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  1. Kia's car-heavy lineup has been hurting them in terms of sales as consumers want more truck and utilities. Through September, Kia sales in the U.S. dropped 1.3 percent to 452,042 vehicles. But Kia CEO Han-Woo Park tells Automotive News that he expects "our performance in the U.S. market to rebound soon." This will be due in part to two new crossovers arriving next year; the Telluride next Spring, followed by a new subcompact crossover in the second half. The subcompact crossover will be based on the SP Concept that debuted at India's Auto Expo in March. Production of the U.S. version will take place in South Korea. Park said Kia would consider other crossover models and possibly a small truck, though there are no plans for the latter. "It's not an easy market, the pickup market in the U.S.," he said. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  2. Earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that it would be moving production of the next-generation Ram HD trucks from Saltillo, Mexico to the Warren Truck Plant in Michigan. This was due to the U.S. Government threatening steep tariffs on Mexican-made vehicles. Saltillo would continue producing global commercial vehicles. But with a new Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico; FCA is having second thoughts about moving production. CEO Mike Manley told Reuters that he wants Ram Trucks to move out of third place with truck sales. “We need to get ourselves into second” place. Frankly, I don’t care which of the two I take share from,” he said. Thus, he is reconsidering the decision made by his predecessor and keep some Ram HD production in Mexico. “With a combination of Warren and Mexico building what we call the classic truck, we have enough production to increase output next year if it’s required. In my opinion it will be required. We are gaining share. Obviously I am looking for that to continue, but it’s an incredibly competitive segment,” said Manley. The new agreement between the two countries calls for no import cap, so long as the vehicle meets a certain amount of content from various countries. Source: Reuters
  3. Many people were hoping that Ford would bring the new Raptor Ranger to the U.S. It would offer the off-road performance and capability of the larger F-150 Raptor, but in a smaller and (hopefully) more affordable package. But that isn't going to be happening. Hermann Salenbauch, the vehicle line director for Ford Performance told journalists yesterday that the company has no plans to bring the Ranger Raptor to the U.S. A key reason mentioned by Salenbauch is due to the high costs to make the Ranger Raptor legal to sell in the U.S. as the model is based on the global Ranger. We have to assume a key part would come from trying to either make the twin-turbo 2.0L diesel legal or finding a possible replacement. But Autoblog notes there is another reason not mentioned by Salenbauch, pricing. Considering the base price of the F-150 Raptor is $52,855, we would guess the Ranger Raptor would be a few thousand dollars less taking into account the various changes that would be needed. For a number of buyers, spending a few extra thousand dollars to get a bigger and badder truck isn't that big of a problem. Plus, Ford is making a nice amount of profit on each Raptor sold - especially considering that Raptors sit on dealer lots for an average of 20 days. Why introduce a competitor that would make less money? That isn't to say Ford isn't taking the Raptor Ranger off the table for the U.S. fully. Autoblog writes that "Salenbauch didn't say the Ranger Raptor would never come here, and he and other Ford executives said they're always listening to feedback and open to new models." Source: Autoblog
  4. When Ford introduced the GT, they made it very clear it would be a limited run affair. 500 models would be built over the course of two years. Then the company expanded the amount to 1,000 vehicles that would be built over four years. Now, Ford has expanded the pool of GTs again. An additional 350 GTs will be built, bringing the grand total to 1,350. This also means a longer production run. Previously, Ford was going to wrap up production in 2020, but has pushed it back to 2022. If you were one of the many people who applied for a GT and didn't get one, Ford will be opening the application process one more time beginning on November 8th and have it running for 30 days. Prospective owners will find out if they got the approval early next year. “By extending the Ford GT production run for a limited period, we’re able to maintain the exclusivity of the ultra-desirable supercar while offering the ownership experience to a greater number of customers,” said Hermann Salenbauch, Ford Performance director. Somehow, we doubt many Ford GT owners will have the same view. Source: Ford Ford Increasing GT Production To Make Ownership Dreams A Reality For 350 More Supercar Fans Due to the popularity of Ford GT, Ford is raising the number of supercars it will build to 1,350 – up from 1,000; Ford GT production will run for a total of approximately six years Ford is re-opening the final owner application