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Found 28 results

  1. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: What's the Right Size Vehicle?

    For the past month, I have been doing a bit of window shopping for a possible replacement for my current vehicle - a 2006 Ford Fusion with almost 270,000 miles on the odometer. Usually, whenever I go look at vehicles, I tend to have automotive ADD; tending to look at all kinds of vehicles with no set price or type. But this recent excursion caused me to notice that I had unknowingly set my sights on a certain group. All of the vehicles I was looking at were all compact cars and none were crossovers. Why is that? To get to the bottom of this, I began to look at my driving habits when I am not driving a new car for review. For the most part, I tend to drive in a small radius from where I live - about a 20 to 25 Miles. I don’t really carry passengers in my car and the back seat is primarily used for transporting groceries or other items. Plus, I only get about 22 to 24 mpg in mostly city driving. Looking at this information, it makes some sense as to why I happen to be looking at small cars. I don’t take advantage of all the space on offer for cargo and passengers, and it would be nice to get to some higher fuel economy numbers. You might be wondering why am I not considering a compact/subcompact crossover? There are two reasons for this. One is that I find crossovers to be a little too big for my needs and wants. Second is that I can get a better deal on a car than a crossover. For example, I have been looking at various Chevrolet Cruzes and have been surprised how much dealers are marking them down. I have seen price cuts ranging from about $2,000 to $5,000. That means I could get into a decently equipped Cruze for around $20,000 to $22,000. Can’t really do the same when talking about the Equinox. There have been a couple pieces flowing around within the past few months talking about how a number of us tend to buy the largest vehicle we can afford because we tend to think about the extremes that will happen rarely during the ownership of the vehicle. Having a big vehicle for when you decide to move or pick up some large items is a nice thing to have, but how often will that happen for most of us? Twice? Three times? We may think that we are using rational reasoning to try and justify buying something bigger, but the irrational parts of our brains ultimately color the final decision. All of us should buy a vehicle that fits our needs and wants. But that doesn’t always work out. Some of us enjoy driving a bigger vehicle such as a full-size sedan or pickup truck. If you get a sense of joy every time you get in, despite the faults and issues that will come up, then I don’t see any problem. For me, I would enjoy having a full-size sedan such as a Chevrolet Impala because of its comfortable ride and looks. But at the moment, it doesn’t make sense for me. I guess what I am trying to say is the next time you’re deciding on your next vehicle, try your best to keep the needs and wants in check. Don’t fall into those traps of thinking about the extremes. Who knows, you might be like me and find yourself surprised at what you are looking at. Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears
  2. For the past month, I have been doing a bit of window shopping for a possible replacement for my current vehicle - a 2006 Ford Fusion with almost 270,000 miles on the odometer. Usually, whenever I go look at vehicles, I tend to have automotive ADD; tending to look at all kinds of vehicles with no set price or type. But this recent excursion caused me to notice that I had unknowingly set my sights on a certain group. All of the vehicles I was looking at were all compact cars and none were crossovers. Why is that? To get to the bottom of this, I began to look at my driving habits when I am not driving a new car for review. For the most part, I tend to drive in a small radius from where I live - about a 20 to 25 Miles. I don’t really carry passengers in my car and the back seat is primarily used for transporting groceries or other items. Plus, I only get about 22 to 24 mpg in mostly city driving. Looking at this information, it makes some sense as to why I happen to be looking at small cars. I don’t take advantage of all the space on offer for cargo and passengers, and it would be nice to get to some higher fuel economy numbers. You might be wondering why am I not considering a compact/subcompact crossover? There are two reasons for this. One is that I find crossovers to be a little too big for my needs and wants. Second is that I can get a better deal on a car than a crossover. For example, I have been looking at various Chevrolet Cruzes and have been surprised how much dealers are marking them down. I have seen price cuts ranging from about $2,000 to $5,000. That means I could get into a decently equipped Cruze for around $20,000 to $22,000. Can’t really do the same when talking about the Equinox. There have been a couple pieces flowing around within the past few months talking about how a number of us tend to buy the largest vehicle we can afford because we tend to think about the extremes that will happen rarely during the ownership of the vehicle. Having a big vehicle for when you decide to move or pick up some large items is a nice thing to have, but how often will that happen for most of us? Twice? Three times? We may think that we are using rational reasoning to try and justify buying something bigger, but the irrational parts of our brains ultimately color the final decision. All of us should buy a vehicle that fits our needs and wants. But that doesn’t always work out. Some of us enjoy driving a bigger vehicle such as a full-size sedan or pickup truck. If you get a sense of joy every time you get in, despite the faults and issues that will come up, then I don’t see any problem. For me, I would enjoy having a full-size sedan such as a Chevrolet Impala because of its comfortable ride and looks. But at the moment, it doesn’t make sense for me. I guess what I am trying to say is the next time you’re deciding on your next vehicle, try your best to keep the needs and wants in check. Don’t fall into those traps of thinking about the extremes. Who knows, you might be like me and find yourself surprised at what you are looking at. Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears View full article
  3. Whenever someone finds out that I'm an automotive writer, sooner or later I will get asked "I'm looking for 'x' vehicle and I was wondering if you could help me out," or some other variation. These are the times where I wish I could make a smoke cloud appear, allowing me to make an escape. But alas, that is only a dream. This is a common thing that a number of us - automotive writers - tend to get whether it is from family, friends, or some random stranger. We want to try and help, but most of the time the suggestions seem to go nowhere. It comes down to various reasons such as none of the ideas are appealing or the person going in a completely different direction (wanted a sedan, now interested in a crossover). But I also believe that we as a group need to take some of the blame as we sometimes try to push someone into a vehicle they are not interested or vice versa. I learned this at an early age when I was trying to push my parents away from leasing a Ford Freestyle due to the poor reviews it got in the automotive press. They ended up with one and I ate my fair amount of crow as I grew to like the Freestyle. Other times, it seems that the suggestions we give out are a bit ridiculous. For example, recommending someone getting a high-performance wagon when all they want is a crossover. I can't help but wonder if some of the suggestions I have heard are due to someone trying to live vicariously through another person. Aside from wishing I could throw on an invisibility cloak whenever this question is asked, I have been trying figure out what could be the best way to help someone while giving myself some plausible deniability. It hit me recently when I was at friend’s birthday gathering. I was chatting with my friend’s dad and he asked me about what car should he recommend to a co-worker. She was looking at a BMW X3 and wanted to know if this was a good choice. Plus, was there any other vehicles she should consider? To get my mind in the right place, I found myself asking a lot of questions. Did she have kids? What are her big considerations? Are there types of vehicles or brands she doesn’t want to deal with? How much does she want to spend? So on and so forth. It was a version of twenty questions where there is no correct answer and somehow less fun. Once I had gotten enough information to get my mind working, I began to recommend a few vehicles that are worth a closer look such as the Audi Q5, Lincoln MKC, and Subaru Outback. I also said the new X3 is quite good and would possibly consider going with a certified pre-owned model for a slightly lower price and warranty. After having this conversation, it hit me: I had figured out a possible fool proof way of offering car advice. It comes down to me taking on the role of a guide where I ask a person what they are and are not interested in, and build out a group of vehicles that I can show someone that possibly fits what they are looking. I don't know what the co-worker ended up choosing and I hope to find out in the near future. So if you want to ask me what car you want to buy, be prepared to answer a lot of questions and not be given a definitive answer. You might be annoyed by this, but the end result is hopefully you finding a car that works. Plus, we might be on speaking terms after this.
  4. Whenever someone finds out that I'm an automotive writer, sooner or later I will get asked "I'm looking for 'x' vehicle and I was wondering if you could help me out," or some other variation. These are the times where I wish I could make a smoke cloud appear, allowing me to make an escape. But alas, that is only a dream. This is a common thing that a number of us - automotive writers - tend to get whether it is from family, friends, or some random stranger. We want to try and help, but most of the time the suggestions seem to go nowhere. It comes down to various reasons such as none of the ideas are appealing or the person going in a completely different direction (wanted a sedan, now interested in a crossover). But I also believe that we as a group need to take some of the blame as we sometimes try to push someone into a vehicle they are not interested or vice versa. I learned this at an early age when I was trying to push my parents away from leasing a Ford Freestyle due to the poor reviews it got in the automotive press. They ended up with one and I ate my fair amount of crow as I grew to like the Freestyle. Other times, it seems that the suggestions we give out are a bit ridiculous. For example, recommending someone getting a high-performance wagon when all they want is a crossover. I can't help but wonder if some of the suggestions I have heard are due to someone trying to live vicariously through another person. Aside from wishing I could throw on an invisibility cloak whenever this question is asked, I have been trying figure out what could be the best way to help someone while giving myself some plausible deniability. It hit me recently when I was at friend’s birthday gathering. I was chatting with my friend’s dad and he asked me about what car should he recommend to a co-worker. She was looking at a BMW X3 and wanted to know if this was a good choice. Plus, was there any other vehicles she should consider? To get my mind in the right place, I found myself asking a lot of questions. Did she have kids? What are her big considerations? Are there types of vehicles or brands she doesn’t want to deal with? How much does she want to spend? So on and so forth. It was a version of twenty questions where there is no correct answer and somehow less fun. Once I had gotten enough information to get my mind working, I began to recommend a few vehicles that are worth a closer look such as the Audi Q5, Lincoln MKC, and Subaru Outback. I also said the new X3 is quite good and would possibly consider going with a certified pre-owned model for a slightly lower price and warranty. After having this conversation, it hit me: I had figured out a possible fool proof way of offering car advice. It comes down to me taking on the role of a guide where I ask a person what they are and are not interested in, and build out a group of vehicles that I can show someone that possibly fits what they are looking. I don't know what the co-worker ended up choosing and I hope to find out in the near future. So if you want to ask me what car you want to buy, be prepared to answer a lot of questions and not be given a definitive answer. You might be annoyed by this, but the end result is hopefully you finding a car that works. Plus, we might be on speaking terms after this. View full article
  5. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: All Eyes On (Model) 3

    In the coming months, one of the most anticipated and important vehicles will begin rolling off the production line. The Tesla Model 3 has a lot riding on it as there are over 370,000 pre-orders for the upcoming entry-level model. This is the vehicle that can either make or break the company. So it seems quite interesting that Tesla is trying to pull attention away from this important model. During Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call, CEO Elon Musk expressed dismay at the lack of attention given to their flagship sedan, the Model S. "We have seen some impact of Model S orders as a function of people being confused" that Model 3 is the upgrade to Model S, Musk said on a conference call. "We want to be super clear that Model 3 is not version 3 of our car. Model 3 is essentially a smaller, more affordable version of the Model S with fewer features,” Musk went on to say. But why is Musk trying to put the spotlight back on the Model S? One only needs to look at the customer deposits for the Model S and X. In the first quarter, deposits on both models dropped 7 percent. The Model S is also getting up there in age. Let us not forget that Model S was first shown back in 2009 and didn’t enter production till 2012. Despite the numerous over-the-air updates with new technology features such as Autopilot and upgrades to the powertrain, it is still the same vehicle we saw many moons ago. Considering the types of models the Model S competes against, this isn’t a good thing. Still, the Model 3 is the current sweetheart of Tesla whether they want it to be not. Unknowingly at the time when the world to the Model 3 back in 2015, Elon Musk had opened a Pandora’s Box. Many people like Tesla because they are not like your standard automaker and this has garnered the company a cult of personality that is more common with Apple or Google, not an automaker. When the Model 3 was shown and price tag revealed to be $35,000 (without federal and state tax incentives), everyone went crazy. People who envied those with either a Model S or X would now be able to join the cool kids and enjoy the perks of owning a Tesla. With all of these pre-orders, Tesla has to get these models out quickly or face the wrath of angry buyers. But there are some serious concerns as to whether or not Tesla can meet it. For one, the company has a long track record of missing production dates. Remember how the Model X was supposed to come out in early-2014? Thanks to a number of delays, Model X production didn’t begin until the fall of 2015. But Tesla believes they have a solution to get the Model 3 in production on time. Tesla’s reasoning for skipping this step is that it brought a number of problems for the launch of the Model X. According to a source speaking to Reuters, “Tesla was unable to take any of the lessons learned from this before ordering the final production tooling,” due to a tight production deadline. "Soft tooling did very little for the program and arguably hurt things," said the source. One only needs to do a quick Google search on Model X issues to see a long list that includes massive gaps with the body panels and the futuristic Falcon Doors malfunctioning. But this is nothing new. Tesla’s build quality issues have been around for awhile and they still haven’t gotten them fully ironed out on either model. This isn’t a good sign when you’re getting to launch a model that will be produced in large quantities. If there is one thing that Tesla has proven time and time again, it has been their resilience. Despite the bad news or fault, they have always seemed to find a way out. The Model 3 will be the ultimate test of their resilience. If they can pull off the launch of the Model 3 with only a few hiccups, then it would propel the company towards a higher place. But one massive screw-up or miscalculation could put Tesla in a difficult spot, one they might not be able to get out. It makes sense that Elon Musk is trying to draw the attention away from the Model 3, but it is too late. The pandora's box has been opened and there is no way it can be shut. All eyes on are the Model 3 and Tesla just needs to ride it out.
  6. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: All Eyes On (Model) 3

