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    General Motors Plans A Revival of Hummer

    ..an SUV is also in the works..

    General Motors will be bringing back the Hummer name to sell a new electric truck as part of the GMC lineup.
    The Wall Street Journal first broke the news yesterday with GM moving forward on plans to bring Hummer back that was first reported back in June. The report also said that the company would tout the return with a Super Bowl ad featuring NBA star LeBron James. GM declined to comment.
    The decision is likely due to the planned $3 billion investment for the Detroit-Hamtramck plant that we reported back in October. The investment is to gear up the plant to build an electric pickup for GMC and an electric Cadillac SUV by 2023. But in 2021, the plant will produce a "low volume BT1 pickup" under a different brand. At the time we speculated that it may be Hummer. This seems to lineup with the reporting done by the Wall Street Journal which says the truck will be similar in design to the Jeep Renegade.
    Bloomberg adds that there are plans for a large SUV for Hummer if the truck proves successful according to sources. The sources also say that the company is considering selling the new Hummer truck in existing dealers under the name of “Hummer by GMC.”
    Source: Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required), Automotive News (Subscription Required)
    H/T to @balthazar for alerting us to this story

    Quick Drive: 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker

    Best bang for your buck?

    I’ve driven my fair share of Challengers on both extremes - from the standard V6 to the high-performance SRT and Hellcat models. But I never had any time behind the wheel of the R/T with its 5.7 V8. That changed in the summer when a bright orange Charger R/T Shaker was dropped off for a week. This allowed me to ask a question that has been sitting in my head for some time: Is the R/T the best bang for your buck in the Challenger family?
    The Shaker sets itself apart from other Challenger models with the use of a ‘Shaker’ scoop that prominently pops up from the hood. There is also a blackout treatment on several trim pieces and wheels that make it look even more imposing on the road. Along with the scoop, the Shaker package does add a new cold-air intake seated right in front of the driver’s side corner. This addition should boost the output of the 5.7L HEMI V8 (372 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque when paired with the eight-speed automatic. But FCA’s spec sheet doesn’t say anything about the Shaker Package adding more oomph or not. When you first start up the R/T Shaker, it makes presence known with a deep and loud exhaust note. I had to do a double-take the first time as I was wondering if I was given either an R/T Scat Pack or a Hellcat by mistake. While it may lack the high power numbers of the 6.4 and supercharged 6.2 V8s, the 5.7 is no slouch. 60 mph comes in at just over five seconds and power is seemingly available at any speed. My tester came with the optional Performance Handling Group that adds upgraded springs, sway bars, and a set of Bilstein shocks. This does improve the handling by a fair amount with less body roll. But it doesn’t feel nimble due to a curb weight of around 4,158 pounds. The steering has a quick response, but there is a noticeable lack of road feedback. If you want your muscle car to have some handling, consider the Camaro or Mustang. Nothing new to report on the Challenger’s interior. It still has the angled center stack, retro-inspired gauges, and easy to use UConnect infotainment system. The seats are where the Challenger loses some points as it feels like you’re sitting on top of cinderblocks. The Shaker package is surprisingly good value, adding $2,500 to the base price of the R/T which begins at $34,295. But you’ll need to be careful on the option sheet, or you’ll end up with something quite expensive. My tester came with an as-tested price of $46,555, which is $300 more than an R/T Scat Pack Widebody with the 6.4 HEMI V8.  The Dodge Challenger is getting up there in age and sadly cannot compete with the likes of the Camaro and Mustang in terms of handling. But Dodge is still able to offer a lot of performance in the form of the R/T. With a potent V8 engine, old school styling, and different packages like the Shaker to make your Challenger stand out, the R/T is possibly the best value and well-rounded model in the lineup. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
    Year: 2019
    Make: Dodge
    Model: Challenger
    Trim: R/T
    Engine: 5.7 HEMI VVT V8 Engine
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 372 @ 5,200
    Torque @ RPM: 400 @ 4,400
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/25/19
    Curb Weight: 4,158 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
    Base Price: $34,295
    As Tested Price: $46,555 (Includes $1,495.00 Destination Charge)
    "Shaker" Package - $2,500.00
    TorqueFlite Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission - $1,595.00
    Performance Handling Group - $1,495.00
    Driver Convenience Group - $1,295.00
    Power Sunroof - $1,295.00
    UConnect 4C Nav with 8.4-inch Display - $1,095.00
    Alpine Sound Group with Subwoofer - $995.00
    Shakedown Graphics - $495.00

