Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

Fiat Chrysler Without Fiat?

Brand’s future in U.S. market increasingly uncertain.

by on Mar.19, 2019

Could FCA be ready to pull the Fiat brand out of the U.S.? There are indications it could happen.

When the Fiat brand made its return to the U.S. market after a quarter-century absence it seemed a no-brainer; after all, a weak economy and soaring oil prices had Americans trading in their big sedans and SUVs for small, fuel-efficient products like the Fiat 500.

After some initial launch problems that led to the complete shake-up of the brand’s management team, Fiat started to gain traction, sales jumping to nearly 44,000 in 2012 and growing another 5% by 2014, just as the brand began to roll out additional product. But that bubble quickly burst and, last year, Fiat brand sales fell to barely a third of their peak just four years earlier, raising questions about whether it has any staying power in a market that is largely snubbing it.

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“Fiat has certainly struggled,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst at IHS Markit. “Their current products are not in line with what people want. They have to do something.” (more…)

GM Declined Offer to Keep Lordstown Plant Open

Cleveland car dealer wanted Cruzes for ride-hailing business.

by on Mar.19, 2019

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra reportedly turned down a deal that would have kept the Lordstown plant open.

General Motors Co. could have avoided the latest round of flogging via Twitter from President Donald Trump about its Lordstown, Ohio plant if it had accepted an offer from one of its dealers.

Cleveland-based dealer Bernie Moreno reportedly met with GM officials last fall with an offer to buy as many as 180,000 Chevy Cruzes annually as part of a nationwide ride-hailing fleet to rival Uber and Lyft. The deal could have run as long as five years, according to a Detroit Free Press story.

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Moreno owns a dozen car dealerships across the country selling brands ranging from Lotus and Rolls Royce to Mercedes-Benz to Buick and GMC. However, GM officials studied the deal and then declined the offer apparently viewing it as not viable. The plant was idled last month as the last U.S.-built Cruze rolled off the line. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Dodge Challenger SXT AWD

Brand produces a modern-day classic.

by on Mar.19, 2019

The 2019 Dodge Challenger SXT is part of the group of muscle cars that have led to the renaissance of the segment.

Muscle cars have a durable appeal that survived the shift to Asian and European imports despite the reputation for quality problems that seemed to hover over American-made cars for years and even the ongoing shift away from passenger cars generally to utility vehicles and light trucks.

Moreover, in an era when electric and autonomous vehicles are threatening to remake the automotive landscape, American muscle cars have gone through something of a renaissance with the re-emergence of cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro, huge upgrades to the Ford Mustang and the splashy revival of Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger.

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Even with its lonely two doors, the Challenger, with its eye-catching exterior design and powerful V8 engine, could well be the epitome of the muscle-car revival. But the rebirth not only includes a sleek, sophisticated remake of the of the exterior sheet metal and a more efficient version of the traditional V8 but also a complete overhaul of the running gear that makes the ride and handling much better.   (more…)

SEC Says Musk’s Response to Lawsuit “Borders on the Ridiculous”

Regulators tell court Tesla CEO failed to clear a single tweet with automaker per settlement.

by on Mar.19, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk shown during last week's unveiling of the new Model Y.

Federal regulators have shot back at Tesla CEO Elon Musk in their battle over a contempt-of-court lawsuit, claiming the 47-year-old executive’s legal argument “borders on the ridiculous.”

The case stems from a tweet Musk filed last month declaring that Tesla would produce 500,000 vehicles this year. The Securities and Exchange Commission considered that “material” guidance which, under terms of a separate case last year, required the CEO to first get the approval of the company. But, the SEC said in a new filing, Musk has not cleared a single tweet with Tesla as he had agreed to.

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The lawsuit is being heard by U.S. Judge Alison Nathan who could hold Musk in contempt and levy fine or other forms of punishment. The Tesla executive was already forced to relinquish his post as chairman and could now be removed as the automaker’s chief executive officer.

(more…)

Mercedes-Maybach is Coming Back

Super-luxurious crossover being built in Alabama.

by on Mar.18, 2019

Mercedes-Benz plans to build the new Mercedes-Maybach GLS at its plant in Alabama for global distribution.

The Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is already churning out the GLS and a few other models, but the German automaker is adding one more to the line: The Mercedes-Maybach GLS.

Introduced in China last year as an EV concept, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS will join the next-generation sport-ute getting ready to hit dealerships later this year, according to Autonews. The plant will build the new Maybach for global distribution, the automaker noted.