    In the coming months, one of the most anticipated and important vehicles will begin rolling off the production line. The Tesla Model 3 has a lot riding on it as there are over 370,000 pre-orders for the upcoming entry-level model. This is the vehicle that can either make or break the company. So it seems quite interesting that Tesla is trying to pull attention away from this important model. During Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call, CEO Elon Musk expressed dismay at the lack of attention given to their flagship sedan, the Model S. "We have seen some impact of Model S orders as a function of people being confused" that Model 3 is the upgrade to Model S, Musk said on a conference call. "We want to be super clear that Model 3 is not version 3 of our car. Model 3 is essentially a smaller, more affordable version of the Model S with fewer features,” Musk went on to say. But why is Musk trying to put the spotlight back on the Model S? One only needs to look at the customer deposits for the Model S and X. In the first quarter, deposits on both models dropped 7 percent. The Model S is also getting up there in age. Let us not forget that Model S was first shown back in 2009 and didn’t enter production till 2012. Despite the numerous over-the-air updates with new technology features such as Autopilot and upgrades to the powertrain, it is still the same vehicle we saw many moons ago. Considering the types of models the Model S competes against, this isn’t a good thing. Still, the Model 3 is the current sweetheart of Tesla whether they want it to be not. Unknowingly at the time when the world to the Model 3 back in 2015, Elon Musk had opened a Pandora’s Box. Many people like Tesla because they are not like your standard automaker and this has garnered the company a cult of personality that is more common with Apple or Google, not an automaker. When the Model 3 was shown and price tag revealed to be $35,000 (without federal and state tax incentives), everyone went crazy. People who envied those with either a Model S or X would now be able to join the cool kids and enjoy the perks of owning a Tesla. With all of these pre-orders, Tesla has to get these models out quickly or face the wrath of angry buyers. But there are some serious concerns as to whether or not Tesla can meet it. For one, the company has a long track record of missing production dates. Remember how the Model X was supposed to come out in early-2014? Thanks to a number of delays, Model X production didn’t begin until the fall of 2015. But Tesla believes they have a solution to get the Model 3 in production on time. Tesla’s reasoning for skipping this step is that it brought a number of problems for the launch of the Model X. According to a source speaking to Reuters, “Tesla was unable to take any of the lessons learned from this before ordering the final production tooling,” due to a tight production deadline. "Soft tooling did very little for the program and arguably hurt things," said the source. One only needs to do a quick Google search on Model X issues to see a long list that includes massive gaps with the body panels and the futuristic Falcon Doors malfunctioning. But this is nothing new. Tesla’s build quality issues have been around for awhile and they still haven’t gotten them fully ironed out on either model. This isn’t a good sign when you’re getting to launch a model that will be produced in large quantities. If there is one thing that Tesla has proven time and time again, it has been their resilience. Despite the bad news or fault, they have always seemed to find a way out. The Model 3 will be the ultimate test of their resilience. If they can pull off the launch of the Model 3 with only a few hiccups, then it would propel the company towards a higher place. But one massive screw-up or miscalculation could put Tesla in a difficult spot, one they might not be able to get out. It makes sense that Elon Musk is trying to draw the attention away from the Model 3, but it is too late. The pandora's box has been opened and there is no way it can be shut. All eyes on are the Model 3 and Tesla just needs to ride it out. View full article
  7. Last week saw the PSA Group (parent company of Citroen and Peugeot) purchasing Opel and Vauxhall from General Motors for $2.3 billion. This move would make the PSA Group the second-largest automaker in Europe. We already know some of the plans that PSA Group has for their new brands such as setting operating profit targets of 2 percent in 2020 (jumps to 6 percent by 2026) and the next-generation Opel/Vauxhall Corsa being the first new product developed with PSA. But as we alluded to in the original news story, there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered such as possible job cuts or what happens to Buick and Holden as they share products with Opel. I have been doing a bit of thinking on these and some other questions. The end result is this piece. 1: Will there be job cuts and plant closures? In 2016, PSA Group employed 172,000 people worldwide. With the acquisition of Opel and Vauxhall, they will be adding close to 42,000 workers (the majority of those from Opel). The number of plants will also increase to 28 due to this purchase. Sooner or later, PSA Group is going have to make cuts. During the press conference announcing the deal, PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares said the company “would honor existing labor agreements and closing plants is a “simplistic” solution.” That may be true for now, but this might change within the coming years. Some analysts believe PSA Group will close two to three plants within five years. The most likely place where the closures and layoffs could take place is in Great Britain. The reason as we talked about in a story back in February deals with the decision made by British citizens last year with leaving the European Union. “By leaving, the country would lose access to the EU Single Market which guarantees unconstrained trade across the member states. It would mean various countries would be leveraging tariffs on British-made goods, making production in the country less competitive.” Former British member of parliament and business secretary Sir Vincent Cable outlined how bad this decision looks for Vauxhall in a recent interview on BBC Radio 4. There could be a way that the British Government could at least stall the possible closures. Back in October, the British Government worked out a secret deal with Nissan to keep them investing in British car production at their plant in Sunderland. This deal caused an uproar as the details were kept as many believed the British Government would be handing over money to keep Nissan happy. But sources told British newspaper The Independent back in January that the deal had no mention of money. It could be that the British Government could do something similar for PSA Group to keep jobs, but it is too early to say if this will happen or not. 2: Will this affect PSA’s plans of entering the U.S.? Probably not. Let’s remember that PSA Group is working through a ten-year plan that may or may not see the return of the Citroen and Peugeot, along with the introduction of DS to the country. Already, the first part of this plan is gearing up for the launch of a car sharing service next month. There is also extensive research going on into the U.S. marketplace. But could there be a possibility of Opel or Vauxhall vehicles being sold here? It would not be surprising if there isn’t talk about this at PSA Group’s HQ. But there is a slight complication to this idea. As part of the sale, PSA Group cannot sell any Opel vehicles developed by GM anywhere in various markets outside of Europe (China and U.S. for example) until they transition to PSA platforms. That means a number of models such as the Astra, Insignia, and Mokka are out of the question for the time being. If Opel was chosen to be one of the brands PSA would sell in the U.S., they might not have a full line of vehicles to sell due to this clause. 3: What does the future hold for Buick and Holden? If there are some losers from the sale of Opel, it has to Buick and Holden. Buick has found some success with Opel products as the Encore (rebadged Mokka) has become one the best-selling models for the brand. Holden is getting a shot in the arm as the Astra will hopefully help their fortunes in the compact space, and the new Commodore (rebadged Insignia) has a tough task ahead of it with living up to an iconic name. For the time being, Opel will continue supplying models to both brands. It is what happens in the future that many are concerned about. During the Geneva Motor Show, GM President Dan Ammann said something very interest to Australian journalists about the future of Holden’s products. This makes sense as the Astra was only launched and the Commodore is getting ready to go on sale. But I wouldn’t be surprised if talks begin very soon about this very topic. The same talks are likely to begin at Buick soon where they face the same issue for the Regal and Encore. Our hunch is Buick might have the easier time of two. The Encore would continue on since it shares the same platform as the Chevrolet Trax. As for the Regal, it could leave Buick’s lineup once the next-generation model runs its course. 4: Does GM lose anything with this deal? There has been a lot of talk about how much money will be freed up from the sale of Opel/Vauxhall for GM, along with making a bit more profit. But it comes at a cost that could hurt GM down the road. The recent crop of compact and midsize sedans from GM owe a lot to Opel’s engineering knowledge. Vehicles that excel in driving dynamics and fuel economy are worth their weight in gold when it comes to the European marketplace. As we know, one part of why GM went into bankruptcy was the lack of competitive small and midsize cars that got good fuel economy. Opel would prove to be GM’s savior with this key knowledge. Right now, compacts and midsize sedans aren’t selling as consumers are directing their attention to crossovers and SUVs. This is due in part to lower gas prices. But sooner or later, the price of gas will go back up and cause many to go back to smaller vehicles. With talk about GM scaling back on their small and midsize car lineup, this decision could have consequences down the road. Plus with Opel out of the picture, GM doesn’t have someone it can rely on to get these models back to the forefront. We can hope GM’s North American office has learned some stuff when working with their European counterparts. View full article
  8. Last week saw the PSA Group (parent company of Citroen and Peugeot) purchasing Opel and Vauxhall from General Motors for $2.3 billion. This move would make the PSA Group the second-largest automaker in Europe. We already know some of the plans that PSA Group has for their new brands such as setting operating profit targets of 2 percent in 2020 (jumps to 6 percent by 2026) and the next-generation Opel/Vauxhall Corsa being the first new product developed with PSA. But as we alluded to in the original news story, there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered such as possible job cuts or what happens to Buick and Holden as they share products with Opel. I have been doing a bit of thinking on these and some other questions. The end result is this piece. 1: Will there be job cuts and plant closures? In 2016, PSA Group employed 172,000 people worldwide. With the acquisition of Opel and Vauxhall, they will be adding close to 42,000 workers (the majority of those from Opel). The number of plants will also increase to 28 due to this purchase. Sooner or later, PSA Group is going have to make cuts. During the press conference announcing the deal, PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares said the company “would honor existing labor agreements and closing plants is a “simplistic” solution.” That may be true for now, but this might change within the coming years. Some analysts believe PSA Group will close two to three plants within five years. The most likely place where the closures and layoffs could take place is in Great Britain. The reason as we talked about in a story back in February deals with the decision made by British citizens last year with leaving the European Union. “By leaving, the country would lose access to the EU Single Market which guarantees unconstrained trade across the member states. It would mean various countries would be leveraging tariffs on British-made goods, making production in the country less competitive.” Former British member of parliament and business secretary Sir Vincent Cable outlined how bad this decision looks for Vauxhall in a recent interview on BBC Radio 4. There could be a way that the British Government could at least stall the possible closures. Back in October, the British Government worked out a secret deal with Nissan to keep them investing in British car production at their plant in Sunderland. This deal caused an uproar as the details were kept as many believed the British Government would be handing over money to keep Nissan happy. But sources told British newspaper The Independent back in January that the deal had no mention of money. It could be that the British Government could do something similar for PSA Group to keep jobs, but it is too early to say if this will happen or not. 2: Will this affect PSA’s plans of entering the U.S.? Probably not. Let’s remember that PSA Group is working through a ten-year plan that may or may not see the return of the Citroen and Peugeot, along with the introduction of DS to the country. Already, the first part of this plan is gearing up for the launch of a car sharing service next month. There is also extensive research going on into the U.S. marketplace. But could there be a possibility of Opel or Vauxhall vehicles being sold here? It would not be surprising if there isn’t talk about this at PSA Group’s HQ. But there is a slight complication to this idea. As part of the sale, PSA Group cannot sell any Opel vehicles developed by GM anywhere in various markets outside of Europe (China and U.S. for example) until they transition to PSA platforms. That means a number of models such as the Astra, Insignia, and Mokka are out of the question for the time being. If Opel was chosen to be one of the brands PSA would sell in the U.S., they might not have a full line of vehicles to sell due to this clause. 3: What does the future hold for Buick and Holden? If there are some losers from the sale of Opel, it has to Buick and Holden. Buick has found some success with Opel products as the Encore (rebadged Mokka) has become one the best-selling models for the brand. Holden is getting a shot in the arm as the Astra will hopefully help their fortunes in the compact space, and the new Commodore (rebadged Insignia) has a tough task ahead of it with living up to an iconic name. For the time being, Opel will continue supplying models to both brands. It is what happens in the future that many are concerned about. During the Geneva Motor Show, GM President Dan Ammann said something very interest to Australian journalists about the future of Holden’s products. This makes sense as the Astra was only launched and the Commodore is getting ready to go on sale. But I wouldn’t be surprised if talks begin very soon about this very topic. The same talks are likely to begin at Buick soon where they face the same issue for the Regal and Encore. Our hunch is Buick might have the easier time of two. The Encore would continue on since it shares the same platform as the Chevrolet Trax. As for the Regal, it could leave Buick’s lineup once the next-generation model runs its course. 4: Does GM lose anything with this deal? There has been a lot of talk about how much money will be freed up from the sale of Opel/Vauxhall for GM, along with making a bit more profit. But it comes at a cost that could hurt GM down the road. The recent crop of compact and midsize sedans from GM owe a lot to Opel’s engineering knowledge. Vehicles that excel in driving dynamics and fuel economy are worth their weight in gold when it comes to the European marketplace. As we know, one part of why GM went into bankruptcy was the lack of competitive small and midsize cars that got good fuel economy. Opel would prove to be GM’s savior with this key knowledge. Right now, compacts and midsize sedans aren’t selling as consumers are directing their attention to crossovers and SUVs. This is due in part to lower gas prices. But sooner or later, the price of gas will go back up and cause many to go back to smaller vehicles. With talk about GM scaling back on their small and midsize car lineup, this decision could have consequences down the road. Plus with Opel out of the picture, GM doesn’t have someone it can rely on to get these models back to the forefront. We can hope GM’s North American office has learned some stuff when working with their European counterparts.
  9. This would have been my fourth Detroit Auto Show (or North American International Auto Show as some would like you to call it) for Cheers and Gears. But due to a leg injury sustained a couple of weeks before the show, I was unable to make it. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise as I would miss out on dealing with individuals who break out tape measures and clipboards to note every little detail, along with journalists complaining about why the show isn't held during a warmer month. But it would turn out this year’s show would be a bit disappointing. That isn't to say there were not any breakouts. The new Kia Stinger GT looks very intriguing as the new Lexus LS. I'm interested in checking out the new Toyota Camry (bet you weren't expecting that). Volkswagen's I.D. Buzz concept could bring something new in terms of electric vehicles (if it ever gets built). Plus Ford's announcement that the Bronco and Ranger were coming was some excellent news. But everything else landed with a bit of a thud. So how did we end up here? A lot of this comes down to the past few years at Detroit being very bountiful with vehicles that caused jaws to drop and excitement levels to rise. The likes of the Acura NSX, Buick Avista concept, Chevrolet Bolt, Ford GT, and Lexus LC made our souls stir and revel in this magical time. But sooner or later, the well was going to dry up and leave a show that was lacking in spark. At first, I thought it was part of a cycle. You have your high points before falling back down and then rising back up. But the more I thought about it, this might be a sign that the auto show is beginning to fade. The past few years have seen a number of automakers hold events off site before the kick-off of the show. Looking at the various social media feeds on Sunday, I was able to count seven different events. Holding something offsite give an automaker a way of controlling the message. It also gives a bit more time in the spotlight, not having to fight with other automakers for it during a packed press day. There are also more outlets for automakers to show their wares. The week before the Detroit Auto Show was the Consumer Electronics Show. The past few years have seen more and more automakers take part in regards to electric vehicles and autonomous driving. It has also been home for a small number of debuts; Volkswagen Budd-e, Chrysler Portal concept, and Faraday Future. The combination of these two, along with some manufacturers pulling out of Detroit over the past few years resulted in this year's show. Does this mean the Detroit Auto Show is doomed? Not at the moment. This year, organizers took a page from the LA Auto Show by doing more in terms of talking about the future of the automotive industry and mobility with press conferences and talks from various industry folks from Sunday to Tuesday. But the writing is beginning to appear on the wall. Down the road, it seems the auto show will not be the place where news is made. Instead, it will be the place where vehicles are gathered for all to look at. Before that day comes, we might get a couple more high points. View full article
  10. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: The Detroit Auto Show Blues

