mounted on 20 x9-inch Cognito Series 61 wheels with a Satin Black milled finish. Up front there is also a 12,000 pound capacity winch.

 A fleet of Hyundai fuel cell electric cars have completed a self-driven 119 mile journey from Seoul to Pyeongchang, South Korea. Hyundai said this is the first time that level 4 autonomous driving has been achieved with fuel cell powered cars.

 Three vehicles are based on Hyundai’s next-generation fuel cell electric SUV NEXO, scheduled to be released in Korea next month, and the other two are Genesis G80 autonomous vehicles.

 Hyundai expects to introduce a fully autonomous vehicle to the market by the 2030.

Morgan 3 wheeler

 Let’s hear it for the little guy. Morgan, the maker of classic sports cars has announced record profitability and growth with revenue up 19 percent. The 109-year-old company said export sales rose 10 percent in 2017.

  “I’m proud to announce our excellent year-end results, but far from resting on our laurels we are looking forward to a strong 2018, the next stage of which will see some brand new cars being unveiled at Geneva in a few weeks’ time,” said Steve Morris, Managing Director.  



Saturday Road Test – VW GTI

                   2018 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn

                Still Great Fun After All These Years

 By Ron Amadon

 SLEEPY CREEK, WVA. – This unincorporated hamlet that lies along the Potomac River and the creek that gave the town its name is the perfect place to go if the goal is to determine if the GTI is still a joy after almost four decades of production.

 There are no main roads to this campground dominated little wide spot in the road, in fact you have to know where to turn off Route 9 to Hancock to even find it. And be careful approaching that one lane bridge.

 Once the steep hills and sharp turns were behind us, there was no doubt that the hatchback that started life as the “Sport Golf” still has the power and superb handling to bring smiles and satisfaction to those who like to drive.   

 For 2018, the GTI’s 2.0-liter turbo four picks up 10 horsepower for a total of 220 at 4,700 rpm when the owner has filled it with premium petrol. Torque peaks at 258 lb-ft at a low, low 1,500 rpm and lasts until 4,500 rpm.

 In the Tornado Red test car (so appropriate), all this was fed through a 6-speed DSG automatic with fast acting paddle shifts. This combination never once had me longing for the six speed stick shift, something I never thought I would ever put down in print.

 Look for a 0-60 in the low six second range, but it feels even faster in the “hold your body tight and just right” bucket seats. If that is not enough, one can always upgrade to the R model with 292 horsepower.

 The top of the line Autobahn edition now rides on Volkswagen’s MQB modular platform and comes with a limited-slip front differential and brakes inherited from the Golf R.

  And then there is VAQ, the torque sensing limited slip differential that works in cahoots with the stability systems to improve traction and performance. Does it work?

 Tests at the Nurburgring Nordschiefe track produced lap time improvements of more than eight seconds compared to Golf models without it. (Is there a car that has not been tested there?)

 Inside there is a larger infotainment screen, now 8 inches big, that plays host to the navi system and an excellent Fender premium audio system. The flat bottomed and heated steering wheel and aluminum look pedals add sporty touches.

With six cup holders no one should go thirsty. All in all, the interior presented a very upscale appearance.

 Out on I-70, there was just the slight bit of wind noise inside but to hear it you had to turn that audio system down, and what fun is that? It is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto friendly.

 Plus, you can take whatever with you with 52.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the second row 60/40 seats folded.  

 All of the expected safety systems were present on the Autobahn edition that comes with VW’s 6 year or 72,000 mile warranty that can be transferred to future owners.

 The GTI is still the most fun that one can find on the hatchback market. It is at home as a daily commuter, a hauler of goods and people, but really comes into its own on the snake charmer inspired roads in what the natives call “West by God.”

 The top-of-the-line Autobahn edition starts at $36,170 with the automatic, and $35,070 equipped with the manual transmission. If your banker just gulped the base SE edition, that is also bunches of fun, comes in at a more affordable $26.415 but with less safety equipment.


 For 2018 the GTI comes in S, SE, and Autobahn editions.

 Autobahn models offer standard Park Distance Control with a Maneuver Braking feature, Parking Steering Assistant, Lane Departure Warning, and High Beam Control. When activated, this latter feature automatically turns on the high beams above 40 mph, if it detects that there is a low likelihood of oncoming traffic.



Auto News for Feb. 2 – Flowers or a drive in a Lambo?

A few additional notes on January sales:

Autodata said overall sales rose 1 percent, a bit better than some analysts were predicting.

Looking ahead, there is concern that a large number of well-equipped vehicles are coming off lease and will sell for less than a comparably equipped new one. That could slow future sales of new models.

January was not a good month for Honda with sales off 1.7 percent. It said “inventory constraints” slowed truck sales.

Hyundai said sales were 11 percent lower and Subaru saw a 1.1 percent sales increase.

The average estimated sales price of a new vehicle last month was $36,270, a gain of 3.9 percent from one year ago. Kelley Blue Book said the shifting sales mix to trucks and SUV’s has been “particularly extreme lately, and as volume shifts away from cars the average vehicle price ticks up.”

Honda believes that its biggest world market will be China in the years ahead, overtaking the U.S. The automaker also raised its full year profit forecasts by 4 percent. Honda has been posting some impressive sales gains in China while sales here have leveled out.

Three quarters of men will buy flowers this Valentine’s Day but for the same price as a fine bouquet they could treat their partner to an unforgettable blast around a race track in some of the most desirable cars on the planet. Great Britain’s offering models from McLaren, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche among others. And none of those rides requires watering.


Auto News Special – January Sales


 There are two ways of looking at the latest sales figures. Take into account total sales, and only GM showed a gain among the Detroit Three up 1.3 percent.

 Fiat Chrysler said overall sales fell 12.8 percent and Ford was down 6.6 percent.

 But take out everything but trucks, crossovers and SUV’s and January was not nearly so bad.

 Chevrolet sold 14.5 percent more Silverado pickups than it did in January a year ago. Demand for the smaller Colorado rose 8 percent.

 At Ford, crossovers, SUVs, vans and pickups accounted for about four out of every five sales. The F-Series pickup saw a 1.6 percent sales gain.

 The continued planned reduction in fleet sales helped bring Fiat Chrysler’s overall number down but is also sold 2.2 percent more Jeeps last month. That brand now has a revamped Wrangler and a retouched Cherokee to show off.

 Sales of plain old automobiles were down for all of the Big Three automakers. Passenger car sales fell more than 23 percent at Ford, for example.


 Trucks and pickups were also in demand at Toyota where overall sales rose a sharp 16.8 percent last month. But in contrast to the above, it said demand for the radically redesigned Camry rose more than 21 percent.

 SUV’s accounted for more than 52 percent of sales at Volkswagen where overall sales increased 5.2 percent year over year.

 Mazda said January sales increased 15 percent with crossovers and SUV’s driving record sales. It was the best January for Mazda in the last 24 years. Customers took home more CX-3, CX-5, and CX-9 models.

 Over at Nissan, overall sales were up 10 percent where crossovers, trucks and SUV’s set a January record. Infiniti sales fell 8 percent.