Auto News for April 5 – GM, Ford Cutting Some Auto Production

 

 With the consumer market shunning automobiles for SUV’s, this was probably inevitable. Chevrolet will end production of the Sonic subcompact and Ford will ax the Fiesta and the larger Taurus, according to the Wall St. Journal. It also said Chevrolet is considering halting production of the Impala.

 No timetable was given for most of the moves, but the Sonic may become subsonic by the end of the year. Ending production of these cars may free up production space for the hotter selling trucks, SUV’s and crossovers.

 Any executive would love to stand up before shareholders at their annual meeting and say the company just completed its most successful year ever. That is what Daimler’s leaders told some 6,000 stakeholders in Berlin today.

 “Daimler AG mastered many challenges extremely well in financial year 2017 and achieved outstanding results. New records were set for unit sales, revenue, earnings and profitability,” stated Manfred Bischoff, Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

 Management wants approval of the highest dividend ever paid out. Daimler is the parent company of Mercedes.

 The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT has been named Crossover of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Talk about “climb every mountain.”

 The maker of classic looking sports cars, Morgan, has just rolled the first Aero GT model off the line, said to be the “most extreme road-going model to date.” Only eight will be manufactured for the general public with a BMW V8 worth 367 horsepower and a 0-62 mph in just 4.5 seconds. Each car will be made to customer specifications following an “individual design consultancy” with company officials. All eight have been spoken for.

 (See, some folks can still sell CARS!)

  

 

 

   

 

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Auto News for April 4 – Ford Crash Test & Tesla 3 Production

 The 2018 Ford Escape was given a poor rating in passenger-side small overlap front crash tests given by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It said the Escape “allowed too much intrusion into the occupant compartment on the right side.”

 Starting with 2017 models, Ford reinforced the structure on the driver side of the Escape to improve occupant protection in a small overlap front crash but didn’t make the same change to the passenger side, IIHS said.

 In its testing, the side curtain airbags did not deploy in the Escape which contributed to the vehicle’s marginal rating.

 “That’s not something we expect to see after so many years of crash testing,” says Becky Mueller, a senior IIHS research engineer. “Side curtain airbags should deploy in crashes like this.”

 A spokesperson for Ford told the Detroit Free Press that the Escape earned a five star rating in another test, adding that Ford is committed to building vehicles that meet or exceed applicable laws across the globe.

 The BMW X1; Chevrolet Equinox and its twin, the GMC Terrain; Jeep Compass and Mitsubishi Outlander earned good ratings in the IIHS passenger-side small overlap front test. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned a marginal rating.

 Tesla has again missed its own production forecasts for the less expensive Model 3, but Wall Street was not concerned by the news.

 The electric auto maker produced 2,020 Model 3’s during the last week of the first quarter missing its stated goal of 2,500.

 But production exceeded the forecasts of some of the experts, and Tesla’s shares closed yesterday up nearly 6 percent or just over $15 a share.

 Investors were also heartened when the automaker said it “does not require an equity or debt raise” this year.

 It confirmed that Elon Musk is now overseeing Tesla’s Model 3 production line.

 Some late March sales figures:

 Honda – up 3.8 percent.

 Hyundai & Genesis – down 11 percent.

 Kia – up 2.5 percent.

 BMW – up 1 percent.

 Audi – up 7.4 percent.

 Subaru – up 5.9 percent.

 Volkswagen – up 17.8 percent.

 Mazda – up 35.7 percent.

 Porsche – up 6.2 percent

 Nissan – down 3.7 percent

 Autoweek said total industry sales rose 6.4 percent in March thanks in part to an extra weekend of sales compared to one year earlier.

 Looking ahead automakers will be faced with rising interest rates that could force some consumers to take a look at the millions of off-lease vehicles that will be hitting the market.

 Also the continued demise in demand for plain old coupes and sedans for many automakers. Category sales dropped 8.9 percent in March and are off 11 percent for the year.

   

 

 

 

 

Auto News for April 3 – GM, FCA have a great March sales wise

  March Auto Sales

 After today’s report, GM will no longer report sales on a monthly basis, with the stats coming out quarterly.

 “Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, Sales Operations. “Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing.”

 In 2018, second quarter sales will be released on July 3, third quarter sales on October 2 and fourth quarter sales on January 3, 2019. Many other areas such as retail and technology report on a quarterly basis.

 The big question now is: Will other auto makers follow suit?

 At one time, auto sales were reported by some makers on a ten and twenty day basis.

 In its final monthly report, GM enjoyed what it called the “best March in the brand’s history.” Overall sales rose 16 per cent and retail sales rose 14 percent year over year.

 Those figures were driven by Buick’s best March since 2004, Chevrolet’s best March since 2007 and Cadillac’s best March since 2014.