    This would have been my fourth Detroit Auto Show (or North American International Auto Show as some would like you to call it) for Cheers and Gears. But due to a leg injury sustained a couple of weeks before the show, I was unable to make it. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise as I would miss out on dealing with individuals who break out tape measures and clipboards to note every little detail, along with journalists complaining about why the show isn't held during a warmer month. But it would turn out this year’s show would be a bit disappointing. That isn't to say there were not any breakouts. The new Kia Stinger GT looks very intriguing as the new Lexus LS. I'm interested in checking out the new Toyota Camry (bet you weren't expecting that). Volkswagen's I.D. Buzz concept could bring something new in terms of electric vehicles (if it ever gets built). Plus Ford's announcement that the Bronco and Ranger were coming was some excellent news. But everything else landed with a bit of a thud. So how did we end up here? A lot of this comes down to the past few years at Detroit being very bountiful with vehicles that caused jaws to drop and excitement levels to rise. The likes of the Acura NSX, Buick Avista concept, Chevrolet Bolt, Ford GT, and Lexus LC made our souls stir and revel in this magical time. But sooner or later, the well was going to dry up and leave a show that was lacking in spark. At first, I thought it was part of a cycle. You have your high points before falling back down and then rising back up. But the more I thought about it, this might be a sign that the auto show is beginning to fade. The past few years have seen a number of automakers hold events off site before the kick-off of the show. Looking at the various social media feeds on Sunday, I was able to count seven different events. Holding something offsite give an automaker a way of controlling the message. It also gives a bit more time in the spotlight, not having to fight with other automakers for it during a packed press day. There are also more outlets for automakers to show their wares. The week before the Detroit Auto Show was the Consumer Electronics Show. The past few years have seen more and more automakers take part in regards to electric vehicles and autonomous driving. It has also been home for a small number of debuts; Volkswagen Budd-e, Chrysler Portal concept, and Faraday Future. The combination of these two, along with some manufacturers pulling out of Detroit over the past few years resulted in this year's show. Does this mean the Detroit Auto Show is doomed? Not at the moment. This year, organizers took a page from the LA Auto Show by doing more in terms of talking about the future of the automotive industry and mobility with press conferences and talks from various industry folks from Sunday to Tuesday. But the writing is beginning to appear on the wall. Down the road, it seems the auto show will not be the place where news is made. Instead, it will be the place where vehicles are gathered for all to look at. Before that day comes, we might get a couple more high points.
  11. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: My Favorites of 2016

    2016… What a year. This year saw a number of things that no one thought would actually happen did. Not helping matters is the number of famous people that have sadly passed on. Here at the Cheers & Gears Detroit Bureau, it wasn’t such a great year for vehicles. For the 2016 review season, 44 vehicles came in for evaluation. Out of this group, only eight vehicles earned a spot of being my favorite vehicles from the year. Read on to see which vehicles made the cut. 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe It is amazing how far Cadillac has come in the past decade and proof of it can be shown in the ATS- V coupe. A 464 horsepower twin-turbo V6 makes the vehicle fly with no issue. A set of sticky tires and adjustable dampers show the ATS-V is just as capable, maybe more so than its German counterparts. But it can also provide decent ride around town if you set the dampers into a comfort mode. Then there is the look. I’m not usually a fan of red, but it looks killer on the ATS-V coupe. It pairs quite nicely with sharp angles and a low roofline This was one of the models where I found myself grinning from ear to ear because of how much fun I had. 2016 Chevrolet Volt It is amazing how far Chevrolet has come with the Volt. Five years ago, the Volt was this odd looking vehicle with a clever powertrain that made range anxiety nonexistent. Yes, 35 miles of electric-only range didn’t seem like a lot. However, the gas generator acted as an insurance policy if you ran out of juice with the battery. Flash forward to this year and Volt has not only seen an increase in overall range to 53 miles, but it has also gotten sleeker. This is currently my favorite looking Chevrolet vehicle with the new Cruze a close second. Other plus points include an improved interior and smooth ride. The new Bolt is currently basking in the spotlight that the Volt was at one time. But let us not forget the Volt is one of the key reasons why the Bolt exists. 2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack & SRT Hellcat Dodge covered the two extremes of performance this season with the Charger R/T Scat Pack and Hellcat. The Scat Pack was first up and I fell in love with it. For almost $40,000, you basically got an SRT Charger minus the adaptive suspension and number of luxury items. It was great fun with the 6.4L HEMI V8 bellowing down the road and the sharp looking Plum Crazy paint color. I found that you really don’t need the adaptive suspension as the Scat Pack does ok on bumpy roads or curvy roads. Then we come to the Charger SRT Hellcat. 707 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8. It seems maddening that we are given a vehicle with all of this power for a price tag under $66,000. Trying to describe the way the Hellcat goes is difficult and something you need to experience. This is a vehicle that will make you laugh like a small child every time you decide to drop the hammer to hear the whir of the supercharger and manic sound of the V8. 2016 Kia Optima SXL It is no secret that the Kia Optima is one of my favorite midsize sedans. It offers distinctive looks and feature set at a price that will surprise many. But it was set to fall off my list earlier this year when I drove the Optima EX. The big issues were an uncomfortable ride and poor noise isolation. So when I found out that the top of line SXL was scheduled later in the year, I was worried that it would be plagued by the same issues. But those issues never appeared. The SXL was not only quiet but showed a noticeable improvement in terms of ride comfort. I still don’t know what black magic Kia did on the SXL, but it kept the Optima on my favorites list. Now if they could work on the lazy throttle… 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata “Sometimes to fully test a vehicle, you need to put it in a situation where it isn’t fully comfortable.” That was the case for the Mazda MX-5 Miata as it would not be only driven in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Michigan, but it would also be taking me to and from the Detroit Auto Show. Crazy? Of course. But the MX-5 Miata was wearing a set of winter tires which helped it stick to the road. Despite the cold temps and snow that would fall during the latter half of the week, the MX-5 Miata proved to be just as fun as it would have been in warmer weather. Sharp handling, an engine that loved to rev, and a slick six-speed manual transmission. It didn’t hurt that I could actually fit my suitcase into the trunk of the Miata for the show. 2016 Scion iA I have a trend of driving brands or vehicles that will be ending. Most infamously was the time when I drove a Suzuki SX4 for review and then hearing the news of the brand leaving a couple of days after returning it. That was the case of the Scion iA. A few months after driving the iA, Toyota announced that it was shuttering the brand. Some of the vehicles, like the iA would continue as Toyotas. This was a smart move as the iA proved to be a winner. Being a rebadged Mazda2 was a big reason as to why I liked the iA. It was a fun vehicle to drive around town or on a special road. But it also featured a lot of standard equipment including automatic emergency braking. While the brand is gone, it is good to see the iA lives on. 2016 Toyota Prius Three I have never been a fan of the Prius family. Every Prius that I have reviewed left me wondering who decided to start selling a science experiment and not an actual vehicle. But the 2016 Prius is my biggest shock of the year. Yes, the Prius will take its time getting up to speed on the freeway. But around town, the Prius was a spritely performer. More surprising was how well the Prius drove. Taking a corner, I was expecting to experience motion sickness because of how much body roll previous models had. But the Prius took it like a champ showing little body and some decent steering - thank the new TGNA architecture. It doesn’t hurt that I got 60.2 mpg as my average for the week. Well done Toyota. 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen If there is one shining light at Volkswagen, it would have to be the Golf family. Last year, I named the Golf GTI as one of my favorites. This year, that honor falls to the SportWagen. Yes, it isn’t the sharpest looking vehicle in the class and the DSG transmission needs some more work. But Volkswagen got the basics right. The 1.8T is powerful and delivers excellent fuel economy. The interior spacious for both passengers and cargo - I was able to fit two massive Ikea boxes into it. Volkswagen also mastered the dark art of balancing fun to drive with comfort. I could take the Golf SportWagen down a windy road and be entertained. Afterward, I could drive it around town and not feel any road imperfections. There you go, the eight vehicles that earned a coveted spot on my favorites list. Now it should be noted that some vehicles we’re close to getting onto this list, but were kicked off for one reason or another. Here are those vehicles, Chevrolet Malibu 2LT: Chevrolet did an excellent job with the new Malibu with fixing a number of issues that plagued the old model. But the 2LT introduced a new set of problems - questionable materials, poor road noise isolation, and the lack of options. I really do like the new Malibu, just not in 2LT form. Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible: Loved the V8 performance and noise. Hate the $54,000 pricetag. This might explain why GM has such a large amount of Camaros sitting on dealers. Hyundai Elantra: Hyundai played it safe with the updated Elantra and this would have been ok a couple of years ago. But in light of the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, it wasn’t enough for the Elantra to be a strong contender as it once was. Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X: This was a truck I really wanted to like. Nissan was trying something different with the Titan XD - offer something between a light-duty and heavy-duty pickup. Plus, a nice Cummins V8 diesel could have been the cheery on top. But trying to convince someone that your truck is the best is difficult since truck buyers tend to stick with one brand. Not helping is the lack of cab and bed sizes. At the time of our original review, the XD was only available as a crew cab. A regular cab has been since introduced. But it seems Nissan doesn’t fully understand the truck market. You need to have a lot of options available to buyers at launch, not down the road. View full article
  12. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: My Favorites of 2016

