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  1. A new report from Automobile Magazine says that smart is living on borrow time and could disappear by 2026 at the earliest. According to various sources, Renault will be pulling out of partnership when the current Twingo/ForFour ends production. The two models share the same architecture in an effort to save costs. Without a partner, Mercedes-Benz isn't as keen to keep smart around. A key question is whether or not Mercedes-Benz will produce a new model with a three-pointed star to compete against the likes of the Mini Cooper and Audi A1. A decision by the board needs to happen by 2021 when it must sign off the next-generation A-class, Why? That's because the new model will use the same platform as the next-generation A-Class. Automobile says the platform will replace the current MFA2 and allow for a "fully scalable, all-new convergence layout" - thus allowing an even smaller vehicle. But there is a possible twist. Chinese automaker Geely owns a 9.7 percent stake in Daimler, and could become a replacement partner if a business case could be made for an electrified brand. Source: Automobile Magazine
  2. Care By Volvo was one of the first new car subscription services to launch. It offered a buyer an XC40 with a yearly allowance of 15,000 miles; maintenance, insurance, and a concierge service for either $600 or $700 per month for 24 months. But the service had some hiccups with various issues dealing with paperwork and not hearing back from dealers. "The process was very, very stretched. We have learned that the process needs to be smoother, and also the process related to insurance and all the rules in all the states in this beautiful country ... we have learned a lot," said Volvo's North American CEO, Anders Gustafsson to Roadshow. A key example is having a larger stockpile of vehicles allocated for subscribers. The entire Care by Volvo allotment of XC40s sold out in four months, causing Volvo to push deliveries of new XC40s through the service till next year. Gustafsson admits Care By Volvo is "far away from where we would like to be." But he believes the S60, the next vehicle to be offered through the service will be much smoother. Roadshow also asked Gustafsson what's next for Care By Volvo. He revealed that it could be used cars. A used-car subscription service "is probably 50 percent of the questions that we receive from our customers and from our retailers," said Gustafsson. As for when something like this could appear, Gustafsson said it could happen within a year. Source: Roadshow
  3. Hyundai's N performance division has seen early success with the i30 N in Europe, already hitting its full-year sales target at the end of June and customers waiting six to seven months to get their vehicle. This has the brand encouraged that the upcoming Veloster N due for the U.S. later this year will see similar success. It also has N planning two more models, along with the possibility of a third. According to Automotive News, the first of the two new N models will the i30 Fastback N, debuting at the Paris Motor Show in October. This model wasn't originally planned, but would be green-lighted after Hyundai-Kia design chief Peter Schreyer showed a mock-up to Albert Biermann, head of vehicle testing and high-performance development. Following this is a possibly an SUV. We've heard reports that it could be the Tucson or Kona. Biermann said there could be a fifth model in the wings. "There's a car within the next two or three months that we probably have a chance to show to Vice Chairman Chung [Eui-sun] and our top management. Depending on what is the current mood and situation, we might get a spontaneous 'OK, go for it,' " he told Automotive News. Also being talked about at N is what alternative powertrains could power their vehicles. "When we think of cars after 2021 for N, I think we cannot avoid electrification. We will have an EV sooner or later. It's just a matter of timing," said Biermann. "As an example, we have an Ioniq EV. Were we to find a nice battery, a bigger motor and inverter, we could make an Ioniq EV N with a nice chassis and more power. Something like that is not fully crazy." Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  4. Toyota is planning a big push with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. According to Reuters, the Japanese automaker is doubling-down on investments for fuel cell vehicles by making improvements to reduce costs and building different models including commercial trucks. “We’re going to shift from limited production to mass production, reduce the amount of expensive materials like platinum used in FCV components, and make the system more compact and powerful,” said Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Mirai. Currently, Toyota hand builds the Mirai at a plant in Toyota City. Everyday, about 6.5 cars roll out of the plant. This is due to the detailed inspections that partially assembled models go through. The parts comprising the Mirai are quite expensive as well. According to analysis done by Strategic Analysis Inc., it costs Toyota about $11,000 to produce each of the fuel cell stacks. Blame the use of the platinum, titanium, and carbon fiber for the stacks. Toyota has been building up production capacity as it expects sales of FCVs to increase from about 3,000 to over 20,000 after 2020. This will help reduce the cost of each fuel cell stack to $8,000. “It will be difficult for Toyota to lower FCV production costs if it only produces the