process for select global markets on Nov. 8; prospective owners can submit their applications at FordGT.com for 30 days Previous applicants need to confirm or modify their original application to be considered in this final application window to own a Ford GT Dearborn, Mich., Oct. 18, 2018 – Ford Motor Company is increasing Ford GT production to 1,350 vehicles after more than 6,500 applicants raced to sign up for the original 1,000 cars allotted in 2016 – even before the car recaptured LeMans glory later that year. “The response to our Ford GT has been unprecedented, with initial demand outstripping supply by more than six-to-one,” said Hermann Salenbauch, Ford Performance director. “By extending the Ford GT production run for a limited period, we’re able to maintain the exclusivity of the ultra-desirable supercar while offering the ownership experience to a greater number of customers.” Ford is re-opening the application window to customers hoping to join the exclusive group of Ford GT owners starting Nov. 8 for select global markets. Prospective owners will be able to submit their applications for 30 days at FordGT.com. Successful applicants will work with the Ford GT Concierge Service for a personalized purchase experience of cars produced in the 2020 to 2022 calendar years. Production of the Ford GT – powered by a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine and featuring a carbon fiber architecture, active aerodynamics and 216 mph top speed – began in December 2016.
  5. Chris Chapman, senior chief designer at Hyundai's Design Center has an ambitious plan for the coming years. He wants each Hyundai model to have their own visual identity. "We're going for more of this chess-piece rather than the family look. We're using consistently shared elements … but we're going to avoid this sort of Russian-doll approach to our vehicles in the future," Chapman told reporters at the media launch of the Kona EV. Designers will be tasked to give each model "a look that matches its intended use and customer." Take for example the Kona crossover which has a funky look that should appeal to a younger audience than the new Santa Fe. Another example is the Kona and Kona EV that have different design touches to set them apart. "Both kind of have extroverted design, but they're dressed differently for different demographic purposes," Chapman said. Part of Chapman's motivation for this comes from his past. As Roadshow notes, he worked as a designer at BMW during the Chris Bangle era which brought forth the problem of telling the difference between the 3, 5, and 7-Series. He said BMW referred to this as "Eine Wurst, drei Grosse" -- one sausage, three sizes. While he may not say it outright, reading between the lines reveals he would like to avoid this. Source: Roadshow
  6. Jaguar Land Rover has already announced plans to begin electrifying their lineups beginning in 2020, but Jaguar could be going one step further. Autocar reports that the management is considering making Jaguar an EV-only brand within the next decade. Plans have already been drawn up for a strategy that would see Jaguar phase out its conventional lineup with fully electric models over the next five to seven years. Here is the gist of the strategy, A fully-electric sedan would replace the XJ sedan in two-years time. This model will take on the likes of the Tesla Model S and Porsche's upcoming Taycan. The XE and XF will be replaced by a new electric crossover that will be similar in size to Audi's e-tron crossover (possibly taking the place of the F-Pace) by 2023. 2025 would see the E-Pace replaced by the next-generation I-Pace. The upcoming large J-Pace crossover will be the sole conventional model until 2027 when an electric replacement debuts. There is talk about an electric sports car taking the place of the F-Type. It is quite the gamble that JLR is considering for the brand. But it one the brand is seriously considering for two reasons. One is that Jaguar sales have been floundering due partly to lineup having more sedans than crossovers, along with being heavily dependent on diesel. The other is that it would allow Jaguar to jump ahead of the likes of Audi and Mercedes-Benz with electric vehicles. Remember, Jaguar already has their EV on sale, while Audi and Mercedes-Benz are in the process of launching theirs. Source: Autocar
  7. 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
  8. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Melfi plant is beginning to process of retooling to build a plug-in hybrid Jeep Renegade by 2020. The investment totaling 200 million Euros (about $229 million) will include modernizing the plant and training employees. FCA is planning to get pre-production models rolling off the line next year. Melfi is home to the Renegade and Fiat 500X production. FCA says the Renegade will become the third electrified vehicle in their lineup, following the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV and Ram 1500 eTorque mild hybrid. This is part of an effort to launch "12 electric propulsion systems (BEV, PHEV, full-hybrid and mild-hybrid)", adding that 30 different models would be equipped with one or more of these systems. No mechanical details were given on the plug-in hybrid system destined for the Renegade. Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Melfi Plant prepares for production of new Jeep Renegade Plug-in Hybrid The FCA Melfi Plant in Italy is beginning preparations to produce the Jeep Renegade Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) scheduled for market launch in early 2020. The Renegade PHEV will be produced alongside the Renegade and 500X full combustion engine products that are currently produced at the Melfi vehicle assembly plant. The pre-production units of the new Jeep Renegade PHEV are scheduled in 2019. The investment for the new engine launch equates to more than €200M and also includes a strong commitment by FCA for training all workers on the application of this new technology. The Plant facilities involved in the production will also be modernized accordingly. "With over 742,000 Renegades produced to date in Italy, the Melfi plant and the Renegade are the ideal location and the perfect product to launch the PHEV, further strengthening the offer of this highly successful Jeep", said Pietro Gorlier, Chief Operating Officer EMEA region. During the FCA Capital Markets Day on June 1, when the 2018-2022 business plan was presented to the financial community, it was stated that one of the most important change factors addressed in the strategic plan is electrification. Investments during the plan period result in a portfolio of technical solutions that will enable FCA to comply with the regulatory requirements in each sales region. At the same time, the technology will also be applied to enhance the specific strengths of each brand. The Renegade PHEV is the next step in FCA's roll-out of Electrification, following the launches of the PHEV Pacifica Minivan and the mild-hybrid e-Torque technology launched on the Ram 1500 truck earlier this year. By 2022, FCA will offer a total of 12 electric propulsion systems (BEV, PHEV, full-hybrid and mild-hybrid) in global architectures. Thirty different models will be equipped with one or more of these systems. London, 8 October 2018
  9. Mazda is the latest automaker to announced plans for electrify its entire lineup and it will involve the return of the rotary engine. By 2030, five percent of Mazda vehicles will be pure electric and range extender models. The rest will have combustion engines with some sort of electrification. "We've seen drastic changes in automotive-related environmental policies all over the world. We at Mazda are keeping an eye on what is going on in the industry as we move forward with our strategy," said Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto. The push begins in 2019 with a mild-hybrid model, followed by a electric vehicle that is being developed in-house according to Automotive News. A plug-in hybrid will debut in 2021. But what about the rotary engine? This will be the range-extender for an electric vehicle that will recharge the battery and provide a longer cruising range. Mazda says the rotary is the perfect engine for this application as it is compact, powerful, and quiet. One interesting tidbit - Mazda says the rotary will be able to burn liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Mazda MAZDA ANNOUNCES ELECTRIFICATION AND CONNECTIVITY STRATEGIES FOR CARS THAT INVIGORATE MIND AND BODY CONTINUES TAKING A HUMAN-CENTERED APPROACH TO THE JOY OF DRIVING; CONTRIBUTING TO THE EARTH, SOCIETY AND PEOPLE October 2, 2018; HIROSHIMA, Japan – Mazda Motor Corporation today announced electrification and connectivity strategies that build on the company’s human-centered development philosophy, aiming to further advance the joy of driving, provide both drivers and passengers with peace of mind through an enhanced sense of connection with the car in everyday driving situations, and offer an emotionally enriching joy of life through car ownership. The strategies are based on Mazda’s long-term vision for technology development, “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030,” which makes it the company’s mission to preserve the beauty of the earth and enrich society and individual lives and seek solutions in the areas of people, society and the earth. The electrification and connectivity technologies outlined below will further enhance the inherent value of the automobile. ELECTRIFICATION TECHNOLOGIES Mazda will strive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and enhance the joy of driving by deploying compact, lightweight electrification technologies while further refining the internal combustion engine, which is forecast to be equipped in the majority of new cars for many years to come. The company will introduce electric vehicles as the optimal solution in regions that generate a high ratio of electricity from clean energy sources or restrict certain vehicle types to reduce air pollution. With a view to achieving a 90-percent reduction versus 2010 levels in its corporate average “well-to-wheel” carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, Mazda will deploy some form of electrification in all production vehicles by 2030. By 2030, Mazda expects that internal combustion engines combined with