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Archive for the ‘industry news’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Shocker: Tesla Misses Model 3 Goals; Delays Production Again

Tesla is no stranger to production woes as both the original Model S and the trendy Model X experienced major delays early on, so it comes as no surprise the automaker announced the budget-friendly Model 3’s production volume won’t be ramping up to the 5,000-unit-per-week goal until the second quarter of 2018. That goal was originally set for December of 2017, but production delays sacked those plans. Despite the delays, Tesla still delivered 1,550 Model 3s in Q4 of 2017.

Continue reading for more on Tesla’s production woes.

What This Means For Model 3 Customers


Shocker: Tesla Misses Model 3 Goals; Delays Production Again - image 727972
“Tesla reportedly had nearly 500,000 preorders for the Model 3, which starts at $35,000 before options”

First and foremost, many customers who have placed reservations and paid down payments will wait longer before receiving their car. Tesla reportedly had nearly 500,000 preorders for the Model 3, which starts at $35,000 before options. While deliveries are being made, the rate pales in comparison to the 5,000-unit-per-week flow Tesla originally planned.

Secondly, the delays don’t do Tesla any favors on the stock market. Its share price fell from $324.81 on Wednesday, January 3 at 10 a. m. to $308.59 by 10:30 a.m. the next day. Investors are happy to see stock prices resurge to $315.41 at the time of this writing, just the way Tesla’s stock always rebounds after production delays are announced.


Shocker: Tesla Misses Model 3 Goals; Delays Production Again - image 727974
“Despite the delays, Tesla still delivered 1,550 Model 3s in Q4 of 2017.”

That’s the interesting thing about Tesla. It seems that, no matter what happens or how severe situations get, investors remain positive and stock prices retain their general upward trend. In fact, at this time last year, Tesla’s stock prices were only $226.99 per share.

The stock prices are not the only indicator of Tesla’s overall growth. The Automaker officially surpassed delivering over 100,000 vehicles globally in 2017, an increase of 33 percent over 2016, according to The Verge.

References

Tesla Model 3


Shocker: Tesla Misses Model 3 Goals; Delays Production Again - image 727971

Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.


maker logos - image 746180

Read more Tesla news.

PostHeaderIcon Bumblebee Gets Origin Story as Paramount Looks To Jolt Some Life Back to the Transformers Franchise

The Transformers movie franchise is in serious need of a spark after the last three movies bombed their way into obscurity. Paramount Pictures appears to be doing just that by taking a different approach to the next movie. No longer will we see the Autobots fight the Deceptions for what feels like the millionth time. Instead, we’re getting an origin story that takes us back to 1987. The star of the movie? None other than Bumblebee.


“The movie is scheduled to hit theaters in December 2018, so there’s still enough time to learn more about it”

I’ll be the first to admit that I lost interest in the Transformers franchise after Dark of the Moon (third movie). I barely got through Age of Extinction (fourth movie) and didn’t even bother to watch The Last Knight (fifth movie). That’s how bad the franchise has gotten.

That said, I am mildly intrigued about Bumblebee: The Origin Story. First, it’s a different approach to what the franchise has done recently. Second, it focuses on probably the only character that fans still care about. Third, it stars Haley Steinfeld, an actress who I’m actually pretty fond of. Having John Cena in the mix also helps because he’s John Cena.


Best of all, we’re seeing Bumblebee in a completely different light. He’s not going to be dressed up as a Chevrolet Camaro; he’ll be a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. It’s a departure from what we’ve known in the movie franchise, but fans of the cartoons will appreciate it because Bumblebee was a Beetle in the cartoons.

As far as the plot goes, there’s not a lot that we know at this point. It has been reported that Steinfeld will play Charlie, a 17-year old who discovers the yellow Bug and “restores” it. There’s been no mention of Decepticon characters in the movie,
but that’s not too much of an issue at this point. The movie is scheduled to hit theaters in December 2018, so there’s still enough time to learn more about it.

The movie looks promising, that much I’m willing to admit. Let’s see if it ends up being better than expected.

References


Fast and Furious Just Can't Stay Away From The Drama - image 738542

Read more car movies news.

PostHeaderIcon The Kia Stinger Gives Dealers Their First Opportunity to Exploit the Markup Game

Kia has long been in the business of no-nonsense, economical cars and SUVs, but that’s changed with the 2018 Stinger. It’s the Korean automaker’s first “gotta have it” vehicle and its dealership network is apparently feeding on the frenzy. At least two pages worth of forum posts on StingerForum.org detail customer experiences of pricing markups from a few hundred dollars to an exorbitant $13,000 in one case.

Adding insult to financial injury, several forum users report dealerships aren’t very accommodating with test drives. User “Thebkguy,” said he was able to test drive a four-cylinder Stinger but was told no test drives of the Stinger GT were given unless a price was agreed upon and a credit check had been run. He eventually coerced the dealership into a test drive but turned down the purchase over a $10,000 markup. Keep in mind; the 2018 Kia Stinger GT starts at $38,350 and crests at $49,200 for the GT2 trim level. Thankfully, not all Kia dealerships are being so overtly greedy, according to other forum users. Most seem to add between $1,500 to $5,000 to the Stinger GT’s price.

Continue reading for more information.

The Sharks Are Out


The Kia Stinger Gives Dealers Their First Opportunity to Exploit the Markup Game - image 700361
“No test drives of the Stinger GT were given unless a price was agreed upon and a credit check had been run”

It seems no matter how much research, thought, development, and love an automaker pours into a new model, the dealership experience is consistently there to negate customer satisfaction. Kia isn’t alone in this, of course, but these stories surrounding the Stinger are troubling. Keep in mind Kia began by selling cheaply built economy cars that served no purpose besides basic transportation. These are the vehicles Kia brought to the U.S. when it washed ashore in 1992 and began selling cars in 1994. It doesn’t have the brand cache others like Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, or even Ford. Though it still isn’t in the customer’s best interests, nobody batted an eye when the 2016 Mustang GT350R consistently sold for $20,000 above invoice.

