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  1. It seems every few months we get a rumor coming out of the woodwork about the upcoming Land Rover Defender. That time has arrived once again thanks to Car. They're reporting that Land Rover is planning a family of Defender models like they have done with the Discovery and Range Rover. We know some of them such as a pickup we brought to light in April. But Car says there is an electric variant and what is known as the Defender Sport in the cards. The report doesn't provide many details on the former, but we know that Land Rover has floated this idea back in 2013 with a Defender EV concept. As for the Defender Sport, Car states the model will be take on an "on-road and lifestyle flavour," something akin to the Range Rover Sport. Production is expected to begin in 2020 with the two-door soft and hard tops, and the four-door hard top. Other models like the Sport aren't expected to arrive till later on in the decade. Source: Car
  2. A new report from the German publication Handelsblatt says that Ford and Volkswagen are considering expanding their partnership "that stands to change the German industry.” The two are reportedly looking into working together on autonomous tech and electric vehicle development. There are a number of ideas under consideration between two. One example is for Volkswagem's Moia self-driving subsidiary to take a 50 percent stake into Ford’s Autonomous Vehicles LLC. In return, Volkswagen could share their MEB toolkit with Ford on electric vehicles. The expansion in the partnership could also see Volkswagen buying combustion engines from Ford in an effort to reduce investments into diesel engines. Why are the two considering this expansion? For one, it would allow the two companies to pool their efforts to catch up with various competitors such as Tesla and Waymo, while saving cash. It is also being seen as a survival tactic in certain markets. Ford is struggling in Europe and South America, while Volkswagen is having issues in North America. Volkswagen's supervisory board will be holding a meeting later this month to consider whether or not it will expand this partnership. Source: Handelsblatt Global
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Tesla finds itself without a chairman of the board as Elon Musk has stepped down due to a settlement with Securities and Exchange Commission. A possible replacement for Musk could be James Murdoch, chief executive of 21st Century Fox and a member of Tesla's board according to a report from the Financial Times. The SEC is wanting the next chairperson to be independent and not beholden to Musk. Murdoch is the closest thing as he has more financial independence than another candidate, Antonio Gracias. The FT report says Gracias' venture capital firm, Valor Equity Partners was an early investor into Tesla, though it had sold its shares when Tesla had its IPO. Gracias is also a stakeholder in Musk's SpaceX, which clouds his independence. That isn't to say Murdoch's independence is clear either as he is friends with Musk, and has sided with him on a number of decisions. Sources tell the FT that Tesla is also looking outside of the company for a possible replacement. Tesla didn't respond for comment, but Elon Musk took to Twitter last night to respond. "This is incorrect," he wrote. Source: Financial Times (Subscription Required), Bloomberg
  6. Aside from the turbo-four engine, the 3.0L Duramax diesel inline-six for the upcoming 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 has us very intrigued. General Motors has been quiet on power figures and fuel economy for this engine since announcing this engine earlier in the year. But thanks to a crafty person who got some photographs off of GM Canada’s dealer site, we now have some figures. The photos were posted by TFL Truck and reveal the diesel engine produces 282 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque - 32 horsepower and 10 pound-feet more than the F-150's 3.0L PowerStroke diesel. GM also claims a highway fuel economy figure of 28 mpg - about two mpg less than the F-150. That 28 mpg figure gives us pause as Canada reports fuel economy figures very different - 'x' liters per 100 kilometers - not miles per gallon. Max towing is rated at 7,800 pounds. We'll see if those numbers pan out when the diesel becomes available sometime later this or early next year. Source: TFL Truck
  7. Late Thursday afternoon saw a massive bombshell dropped; the SEC sued Elon Musk over securities fraud over his August tweet that he was considering taking Tesla private and having the "Funding secured." But a new report from CNBC said there was a possible settlement between the two where Musk would not have to admit guilt. However, Musk pulled the plug on the deal at the last minute. According to sources, this is what the proposed deal looked like, Tesla and Musk would had to pay a fine Musk would not have to admit guilt or deny culpability Barred Musk as being the chairman for two years Require Tesla to find two new independent directors However, Musk refused this deal "because he felt that by settling he would not be truthful to himself, and he wouldn't have been able to live with the idea that he agreed to accept a settlement and any blemish associated with that, the