some form of electrification will account for 95 percent of the vehicles it produces and battery electric vehicles will account for 5 percent. In-house development of electric vehicles will leverage the advantages of electric drive systems and be guided by Mazda’s unique human-centered development philosophy that focuses on human traits and sensibilities. Mazda will develop two battery electric vehicles, one powered solely by battery and another that pairs a battery with a newly developed range extender powered by Mazda’s small, lightweight and exceptionally quiet rotary engine. The range extender will recharge the battery when necessary to effectively increase the vehicle’s driving range. The concept behind the rotary-powered range extender was to leverage the rotary engine’s small size and high power output to make multiple electrification technology solutions possible via a shared packaging layout. Taking advantage of the rotary engine’s compatibility with gaseous fuels, the rotary-powered range extender is designed to also burn liquefied petroleum gas and provide a source of electricity in emergencies. CONNECTIVITY TECHNOLOGIES In line with its human-centered development philosophy, Mazda will develop connectivity technologies that offer an enriching experience of the joy of life, connecting people by facilitating the sharing of experiences and feelings through cars. By offering this new value together with the joy of driving, Mazda aims to inspire people and enrich society. Contribute to the resolution of social issues, such as the weakening of interpersonal connections that has accompanied changes in society, by connecting people and society through connectivity technologies. Link connectivity with model-based development and reflect the results in future product development, improving quality and customer satisfaction. Leverage the alliance with Toyota Motor Corporation in the development of connectivity technologies. “They say that the automotive industry is undergoing a once-in-a-century transformation. At Mazda, we see this as an opportunity to create a new car culture,” said Akira Marumoto, Mazda’s Representative Director, President and CEO. “New trends and technologies in connectivity, autonomy, sharing and electrification offer new possibilities for creating ever more attractive cars. Using new technologies based on our unique human-centered development philosophy, Mazda will, in the spirit of ‘Never Stop Challenging,’ continue to pursue the joy of driving and work to create an emotional connection with customers that rivals the strongest brands in the world.”
  10. Stop me if you have heard this before; Cadillac President Steve Carlisle is vowing to reboot the brand with six new models beginning with the XT4 crossover and a new advertising campaign that will replace the boring 'Dare Greatly" tagline. “We lost our mojo for a long period of time. This time, it is different and we will show you," By Bloomberg's count, this is the eight reinvention of the brand in the past two decades. Despite the brand's best efforts to reverse a shrinking market share and improve their image, they haven't paid off in the U.S. China is a different story where Cadillac sold more vehicles there than in the U.S. last year. Cadillac's problems are numerous and familiar; lack of SUVs, too many sedans, and older buyers continue to be the majority of people entering the showroom. Not helping has been the confusing "Dare Greatly" advertising. “‘Dare Greatly’ has been a disaster from beginning to end. When you have product that is in many ways better than the competition, you tell people about it. You don’t dare them to take a leap of faith on your cars,” said Bob Lutz, retired GM chairman. Carlisle agrees with Lutz on the ad campaign not really going anywhere. He and Deborah Wahl, Cadillac's new marketing boss are working on a new campaign "that will emphasize features and new technologies." The upcoming the XT4 will also be playing a vital role, becoming the brand's least expensive model with a price tag of under $35,000. The low price and crossover shape are hoped by Cadillac that it will bring in younger customers. Source: Bloomberg (Subscription Required)
  11. Lincoln launched a pilot program for its own subscription service through Ford's Canvas earlier this year in the Los Angeles and the San Francisco areas. Unlike other programs that offer new vehicles, Lincoln's program offered off-lease vehicles that ranged from 2015 to 2017 model years. This allowed Lincoln to offer lower prices than competitors - prices ranged from $500 to $950 plus variable pricing on the amount of miles per month. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lincoln's subscription service isn't doing so hot. “I’ve been surprised how few people are genuinely interested in that type of ownership. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said this is the next big thing. A lot of people are struggling to make the math work,” said Lincoln’s director of marketing, sales and service, Robert Parker. Parker explained that most of the customers who signed up needed a vehicle for a short time like searching for a new vehicle or needing something to get them around while their car was in the shop. “The amount of people coming out after one or two months is very high. It’s just kind of an interim process,” said Parker. Lincoln is going to be making some changes to their program, although it is unclear what those might be. Parker threw out the suggestion of involving Lincoln dealers in the service, along with expanding vehicle ability. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  12. Come 2019, Infiniti will not have any hybrid vehicles available for sale. Green Car Reports has learned from Infiniti spokesman Kyle Bazemore that the Q50 Hybrid model will be axed from the lineup come the 2019 model year. This follows an announcement of the Q70 hybrid being dropped earlier this summer. No reason was given as to why both hybrid models have been dropped, but Green Car Reports speculates the slow sales is the explanation. With the departure of the QX60 Hybrid last year, this leaves Infiniti with no hybrid models. But that doesn't mean Infiniti isn't getting out of the electrification game for good. As we reported back in January, Infiniti will begin offering full electric powertrains and plug-in hybrid models beginning in 2021. Source: Green Car Reports
  13. Polestar has revealed new details as to how it plans on selling their vehicles in the U.S. As we have previously reported, Polestar will be using an online system for customers to do research, configure, and order their vehicle. They'll also have the choice of either purchasing a vehicle outright or doing a subscription model where insurance and maintenance is covered in the payment. But as Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar admits in a statement, "many people want to physically see a car before ordering." That's where Polestar Spaces come into play. These will be franchised by dealers and allow customers to check out the cars and learn more from product information specialists - not working on commission. The spaces will also handle servicing of the vehicles, although customers won't need to drop their vehicles off. Using a smartphone app, customers will be able to schedule a pickup for servicing. Once completed, Polestar will drop the vehicle back off. According to Car and Driver, Polestar will open their first space in New York City in late 2019 or early 2020. Nine more spaces will follow: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas or Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Source: Car and Driver, Polestar Polestar – the new electric performance brand and a new approach to car ownership for US customers As a new entrant into the electrified automotive industry, Polestar has confirmed its positioning and innovative go-to-market strategy in the important North American car market. As a start-up electric car brand owned by Volvo Car Group, Polestar will offer electric performance cars with a modern, fully digital customer experience. “Launching an entirely new car brand gives us the opportunity to assess what customers enjoy about car ownership, and what they are less keen on,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer at Polestar. “As an electric performance brand, we want to maximize our customer’s enjoyment of driving. Polestars will be great looking cars with avant-garde design that are full of modern technology and great to drive. “We also want to remove the hassle from traditional car ownership. The customer will be able to research, configure and order their car online. They can choose our innovative subscription model that enables them to have all their motoring costs covered by one single monthly payment. “We also know that many people want to physically see a car before ordering, so our customers will be able to meet the brand in a franchised Polestar Space. In a town center location, they’ll interact with non-commissioned product experts who are totally focused on enhancing their brand experience and giving them the information they want and need. They will also have pick-up and delivery servicing, meaning that their days of standing in line at service reception are over.” “Polestar is a global brand from day one, operating in the world’s most important car markets – Europe, China and North America. We will therefore be opening Polestar Spaces in major US cities as demand requires them. We are also developing a new Polestar North America organization to meet the demands of this important market,” concludes Thomas Ingenlath. Polestar’s momentum has been building following its launch as the new electric performance brand. The company’s first car, Polestar 1, was revealed in October 2017 as a 600 hp Electric Performance Hybrid, but with the longest pure electric range of any hybrid in the world. The Polestar 1 will start production in mid-2019 at the new Polestar Production Centre, which is nearing completion. The first full year of production has already sold out, with 200 cars currently destined for North American customers. The brand’s second car, Polestar 2, will be the company’s first full battery electric vehicle and is designed to compete with Tesla Model 3. The Polestar 2 will be revealed early in 2019, with production starting a year later.