Of course, it boils down to dealerships wanting a cut of the profits made for highly desirable vehicles. People with cash to burn are sometimes willing to pony up for the latest “it” car on the market, especially if it’s a limited edition. Dealers know this and freely tack on extra costs to a vehicle’s MSRP. If the cars aren’t moving, they will simply lower the markup. Otherwise, they would only make a modest sun for selling the car and some kickbacks at the month’s or year’s end. The money from a markup is cash right in the dealers’ pockets. The profits grow should the customer finance the vehicle thanks to interest charged on the loan amount.


The Kia Stinger Gives Dealers Their First Opportunity to Exploit the Markup Game - image 734755
“It reduces the overall customer experience by undermining a vehicle’s advertised and widely publicized price”

While I’m all for a wholesome capitalist approach to making money in business, dealership markups are just shady and bad for automakers. It reduces the overall customer experience by undermining a vehicle’s advertised and widely publicized price. It also undermines the work automakers do in striving to earn customers’ loyalty by trying to create the best vehicle experience for the money. In the case of the Stinger – particularly the Stinger GT with its 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 – the markups simply feel like hungry dealers looking to benefit from Kia’s newfound success.

Do you have a similar experience with dealership markups, regardless of the car or brand? Let us know in the comments below.

References

Kia Stinger


2018 Kia Stinger - image 734759

Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Stinger.


maker logos - image 745757

Read more Kia news.

PostHeaderIcon The Ford Fusion Hangs in Limbo as Mid-Cycle Refresh is Cancelled

The future of the Ford Fusion in the U.S. just got murkier. Barely a month after word got out of the Fusion’s unsteady future in the U.S., a new report from The Detroit News paints a cloudier future for Ford’s best-selling U.S. sedan. According to the report, Ford is canceling the redesign program for the mid-size sedan. More importantly, the automaker is said to be reevaluating the future of the model in our shores, effectively throwing the status of the Fusion in a state of limbo.


The Ford Fusion Hangs in Limbo as Mid-Cycle Refresh is Cancelled - image 661258
“Sales of the Fusion have fallen by as much as 22 percent in the last year alone”

The alarm bells started ringing a month ago when Automotive News reported about Ford’s concerns with the Fusion’s sales volume in the last couple of years. While it’s still regarded as the company’s best-selling U.S. sedan, sales of the Fusion have fallen by as much as 22 percent in the last year alone. The relatively poor result has, in some ways, become a microcosm of the entire sedan market, which is slowly being swallowed up the rise in popularity of the crossover and SUV segments.

This new report puts the sedan in an even bigger spotlight because it’s talking about canceling the redesign program altogether. Granted, this kind of step isn’t new in the auto industry, so it doesn’t mean that Ford is killing off the Fusion nameplate entirely. The company could be buying some time to discuss what options it has moving forward.


The Ford Fusion Hangs in Limbo as Mid-Cycle Refresh is Cancelled - image 661257
“It’s already been established that the company won’t build the sedan in its Mexico facility and won’t export it from China”

Still, it doesn’t bode well for the sedan when its scheduled redesign has been put on the shelves. It doesn’t help that another Ford sedan — the Taurus — has a cloudy future of its own. The bigwigs at Ford will have a big decision on their hands to determine the fate of its top-selling sedan in the U.S. It’s already been established that the company won’t build the sedan in its Mexico facility and won’t export it from China. Whatever options Ford has left is going to determine whether the Fusion still has a future in the U.S.

References

Ford Fusion


The Ford Fusion Hangs in Limbo as Mid-Cycle Refresh is Cancelled - image 661258

Read our full review on the 2017 Ford Fusion.


maker logos - image 744958

Read more Ford news.

PostHeaderIcon Audi to Ditch “Same Sausage, Different Length” Approach

Audi is finally ditching the “repetition” design process that it has used over the years in favor of adopting a philosophy that will give each model its own look. The German automaker used the “same sausage, different length”
tactic to make the brand more recognizable in emerging markets. Now that Audi has achieved that goal, the company is moving forward with a new styling philosophy that will focus on giving each model its own look.

left
right
“Unless you really know where to look, it’s tricky to differentiate an Audi A4 from an Audi A6”

The idea of designing cars with a consistent look isn’t the best way to create clear identities among the different models in a lineup. But it is necessary to make the brand more recognizable. This is especially true in markets where the automaker has yet to establish a strong fan base. This design philosophy focuses on solidifying the brand’s identity in the eyes of new consumers. By and large, that’s what Audi has done in recent years. Unless you really know where to look, it’s tricky to differentiate an Audi A4 from an Audi A6. But they’re both Audis, and for the longest time, the German automaker wanted emerging markets to identify these models as Audis, something that something that Audi CEO Rudolph Stadler touched on with comments he made to Autocar.

“This design process was used to make Audis more recognizable in newer and emerging markets,” he said. “Now we are well-known in major markets like China, we can begin to change this philosophy and give each car its own look.”

The repetition design process helped cultivate an identity for the brand that it didn’t have in the past. But now that the identity has been established, Audi is free to play around in designing its models and giving each of them its own signature look.


2017 Audi Q2 - image 667696
“The Q2 is the first model to get a more expressive design, but it won’t be the only one.”

The German automaker got the ball rolling with the all-new Q2 crossover. From afar, you can still make out elements of the old Audi styling. Look closer, though, and you’ll see that it does have a fresh look to it. It’s more upright and angular than other models, and the makeup of the front bumper has a little splash of Cadillac to it.

The Q2 is the first model to get a more expressive design, but it won’t be the only one. Audi’s design chief, Marc Lichte, expects other Audi models to carry their own design in the future. “We recognize that there is a place for more differentiation now,” he said. “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.”

The new philosophy will open the company to a world of limitless design potential. That’s especially true for Audi’s electric cars, which Lichte describes as having” “more material space” to play with on account of the smaller dimensions of their electric powertrains. “We’ll be able to produce [vehicles with] shorter overhangs and lower bonnets.”

I think I speak for everyone else when I say we want to see that day arrive sooner than later.

References

Audi Q2


2017 Audi Q2 - image 667707

Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Q2.


maker logos - image 744956

Read more Audi news.