sources said." This move puts Tesla and Musk in a very difficult spot. The company's stock fell 13.9 percent on Friday - the worst since November 2013. There are also questions as to whether or not Elon Musk will stay on as CEO or if this mess will force him to leave. Choosing to fight the SEC means it could take years for an outcome to be reached according to Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Bernstein Research. "In the absence of a settlement, the mere possibility that Musk could be removed as CEO (or entirely from Telsa) is likely to cast an overhang on the stock, and make it extremely difficult for the company to raise capital (either private or public)," Sacconaghi said. What will be Tesla's defense to the SEC's charge? The Wall Street Journal learned from a source that Musk believed "he had a verbal agreement in place with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund to help finance a plan to take the auto maker private." Musk believes that the SEC isn't "taking into account that Middle Eastern businesses routinely operate using verbal agreements in principle." Source: CNBC, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)
  8. Audi is planning to bring back a long-defunct name for an ultra-luxurious version of the A8. Automotive News has learned from sources that the luxury automaker is planning to introduce top-line A8 with the Horch name. Horch was a successful luxury brand in Germany during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1932, it would merge with Audi, DKW, and Wanderer to create Auto Union - what we know as Audi. Production of Horch vehicles would halt when World War II broke out. The brand would briefly would produce vehicles after the war before being shuttered. Audi has briefly toyed with the Horch name is the past two decades, going as far as creating mock-ups, but didn't go any farther. The A8 Horch is expected to get more luxury features, along with a Horch logo on the flanks or C-Pillar - similar to what Mercedes-Benz does with the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. Power is expected to come from twin-turbo W12 engine. According to AN, the regular A8 W12 is on hold, despite being market-ready. There is the possibility of an V8 being on offer as well. Audi is planning to launch the Horch version of the A8 in two to three years, when the model is expected to be refreshed. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  9. The Chrysler 300 will disappear in two years according Automotive News. Their annual future product pipeline reports that Chrysler will eliminate the 300 from their lineup in 2020. No replacement is planned. This follows rumors we've been hearing for the past couple of years that the 300 would be bumped off. But this presents a big problem for Chrysler. Without the 300, the only car in the lineup is the Pacifica minivan. But Automotive News says there is a model to take its place. It will be a fully-electric minivan based on the Portal concept that debuted at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas. The report says expect the concept to retain the reconfigurable interior that seats up to six people and possibly the sliding French doors. Production is expected to begin in 2020. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  10. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is considering replacing the Pentastar V6 with a brand new straight-six engine. A source tells Allpar the new engine will be based on their new four-cylinder Global Medium Engine (GME) - what is found under the hood of the Jeep Wrangler and Alfa Romeo Giulia. This will allow FCA to build the engine alongside the four-cylinder variant. Not many technical details are known about the engine aside from it being pegged around 2.9L to avoid taxes in certain European countries. We might expect larger displacements for trucks and SUVs. Production could take place at FCA's Dundee and Trenton, Michigan plants. It is expected that Ferrari will use a variant of this engine for Maserati vehicles. No timeframe as to when this new engine could debut. Allpar also mentions in their report that FCA was considering adding some sort of boost to the Pentastar, but ran into issues with the size and power constraints. Source: Allpar
  11. In the most recent five-year plan for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ram Trucks revealed that it planned to have a new midsize truck by 2022. Thanks to a new report from Automotive News, we have some tantalizing details. According to supplier sources, the new Ram truck will be built at FCA's Toledo, Ohio plant - home to the Wrangler and upcoming Wrangler pickup. Half of the plant has been shutdown since April for retooling to make way for the Wrangler pickup. The line regularly built more than 230,000 JK Wranglers per year before undergoing the retooling process. FCA is not expecting the Wrangler truck to sell in high numbers, leaving a fair amount of capacity ready for another vehicle. Hence where the Ram midsize comes in. This also reveals that the midsize truck will be body-on frame. We've heard previously that Ram was considering unibody construction. The truck is expected to debut in 2020 as a 2021 model. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  12. Mercedes' is planning to have 10 fully-electric models by 2022 - a mix of electric models for current nameplates and new models as part of the EQ family. We've already seen the EQ C crossover and the EQ A hatchback is waiting in the wings. A new report from Autocar has revealed some details on the EQ S, the flagship model of the EQ family. The EQ S is expected to launch in 2020 and be first model to use a dedicated EV platform. Known as MEA2, the platform features a lot of aluminum and is designed with a fully flat floor. The EQ C and and EQ A use modified versions of current Mercedes models: MQ C uses a variation of the GLC's platform, and the EQ A will be based on a revised version of the A-Class platform. According to source, the EQ S will slot between the E and S-Class, and be similar in size to the CLS-Class. The EQ S will have a "shorter bonnet and ultra-short overhangs" to help maximize interior space. Power is expected to come from a dual-motor layout - one mounted on each axle. The EQ C has a similar layout and produces 402 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque. We would expect something similar for the EQ S. Source: Autocar
  13. Back in December, we reported that Audi had no plans on introducing a third-generation R8 sports car due to slow sales. But a new report says Audi is moving forward with the next-generation R8 and is planning to make it electric. According to Autocar, plans for the next-generation R8 were unshelled as the automaker is planning to build out a range of all-electric models for their e-tron sub-brand. An electric supercar would be an excellent way to cap off the lineup. The model is expected to take some ideas from the PB18 concept shown last month at Pebble Beach. Autocar speculates the model could produce up to 1000 horsepower from its electric motors (the report doesn't say how many motors). Production could begin at the company's Neckarsulm, Germany in 2022. Source: Autocar
  14. During the unveiling of the latest five-year plan for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Alfa Romeo revealed that it would have two more SUVs by 2022. At the time, we knew some of the details on the larger of the two new SUVs - would come with a new mild-hybrid system and use a stretched version of the Giorgio platform - what underpins the Giulia and Stelvio. But we had no details on the smaller model, until this week. Auto Express reports that the smaller model will use a shrunken version of Giorgio and feature electrification. This will likely include a hybrid system to take the place of a diesel. A possibility is adding a plug-in hybrid system. The new SUV will also come with Level 3 autonomous driving tech. The smaller SUV is expected to arrive first in 2020, followed by the larger one in 2021. Source: Auto Express
  15. Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) could help provide the necessary funding to make the company private. But a new report hints that the PIF could invest its money into a different electric automaker. Reuters has learned from sources that the PIF is in talks with Lucid Motors about a potential investment. The two have drawn up a term sheet where the PIF could invest more than $1 billion into Lucid Motors and become the majority stakeholder. One source adds that the first investment would only be for $500 million and that subsequent investments would only come if Lucid Motors is able to hit certain production milestones The sources do caution that the talks may not result in a deal. Despite the PIF having $250 billion in assets, Reuters says the fund has already made a number of substantial investments into other things such as a $45 billion investment into a giant technology fund. This leaves them with limited funds, which makes the deal with Lucid more appealing. Banks have estimated that Tesla could need up to $72 billion if Tesla pays the $420 per share announced by Musk a few weeks ago. However, the price could drop if current shareholders keep their shares in the private company. Lucid Motors made a big splash in 2016 with the introduction of the Air. The model made some big promises such as having the interior space of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class and a max range of up to 400 miles on a charge. Lucid was planning to start production of the sedan this year in Arizona. But last year, the company pushed back production to 2019 as they needed to raise more funds. Source: Reuters
  16. The next-generation Land Rover Defender has had quite the lengthy development with various changes taking place. We have reported that the new Defender will not look like the DC 100 concepts shown earlier this decade. There is another change afoot. According to Autocar, Land Rover has decided to make the new Defender to debut the Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA). Previously, the Defender was expected to use the Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA) - what underpins the Discovery and a number of Range Rover models. But MLA will be replacing PLA as it will be lighter and offer more flexibility to be used in more models. Using the Defender makes sense as its being redone from the ground up, and may explain the lengthy delay in development. One other interesting tidbit is the Defender will be built in Slovakia, not Great Britain like the