Author Archives: Kelly Pleskot

2019 Ford Ranger EPA-Rated up to 21/26/23 MPG

By | December 11, 2018

Official EPA numbers for the 2019 Ford Ranger were released today. The midsize truck is rated 21/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined when paired with rear-wheel drive.

That rating makes the Ranger the most fuel-efficient gas-powered midsize pickup in the U.S. In comparison, the 2019 Toyota Tacoma tops out at 20/23/21 mpg with the four-cylinder or 19/24/21 with the V-6. The 2019 Chevrolet Colorado maxes out at 20/26/22 with the four-cylinder gas engine. The diesel Colorado is naturally better on the highway than the Ranger but has the same combined rating, hitting 20/30/23 mpg. Meanwhile, the 2019 Honda Ridgeline puts out a respectable 19/26/22 mpg. With the 2019 Nissan Frontier, you’re looking at a max rating of 19/23/21 mpg. Of course, we’ll have to conduct our own Real MPG tests to confirm the Ranger’s EPA numbers translate to the real world.

With four-wheel drive, the Ranger’s fuel economy drops slightly to 20/24/22 mpg, according to the EPA. The Ranger comes with a standard 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that makes 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. While it doesn’t have the most horsepower, it has more torque than any other gas engine in the midsize truck segment. The engine pairs with a 10-speed automatic transmission; no manual option will be available.

Ford began production on the new Ranger in Michigan this October. The model heads to dealerships in January with a starting price of $25,395. Right on its heels is the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, which is expected to hit the market during the second quarter of 2019.

Source: Ford






























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Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Lincoln Aviator vs. Rivals

By | December 7, 2018

After we saw the redesigned Navigator, we had high hopes for Lincoln’s smaller three-row, the Aviator. Lincoln met those expectations, and the Aviator was one of our favorite models to debut at the L.A. auto show this year. Technically replacing the MKT in Lincoln’s lineup, the Aviator will face the same competitors as its predecessor when it arrives next summer. But seeing how it’s now built on a rear-drive-based platform, has a more premium Navigator-like interior, gets a long list of available tech features, and offers up to 450 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque in plug-in hybrid trim, it’s clear Lincoln is moving its midsize entry up market. With that said, we’ve chosen to compare it to two stylish and tech-heavy models sitting at the higher end of the class: The Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90. How do the three luxury three-rows compare when it comes to styling?

Although we live in an era of “the bigger the grille, the better,” Aviator stays away from this trend. The grille still manages to stand out with high-gloss black and chrome accents that give off a 3D effect. The Aviator has big headlights instead of the slim headlights many automakers have chosen to put on their newest vehicles. Meanwhile, Audi gave the Q7 a large grille that connects directly to the rectangular-shaped headlights. The front end takes on a curvier shape than its other two rivals. The Volvo XC90, meanwhile, adopts a waterfall grille design and unmistakable Thor’s Hammer headlights. The Volvo badge sits prominently in the middle of the glitzy grille.












From the side, the Aviator looks long thanks to the windows that wrap around to the back of the vehicle. Bold character lines, a raked windshield, and distinctive roof spoiler also contribute to the Aviator’s windswept look. The side profile of the Audi looks a bit more conventional, but the strong wheel arches give it prominent hips. Other than this, the Q7 doesn’t have particularly strong character lines running through the doors. The XC90 takes on an upright stance with a straight, not sloped, roof. Overall, it has simple lines much like the Audi.












In the rear of the Aviator, a light bar connects the two taillights. The bumper is simple, but dual exhausts seen on the Aviators pictured below add visual interest. The Q7 has a more traditional look with a defined rear windshield and standalone taillights. The XC90 is distinguishable by its vertical-oriented taillights, which contribute to the model’s overall upright appearance.












The Aviator takes design risks inside the cabin. Lincoln offers a tan and ebony design theme with engine-turned aluminum appliques that resemble the finish of early aviation instrument panels. There is also a design theme with Mahogany Red Venetian leather and wood appliques. No matter which theme you choose, the model offers a large central touchscreen. A cut-out in the center console section allows for the storage of small items. Buttons for Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive are tucked underneath the central air vents. The Q7 has a simpler design and a more traditional gear shifter. The retractable screen sits straight atop the dashboard, controlled by a touchpad on the center console. The XC90 has the simplest interior design of them all. For better or worse, the XC90 features a  touchscreen that resembles a tablet, eliminating the need for most buttons. Top-spec models offers a crystal gearshift knob. The Lincoln, Audi, and Volvo SUVs all offer a 12.3-inch instrument cluster.












