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    Volvo Could Go Bigger And Smaller

    ...Expansion of the SUV range in both directions...

    Volvo is looking to expand, and not just in volume. They are looking to add models to their current crossover lineup at the top and bottom of the range.  
    At the bottom could be a new XC20 (If we follow the pattern of XC40 and XC60). This car would compete directly with the Audi Q2 and BMW X1 and would ride on a shortened version of the company's CMA (Compact, Modular Architecture) Platform that underpins the Volvo XC40, Polestar 2, and a few Chinese branded vehicles.  This model is most likely to be the next one introduced to the Volvo lineup. It is possible that this car may be offered as a pure electric vehicle only. 
    At the top end could be a new XC100. Built on the next generation of SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) that supports all the rest of Volvo's lineup except the XC40, it could be up to 18 feet long. While the Volvo would feature the standard set of Volvo powertrains, a large Polestar SUV, all electric, could also be built on this platform.
    Interestingly, Volvo has also trademarked the XC50 name, meaning it could be thinking of some variation on either the XC40 or XC60.

    Officially Official: Corvette Starts at $59,995

    ...including destination charge...

    Chevy released the pricing information on the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray today, keeping its promise of a sub-$60k price.  Pricing rings up at $59,995 including destination charge for the 1LT trim.  The Corvette comes standard with an eight-speed dual clutch transmission and an engine mounted dry sump oil system.
    The 2LT  will start at $67,295 and adds things like a full color heads-up display, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, performance data recorder, navigation,  side blind zone alert, and rear cross traffic alert. 
    The 3LT will start at $71,945, and builds on the 2LT with GT2 Seating with Napa and Mulan leather, custom leather-wrapped interior, suede-wrapped upper interior trim, and leather wrapped door panels. 
    The price of the Z51 Performance package remains the same at $5,000 and includes performance exhaust, performance suspension, electronic limited-slip differential, front air splitter, rear spoiler, larger brakes with Brembo four-piston calipers, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires, and an enhanced cooling system. 
    Customers can forgo the Z51 package and still get the performance exhaust for $1,195. This will boost the performance of the LT2 engine to 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque.  The front suspension lift system is optional on 2LT and 3LT trims for $1,495. 
    Customers will be able to personalize their Corvette with 12 different exterior colors, 6 interior color themes, six seat belt colors, two stitching packages, and three seat choices. 
    Capable of a top speed of 194 MPH on the track, the Corvette goes into production in Bowling Green, KY later in 2019.

    Honda Pulling Production Out of Argentina

    ...Part of a global pull-back...

    Honda is continuing its global pull back of production by announcing it will cease automotive manufacturing operations in Argentina next year.  This is after announcing the closure of its Swindon UK plant  and the pull back of production in the U.S., mainly of the Civic and Accord. Honda is in the midst of consolidating production to fewer facilities and using fewer platforms to produce their vehicles. 
    Honda said it's plant in Campana, which produces the HR-V will focus solely on manufacturing motorcycles. Honda is in talks with the local union to potentially offer buyouts to those who will be affected by the cessation of automotive production. The total plant population is over 1,000 workers. Honda has been building motorcycles in Argentina since 2006 and automobiles since 2011.
     
     

    Forbidden Fruit: Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet

    ...Now another convertible crossover...

    Volkswagen has taken the wraps off the 2020 T-Roc Cabriolet ahead of the Frankfurt International Auto Show in September. Volkswagen says the T-Roc Cabriolet offers just the right combination of SUV flexibility and the open air experience of a convertible. The soft top opens in just 9 seconds, can open or close while the car is in motion up to 18.6 mph (30 km/h), and locks or unlocks electrically. 
    On the safety front, the T-Roc Cabrio has roll-over protection. The system can detect a roll-over and the system springs upwards just behind the rear headrests. The windshield frame is also reinforced.
    It comes with an optional digital cockpit that has an "Always-On" connectivity to the internet and Volkswagen services.
    Two engines are available, a 1.0 three-cylinder engine with 113 horsepower or a 148 horsepower 1.5 liter four-cylinder. A 6-speed manual is standard on both engines while the more powerful engine also has a 7-speed DCT available as an option. 
    Launching in Spring of 2020, the T-Roc Cabriolet remains Forbidden Fruit in the U.S. like its hard top brother. Volkswagen calls the vehicle in the pictures a "near-production" concept car, so expect some changes between now and launch. 
     