    2016… What a year. This year saw a number of things that no one thought would actually happen did. Not helping matters is the number of famous people that have sadly passed on. Here at the Cheers & Gears Detroit Bureau, it wasn’t such a great year for vehicles. For the 2016 review season, 44 vehicles came in for evaluation. Out of this group, only eight vehicles earned a spot of being my favorite vehicles from the year. Read on to see which vehicles made the cut. 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe It is amazing how far Cadillac has come in the past decade and proof of it can be shown in the ATS- V coupe. A 464 horsepower twin-turbo V6 makes the vehicle fly with no issue. A set of sticky tires and adjustable dampers show the ATS-V is just as capable, maybe more so than its German counterparts. But it can also provide decent ride around town if you set the dampers into a comfort mode. Then there is the look. I’m not usually a fan of red, but it looks killer on the ATS-V coupe. It pairs quite nicely with sharp angles and a low roofline This was one of the models where I found myself grinning from ear to ear because of how much fun I had. 2016 Chevrolet Volt It is amazing how far Chevrolet has come with the Volt. Five years ago, the Volt was this odd looking vehicle with a clever powertrain that made range anxiety nonexistent. Yes, 35 miles of electric-only range didn’t seem like a lot. However, the gas generator acted as an insurance policy if you ran out of juice with the battery. Flash forward to this year and Volt has not only seen an increase in overall range to 53 miles, but it has also gotten sleeker. This is currently my favorite looking Chevrolet vehicle with the new Cruze a close second. Other plus points include an improved interior and smooth ride. The new Bolt is currently basking in the spotlight that the Volt was at one time. But let us not forget the Volt is one of the key reasons why the Bolt exists. 2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack & SRT Hellcat Dodge covered the two extremes of performance this season with the Charger R/T Scat Pack and Hellcat. The Scat Pack was first up and I fell in love with it. For almost $40,000, you basically got an SRT Charger minus the adaptive suspension and number of luxury items. It was great fun with the 6.4L HEMI V8 bellowing down the road and the sharp looking Plum Crazy paint color. I found that you really don’t need the adaptive suspension as the Scat Pack does ok on bumpy roads or curvy roads. Then we come to the Charger SRT Hellcat. 707 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8. It seems maddening that we are given a vehicle with all of this power for a price tag under $66,000. Trying to describe the way the Hellcat goes is difficult and something you need to experience. This is a vehicle that will make you laugh like a small child every time you decide to drop the hammer to hear the whir of the supercharger and manic sound of the V8. 2016 Kia Optima SXL It is no secret that the Kia Optima is one of my favorite midsize sedans. It offers distinctive looks and feature set at a price that will surprise many. But it was set to fall off my list earlier this year when I drove the Optima EX. The big issues were an uncomfortable ride and poor noise isolation. So when I found out that the top of line SXL was scheduled later in the year, I was worried that it would be plagued by the same issues. But those issues never appeared. The SXL was not only quiet but showed a noticeable improvement in terms of ride comfort. I still don’t know what black magic Kia did on the SXL, but it kept the Optima on my favorites list. Now if they could work on the lazy throttle… 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata “Sometimes to fully test a vehicle, you need to put it in a situation where it isn’t fully comfortable.” That was the case for the Mazda MX-5 Miata as it would not be only driven in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Michigan, but it would also be taking me to and from the Detroit Auto Show. Crazy? Of course. But the MX-5 Miata was wearing a set of winter tires which helped it stick to the road. Despite the cold temps and snow that would fall during the latter half of the week, the MX-5 Miata proved to be just as fun as it would have been in warmer weather. Sharp handling, an engine that loved to rev, and a slick six-speed manual transmission. It didn’t hurt that I could actually fit my suitcase into the trunk of the Miata for the show. 2016 Scion iA I have a trend of driving brands or vehicles that will be ending. Most infamously was the time when I drove a Suzuki SX4 for review and then hearing the news of the brand leaving a couple of days after returning it. That was the case of the Scion iA. A few months after driving the iA, Toyota announced that it was shuttering the brand. Some of the vehicles, like the iA would continue as Toyotas. This was a smart move as the iA proved to be a winner. Being a rebadged Mazda2 was a big reason as to why I liked the iA. It was a fun vehicle to drive around town or on a special road. But it also featured a lot of standard equipment including automatic emergency braking. While the brand is gone, it is good to see the iA lives on. 2016 Toyota Prius Three I have never been a fan of the Prius family. Every Prius that I have reviewed left me wondering who decided to start selling a science experiment and not an actual vehicle. But the 2016 Prius is my biggest shock of the year. Yes, the Prius will take its time getting up to speed on the freeway. But around town, the Prius was a spritely performer. More surprising was how well the Prius drove. Taking a corner, I was expecting to experience motion sickness because of how much body roll previous models had. But the Prius took it like a champ showing little body and some decent steering - thank the new TGNA architecture. It doesn’t hurt that I got 60.2 mpg as my average for the week. Well done Toyota. 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen If there is one shining light at Volkswagen, it would have to be the Golf family. Last year, I named the Golf GTI as one of my favorites. This year, that honor falls to the SportWagen. Yes, it isn’t the sharpest looking vehicle in the class and the DSG transmission needs some more work. But Volkswagen got the basics right. The 1.8T is powerful and delivers excellent fuel economy. The interior spacious for both passengers and cargo - I was able to fit two massive Ikea boxes into it. Volkswagen also mastered the dark art of balancing fun to drive with comfort. I could take the Golf SportWagen down a windy road and be entertained. Afterward, I could drive it around town and not feel any road imperfections. There you go, the eight vehicles that earned a coveted spot on my favorites list. Now it should be noted that some vehicles we’re close to getting onto this list, but were kicked off for one reason or another. Here are those vehicles, Chevrolet Malibu 2LT: Chevrolet did an excellent job with the new Malibu with fixing a number of issues that plagued the old model. But the 2LT introduced a new set of problems - questionable materials, poor road noise isolation, and the lack of options. I really do like the new Malibu, just not in 2LT form. Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible: Loved the V8 performance and noise. Hate the $54,000 pricetag. This might explain why GM has such a large amount of Camaros sitting on dealers. Hyundai Elantra: Hyundai played it safe with the updated Elantra and this would have been ok a couple of years ago. But in light of the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, it wasn’t enough for the Elantra to be a strong contender as it once was. Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X: This was a truck I really wanted to like. Nissan was trying something different with the Titan XD - offer something between a light-duty and heavy-duty pickup. Plus, a nice Cummins V8 diesel could have been the cheery on top. But trying to convince someone that your truck is the best is difficult since truck buyers tend to stick with one brand. Not helping is the lack of cab and bed sizes. At the time of our original review, the XD was only available as a crew cab. A regular cab has been since introduced. But it seems Nissan doesn’t fully understand the truck market. You need to have a lot of options available to buyers at launch, not down the road.
  13. The past month at Mitsubishi Motors has been tumultuous with the announcement that they had manipulated fuel economy numbers on a number of small city cars sold by them and Nissan. It would come to light that this manipulation had been going since 1991 on a number of models sold in Japan. Shares in the company dropped like a rock and there were concerns that Mitsubishi Motors would have to borrow money from other companies in the Mitsubishi conglomerate. But soon a white knight would appear, Nissan. The company that first discovered and reported it to Mitsubishi would buy a 34 percent share into the automaker, making it the largest shareholder. Thus, an alliance between the two was created. The two automakers are currently still in the beginning stages of their alliance, but certain things have been made clear of what the two hope to accomplish. The biggest one is to improve the reputation of Mitsubishi Motors in Japan. There is also talk about two working together on electric vehicles and possibly sharing a platform for their next-generation pickups. One of the questions still up in the air is what will the alliance bring to the U.S.? That’s probably way down on the priority list for both companies. But it is something that will have to be discussed sooner or later. At the moment, there seem to be two camps of thought. The first is that Mitsubishi should make an exit out of the U.S. Sales are on the rise for the Japanese automaker, but they pale in comparison with other competitors. Also, Mitsubishi doesn’t have the presence as other automakers when it comes to getting the message out. The second is that Mitsubishi should stay, which for the most part is followed by ‘bring back the Lancer Evolution!’. I hate to be the evil person here, but it isn’t coming back. Stop asking for it. Recently I was going back through some old Autocar magazines and came across an editorial talking about Nissan’s change in strategy for the U.K. and how they are currently reaping the benefits. “I remember when Nissan said it was giving up the ‘boring’ car market and dealing only in what were, at the time, niches. Quirky tall things. Things that didn’t sell in large volumes. That funny Qashqai thing: not quite a car, not quite a 4x4 either. We weren’t long out of the 1990s, a decade in which the list of the top 10 best-selling cars in the UK went something like this: Ford's Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo, Vauxhall's Vectra, Astra, Corsa, Peugeot 306, Volkswagen Golf, Rovers 200, 400. Family cars all. Straight family cars. Not always a Nissan among them, although the Micra dabbled inside the top 10, because it was, then, a cute supermini. So Nissan got into what were seen as niches. Ballsy move. And it has stayed there.” It was quite the gamble when Nissan made this call in the 2000’s to drop out of some very popular segments at the time to focus on some odd vehicles. But it has paid off as Nissan has become one of the popular brands in the U.K. and two of their vehicles - the Qashqai and Juke - are in the top ten of the best-selling vehicles. This got me thinking, what if Mitsubishi and Nissan were to apply this same strategy for the U.S.? You might think I’m being somewhat crazy with this idea, but what does Mitsubishi have to lose? What could this strategy possibly look like? I think we need to go back to 2015 and look at comments made by Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko for a possible starting point. "We are strong in SUVs and four-wheel drives. And that is what we would like to focus on as core models in the U.S. market. We have changed direction. We are going to allocate more resources to the areas where we are strong in the U.S.” In 2015, more than 58 percent of Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales were crossovers. That trend is continuing in 2016 as 54 percent of sales through April are crossovers. We know that later this year, Mitsubishi will finally launch the long-delayed Outlander PHEV in the U.S. There is also talk of a small crossover and next-generation Montero/Pajero coming in the next few years. I know crossovers and SUVs aren’t really considered a niche anymore as every automaker has one. But this is an area that Mitsubishi that is quite strong. So what could Nissan bring to the table with crossovers/SUVs? A key item would be electrification. Yes, Mitsubishi does have a fair amount of experience here. But as I mentioned, one of the key things the two automakers are planning to work on together on electric vehicles. They could make some big inroads with building an electric crossover with decent range (200 or more miles). Considering the huge craving for crossovers by consumers, the two could strike something big here. The other item Nissan could bring is new a new platform and/or engines for the next-generation Outlander/Outlander Sport. One complaint about both crossovers are the four-cylinder engines as they don’t have enough power to get either model moving at a decent clip. There’s also the issue of Outlander Sport having a very jarring ride due to the suspension tuning. But this is one part of the Mitsubishi conundrum. The other deals with their other best-selling passenger car, the Mirage. Aside from being the current whipping boy of the automotive press, the Mirage makes up about 38.3 percent of Mitsubishi’s 2016 sales through April. A lot this is due to the low price of the model ($12,995). To capitalize on this success, Mitsubishi will be launching a Mirage sedan later this year. To go back to the comments made by Masuko, “We are strong in SUVs and four-wheel drives. And that is what we would like to focus on as core models in the U.S. Market.” But the Mirage is proving to be a strong model and one that should be considered a core model. It would be mad for Mitsubishi to drop it. One thing that the Mirage does need is a new engine. The 1.2L three-cylinder does deliver excellent fuel economy figures (37 City/43 Highway), but it is slow. Snails could outrun this vehicle. This is where Nissan could come in by giving the Mirage an engine transplant. The 1.6L four-cylinder from the Versa/Versa Note with 109 horsepower would provide a needed boost in power and wouldn’t affect fuel economy numbers much. Now that I have outlined some key issues and comments, let’s dive into what a smaller lineup for Mitsubishi could possibly look like with some help from Nissan. Mirage/Mirage G4: New engine from Nissan and possibly an improved interior. Lancer: Rebadged version of Sentra and Pulsar Hatchback, or Nissan helps with speeding up development of the next-gen model. Outlander Sport: Electric model possibly joins range. Outlander: Plug-in hybrid model sticks around. Pajero/Montero: All Mitsubishi here. Gas and plug-in hybrid powertrains on offer. Five and seven-seat configurations on offer. Triton/L200: Next-Generation model using Nissan Navara platform. Mitsubishi works on everything else from engines and four-wheel drive system. This is way out as both companies have introduced their latest trucks. Would Nissan be willing to help Mitsubishi with this? That is tough to say at this time since we’re still in the honeymoon period between the two automakers and there are more pressing things to address. There is also the consideration of why Nissan would help a competitor in the market. But Mitsubishi is a small bit player in the U.S. Last year, Mitsubishi only sold 95,342 vehicles. This pales in comparison with the 1,484,918 vehicles sold by Nissan last year. This could help Mitsubishi out with making a case for this idea. The U.S. is way down on the priority list between Mitsubishi and Nissan. But I’m sure the U.S. offices are thinking about what will happen. There are two real choices that are on the table, either leave the U.S. market or take a gamble and change up your lineup somewhat drastically. If I was Mitsubishi, I would push for the latter option by using the niche plan.
  14. The past month at Mitsubishi Motors has been tumultuous with the announcement that they had manipulated fuel economy numbers on a number of small city cars sold by them and Nissan. It would come to light that this manipulation had been going since 1991 on a number of models sold in Japan. Shares in the company dropped like a rock and there were concerns that Mitsubishi Motors would have to borrow money from other companies in the Mitsubishi conglomerate. But soon a white knight would appear, Nissan. The company that first discovered and reported it to Mitsubishi would buy a 34 percent share into the automaker, making it the largest shareholder. Thus, an alliance between the two was created. The two automakers are currently still in the beginning stages of their alliance, but certain things have been made clear of what the two hope to accomplish. The biggest one is to improve the reputation of Mitsubishi Motors in Japan. There is also talk about two working together on electric vehicles and possibly sharing a platform for their next-generation pickups. One of the questions still up in the air is what will the alliance bring to the U.S.? That’s probably way down on the priority list for both companies. But it is something that will have to be discussed sooner or later. At the moment, there seem to be two camps of thought. The first is that Mitsubishi should make an exit out of the U.S. Sales are on the rise for the Japanese automaker, but they pale in comparison with other competitors. Also, Mitsubishi doesn’t have the presence as other automakers when it comes to getting the message out. The second is that Mitsubishi should stay, which for the most part is followed by ‘bring back the Lancer Evolution!’. I hate to be the evil person here, but it isn’t coming back. Stop asking for it. Recently I was going back through some old Autocar magazines and came across an editorial talking about Nissan’s change in strategy for the U.K. and how they are currently reaping the benefits. “I remember when Nissan said it was giving up the ‘boring’ car market and dealing only in what were, at the time, niches. Quirky tall things. Things that didn’t sell in large volumes. That funny Qashqai thing: not quite a car, not quite a 4x4 either. We weren’t long out of the 1990s, a decade in which the list of the top 10 best-selling cars in the UK went something like this: Ford's Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo, Vauxhall's Vectra, Astra, Corsa, Peugeot 306, Volkswagen Golf, Rovers 200, 400. Family cars all. Straight family cars. Not always a Nissan among them, although the Micra dabbled inside the top 10, because it was, then, a cute supermini. So Nissan got into what were seen as niches. Ballsy move. And it has stayed there.” It was quite the gamble when Nissan made this call in the 2000’s to drop out of some very popular segments at the time to focus on some odd vehicles. But it has paid off as Nissan has become one of the popular brands in the U.K. and two of their vehicles - the Qashqai and Juke - are in the top ten of the best-selling vehicles. This got me thinking, what if Mitsubishi and Nissan were to apply this same strategy for the U.S.? You might think I’m being somewhat crazy with this idea, but what does Mitsubishi have to lose? What could this strategy possibly look like? I think we need to go back to 2015 and look at comments made by Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko for a possible starting point. "We are strong in SUVs and four-wheel drives. And that is what we would like to focus on as core models in the U.S. market. We have changed direction. We are going to allocate more resources to the areas where we are strong in the U.S.” In 2015, more than 58 percent of Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales were crossovers. That trend is continuing in 2016 as 54 percent of sales through April are crossovers. We know that later this year, Mitsubishi will finally launch the long-delayed Outlander PHEV in the U.S. There is also talk of a small crossover and next-generation Montero/Pajero coming in the next few years. I know crossovers and SUVs aren’t really considered a niche anymore as every automaker has one. But this is an area that Mitsubishi that is quite strong. So what could Nissan bring to the table with crossovers/SUVs? A key item would be electrification. Yes, Mitsubishi does have a fair amount of experience here. But as I mentioned, one of the key things the two automakers are planning to work on together on electric vehicles. They could make some big inroads with building an electric crossover with decent range (200 or more miles). Considering the huge craving for crossovers by consumers, the two could strike something big here. The other item Nissan could bring is new a new platform and/or engines for the next-generation Outlander/Outlander Sport. One complaint about both crossovers are the four-cylinder engines as they don’t have enough power to get either model moving at a decent clip. There’s also the issue of Outlander Sport having a very jarring ride due to the suspension tuning. But this is one part of the Mitsubishi conundrum. The other deals with their other best-selling passenger car, the Mirage. Aside from being the current whipping boy of the automotive press, the Mirage makes up about 38.3 percent of Mitsubishi’s 2016 sales through April. A lot this is due to the low price of the model ($12,995). To capitalize on this success, Mitsubishi will be launching a Mirage sedan later this year. To go back to the comments made by Masuko, “We are strong in SUVs and four-wheel drives. And that is what we would like to focus on as core models in the U.S. Market.” But the Mirage is proving to be a strong model and one that should be considered a core model. It would be mad for Mitsubishi to drop it. One thing that the Mirage does need is a new engine. The 1.2L three-cylinder does deliver excellent fuel economy figures (37 City/43 Highway), but it is slow. Snails could outrun this vehicle. This is where Nissan could come in by giving the Mirage an engine transplant. The 1.6L four-cylinder from the Versa/Versa Note with 109 horsepower would provide a needed boost in power and wouldn’t affect fuel economy numbers much. Now that I have outlined some key issues and comments, let’s dive into what a smaller lineup for Mitsubishi could possibly look like with some help from Nissan. Mirage/Mirage G4: New engine from Nissan and possibly an improved interior. Lancer: Rebadged version of Sentra and Pulsar Hatchback, or Nissan helps with speeding up development of the next-gen model. Outlander Sport: Electric model possibly joins range. Outlander: Plug-in hybrid model sticks around. Pajero/Montero: All Mitsubishi here. Gas and plug-in hybrid powertrains on offer. Five and seven-seat configurations on offer. Triton/L200: Next-Generation model using Nissan Navara platform. Mitsubishi works on everything else from engines and four-wheel drive system. This is way out as both companies have introduced their latest trucks. Would Nissan be willing to help Mitsubishi with this? That is tough to say at this time since we’re still in the honeymoon period between the two automakers and there are more pressing things to address. There is also the consideration of why Nissan would help a competitor in the market. But Mitsubishi is a small bit player in the U.S. Last year, Mitsubishi only sold 95,342 vehicles. This pales in comparison with the 1,484,918 vehicles sold by Nissan last year. This could help Mitsubishi out with making a case for this idea. The U.S. is way down on the priority list between Mitsubishi and Nissan. But I’m sure the U.S. offices are thinking about what will happen. There are two real choices that are on the table, either leave the U.S. market or take a gamble and change up your lineup somewhat drastically. If I was Mitsubishi, I would push for the latter option by using the niche plan. View full article
  15. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: Volkswagen's Comedy of Errors