    December 2019 Sales Figure Ticker

    ...Who had a Happy Holiday and who got coal in their stocking?...

    Ford Motor Company - Down 1.3% for the quarter, Down 3.0% for the year
    General Motors Co. - Down 6.3% for the quarter, Down 2.3% for the year
    Tesla - Not yet Reported
    FCA US LLC - Down 2% for the quarter, Down 1% for the year
    Audi of America -  Up 14.0% for the month, Up 0.4% for the year
    BMW of North America -  Up 2.4% for the month, Up 1.8% for the year
    Genesis Motor America - Up 262.4% for the month, Up 105.9% for the year
    Honda Motor Co. -  Down 12.0% for the month, Up 0.2% for the year
    Hyundai Motor America -  Down 0.6% for the month, Up 3.2% for the year
    Infiniti USA - Down 37.8% for the month, Down 21.1% for the year
    Jaguar Land Rover North America - Up 2.6% for the year
    Kia Motors America - Up 8.0% for the month, Up 4.4% for the year
    Mazda North American Operations - Up 6.5%  for the month, Down 7.2% for the year
    Mercedes-Benz USA - Down 2.4% for the month, Up 1.0% for the year
    Mitsubishi Motors North America -  Up 10.3% for the month, Up 2.5% for the year
    Nissan Group - Down 29.5% for the month, Down 9.9% for the year
    Porsche Cars North America Inc. -  Up 15.8% for the month, Up 7.6% for the year
    Subaru of America, Inc. - Down 3.4% for the month, Up 2.9% for the year
    Toyota Motor North America - Down 6.1% for the month, Down 1.8% for the year
    Volkswagen of America - Down 13% for the month, Up 2.6% for the year
    Volvo Cars of North America, LLC - Up 40% for the month, Up 10.2% for the year

    Brands (Quarterly):
    Alfa Romeo - Down 12%
    Buick - Down 4.3%
    Cadillac -  Down 2.2%
    Chevrolet - Down 6.1%
    Chrysler - Down 15%
    Dodge - Down 9%
    Ford - Down 2.2%
    Fiat - Down 49%
    GMC - Down 8.5%
    Jeep - Down 2%
    Lincoln - Up 17.8%
    Ram Trucks - Up 6%
    Tesla - Not yet Reported

    Brands (Monthly):
    Acura - Down 3.8% 
    Audi - Up 14.0%
    BMW - Up 4.0%
    Genesis - Up 419.7%
    Honda - Down 12.9%
    Hyundai - Down 0.6%
    Infiniti - Down 37.8%
    Jaguar - Up 1.9% for the year
    Kia - Up 8.0%
    Land Rover - Up 2.8% for the year
    Lexus - Down 0.6%
    Mazda - Up 6.5%
    Mercedes-Benz - Down 5.4%
    Mercedes-Benz Vans - Up 21.1%
    MINI - Down 17.4%
    Mitsubishi - Up 10.3%
    Nissan - Down 28.4% 
    Porsche - Up 14.8% 
    Smart - No Longer Reported 
    Subaru - Down 3.4% 
    Toyota - Down 7.2% 
    Volkswagen - Down 13.0%
    Volvo - Up 40%

    Jeep To Show Trio of PHEVs at CES

    ...and bring a new badge with them...