How does the 2020 Lincoln Aviator stand up to the competition? Let us know in the comments on Facebook.

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Volkswagen Plans to Build up to 15 Million EVs on MEB Platform

By | December 7, 2018

Volkswagen has begun a massive push to create new electric vehicles, and these efforts come at a price. The brand says it will streamline its product portfolio and reduce vehicle variants as it invests in new EVs and other technologies.

Volkswagen Group wants to introduce 15 million vehicles based on the new MEB platform for electric vehicles in its first wave. That’s up from previous plans to make just 10 million vehicles. Through 2023, the VW brand will invest more than 11 billion euros in EVs, autonomous driving, and other new technologies, with 9 billion of these euros earmarked for the I.D. family.

The first I.D. model will enter production in Germany in late 2019. After the small hatch arrives, VW will expand the I.D. lineup with a crossover, sedan, and van. By 2025, the brand plans to sell 1 million electric cars annually around the globe. At this time, the VW brand will have 20 electric models in its lineup instead of the current two. Meanwhile, it will make a decision “soon” on a production location for building EVs in North America.

To support these investments, VW aims to save 3 billion euros by 2020, of which $2.2 billion will be achieved by the end of this year. VW will make additional cuts of 3 billion euros by 2023, reports Reuters. This will help the brand boost its profit margins by at least 6 percent by 2022, three years earlier than previously anticipated.

How will it achieve these savings? Again, VW said it will streamline its portfolio and reduce variants, but didn’t name any specific vehicles that are on the chopping block. It also wants to slash administrative expenses and increase the productivity of its plants by approximately 30 percent by 2025. Earlier this week, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess said the German automaker might use Ford plants to build cars in the U.S. This could be part of the new collaboration between the two companies that will create synergies, including joint work on commercial vehicles. More news on the partnership between Ford and VW is expected in January.

Source: Volkswagen, Reuters

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Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign Debuts in Production Form

By | December 7, 2018

Nissan revealed the production version of the GT-R50 by Italdesign, and sure enough, it stays true to the concept. Orders have begun, but only 50 copies will be sold.

The concept had a gray and gold exterior, but customers can specify whichever color combination they’d like on their own model. As we learned while driving the prototype, all 50 copies will feature a different design so that no two are alike. Buyers can choose different colors and packages to customize the interior.

The supercar celebrates the 50th anniversary of the GT-R in 2019 and Italdesign in 2018. It started life as a 600-hp GT-R Nismo, but Nissan tweaked the engine to produce a lot more power. Under the sheet metal, a 3.8-liter V-6 makes a whopping 710 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. The engine pairs with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Along with a more potent engine, the GT-R50 has an adjustable rear wing, a revised Bilstein suspension damping system, improved Brembo brakes, and a roofline that has been lowered more than 2 inches.

If you’re interested in one of the 50 copies, you’ll have to contact Italdesign. Prices start at 990,000 euros before taxes and options, or roughly $1.1 million at today’s exchange rates. Deliveries will run from 2019 into 2020.




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Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign Shown in Production Form

By | December 7, 2018

Nissan revealed the production version of the GT-R50 by Italdesign, and sure enough, it stays true to the concept. Orders have begun, but only 50 copies will be sold.

The concept had a gray and gold exterior, but customers can specify whichever color combination they’d like on their own model. As we learned while driving the prototype, all 50 copies will feature a different design so that no two are alike. Buyers can choose different colors and packages to customize the interior.

The supercar celebrates the 50th anniversary of the GT-R in 2019 and Italdesign in 2018. It started life as a 600-hp GT-R Nismo, but Nissan tweaked the engine to produce a lot more power. Under the sheet metal, a 3.8-liter V-6 makes a whopping 710 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. The engine pairs with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Along with a more potent engine, the GT-R50 has an adjustable rear wing, a revised Bilstein suspension damping system, improved Brembo brakes, and a roofline that has been lowered more than 2 inches.

If you’re interested in one of the 50 copies, you’ll have to contact Italdesign. Prices start at 990,000 euros before taxes and options, or roughly $1.1 million at today’s exchange rates. Deliveries will run from 2019 into 2020.