Mirai,” said a source, That's where an expansion of FCVs come in. Toyota is planning a "phased introduction' of other FCVs, including SUVs and commercial trucks starting around 2025. Toyota declined to talk about future products, but did reveal that it has built prototypes of small delivery vehicles and transport trucks with fuel cell powertrains. “We’re going to use as many parts from existing passenger cars and other models as possible in fuel cell trucks. Otherwise, we won’t see the benefits of mass production,” said Ikuo Ota, manager of new business planning for fuel cell projects at Toyota. Why is Toyota doubling down on fuel cells? Sources say that Toyota believes demand will increase as more countries, including China "warm to fuel cell technology". The company also sees FCVs as a hedge against battery materials such as cobalt becoming scarce. But there is still one issue that Toyota, and other automakers build FCVs still need to solve; infrastructure. There aren't many hydrogen refueling stations around. For example, the majority of hydrogen stations in the U.S. are in California. Not helping is a current shortage of hydrogen at refueling stations in California. Green Car Reports says this issue is due to various problems with supplier Air Products. The company said that it hopes to restore hydrogen supplies sometime in early August. Source: Reuters, Green Car Reports
  5. Lamborghini has been toying with the idea of electrification for some time. It would allow them to meet stricter emission regulations while retaining their naturally aspirated engines. Their CEO has made it official, the replacement for the Aventador will have electrification. "The next Aventador will be hybrid, with a V12. A decision is made on that and this is something that will keep us different from the others and this is very important," said Stefano Domenicali to Auto Express. In addition, the replacement for the Huracan will go down the electrification route by retaining the V10 and adding an electric motor. We got a hint of this back in March during a interview Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini's chief technical officer. The Urus will be the first Lamborghini to be electrified when the plug-in hybrid model launches towards the end of this decade, followed by the Aventador replacement a few years after. Source: Auto Express
  6. The Ford Fusion will be going away in due course as part of the company's plan to put more focus on utility vehicles and trucks. But that doesn't mean the Fusion name will heading to the trash bin. Bloomberg has learned from sources that Ford is planning to move the Fusion name to a new wagon that will compete with the Subaru Outback. The new model will also use the same mechanical underpinnings as the current Fusion - leading us to believe that it will be some version of the Mondeo wagon sold in Europe. Ford spokesman Mike Levine declined to comment on the new model, but did say the Fusion name would continue "because of its awareness, positive imagery and value with consumers.” Ford needs a way to keep their current sedan buyers returning their showroom after the Fusion sedan drops out. Analysis done by Kelly Blue Book revealed the less than half of Fusion owners are loyal to the brand. KBB also found that the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 were the most popular SUV models that Fusion owners would consider. “Ford has a hard time moving people from their cars to SUVs,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Autotrader. Source: Bloomberg (Subscription Required)
  7. Lexus finds itself in a bit of a bind. With demand for crossovers growing, Lexus is doing a serious look at its product lineup and deciding what needs to be added and what needs to taken out. "We're more focused on maximizing the opportunities we have than comparing ourselves," said David Christ, the new general manager for Lexus to Automotive News. "Our product plan is what I would call a work in progress." The current focus for Lexus is the upcoming launches of the ES and the subcompact UX crossover. The ES is expected to keep current Lexus owners happy, but the new F-Sport package will hopefully bring in younger people - Lexus expects a quarter of ES sales to be the F-sport. The UX though is seen as what will bring the majority of young buyers to the brand. But this focus has Lexus doing "a strategic look" at two of their older models, the IS and GS. Both models are late into their lifecycles: IS was launched in 2013, while GS dates back to 2011. The two aren't big sellers either. In 2017, Lexus only moved 7,773 GS models and 26,482 IS models. Rumor has it that the GS could go away if the ES gets all-wheel drive. Christ wouldn't comment on that. "We can't do it all at once, but we're certainly evaluating both vehicles," said Christ. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  8. Nissan is joining Toyota in gradually ending the sale of diesel vehicles in Europe. “Along with other manufacturers and industry bodies we can see the progressive decline of diesel but we do not anticipate its sudden end in the short-term. At this point in time and for many customers, modern diesel engines will remain in demand and continue to be available within Nissan’s powertrain offering,” a Nissan spokeswoman told Reuters. “In Europe, where our diesel sales are concentrated, our electrification push will allow us to discontinue diesel gradually from passenger cars at the time of each vehicle renewal.” Sales of diesel vehicles have been on a sharp decline for the past year due in part to rising taxes and possible bans looming. Analysts believe this trend will continue in 2018. Last month, a source revealed to Reuters that Nissan is planning to lay off hundreds of workers at its Sunderland plant due to falling diesel vehicle sales. Source: Reuters