 “A growing economy and strong new products helped us execute a very successful plan to conquest customers from other brands,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, Sales Operations

 Fiat Chrysler reported its best March retail sales in 17 years with Jeep leading the way. The Wrangler checked in with its best monthly total sales ever.

 Ram truck sales were up 8 percent and overall company sales rose 14 percent year over year.

 At Ford, overall sales rose 3.4 percent but most of that came from an 8.7 percent increase in fleet sales. Retail sales gained just eight-tenths of one percent.

 Ford said it has the highest transaction price of any full-line automaker, at $36,300 per vehicle. Like everyone else in the industry, demand was strong for trucks and SUV’s. The F-150 truck had its best March since the year 2000. Demand remained robust for the new Lincoln Navigator.

 With demand growing for the Highlander and RAV4, Toyota said sales increased 3.5 percent compared to a year earlier, helped this time around by the addition of one more selling day.

 Toyota brand sales increased 4.5 percent but Lexus sales fell 3.2 percent in March.

 Auto loan interest rates will hit their highest point since 2009, according to a study by Edmunds. Automakers are offering fewer zero percent and low interest rate incentives, it said. The average percentage rate on new financed vehicles averaged 5.7 percent in March, up from an even five percent in January.

  “Some of the largest volume brands like Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan and Toyota are demonstrating the largest drop in zero-percent loans year over year,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds. “This goes to show how the cost of lending has become increasingly more pricey, and zero-percent financing, while still a desirable incentive, no longer adds the same wow factor for consumers like it used to.”

 The higher interest rates may catch some car shoppers off guard if they qualified for a lower rate the last time they visited the dealership.

 Kelley Blue Book said average new car prices rose two percent in March to an estimated $35,285. New vehicle prices are up a rather noticeable $703 from March one year ago. Not surprisingly, prices rose the most for SUV’s.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Saturday Road Test -= Hyundai Santa Fe – Loaded

                

               2018 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD ULT AWD

                              Room for All

 By Ron Amadon

 DAMASCUS, MD. – Bang for the buck!

 That is what we crave and Hyundai has met that demand with our “Storm Blue” Santa Fe test SUV, the largest model it makes.  

 But first a moment or two of explanation:

 Hyundai’s Santa Fe Sport has two rows of seating and the Santa Fe without the Sport has three rows and will accommodate up to 8. All these names will change in the 2019 model year. (See Factoids at the bottom.)

 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD ULT AWD is not a check on your abilities as a typist. In this case, it stands for the top-of-the-line Santa Fe model, the Limited Ultimate with All-Wheel Drive.

 Ultimate serves up, among other items, a large sunroof, hands free liftgate, heated and ventilated front seats, (the heaters were quick to warm on a very cold morning), heated second row seats, and a handy multi-view back up camera system in the 8.0 inch touchscreen.

 Also on board were an LCD instrument panel, and an excellent Infinity auto system.

 If you opt for the Limited Ultimate you also get 19-inch wheels, HID headlights that see around corners, and captain’s chairs instead of a bench in the second row. That means total seating for seven.

 Want to haul? Fold down the second and third row seats and there is an even 80 cubic feet of space or 41 cubes with just the third row folded. A relatively low lip makes loading from the rear especially easy. In short, you can haul home a big load of groceries enough to make the supermarket manger very happy.

 And it has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.

 That trailer would be pulled by a refined V6 with 290 hp @ 6,400 rpm and 252 lb-ft of torque 5,200 rpm in perfect rhythm with the six-speed automatic.  

 Without the trailer it had more than enough power to accomplish the million and one things that owners expect of their new SUV.

 Zero to sixty pops up in the low seven second range, on par with some rivals, but slower than some. However, in his category, who would notice a 0-60 that is a second slower than some? That isn’t what buyers are looking for.

 Economy is so-so, 17 mpg in the city, 22 highway for a combined 19 mpg on regular petrol.

 The Santa Fe received the highest crash test rating possible from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – five stars.

 A $2,100 Ultimate Tech Package included Smart Cruise Control with stop/start, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Electronic Parking Brake, and High Beam Assist.

 Inside, entry to the third row was a bit of an exercise and sparse room back there means this is a kid’s only arena. Passenger space elsewhere was more than adequate for kids and grown ups.  

 The 8” touchscreen was easy to figure out and live with housing the navi system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I love systems like this!  

 Fit, finish and materials were top rate, but I am not a fan of a largely black interior. More padding in the arm rests would be welcome.

 Good power, handling that carries no surprises for this kind of vehicle, a peaceful interior, good cargo space, and best of all, ventilation, audio, and navi systems that will not bring out the Tasmanian Devil in you all combine to make this a most appealing vehicle.