Source: Nissan




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Bugatti Not Attempting Chiron Top Speed Run

By | December 6, 2018

Known to insiders as one of the best-dressed executives in the auto biz, Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann also has served in some of the industry’s seeming dream jobs, as head of both Lamborghini and Audi Sport. Now he takes Bugatti into the future as the iconic French brand celebrates its 110th anniversary. But doing so is not without potential snarls.

The Chiron is supposed to top 300 mph, and your predecessor promised a top speed run by now. Is there a delay?

When I started at Bugatti, one of the first things I did was to test-drive the car. Being used to all the other supersports brands, I had never driven a Bugatti. For me it was so surprising and above all what I had experienced before. I was really blown away. Then I sat with my team and started asking about what is in the pipeline next and what is important. And I put my priorities in. To me, a top speed run is not on the agenda. For me, performance has a lot of facets, and the Chiron besides being a hypercar is a car covering a lot more than other supersports cars. When I read in the past about the car and what we communicated about it, we were missing a big part of what the car is all about. You have cars of nice designs or others that are supersports cars that are fast and performing. It is much more important than showing one little slice of what this car is able to do. In this world, to talk only top speed is not a priority for me.

What does 110 years mean to Bugatti?

We have to think that the brand is much more than what the Chiron is. We are looking into Ettore Bugatti and what he did. He was passionate to a level of perfection that was incredible at that time. We have to explore more than just looking at top speed. Being a French company, it is important that we emphasize the past racing cars like the T35, the limousines, and GTs like Atlantique. You put those three cars together, plus the Veyron that kick-started the brand. All these have elements of performance, luxury, and being good looking.

The legacy is to increase the value and being here even in a half century from now. These cars have value that is accepted by everybody. It’s not just about scarcity like the T35, where the value is so high it’s incredible. You cannot change history, and Bugatti has a hole between the 1950s and the end of the ’80s. But this is part of the brand, and it makes the brand different from all the others.

Do you see the Divo as a Chiron variant?

With the Divo, my first exercise, I looked at what we can do as a different approach in terms of performance, because we are known for longitudinal acceleration and top speed—and we’ve been limited to 261 mph (420 kph), which for me is enough. I personally did more than [250 mph], which for me was exciting, but when I went on the handling part of the course, this was equally if not more exciting—accelerating, braking, getting into and out of corners. The idea with Divo translated into design, weight reduction, and more downforce to really showcase that top speed is important but not everything.

The Nardo circuit has a handling [circuit], and there is so much we can do with an existing car. We have a lot of ideas for the future. We are constantly looking for new ideas, to test ourselves to see how quickly a product can be realized and see market reaction. We sold the Divo in four weeks’ time then showed it at Pebble Beach, and for me, everything was done in a way that could be controlled. It was an incredible success, even to someone like me who expects a lot.

 

There was a Supersport version of Veyron. … Is the $5 million Divo the Chiron’s version of that, or will there be something in between Chiron Sport and Divo?

With an unlimited budget there would be room for incredible things. The Chiron Sport is not a supersport, and it is not a Divo. The Divo is outside the Chiron business.

Will Bugatti look to reprise the success of the Vitesse version of the Veyron with a convertible Chiron?

We decided in the Chiron project not to do an open-top version.

Is Bugatti a one-model company? Are there plans for a second model line?

Ettore Bugatti did more than one car; he did many body styles, four-door, two-door, open car—whatever was possible, he tried to do. The brand today, 20 years after the restart, we are ready for more than one model. Not to say we can do it, but the brand is ready. We have to find the resources and many priorities in the Volkswagen Group. If we did a second model, it would enter into a different segment. With the 110th anniversary celebration, we can most assuredly look back and celebrate our roots and look into France and what Ettore has done. But to look into the future is much more important. We have to have the legacy of tomorrow, the icons—not just making a statement today. We have to do something we subscribe to as being what Bugatti stands for today but also something greater for tomorrow. It’s on us to shape the future.

The stillborn 2009 Bugatti 16C Galibier concept

Some media reports claim you said the second Bugatti will be an SUV.

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The 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition Will Have Tons of Power

By | December 6, 2018

Toyota will debut the Supra at January’s Detroit auto show, and it turns out Lexus will have a debut as well in the form of the 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition.

Despite what the name suggests, the RC F Track Edition is a purpose-built vehicle, not a special-edition package. It will join the lineup in “very, very limited production,” according to Robert Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America.

