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Volvo Updating XC90 for 2020, Launching B5 Mild-Hybrid Technology

Three electrified options attached to new powertrain.

by on Feb.22, 2019

Volvo is introducing its new XC90 that by 2020 will feature three different mild hybrid powertrain options.

Volvo is updating its flagship XC90 crossover for 2020, and the biggest news is likely to be the introduction of a new mild-hybrid powertrain that, the automaker claims, marks a “significant step” in its push to electrify its entire line-up.

Three different versions of the mild hybrid technology, dubbed B4, B5 and B6, will be launched for the 2020 model-year, Volvo claiming that they will boost fuel economy by “up to” 15%, while achieving a similar reduction in emissions.

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The archetype of Volvo’s ongoing transformation, the XC90 was the first to get Volvo’s T8 Twin engine plug-in hybrid system. That is also being upgraded for 2020. The global edition will feature a new battery and a brake-by-wire system that can recapture more energy normally lost during braking and coasting. The U.S. spokesperson said it was not yet clear if those upgrades will be available for the 2020 American edition of the XC90. (more…)

BMW, Daimler Launching New Ride-Sharing Service, Other Mobility Ventures

New partners open door to other participants.

by on Feb.22, 2019

BMW Chief Harald Krueger, left, and Daimler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche are all smiles after announcing plans to merge mobility operations.

Nearly a year after announcing plans to combine their ambitious mobility services operations, Mercedes’ parent Daimler and erstwhile rival BMW have announced an array of new joint venture projects that will include car and ride-sharing operations that could challenge upstarts like Uber, Lyft and China’s Didi Chuxing.

The two luxury automakers plan to invest a combined 1 billion euros, or about $1.1 billion, to expand the five projects BMW CEO Harald Krueger and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche outlined at a news conference Friday, which also include parking and electric vehicle charging. The two newly minted partners also opened the door to cooperation with other automotive manufacturers.

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“These five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously,” said BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger. (more…)

New IIHS Tests Show Wide Disparity in Automakers’ Pedestrian Crash Avoidance Tech

BMW system sent dummies “airborne.”

by on Feb.21, 2019

The BMW X1 failed the IIHS pedestrian test, sending the dummy airborne during the exercise.

Pedestrian fatalities have been on a rapid rise in recent years, something some experts blame on the shift to blunt-nosed utility vehicles. Whatever the reason, automakers are under pressure to find ways to reduce the problem.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has launched a study to evaluate and compare the performance of new pedestrian crash avoidance technology and the first pass found wide disparity between the 11 small SUVs put to the test. The majority of the vehicles earned top ratings, but two performed poorly, the BMW X1 sending a crash dummy “airborne” when it failed to come to a stop.

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“We want to encourage manufacturers to include pedestrian detection capabilities as they equip more of their vehicles with automatic emergency braking systems,” said David Aylor, the IIHS manager of Active Safety Testing. “We also want to arm consumers with information about these systems so they can make smart choices when shopping for a new vehicle.” (more…)

Mid-engine Corvette C8 Caught Testing in (Unexpected) Snow Storm

by on Feb.21, 2019

A pair of camouflaged C8 Corvettes are caught driving through heavy snow outside San Diego.

It never rains in Southern California, but singer Albert Hammond never mentioned snow in his 1973 hit. So, you can imagine the surprise for the folks from Chevrolet when they headed out for a long test drive of mid-engine C8 Corvette prototypes through the mountains outside San Diego only to be greeted with lots of the white stuff drifting down from leaden skies.

That clearly didn’t stop them from continuing their test drive, which was good news for us – thanks to the quick thinking of TDB friend and videographer Tom Voelk. He also was caught in the snowy weather on a long drive route testing another manufacturer’s vehicle when the convoy of Corvettes shot by. He grabbed one of his cameras and started shooting.

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Mssr. Voelk was kind enough to provide us with some still shots from the serendipitous shoot, and if you’d actually like to see the mid-engine Corvette C8 in action, you can check out his Youtube post by .

(more…)

Aston Teases Project 003 Hypercar Ahead of Geneva

Only 500 will be built.

by on Feb.20, 2019

The latest Aston Martin hypercar will use an F1-influenced gas-electric drivetrain.

From a company struggling to avert yet another bankruptcy only a few years ago, Aston Martin has bounced back with a vengeance, as it plans to demonstrate with the debut of a new hypercar at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

Codenamed “Project 003,” it’s set to become the British marque’s third hypercar, following up on the earlier Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro models.

Auto Show News!

“It was always the intention for the Aston Martin Valkyrie to be a once-in-a lifetime project,” said Aston CEO Andy Palmer. “It was also vital to us that Valkyrie would create a legacy: a direct descendent that would also set new standards within its own area of the hypercar market, creating a bloodline of highly specialised, limited production machines that can exist in parallel with Aston Martin’s series production models.”