 Prices: A base model Santa Fe starts at $30,850 with the base Limited Ultra coming in at $39,550 on up to $44,380 for the test vehicle sans transportation.

 Factoids:

 An all-new 2019 Santa Fe made its U.S. debut at the New York auto show. The fourth generation will go on sale this summer.

 And we will have another name change.

 The five-passenger Santa Fe Sport will now be called Santa Fe. The current long wheelbase three-row, seven-passenger model called Santa Fe will be renamed Santa Fe XL for the 2019 model year. A new three-row, eight-passenger SUV is currently under development and will carry a new name.

 With that new model coming this summer, dealers might be willing to make you a better deal to clear the 2018’s off their lot.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auto News for March 30

  All of the Tesla Model S sedans built before April of 2016 are being recalled to replace possibly corroded bolts that hold the power steering motor in place. That would be a total of 123,000 sedans worldwide. The company said no accidents of injuries have been reported.

 As you may know, Renault and Nissan are engaged and now they are discussing finally walking down the aisle and getting married. Various report say the two automakers are discussing the idea of a merger to replace their ongoing collaboration in many areas. Bloomberg was the first to disclose the ongoing talks. The French government would have to approve the merger since it has a 15 percent stake in Renault.

 Laws requiring all impaired-driving offenders to install alcohol interlocks reduce the number of impaired drivers in fatal crashes by 16 percent, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. If all states without such laws adopted them, more than 500 additional lives could be saved each year, the insurance group said.  

 Alcohol interlocks tied to in-vehicle breath-testing units require a blood alcohol concentration below a certain level, typically somewhere between 0.02 and 0.04 percent, before the vehicle can be started.

 A new National Safety Council report centers on how much work state legislatures have done to cut on down on distracted driving. Four states – Florida, Arizona, Montana and Missouri – lack a law in two key areas, and 16 states have addressed only one of the two – a ban on texting as well as smartphone use by teens and novice drivers.

 Since the report was completed last year, New Mexico, Texas and Iowa have joined 27 other states and D.C. in passing legislation in both areas, said the council. It believes a full ban on electronic device use behind the wheel is the best way to keep drivers safe, a move that no state has adopted thus far.

 More than 200 very rare collector cars are expected at this year’s “Motorsports Gathering,” part of Monterey Car Week in California. This year’s event will be highlighted by two new classes praising German innovation: “70 Years of the Iconic Porsche 356” and “The Alois Ruf Reunion.” The 356 display will include marque’s first production sports car, while the ultra-rare Ruf class will showcase an exclusive collection from the legendary performance car manufacturer and tuner. Wikipedia said Ruf is historically known for its record breaking 211 mph CTR, and is the largest, most renowned company to make Porsche performance enhancements.

 The high society event begins August 24 at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Monterey.

 And just because we could, I have included two more pictures of what I think is the most striking car unveiled at the New York Auto Show, the Genesis Essentia all-electric.

 Motor Trend quotes the global head of Genesis as saying he is pushing parent company Hyundai to approve the concept for production.

 Go for it!

 

 

  

  

Auto News for March 29 – Check out this Genesis concept!!!

 Some late additions from New York.

 Genesis Essentia

 Imagine the demand if Genesis ever brings this concept car to market. It is called the Essentia Concept, an all-electric, high performance car that features a lightweight carbon-fiber monocoque, a robust, multi-motor electric powertrain, and a custom-tailored interior.  

 The battery pack is housed in the center tunnel in an I-shape structure, as opposed to underneath the passenger compartment. This allows Essentia to achieve a low, 50-inch roofline and spacious, GT-style cabin. And it is fast with an estimated 0-to-60 time of 3.0 seconds.

 Maserati Levante Trofeo

 If you don’t want to wait for the Essentia, Maserati has something fast and sexy that was unveiled in NYC.

 The Levante Trofeo packs 590 horsepower with 538 lb-ft of torque and a 0-60 in just 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 190 mph.  

 As you can see from the picture it is an SUV, and not a two seat sports car that offers all that power. The 3.8-liter Twin Turbo V8 is mated to an All-Wheel Drive system and Launch Control for even more fun. It is one of the most powerful engines ever offered by Maserati.

 

There’s top grade leather inside along with carbon fiber and a 1,280 watt, 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system, if you ever tire of listening to that V8.

 Production begins this summer in Mirafiori (Turin) Italy. It is initially intended for overseas markets including the U.S.

 Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Pickup

 It is a concept named after a tree that VW produced to gauge public reaction.

 Tanoak is a dual-cab, short bed pickup based on an extended wheelbase Atlas with an overall length of 214 inches or roughly the same as the Chevy Colorado or the Toyota Tacoma.