    Over the past six months and numerous articles with the ‘As the Diesel Emits’ in the title, we are no closer to have a fix for the around 600,000 Volkswagen diesel vehicles with illegal emission software. Instead, we have been treated a first-rate performance of ‘How not to handle a crisis’. From Volkswagen’s delay of admitting the illegal software to CEO Matthias Muller seeming very oblivious to what happening in an interview. It seems the German automaker is getting one black eye after another. The past month or so has seen the crisis cranked up to eleven. New documents revealed that senior managers, including former CEO Martin Winterkorn, were alerted about the U.S. probing some of their TDI models back in 2014 This was followed up by a letter from last year alerting Winterkorn that the Volkswagen did use a defeat device in their diesel models - two weeks before the official EPA announcement. A U.S. Federal Judge has given Volkswagen until March 24th to give an answer on where they stand on a possible fix. Volkswagen of America CEO and President Michael Horn suddenly stepped down from his position. With Horn’s departure, dealers want answers as to what happens next or a mutiny could happen. Ever since this scandal came to light, there has been a question that has been floating around in my head: Does Volkswagen know how much trouble it is in? On the surface, it seems they do and are trying their best to rectify this issue. But dig a little bit further and there are very troubling signs. For example, the Associate Press last week learned from a couple people that Volkswagen’s management in Germany resisted the plan set by Horn to offer $1,000 in gift cards to owners as a gesture of goodwill. Thankfully management relented and the program was instituted. Then there was Volkswagen’s first proposal to fix the affected vehicles in the U.S. which got rejected by the California Air Resources Board as it was “incomplete, substantially deficient and fall far short of meeting the legal requirements to return these vehicles” to compliance. Since then, Volkswagen has been working on a new solution to present to CARB and the EPA, though we haven’t heard anything about it. These concerns bring up another question about Volkswagen: Do they know what their place in America is? Last September, Automobile Magazine ran an excellent editorial titled Volkswagen Has Never Understood its Place in the U.S. In the piece, the author argues that Volkswagen is seen by many Americans as something out of the mainstream - original Beetle, Microbus, Golf GTI, and their diesel lineup. Because of this, Volkswagen has a small, but loyal fanbase, But Volkswagen sees themselves as something different; a mass-market brand capable of selling many vehicles around. Except in the U.S. A few years ago, Volkswagen set an ambitious goal of selling 800,000 vehicles in the U.S. by 2018. To achieve this goal, the automaker decided to build vehicles tailored to the marketplace. What we ended up with was a Passat and Jetta that were appealing as stale bread because that is what the company thought would sell. At first, the strategy worked as sales of Volkswagen vehicles increased. But in the past couple of years, sales have dropped precipitously. The company has been scratching their heads as to why this is happening. It goes back to Volkswagen not understanding their place in the U.S. That last sentence can be extended further into the diesel emission crisis. The way Volkswagen has handled this crisis is nothing short of disastrous. If you are a company dealing with a massive crisis, the key thing you should be doing is keeping everyone somewhat abreast of what is happening. Volkswagen has barely done this and has given the impression that they are really not doing anything, despite all of the reports saying Volkswagen is conducting an internal investigation and working on a fix. This one quote from the Automobile Magazine editorial partly sums the predicament Volkswagen finds itself in. “That left the small clique of devoted enthusiasts, folks who bought Volkswagens because they were Volkswagens, and often because they were Volkswagen “clean” diesels. These are precisely the people Volkswagen just kicked in the teeth.” They’re not the only group that Volkswagen has caused pain. Dealers who bought into Volkswagen’s vision of being a mass-market brand and spent close to a billion dollars, only to see sales fall apart are not very happy. There also seems to be a disconnect between dealers and Volkswagen as this quote from Bloomberg illustrates, “The suggestion was startling: Maybe VW should give up on selling cars to America’s masses. It was late January, at the Detroit auto show, and Herbert Diess, the global chief of Volkswagen AG’s namesake brand, was sounding out U.S. dealers as the company grappled with the biggest crisis in its modern history. Perhaps, Diess wondered aloud, VW should stop trying to compete with the likes of Toyota Motor Corp. in America and go back to focusing on higher-end models. “It was near crickets in the room,” said Alan Brown, chairman of VW’s U.S. dealer council.” Volkswagen is now at a crossroads with seemingly everyone angry with them in one form or another. There are so many things the company could have done to be in a better place than they are currently. But the Volkswagen’s mindset and not fully understanding the U.S. put them in a the place where they are now. Whether or not they learn from this experience and make the necessary changes to survive remains to be seen. The one thing we are sure about is that Volkswagen lost a lot of trust from various groups because of this scandal. As anyone will tell you, regaining trust is a seemingly impossible task.
  16. Over the past six months and numerous articles with the ‘As the Diesel Emits’ in the title, we are no closer to have a fix for the around 600,000 Volkswagen diesel vehicles with illegal emission software. Instead, we have been treated a first-rate performance of ‘How not to handle a crisis’. From Volkswagen’s delay of admitting the illegal software to CEO Matthias Muller seeming very oblivious to what happening in an interview. It seems the German automaker is getting one black eye after another. The past month or so has seen the crisis cranked up to eleven. New documents revealed that senior managers, including former CEO Martin Winterkorn, were alerted about the U.S. probing some of their TDI models back in 2014 This was followed up by a letter from last year alerting Winterkorn that the Volkswagen did use a defeat device in their diesel models - two weeks before the official EPA announcement. A U.S. Federal Judge has given Volkswagen until March 24th to give an answer on where they stand on a possible fix. Volkswagen of America CEO and President Michael Horn suddenly stepped down from his position. With Horn’s departure, dealers want answers as to what happens next or a mutiny could happen. Ever since this scandal came to light, there has been a question that has been floating around in my head: Does Volkswagen know how much trouble it is in? On the surface, it seems they do and are trying their best to rectify this issue. But dig a little bit further and there are very troubling signs. For example, the Associate Press last week learned from a couple people that Volkswagen’s management in Germany resisted the plan set by Horn to offer $1,000 in gift cards to owners as a gesture of goodwill. Thankfully management relented and the program was instituted. Then there was Volkswagen’s first proposal to fix the affected vehicles in the U.S. which got rejected by the California Air Resources Board as it was “incomplete, substantially deficient and fall far short of meeting the legal requirements to return these vehicles” to compliance. Since then, Volkswagen has been working on a new solution to present to CARB and the EPA, though we haven’t heard anything about it. These concerns bring up another question about Volkswagen: Do they know what their place in America is? Last September, Automobile Magazine ran an excellent editorial titled Volkswagen Has Never Understood its Place in the U.S. In the piece, the author argues that Volkswagen is seen by many Americans as something out of the mainstream - original Beetle, Microbus, Golf GTI, and their diesel lineup. Because of this, Volkswagen has a small, but loyal fanbase, But Volkswagen sees themselves as something different; a mass-market brand capable of selling many vehicles around. Except in the U.S. A few years ago, Volkswagen set an ambitious goal of selling 800,000 vehicles in the U.S. by 2018. To achieve this goal, the automaker decided to build vehicles tailored to the marketplace. What we ended up with was a Passat and Jetta that were appealing as stale bread because that is what the company thought would sell. At first, the strategy worked as sales of Volkswagen vehicles increased. But in the past couple of years, sales have dropped precipitously. The company has been scratching their heads as to why this is happening. It goes back to Volkswagen not understanding their place in the U.S. That last sentence can be extended further into the diesel emission crisis. The way Volkswagen has handled this crisis is nothing short of disastrous. If you are a company dealing with a massive crisis, the key thing you should be doing is keeping everyone somewhat abreast of what is happening. Volkswagen has barely done this and has given the impression that they are really not doing anything, despite all of the reports saying Volkswagen is conducting an internal investigation and working on a fix. This one quote from the Automobile Magazine editorial partly sums the predicament Volkswagen finds itself in. “That left the small clique of devoted enthusiasts, folks who bought Volkswagens because they were Volkswagens, and often because they were Volkswagen “clean” diesels. These are precisely the people Volkswagen just kicked in the teeth.” They’re not the only group that Volkswagen has caused pain. Dealers who bought into Volkswagen’s vision of being a mass-market brand and spent close to a billion dollars, only to see sales fall apart are not very happy. There also seems to be a disconnect between dealers and Volkswagen as this quote from Bloomberg illustrates, “The suggestion was startling: Maybe VW should give up on selling cars to America’s masses. It was late January, at the Detroit auto show, and Herbert Diess, the global chief of Volkswagen AG’s namesake brand, was sounding out U.S. dealers as the company grappled with the biggest crisis in its modern history. Perhaps, Diess wondered aloud, VW should stop trying to compete with the likes of Toyota Motor Corp. in America and go back to focusing on higher-end models. “It was near crickets in the room,” said Alan Brown, chairman of VW’s U.S. dealer council.” Volkswagen is now at a crossroads with seemingly everyone angry with them in one form or another. There are so many things the company could have done to be in a better place than they are currently. But the Volkswagen’s mindset and not fully understanding the U.S. put them in a the place where they are now. Whether or not they learn from this experience and make the necessary changes to survive remains to be seen. The one thing we are sure about is that Volkswagen lost a lot of trust from various groups because of this scandal. As anyone will tell you, regaining trust is a seemingly impossible task. View full article
  17. A couple of weeks ago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne made headlines when he announced that the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart would run their course - i.e. no second generation. Instead, the company would focus on building utility vehicles. This threw everyone in the automotive press into a frenzy with equal groups calling Marchionne a genius or a lunatic. But Marchionne also mentioned that the 200 and Dart could continue on if a partner could be found and build vehicles under a contract, a.k.a. badge engineering. This move presents a lot of risk for FCA. Badge engineered vehicles have never been a true success for anyone. There is also an added risk of trying to find the right partner to build these new vehicles. I have decided to figure out a possible list of suitors that FCA could go for. Some of these suitors have a history with the brand while others don’t have any history at all. Mitsubishi - Chances of happening: 1 to 10% The Japanese automaker has a long history with Chrysler. During the late 70’s to mid-nineties, Chrysler imported a number of Mitsubishi vehicles to rebadge and sell (Colt, Colt Vista, Conquest, and Sapporo to name a few). Then there was Diamond Star Motors - a joint venture between the two of developing and building a group of coupes - Eagle Talon, Mitsubishi Eclipse, and Plymouth Laser. Even now, Mitsubishi allows Chrysler to sell a rebadged version of the Mirage G4 sedan - the Dodge Attitude in Mexico. But Mitsubishi doesn’t have a midsize sedan. A few years back, the company announced a joint partnership with Nissan/Renault to develop a new midsize sedan. However the partnership was dissolved and Mitsubishi was back to square one. Then there is the case of the Lancer compact sedan. While most automakers have introduced new or refreshed versions, the Lancer has stayed the same. More concerning is Mitsubishi not having a real plan for the next one or a timeframe. To put it bluntly, Mitsubishi is currently marooned at sea with no sign of help coming for their car lineup. Hyundai - Chances of happening: 0 to 3.5% Hyundai is currently on a roll in many markets with an impressive lineup. But that wasn’t always the case. For example, the Korean automaker partnered with Chrysler to sell a rebadged version of the Hyundai Accent in Mexico, the Dodge Altitude in the oughts. This was because Hyundai wasn’t in the Mexican market untill last year. Going with Hyundai gives FCA access to a well-rounded if a bit boring looking midsize sedan (Sonata) and recently redesigned compact (Elantra). But Hyundai is very constrained on production. All of Hyundai’s factories are working overtime on getting vehicles onto dealer lots. Hyundai is also beginning to change some of their production capacity to focus on building crossovers to meet the growing demand for utility vehicles. The possibility of FCA getting any vehicles are very slim. Mazda - Chances of happening: 10 to 35% The most recent partnership FCA has developed is with Mazda. A few years back, the two announced a deal where the next-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata would form the basis for a new Alfa Romeo Spyder. But Alfa Romeo decided to go their own way and the Miata deal fell into Fiat’s lap. The end result was the 124 Spider which debuted at the LA Auto Show. Extending the partnership would be beneficial for Mazda. The Japanese automaker would have more vehicles on the ground, albeit with different badges. But this partnership could bring some problems. If Mazda was to give the 3 and 6 to FCA, they would be essentially competing with itself. Also, would FCA want to make any changes to the 3 and 6? They already did this with the 124 Spider and there are concerns about reliability due to the changes made. Volkswagen - Chances of happening: 0 to 2% I’ll admit this is quite the long shot. The two automakers have been bickering at each other for a few years when it comes to Alfa Romeo. (To be honest, I would like to see what Volkswagen could do with Alfa Romeo. They could actually get models out on time. But I digress. -WM) So why would Volkswagen want to enter a partnership with FCA? Well, they could use the money considering the amount of trouble they are in with diesel emissions. Also, the two did have a relationship with producing a version of the Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Caravan for the German automaker - the Volkswagen Routan. But Volkswagen is currently dealing with the fallout of the diesel emission scandal and doing a partnership with an another automaker isn’t at the top of their priority list. Also, would you really want to drive a Chrysler Passat? How about a Dodge Jetta? PSA Peugeot Citroen: Chances of happening: 0 to 2% This idea was put out there by Richard Truett of Automotive News. His argument for going with the French automakers is this: ‘The replacements must not be available here from any other manufacturer.’ This makes sense as it would solve one of the biggest problems with going with automaker already in the U.S. - Competing with itself. It would also give the PSA Peugeot Citroen a barometer of whether or not it should make a return to the market. There have been rumors here and there about the French automaker considering a return. But there are a number of problems with this solution. If a deal was reached, getting the vehicles into the U.S. Market would take a fair amount of time and money - getting it certified, making changes, performing emission and crash tests. Also, PSA Peugeot Citroen is still in a recovery process after being very close to bankruptcy two years back. They announced a profit in the first half of 2015 and sales are starting to climb back. Considering something like this would be considered too risky for French automaker. Chinese Automaker: Chances of happening: 1 to 10% The last possibility for a possible partnership is going with one of the Chinese automakers. A number have expressed interest in selling vehicles in the U.S., and a few have come to the various auto shows to gauge interest. But no one has made the full commitment. If FCA was to somehow to make a partnership with a Chinese automaker, it could give them an idea of how their models could fare. But there is a glaring issue with this - aside from the concerns about safety and quality. There is already a sentiment of people who don’t like the idea of automakers of importing vehicles built in China - the Volvo S60 Inscription and soon the Buick Envision. If FCA was to import Chinese vehicles wearing Chrysler and Dodge badges, this could end up a disaster in the court of public opinion. So there is the list of possible contenders that FCA could partner with. We’ll have to sit and wait to see if FCA makes any decision on a possible partnership. But one thing is clear, there is a small group of automakers that would even entertain this. View full article
  18. A couple of weeks ago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne made headlines when he announced that the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart would run their course - i.e. no second generation. Instead, the company would focus on building utility vehicles. This threw everyone in the automotive press into a frenzy with equal groups calling Marchionne a genius or a lunatic. But Marchionne also mentioned that the 200 and Dart could continue on if a partner could be found and build vehicles under a contract, a.k.a. badge engineering. This move presents a lot of risk for FCA. Badge engineered vehicles have never been a true success for anyone. There is also an added risk of trying to find the right partner to build these new vehicles. I have decided to figure out a possible list of suitors that FCA could go for. Some of these suitors have a history with the brand while others don’t have any history at all. Mitsubishi - Chances of happening: 1 to 10% The Japanese automaker has a long history with Chrysler. During the late 70’s to mid-nineties, Chrysler imported a number of Mitsubishi vehicles to rebadge and sell (Colt, Colt Vista, Conquest, and Sapporo to name a few). Then there was Diamond Star Motors - a joint venture between the two of developing and building a group of coupes - Eagle Talon, Mitsubishi Eclipse, and Plymouth Laser. Even now, Mitsubishi allows Chrysler to sell a rebadged version of the Mirage G4 sedan - the Dodge Attitude in Mexico. But Mitsubishi doesn’t have a midsize sedan. A few years back, the company announced a joint partnership with Nissan/Renault to develop a new midsize sedan. However the partnership was dissolved and Mitsubishi was back to square one. Then there is the case of the Lancer compact sedan. While most automakers have introduced new or refreshed versions, the Lancer has stayed the same. More concerning is Mitsubishi not having a real plan for the next one or a timeframe. To put it bluntly, Mitsubishi is currently marooned at sea with no sign of help coming for their car lineup. Hyundai - Chances of happening: 0 to 3.5% Hyundai is currently on a roll in many markets with an impressive lineup. But that wasn’t always the case. For example, the Korean automaker partnered with Chrysler to sell a rebadged version of the Hyundai Accent in Mexico, the Dodge Altitude in the oughts. This was because Hyundai wasn’t in the Mexican market untill last year. Going with Hyundai gives FCA access to a well-rounded if a bit boring looking midsize sedan (Sonata) and recently redesigned compact (Elantra). But Hyundai is very constrained on production. All of Hyundai’s factories are working overtime on getting vehicles onto dealer lots. Hyundai is also beginning to change some of their production capacity to focus on building crossovers to meet the growing demand for utility vehicles. The possibility of FCA getting any vehicles are very slim. Mazda - Chances of happening: 10 to 35% The most recent partnership FCA has developed is with Mazda. A few years back, the two announced a deal where the next-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata would form the basis for a new Alfa Romeo Spyder. But Alfa Romeo decided to go their own way and the Miata deal fell into Fiat’s lap. The end result was the 124 Spider which debuted at the LA Auto Show. Extending the partnership would be beneficial for Mazda. The Japanese automaker would have more vehicles on the ground, albeit with different badges. But this partnership could bring some problems. If Mazda was to give the 3 and 6 to FCA, they would be essentially competing with itself. Also, would FCA want to make any changes to the 3 and 6? They already did this with the 124 Spider and there are concerns about reliability due to the changes made. Volkswagen - Chances of happening: 0 to 2% I’ll admit this is quite the long shot. The two automakers have been bickering at each other for a few years when it comes to Alfa Romeo. (To be honest, I would like to see what Volkswagen could do with Alfa Romeo. They could actually get models out on time. But I digress. -WM) So why would Volkswagen want to enter a partnership with FCA? Well, they could use the money considering the amount of trouble they are in with diesel emissions. Also, the two did have a relationship with producing a version of the Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Caravan for the German automaker - the Volkswagen Routan. But Volkswagen is currently dealing with the fallout of the diesel emission scandal and doing a partnership with an another automaker isn’t at the top of their priority list. Also, would you really want to drive a Chrysler Passat? How about a Dodge Jetta? PSA Peugeot Citroen: Chances of happening: 0 to 2% This idea was put out there by Richard Truett of Automotive News. His argument for going with the French automakers is this: ‘The replacements must not be available here from any other manufacturer.’ This makes sense as it would solve one of the biggest problems with going with automaker already in the U.S. - Competing with itself. It would also give the PSA Peugeot Citroen a barometer of whether or not it should make a return to the market. There have been rumors here and there about the French automaker considering a return. But there are a number of problems with this solution. If a deal was reached, getting the vehicles into the U.S. Market would take a fair amount of time and money - getting it certified, making changes, performing emission and crash tests. Also, PSA Peugeot Citroen is still in a recovery process after being very close to bankruptcy two years back. They announced a profit in the first half of 2015 and sales are starting to climb back. Considering something like this would be considered too risky for French automaker. Chinese Automaker: Chances of happening: 1 to 10% The last possibility for a possible partnership is going with one of the Chinese automakers. A number have expressed interest in selling vehicles in the U.S., and a few have come to the various auto shows to gauge interest. But no one has made the full commitment. If FCA was to somehow to make a partnership with a Chinese automaker, it could give them an idea of how their models could fare. But there is a glaring issue with this - aside from the concerns about safety and quality. There is already a sentiment of people who don’t like the idea of automakers of importing vehicles built in China - the Volvo S60 Inscription and soon the Buick Envision. If FCA was to import Chinese vehicles wearing Chrysler and Dodge badges, this could end up a disaster in the court of public opinion. So there is the list of possible contenders that FCA could partner with. We’ll have to sit and wait to see if FCA makes any decision on a possible partnership. But one thing is clear, there is a small group of automakers that would even entertain this.
  19. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: LA Auto Show Report Card