    Jeep will be bringing a trio of plug-in hybrid variants with them to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, and along with them, a new badge.  The Jeep Wrangler, Compass, and Renegade will debut in North America wearing a new 4xe badge that will denote their plug-in status.  The SUV's are scheduled for their official debut in New York and Geneva later this year. 
    Jeep intends to have some form of electrified driving available in its entire lineup by 2022, but it could be in the form of a mild-hybrid eTorque system.  At the moment, Jeep says that all electrified vehicles will carry the new 4xe but it is unclear if that really includes the eTorque models or not.
    We've previously seen Compass and Renegade Plug-In hybrids at the Geneva Auto Show in 2019.  In those, the engine is a 1.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder producing 177 hp and 200 lb.-ft of torque on its own. On the Renegade, there are power variants that add additional electric motivation to bring total output to either 190 hp or 240 hp.  The only choice on the Compass is the 240 hp version.  The PHEVs have eAWD, where the rear wheels are powered electrically only and there is no prop shaft from the gasoline engine.  FCA claims the PHEVs can travel up to 31 miles in electric only mode and reach a top speed of 81 mph before the gasoline engine kicks in to help.
    We will have more details on the Renegade, Compass, and Wrangler Plug-In hybrids coming soon.

    Audi Sport's Electrification Plans Coming into Focus

    ...E-tron all the things...

    Like every other automaker out there, Audi is looking to electrify their lineup, that includes models from the Audi Sport division that produces the S and RS models for Audi. 
    At the 2018 LA Auto Show, Audi introduced the E-tron GT Concept, based on the same platform as the Porsche Taycan.  The concept featured a dual-motor all-wheel drive setup producing 582 horsepower and about 600 lb.-ft of torque.  Powering that was a 96 kWh battery that Audi claimed would give a range of 250 miles and a 0-62 mph of 3.5 seconds. The production version will debut at the 2020 LA Auto Show, but we don't know yet if it will sport the same three tiers that the Porsche Taycan has with similar specs.   It is expected that the base E-tron GT will have a lower output and lower price than the Taycan.  The base model and S variant should be available at launch while the RS will follow along later. 
    In addition to the Audi E-tron GT, Audi Sport is busy working on electrified version of their RS models.  These will be plug-in hybrids, the first of which is expected to be the RS4 around the 2022 model year and then proceed up the line.  Since SUVs are all the rage, Audi is also working on an RS version of their E-tron Sportback SUV to compete head to head with the Tesla Model Y Performance.  The current E-tron Sportback makes a maximum of 402 horsepower in boost mode with its dual motors.  Audi has hinted that a third motor could be introduced for even more performance. 
    Audi will also take a second stab at an R8 E-tron.  The first one appeared in 2015 as a second generation R8, but was only in production for 16 months due to low demand, largely blamed on its $1.1 million price tag. Only 100 copies of the original R8 E-Tron were built. It used a dual motor setup pushing 456 hp and 679 lb.-ft of torque to the wheels with a promised range of up to 280 miles.  The next version of the R8 E-tron will likely see a power boost, but Audi is also working on bringing the price down to a more reasonable (for a supercar) price. Even with a substantial reduction in price, the R8 E-tron will likely only be a limited production model.

    Fiat Concept Centoventi

    ...Preview of the Next Generation Panda...

    Fiat is bringing the Concept Centoventi to the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas.  The concept previews the next generation Panda and the name means 120 in Italian in honor of the brand's 120 year history.  The Panda is the mini-car platform used by the Fiat 500 in the U.S. 
    The Concept Centoventi is designed to be a "blank canvas" ready to be painted to suit owner's needs and desires at any time, without being stuck with the color chosen at purchase. It is produced in only one color and then the customer "paints" the vehicle using Fiat's 4U program that allows for four roof options, four bumper cover options, four wheel cover options, and four exterior wrappings.  Various interior options like storage compartments, seats, and child-restraint systems are interchangeable and installed in a plug-and-play fashion by the customer. 
    The powertrain is electrified and can be equipped with different batteries to vary the range from 60 miles to 300 miles. 
    The Concept Centoventi has a small screen in the windshield facing outward to display messages while a larger rear tailgate display can also display messages or while in motion, just the Fiat logo. 

