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Can the Flintstones and Jetsons Sell America on EVs?

New ad campaign brings back two classic cartoon families.

by on Aug.13, 2018

The Electrify America ad campaign plays up the fun-to-drive aspects of battery-cars as much as their environmental benefits.

There’s an electrified revolution heading for your local showroom, with dozens of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles coming to market over the next few years. The challenge the industry faces is getting consumers to plug in. All forms of battery-based vehicles accounted for barely 3% of the total U.S. market last year.

Building awareness is a key goal for Electrify America, the project backed by $2 billion from Volkswagen, part of the settlement of its diesel emissions scandal. The 10-year effort makes its public debut this week with an ad campaign pitching the virtues of battery-electric vehicles. And to help get the message across, it’s borrowing the theme music from two Boomer-era cartoon shows, the Flintstones and the Jetsons.

We Keep You Plugged In!

The first spot, dubbed JetStones, features a number of new battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, and will air on national and local cable television, with a radio version running in both English and Spanish. At the same time, Electrify America will begin placing a network of high-speed charging stations across the country.

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China Retaliates; New Tariffs Hit U.S. Auto Exports, Jobs

BMW, Mercedes, Ford, other makers could be hard hit, forced to cut American production.

by on Aug.09, 2018

The BMW X5 is the #1-selling American-made vehicle in the Chinese market.

The auto industry has found itself at Ground Zero as the U.S. and China escalate their trade war.

After the latest move by the Trump Administration to target Chinese imports, the Beijing government has announced it will strike back with 25% tariffs on $16 billion in imported U.S. goods. China previously enacted new duties on $34 billion worth of goods, bringing the total to $50 billion. And with the White House threatening to add another $200 billion to the U.S. list, the trade war could escalate rapidly.

Breaking News!

The latest round sees the Chinese Ministry of Commerce placing an additional 25% duty on a list of American products that includes coal, crude oil and metal scrap, as well as automobiles and motorcycles. A number of automakers could be hit hard by the new sanctions, including Ford Motor Co., Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

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First Drive: 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody

The love child of a Hellcat and a Demon.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Smokin'! The Challenger Hellcat Redeye's Line Lock lets you spin the rear tires before launch.

In barely the time it takes to say its full name, the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody will already be blasting past 60, on its way to a top speed of 203 mph.

Think of the Redeye as “the child that came out of the marriage of the Hellcat and Demon,” suggests Chris Cowland, the otherwise mild-mannered Brit who has overseen powertrain development for some of the fiercest muscle cars ever unleashed on public roadways.

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The new-for-2019 Redeye is the latest in the Dodge performance line-up, offering yet one more variant on the Challenger platform. While not the most powerful version ever – a distinction that belongs to the limited-edition, 2018 Demon – the Redeye has nothing to be ashamed about. As Cowland suggests, it is, indeed, what you’d expect from the lovechild of a Hellcat and Demon, as we found during a day’s driving through the Maine Countryside, wrapped up with lap time on the Club Motorsports track an hour outside Portland.

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Could Ford Be Working Up a Sub-Ranger Pickup?

One option would be to go with a car-based package.

by on Aug.01, 2018

The Ford Courier pickup shared platforms with the automaker's Fiesta subcompact.

Several sources are reporting that Ford Motor Co., long reluctant to undercut its full-size F-Series pickup family, could soon have small trucks in its line-up, with a model even smaller than the upcoming Ranger to follow by as early as 2022.

Exactly what it would look like and where it would fit into the spectrum isn’t clear but Automobile magazine’s sources suggested Ford might be looking at a product like the old Courier pickup built in Brazil that was based on the same platform as the prior-generation Fiesta subcompact.

Insight!

Whether there’d be a market for something the size of the old Ford Courier is far from certain, though several automakers appear to be looking at their options, notably including Hyundai which has been slowly moving forward with a production version of the well-received Santa Cruz concept first shown at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2015.

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Trump Mileage Rules Could Cost U.S. Motorist $Billions

But White House claims “societal cost” savings of $500 billion.

by on Jul.30, 2018

You may be spending significantly more at the pump under the CAFE rollback plan.

The planned revisions to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards set to be announced by the Trump Administration could save as much as $500 billion in “societal costs,” according to a draft proposal revealed over the weekend – but on an individual basis, motorists could wind up spending thousands of dollars each, while the potential to the environment may also be substantial, as the new plan could increase U.S. fuel consumption by as much as 500,000 barrels a day.

In April, former Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt took the first steps towards officially rolling back the rules set by the Obama Administration which would steadily increase the fuel economy of the average vehicle sold in the U.S. to 54.5 mpg in 2025. The draft of a plan crafted jointly by the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published over the weekend by the New York Times would freeze mileage standards at a level reached by 2020 – or around 37 mpg.

We Keep You In the Know!

The draft appears to have been completed in May, and sources have told several news outlets that revisions could be made before the final proposal is released – something that could happen as early as this week, according to comments made by Andrew Wheeler, the former coal industry lobbyist and acting EPA chief who took over the agency after Pruitt was forced out due to ethical concerns.

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General Motors Reports Flat Earnings for Second Quarter

Rising incentives on pickups drain profits.

by on Jul.25, 2018

GM's profits were hurt by increased incentives on its full-size pickups during the second quarter.