  14. Ferrari held their annual Capital Markets Day where the company provided details about their plans through 2022. CEO Louis Camilleri revealed a roadmap that is similar to what former CEO Sergio Marchionne presented previously. 15 new models are expected to launch by 2022 and that will include a new SUV called Purosangue. However, Camilleri has pushed back the launch from 2020 to 2022 to "get it perfect." There will also be a new mid-engine model that may serve as Ferrari's performance flagship as it is said to be quicker than the La Ferrari. Ferrari is also expanding its hybrid offerings, planning to offer 60 percent of its total production with a hybrid engine by 2022. This will include a new V6 with turbocharging. Camilleri has also pulled back on Marchionne's earnings target of 2 billion euros to a range of 1.8 to 2 billion by 2022. "This is an ambitious plan, but a doable one based on a concrete, detailed framework," said Camilleri. Source: Bloomberg
  15. As part of their ambitions to compete with European automakers on their home soil, Cadillac was working on a range of four- and six-cylinder diesel engines. According to Automotive News, the upcoming XT4 was expected to have a diesel engine by 2020 and other models would follow. There was also plans about selling diesels for Cadillacs in the U.S. But Cadillac President Steve Carlisle said development has been put on hold. "We have been working on diesel, but the markets may be changing more quickly than we anticipated," he said to AN. "Going forward, we will focus on electrification." The diesel program at Cadillac got hit with a double whammy over the past few years. First was the Volkswagen diesel emission crisis that broke in September 2015. There was talk about killing the project, but "executives felt it had progressed too far to kill". Then last year, General Motors sold Opel to PSA Group. The German division was working with Cadillac with development. Still, the brand continued with progress. It is unclear as to why Cadillac has put the program on hold now, but we're guessing the combination of stricter regulations coming into Europe and more competitors deciding to go all-in electrification are the main reasons. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  16. Volkswagen put forth an ambitious plan to offer an electric version of each model it sells. The automaker set aside about 20 billion euros ($23 billion), but that will not be enough according CEO Herbert Diess. “The burden for our company, such as the cost of bringing to market electric cars, will be higher than expected,” Diess said in a interview with Volkswagen's internal newsletter, obtained by Bloomberg. “This is particularly so since some of our competitors have been making more progress.” Diess didn't give a new figure in the interview, but did say the company needs to "reduce expenses more to be able to invest in future technology and weather crises". Volkswagen has been working on improving its profitability since a 2016 labor pact and massive reorganization of its 12 brands. The Volkswagen brand has seen its profitability increase from 1.8 to 4.1 percent last year. But Diess said they need higher profits. “We need higher profits to finance our future. Four percent is a minimum, 5 percent to 6 percent allow for some future investments and with 7 percent to 8 percent we’re crisis-ready.” Source: Bloomberg (Subscription Required)
  17. Geely was planning to make Volvo a publicly traded company by the end of the year. Earlier in the year, the company hired financial advisors to see if it would be possible. But over the weekend, the Financial Times reported that Geely has scrapped those plans. “We’ve come to the conclusion that the timing is not optimal for an IPO right now,” Volvo Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson told Reuters. The on-going trade war between the U.S. and China, and concerns about something similar happening between the U.S. and Europe are listed as the main concerns. But a source revealed that Geely boss Li Shufu thought Volvo needed to make bigger endroads into China before going public. Sources tell Reuters that Geely was aiming to have Volvo's IPO valued between $16 and $30 billion. Some analysts questioned the $30 billion estimate. Volvo said a listing was possible in the future. Source: Financial Times, Reuters
  18. Some concept cars are just flights of fancy. Take for example the Genesis Essentia that bowed at the New York Auto Show earlier this year. This low-slung coupe boasted a transparent hood, set of butterfly doors, copper wheels, and electric powertrain. The concept proved to be quite popular, prompting Genesis to make a production version. Erwin Raphael, executive director of Genesis North America told reporters at a gathering that the automaker is planning to bring the Essentia as a production model. It would be built in limited numbers and carry a hefty price tag. "We are very committed to the Essentia. We love the car. We think the car will do very well," said Raphael. Raphael didn't give a possible timeframe, but Manfred Fitzgerald, global head of Genesis told Motor Trend the production Essentia could arrive in 2021 or 2022. The ability to bring the car out so soon is due to almost all of the design elements on the concepts being feasible for production - the butterfly doors are one of the exceptions. Raphael mentioned the Essentia could be the sports car that Genesis has promised or a new seventh model in their growing lineup. No mention of a powertrain for the production version. The Essentia rides on a electric architecture that Genesis is experimenting with as works to try and get an electric vehicle launched by 2021. Source: Motor Trend