    FCA 2020 Airflow Vision Concept

    ...setting up for an electrified future...

    Fiat Chrysler is bringing a slew of concepts to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that all feature some sort of electrification.
    The centerpiece of their display will be the 2020 Airflow Vision concept.  While not specifically branded as a Chrysler, the Airflow Vision does take the name of a full-size Chrysler model produced from 1934 - 1937.  FCA calls it a "sculptural design concept" that envisions the next generation of premium transportation.  The interior user experience is designed to be captivating. FCA put a lot of work into showing a sophisticated appearance that can be personalized and customized to individual needs. 
    The cabin offers multiple interfaces, one behind the steering wheel, two on the center console, one for the front passenger, and two more for the rear passengers. Information can be shared between the screens by swiping.  The interior is said to be the same size as the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in and has a flat load floor. In spite of all that room, it only has 4 seats set up in a lounge chair fashion to maximize legroom, shoulder room, and storage space for each passenger. Premium suedes and leathers, along with ambient lighting make the ride a first-class experience. 
    The exterior of the Airflow Vision has an aggressive stance with bodywork reaching almost to the ground. The wheels hint at the use of electric motors, but no powertrain information was provided.

    Rumorpile: Ford Working On Ranger Raptor V8 for Down Under

    ...Forbidden Fruit for the U.S....

    Rumor has it that Ford is working on a V8 powered version of their Ranger Raptor currently sold in overseas markets. Only available in other parts of the world, the current Ranger Raptor is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder diesel that produces 210 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft of torque, but a report in Wheels magazine says that Ford Australia is working with an external engineering company to swap the 2.0 diesel for a 5.0-liter V8 from the Mustang GT.  The odd thing about this is that the Ranger Raptor 5.0 would be still built with the 2.0-liter diesel under the hood and then later converted to V8 gasoline power.
    Expect power to be about the same as it makes in the Australian spec Mustang GT, a healthy 455 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft of torque. 
    If it all comes together, the Ranger Raptor 5.0 is expected to go on sale in Australia next year, sold by Ford dealers and backed by the full 5-year warranty. For now, the Ranger Raptor remains forbidden fruit to the U.S. no matter what engine is under the hood.

    Genesis Releases Images of GV80 SUV

    ...the first official ones anyway...

    Over the holiday, Genesis released some official images of the upcoming Genesis GV80 SUV.  The Genesis GV80 originally leaked out with unauthorized pictures in early December, but now we have a clearer and more official view.
    The GV80 sports the large shield grille that the new 2020 Genesis G90 wears, but also includes new split headlight design. This motif is reflected in the taillight design as well.  Inside the dashboard is wide and low, to emphasis width. Most of the controls are touch sensitive and a large, wide screen rises up out of the dash for the infotainment system. The drive selector is a jewel-like rotating dial in the center console. 
    The GV80 rides on a Genesis-unique rear wheel drive platform and will likely be powered by a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 making 365 horsepower or more with a possible power boost. There is also the possibility of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder found in the Sonata N-Line that makes 290 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The transmission will likely be the 8-speed automatic found in other Genesis vehicles. 
    We will be seeing more of the GV80 as the month progresses. It goes on sale in it's home market of South Korea later this month.

    Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel Gets EPA Rating

    ...similar to the Ram 1500 Pickup...

    The EPA has officially released its assessment of the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel. The EcoDiesel is only available as a 4-door with an 8-speed automatic and in that configuration, the EcoDiesel manages to get 29 mpg highway, 22 mpg city, and 25 combined. That is slightly better than a 4x4 Ram 1500 with the same powertrain. The next closest model in terms of fuel efficiency is the 2-door, 4-cylinder, manual transmission, rear-wheel drive Wrangler at 24 highway mpg, 22 city mpg, and 23 combined. 
    The diesel engine is a $4,000 option though so you may not ultimately save money. Instead, Jeep believes the EcoDiesel option is best suited for those who need the gobs of torque generated by the V6 diesel when going off-road. With 260 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft of torque, the Wrangler EcoDiesel has torque in spades. To the dismay of many, the Ecodiesel does come standard with electronic stop/start.
    If diesel isn't your thing, there is the 2.0T 4-cylinder which produces 270 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft of torque or the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 which produces 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft of torque.  Both engines also come with stop/start or can be upgraded to the eTorque system that smooths out the torque band and either engine is available with a manual transmission or 8-speed automatic.