PostHeaderIcon Oregonians Go Crazy Over Self-Service Gas Stations; Facebook Trolls Come Out Of The Woodwork

As of January 1st, Oregon will now permit self-service gasoline stations in counties with 40,000 residents or less. It’s a pretty minor law change, but the reaction on social media has been enormous.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story

For the past 65 years, Oregon drivers have been banned from pumping their own gasoline, as the north western state was one of just two states in the U.S. (New Jersey is the other one) with a law in place that stipulates station employees must fill the tank, rather than the customer. However, back in May of 2017, Oregon passed a new law that opens the option for self-service stations in counties with 40,000 residents or less. The law change just went into effect January 1st, prompting local CBS affiliate KTVL 10 in Medford to post a poll to their Facebook page on whether or not Oregon should allow self-serve gas stations.

“The reaction to the poll has been immense, to say the least, with some 46,000 comments 54,000 shares as of this writing.”

The reaction to the poll has been immense, to say the least, with some 46,000 comments 54,000 shares as of this writing. Several Oregonians have expressed concern over pumping their own gas, with one top comment reading:

“No! Disabled, seniors, people with young children in the car need help. Not to mention getting out of your car with transients around and not feeling safe too. This is a very bad idea. Grrr”

Or another that reads:

“I don’t even know HOW to pump gas and I am 62, native Oregonian….. I say NO THANKS! I don’t want to smell like gasoline!”

Of course, given the vast majority of U.S. residents have pumped their own gas the entirety of their driving lives, the troll backlash has been immediate and scathing. One comment reads:

“FEAR NOT OREGON!!!!!

I’ve decided to move to Oregon to open a school to teach people how to pump their own gas. Short term business you say? HA! I will simply branch out and offer classes on such complicated things as:

1. Tying your own shoes.

2. Dressing yourself.

3. Operating a self checkout machine.

4. Dial your own phone.

5. Mow your own lawn.

6. Split your own firewood

7. How to feed yourself.

8. Make your own dinner.

9. Wash, dry and fold your own laundry. (Extra charge as these are three classes taught separately)

10. Operating a can opener, manual and electric.

11. Counting past 10.

12. Wiping your own butt.”

Or there’s this other troll comment:

“No lie, pumping your own gas is MORTIFYING and downright TERRIFYING. I witnessed my dad get viciously eaten by a pack of raptors and a T-Rex, which would have been kept at bay by a qualified gas station attendant. Think of the children, Oregon.”

Of course, we here at TopSpeed like to think we give a fair shake that takes into account all sides of a story. As far as full-service gas stations are concerned, a dedicated pump attendant does make the process a bit safer and help to create jobs. On the other hand, the whole process is as easy as filling a bucket with a hose, and just as long as you don’t do something absurdly stupid like light a cigarette or go for a long-distance fill-up shot, it’s quite safe as well.

Regardless, the law merely opens the option for self-service, and several rural Oregon stations have already come out to say they will continue to offer full service, given that’s what their patrons prefer. So really, the law change is a pretty minor issue – but hey, at least we got a few laughs out of it, right?

PUMP YOUR OWN GAS
Starting January 1st Oregonians can begin pumping their own gas in rural counties. MORE: http://bit.ly/2lnpGYP
Do you think Oregon should allow self-serve gas stations statewide?

Posted by KTVL CBS 10 News, Medford on Friday, December 29, 2017

PostHeaderIcon Land Rover Goes Supernova; Takes 1,400 Cars With It

A parking garage in Liverpool, England turned into a huge firebox on Sunday night, engulfing a seven-story parking deck near the Liverpool International House Show. Authorities believe that the fire started in a Land Rover, which triggered a chain reaction that ended up roasting 1,400 cars in the process. Not exactly how you want to ring in 2018, right?

Video from the scene showed how huge the fire turned after it started. According to The Guardian, the fire got so big that firefighters couldn’t control the blaze quickly enough to save the cars that were trapped in the parking building. By the time they were able to access enough water to combat the fire, the parking building had already been engulfed in flames. Even with their resources, firefighters still took some time before they were able to successfully control the blaze.


Fortunately, and somewhat miraculously, nobody was seriously hurt from the fire, though there were reports of people abandoning their vehicles and running for their lives once after the fire broke out. Neighboring apartments were also evacuated, with scores of people finding temporary accommodation in a nearby leisure center. As it is, the parking garage has been described as “unstable,” even though it has not yet collapsed. Either way, firefighters remain on the scene.

It’s unclear if the owner of the Land Rover will face criminal charges, but local authorities have so far deemed the incident as an accident. Hopefully, that’s the case because it’s bad enough to lose your car to a fire at the start of the year, it’s worse if you find out that someone did it on purpose.

PostHeaderIcon Geely Buys $3.3B Stake In Volvo’s Truck Line

Zhejiang Geely, the Chinese automaker best known in the West for its ownership of Volvo and its recent acquisition of Lotus, has just purchased an 8.2-percent stake in AB Volvo for an estimated $3.3 billion U.S. dollars. Though it appears a small stake, the 8.2-percent makes Geely the largest shareholder of AB Volvo and the second largest by voting rights, just behind the investment firm Industrivarden. This puts Geely in a power position over both Volvo cars and AB Volvo’s commercial truck and bus business. A Geely spokesperson said the company has no intention of reuniting the two Volvo divisions, which had separated in 1999. Geely purchased the stage from the investment firm Cevian Capital.

“Given our experience with Volvo Car Group, we recognize and value the proud Scandinavian history and culture, leading market positions, breakthrough technologies and environmental capabilities of AB Volvo,” Geely Holding Chairman Li Shufu told Reuters in a statement in late December 2017.

Geely’s purchase also means it now controls AB Volvo’s 45-percent stake in Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles, a large player in China’s commercial truck market. Interestingly, Geely is also working to buy a three to five percent stake in Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz and Smart, worth an estimated $4,7 billion. Not only does Mercedes have its massive consumer-based vehicles, but also its commercial arm that builds a wide range of light- to heavy-duty vehicles. That would put Geely in an authoritative position in the commercial trucking industry.

References


maker logos - image 749090

Read more Geely news.


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Read more Volvo news.

PostHeaderIcon Where is the Nissan Titan’s V-6 Option?

When the second-generation Nissan Titan half-ton pickup began rolling off its Canton, Mississippi assembly line in late 2016 for the 2017 model year, it was powered by a heavily revised 5.6-liter V-8, but Nissan promised an all-new V-6 on some unknown future date. Most industry experts figured the Nissan would wait until its fleet-minded single cab models started production, but that time has come and gone. Recently Nissan released its detailed information on the 2018 Titan, and while pricing has increased by $200 across the trim lines, no V-6 was announced.