“With the exception of the LFA, this is the fastest, most powerful vehicle we’ve ever built,” Carter told journalists at an event in Detroit. So while this RC F will be less potent than the LFA, which offered up to 562 horsepower with its optional Nürburgring package, it should still pack plenty of punch. A teaser image of the car shows an aggressive rear wing with carbon-fiber end plates that, in a very cool touch, appear to have the F emblem woven into them.

The regular RC F gets 467 horsepower from its naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 engine, and it’s quick; our colleagues at Motor Trend ran a 2015 RC F from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. It also offers impressive handling, but a higher curb weight keeps it from dynamic superstardom—the Track Edition could fix that, though.

Carter also hinted at “one more surprise” for the Detroit auto show in addition to the RC F Track Edition. We’re not really sure what it could be at this point, but we should have a better idea closer to the Track Edition’s reveal on January 14.

Frank Markus contributed to this report.








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The 2019 Honda Passport Is Already Rolling Off Assembly Lines

By | December 6, 2018

Just a week after premiering at the L.A. auto show, the 2019 Honda Passport has already entered production in Alabama. The crossover will go on sale early next year, and it joins the Odyssey, Ridgeline, and Pilot among the lineup of vehicles built at the facility. Like its siblings, the Passport makes use of the Honda Global Light Truck platform, and all four vehicles have a 3.5-liter V-6 engine good for 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque.

The facility in Lincoln, Alabama, can make 340,000 vehicles and V-6 engines per year. Since production went online in November 2001, Honda has made more than 4.7 million vehicles and engines at the plant. Investment has exceeded $2.6 billion at the 4.6 million square-foot facility located 40 miles east of Birmingham.

The Passport will slot between the CR-V and the Pilot in Honda’s lineup. The five-seater was built with off-road capability in mind, boasting more ground clearance than the CR-V and Pilot and different driving modes for snow, sand, and mud. The Passport comes standard with Honda Sensing, which includes forward-collision warning, collision-mitigating automatic braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, road-departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control. We expect pricing to come relatively soon given the Passport’s imminent arrival in dealerships.






























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2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition is Brand’s Second Most Powerful Model

By | December 6, 2018

Toyota will debut the Supra at the Detroit auto show, and it turns out Lexus has a treat for us as well. The 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition will also make its way to the show in January.

Despite what the name suggests, the RC F Track Edition is a purpose-built vehicle, not an accessory package. It will join the lineup in “very, very limited production,” according to Robert Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America.

“With the exception of LFA, this is the fastest, most powerful vehicle we’ve ever built,” Carter told journalists at an event in Detroit. So while the model is expected to be less potent than the LFA, which makes 562 hp with the Nurburgring package, it sounds like it will still pack a very powerful punch. A teaser image of the car shows a sweet rear wing with carbon-fiber end plates, which appear to have the F emblem somehow woven into them. It’s a neat touch that’s likely a result of Toyota’s big investment in carbon fiber production.

The regular RC F is already powerful, making 467 hp from its naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 engine. It’s also quick; we tested a 2015 RC F hitting 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. In the past, we’ve praised the car’s handling and power, but we think its heavy curb weight holds it back.

Carter hinted at “one more surprise” for the Detroit auto show in addition to the RC F Track Edition. We’re not really sure what it could be at this point, but we think we’ll have a better idea closer to the Track Edition’s reveal on January 14.

Frank Markus contributed to this report.

Source: Lexus








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2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD High Country Gets Unique Grille

By | December 6, 2018

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD debuted this week, and let’s just say not everyone is a big fan of how it looks. Now, General Motors is revealing the High Country model, which has a tamer grille than some other variants.

The High Country sits at the top of the Silverado HD lineup. Below it are four trim levels: Work Truck, Custom, LT, and LTZ. The different trims offer different design cues, so one truck could look quite different from the next.

The High Country’s grille consists of horizontal slats rather than the oval-shaped cutouts we saw on the LT model that debuted earlier this week. The High Country also features the classic Bow Tie instead of the stamped Chevrolet bar.

Take a closer look at the grille, and you’ll notice the High Country’s exclusive two-tone metallic trim. GM is also using a mix of black, body color, and chrome trim to differentiate between the various models in the lineup.

Buyers have the choice of two powertrains. GM isn’t spilling the beans on the new direct-injected gasoline engine, but it’s rumored to be a Navistar-sourced 6.6-liter V-8 from MD Trucks. This engine will come paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The other option is a Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 that pairs to a 10-speed Allison automatic and delivers 910 lb-ft of torque.