    Related:
    Volkswagen: No T-Roc For America, But We're Working On Something

    Ford Extends Warranty on DCT transmissions

    ....Certain Focus and Fiesta years covered...

    Ford is acknowledging the trouble prone Ford Powershift transmission and is extending the warranties on them.  The 6-speed transmission is a dual clutch setup meant to increase fuel economy in Ford's smallest cars.  While a solid idea on paper, customers reported a number of problems with them including slippage, hesitations while accelerating, jerkiness through the gears, difficulty downshifting, and premature wear on the clutch packs. 
    The extended warranty will cover 2014 - 2016 model year Ford Focus, and 2014 - 2015 model year Ford Fiesta and will increase the warranty coverage of the clutch from five years/60,000 miles to seven years/100,000 miles.  Ford will also reimburse customers in this group who have already paid for clutch repairs out of pockets.  The transmission control module will also be warrantied to 10 years/150,000 miles. 
    In addition to that, there is a small group of customers (16%) who need a software update which Ford will provide for free. 
    Affected customers will receive a letter from Ford with instructions on how to proceed.

    GM, Ford Brace For Economic Downturn; German Economy Shrinks

    ...Preparing for the worst...

    Ford and GM, the U.S.'s top two auto manufacturers are bracing themselves for the worst.  They have been running economic modeling to determin the steps they would take given a medium or severe recession in the US and across global markets.  General Motors has a stockpile of $18 billion in cash while Ford has $20 billion saved up.
    GM is relying on deferring non-essential capital expenditures and a shift in production to lower cost vehicles as part of its plan to save costs in the event of a a strong downturn.  Ford says is is evaluating its future moves. 
    Fears of a recession have plagued Wall St. most of 2019 while a trade war with China rages on.  Higher costs of materials due to tariffs is adding to the pain of weak product demand in the U.S., China, and Europe.  In Germany, Europe's biggest economy, growth shrank by 0.1 percent in Q2 2019 as trade conflicts and auto industry troubles weighed heavily on the economy.  Both exports and lagging demand at home have put a strain on German automakers already looking to slash costs. 
    Today, a strong signal that a recession is looming appeared as the 10-year treasury yield dropped below the 2-year treasury yield while do Dow Jones Industrial Average sank over 450 points.  
    Related:
    Honda Slowing Production, Cutting Shifts
    Nissan Profit Plunges 99%; 12,500 Job Cuts Eminent
    Ford Europe Laying Off Another 12,000
    Daimler Books First Quarterly Loss in Ten Years

    Acura Unveils Type S Concept

    First of two Type S variants coming...

    Acura has unveiled their Type S concept ahead of the Monterey Car Week kicking off in two days. This concept strongly previews the upcoming TLX and a Type S performance version. This time, Acura is promising greater acceleration to go with the Type S and not just better braking and handling.
    The dash to axle ratio tells us that this concept is still front-wheel drive, as to be expected. But, adding to that better handling is almost certainly a version of Acura's SH-AWD. The short rear deck is there as is with most new sedan designs these days. The check-mark like tail lamps are a departure from the current Acura design theme while the headlight array is consistent with the current TLX. 
    While this concept looks pretty close to production, we'll probably see a more production ready version of the TLX in the coming months, perhaps at the LA Auto Show. 





    Jeep Releases "Death Wobble" Fix

    ...Mailings to owners were being sent starting Friday...

    Some Jeep Wrangler drivers have been experiencing a frightening phenomenon commonly known as the Jeep "Death Wobble".  While the term is dramatic, FCA says they know of no injuries or deaths caused by this experience. After the vehicle hits a bump at highway speed, the steering wheel can vibrate back and forth by up to five degrees. Drivers claim that the only way to correct the wobble is to speed up or slow down.
    FCA says that the cause of this is a resonance in the front axle and dampers containing air bubbles.  Cold weather makes the oil in the dampers less viscous and air bubbles won't dissipate quickly enough. Jeep will remedy the issue by installing a new damper free of charge to any customer who wants one, but it is not recalling the vehicle.  All new Wranglers come with the new damper. 
    There is currently a class action lawsuit pending that hopes to force FCA to recall the vehicle and calls the addition of a damper a band-aid. 