That’s got us asking questions. After all, a V-6 Titan with a lower base price and higher fuel economy would be very attractive for fleet operators needing to spend as little money as possible. As it stands, the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500 all come standard with V-6 engines. Only the Toyota Tundra comes standard with a V-8. Toyota, however, completely dropped the ultra-slow selling single cab Tundra for 2017, showing just how little Toyota cares about reaching fleet customers.

In a recent interview with Wards Auto, Nissan’s senior VP of product planning for Nissan North America, Michael Bunce, said, a V-6 Titan is still “in the plan.” Bunce did not comment on Nissan’s timeline, however. One theory is Nissan is waiting on the next-generation Frontier pickup to debut in 2018, and with it, an all-new V-6. Since the Frontier and Titan are built in the same plant, the engine could easily be shared between the trucks. When Wards Auto asked Bunce about it, he said,
“I can’t give you any specific details on that, but we will be moving in that direction.”

Continue reading for more information.

The Needed V-6 For Expanding Sales


Where is the Nissan Titan's V-6 Option? - image 665131
“A V-6 would theoretically save money on both the initial purchase price and fuel costs”

While it’s true most private customers would happily skip a V-6 for the Titan’s healthy 5.6-liter V-8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, business with large fleets of vehicles are more interested in their bottom line. A V-6 would theoretically save money on both the initial purchase price and fuel costs. We’re talking nation-wide conglomerates with 5,000 trucks to local government agencies with 10 trucks. The vast majority of these aren’t hauling 10,000 pounds around and those that do graduate to three-quarter and one-ton trucks.

Nissan has expanded the Titan lineup to include the single cab, extended cab, and crew cab, along with short and long cargo beds. These same configurations are also available on the Titan XD, Nissan’s “heavier duty” truck that is designed to split the difference between the half-ton and three-quarter ton segments in both price and capability.

Still, adding a V-6 to the half-ton Titan and dropping its MSRP, along with catering word-ready options that appeal to blue-collar trades should go a long way to helping Nissan grab more market share from Ford, General Motors, and Ram.

References

Nissan Titan


2017 Nissan Titan - image 665128

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Titan.

PostHeaderIcon 7 Predictions For The Auto Industry In 2018

Pretty soon, we’ll mark yet another rotation around that giant glowing ball of hydrogen and helium we call the Sun by setting off explosives, cracking open the bubbly, and wishing one another a “Happy New Year” amidst a flurry of streamers and ridiculous light-up glasses. And that makes it the perfect opportunity to look back at exactly what happened during the last 12 months, a chance to remember both the good and the bad. That said, it’s also a chance to start thinking about the future. What lies ahead in the year 2018? What opportunities will be presented? What will change? What will fade away? While we might not have all the answers, we do have a good idea about what we might see in the near future with the following automotive predictions.

In total, we’ve got seven of ‘em for you, dear reader, ranging from which segments will see growth, which technologies will see big advances, and what the automotive landscape might look like as the planet heads into its roughly four-and-a-half billionth lap around the solar system. Read on for our shot at car-themed crystal ball reading.

Continue reading for our Seven Predictions For The Auto Industry In 2018.

Even More Crossovers And SUVs


2017 Los Angeles Auto Show – Worst In Show - image 751054

We saw a lot of new SUVs and crossovers this year, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. Back in 2014, the segment became the most popular choice for U.S. consumers, outselling sedans in terms of raw percentages, and demand doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. The latest numbers point to a continued decrease in passenger car sales, as well as a continued increase in crossover, SUV, and truck sales.

Why the dramatic shift? The reasons are many, but we can generalize by saying consumers these days are interested in a vehicle that can do everything, be it cruise comfortably on the highway commute, load up for a weekend outing, or even dabble in a bit of off-roading (yeah, few buyers actually takes these vehicles into the rough stuff, but it’s more about the idea it can tackle a trail that really matters). Throw in low fuel prices, and the SUV/crossover segment makes a lot of sense to a lot of people.

Few manufacturers can deny the siren call of this booming segment. Even traditionally sporty manufacturers are getting in on the action – for example, Lamborghini just unveiled its first SUV entry, dubbed the Urus, earlier in December. If the trend we’ve seen over the last few years continues unabated, expect to see the SUV and crossover segment make even stranger bedfellows. I’m looking at you, Ferrari.

More Top-Shelf Performance


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Once upon a time, the supercar segment was tiny, consisting of just a handful of high-profile models. Now, the number of uber-powered mega machines has exploded, with 2017 seeing the release of the McLaren Senna, the Mercedes-AMG Project One, the Aston Martin Valkyrie, and the Hennessey Venom F5, to name just a few. Things have been so crazy, we had to ask –Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Hypercars?

We’ll let you read the article and decide the answer to that question for yourself, but long story short, 2018 will surely bring along even more outrageous performance machines. With automotive technology continuing onwards into the stratosphere, and the rich becoming even richer, this segment is ripe for growth. Indeed, these millionaire toys are getting scooped up as quickly as they can hit 60 mph, and the automakers will respond accordingly.

Electric Vehicle And Battery Technology Goes Crazy


2020 Tesla Roadster - image 746102

Speaking of automotive technology, electric vehicles and battery technology will also likely see some impressive development in 2018. Even as the Trump administration makes moves to take a step back on fuel-economy regulations, the pressure to make cars more efficient isn’t going away any time soon. The current requirements won’t change until 2022, and it remains to be seen what sort of rules will be set forth afterwards.
Furthermore, the U.S. isn’t the only market in the world, with plenty of pressure for higher mpg numbers coming from Europe and Asia. Even within the U.S., there’s a growing lust for electric cars (California and its self-imposed clean air restrictions is a great example).

All told, the stage is set for more investment into EV and battery tech. Then when you throw in the potential for jaw-dropping all-electric performance (did someone say 2020 Tesla Roadster?), and it looks like everyone could benefit.