The 2020 Silverado HD goes on sale in mid-2019.

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2019 Honda Passport Enters Production

By | December 6, 2018

Just a week after debuting at the L.A. auto show, the 2019 Honda Passport has entered production in Alabama. The crossover will go on sale early next year.

The Passport joins the Odyssey, Ridgeline, and Pilot which Honda also produces at its plant in Alabama. Like its siblings, the Passport makes use of the Honda Global Light Truck platform. All four vehicles have a 3.5-liter V-6 engine good for 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque.

The facility in Lincoln, Alabama, can make 340,000 vehicles and V-6 engines per year. Since production went online in November 2001, Honda has made more than 4.7 million vehicles and engines at the plant. Investment has exceeded $2.6 billion at the 4.6 million square-foot facility located 40 miles east of Birmingham.

The Passport will slot between the CR-V and the Pilot in Honda’s lineup. The five-seater was built with off-road capability in mind, boasting more ground clearance than the CR-V and Pilot and different driving modes for snow, sand, and mud. The Passport comes standard with Honda Sensing, which includes forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control.

Expect pricing information to come relatively soon as we edge closer to the Passport’s arrival in dealerships.

Source: Honda






























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2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD High Country Flaunts Unique Grille

By | December 6, 2018

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD debuted this week, and let’s just say not everyone is a big fan of how it looks. Now, General Motors is revealing the High Country model, which has a tamer grille than some other variants.

The High Country sits at the top of the Silverado HD lineup. Below it are four trim levels: Work Truck, Custom, LT, and LTZ. The different trims offer different design cues, so one truck could look quite different from the next.

The High Country’s grille consists of horizontal slats rather than the oval-shaped cutouts we saw on the LT model that debuted earlier this week. The High Country also features the classic bow tie instead of the stamped “Chevrolet” bar. Take a closer look at the grille, and you’ll notice the High Country’s exclusive two-tone metallic trim. GM is also using a mix of black, body color, and chrome trim to differentiate between the various models in the lineup.

Buyers have the choice of two powertrains. GM isn’t spilling the beans on the new direct-injected gasoline engine, but it’s rumored to be a Navistar-sourced 6.6-liter V-8 from MD Trucks. This engine will come paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The other option is a Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 that pairs to a 10-speed Allison automatic and delivers 910 lb-ft of torque.

The 2020 Silverado HD goes on sale in mid-2019.

Source: GM

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Classic Aston Martins with Factory EV Powertrains Are a Thing Now

By | December 5, 2018

As global governments push for more stringent fuel-economy regulations, there’s a real concern that future legislation will restrict the use of classic cars. To combat this fear, Aston Martin will offer EV powertrain conversions for its heritage models.

The first classic car to receive Aston Martin’s “cassette” EV powertrain is the 1970 DB6 MkII Volante. The “cassette” is enclosed within its own self-contained cell and is installed using the original engine and gearbox mounting points. The car’s electrics are powered off the system, as well. “Power management is operated via a dedicated screen, which is discreetly fitted to the car’s interior,” Aston Martin says. The conversion is reversible, meaning drivers can choose to have the car returned to its original state whenever they want.

Right now, the EV powertrain conversion is in the concept phase. Expect production versions to include key components from the Rapide E. In making the concept, Aston Martin says it derived inspiration from the Rapide E and its planned new range of Lagonda electric vehicles. Aston Martin Works, the division in charge of the automaker’s heritage models, will begin converting classic cars for customers in 2019.

The idea of converting classic cars to electric power is not an entirely new one. Jaguar will start selling turnkey electric E-types in the summer of 2020, and it will also install EV powertrains in customers’ vintage E-types at its Classic Works facility in Coventry, U.K. Like Aston’s conversions, the process is reversible.













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Waymo Launches Commercial Self-Driving Service

By | December 5, 2018

Waymo launched a new commercial self-driving car service today. For now, the service is limited to members of Waymo’s early driver research program, but it will eventually roll out to more of the public.

Dubbed Waymo One, the service introduces a new app. Users can access the app 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to book a ride. The process is pretty simple: Confirm the pickup location and type in a desired destination. Before completing the request, the app shows drivers how much they can expect to pay for the trip. Yes, unlike in the research program, these rides aren’t free. Waymo didn’t reveal prices, but said they will vary based on factors including time and distance to the destination.