  9. Ford's decision to drop most of their passenger car lineup last week is still sending shockwaves, and likely causing various automakers to have discussions about if they should follow in their footsteps. One automaker that will not be following Ford is Volkswagen. “We are intending to be a full line car manufacturer,” said Volkswagen of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken. The reason as to why? Electric Vehicles. “The question of whether electric mobility will favor sedans or SUVs hasn’t been answered yet. When you’re talking about electric cars, sedans have more advantages. The shape and the [drag coefficient] has a high effect on range. Therefore, we’ll maybe see a higher sedan share on full electric cars than with conventional cars,” said Woebcken. Aside from EVs, Volkswagen still sees sedans as an important key to their U.S. plans. The new Jetta and Arteon will be arriving in dealers very soon, and a new Passat is expected to debut next year. That said, Woebcken says crossovers will become a big part of Volkswagen's U.S. Current plans have the automaker launching at least two new crossovers over the next few years. “The shift from sedans to SUVs is a permanent one. In former times, when gas prices went up people moved back to sedans. We believe this will not happen anymore for two reasons. First, the difference in fuel economy between SUVs and sedans is not so big anymore. Second, customers do not want to give up the high seating position. I believe that trend will not reverse.” Source: Digital Trends
  10. The Volkswagen diesel emission scandal has given many a black eye. Robert Bosch GmbH, a supplier of diesel engine technology was one of those as it found itself under investigation by German authorities to see whether or not it aided and abetted in the scandal. The company also had to pay out $327.5 million as part of a settlement in the U.S. But the company isn't giving up on diesel just yet. This week at the Bosch’s annual press conference, CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner claimed they had found “decisive breakthrough in diesel technology.” The technology in question is said to reduce nitrogen (NOx) emission levels to just one-tenth of the European legal limits coming in 2020. "Combustion engines — whether powered by diesel or gasoline — will soon emit so little in the way of particulates and nitrogen oxides that they will have no significant impact on the air," said Denner. Details about the technology are somewhat thin. In the press release, Bosch said it is comprised of a “combination of advanced fuel-injection technology, a newly developed air management system and [an] intelligent temperature management [system].” The last item is interesting as it uses artificial intelligence to change the temperature. This new technology can be integrated into production without raising the costs. "After this ecological rehabilitation, diesel can take off again. It is not combustion engines that are being made obsolete, but rather the debate about their imminent demise," said Denner. Yet we can't help but think this is too little too late. With bans on diesel vehicles being considered and automakers beginning to turn their focus on to other alternatives such as hydrogen and electric, this new technology for diesel may be left in the dust. Source: Bosch Breakthrough: new Bosch diesel technology provides solution to NOx problem Bosch CEO Denner also calls for transparency on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions Unprecedented emissions: NOx 10 times lower than limits set for 2020 New Bosch technology retains advantage with regard to fuel consumption and environmental impact Denner: “There’s a future for diesel. Soon, emissions will no longer be an issue.” Internal combustion engines equipped with artificial intelligence have almost zero impact on air quality Appeal to politicians: fuel consumption should be measured on the road and emissions analyzed from well to wheel Stuttgart and Renningen, Germany: “There’s a future for diesel. Today, we want to put a stop, once and for all, to the debate about the demise of diesel technology.” It was with these words that the Bosch CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner, speaking at the company’s annual press conference, announced a decisive breakthrough in diesel technology. New developments from Bosch could enable vehicle manufacturers to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) so drastically that they already comply with future limits. Even in RDE (real driving emissions) testing, emissions from vehicles equipped with the newly premiered Bosch diesel technology are not only significantly below current limits but also those scheduled to come into force from 2020. Bosch engineers achieved these results by refining existing technologies. There is no need for additional components, which would drive up costs. “Bosch is pushing the boundaries of what is technically feasible,” Denner said. “Equipped with the latest Bosch technology, diesel vehicles will be classed as low-emission vehicles and yet remain affordable.” The Bosch CEO also called for greater transparency with regard to the CO2 emissions caused by road traffic, and called for fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions to be also measured under real conditions on the road in the future. Record readings under real driving conditions: 13 mg NOx per kilometer Since 2017, European legislation has required that new passenger car models tested according to an RDE-compliant mix of urban, extra-urban, and freeway cycles emit no more than 168 milligrams of NOx per kilometer. As of 2020, this limit will be cut to 120 milligrams. But even today, vehicles equipped with Bosch diesel technology can achieve as little as 13 milligrams of NOx in standard legally-compliant RDE cycles. That is approximately one-tenth of the prescribed limit that will apply after 2020. And even when driving in particularly challenging urban conditions, where test parameters are well in excess of legal requirements, the average emissions of the Bosch test vehicles are as low as 40 milligrams per kilometer. Bosch engineers have achieved this decisive breakthrough over the past few months. A combination of advanced fuel-injection technology, a newly developed air management system, and intelligent temperature management has made such low readings possible. NOx emissions can now remain below the legally permitted level in all driving situations, irrespective of whether the vehicle is driven dynamically or slowly, in freezing conditions or in summer temperatures, on the freeway or in congested city traffic. “Diesel will remain an option in urban traffic, whether drivers are tradespeople or commuters,” Denner said. Bosch delivered proof of this innovative advance at a major press event in Stuttgart. Dozens of journalists, from both Germany and abroad, had the opportunity to drive test vehicles equipped with mobile measuring equipment in heavy city traffic, under especially challenging conditions. The results recorded by the journalists, along with the route driven, can be viewed here. As the measures to reduce NOx emissions do not significantly impact consumption, the diesel retains its comparative advantage in terms of fuel economy, CO2 emissions, and therefore climate-friendliness. Artificial intelligence can further boost combustion engines’ performance Even with this technological advance, the diesel engine has not yet reached its full development potential. Bosch now aims to use artificial intelligence to build on these latest advances. This will mark another step toward a major landmark: the development of a combustion engine that – with the exception of CO2 – has virtually no impact on the ambient air. “We firmly believe that the diesel engine will continue to play an important role in the options for future mobility. Until electromobility breaks through to the mass market, we will still need these highly efficient combustion engines,” Denner said. His ambitious target for Bosch engineers is the development of a new generation of diesel and gasoline engines that produce no significant particulate or NOx emissions. Even at Stuttgart’s Neckartor, a notorious pollution black spot, he wants future combustion engines to be responsible for no more than one microgram of NOx per cubic meter of ambient air – the equivalent of one-fortieth, or 2.5 percent, of today’s limit of 40 micrograms per cubic meter. Bosch wants to go further: transparency and realistic testing for consumption and CO2 Denner also called for a renewed focus on CO2 emissions, which are directly related to fuel consumption. He said that consumption tests should no longer be conducted in the lab but rather under real driving conditions. This would create a system comparable to the one used for measuring emissions. “That means greater transparency for the consumer and more focused climate action,” Denner said. Moreover, any assessment of CO2 emissions should extend significantly further than the fuel tank or the battery: “We need a transparent assessment of the overall CO2 emissions produced by road traffic, including not only the emissions of the vehicles themselves but also the emissions caused by the production of the fuel or electricity used to power them,” Denner said. He added that a more inclusive CO2 footprint would provide drivers of electric vehicles with a more realistic picture of the impact of this form of mobility on the climate. At the same time, the use of non-fossil fuels could further improve the CO2 footprint of combustion engines. Product development code: ethical technology design Denner, who also has corporate responsibility for research and advance engineering, presented Bosch’s product development code to the general public. This lays down the company’s principles for the development of Bosch products. First, the incorporation of functions that automatically detect test cycles is strictly forbidden. Second, Bosch products must not be optimized for test situations. Third, normal, everyday use of Bosch products should safeguard human life as well as conserve resources and protect the environment to the greatest possible extent. “In addition, the principle of legality and our ‘Invented for life’ ethos guide our actions. If in doubt, Bosch values take precedence over customers’ wishes,” Denner said. Since mid-2017, for example, Bosch has no longer been involved in customer projects in Europe for gasoline engines that do not involve the use of a particulate filter. A total of 70,000 associates, mainly from research and development, will receive training in the new principles by the end of 2018, as part of the most extensive training program in the company’s more than 130-year history.