Autonomous Technology Spreads


Google Lands Former Airbnb Exec To Lead Autonomous Driving Project - image 686649

2017 brought out all kinds of advances in autonomous tech, from new and updated safety systems, to wide-spread testing on public roads,
to the announcement of additional technology investments. The tech promises a lot, and automakers are racing to be the first to bring it to consumers in a big and meaningful way.

We aren’t quite at fully autonomous robo car sans steering wheel yet, but the advances are coming fast and furious. Expect to see more announcements in 2018 as the various makes assert their lead, plus the possibility of software and other non-car companies (Google, Apple, etc.) throwing their digital hat in the ring. The race is on.

The Rise Of The Connected Car


Renault Symbioz Is Like A Mobile Room - image 731009

Along with new self-driving capabilities, we expect the cars of 2018 to bring a new level of connectedness, offering an opportunity to integrate more fully with your digital life. The Renault Symbioz concept that appeared at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show is a good example of this trend taken to its extreme. This thing integrates so completely, it actually becomes a part of your house, offering an entire living space that can be adapted to suit a plethora of needs.

Granted, we won’t get anything like the Symbioz in the real world in 2018, but the ideas it presents are a decent representation of where we could be headed. Imagine controlling your home lighting, heating, and entertainment from the passenger seat, turning off the lights on your way to work, turning down the thermostat on long trips, and watching a movie from the cloud on the rear-seat digital screen. Or maybe you could pay a toll without breaking out the small bills, or order take out with voice command, or automatically reroute around an upcoming traffic jam. If it makes your life more interesting, more social, or more convenient by connecting to the Internet, it could be happening very soon.

Adding to this is further integration of digital instruments and touchscreens as well. Analog is old school – digital is the way of the future. Scratch that – digital is the now.

New Ownership Models, New Car Purchasing Experiences, New Show Models


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The advent of new technology isn’t just altering how cars are driven and experienced, it’s also changing the fundamental basics of purchasing and buying a new car. As companies like Lyft and Uber take over the taxi business, carmakers are anticipating new subscription-based ownership models that’ll open up transportation solutions to folks who’ve never even considered buying a car outright, something that’s particularly suited for younger consumers. Volvo and Porsche are both toying with the idea, and if it picks up, expect to see others join the fray.

Then there’s the car buying experience, which is moving away from the traditional dealership test drive. Rather, virtual reality is providing digital experiences without ever leaving the showroom floor, with buyers getting a chance to ring it out on the track and sit in a bespoke interior thanks to a simple headset.Mazda is already doing exactly that in the U.K.

Finally, there’s the old car show format, where manufacturers descend on a particular city convention center, set up a bunch of expensive booths, and push through crowds of eager enthusiasts hoping to get up close and personal to some fresh metal. While we enjoy the experience and encourage folks to get out there and try it for themselves, the format seems to fading a bit as of late. With rising costs and diminishing participation from the makes, the old show format is gonna need to change to stay relevant in an age when an experience is just a mouse click away

Chinese Manufacturers Enter The U.S.


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Despite the fact that the vast majority of manufactured goods consumed in the U.S. come from China, the stigma against Chinese passenger cars remains. However, that hasn’t stopped Chinese companies from getting in on the action. For example, Geely now owns Volvo, and builds four-doors in Chinese factories for the U.S. market. U.S. marques are doing the same thing – for example, GM is making the Cadillac CT6 Plug-in Hybrid and Buick Envision in China, while Ford is making the Focus there as well. Look for that trend to continue to gain steam, possibly even resulting in a fully-fledged Chinese marque breaking into the market without all the U.S. dress up.

PostHeaderIcon 2017 Recap – Successful Debuts and Flops

2018 is just around the corner, and it’s that time of the year when we look back on what happened over the last 12 months in the automotive industry. Needless to say, 2017 has been a busy year with five major auto shows in Europe and North America plus a few more important car events in Shanghai and at SEMA. More than a hundred new cars have been launched, with countless concepts previewing vehicles and technologies that we will get in production models in a few years. We’ve seen semi-autonomous cars go into production and significant progress made toward electrification with significant gains in hybrid and all-electric drivetrain technology.

We saw spectacular supercars bow in Detroit, Geneva, New York, and Frankfurt, alongside redesigned or updated cars and SUVs for the average Joe. But the industry also spawned a few flops this year. Cars that didn’t live up to the pre-launch hype, concepts that didn’t bring actual novelties, and Asian automakers that copied European designs inch by inch. I’ve included all of the above in this end-of-the-year recap, so we can look back on both the successful debuts and the flops that we witnessed from January through December 2017. Keep reading to find out what got me excited and disappointed this year.

Continue reading for the full story.

Best 2017 Debuts

Kia Stinger GT


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Launched at the Detroit Auto Show, the Kia Stinger is proof that the Korean brand made significant progress in recent years. A decade ago, Kia was still considered a low-end company that couldn’t deliver much beyond low-priced cars that weren’t exactly exciting, but this image began to change as the firm hired experienced designers and engineers. The Stinger is the result of many years of hard work and a car that finally has what it takes to compete with German offerings from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. And thanks to its range-topping GT version, which uses a twin-turbo, 3.3-liter V-6 engine rated at 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, the Stinger is also a solid proposition for the higher performance market. Granted, it’s not as fast and powerful as an M and AMG, but it paves the road to a propoer high-performance Kia or even a high-performance division.

Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Stinger GT.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk


The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Is Big And Dumb And Pointless And I Really Want To Drive It - image 713066

High-performance SUVs are pretty common nowadays, but finding a mass-produced one with more than 500 horsepower was a big challenge until 2017. FCA put an end to that with the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, a hauler that combined the utility of the familiar Grand Cherokee with the wild performance of the Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger Hellcat models. Equipped with the same supercharged, 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 engine, but with slightly modified internals, the Trackhawk is on par with the Hellcats at 707 horsepower. Torque dropped from 650 pound-feet in the Dodges to 645 pound-feet in the Jeep, but who cares? This Grand Cherokee needs only 3.5 seconds to hit 60 mph and runs the quarter-mile in a scant 11.6 seconds at 116 mph. Top speed is rated at 180 mph. The Trackhawk is just as fast as the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and that’s everything you need to know about it. And the main reason why it’s on this list!

