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  1. The past few years have seen studies come out that reveal teenagers are less likely to have a driver's license. But a new study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) says teens aren't the only group that are passing on a license. The study which looked at data from 1983 to 2014 reveals that every age group has seen a decrease in carrying a driver;s license. 24.5 percent of Americans aged 16 carried a license in 2014. This is down 6.6 percent from 2008 where 27.5 percent carried one. 76.7 percent of Americans aged 20 to 24 have a license in 2014, compared to 82 percent in 2008. A number of older Americans aren't also carrying licenses either. In the 40 to 59 age bracket, the percentage of those who have a license has dropped 3 percent from 2008 to 2014. Sadly, the study doesn't go into why the amount of people carrying licenses has gone down. But we have a couple possible reasons to it: The average price of a vehicle has been increasing over the years. Young Americans don't have the income to purchase one. A fair number of people are moving back into the city, meaning they are utilizing public transportation systems or using an alternative form of transportation. Source: UMTRI
  2. By 2050, eight states in the U.S. and five countries will ban the sale gas powered vehicles and only allow zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) to be sold. Car and Driver reports that eight states (California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) and five countries (Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Quebec, the United Kingdom) will only allow automakers to sell ZEVs by 2050. The announcement was made against the backdrop of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) taking place in Paris. The two groups point that only selling ZEVs allow emissions to be cut by 40 percent, temperatures will stabilize, and a number of other benefits. But there are some stumbling blocks to this goal. The biggest one is can countries and states ban the sale of gas vehicles. There's also the question of whether people will be interested in buying a ZEV. Source: Car and Driver
  3. Mitsubishi is playing to its strengths to help it rebound in the U.S. That includes the introduction of three crossovers with electric powertrains. Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko tells Automotive News the company will channel their limited resources into creating a more compact lineup mostly made up of crossovers and SUVs. "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," said Masuko. This move means we will likely not see a replacement for aging Lancer compact and i-MiEV. Instead, Mitsubishi will introduce a new coupe-styled crossover that will slot in between the Outlander Sport and Outlander in 2017. A redesigned Outlander will arrive in 2018 and a new Outlander Sport will come a year after. Each crossover will come with a gas powertrain and some sort of electrification, whether that be through a plug-in hybrid system or an electric powertrain. In the meantime, Mitsubishi will introduce "big minor changes" to keep their nameplates fresh. This was first shown at the LA Auto Show with the introduction of the 2016 Outlander Sport and 2017 Mirage. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  4. The popularity of crossovers with consumers is continuing to rise and Mitsubishi wants to make sure they aren't left behind. Speaking with Automotive News, Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko revealed that the Japanese automaker is working a new five-seat crossover that will slot in between the Outlander and Outlander Sport. The new crossover will take some styling ideas from the eX concept shown at the Tokyo Motor Show and compete with the likes of the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage. Production is expected to begin in Fall of 2017 with Europe and U.S. being the main markets for this vehicle. "The Outlander is growing in size, while the Outlander Sport is getting smaller, so it opens a space for the new SUV. We need something to fit in between," said Masuko. This new crossover will help the plea from U.S. dealers that want something fresh in their lots. It also plays a key role into Mitsubishi's revival plan as the company is using crossovers and SUVs to help with their sales. At the moment, 56 percent of Mitsubishi's total volume in the U.S. is made up of crossovers. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  5. When the Volkswagen Eos ends production in a few months time, that will leave Volkswagen with only one convertible in their lineup - the Beetle Cabriolet. But Car and Driver says a replacement is on the way. According to a source at Volkswagen, the company is planning on sending the next-generation Golf Cabriolet. No timeframe was given as to when we'll see it, but expect it not to look that much different from the current model sold elsewhere. Now it should be noted that the Golf Cabriolet wasn't the only option on the table for the U.S. The source said there was a cabriolet using the Passat platform as an option, but that idea was canned. Source: Car and Driver