  11. Cadillac has some ambitious product plans. Starting with the debut of the XT4 at the New York Auto Show, Cadillac will be launching a new vehicle every six months by 2022. This includes a large crossover, a replacement for the ATS/CTS, and a new Escalade. Once the brand finishes this offensive, the brand "can, candidly, generate some growth, generate some revenue, put volume through our dealer organization so they can also invest in the elevation of the brand, all those logical things," said Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen. One of those possible elevation plans is a "halo vehicle." According to Automotive News, the model might not necessarily be a car. Also in the cards is Cadillac releasing a number of electrified vehicles as part of GM's plan of introducing 20 new all-electric or fuel-cell models by 2023. de Nysschen said the brand is expected to receive a "disproportionate share" of those models. "Since these new technologies are pricey, it really begins to make a lot of common sense, not in all cases, to roll out some of them in Cadillac first. We therefore see it as a great opportunity for Cadillac to take the lead from GM with rolling out these things. Not only for the company and economically commercializing these new technologies, but also for the brand elevation it will give to Cadillac." Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  12. Back in January, Infiniti announced that it would electrify most of their lineup starting 2021. The long timeframe is to give Infiniti enough time to finish work on a new platform need for this plan. This in turn has cause Infiniti to delay the redesigns of the Q50, Q60 Coupe, and Q70 till this time. Speaking with Australian outlet GoAuto, Infiniti's product strategy vice-president Francois Bancon explained that he would liked to update their lineup of sedans and coupe quicker - the Q70 hasn't really changed since it was known as the M back in 2011. But the change to a new platform has caused the automaker to push them back. “We are going to have to change, this platform is a V6 platform, it is rear-wheel drive. We are going to have to shift because this platform is not an electrified platform. You need a battery, you need an electric motor, it’s a different package," said Bancon. “The oldest are the priority obviously, it’s not about one product versus another but it’s just about cascading management … and updating all of them. We would prefer to replace faster but we have some limits because it is a radical shift for us. It’s not about, well, you keep the platform but replace (the body design). When you change everything, including the manufacturing system, it is not a small change.” Bancon also dropped an interesting tidbit about the new platform. It will be all-wheel drive - gas engine driving the front-wheels and electric motors handling the rear. But will feature some sort of rear-bias. “Probably all-wheel drive, with some distribution more 50:50 (front-to-rear) than the 60:40 we have today, so probably a little more rear distribution than we have today. Since you shift electric you have a motor in the front and in the back, so rear-wheel drive does not make sense anymore. So with the new generation electrified platform … it’s a bit like Audi with its four-by-four (wheel drive).” The Q70 is expected to be the first model of this trio to transition, but Bancon admits that will only be for the Chinese market. The Q50 and Q60 are expected to follow. Source: GoAuto
  13. Back in December, Jaguar's head of Design, Ian Callum revealed that work had begun on the next-generation XJ. Not many details were given except that the new XJ would be "something quite special." This week at the Geneva Motor show, Callum let loose a few more details. A key complaint about the current XJ is a cramped interior. Callum said the new model would address this issue. “It’ll be different. And it will have more room inside it. One of the biggest criticisms XJ has had is that a lot of people think the room inside the car is not big enough. I don’t believe in segmentation like this — I don’t believe in an F Segment as such,” explained Callum. “I think we should just do a luxury vehicle that matches people well. That’s what we’ve done for XJ, which is what the first one was all about. A lot of our market is far-eastern and people are using these big cars to be driven in, so we must accommodate that better.” The next XJ will about the size of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but Callum said the XJ will be focused more as a driver’s car. “I never saw XJ as an S-Class competitor. Mercedes-Benz have created that place — the three-box limo sedan,” said Callum. “I just don’t think that’s a Jaguar. A Jaguar is a sportier entity and it should reflect that. Yes it will take four [people] to market in comfort and luxury, but that’s where the similarities stop. It will still be a driver’s car. I don’t think many Mercedes-Benz S-Classes are driver’s cars, with the exception of AMGs or something. If you drive an XJR575, it’s a driver’s car. It just happens to be able to take three people in comfort. I don’t buy this segmentation.” CarAdvice expects we'll see the next XJ at the end of this year. But as we reported previously, Callum said the new XJ wouldn't debut in 2018. We're expecting to see it sometime next year at the earliest. Source: CarAdvice