    Honda Upgrades Odyssey to a 10-speed

    ...Also gets a 25th Anniversary Package...

    The minivan is not quite dead yet and the Honda Odyssey, one of the five remaining minivans still in production, is entering its 25th year on the market. Since its launch in 1995, the Odyssey has sold more than 2.7 million units. Honda is quick to point out that most of these are retail sales and not fleet.  The Odyssey has been the number one retail seller in the segment for 9 years running.
    For 2020, all Odysseys will be upgraded to a new 10-speed automatic transmission. This is mated to the existing 280 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 driving the front wheels. 
    Also for 2020, Honda is offering a $1500 25th Anniversary package that includes a chrome roof rack, body side moldings, chrome rear bumper protector, extra 25th Anniversary badges, illuminated sill plates, and for an additional $1,300, special 19-inch wheels.
    The Honda Odyssey is built in Honda's Lincoln Alabama manufacturing plant alongside the Pilot, Passport, and Ridgeline. 

    Mercedes-AMG One Delayed

    ...if you ordered, be ready to wait two more years...

    Mercedes-AMG's ambitious plan to put Formula One technology onto the streets has reportedly hit some major snags and the project is delayed by at least two years.  The biggest issue appears to be the engine.  The rear engined carbon fiber racer is a  1.6 liter gasoline-hybrid with over 1,000 horsepower.  Four electric motors work in tandem, one for the turbocharger, one on the engine connected to the crankshaft, and two which drive the front wheels. This brings a maximum speed of over 350 km/h (217 mph).
    Even with all of that hybrid technology, a major stumbling block surrounds how to take an F1 engine and make it meet emissions standards. Several exhaust gas cleaning systems must be added to the car in order to drive it legally. There is also the issue of requiring to warm the entire engine oil circuit before even starting the engine.  Both of these must be solved before the AMG One will be ready for production.
     

    Daimler Facing Fines Up to €1 Billion For Diesel Cheating

    ...Software allowed lower NOx and CO2 emissions at pre-set speeds...

    The German motor vehicle authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt) has determined that Mercedes-Benz has delivered vehicles that used illegal cheat software to achieve lower emissions of NOx and CO2 during controlled conditions and preset speeds.  This allowed the vehicles to meet emissions requirements during testing, but not during real world driving.  The vehicles in question are the C220 CDI and the E220 CDI.
    Daimler has been ordered to recall up to 280,000 vehicles and the Stuttgart public prosecutor could slap a fine of up for €5000 per vehicle.  Back in June, the motor authority also ordered the recall of 60,000 GLK diesels.
    Daimler also faces the authorities in the US for higher than allowed emissions from their diesel vehicles. 
    Daimler has declined to comment while the investigation is ongoing. 

    Jaguar Land Rover Could Share BMW Platform

    ...Some new cross-channel sharing in the face of Brexit...

    Jaguar Land Rover already has an agreement with BMW to use BMW sourced engines in future vehicles, but now a report from Autocar says that the company could use a BMW sourced platform for some future small vehicles as well.  Jaguar wants to increase its "Pace" lineup with an "A-Pace" and "B-Pace", small crossover coupes that would use BMW's front-wheel drive FAAR platform that underpins the X1, X2, and eventually the entire Mini linup. 
    Over at Land Rover, there is a possible revival of the Freelander based on the same FAAR platform to fill the entry level spot in the Land Rover showroom. Even the larger Evoque and Discovery Sport could move to FAAR when their current runs are up mid to late next decade. Naturally, as all new platforms are today, they are engineered to accept electrification in the form of electric assist, hybrids, or even pure electric powertrains. 
    If all this comes to fruition, vehicles using the FAAR platform could top 1.5 million in global sales annually. 

    First of Many BMW Model Cuts

    ...the reaper is prowling...