Read our full review on the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

Buick Regal TourX


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Granted, the Regal TourX isn’t as spectacular as the previous two examples. And it’s not exactly a new car since the sedan version of the Regal is available for quite some time in the U.S. But Buick’s decision to bring the Opel Insignia station wagon to North America is cool as hell and General Motors gets bonus point for going against the trend. Let’s face it, it could have opted to import yet another SUV instead of bringing over a body style that’s likely to have the same fate as the Dodo bird. Okay, I’m a bit biased here because I like wagons, but I have to give Buick a thumb up for having the guts to sell one in the current environment. On top of that, the Regal TourX looks the part and comes with a solid tech package and a premium-looking interior. Get them while they’re available, as this car wouldn’t be around for too long now that General Motors sold Buick to PSA.

Read our full review on the 2018 Buick Regal TourX.

Alpine A110


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Alpine may not be a big brand outside Europe, but it’s an important piece of automotive history. Born in France in the mid-1950s, Alpine made a name for itself in the 1960s and 1970s through a series of lightweight, small-displacement sports cars that scored great achievements on race tracks and rally courses around the world. The company’s most famed vehicle is the A110 and 2017 marked it return to the market after several decades. Also Alpine’s first production car in 20 years, the A110 is one of those rare neo-retro designs that harkens back to the golden era of gentleman racing but it’s modern enough to compete with successful 21-century sports cars like the Porsche 718 Cayman and Alfa Romeo 4C. It’s also incredibly light, it has a mid-engined layout, state-of-the-art tech, carbon-fiber, and a decent price tag. Its only fault is that it is not available globally, but maybe Renault will do something about that in the future. But every single detail about it makes it one the greatest sports cars launched in 2017.

Read our full review on the 2018 Alpine A110.

Lamborghini Huracan Performante


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Supercar enthusiasts have been missing the Gallardo Superleggera ever since it was discontinued in 2013 and the then-new Huracan didn’t do much to change that. But come 2017 and Lambo finally launched a successor in the form of the Huracan Performante. Alongside the new name (previous used on a convertible Gallardo), the Performante brought a spectacular active aerodynamics system that turned the exciting Huracan into a brutal track beast. Using the most powerful 5.2-liter V-10 that the Italian firm has ever produced, rated at 630 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque, the Performante set a new record for production cars at the Nurburgring. With a lap of 6:52 minutes, the Raging Bull was five seconds quicker than the Porsche 918 Spyder and seven ticks faster than the Aventador SV. You cannot be this quick and not make it on the “Best of 2017” list!

Read our full review on the 2017 Lamborghini Huracan Performante.

Toyota Yaris GRMN


Gather Round Hot-Hatch Fans, Toyota Will Unveil a 210-HP Yaris Soon - image 701697

I must be honest here. I actually wanted to include the new Camry on this list as well, mostly for its premium-looking interior and the Lexus-inspired exterior design. But I decided to go with the Yaris GRMN instead. Yeah, this little hatch isn’t as exciting to look at, but it’s a huge thing to come from Toyota. The Japanese maker jumped into a small but somewhat difficult market that’s dominated by the extremely popular and awesome Volkswagen Polo GTI and Ford Fiesta ST. And it’s the first of the bunch to deliver more than 200 horsepower. Tuned by Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s super awesome team for motorsport-related and special projects, the GRMN hides a supercharged, 1.8-liter four-pot under the hood. The tiny mill cranks out an impressive 209 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, enough to push the hatchback from 0 to 62 mph in 6.3 seconds, almost a half-second quicker than the competition. It’s a bit more expensive than the Polo GTI and Fiesta ST, but the extra performance is worth it. Honed on the Nurburgring!

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Yaris GRMN.

Honda Civic Type-R


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Well, you’re probably not surprised about the Type-R’s presence here. This car has been nominated to the car of the year awards with every new launch and the latest version is arguably the coolest of them all in terms of aerodynamics and performance. But I haven’t included the new Type-R just for that. To me, the really spectacular news is that the beefed-up Civic is finally coming to the U.S. For the first time since the nameplate was introduced! A 306-horsepower and 295 pound-feet Honda for the U.S. market is definitely worth a spot on my list. What’s more, Honda made the turbocharged four-cylinder engine available to racing enthusiasts through its motorsport division, so the Civic can also create some commotion on racetracks in North America, albeit on different chassis and bodies.

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda Civic Type-R

Dodge Challenger SRT Demon


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When Dodge introduced the Hellcat in 2015, it gave us the most powerful, factory-made muscle car ever. It was quicker and more powerful than any Mustang and Camaro out there and it seemed that due to all the downsizing and the stringent emission rules we wouldn’t see a more spectacular muscle car anytime soon. But we were wrong. Twice! Because while we were expecting Ford and Chevy to react, it’s Dodge that came up with something even more extreme. Although it doesn’t look all that different when compared to the Hellcat, the Demon is a different beast under the skin. The engine is more powerful too, now delivering an extra 137 horses and 120 pound-feet at 840 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of twist. It’s as quick as a million-dollar supercar to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds and needs only 9.6 clicks to run the quarter-mile at 140 mph. It’s a road-legal dragster!

Read our full review on the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.

Jeep Wrangler


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If we look at the new Wrangler objectively, it’s not something revolutionary. It looks just about the same, it still has solid axles, and it comes in the same body styles. Of course, it does have a lot of new tech and a more modern interior, but the concept hasn’t changed much. But this is exactly why the JL is on this list. The Wrangler is so popular that Jeep is holding onto the same recipe and adding updates that are really necessary. And despite looking almost like its predecessor, the new Wrangler will be just as popular, if not more! Jeep’s recipe for success is worthy of the automotive hall of fame.

Read our full review on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1


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We’ve been waiting so long for the ZR1 to return that at some point we thought it wasn’t going to happen (there were some rumors too). But the Corvette ZR1 returned, and it’s more menacing than ever! It now has two aerodynamic packages, more carbon-fiber in its construction, a performance data recorder, and a brand-new engine. Also supercharged and also a 6.2-liter V-8 like in the Z06, the LT5 engine is actually a big departure from the LT4 and uses a 52-percent larger blower. The V-8 cranks out a whopping 755 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque, which makes the Corvette ZR1 the most powerful Chevrolet ever made. It’s the quickest too, needing less than 2.9 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start, while top speed is supposed to surpass the 210-mph mark. Unless it builds the much-rumored mid-engined Corvette, Chevrolet will have a hard time creating something more spectacular.