  14. During the press reveal of the Volvo V60 earlier this week, Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson and his colleagues took the time to answer some questions concerning the future of the Swedish brand. Road & Track jotted down some of the interesting bits from this. End of the road for Gas Engines Volvo made a surprising announcement last year with plans to electrify their entire lineup beginning in 2019. This includes mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles. It seems this plan will also mark the end of development of gas engines. The current line of turbo and twin-charged engines represent the last new gas engines from the brand. Instead, Volvo will add more powerful electric motors to boost overall power. Down the road, Volvo hopes to follow Polestar by only offering pure EVs. Next-Gen SPA Platform to Lose Weight Volvo's current SPA modular platform isn't what you would call light. The V90 wagon can weigh as much as 4,561 pounds. The next-generation SPA platform, due out in 2021 will shed some weight. More Polestar Tuned Volvos Are Coming When Polestar was spun off to be its own brand, there were a number of people worried that it was end of the line for models like the S60/V60 Polestar. Not so according to Road & Track. A team of Polestar engineers will continue to operate in Sweden while the rest of the company sets up shop in China. They'll be tasked with making the next-generation Volvo models go fast and handle. No mention of when to expect new Polestar models or what they'll be based on. Other tidbits, The next-generation S60 sedan will begin rolling off the company's new Charleston, South Carolina assembly plant towards the end of this year. We're expecting to see Volvo debut the new model sometime before then, possibly the late summer or early fall. Volvo will also be conducting more design and R&D work in the U.S. This is partly due to the U.S. playing a crucial role in Volvo's future plans. The next-generation Sensus infotainment system, due in 2019, will be based on Google's Android smartphone OS. We hope this means a simpler user interface. Source: Road & Track
  15. Some interesting news came out of Chicago concerning Volkswagen. First up, Autoblog reports that the next-generation Passat will be coming out next year. Volkswagen's North American CEO Hinrich Woebcken revealed this during a roundtable with journalists at the show. Not many details are known about the Passat. It is hinted that it could grow in size and feature styling similar to the new Jetta. One detail that is certain is that Passat will continue to be built at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, TN plant. Volkswagen's first electric model for the U.S., the I.D. Crozz is expected to launch in 2020. According to Car and Driver, the Crozz will come in two body styles - the coupe-like crossover we've seen as a concept and a traditional SUV. Volkswagen’s head of design, Klaus Bischoff revealed that the traditional SUV would be first, followed by the coupe-like crossover at a later date. Source: Autoblog, Car and Driver
  16. For the past few years, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne holds a conference with journalists and analysts at the Detroit Auto Show, taking various questions. According to Motor Trend, Marchionne revealed that more crossovers are on the way for Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, and Ferrari. Alfa's Three-Row Crossover: Sergio Marchionne confirmed that Alfa Romeo is working on a larger SUV to sit above the Stelvio. He says this model is very important for the brand. As we reported towards the end of December, the model would use a stretched version of the Stelvio's platform and possibly feature a mild-hybrid powertrain. Chrysler's Pacifica-based crossover: It seems the platform that underpins the Pacifica will be used for a long-promised crossover. The model was in the previous five-year plan for FCA, but was pushed back. The model will be in the next five-year plan (expected to be shown sometime later this year) and could go into production within the next 18 months. Ferrari SUV: Progress on Ferrari's upcoming SUV is moving quite quickly as Marchionne said it would be ready by the end of 2019 or early 2020. At the moment, the Italian automaker has mock-up bodies of the SUV, but nothing driveable. “I have seen the car when I was in Europe. It’s not finished. It’s going to be Ferrari. It will drive like a Ferrari or I’ll be taken to the shed. But it looks good,” said Marchionne. Other bits from Marchionne: When asked about a performance electric vehicle, Marchionne said, “Ferrari has looked at this forever, and if there is an electric supercar to be built, Ferrari will do it,” FCA hasn't "found an economic way to get this done” when asked if there was the chance of a midsize Ram pickup. Wrangler Pickup is expected to debut towards the end of 2019 Marchionne is planning to retire as FCA CEO next year The most pressing question asked during the session? Where does he buy his sweaters? Answer: Online. Source: Motor Trend
  17. Genesis is working on a new sports car that will be utilizing a plug-in hybrid powertrain. This information comes to us via Australian outlet Wheels who spoke with two senior executives from Hyundai at the Consumer Electronics Show. “We are definitely doing it. I’m actually reviewing the project next week, after CES. I can’t tell you much more about it, but we are definitely doing it. We are not going autonomous for all of our cars!" said Hyundai design vice-president Luc Donckerwolke. Hyundai's vice-chairman of research and development, Woong-chul Yang acknowledged the project, saying the coupe would be a two-seater, feature some sort of electrification, and be under the watchful eye of the N performance division. “We are very much interested in it and as far as I’m concerned I’d love to promote that [a sportscar]. That’s something our brand needs at this time. The people working at N will be working on that, but how we put it in the N or maybe above N … it’s pretty high performance. It’s serious,” said Yang. “We cannot say it will just be hybrid,” he said “but we will use electric motors and batteries to make it more performance. Some areas we cannot just overcome by putting a big ICE [internal combustion engine], we like to minimise as much as possible the ICE and use the best application of electric motors. That means not only efficiency but also performance can be very much optimised using both powertrains. Certainly we will put some electric powerplant in there.” Right now, the project is still in the design stage and it will likely be years before the coupe sees the light of day. Source: Wheels