  6. Mazda's Skyactiv diesel engine has been rocky since it was first announced back in 2011. The automaker was planning on having it available on one of their vehicles starting in 2013. But since then, Mazda has pushed back the launch again and again, citing the reason of delivering "the right balance between fuel economy and Mazda-appropriate driving performance." But in light of the Volkswagen cheating emissions on their diesel vehicles, a few people are questioning whether or not Mazda will go forward with their diesel plans. “It’s been delayed and delayed, and Mazda keeps saying it’s coming. At this point, I don’t understand why they would need a diesel for this market. I don’t see it happening,” said Dave Sullivan, an analyst for AutoPacific to Bloomberg. Sullivan points out that in light of the Volkswagen scandal, the U.S. Government is going to make it even tougher for diesel vehicles to be sold. “The government is not making it easy, and if anything it’s just going to get worse. The oversight that’s coming is about to make it even more difficult,” said Sullivan. Bloomberg reached out to Mazda who said engineers in the U.S. are still hard at work on the engine. Mazda says they don't a have a timetable as to when the engine will be introduced, nor will they be changing their plans in light of the Volkswagen mess. Source: Bloomberg
  7. With the ongoing mess that is the Volkswagen Diesel scandal, Jaguar Land Rover isn't changing their strategy of selling diesel vehicles for the U.S. marketplace. “We are convinced of the benefits of diesels from a fuel economy and from an all-wheel drivability perspective, and that hasn’t changed,” said Joe Eberhardt, Jaguar Land Rover U.S. CEO. Eberhardt says it's "too soon to tell" if the diesel market will be weighed down by the mess caused by Volkswagen, but is confident in their diesel engines in meeting EPA requirements. The company is planning on introducing diesel engines to the majority of their lineup by the end of 2017. Land Rover has begun selling the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport with a turbocharged 3.0L diesel V6 in September. Eberhardt said that roughly 16 percent of the total sales of the Range Rover and Sport models in September were equipped with the diesel engine (about 332 models). JLR Spokesman Stuart Schorr tells Automotive News that the diesel V6 has been certified by the EPA, but admits that it is unclear if the EPA will need to recertify the engine. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Autoblog
  8. Last October, we reported that PSA/Peugeot-Citroën was considering a return to the U.S. “We want to make DS a global premium brand, and you cannot be global without the U.S.,” said DS CEO Yves Bonnefont. Now a final decision as to whether or not the DS brand would come to the U.S. isn't expected till 2017 at the earliest. But Car and Driver reports that Citroën is leaning towards yes. Speaking with sources at the french automaker, Car and Driver reports that a move into the U.S. market is “necessary” and that it might take place within the next few years. But Citroën faces some huge hurdles if they decide to go forward with the DS brand. The French automaker hasn't had a presence in the U.S. since the mid-seventies and most people don't know the importance of the DS name. The original DS introduced in the fifties sent shockwaves in the automotive world. The model set new standards in aerodynamics and comfort. Citroen would produce the DS for twenty years, making it one of the most important models in automotive history. Source: Car and Driver
  9. Honda has apparently rediscovered its sporty side when they announced that the Civic Type R would be coming to the U.S. in the near future. But Automotive News reports the Japanese brands wants more sporty cars. Speaking with executive vice president of American Honda, John Mendel, Automotive News asked if the Honda S660 - a roadster that is about two feet shorter than the Mazda Miata would be coming the U.S. Mendel said no. "I wouldn't put my chips on that," said Mendel. "When the practicalities of the market come in, and the car only so big, that might not be the best car for the U.S. market. It might be better for India or China or somewhere else." But the idea of a sports car is still alive and well at Honda. The company filed patent drawings for a mid-engine model this year, and at the opening of their Silicon Valley r&d lab, there was a full-scale exterior design study looking very familiar to the drawings. When asked about, Mendel only said it was a design study from a team. But he did admit that dealers are wanting a sports car of some kind. "They want anything in the sports car world," Mendel said. "They're going, 'Gimme a sports car.' They want a retractable hard top; they want a high-horsepower $20,000 sports car. Because that's the nature of what they do." Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  10. One model that Volvo's executive team and dealers in the U.S. have been asking for will be coming within the next few years. Speaking with Dutch publication AutoVisie, Volvo's marketing chief Alain Visser revealed that the next-generation V40 hatchback would be coming to the U.S. in the next few years. This is part of change at the company to stop developing region-specific models as they are too small for this. "For all the new models is that they are global players and each model has their own way relevant to a particular market," said Visser. The next-generation V40 will use a new modular platform that is being jointly worked on by Volvo and Geely. This new platform will also underpin a new compact crossover named XC40. Source: AutoVisie
  11. The next-generation Mazda2 won't be arriving on our shores anytime soon. Automotive News reports that cheap gas prices and tight supply of vehicles coming from Mazda's new factory in Salamanca, Mexico has caused Mazda's North American arm to pass on the 2 for the time being. "We could have had it, but we would have had a number that didn't make much sense with 600 dealers and with the marketing it takes to launch a new car. I wanted to allocate resources to those products that make us and our dealers considerably more profit than a Mazda2 does," said Robert Davis, senior vice president of U.S. operations at Mazda. The current Mazda2 was never a big seller for the brand. Last year, the brand moved 13,615 units, an increase of 14 percent. For the time being, the Scion iA sedan will be only way you can get into a Mazda2 in the U.S. But Davis does say that if anything changes, they'll be ready to sell the Mazda2. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  12. Back in June, we learned that Skoda (a Czech brand under the Volkswagen group) was investigating possibly entering new markets. One of those new markets was North America, a place where 20 percent of global car sales take place. At the time our original report, Skoda hasn't set a timeframe for a decision. Also as we noted, Skoda would need to get more crossovers and SUVs ready if they want to try and make inroads in the U.S. Speaking of SUVs and the U.S., a recent article done by Autocar piqued our interest. Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier said if they were to launch the brand in the U.S. in the near future, they would have their upcoming seven-seat Kodiaq leading the charge. “If we do decide to compete in the US, we will have one chance to make a good first impression. We feel that if we were there now, the Kodiaq would be a home-run car,” said Maier. Maier did stress that the U.S. isn't on Skoda's immediate radar. At the moment, the brand is looking closely at Iran, Singapore, and South Korea as possible new markets. But Maier isn't saying the U.S. isn't on their radar at all. “America is the one that we don't currently compete in with the biggest potential.” Skoda appears to have taken a page out of PSA Peugeot Citroën's playbook. Autocar says the automaker has begun a feasibility study as to whether or not it makes sense to enter the U.S. Source: Autocar
  13. Volkswagen is getting ready to start the $10 billion compensation program for owners of the 2.0L TDI engine in the U.S. But some folks want the German automaker to do something similar for TDI owners in Europe. "Volkswagen should voluntarily pay European car owners compensation that is comparable with that which they will pay U.S. consumers," said EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska last week. In a interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag over the weekend, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller said that isn't going to happen. "But we have just a different situation," said Müller. "In the U.S. the (emission) limits are stricter, which makes the fix more complicated. And taking part in the buyback is voluntary (for customers), which is not the case in Germany, for example." The U.S.' regulations concerning emissions are some of strictest in the world, with automakers having to meet specific limits on how much pollutants come out of a tailpipe. This is why all diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. have some sort of after treatment system to help cut down on the amount of NOx emissions. In Europe, the regulations are bit more lax. This is why Volkswagen was able to fix a number of vehicles by reprogramming the engine computer and swapping some parts. For the U.S., the fix would have be more extensive with a number of parts being replaced or added, which means added cost. Source: Welt am Sonntag, Reuters