    Volkswagen to Intro 34 new Models in 2020

    ...but that is globally...

    The Volkswagen brand is on track to introduce 34 models globally in 2020.  While some, like the ID.3, will be new to the portfolio, others are variants of familiar faces with many of those being electrified. Much stricter emissions rules come into effect in Europe starting January 1st and will force every company that sells on the continent to rethink their lineups.
    For Volkswagen, that means that most of their internal combustion powered vehicles will gain an available hybrid powertrain. Volkswagen says they will be introducing hybrid versions from the Golf to the Tiguan, to the Touareg. There will also be a number of cars coming that aren't hybrids or EVs. The next generation Golf is coming to Europe in 2020 with GTI, GTD, R, and Wagon variants to follow, though not all will make it to the U.S.. The Atlas will receive a refresh and the Atlas Cross Sport goes into production soon. Over in Europe, VW will be launching the T-Roc Cabriolet, the Arteon Shooting Brake, and Tiguan R.  Plus there will be other announcements coming for the brand.  With that in mind, these 34 vehicles are just for the VW brand and don't count what Audi, SEAT, Skoda, are up to. So there is likely to be even more in the pipeline.
    This whole push is to help get the Volkswagen brand to a 4 percent to 5 percent operating profit for 2020. 

    Mercedes-AMG Models Endangered in EU

    ...could cut models by 75%...

    New European carbon emissions rules are coming into effect soon and that will have a negative effect on models from a number of manufacturers.  Mercedes-AMG is known for its high-output vehicles, but that also generally makes them more polluting as well. 
    Mercedes wants to cut its CO2 emissions from the current 138 grams per kilometer to 100 grams per kilometer. This would hit its most powerful models the hardest.  In the overall European market, 35 percent of new vehicles sold are sport utility vehicles which generally have higher emissions than cars.  Customers' appetite for SUVs could force Mercedes to cut their AMG variants offered by up to 75%.  AMG will attempt to get around some of these cuts by introducing electrification in more of its vehicles, however, engine downsizing seems to be in play here as well. 

    Kia Optima To Get Name Change, Two Turbo Engines

    ...following the path of the Sonata...

    The Kia K5 was unveiled in South Korea last month, but now we have some technical details to go with it. It sounds like Kia will ditch the Optima name in the U.S. and go with the K5 name used in South Korea going forward.
    The engine selection is similar to that of the Hyundai Sonata.  There will be a 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder with 178 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft of torque. There will also be a 2.5 liter naturally aspirated and direct injected 4-cylinder that produces 191 hp and 181 lb.-ft of torque. The bigger news is that the Kia K5 GT will also get the 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder going into the Sonata N-Line, that motor produces 286 hp and 311 lb.-ft of torque. That final engine is paired with an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and should get the sedan from 0-60 in 6.6 seconds. Sometime in the future, a hybrid version of the car will be released, but Kia isn't going into detail on that just yet.
    Probably the biggest news for the K5 is that it will gain an all-wheel drive system that can shift power to the rear axle based on road conditions and driver input. It should be noted that the Sonata doesn't get an all-wheel drive option, so this gives the Kia a point of distinction over its cousin.
    The K5 has a sporty exterior with a wide tiger nose grille running the entire width of the vehicle. New headlights with a 'heart beat' daytime running light feature flank both sides. The stance of the K5 is said to lean forward with a rakish windshield and sloping roof.  In the rear is a dual exhaust system and integrated spoiler along with a LED light bar.  Wheels start at 16-inches and range up to 19-inches on the GT.
    The K5 is 193.1 inches long, longer than its predecessor, it's also lower and wider.  Wheelbase grows by 1.8-inches. 
    The cabin is all new with fancy new seats and a flat bottom steering wheel. There is an availabe infotainment system that sports a 10.25-inch screen while an available gauge cluster is fully digital and 12.3 inches complimented by an 8.0-inch heads up display. Some models of K5 will get a rotary gear selector while others get a more traditional T-Shifter.
    The K5 will have a bunch of driver assistance technologies including forward collision avoidance assist, blind-spot monitoring and assist, smart cruise control, driver attention warning, and highway driving assist.  Also available is a Level 2 semi-autonomous driving system and a remote park assist that will allow users to move their vehicle forwards or backwards with a key fob in order to get into or out of a tight parking spot.
    The 2021 Kia K5 goes on sale in the first half of 2020.