 Power comes from a 276 horsepower V6 mated to an eight speed automatic, and with ten inches of ground clearance, it is good that AWD is offered.

 VW said it will seat five with most functions operated digitally.  The instruments, center console, and multifunction steering wheel are heavily redesigned from the Atlas SUV.

 My prediction is that VW will produce it at some future date. The concept, after all, looks production ready.

 Subaru Forester

 The fifth generation Forester is said to offer more room inside that any of its predecessors, with higher levels of driving pleasure, agility, crash protection, ride comfort and quietness. It will arrive later this year powered by a 2.5-liter 182 horsepower four, with a CVT and, of course, All Wheel Drive. That is a boost of 12 hp over the existing model.

 Forester will introduce DriverFocus that uses facial recognition software to identify signs of driver fatigue or driver distraction. And it recognize up to five drivers and remember their presets for seat position, climate, multifunction display and more.

 In this writer’s estimation, the NYC show tops all others in the U.S. this exhibition season. Over a million visitors are expected to cram into the Jacob Javits Center when the show opens to the public starting tomorrow.

 To get a full check of all the reveals, do scroll down for my earlier stories. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

New York Auto Show Update II

In the words of the old Rock N’ Roll DJ’s, the “Hits Just Keep On Comin’” and that is the case with new vehicle introductions today at the NY show.
We will start this update with:

2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback

A five door coupe with a 2.9-liter V6 with a potent 444 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque from 1,900 to 5,000 rpm. Audi claims a 0-60 in under four seconds with a top track speed of 155 mph. It comes with Quattro permanent four-wheel drive and an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission. Unique RS displays in the virtual cockpit inform the driver of tire pressure, torque, a shift light indicator and g-forces. Look for the RS 5 to appear in showrooms in the second half of the year.

2019 Genesis G70

Available this summer, the G70 is the brand’s first jump into the entry-level luxury segment. A 2.0-liter four or a 3.3-liter V6 will be offered with the six good for a 4.5 second run from zero to 60. The 2.0-liter with rear wheel drive will be available with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Driver-focused features include Genesis Active Safety Control, limited-slip differential, Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires and Brembo brakes. The G70 represents the future direction of the Genesis brand’s “Athletic Elegance” design signature with its long hood and short overhangs, dynamic roofline, and high beltline. Inside look for a quilted Nappa leather seats, premium stitched soft-touch surfaces, and an optional 15-speaker Lexicon audio system.

 2019 Nissan Altima

Two new engines and new styling mark the renewed midsize sedan introduced this morning.

Replacing the previous-generation Altima’s 3.5-liter V6 is the first production-ready variable compression turbo inline 4-cylinder which, Nissan said, generates the performance of some V6 gasoline engines but with 4-cylinder level fuel economy.

The optional 2.0-liter four is rated at 248 horsepower with 273 lb-ft of torque on premium fuel.
Standard on all grade levels is the new 2.5-liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder direct injection engine, which is rated at 188 horsepower (versus the previous 2.5-liter’s 179 hp) and 180 lb-ft of torque (versus the previous 177 lb-ft) and features 80% new or redesigned parts.

An exclusive launch edition based on the Platinum VC-Turbo will be offered in limited quantities and open for reservations in early summer 2018. The full lineup goes on sale in the fall.

 2019 Acura RDX

It is being called the most extensive overhaul in a decade with an all new body and chassis, a 2.6 longer wheelbase, and 3.4 cubic feet of additional storage space.

A turbocharged 2.0-liter, 16-valve power plant is good for 272 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. Compared to the previous model’s V6, peak torque is up 28 lb.-ft. and available across a wider section of the power band, from 1,600 to 4,500 rpm. The transmission is a 10 speed, the first in its class, Acura said.

Four drive modes are offered: Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ and not to forget the return of torque–vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. It can send more torque to the rear wheels, up to 70 percent to be exact.
Sport seats have been added with improved lateral support, with some models offering open pore Olive Ash wood trim, Ultrasuede and Milano leather.

The new model will arrive on dealer lots mid-year.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

First, the matter of names. The five-passenger Santa Fe Sport will now be called Santa Fe. The current long wheelbase three-row, seven-passenger model called Santa Fe will be renamed Santa Fe XL for the 2019 model year. An all-new three-row, eight-passenger SUV is currently under development and will carry an all-new name. Perhaps Albuquerque.

The new model rides on a longer wheelbase, offers some additional interior space, but the power comes from two familiar sources.

A 185 horsepower 2.4-liter four or a 2.0-liter turbo four rated at 235 horsepower. Both are married to a new eight speed transmission.
In 2020 a diesel joins the fleet, a 2.2-liter four with 190 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque.

The non-diesels go on sale this summer.

We will have more on the show Thursday morning.