    At the end of July we told you that BMW was planning a slew of model cuts in an effort to save some cash. The first of those cuts has just arrived, for 2020, there will be no 3-Series GT, 6-Series GT, or 6-Series Gran Coupe.  This announcement effectively kills the 6-series lineup entirely which the 8-series has taken over for.  The GT versions of the 3 and 6-Series never caught on and visually looked ungainly. 
    That enough would be perfectly good enough reason for canceling the cars, but the real reason has to do with the markets massive shift towards SUVs.  Already the X3 is outselling the entire 3-series lineup on a regular basis, so keeping such a low volume variant around is probably not in the best interest of a company wishing to cut costs.  We'll update you as we find out about more cuts to the BMW line.
     

    Honda Slowing Production, Cutting Shifts

    ...Civic and Accord most effected...

    Honda is cutting back on production at two of its U.S. plants in anticipation of a slide in sales.  The Marysville, Ohio plant and Honda of Indiana are the two plants being affected.  The cuts primarily come to the Accord and Civic built in Marysville. Marysville operates two lines and one shift at Marysville on Line 1 will be suspended temporarily. That line produces the Accord, CR-V, ILX, and TLX, but the cuts there will mostly impact Accord.  Acura production is unchanged at this time.  The CR-V is also produced in Indiana so some production can be shifted from Marysville to there. This news comes after the announcement of the closure of Honda's Swindon UK manufacturing plant which builds the CR-V for Europe and the Honda Civic Hatchback and Civic Type-R for the U.S.
    Honda sales are down 0.9% for the year, but the Accord has slipped 5.9% July YTD, and the Civic which is Honda's second most popular model has slipped 2.1% July YTD. CR-V, which is Honda's biggest seller is also down 0.9%, but a light refresh is in the works for the CR-V and should debut soon.
    Honda says these adjustments are to help maintain Honda's sales discipline and to flex to the shift in market demand away from sedans. Honda has already announced they are looking to trim fat from their model lineup and have fewer regionally specific models. They will also be reducing the number of variations available to one third of what they are today.  These plans are to be completed by 2025.

    Rumorpile: Will Mini Go All Electric?

    ...could follow the path of SMART, for better or worse...

    It's no secret that Mini's fortunes have not been good lately. In the first half of this year, Mini has only moved 17,583 cars of its five model lineup in the U.S. Parent company BMW needs to do something. Last month, Mini unveiled the all-electric version of the Mini-Cooper with a range between 146 and 167 miles.  Now, a report out from Automobile Magazine says that Mini has canceled the internal combustion engine versions for the entire model range in the next generation of cars. 
    Starting in 2023, Mini will use a skateboard style chassis to underpin the entire lineup.  There will be a new downsized mini... a MiniMini, a more compact 3-door version, and a Mini crossover.  All would be front-wheel drive and offer 35-kWh or 50-kWh battery packs.  Part of the development is being done by China's Great Wall Motors. 
    The electric Minis will be built in China with no word on other manufacturing locations.  This follows Daimler's strategy on SMART to make it an all EV brand and build it in China for Chinese consumption. 

    2020 Buick Encore GX Will Get Two Three-Cylinder Engine Offerings

    ...for an all three-cylinder lineup...

    When the Buick Encore GX debuted in late May 2019, it was originally reported that it would have a Turbo-4 cylinder with more power than the current Buick Encore.  That turned out to be both true and false.  The engine will be more powerful than the current Encore, however it will be in 3 cylinder form rather than 4-cylinder.  GM Authority uncovered the fleet order guides yesterday and published the stats.
    The Buick Encore GX will be offered with a 1.2 liter three-cylinder turbo that produces 137 horsepower at 5000 RPM and 166 lb-ft of torque at 2500 RPM. That is 1 less horsepower but 18 lb-ft more torque than the current base 1.4 liter turbo four. The 1.2-liter will only be available in front-wheel drive trims and paired only with a CVT.
    The step up engine is a 1.3-liter three-cylinder turbo that produces 155 horsepower at 5600 RPM and 174 lb-ft of torque at 1500 rpm. That compares roughly the same to the offered but not often ordered 1.4-liter direct injected turbo offered in the Encore Sport Touring at 153 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 177 lb-ft at 2000 - 4000 rpm. This engine is offered with a CVT on front-wheel drive models and with a 9-speed automatic on all-wheel drive models. 
    The Encore GX is the slightly bigger brother to the Encore, offering five more cubic feet of cargo room.  Built in China, the Encore GX will arrive in dealerships this fall. 


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