Read our full review on the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.

McLaren Senna


Meet the 2019 McLaren Senna – Track-Going Evil With a Hunger For the Road - image 752204

The ink is still fresh on McLaren’s press release about the Senna, but its new Ultimate Series supercar is more than fitted to join this list. Just look at it! It’s unique from just about every angle and it has the most extreme aerodynamics ever used on a road car. It’s the definition of “radical supercar” and even though performance numbers aren’t available as of this writing, it should put everything Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Bugatti has made until now to shame. Unlike most of the competition, it’s not a road car that has been design for track use as well. It’s the other way around. It was designed as a pure race car, and McLaren found a way to make it road legal. It weighs only 2,641 pounds and cranks out an impressive 789 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. And of course, it’s named after Ayrton Senna, one of Formula One’s greatest drivers. McLaren plans to build 500 of them and all were sold out before the car was unveiled.

Read our full review on the 2019 McLaren Senna.

Biggest Flops of 2017

Honda Clarity EV


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At the New York Motor Show, Honda unveiled a new version of the Clarity, expanding the range of its green competitor for the Toyota Prius. However, the new EV is rather disappointing in terms of performance. While the vehicle is in line with the competition in terms of design and equipment, it’s all-electric range is of only 80 miles per charge. Come on Honda, even Nissan realized that the 107-mile Leaf was a bit too lame for the times. With the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3 capable of more than 200 miles, the Clarity EV is a bit of a joke.

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda Clarity EV.

Nio EP9


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The Nio EP9 is just as spectacular as the Venom F5. It has four electric motors that deliver 1,360 horsepower, it’s made almost entirely of carbon fiber, it can go 265 miles on single charge, and it needed only 6:45 minutes to lap the Nurburgring track, quicker than any other production model. But there’s one big problem. The EP9 isn’t widely available. With six units sold to Nio investors and ten more built for the general public, the EP9 doesn’t really qualify as a production model. It’s definitely cool and impressive, but at this rate we may soon see brand-new automakers come out of the blue with a super fast prototype that spawns only one or two customer cars. Probably sold within the company too. That’s not a contribution to the auto industry but just silly ambition to build the fastest, most powerful, most whatever you want car.

Read our full review on the Nio EP9

Chinese Knockoffs at Shanghai Auto Show


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At the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show we say at least two local brands introducing knockoffs of European cars. One was Zotye, which launched a nearly identical copy of the Porsche Macan as the SR8, while the second one, Land Wing, introduced the X7 as a Blatant copy of the Range Rover Evoque. Okay, so it’s no longer news that Chinese brands are stealing designs from European and U.S. companies, but it’s beyond my understanding how these two firms launched their products at a major auto show. It’s all about decency here. And if like Zotye and Land Wind are have the guts to showcase their copies in public, the auto show or even the government should take action against them. I have no idea how things work in China, but apparently there are different standards there. Either way, these the worst releases of 2017.

Tesla Model 3


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Model 3 is Tesla’s highly anticipated affordable electric car. Smaller than the Model S, it was also described as significantly more affordable; a Tesla for the Average Joe. At the same time, it’s supposed to be able to run for more than 200 miles per charge in every trim level and offer performance close to its bigger sibling. However, the Model 3 arrived with two issues. First, things aren’t going as planned production-wise. Tesla is once again having issues with getting the manufacturing process going and delivers have already been delayed, like with more delays to follow. Second, despite Tesla’s promise and Elon Musk’s ironic attitude toward the Nissan Tesla, the Model 3 is still significantly more expensive than the competition. At $35,000 before incentives in base trim, it costs $5,000 more than the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq Electric and it’s only a couple of grand less expensive than the Chevrolet Bolt EV. What’s more, it can get quite expensive with options, with only the Long Range upgrade adding $9,000 to the sticker.

Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.

BMW M8 Concept


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2017 brought us the BMW M8 Concept and the announcement that the iconic 8 Series will make a comeback alongside a high-performance M8 version for the first time. Everyone got excited over the sexy concept car and the prospect of a brand-new grand tourer wearing a famous badge. However, photos of the lightly camouflaged production M8 and the unveiling of the M8 GTE race car revealed that the new 8 Series won’t be a unique design like its predecessor. Instead, it will borrow the company’s current design language and it won’t differ much from the 6 Series in terms of size and proportions. And with the 6 Series already discontinued, it’s pretty obvious that BMW is bringing the 8 Series back as a replacement for the outgoing coupe and not a full-fledged competitor for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe. Not much to get excited about to be honest. It’s like Lamborghini would revive the Miura name for a special-edition Aventador…

Read our full review on the 2017 BMW M8 Concept.

Mercedes-AMG Concept One


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This is yet another awesome supercar that’s here for performance issues. The design is also a bit on the “love it or hate it” side of the market, but the big issue with the AMG Concept One is its top speed. AMG’s first supercar is rated at 217 mph, a top speed that you won’t get in 99% of modern road cars. It is indeed spectacular, a benchmark that most of us will never get to experience. However, in the segment it intends to join,. 217 mph isn’t that incredible. There are plenty of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and McLarens that can achieve it. Making matter worse for the Concept One is that there are more than a few supercars that get hit significantly more than that. There’s the Bugatti Veyron, the Koenigsegg Agera, the McLaren Senna, and the Hennessey Venom F5, just to name a few. For a supercar that’s supposed to blow us away, the Concept One falls a bit short.

Read our full review on the 2020 Mercedes-AMG Concept One.

Hennessey Venon F5


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The Venom F5 arrived to replace the Venom GT, an already incredible car that’s faster than the Bugatti Veyron. The F5 upped the ante in just about every department. It’s more aggressive to look at, it’s more aerodynamic, and it’s 7.4-liter V-8 cranks out a mind-boggling 1,600 horsepower and 1,300 pound-feet of torque. What’s more, Hennessey claims that it can go past 300 mph, a first for a production car. So what is the Venom F5 doing on flops list instead of sitting alongside the McLaren Senna above? Well, Hennessey’s fantastic top speed claim has yet to be verified. Seems a bit rash, I know but when you’re making so much fuss about setting new, outstanding records, you kind of have to come up with the proper launch event. Like a video that shows the car doing 300 mph. Or at least a teaser. Something. I’m not saying the Venom F5 might not be that capable, but after four years of promises I just want to see a proper introduction with proven figures. Hennessey could use a more direct marketing approach anyway.