  14. Tomorrow, we find out the details of the settlement between Volkswagen and the U.S. Government over the diesel emission scandal. As we reported last week, sources told various news outlets that part of the settlement would include compensation payments from $1,000 to $7,000 to owners. A European Union commissioner believes that should be extended to those in Europe. EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska tells German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that Volkswagen should set up a similar compensation program for Europe. "Volkswagen should voluntarily pay European car owners compensation that is comparable with that which they will pay U.S. consumers," said Bienkowska. She said that it would be unfair for Volkswagen to treat European consumers differently than U.S. ones due to different legal systems. "But consumers in Europe should be treated differently than the US consumer is not a way to regain confidence." Source: Die Welt, Reuters
  15. There is talk happening at one of Volkswagen's brands of possibly entering the U.S. marketplace. What brand would that be? Skoda, the Czech brand known for building some impressive cars at surprising prices. A spokesman tells Automotive News Europe that the brand is examining potential markets to introduce the brand. "That includes North America," the spokesman said. A decision on which markets will see Skoda entering is not expected anytime soon. Rumblings of Skoda possibly coming to the U.S. started last week when AutoGuide found trademark applications filed by Skoda for a number of their models, Octavia (Hatchback and Wagon, Golf-Sized) Yeti (Crossover, Tiguan-Sized) Superb (Sedan and Wagon, Passat-Sized) Now for the obvious question, why? Automotive News Europe reports that one of Skoda's key markets, Russia is experiencing an economic collapse, causing sales in the country to tumble. This has the company looking to other markets such as North America (which makes up 20 percent of the global car market). Analysts are split as to whether or not Skoda should enter the U.S. Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen tells German business paper Handelsblatt (who broke this story) that Volkswagen should pull out of the U.S. and replace it with Skoda. "Skoda could be the cheapest solution" to VW Group's American problems, said Dudenhoeffer. Other analysts such Frank Schwope from NordLB have their doubts. Schwope tells Reuters that the brand would have to 'fight tooth and nail in the United States' due to an already saturated market for cars. "Skoda would do better to get engaged in emerging markets like India or South America," said Schwope. Our take? This is just 'talk' at the moment, so Skoda might not come. Yes, they did file trademarks in the U.S., but that doesn't mean a car, let alone a brand is destined for the U.S. Also, Skoda is lacking in crossovers. They have one in the form of the Yeti and will be introducing an SUV later this year in Paris. For a place that is crazy about crossovers, only having one isn't the best plan. Also, trying to make your way in the U.S. auto market is a difficult task - just ask Fiat. PSA Peugeot Citroën which announced they would be coming back to the U.S., will be spending the next ten years to make it possible. Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required), Handelsblatt (Subscription Required), Reuters, AutoGuide
  16. Porsche seems to have wagons on the mind with the Panamera Sport Turismo concept shown at the 2012 Paris Motor Show and recent spy shots showing off a prototype version undergoing testing. Could it be that Porsche is working on a Panamera wagon? They are and it is coming to the U.S. Automotive News recently sat down with Porsche's U.S. chief, Klaus Zellmer who revealed that Porsche is working on a wagon for the second-generation Panamera and that it would be sold in the U.S. "We have to have some patience for [the wagon] to arrive in the U.S. But we are confident that this car will be well received here, despite the fact that this country doesn't really like hatchbacks or wagons," said Zeller. Porsche is expected to reveal the second-generation Panamera this September at the Paris Motor Show, with sales beginning in Europe shortly thereafter. The wagon will follow in 2017. The U.S. will get the new Panamera next year, with Automotive News thinking the wagon will come out in 2018. Zeller also revealed that a five-seat version of the next-generation Panamera is under consideration. Dealers want this as they lose a number of buyers to other brands as the Panamera only offers seating up to four. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  17. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is able to build vehicles in China thanks to a partnership with Chinese automaker Guangzhou Auto. Guangzhou wants FCA to return the favor by helping them enter the U.S. "Chrysler's development in China required our support. Now for GAC Motor's development in the U.S. we also hope for Chrysler's support and help," said GAC Motor General Manager Wu Song to Reuters at the Beijing auto show. Guangzhou Auto's subsidiary GAC Motor announced its intentions last year to enter the U.S. by 2017. The company has already been talking with dealerships about selling their vehicles and doing tests on U.S. roads. Song told Reuters the company has also started tests in China on two of its car models against American standards. What would FCA offer Guangzhou Auto? Song and representatives of GAC Motor didn't elaborate and FCA spokesman declined to comment. Our best guess is FCA knows what interests Americans at the moment and know the various U.S. regulations. Source: Reuters Pic Credit: Newspress