    Most of FCA's Vehicles Moving to PSA platforms

    ...going with the more modern stuff...

    In a discussion about their pending merger, Fiat Chrysler revealed that the combined company's future vehicles in the small to mid-size range will be built on two of PSA's platforms.  The reasoning behind it is that PSA's platforms are more modern than FCA's which first debuted in 2003. They are also capable of a wider range of propulsion methods like electrification that are harder to incorporate into the aging platform that FCA is using.  
    The smaller of the two platforms, PSA's CMP, launched last year is found under the Peugeot 208, 2008, DS 3 Crossback and the new Opel Corsa.  The larger platform is called EMP2 and launched in 2016.  It underpins the Peugeot 3008, 5008, 508, DS7 Crossback, Citroen C5 Aircross, and Opel Grandland. Both of these platforms could become the basis for new Jeep, Dodge, and Fiat models. The first possible FCA model to debut on one of these platforms is likely to be a small crossover for Alfa Romeo, due out in 2022.
    On the other hand, the Ram trucks and larger Jeep models will continue to use technology developed by FCA.  The next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee is already well into development and the forthcoming Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are set to go into production in early 2021. 
    The primary question mark remains around the larger Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger, and Chrysler Pacifica. 

    BMW iX3 Heading to Production Next Year

    ...longer range and more conventional looks than the other "i" cars...

    BMW unveiled the Concept iX3 at the Beijing Motor show in April of 2018.  The overall look of the crossover is somewhat conventional, but with the traditional kidney grille being closed off for aerodynamic reasons and special aerodynamic wheels.
    The production iX3 will be rear-wheel drive only and have a peak rating of 286 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. All of that power comes from a single motor. The motor is BMW's fifth-generation eDrive powertrain developed solely in house. BMW says that the technology used in this motor is scalable and thus can be used in different automotive segments. 
    The battery is a 74-kWh pack that is capable of powering the iX3 for 273 miles on the European WLTP cycle (EPA rating will be lower).
    The iX3 will be built in Shenyang, China through a joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive starting in 2020.
    Once the iX3 goes on the market, it will be BMW's first vehicle to be available in gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric drive configurations.

    FCA and Groupe PSA Sign Merger Agreement

    ...Merger of Equals...

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot S.A. have signed a binding agreement to a 50/50 merger of their businesses. Once the merger is complete, the combined company will be the fourth largest automobile producer in the world.  Based on 2018 numbers, the business will sell roughly 8.7 million vehicles annually and have revenues near €170 billion. There will be a strong balance sheet that will allow the new entity headroom to execute strategic plans. Geographically, 46% of revenue will come from Europe and 43% from North America.
    A number of operational efficiencies will be gained by the sharing of platforms and engine technology. The number of platforms will be reduced with approximately 6 million cars a year concentrated on just two platforms.The platform consolidations will account for approximately 40% of the estimated €3.7 billion in savings expected from the merger. 
    Peugeot CEO Carlos Tavares will be CEO of the new company and a board member, while John Elkann of FCA will be Chairman of the Board. The completion of the combination is expected to take 12 to 15 months during which time they will be completing items to the satisfaction of antitrust and other regulatory requirements.

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