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Ultra-luxurious crossover is obviously playing up the theme from the original Maybach, which had its admirers, but didn’t sell in large enough numbers to build as a regular model in the 1990s and early 2000s. (more…)

Aiming to Launch Tesla Model Y Challenger in 2021, Fisker Searching for Plant Site

Electric SUV planned at "below $40,000."

by on Mar.18, 2019

The Fisker SUV will adopt an SUV style and offer more interior space than the typical ute by placing key components under the floorboard.

Long-time automotive designer and entrepreneur Henrik Fisker is readying a challenger to the upcoming Tesla Model Y that will be ready for production during the second half of 2021 at a price of “below $40,000.”

With a range estimated at “around” 300 miles, Fisker Inc. plans to produce it at a factory in the U.S. and is currently searching for a plant site in one of eight states, the Danish-born executive told bingdb.info in an exclusive interview. The company is putting an emphasis on acquiring an existing factory, preferably one of the many abandoned auto plants around the U.S.

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“We hope to pick a site within the next eight to 10 weeks,” Fisker said, noting that a Midwest site with ready access to existing suppliers is high on the priority list, though the final choice would also be impacted by available incentives.

(more…)

Cadillac’s New CT5 Revealed Through a “Sensory Symphony”

“We’re very much committed to sedans,” says brand boss Carlisle.

by on Mar.18, 2019

The Sport edition of the 2020 Cadillac CT5.

Hoping to rebuild momentum for its struggling turnaround strategy, Cadillac has been putting a premium on SUVs, rolling out new models like the XT4 and XT6 this past year and preparing to upgrade the older XT5 and Escalade models, as well.

That’s a logical move, considering utility vehicles now dominate the luxury car market. But General Motors’ flagship brand isn’t abandoning its more traditional product family. The CT5, the new midsize sedan that will be replacing the old CTS, is making its debut today through a broad social media campaign it is calling a “Sensory Symphony,” ahead of its more formal appearance at the New York International Auto Show next month.

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“We’re very much committed to sedans. Let me clear the air about that,” said Caddy President Steve Carlisle said during a media background briefing.

(more…)

Millennials Bucking the Automotive Trend With Driving Choices

Honda Accord is vehicle at the top of the list.

by on Mar.18, 2019

The Honda Accord is the top choice for millennials despite the fact they could likely afford a more expensive vehicle.

For so long, they’ve been the generation of non-drivers content to Uber their way through the world while staring at their iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. However, now that millennials are indeed driving, it’s time to see WHAT they’re driving.

Millennials may be content to spend big money on electronics, it appears that doesn’t translate to their vehicles, according to new study showing that the most popular vehicle among drivers 22 to 37 years old is the Honda Accord.

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This choice of a $23,000 sedan reinforces that millennials aren’t bound to follow the choices made by their parents or others. (more…)

Toyota CEO “Sad” About Being Declared “National Security Threat,” But Plans $3B More in U.S. Investments

Tariffs actually could backfire and see investment plan cut back, warns top Toyota official.

by on Mar.15, 2019

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda called the prospect of his company being called a "national security threat" by the Trump administration "sad."

Toyota plans to boost by $3 billion its investment in the U.S. market, a decision that comes as the automaker – and other foreign-based brands – are facing the possibility of huge new tariffs from an American president who has labeled them a “national security threat.”

That designation is something that “makes feel sad,” Akio Toyoda, the Japanese giant’s CEO, said during an appearance at the Economic Club of Washington. “I hope that this kind of conversation can go away,” the grandson of Toyota’s founder said through an interpreter.

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Separately, the head of Toyota’s North American operations cautioned that those planned investments, which include $749 million to upgrade existing plants in five states, could be cut back if the Trump administration moves ahead with tariffs, something experts have warned could actually result in lower U.S. car sales and a sharp loss of automotive jobs. (more…)

Safety Advocates Push for Adoption of Drunk Driving Deterrents

Groups pushing for installation of devices in new vehicles.

by on Mar.15, 2019

Former NHTSA Chief Joan Claybrook is leading the charge for ignition interlock devices to prevent drunk driving.

Safety advocates and other groups are looking to add some momentum to new ignition interlock technology that would prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and driving, saving thousands of lives annually.

Joan Claybrook, a former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), urged Congress to pass a law forcing automakers to include passive ignition-interlock systems in all new motor vehicles within as little as three years.

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“I don’t know what’s the matter with the industry on this issue,” Claybrook said during testimony Thursday before the House consumer protection and commerce subcommittee. (more…)

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