Initially, Waymo drivers will sit inside the autonomous vehicles as a backup, even though the early rider program has provided fully driverless rides with no one behind the wheel. The service will be available only in the Metro Phoenix area at launch. If riders have any questions during a trip, they can contact a support agent through the app. Screens inside the autonomous vehicle shows key details of the route during the trip.

The early rider program will continue alongside Waymo One. The research program will test new features before they become available on the paid service. Vehicles in the fleet include Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans outfitted with autonomous gear.

Source: Waymo




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Will Volkswagen Use Ford Plants to Build Cars in the U.S.?

By | December 5, 2018

We already knew that Volkswagen is partnering with Ford on commercial vehicles. We also found out there’s a chance VW will make cars for Ford in Europe and Ford will make a Ranger-based pickup for VW. Now, the CEO of VW says his company may use Ford’s factories in the U.S. to build cars.

“We are building an alliance with Ford which will strengthen Ford’s position in Europe because we will share platforms,” VW CEO Herbert Diess told reporters in Washington, D.C. “We might use Ford capacity here in the U.S. to build cars for us.”

VW could also build a second car plant, Diess said. According to the CEO, the German automaker is in “quite advanced negotiations in Tennessee but there might be other options as well.”

Expect more news on the alliance in January. Whatever the automakers cook up, it will not involve VW taking an equity stake in Ford, Diess confirmed.

Diess made the comments after a meeting at the White House to talk about trade. There, President Donald Trump discussed “his vision of all automakers producing in the United States and creating a more friendly business environment,” according to White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters. Also at the meeting was Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche as well as BMW Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Peter.

If Trump has his way, VW could suffer a 25-percent levy on imports from the EU. Trump’s efforts to balance trade would also affect BMW and Daimler, the biggest car exporters from the U.S. to China. Then there’s the recently signed replacement for NAFTA, called USMCA, which calls for more North American parts content if automakers want to avoid tariffs. The deal would also require more high-wage labor if it passes in Mexico, Canada, and the USA’s legislatures. Volkswagen has a plant in Puebla, Mexico, where it produces the Tiguan crossover, Jetta sedan, and (for now) Beetle hatchback for the U.S. and other markets.

Ford is keeping mum about the exact details of its alliance with VW. In a statement to us, Ford said, “Our MOU [memorandum of understanding] with VW covers conversations about potential collaborations across a number of areas. It is premature to share additional details at this time.”
















 

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Aston Martin Will Offer EV Conversions for Classic Cars

By | December 5, 2018

As governments push for tighter fuel economy regulations, there’s a real concern that future legislation will restrict the use of classic cars. To combat this fear, Aston Martin will offer EV powertrain conversions for its heritage models.

The first classic car to receive Aston Martin’s “cassette” EV powertrain is the 1970 DB6 MkII Volante. The “cassette” is enclosed within its own self-contained cell and sits on the original engine and gearbox mountings. Cords from the power unit feed the car’s electrical systems. “Power management is operated via a dedicated screen, which is discreetly fitted to the car’s interior,” Aston Martin says. The conversion is reversible, meaning drivers can choose to reinstate the original powertrain whenever they want.

Right now, the EV powertrain conversion is in the concept phase. Expect production versions to include key components from the Rapide E. In making the concept, Aston Martin says it derived inspiration from the Rapide E and its planned new range of Lagonda electric vehicles.

Aston Martin Works, the division in charge of the automaker’s heritage models, will begin converting classic cars for customers in 2019.

The idea of converting classic cars to electric power is not a new one. As we previously reported, Jaguar will start selling electric E-Types in the summer of 2020. It will also convert old E-Types to electric power at its Classic Works facility in Coventry, U.K., and like the Aston Martin conversions, the process is reversible.

Source: Aston Martin













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Volkswagen Says it May Use Ford Plants to Build Cars in the U.S.

By | December 4, 2018

We already knew that Volkswagen is partnering with Ford on commercial vehicles. We also found out there’s a chance VW will make cars for Ford in Europe and Ford will make a Ranger-based pickup for VW. Now, the CEO of VW says his company may use Ford’s factories in the U.S. to build cars.

“We are building an alliance with Ford which will strengthen Ford’s position in Europe because we will share platforms,” VW CEO Herbert Diess told reporters in Washington, D.C. “We might use Ford capacity here in the U.S. to build cars for us.”

VW could also build a second car plant, Diess said. According to the CEO, the German automaker is in “quite advanced negotiations in Tennessee but there might be other options as well.”