  18. A constant complaint we have about Audis is their one-size fits all design philosophy as it is difficult to tell the difference between an A3 and A4 for example. Thankfully, Audi will be diversifying their designs in future models. “This [repetition] design process was used to make Audis more recognisable in newer and emerging markets. Now we are well known in major markets like China, we can begin to change this philosophy and give each car its own look,” said Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler to Autocar. “We recognise that there is a place for more differentiation now. Since our cars are in production for a minimum of six years, in today’s world I think each model should have its own design to be attractive for this long time,” said Audi design boss Marc Lichte You can see this with the Audi Q2 crossover with a different take on the grille and C-Pillar from other Audi crossovers. But Lichte says the biggest change will come with the launch of the e-tron quattro SUV next year. Due to the compact size of the electric powertrain, this gives designers more space to play with. “Design will go in a very different way. [Designers] will have more material space to play with, so we’ll be able to produce [vehicles with] shorter overhangs and lower bonnets. It makes for a more attractive design overall.” Source: Autocar
  19. Despite General Motors mostly leaving the European market with the sale of Opel and Vauxhall to PSA Group earlier this year, the automaker isn't ruling out a full-scale return. During a recent meeting of the Automotive Press Association in Detroit, GM CEO Mary Barra said the company would "absolutely" consider a return to the European market, adding that "nothing keeps us from going back." But it will be some time before GM decides to go back. According to Barra, the company would need to build out a lineup of "transformative products" like electric or self-driving vehicles to make it worthwhile. General Motors does have a small presence in Europe with Cadillacs being sold by 45 dealers - most of them in Germany and Switzerland. The Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette are also sold in small numbers. Source: Motor1
  20. Volkswagen recently held an event for journalists and investors to talk about the upcoming Jetta. But the company also gave a preview of their product plans for the near future. According to Autoblog, those plans include two new crossovers. The first will be a five-seat model that will slot between the Tiguan and Atlas. Volkswagen North America CEO President and CEO Hinrich Woebcken described it as 'coupe-like'. We're assuming this model will compete with the likes of the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano. The second will slot below the long-wheelbase Tiguan (what we get in the U.S.). This could either be the short-wheelbase Tiguan or a new model that was hinted by Volkswagen's director of development, Dr. Frank Welsch back in September. It comes as no surprise that Volkswagen is planning to expand their crossover offerings. During his presentation, Woebcken showed that light truck sales increased a whopping 51 percent year-to-date, compared to 1 percent for car sales. Still, Volkswagen is planning to walk away from sedans just yet. 2018 will see the new Jetta and launches of the Arteon and Passat GT. Down the road, Volkswagen will introduce a new Jetta GLI and redesigned Passat. Source: Autoblog
  21. Hyundai was caught off guard by the rise of crossovers with their car heavy lineup. This has caused their sales to fall down. But the Korean automaker is hoping to change that with the announcement of eight new or redesigned crossover models by 2020. The plan will begin with the launch of the Kona crossover in March and will include a wide range of models from a small A-segment model to 8-seat midsize model taking the place of the Santa Fe. There are also plans for an electric, hydrogen, and diesel powered models. The electric one is likely the Kona. “The Kona is only the beginning of our product revolution for Hyundai. These vehicles are aimed squarely at the sales leaders in each segment and will emphasize Hyundai’s continued focus on sustainability and efficiency without compromising performance,” said Mike O’Brien, Hyundai Motor America vice president for Product Planning. Source: Hyundai Press Release is on Page 2 Hyundai Motor America to Release Eight New Crossover Utility Vehicles by the Year 2020 Vehicles will be powered by Gasoline, Diesel, Hydrogen and Electricity SUPERIOR TWP., Mich., Nov. 15, 2017 – Hyundai Motor America today announced its commitment to debut eight new or re-engineered crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) in the United States by the year 2020 during a press conference at the Hyundai America Technical Center. Beginning with the launch of the Kona small CUV in March, this new lineup will encompass models from the A-segment (entry level) size class all the way up to the eight-passenger midsize class. Hyundai also will showcase its latest gasoline engine, diesel engine, hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric technologies in these vehicles. “Very soon we are going to have the most diverse CUV powertrain lineup in the industry,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president, product, corporate and digital planning, Hyundai Motor America. “These vehicles will show the engineering prowess of the more than 13,000 engineers Hyundai Motor Company has working on current and future models every single day. Our customers are going to have a lot of great CUV choices in our dealerships.” Debuting at major auto shows including those in Detroit, New York and Los Angeles, this new fleet of CUVs will maintain Hyundai’s promise to make customer’s lives and driving experiences better. Further, Hyundai will be the only manufacturer offering CUV customers four different fuel choices. “The Kona is only the beginning of our product revolution for Hyundai,” O’Brien, added. “These vehicles are aimed squarely at the sales leaders in each segment and will emphasize Hyundai’s continued focus on sustainability and efficiency without compromising performance.”