  18. It has been awhile since we heard anything from Karma Automotive - the company formally known as Fisker. Our last report in November said the company would be sourcing powertrain parts from BMW and was planning to restart production in 2016. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a report saying Karma Automotive is busy with finishing development of an updated version of the Karma sedan. The sedan will be renamed the Revero which Karma says is the combination of the Latin words "re" and "vero," meaning truth. Karma is planning to reveal the Revero later this summer, with the order books opening sometime later in the year. Karma is keeping quiet on various details such as range, price, and release date. “If you manufacture all kinds of hype then fail to deliver on time, it undermines your credibility. We are being careful about making promises [because] things happen in car development,” said Jim Taylor, Karma’s chief marketing officer. One item that was divulged was the Ravero will use the powertrain and charging system from BMW. Taylor said the company is working hard to make sure the Ravero doesn't experience the numerous quality issues that sunk the Karma and Fisker itself. It was also revealed that the Ravero will be built at a new 556,000 square-foot factory in Moreno Valley, California. The equipment used to build the Karma have been shipped in from Finland. Source: Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)
  19. It was only a few years ago that French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroën was on life support due to massive losses and poor sales. But thanks to an infusion of cash from Chinese automaker Dongfeng and the French government, the company was able to right the ship. The past couple of years has seen PSA Peugeot Citroën emerge as a healthy and profitable automaker. Now the company is looking at expanding into new markets, including the U.S. According to Automobilwoche, officials at PSA say the U.S. and Iran are under consideration as the first markets for expansion. "Our Back in the Race restructuring program has been successfully completed. Now comes the next step. And this has put the issue of the U.S. on the table," said DS brand chief Yves Bonnefont. As we reported back in 2014 and last year, PSA Peugeot Citroën has been considering sending the DS brand into U.S. to test the waters. It is a "natural candidate" for PSA in North America, Bonnefont said. Citroen spun off DS into its own brand last year and its aimed to take on the likes of Audi and Mercedes. The plan is to have six models by the end of this decade ranging from the DS3 (Mini Cooper competitor) to a possible flagship sedan. But Richard Lucki says there are a number of problems the company would need to solve before entering the U.S. Lucki should know as he managed PSA Peugeot Citroën's affairs in the U.S. until 2013 when the company closed their office in Detroit. He explained PSA's return would be difficult as the company doesn't have a dealer network or a manufacturing base. "Pricing is an issue. Everyone else -- Audi, BMW, Mercedes -- has manufacturing here," Lucki said. We'll find what PSA's plans are on April 5th. Source: Automobilwoche via Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  20. There is some good news for Volvo fans as the company is planning to launch the next-generation of the 40-Series to U.S. within three years. Speaking with Automotive News, Volvo's senior vice president for r&d Peter Mertens said the next-generation V40, along with a new sedan and crossover. "We will have the next-generation 40 cars absolutely in the U.S. I think it was a mistake not having the V40, not being prepared for the U.S. It was a mistake, but it was in that time when the company was in extreme trouble," Mertens explained. Volvo's U.S. dealers and certain staff at the U.S. office have been clamoring for the V40 for a few years. At the time, Volvo couldn't send over the V40 since it wasn't developed for the U.S, and it would take a lot of time and money for it to meet the various standards. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  21. A possible punishment that the EPA could bring down on Volkswagen is making them build electric vehicles in the U.S. German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reports the EPA is asking the German automaker to produce EVs at their Chattanooga, TN plant and to help build out a network of chargers across the U.S. The report doesn't say if EPA is asking for VW to produce a new electric vehicle or a current one - the Golf EV. It should be noted that Welt am Sonntag's report doesn't cite a source. "Talks with the EPA are ongoing and we are not commenting on the contents and state of the negotiations," said a Volkswagen spokesperson to Reuters. The EPA declined to comment. Reuters also notes Hans Dieter Poetsch, Volkswagen's chairman of Volkswagen's supervisory board German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt last week to give an update on cleaning up this mess. First reported by the German publication Bild am Sonntag, Poetsch said the company would do everything in its power to solve this crisis. Source: Welt am Sonntag, Reuters, Bild am Sonntag
  22. Last month, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) rejected Volkswagen's plan to fix the 2.0L TDI because it was "incomplete, substantially deficient and fall far short of meeting the legal requirements to return these vehicles” to compliance. With this setback, many are concerned that it will be awhile before a fix is agreed on by Volkswagen and CARB/EPA. German magazine Manager Magazin reports that top managers at the German automaker believe an agreement between the three parties might not happen until the end of March. The reason comes down to the EPA wanting to do a long-distance test of Volkswagen's proposed fix to make sure it actually fixes the problem of elevated emission levels. The report also mentions that expected costs of doing the recall, possible buybacks, and customer compensation will be significantly higher than first thought. Source: Manager Magazin
  23. Since Volkswagen launched the Amarok pickup in 2009 in certain parts of the world, it has become a success for the company. It has also made many people in the U.S. clamor Volkswagen to bring the Amarok here. Before the model was launched, Volkswagen was considering selling it in the U.S. However the decision was made that the Amarok wouldn't be a good fit. But Volkswagen appears to be reconsidering their decision. "It's a question mark, but it starts to be discussed. Let's put it this way: we start to discuss it again and whether it's attractive for us," said Volkswagen North American CEO Michael Horn to Autoblog. But don't think the current Amarok will be coming to the U.S. "We are just reworking our truck strategy, and this is part of thinking about it. But the Amarok fits not very well to the efforts of the market," said Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, head of Volkswagen Group powertrain development. What could this mean? Well it could mean the next-generation Amarok could grow in size to meet the tastes of the U.S. or that a new model for the U.S. is on the table. One thing is for certain; this is mostly theoretical for the moment. Source: Autoblog William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  24. Car and Driver is reporting that the next-generation Audi RS4 will retire the naturally-aspirated 4.2L V8 engine and use a turbocharged V6 engine. This is due to the upcoming emission regulations coming soon to Europe which are very stringent. Now the decision to go with a turbocharged V6 engine strikes us as odd since Audi currently has supercharged V6 that is being used in a number of their models. However Car and Driver says Quattro GmbH, the folks behind RS, is looking towards turbo power for future models. Car and Driver also reports that a decision on whether or not the next-generation RS4 will come to the U.S. hasn't been made. Source: Car and Driver William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  25. BYD, the Chinese automaker who is backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., announced plans to launch in the U.S. by the end of 2015. The automaker which had an aborted U.S. launch in 2010 and a restructure that lasted three years believes that they are more prepared now. “Back then, we had passion, but we had no brand, no history, no capital and no competitive advantage. BYD has become more fashionable and we have improved our design and safety. We don’t want to compete on price anymore, but on quality and innovation,” said Stella LI, senior vice president of the BYD's U.S. operations to Bloomberg. The plan BYD has in place is to launch up to four vehicles for the U.S. market. No indication of what those models will be though. BYD isn't the only Chinese automaker planning an arrival into the U.S. Volvo's parent company, Geely plans to launch vehicles in the U.S. by 2016. Then there is truck and SUV manufacturer Great Wall Motors who planned to launch in the U.S. by 2015. Since then, the company has relaxed that timetable. Source: Bloomberg William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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