Expect more news on the alliance in January. Whatever the automakers cook up, it will not involve VW taking an equity stake in Ford, Diess confirmed.

Diess made the comments after a meeting at the White House to talk about trade. There, President Donald Trump discussed “his vision of all automakers producing in the United States and creating a more friendly business environment,” according to White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters. Also at the meeting was Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche as well as BMW Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Peter.

If Trump has his way, VW could suffer a 25-percent levy on imports from the EU. Trump’s efforts to balance trade would also affect BMW and Daimler, the biggest car exporters from the U.S. to China. Then there’s the recently signed replacement for NAFTA, called USMCA, which calls for more North American parts content if automakers want to avoid tariffs. The deal would also require more high-wage labor if it passes in Mexico, Canada, and the USA’s legislatures. Volkswagen has a plant in Puebla, Mexico, where it produces the Tiguan crossover, Jetta sedan, and (for now) Beetle hatchback for the U.S. and other markets.

Ford is keeping mum about the exact details of its alliance with VW. In a statement to MotorTrend, Ford said, “Our MOU [memorandum of understanding] with VW covers conversations about potential collaborations across a number of areas. It is premature to share additional details at this time.”

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

The post Volkswagen Says it May Use Ford Plants to Build Cars in the U.S. appeared first on MotorTrend.

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Porsche to Boost Taycan Production

By | December 4, 2018

Porsche initially estimated it would sell 20,000 units per year of the all-electric Taycan. But after receiving so many early reservations, the automaker decided it will build more to meet the strong demand.

The higher-than-expected volume will be split between the sedan and the Cross Turismo variant. Speaking to WirtschaftsWoche, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said, “Due to the positive response, we will adjust this number upwards, especially since the Cross Turismo as the first derivative of the Taycan got green light for the series.”

Norway is one of the markets that showed high demand. Porsche received nearly 3,000 reservations with deposits, but it usually only sells around 600 new vehicles in the market each year.

Porsche will begin production of the Taycan in mid-2019. It will be built in a new production facility in Zuffenhausen. In a recent press release, Member of the Executive Board for Production Albrecht Reimold revealed Porsche is prepared for more volume, giving the Taycan facility its own paint shop and assembly line. Reimold said, “We took the decision to build a new paint shop and assembly area as we firmly believe the Taycan has the potential to sell more than just 20,000 units per year. The new manufacturing facility gives us the requisite flexibility for the future.”

The Porsche Taycan, formerly known as the Mission E, will achieve a total system output of more than 600 hp with the help of two permanently excited synchronous motors. Porsche estimates a 0-60 run of less than 3.5 seconds. It should also run more than 300 miles on a single charge with an 800-volt battery. A Targa version will come later, according to reports.

Source: WirtschaftsWoche via Electrek








The post Porsche to Boost Taycan Production appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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Porsche to Increase Taycan Production

By | December 4, 2018

Porsche initially estimated it would sell 20,000 units per year of the all-electric Taycan. But after receiving so many early reservations, the automaker decided it will build more to meet the strong demand.

The higher-than-expected volume will be split between the sedan and the Cross Turismo variant. Speaking to WirtschaftsWoche, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said, “Due to the positive response, we will adjust this number upwards, especially since the Cross Turismo as the first derivative of the Taycan got green light for the series.”

Norway is one of the markets that showed high demand. Porsche received nearly 3,000 reservations with deposits, but it usually only sells around 600 new vehicles in the market each year.

Porsche will begin production of the Taycan in mid-2019. It will be built in a new production facility in Zuffenhausen. In a recent press release, Member of the Executive Board for Production Albrecht Reimold revealed Porsche is prepared for more volume, giving the Taycan facility its own paint shop and assembly line. Reimold said, “We took the decision to build a new paint shop and assembly area as we firmly believe the Taycan has the potential to sell more than just 20,000 units per year. The new manufacturing facility gives us the requisite flexibility for the future.”

The Porsche Taycan, formerly known as the Mission E, will achieve a total system output of more than 600 hp with the help of two permanently excited synchronous motors. Porsche estimates a 0-60 run of less than 3.5 seconds. It should also run more than 300 miles on a single charge with an 800-volt battery. A Targa version will come later, according to reports.

Source: WirtschaftsWoche via Electrek








The post Porsche to Increase Taycan Production appeared first on MotorTrend.