(more…)

Ghosn’s Lawyer Blasts Japanese Prosecutors, Nissan

“This should have been dealt with as an internal matter,” says lawyer known as “The Razor.”

by on Feb.20, 2019

Former Nissan Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn's new lawyer is ready to shake up his defense efforts.

Ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s new lawyer hasn’t wasted any time going on the offensive, calling out not only the automaker that has accused the former exec of financial misdeeds, but also the prosecutors who have refused to release Ghosn on bail after three months in detention.

The 64-year-old Ghosn was arrested on Nov. 19, shortly after his corporate jet landed at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. He has been charged with several crimes, including the concealment of about $88 million in income. The allegations arose out of an internal investigation Nissan said was triggered by a whistleblower.

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“This should been dealt with as an internal matter,” Junichiro Hironaka said at a Wednesday media briefing in Tokyo. Hironaka is known as “the Razor” for his ability to help high-profile clients win acquittal in a country where prosecutors routinely win convictions in over 90% of their cases. (more…)

And Another One Bites the Dust: Farewell Mercedes SLC

Little roadster’s “Final Edition” rolls out – but so does a Grand Edition of bigger SL two-seater.

by on Feb.20, 2019

Mercedes-Benz is putting an end to its small roadster, but it'll go out with a bang with a "Final Edition" package.

The ongoing assault of the SUV is claiming yet another victim. In recent months, we’ve seen mainstream automakers steadily pare back their sedan, coupe and sports car lines and now, it seems, even luxury manufacturers are feeling the impact of the most dramatic industry shift in decades.

Mercedes-Benz is the latest throwing in the towel, getting ready to banish the once-popular SLC roadster originally known as the SLK. The good news for fans is that there’ll be an appropriately named Final Edition rolling into showrooms before the SLC drives off into the sunset.

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The German automaker isn’t abandoning the sports car market entirely. It’s been rolling out more versions of the Mercedes-AMG GT in recent months and, for roadster aficionados, there’s a new Grand Edition that adds even more high-line touches to the familiar SL line. (more…)

First Drive: GMC Sierra AT4

Off-road version of full-size truck could expand its appeal.

by on Feb.19, 2019

The new GMC Sierra AT4 rides higher than a stock truck and also offers plenty of high-line features.

But for the brand badges and subtle differences in grilles and headlights, it has typically been difficult to tell apart General Motors’ two full-size pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. But the automaker seems determined to eliminate this archetypal example of badge engineering.

When it launched new versions of the Silverado and Sierra for 2019, they boasted more dramatic visual differences, inside and out, than ever before. And they even split when it came to appealing new features. The Chevy, for one, got a power-operated tailgate, while GMC’s truck introduced a multi-function tailgate that can be opened and used in a variety of different ways, such as creating a workbench or bed extender.

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Now, GMC is itself planning to broaden out its line-up in a bid to win over more buyers. As a counterpoint to its hly outfitted Sierra Denali model, it is launching the all-new off-road-oriented Sierra AT4. We had a chance to take the new model for a test drive through the mountainous terrain southeast of San Diego recently and found it surprisingly competent, both on-road and off. (more…)

Hyundai Set to Reveal Pint-Sized Styx SUV at NY Auto Show

Boxy outside will mean bigger inside.

by on Feb.18, 2019

Hyundai is ready to unveil the sixth sport-ute in its portfolio in New York in April. Until last summer, the brand had just three utes.

Hyundai is making up for lost time – and hoping to regain lost market share – with an assortment of new utility vehicles, the next one set to make its debut at the New York International Auto Show in April.

Expected to be called the Styx in most global markets, the crossover is going to serve as the counterpoint to the new, three-row Hyundai Palisade, targeting the modest but growing subcompact CUV market targeted by the likes of the Ford EcoSport.

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Hyundai sales have taken a hit during the last few years as the market has rapidly migrated from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs, and it has rushed to respond with updates of existing models like the Santa Fe, as well as all-new utes such as the Kona and Palisade. Hyundai officials have openly promised to launch yet another model this year and global design chief SangYup Lee confirmed the Big Apple unveiling in a new interview with Motor Trend. (more…)

Commerce Dept. Report Could Trigger Tariffs on Auto Imports

Auto industry worries, waits – and raises strong opposition.

by on Feb.18, 2019

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross submitted the department's report determining if automotive imports could be declared a threat to national security.

Just hours before the deadline, the U.S. Commerce Dept. delivered a long-awaited report to the White House that could lead President Donald Trump to enact stiff new tariffs on imported autos and auto parts.

The administration has not revealed what the report recommends, but Commerce was widely expected to support the president’s position that auto imports posed a threat to national security, a view that Trump has suggested could lead to the imposition of tariffs of as much as 25%.

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Criticism was swift and broad, the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association noting, ““Not a single company in the domestic auto industry requested this investigation.” Like other critics, the group has warned that new tariffs could backfire and not only result in the imposition of tariffs on U.S. auto exports but also slam consumers with substantially higher prices, even on vehicles assembled in the U.S. (more…)

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