    This year's Los Angeles Auto Show proved to be much better than first expected. When the news hit back in October of some the vehicles that were to debut, the show's organizers listed the Buick LaCrosse and Nissan Sentra as the big stars. Oh dear, this year's show was going to be a snoozefest. But as we saw in the past week, the LA showed proved to be exciting. There were a number of surprises, along with vehicles that stole the show. Of course, there were the vehicles that maybe should have passed on LA Auto Show. It is that time to grade the vehicles and find out which ones are the top of the class and which ones need to head to detention. Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: Incomplete Despite Alfa Romeo rolling out the Giulia Quadrifoglio again and providing some juicy information (505 Horsepower, 7:39 lap time on the Nürburgring, $70,000 starting price tag), I still don't believe this car actually exists. Blame Alfa Romeo's track record of pushing back dates. Also, we haven't seen what the lower trim models will look like. The only details are a turbo 2.0L four-cylinder with 276 horsepower and all-wheel drive. Buick LaCrosse: Incomplete This car would get a high grade with an impressive interior, updated 3.6L V6, and a number of new tech and safety features. But there is one thing that is giving me pause; the LaCrosse's exterior. We knew that elements of Avenir concept shown in Detroit would influence the next LaCrosse and they are there. But something is a bit off and I can't put my finger onto it. This is a vehicle that I need to see in person before handing out a final grade. 2017 Fiat 124 Spider: C- While Fiat does deserve a lot of credit for making their Miata-based roadster look much different, it badly needs to go back to the drawing board. Yes, it looks like the 60's 124 Spider. But this modern interpretation is ungainly. Also, could Fiat have done a little bit more to the interior? The only item that is saving this from a lower grade? The turbocharged 1.6 from the 500 Abarth. 2017 Ford Escape: C Oh Ford, what have you done to the Escape? I understand that you are trying to bring it in line with the Edge, but the new face looks very awkward. On the plus side, the troublesome 1.6L EcoBoost has been shown the door with the 1.5L EcoBoost taking its place. 2017 GMC Canyon Denali: C+ Having to wait till late 2016 for this model is kind of a disappointment. Also, I'm afraid to see what the pricetag on this luxury version will be. Hopefully, GMC has the luxury appointments that can justify the price. 2016 Honda Civic Coupe: A I'm shocked that I like the new Civic Coupe a lot. The production model mostly stays true to the concept minus a couple of things (the large rear wing and center mounted exhaust). It is quite the sharp-looking compact. When was the last time you could say that about a Honda? S2000 maybe? 2017 Hyundai Elantra: C I'm getting a bit worried about Hyundai's car designs. The Sonata was a snoozer compared to the last one and new Elantra... well looks like the current one. It seems like they are taking a little bit more risk with their crossovers and I want them to take some of that and put them into their cars once again. But I will say the upcoming Elantra Eco model has me very interested. 2017 Infiniti QX30: B- Now I like the standard Q30 as it looks quite sharp. Somehow I don't like the QX30 as much despite it being the same model with just a few inches of added ground clearance. Also, how come I can get AWD on the QX30 and not the Q30? 2017 Kia Sportage: A- Kia continues their trend of producing sharp looking vehicles with new Sportage. The interior looks to be a giant leap ahead of the previous model. Oddly, the Sportage doesn't have small-displacement turbo option like the Tucson. One hope I have the new Sportage: Improved ride characteristics. Lamborghini Huracán LP 580-2: B+ Rear drive Huracán? Uh, where do I sign up? But I'm wondering why it only produces 398 pound-feet of torque. I know most buy a Lamborghini buy it for looks, but a little bit more torque isn't a bad thing. 2017 Lincoln MKZ: B- This was something completely out of left field. I don't think many knew that Lincoln was planning to show off anything besides the Continental (something we expect to see next year). There are some good parts to the 2017 model like the new front end which gives Lincoln a bit more of an identity. There's also this interesting feature of actual buttons for the center stack. (OK, that's a bit cold. But we're glad to see actual buttons again.) But then there are some questionable items. The big one being the 400 horsepower twin-turbo V6. Why? I mean it's awesome, but it also brings up concerns about what Lincoln sees itself as. It is a luxury brand trying to fill a space of what it means to be an American luxury car or is it trying to be like every other luxury car on sale? At least the MKZ was being talked about, something you couldn't say about Lincoln since the Continental concept. 2017 Mazda CX-9: A+ When I drove the current Mazda CX-9 last year, it was in dire need of a replacement as it was aging quite fast. The new CX-9 looks to be a real contender with sharp looks (bigger CX-5 isn't a bad thing), luxurious interior, and having the full suite of Skyactiv technologies. Doesn't hurt the engine is also turbocharged. Best in show? I think so. 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class: C I know that it's a refresh and appreciate Mercedes improving the SL's interior. But I wish they could have gone a little bit farther with the exterior aside from a new grille. This is a vehicle that deserves more. 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport/2017 Mirage: D+ Mitsubishi, I know that you are in the process of a plan to get you back on stable ground and sales are on the rise. But you could have done so much more to these models. A new front end for the Outlander Sport? Four more horsepower and a tweaked front end for the Mirage? A little bit more money in these cars could have done so much to these. 2016 Nissan Sentra: C- During the press conference of the Sentra, Nissan's senior vice president of sales and marketing Fred Diaz said this was the year of the sedan at the company. Oddly the only model we remember from 'year of the sedan' is the Maxima. While the Sentra did get some elements of the Maxima in the front end, the rest of design matches up with the current Sentra. Nissan's 'year of the truck' for next year will hopefully be more exciting. 2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible: B This is one of those vehicles that make you wonder why? But I'll admit that it looks quite sharp. Who knows, this might have a better chance at succeeding than the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Subaru Impreza Sedan Concept: A- Much like the hatchback counterpart we saw in Japan, the Impreza Sedan is quite the stunner. Now whether the production model looks like the concept remains to be seen. But considering Subaru's recent track record, this is something we're bit concerned about. At least the Impreza will be debuting a new modular platform that will underpin future Subaru models. Volkswagen America's CEO Apologizes Again: C+ Volkswagen's apology tour continues with the CEO of the American branch, Michael Horn apologizing during Volkswagen's press conference. Look Volkswagen, we know that you are sorry about the whole diesel emission mess. But you don't need to keep apologizing at every event. It is getting to the point where if someone brings up a question not related to the scandal, you'll be saying sorry. Work on trying to get a fix out there.
  20. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: LA Auto Show Report Card