previous model. Autocar says the Defender will begin production in 2020. There are some other tidbits concerning other Land Rover and Jaguar models in Autocar's report The next-generation Range Rover Evoque is said to be debuting later this year at the LA Auto Show, with sales beginning in the new year. It will use a heavily reworked version of its current platform that will be known as Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA). This will allow a new plug-in hybrid model that will use a new three-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine - don't expect to see it here. Jaguar's large crossover, known as J-Pace will go into production in 2020. It is understood it will use MLA. Another rumor about the Ingenium straight-six. Reportedly, JLR will use a high-performance version with electric turbochargers to replace their V8 engines. Source: Autocar
  17. A new report from Autocar says that Land Rover has filed a trademark application for "Road Rover". It could be that Land Rover is keeping prospective or like-sounding names under their umbrella, not leading to a new model. But in the case of the Road Rover, there might be more to this. Back in September, we brought to the light the Road Rover project. This model is being aimed at the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and is reportedly being developed alongside the next-generation Jaguar XJ. As the name suggests, the Road Rover will focus primarily on on-road performance but still have some off-road chops. Power is expected to come from a set of electric motors. Autocar says the model could debut at next year's LA Auto Show. Source: Autocar
  18. Ford truck lineup will be growing by one with the introduction of the Ranger early next year. But a new report from Automobile says there's another truck in the cards, one that is smaller than the Ranger. Ford is working on a replacement for the Brazilian market Courier subcompact pickup truck, last sold in the 2013 model year. The model is expected to move from an old Fiesta platform to the platform underpinning the new Focus. This has caught the eye of Ford's product planners in the U.S. and there are plans to possibly bring it here by 2022. Production is expected to take place in Ford's Cuautitlan, Mexico plant. Currently home to the Fiesta, the plant will switch over to producing a new Focus-based crossover sometime in 2020, followed by the new truck. The elephant in the room deals with the NAFTA negotiations. Currently, trucks built in Mexico aren't subject to the 25 percent 'Chicken Tax'. But who knows what could change in next year or so considering not much progress has been in the talks. Source: Automobile
  19. *UPDATE* Automotive News Europe is reporting that Jeep and Ram Trucks head Mike Manley will become Marchionne's successor as FCA CEO. We'll have more in an upcoming news story. The era of Sergio Marchionne leading Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari is seemingly coming to abrupt end. Last night, both Bloomberg and Reuters reported that Marchionne would not return as CEO of the two companies due to complications from surgery. Earlier this month, FCA said Marchionne would be going on medical leave for shoulder surgery. Sources tell Reuters that since the operation, the CEO has been experiencing “massive” and serious complications. The boards of FCA and Ferrari are meeting today to decide possible successors. According to one source, the new CEO of Ferrari is expected to be Louis Carey Camilleri - currently a board member and former chairman of Philip Morris International. At FCA, there are three people up for consideration - CFO Richard Palmer, Europe chief Alfredo Altavilla, and head of the Jeep and Ram Mike Manley. Spokespeople for both FCA and Ferrari declined to comment. In addition to his roles at Ferrari and FCA, Marchionne is the Chairman of CNH Industrial, an agricultural and construction equipment manufacturer. According to sources, the board is expected to meet today to discuss a succession plan. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Bloomberg, Reuters
  20. The Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer has been talked about for the past few years, mostly in terms of delays and figuring out what platform will underpin it. But a new report from Road & Track reveals Jeep has something very special in store. An internal document from transmission supplier ZF lists the 2018 production and pre-production vehicles using a version of their 8HP eight-speed automatic transmission. Among the vehicles listed the Grand Wagoneer with the platform code ZS. What makes this more intriguing is the mention of a Grand Wagoneer Trackhawk. The listing says it has a 6.2L V8 and produces 729 PS - about 718 horsepower. Like the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the Wagoneer Trackhawk uses a beefed-up version of the eight-speed automatic - ZF-8HP95X. Could this mean that Jeep will be launching a mad Wagoneer in the coming years? Possibly not. Road & Track has some possible guesses as to why this is mentioned, Someone goofed while working on this document FCA has built some Wagoneer prototypes with the Hellcat engine, but hasn't made plans to put it into production Source: Road & Track