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Volvo Americas Boss Personally Calls 10 Care by Volvo Subscribers Every Week

By | December 3, 2018

It’s an interesting time to be an automaker. Some are doubling down on SUVs, some are focusing on autonomy or electrification, and others are focusing on connectivity and new ways to buy and sell cars. Volvo, meanwhile, seems to be doing a little bit of everything. MotorTrend, along with a handful of other journalists, joined Volvo global CEO Hakan Samuelsson and Americas chief Anders Gustafsson at the automaker’s car-less (really) stand at the Los Angeles auto show to chat about Volvo’s electrification strategy and its Care by Volvo subscription program.

Volvo has finally finished revamping its lineup, and now the XC90 is the oldest vehicle in the U.S. range. Now that that cycle has been completed, are you planning on refining those models, or are you planning on expanding into niche markets like the German luxury automakers?

Hakan Samuelsson: I don’t think customers are expecting us to expand. I think we have very attractive body shapes; three-quarters or more are SUVs, highly popular on the market, and then we have very good sedans also within the U.S. So, I think we have the body shapes [that customers desire].

Our customers now expect first to have a car available with full electric propulsion and secondly, with a lot of new connectivity features and in-car infotainment features, which we’re talking about here at this show. That is more important than new body shapes.

Speaking of electric vehicles, do you envision Volvo’s lineup to offer electric versions of each car, or will you have electric-only models like the coming Polestar?

Samuelsson: Because we want to electrify very rapidly we cannot just add bespoke cars. There will be an electric powertrain option in all of our cars and that’s more important than new body shapes. [By 2025] all cars will offer an all-electric powertrain. We anticipate half of the car customers will choose that, and the other half will opt for hybrid gas-electric powertrains. Those will be the two, hybrid or [full] electric.

All of the SPA-platform vehicles (aside from the wagons) have plug-in hybrid options currently. How long until the XC40 plug-in makes its way here?

Samuelsson: [Because it’s on the smaller CMA platform] it’s an all-new concept with a new gearbox, front wheel power pack—and simply, it’s not ready. We are now selling it in some countries, but we will ramp up [production] in the future. It’s the piece we are missing and it will come [to America].

How will you differentiate between Volvo and the coming all-electric Polestar?

Samuelsson: [Volvo is about] safety, the environment, and smart, intuitive functionality [with] great Scandinavian design. With Polestar, we are really doing a sort of special electric car with the special body shape, really leading the way, creating a very attractive car which could spearhead electrification. We divide the cost [with Polestar], but we developed together and then [what we learned] is carried back into Volvos. That’s the [plan]. So Polestar will more be pure, all-electric, progressive, with the latest connectivity, and in-car infotainment.

The Care by Volvo subscription service is now almost a year old. What are some early lessons you’ve learned?

Anders Gustafsson: You know, we have learned a lot in the last nine months and, in February, we are going to launch the next [version] of Care by Volvo, because 50 percent of the cars are subscribed through the mobile phone and I would say [that was not expected].

We’ve also been waiting to get the license in every state. Last week, we’ve received [approval] for the state of New York and now we have a solution that simplifies a lot of the processes. Before, we were forced to divide the customers into different states, different groups and it was quite complicated.

Volvo is limiting subscriptions on the XC40 to 15 percent. Are you planning on limiting subscriptions on the S60 as well?

Gustafsson: That is just on XC40. That is [a lot of global demand] on that car, so [it’s a unique case]. On the S60, we don’t have any restrictions, and based on our [new South Carolina] plant, it’s a little bit easier [to meet demand]. We think [subscriptions are] going to be 15 percent on S60.

How many subscribers do you currently have?

Gustafsson: We’re always mentioning percentage, because when you go into a subscription process, you need to go through this beautiful country’s [state-by-state] insurance policies and [so we’re limited by that] not based on our capabilities. I would say, without the processes of the states, I would say we easily reached 10,000 cars because a lot of U.S. customers would like to get the car a la minute.

When they see the XC40, they would like to get the car within three days [of subscribing] and that is not the situation right now. We cannot deliver that. But with S60, after I would say February, I think the number will be quite big.

How have your dealers reacted to Care by Volvo?

Gustafsson: I’ve been involved with a lot of discussions with our retailers because they’ve been very, very nervous. They are still nervous, but trust is something that you need to fight for and we have a good relationship with them. This is something we should do together, but they also need to stretch their view on the industry a little bit. And that’s our job.

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