  19. Ford had planned on selling two cars by 2019 in the U.S. - the Mustang and Focus Active. The latter took elements of a crossover with a higher ride height, body cladding, and new bumpers, and put them onto a Focus hatchback. But plans to bring this model to the U.S. have been canned. Ford announced today that it has canceled the Focus Active as tariffs on Chinese-made goods would eat into profits. The company announced last year that it would import the next-generation Focus from China. "Given the negative financial impact of the new tariffs, we've decided not to import this vehicle from China. The significant thing that moved was the tariffs going up substantially higher. We're choosing to deploy resources elsewhere," said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president of North America. Unlike General Motors which had applied for an exemption on the Chinese-built Buick Envision, Ford did not apply for one as it would have not worked out due to production timing and a small number of sales - the company projected to sell fewer than 50,000 Focus Actives in the U.S. Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the Center for Automotive Research tells The Detroit News that this could be the first of many announcements. The combination of Chinese tariffs, along with the threat of a 25 percent tariff on imported cars and parts may push a lot of products out of the U.S. “Many models will be withdrawn from the U.S. market, and many won’t be built in the U.S. at all. There are a whole lot of implications for the automotive industry and for consumers in terms of choice and prices,” she explained. The decision also puts Ford in a tough spot. The Focus Active was going to be one of the models that would fill in the space left by sedans that are going to be cut. "It didn't make sense for us to continue to invest in this program. We're looking at the entire landscape, and we're thinking through what other products we can offer customers," said Galhotra. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Detroit News
  20. If there is a trend at Tesla, it's that there's always more to the various stories. Case in point: On Friday night, CEO Elon Musk posted a piece on Tesla's blog saying that plans have been scrapped about taking the company private. "Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was ‘please don’t do this,” Musk wrote. But what led him to this decision? Over the weekend, Bloomberg, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal published pieces into Musk's reversal. The short of it comes down to Musk jumped the gun with his announcement earlier this month on Twitter without making sure everything was in place. This from the New York Times - emphasis mine. Let's begin with Saudi Arabia. As we reported earlier this month, Musk said in a blog post that he believed Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund could provide the funding necessary for the move to go private. This was based on discussions between the two, along with the fund purchasing a small stake into the company. The Saudi's didn't share the same enthusiasm. While the fund was open to make a significant investment into Tesla to hedge the country against oil and help attract tech expertise, sources tell Bloomberg the fund was only interested in a minority stake. The two hadn't reached an agreement on the possible terms according to a source, before Musk made his post announcing the fund. The Wall Street Journal learned from a government official that Musk's post angered some senior officials in the kingdom. Some officials wondered about Musk's "health as well as the role he would play in the company." This might explain some of reasoning behind the possibility of Saudi Arabia's PIF investing to Lucid Motors - something we brought to light last week. Meanwhile, there were concerns at Tesla about Saudi Arabia. Some complained to Musk about selling a large chunk of shares to a foreign oil producer wouldn't be a good look. As for the private investors, the Journal reports that Goldman Sachs and private-equity firm were brought in to help facilitate a deal. Last Wednesday, the two presented Musk a roster of investors including Volkswagen and Silver Lake itself (promising to contribute up to $30 billion according to sources). But these weren't the investors that Musk wanted as he was suspicious of rival car companies, along with losing a number of small investors. There would also be a catch as the two explained the money being provided would have strings attached such as having a lot of say in how the company is run. A day later, Musk met with the board saying that he would be withdrawing the idea of going private. Source: Bloomberg, New York Times, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)