    This year's Los Angeles Auto Show proved to be much better than first expected. When the news hit back in October of some the vehicles that were to debut, the show's organizers listed the Buick LaCrosse and Nissan Sentra as the big stars. Oh dear, this year's show was going to be a snoozefest. But as we saw in the past week, the LA showed proved to be exciting. There were a number of surprises, along with vehicles that stole the show. Of course, there were the vehicles that maybe should have passed on LA Auto Show. It is that time to grade the vehicles and find out which ones are the top of the class and which ones need to head to detention. Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: Incomplete Despite Alfa Romeo rolling out the Giulia Quadrifoglio again and providing some juicy information (505 Horsepower, 7:39 lap time on the Nürburgring, $70,000 starting price tag), I still don't believe this car actually exists. Blame Alfa Romeo's track record of pushing back dates. Also, we haven't seen what the lower trim models will look like. The only details are a turbo 2.0L four-cylinder with 276 horsepower and all-wheel drive. Buick LaCrosse: Incomplete This car would get a high grade with an impressive interior, updated 3.6L V6, and a number of new tech and safety features. But there is one thing that is giving me pause; the LaCrosse's exterior. We knew that elements of Avenir concept shown in Detroit would influence the next LaCrosse and they are there. But something is a bit off and I can't put my finger onto it. This is a vehicle that I need to see in person before handing out a final grade. 2017 Fiat 124 Spider: C- While Fiat does deserve a lot of credit for making their Miata-based roadster look much different, it badly needs to go back to the drawing board. Yes, it looks like the 60's 124 Spider. But this modern interpretation is ungainly. Also, could Fiat have done a little bit more to the interior? The only item that is saving this from a lower grade? The turbocharged 1.6 from the 500 Abarth. 2017 Ford Escape: C Oh Ford, what have you done to the Escape? I understand that you are trying to bring it in line with the Edge, but the new face looks very awkward. On the plus side, the troublesome 1.6L EcoBoost has been shown the door with the 1.5L EcoBoost taking its place. 2017 GMC Canyon Denali: C+ Having to wait till late 2016 for this model is kind of a disappointment. Also, I'm afraid to see what the pricetag on this luxury version will be. Hopefully, GMC has the luxury appointments that can justify the price. 2016 Honda Civic Coupe: A I'm shocked that I like the new Civic Coupe a lot. The production model mostly stays true to the concept minus a couple of things (the large rear wing and center mounted exhaust). It is quite the sharp-looking compact. When was the last time you could say that about a Honda? S2000 maybe? 2017 Hyundai Elantra: C I'm getting a bit worried about Hyundai's car designs. The Sonata was a snoozer compared to the last one and new Elantra... well looks like the current one. It seems like they are taking a little bit more risk with their crossovers and I want them to take some of that and put them into their cars once again. But I will say the upcoming Elantra Eco model has me very interested. 2017 Infiniti QX30: B- Now I like the standard Q30 as it looks quite sharp. Somehow I don't like the QX30 as much despite it being the same model with just a few inches of added ground clearance. Also, how come I can get AWD on the QX30 and not the Q30? 2017 Kia Sportage: A- Kia continues their trend of producing sharp looking vehicles with new Sportage. The interior looks to be a giant leap ahead of the previous model. Oddly, the Sportage doesn't have small-displacement turbo option like the Tucson. One hope I have the new Sportage: Improved ride characteristics. Lamborghini Huracán LP 580-2: B+ Rear drive Huracán? Uh, where do I sign up? But I'm wondering why it only produces 398 pound-feet of torque. I know most buy a Lamborghini buy it for looks, but a little bit more torque isn't a bad thing. 2017 Lincoln MKZ: B- This was something completely out of left field. I don't think many knew that Lincoln was planning to show off anything besides the Continental (something we expect to see next year). There are some good parts to the 2017 model like the new front end which gives Lincoln a bit more of an identity. There's also this interesting feature of actual buttons for the center stack. (OK, that's a bit cold. But we're glad to see actual buttons again.) But then there are some questionable items. The big one being the 400 horsepower twin-turbo V6. Why? I mean it's awesome, but it also brings up concerns about what Lincoln sees itself as. It is a luxury brand trying to fill a space of what it means to be an American luxury car or is it trying to be like every other luxury car on sale? At least the MKZ was being talked about, something you couldn't say about Lincoln since the Continental concept. 2017 Mazda CX-9: A+ When I drove the current Mazda CX-9 last year, it was in dire need of a replacement as it was aging quite fast. The new CX-9 looks to be a real contender with sharp looks (bigger CX-5 isn't a bad thing), luxurious interior, and having the full suite of Skyactiv technologies. Doesn't hurt the engine is also turbocharged. Best in show? I think so. 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class: C I know that it's a refresh and appreciate Mercedes improving the SL's interior. But I wish they could have gone a little bit farther with the exterior aside from a new grille. This is a vehicle that deserves more. 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport/2017 Mirage: D+ Mitsubishi, I know that you are in the process of a plan to get you back on stable ground and sales are on the rise. But you could have done so much more to these models. A new front end for the Outlander Sport? Four more horsepower and a tweaked front end for the Mirage? A little bit more money in these cars could have done so much to these. 2016 Nissan Sentra: C- During the press conference of the Sentra, Nissan's senior vice president of sales and marketing Fred Diaz said this was the year of the sedan at the company. Oddly the only model we remember from 'year of the sedan' is the Maxima. While the Sentra did get some elements of the Maxima in the front end, the rest of design matches up with the current Sentra. Nissan's 'year of the truck' for next year will hopefully be more exciting. 2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible: B This is one of those vehicles that make you wonder why? But I'll admit that it looks quite sharp. Who knows, this might have a better chance at succeeding than the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Subaru Impreza Sedan Concept: A- Much like the hatchback counterpart we saw in Japan, the Impreza Sedan is quite the stunner. Now whether the production model looks like the concept remains to be seen. But considering Subaru's recent track record, this is something we're bit concerned about. At least the Impreza will be debuting a new modular platform that will underpin future Subaru models. Volkswagen America's CEO Apologizes Again: C+ Volkswagen's apology tour continues with the CEO of the American branch, Michael Horn apologizing during Volkswagen's press conference. Look Volkswagen, we know that you are sorry about the whole diesel emission mess. But you don't need to keep apologizing at every event. It is getting to the point where if someone brings up a question not related to the scandal, you'll be saying sorry. Work on trying to get a fix out there. View full article
  21. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: The Escape Machine