  22. Whenever Bob Lutz speaks, many people tend to listen as he a number of years of being in the automotive industry under his belt. Recently, Lutz wrote an editorial for Automotive News' Redesigning the Industry where he predicts we are “approaching the end of the automotive era,” within the next 20 years. “The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you’ll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway On the freeway, it will merge seamlessly into a stream of other modules traveling at 120, 150 mph. The speed doesn’t matter. You have a blending of rail-type with individual transportation,” Lutz wrote. Lutz sees governments pushing for a 'no-human-drivers' mandate when it becomes clear that self-driving vehicles are much safer than vehicles operated by humans. "The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents." This according to Lutz will have catastrophic effects for the industry. Most of the driverless pods will be owned, operated and branded as "Uber or Lyft or who-ever else is competing in the market." Many automakers will be forced out of the business as people turn to sharing and not owning a vehicle. Some will remain, but acting as a supplier. Other parts of the business such as dealers, repair shops, and enthusiast magazines will fade away. "The era of the human-driven automobile, its repair facilities, its dealerships, the media surrounding it — all will be gone in 20 years." We're not fully on board with Lutz's train of thought. The time frame is a bit too soon as we are still on the ground floor when it comes to autonomous technology and the numerous hurdles that still need to be overcome. Plus, how will this driverless pod system work in rural areas? That isn't to say it will not happen. Elements of Lutz's viewpoint are coming into focus. For example, Waymo will not have any way for a human to intervene in emergency situations. We highly recommend reading this piece. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  23. Lamborghini has been hesitant to move on from their naturally aspirated V10 and V12 engines to hybrid powertrains for their sports cars. “When they come to Lamborghini, they are asking for the power and performance of our naturally aspirated engines,” he said. “That’s why we have already decided that the next-generation V12 will stay naturally aspirated and it is one reason why the [Aventador] remains unique,” said Lamborghini's Commercial boss Federico Foschini a few months back to Autocar. But Lamborghini is working on a hybrid powertrain for the successor to the Huracán. “The [next] Huracán – that car will need hybridisation. Hybridisation is the answer, not [full] electric,” said Lamborghini boss Stefano Domenicali. Unlike the Urus, which will be the company's first plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Huracán's replacement brings a set of challenges. Packing a heavy hybrid powertrain into an SUV is no problem. Doing the same for a sports car is a big no-no. “It’s easier in our first plug-in hybrid, the Urus, because the ambition of the car in terms of packaging and weight is not so difficult. But this is one mission. It’s not the Lamborghini super-sports car mission," said Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini's R&D head. Reggiani added that current battery technology is not feasible for current supercars. “The issue today is the storage of energy. If I go to a track, I need to run all the laps that I want. But today, the problem is that if you go, you are only able to run one and a half laps [flat out].” Lamborghini's sister brand, Porsche has been investigating the use of lighter solid-state batteries which could solve this issues talked about by Reggiani. Lamborghini is also working with other industry experts to see if a solution can be figured out. The Huracán's replacement is due out in 2022. Source: Autocar
  24. Despite announcing and getting ready to launch their SkyActivX compression ignition engines, along with an electric vehicle, Mazda will still be working on diesel engines for the coming future. “There is a benefit to keep developing the diesel engine. Because when we put the engine on a big vehicle, the big vehicle needs big torque as well and if you look at the diesel engine it can produce the large torque, so we still believe the diesel engine has advantages,” said Ichiro Hirose, Mazda's managing executive officer of powertrain and vehicle development to CarAdvice. “There is actually huge room for further improvement in diesel engines. [Such as] refining of the combustion, of course, the efficiency will be better, also emission will be reduced as well. As far as the diesel engine is concerned there are still many things we can do in terms of evenly mix the air-fuel and burn. Many things we can do.” A recent patent filed by Mazda shows a twin-turbo diesel engine that also features a supercharger, most likely to help minimize turbo lag. Source: CarAdvice
  25. The Nissan 370Z is getting up there up in age (almost nearing a decade) and many have been wondering if there would be a replacement. Rumors abounded that Nissan would be showing a new one at the Tokyo Motor Show, but that did not happen. Speaking with the media at the show, chief planning officer for Nissan, Philippe Klein gave a non-committal answer when asked about a 370Z successor. “It’s an interesting question because there is a lot of passion people this vehicle. This vehicle is still very alive but at the same time it is in a segment that is gradually declining, so that is making the [business] case more difficult. “We have also the GT-R, with which we still believe there is some good potential from this, and we are in the same category starting to make a lot of effort on the Nismo side. Which is another way to offer excitement to our customers leveraging the more conventional side. We have no intention to quit excitement but we’re going to make it happen in different ways.” You can read this one of two ways. The first is that there will be no replacement for the 370Z and you'll need to step up to the GT-R if you want a Nissan sports car. The other is that the Z could morph into a crossover. Source: Drive.com.au

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