  21. Over two weeks ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took everyone by surprise by announcing his intention to take Tesla private. But those plans have been scrapped. Last night, Musk published a blog post saying that he had met with the board and “let them know that I believe the better path is for Tesla to remain public. The Board indicated that they agree.” "Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was ‘please don’t do this,” wrote Musk. In a separate statement, Tesla's board of directors confirmed Musk's decision. "Yesterday, we held a Board meeting, during which Elon reported on the work he and his advisors have been doing in connection with this effort. Elon communicated to the Board that after having done this work and considered all factors, he believes the better path is to no longer pursue a transaction for taking Tesla private. After discussing this, we dissolved the Special Committee. The Board and the entire company remain focused on ensuring Tesla’s operational success, and we fully support Elon as he continues to lead the company moving forward," the statement says. This saga began with a tweet back on August 7th, This tweet sent everyone into a tizzy and caused NASDAQ to halt trading of Tesla stock for a few hours. There was one big question, how was Tesla going to fund this? Musk revealed a week later that it would be Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, though reports say the fund isn't so thrilled about this idea. As we reported earlier this week, the fund is in talks with another electric automaker, Lucid Motors. The announcement has prompted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to subpoena the company, along with a number of lawsuits from upset investors. Source: Tesla, Bloomberg
  22. 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)
  23. Lincoln is slowly rising back up with products such as the Navigator, the 2019 Nautilus, and the upcoming Aviator. This has given the brand confidence and is asking dealers in the top 30 U.S. luxury markets to split away from Ford and build stand-alone stores. "Customers expect the environment to be equal to the product. They want to buy a luxury product in a luxury environment," said Robert Parker, Lincoln's director of marketing, sales, and service. Executives point out that the stand-alone stores regularly outsell Ford-Lincoln dealers and are responsive for most of the sales gains in recent years. About 150 dealers are located in the 30 markets that Lincoln says account for 70 percent of the industry's luxury sales. Already, about half of the dealers have either started construction or finished standalone. Lincoln wants the remaining dealers to do the same and is offering some incentives; help finding land for their new store, large bonuses for each vehicle, and allow them to sell the high-end Black Label models. Dealers can say no to this, but executives believe most will make the switch. "This is the time for us to leverage this opportunity with the world-class products and continue to evolve and step up our client experience," said Greg Wood, Lincoln's sales and service manager. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  24. When General Motors decided to study the Ford F-150 to help make the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra, they sent engineers to the front door of where the F-150 is built. According to Reuters, engineers went on a public factory tour of Ford's Dearborn truck plant to study how Ford was building them. Special attention was paid to workers attaching aluminum body panels to the trucks. After watching and timing the fitment of parts with stopwatches, GM engineers found some problems. “They had a real hard time getting those doors to fit,” said Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer for GM truck programs. Focusing on the doors, engineers bought F-150 doors as parts and took them apart. What they realized is that they could cut weight in their trucks with a combination of aluminum and thinner high strength steel for a lower cost. GM could have gone all-aluminum with their trucks. Herrick said the debate at the company “was a really hotly contested item for us.” But at the end of the day, the decision to use mixed metals will allow for a larger profit on the trucks. “We think we have thousands of dollars advantage (over Ford) just in the aluminum costs. It’s big,” said Herrick. Source: Reuters
  25. Ford has a new midsize crossover, but it will only be sold in China. Meet the Territory which will slot in between the EcoSport and Kuga (Escape to us). The model was developed with its joint-venture partner, Jiangling Motors Corp. The exterior looks very similar to the EcoSport subcompact crossover, albeit with a more aggressive bumper and smaller grille. Where the Territory stands out is the interior. The design is quite simple with Mustang-inspired toggle controls and stitching on various trim pieces. Power will come from either a regular gas engine, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid powertrain. Optional features include an infotainment system with Mandarin voice-command and Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of active driver assists. The Territory has a tough job as it will play a key part in Ford's plan to stem losses in sales. In the first half of 2018, the company reported sales in China had dropped 25 percent. This resulted in a $483 million loss in the second quarter (before taxes). Ford blamed an aging lineup as the reason to the sales decline. To solve this Ford is planning 50 new or redesigned vehicles that will launch in China beginning now and running through 2025 - beginning with the redesigned Focus and new Territory. The Territory goes on sale early next year. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Roadshow

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