    Last Friday was a trying day for me. I was feeling quite overwhelmed by the large amount of work due the end of the year, along with trying to figure out what the holidays would bring forth. This would be joined by some personal issues that only added to the overwhelmed feeling. I needed an escape. Something that could let me get away from all these issues rolling around in my head, even for a few moments. That's when I made the decision to go out for a drive. I had no destination in mind. I would just drive to wherever the roads would take me. I grabbed the keys to my tester at the time, a Nissan Murano, and just started to drive. I stuck to side roads for this trip and just began to unload my mind. With each passing mile, my mind began to clean up all these thoughts and it was there that I began to have a realization. Back in 1969 and 1970, Oldsmobile came up with a new ad campaign promoting their vehicles as 'Escape Machines'. For example, a print ad for the 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado featured this at the top, "12-hour day. Meetings. Memos. The midnight oil. Wouldn't it be nice to have an Escape Machine?" Oldsmobile was using this as a way to point out their vehicles were perfect to escape the daily grind of work as they were designed and equipped to handle the needs of escape. But now, many of us don't see cars as a means of escape. They are more seen as a tool that will get from point a to point b. Now there are some cars we do see as a means of escape, but they tend to be sports cars with sleek styling and high-performance engines. Here is the thing, any car can become 'Escape Machine'. It isn't the car that classifies it as a way to escape the world for a little bit. It comes down to you, the driver to make that decision. You are the factor that can make the decision into having a vehicle be used as a tool or as something that can take away. As I was wrapping up my drive, I pulled into one of those self-serve car washes to get a picture of the Murano. I posted the picture onto social media with this comment, "Sometimes, it's necessary to hop into your escape machine and drive wherever it takes you to clear or process things in your mind." It just comes down to you to make the decision. View full article
  22. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: The Escape Machine

    Last Friday was a trying day for me. I was feeling quite overwhelmed by the large amount of work due the end of the year, along with trying to figure out what the holidays would bring forth. This would be joined by some personal issues that only added to the overwhelmed feeling. I needed an escape. Something that could let me get away from all these issues rolling around in my head, even for a few moments. That's when I made the decision to go out for a drive. I had no destination in mind. I would just drive to wherever the roads would take me. I grabbed the keys to my tester at the time, a Nissan Murano, and just started to drive. I stuck to side roads for this trip and just began to unload my mind. With each passing mile, my mind began to clean up all these thoughts and it was there that I began to have a realization. Back in 1969 and 1970, Oldsmobile came up with a new ad campaign promoting their vehicles as 'Escape Machines'. For example, a print ad for the 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado featured this at the top, "12-hour day. Meetings. Memos. The midnight oil. Wouldn't it be nice to have an Escape Machine?" Oldsmobile was using this as a way to point out their vehicles were perfect to escape the daily grind of work as they were designed and equipped to handle the needs of escape. But now, many of us don't see cars as a means of escape. They are more seen as a tool that will get from point a to point b. Now there are some cars we do see as a means of escape, but they tend to be sports cars with sleek styling and high-performance engines. Here is the thing, any car can become 'Escape Machine'. It isn't the car that classifies it as a way to escape the world for a little bit. It comes down to you, the driver to make that decision. You are the factor that can make the decision into having a vehicle be used as a tool or as something that can take away. As I was wrapping up my drive, I pulled into one of those self-serve car washes to get a picture of the Murano. I posted the picture onto social media with this comment, "Sometimes, it's necessary to hop into your escape machine and drive wherever it takes you to clear or process things in your mind." It just comes down to you to make the decision.
  23. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: The Infiniti Identity

    For the past week, I have been driving an Infiniti Q50 and for the most part, I have liked it. The model has the makings of an excellent compact luxury car with a powerful V6, expressive exterior, and a nice balance of sport and comfort for the ride. I don't even mind the direct-steer system which replaces many of the mechanical parts for an electrical system that turns the wheel based signals from the input on the wheel. But as I driving the Q50, I felt something was missing. It was only when I writing some notes on it that I figured out what was missing, an identity. Not only for the car, but for Infiniti itself. In psychology, identity is used to describe the items that make a person unique. Our little things and quirks that make us who are. For automakers, figuring out what they want to their identity to be is a crucial piece. Not only does it bring people into your showroom, but it also gives you a selling point. Something you can draw on in your promotions to the final sale. This is a key part for luxury automakers since identity is one of the main selling points. A luxury car is seen as a statement of identity - this is who I am and this is why I drive this car. For many luxury automakers, figuring out their identity is easy. Just off the top of my head, I was able to put an identity for most of the luxury players. Audi: Modern Design BMW: Driving Mercedes-Benz: Quality Jaguar: Luxury and Sport Cadillac: The American BMW Lincoln: American Luxury Trying to define the Japanese luxury automakers has and is still an issue. Lexus is the only one that you could say has an identity - luxury with reliability. Acura is hedging their bets on technology. But Infiniti hasn't been able to come with something they could say 'this is our identity'. Consider when Nissan was launching the brand back in 1989 to 1990. The first commercials showed forests and birds, but nothing about the car. It was hard to tell if Infiniti was a car or a nature preserve. Infiniti did change this with later ads, but there wasn't that hook. Something that could say 'I bought an Infiniti for this reason'. Now it seemed Infiniti was possibly going in the right direction when they brought on Johan de Nysschen back in 2012 to help get the company going in the right direction. Aside from the 'Q' nomenclature, de Nysschen brought a number of changes to the automaker; moving the headquarters to from Yokohama, Japan to Hong Kong; partnering with the Red Bull F1 racing team, setting up a number of studios around the globe, and creating the wild Q50 Eau Rouge which was rumored to go into production. It seemed that company was going in the right direction for creating an identity. Then in 2014, de Nysschen left to take on another automaker - Cadillac. Since then, plans for a high-performance Q50 has been shelved and it seems Infiniti is lost, wondering what their next move should. This isn't a good thing when it seems every other luxury competitor is passing you by. With two new models over the horizon - the Q30 and QX30 - Infiniti should take some time out and figure out who they are. Then they might have a real chance to make a stand in the marketplace. Maybe for some inspiration, they could watch this commercial for the J30 sedan. View full article
  24. William Maley

    Afterthoughts: The Infiniti Identity

    For the past week, I have been driving an Infiniti Q50 and for the most part, I have liked it. The model has the makings of an excellent compact luxury car with a powerful V6, expressive exterior, and a nice balance of sport and comfort for the ride. I don't even mind the direct-steer system which replaces many of the mechanical parts for an electrical system that turns the wheel based signals from the input on the wheel. But as I driving the Q50, I felt something was missing. It was only when I writing some notes on it that I figured out what was missing, an identity. Not only for the car, but for Infiniti itself. In psychology, identity is used to describe the items that make a person unique. Our little things and quirks that make us who are. For automakers, figuring out what they want to their identity to be is a crucial piece. Not only does it bring people into your showroom, but it also gives you a selling point. Something you can draw on in your promotions to the final sale. This is a key part for luxury automakers since identity is one of the main selling points. A luxury car is seen as a statement of identity - this is who I am and this is why I drive this car. For many luxury automakers, figuring out their identity is easy. Just off the top of my head, I was able to put an identity for most of the luxury players. Audi: Modern Design BMW: Driving Mercedes-Benz: Quality Jaguar: Luxury and Sport Cadillac: The American BMW Lincoln: American Luxury Trying to define the Japanese luxury automakers has and is still an issue. Lexus is the only one that you could say has an identity - luxury with reliability. Acura is hedging their bets on technology. But Infiniti hasn't been able to come with something they could say 'this is our identity'. Consider when Nissan was launching the brand back in 1989 to 1990. The first commercials showed forests and birds, but nothing about the car. It was hard to tell if Infiniti was a car or a nature preserve. Infiniti did change this with later ads, but there wasn't that hook. Something that could say 'I bought an Infiniti for this reason'. Now it seemed Infiniti was possibly going in the right direction when they brought on Johan de Nysschen back in 2012 to help get the company going in the right direction. Aside from the 'Q' nomenclature, de Nysschen brought a number of changes to the automaker; moving the headquarters to from Yokohama, Japan to Hong Kong; partnering with the Red Bull F1 racing team, setting up a number of studios around the globe, and creating the wild Q50 Eau Rouge which was rumored to go into production. It seemed that company was going in the right direction for creating an identity. Then in 2014, de Nysschen left to take on another automaker - Cadillac. Since then, plans for a high-performance Q50 has been shelved and it seems Infiniti is lost, wondering what their next move should. This isn't a good thing when it seems every other luxury competitor is passing you by. With two new models over the horizon - the Q30 and QX30 - Infiniti should take some time out and figure out who they are. Then they might have a real chance to make a stand in the marketplace. Maybe for some inspiration, they could watch this commercial for the J30 sedan.
  25. The past week has been miserable at Volkswagen as allegations arose from the EPA that a number of models equipped with the 2.0L TDI four-cylinder were found to emit more emissions than were legally allowed in the U.S. thanks to software. Since the announcement came out last Friday, there has been a fair amount of news. Volkswagen admitted that 11 million diesel vehicles sold around the world had the software The company has set aside $7.3 billion for possible penalties and fixes EPA is looking into the 3.0L TDI V6 used in a number of Audi vehicles, Porsche Cayenne, and Volkswagen Touraeg A number of European countries, along with South Korea announce their own investigations into Volkswagen TDIs to see if they violate emission standards U.S. Department of Justice begins an investigation into Volkswagen over the emission violations Dealers will be getting some financial assistance Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn resigns The German Transport Minister announces 1.6L and 2.0 TDI Engines in Volkswagen vehicles have the illegal software There are still a number of questions up in the air as to what will happen to Volkswagen, the vehicles in questions, and other items. That's where I come in as I'll be looking into the crystal ball and try to figure out what happens next. What will Volkswagen do with the TDI vehicles in question? Most likely Volkswagen will implement a software update that will allow the TDI vehicles to meet the strict EPA emissions. This might also cause the TDI vehicles to lose some power. What is unlikely is Volkswagen retrofitting the affected TDI vehicles with to clean up the emissions. The Truth About Cars has an excellent article talking about the possible parts and price tag if Volkswagen decides to go this route. There could also be a buyback program if the EPA and/or Volkswagen deems it necessary. Will the EPA fine Volkswagen the $18 Billion that has been reported? No. The reasons for this are two-fold. Consider the previous penalties the EPA has levied against automakers: 1995: General Motors was fined $11.5 Million for installing illegal devices in 470,000 Cadillacs 1998: Honda was fined $12.8 Million for not reporting to EPA they had disabled part of the onboard diagnostic computer that detected engine misfires. 1998: Ford was fined $7.8 Million for installing a defeat device in 60,000 Econoline vans These amounts are somewhat a drop in the bucket for automakers. Also, take into consideration that Volkswagen has put aside $7.3 Billion for penalties and fixes. The automaker believes they'll get a hefty fine, but nowhere near the $18 billion. A possible guess as to how much Volkswagen will be fined? Somewhere under the $500 Million mark. Will there be a mass exodus of owners from their Volkswagen diesels? Not likely. A small number people will likely sell or trade in their Volkswagen diesel models, only to suffer a loss in resale value. Many will likely keep their vehicles. What will do to Volkswagen's U.S. Sales? Sales will drop even further, which isn't good news for the German brand as sales have been on a downward trend again. August sales in 2015 were down 8.1 percent when compared to same time last year. Sales for the year are down 2.1 percent. This compounds a problem that has been part of Volkswagen for the past few years for not quite understanding the U.S. market and its odd quirks. One model that could take a big hit is the Golf. The model has been one the bright spots for Volkswagen as it has posted a 151 percent in year to date sales in August. What about Volkswagen's reputation? It will likely take a dive. But if the past scandals with other automakers such as GM, Ford, etc are indication, Volkswagen will be back to good down the line. Are any other auto companies taking part in something similar? Signs seem to point to yes. Earlier this week, Automotive News reported that a European environmental group that suggests a number of other manufacturers are using software or some sort of technology to skirt emission laws. You can check the group's report here. Meanwhile, German publication Auto Bild alleges a number of vehicles violate the Euro 6 emission standards. One vehicle singled out in their piece was the BMW X3 xDrive 20d that was eleven times greater than the standard. Now BMW has denied they do any manipulation on emission tests. “We observe the legal requirements in each country and adhere to all local testing requirements. When it comes to our vehicles, there is no difference in the treatment of exhaust emissions whether they are on rollers or on the road," BMW said in a statement to USA Today. Don't be surprised if more automakers are found to be manipulating or finding a loophole to pass these tests. What about reputation of diesel? This is possibly the biggest unknown at this time for the U.S. For a time, diesel was seemingly making a comeback with a number of automakers announcing diesel options for their passenger vehicles. Now with Volkswagen taking a bit of heat on their diesels, this could cause a number of automakers to reconsider the idea of offering a diesel. There is also the question if the EPA could make further restrictions or changes to the requirements for the diesel models. If so, this could mean diesels are only for luxury models or just become non-existent. View full article

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