  21. A new report from Autocar says that Mercedes-AMG is proposing a new entry-level sports car to take on the Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman. The model is being presented as a indirect replacement to the slow selling SLC to Mercedes-Benz’s board of management. According to sources, the model is in the "conceptual stage" and needs approval from the board. But it is clear that AMG has given some thought if this project is given the green light. The design is said to have clear links to the upcoming Project One hypercar, and come in a coupe and convertible. For power, Autocar says the turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder that will be used in both the new A35 and A45 hot hatches. Output will range from around 300 to more than 400 horsepower. There is a possibility of the engine being placed in a mid-mounted setup. “A lot of thought has gone into how Mercedes-AMG can better leverage its success in motorsport, particularly Formula 1 and endurance racing. One idea is a sports car that is relatively attainable financially and ideally suited to track day running. But it is just an idea and not a committed project right now,” said a source. Source: Autocar
  22. The next-generation Volvo XC90, due out in 2021 as a 2022 model will follow in the S60's footsteps by not offering any sort of diesel option. Instead, Volvo will be offering a range of hybrids and electric-only powertrains. “We have to prioritise – we cannot do everything. So if we want to be faster in electrification we can’t say yes to everything. That’s why [the S60] has no diesel alternative and we are not planning to have a diesel alternative in any new cars. The XC90 will follow this,” said Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson to Auto Express. Volvo's next-generation SPA2 platform will underpin the XC90, which is designed to accept both electric and hybrid powertrains. Don't expect a major change in terms of the design. Auto Express reports that Volvo will undertake an evolutionary approach. Source: Auto Express
  23. 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)
  24. When we last reported on the date change of the Detroit Auto Show, organizers had made the final decision on what month it would be held beginning in 2020 - either October or June. A new report from The Detroit News says June will be month that will be announced at a press conference on July 24th. Sources tell the paper that back in January that the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA), organizers of the show sat down and started discussions as to moving the show. Originally, DADA had October as the month as it would move the show from the harshness of winter and give some breathing room from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). But plans changed after The Detroit News interviewed General Motors' senior vice president of global communications, Tony Cervone. He said a move to June had the potential to create a "massive festival of automotive" for consumers. The hope is that this event would draw people into visiting the various venues and concerts in Detroit. Organizers released a teaser video late last month showing outdoor test tracks and vehicle displays. This brings us to a new twist. Ford is urging DADA to pull elements from the Goodwood Festival of Speed for this reimagined show. The Festival of Speed, being held this weekend, features a hill climb with a variety of racing and production cars, and a moving auto show that allows the press and would-be buyer to experience new vehicles. It should be noted that Ford has been a sponsor of the Festival of Speed for 23 years. Source: The Detroit News
  25. The flagship luxury SUV class is becoming more crowded with the Audi Q8, Bentley Bentayga, and Rolls-Royce Cullinan entering the fray. Land Rover is feeling the pressure and has big plans for the next-generation Range Rover to fight them off. Expected to launch in 2021, the fifth-generation Range Rover will move from the D7u platform to the new Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA). It will be lighter than D7u thanks to the extensive use of aluminum. MLA will also allow Land Rover to install fully-electric powertrains into the model, alongside gas, diesel, and plug-in hybrid variants. But don't expect one at launch as Land Rover reportedly has plans for stand-alone electric model that will have more car-like qualities - Road Rover anyone? A Range Rover EV will launch sometime after the launch, primarily for Asian markets like China. The current engine lineup, primarily sourced from other automakers will be scrapped. V6 engines will be replaced by inline-six engines from Jaguar Land Rover's Ingenium family. Its unclear whether or not there will be replacements for the V8 engines. Certain engines will come paired with a 48V mild-hybrid system. Don't expect any dramatic changes to the Range Rover's exterior as there are plans to do an evolution of the current shape. The interior will get new technologies such as an updated version of JLR's Touch Pro Duo infotainment system and connected car technology that will allow you to perform various tasks such as locking/unlocking your front door at home. There is also talk of some talk of autonomous driving features making an appearance. Source: Autocar

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