General Motors posted earnings for the second quarter that were basically flat as rising incentives and lower prices on its pickup trucks took a bite out of the company’s profits.

GM’s income from continuing operations of $2.4 billion, down $0.1 billion, compared to the second quarter of 2017 due to a driven primarily by the decline pricing and trim mix for the company’s the current-generation full-size pickup truck models, which is due to be replaced next year, and increased commodity costs.

Financial News!

The decline in the profitability of the company’s pick-up truck business was partially offset by improved performance in GM Financial and China. (more…)

Genesis Tops JD Power APEAL Survey

Korean up-start topples luxury mainstays, but Detroit mainstream brands also gain ground.

by on Jul.25, 2018

The Genesis brand aced another test, a month ago also topping Power's IQS.

Genesis, the upstart Korean luxury brand, has pulled off another surprise, this time landing the top spot in the 2018 J.D. Power APEAL study, surpassing such traditional highline brands as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.

It’s the latest in a series of coups by Genesis, which was spun off by Hyundai just two years ago. And it comes barely a month after the Korean marque also landed in the top spot on Power’s widely followed In initial Quality Survey. But there were some other surprises in the APEAL report which measures how well individual brands and models are satisfying their owners. Mainstream brands, notably including some Detroit marques, are rapidly gaining ground on the luxury badges that have traditionally led in customer satisfaction.

Beyond the Headlines!

But the industry, as a whole, achieved record levels in the 2018 APEAL study – the name short for “Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout” – the second year in a row that has happened.

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Maven to Let GM Vehicle Owners Profit from Car-Sharing

Vehicles from '15 model-year on can be used in new peer-to-peer test.

by on Jul.24, 2018

GM owners will be able to make money renting their vehicles when they'd normally be sitting idle.

We’ve entered the “sharing economy,” the experts tell us, with home-sharing operations such as AIRBNB, ride-sharing companies like Uber and car-sharing ventures like Car2Go becoming increasingly popular with American travelers and commuters. But now, General Motors’ own sharing service, Maven, is testing a program that could give GM owners a way to profit from this trend.

Maven has launched what it calls a “peer-to-peer car-sharing beta” that allows owners of relatively recent GM products to list their own cars through the service and pocket some of rental fees. If the program takes off, it would join other peer-to-peer car-sharing services such as Turo. And French automaker PSA, in its bid to return to the U.S., has launched a similar program in Los Angeles.

Consumer News!

“Your car is one of the most expensive things you own. Sitting idle, it is a wasted asset,” said Julia Steyn, vice president, General Motors Urban Mobility and Maven. “It’s time to put your car to work. Maven’s peer-to-peer offering is a smart way for owners to offset their vehicle investment.”

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Detroit Auto Show Moving to June in 2020, Adding Major New Features

Sponsors aim to revive what's been North America’s leading car show.

by on Jul.23, 2018

Toyota Pres. Akio Toyota is shown here revealing the 2019 Camry during this year's NAIAS.

The North American International Auto Show will move from January to June in 2020, a new timeslot that organizers are betting will help revive the flagging momentum of what had long been one of the industry’s most important annual events.

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association had signaled its intention of abandoning its traditional, mid-winter schedule, though a switch to October was also under study. But that would have conflicted with other shows in Europe and Asia, the dealer group’s Executive Director Rod Alberts told bingdb.info in an exclusive interview.

We Keep You In the Know!

In a background briefing ahead of today’s official announcement, Alberts said one of the advantages of a summer event is the ability to add new functions that expand beyond the confines of Detroit’s sprawling Cobo Hall convention center. “We realized we have to change the show (and) showcase Detroit, too,” said Alberts, who has been running the DADA for the past 28 years.

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Musk Denies a Quarter of Model 3 Orders Were Cancelled – But Reveals New Worry

Order rate, he reveals, has fallen behind increase in production.

by on Jul.20, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk denied claims in a recent analyst report suggesting that nearly a quarter of all Model 3 orders have been cancelled.

Elon Musk has dismissed as “bs” a report that suggested a growing number of advanced reservations for the Model 3 battery-car are being cancelled.

The recent report from investment bank Needham & Co. isn’t the first to raise that prospect, which could make it difficult for Tesla to achieve its promised profit for the second half of 2018. Needham’s Rajvindra Gill joined a growing chorus of analysts this week in downgrading Tesla shares, triggering another dip in the stock, traded as TSLA.

“Dunno where this bs is coming from,” CEO Musk said in a Thursday night tweet – but by trying to support the idea that there’s still strong demand for the Model 3, the South African-born executive actually may have sent a signal that Tesla is facing longer-term problems. Musk indicated Tesla received 5,000 orders for the Model 3 last week, but that’s actually less than the production target for the battery-car in the months to come.

The Last Word!

According to a report Needham issued Thursday, 24% of the estimated 400,000 original Model 3 reservations have been cancelled. That’s slightly higher than the 20% figure reported by data tracking site SecondMeasure in June. Each reservation is accompanied by a $1,000 deposit, so, if Needham is right, Tesla has had to refund more than $100 million and risk the loss of perhaps $4 billion or more in sales.

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