Read our full review on the 2019 Hennessey Venon F5.

Mopar parts for Jeep Wrangler


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There was a time when Mopar meant more than just accessories for a range of cars. Back in the day, Mopar meant performance and beefed-up muscle cars. Nowadays, it’s some sort of store that provides accessories for FCA products, including Fiat. And this division uses just about any U.S. auto show to preview and release hundreds of parts for brand-new FCA vehicles. It did the same for the Jeep Wrangler at the SEMA Show. And I get it, it’s cool to have so many options to customize your ride, but Mopar unveiled all those goodies a few good weeks before Jeep actually took the wraps off its new SUV. I know that anticipation and hype are important parts of business nowadays, but this is ridiculous. I mean, how desperate can you be?

BMW i8


Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Convertible: Old vs New - Almost 50 Years Apart - image 749136

BMW’s first hybrid supercar, the i8 has been a hit since it was introduced in 2014. Sales went through the roof despite the $130,000+ sticker and the i8 became the world’s top selling electrified sports car by 2016. Come 2017 and the Germans launched a mid-cycle facelift, as they do with all their products after three years on the market. But there’s no actual facelift. The car looks the same, with only small tweaks to the headlamps and taillights, and new wheels. The “upgraded” i8 also comes with an extra 12 horsepower and three extra miles in electric mode. And BMW had the nerve to call it new. Oh, sure, we did get the Roadster model as a new addition to the lineup, but the i8 will carry over basically unchanged until the second-generation model arrives in 2019 or 2020. And that’s not cool!

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW i8.

Lincoln Nautilus


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The Nautilus story is very similar to the i8, but Lincon did two things differently. First, it added a new name with the mid-cycle facelift, replacing MKX with Nautilus. This was done because Lincoln realized that alphanumeric nameplates aren’t a very good idea, so it’s switching back to actual names. Second, the American brand actually bothered to revised the front fascia, giving it the same grille as seen on the Navigator, Continental, and MKZ. The headlamps are also fresh. But it’s still a uninspired thing to do. I definitely understand Lincoln’s desire to kick anonymity out of its headquarters after so many decades, but why not wait for the redesign to change the name? A new name works better with a brand-new cars, you know? And why didn’t Lincoln do the same with the MKC, which was unveiled at the same event with a similar front end? Also, why didn’t the MKZ gain a new name for its similar facelift? And when’s the MKT going to be replaced, it’s almost eight years old. Seems like Lincoln doesn’t really know what it’s doing right now…

Read our full review on the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus

PostHeaderIcon DHL Sources BMW i3 Battery Modules For Electric Delivery Trucks

Vehicular electrification is expanding in a big way, going from eco-conscious mpg bubbles, to luxury sedans, to super sports cars, and now, to the world of freight transportation as well. As such, delivery giant DHL hopes to add a dash of EV efficiency to its expansive fleet of vans and trucks, and BMW will provide the parts necessary with components sourced from the i3.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


DHL Sources BMW i3 Battery Modules For Electric Delivery Trucks - image 728696
“DHL's strategy will include both the purchase of new EVs, and the creation of its own vehicles as well”

Based out of Bonn, Germany, DHL Express is the largest logistics company in the world, delivering packages globally thanks to its vast collection of airplanes, ships, and ground transport. Now, the company is looking to the future, and sees EVs as the way forward for its various four-wheeled delivery vehicles.

DHL’s strategy will include both the purchase of new EVs, and the creation of its own vehicles as well. To that end, DHL purchased Streetscooter in December of 2014. Streetscooter is a German-based producer of electric vehicles, and as the company ramps up production to meet DHL’s electrification goals, it was just announced that BMW will provide the required battery modules for the new fleet, sourcing parts developed for its i3 city cruiser to do so.

“The BMW i3 high-voltage modules are exemplary for extraordinary reliability and performance in the car sector. They enable us to use state-of-the-art electric drive technology and integrated energy management even in demanding supply and distribution traffic,” said Achim Kampker, CEO at Streetscooter GmbH.

“The batteries are made up of 8 modules at 12 cells a pop, offering a 33-kWh capacity. Range is expected to be around 50 miles, but larger packs (the modular design allows packs up to 90-kWh) will allow up to 124 miles.”

Elektrek is reporting that Torqeedo, an electric boat manufacturer, is also sourcing its battery components from BMW. The batteries are made up of 8 modules at 12 cells a pop, offering a 33-kWh capacity. Range is expected to be around 50 miles, but larger packs (the modular design allows packs up to 90-kWh) will allow up to 124 miles.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about DHL dabbling in eco-friendly, alternative transport solutions. For example, a small portion of its fleet already runs on compressed natural gas. Following its purchase by DHL, Streetscooter has produced roughly 2,000 EVs (as of the end of 2016). The goal is to eventually replace all 70,000 DHL ground fleet vehicles with Streetscooter alternatives.

The announcement of DHL’s collaboration with BMW follows the debut of the Tesla Semi back in November. DHL already has 10 examples of the new Tesla on order.

Which begs the question – with the expectation that electric vehicles will become even more entrenched in 2018 with regards to the passenger vehicle segment, how will the freight industry respond? We could very well be seeing a new trend emerging as EVs seep into every segment out there.

References

BMW i3


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Read our full review on the 2018 BMW i3.

PostHeaderIcon Chinese Court Seizes Assets Of Faraday Future Financier

Jia Yueting, the ambitious founder of LeEco and a primary financial partner of Los Angeles-based electric vehicle start-up Faraday Future, just had his remaining assets seized in China. The move comes as yet another blow to Jia’s wide-ranging collection of business interests around the world.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


Chinese Court Seizes Assets Of Faraday Future Financier - image 700025
“Jia's assets were seized following a claim from Huafu Securities to enforce a previous court order, and it is said Jia still owes roughly 202 million yuan to Huafu Securities”

Jia Yueting’s legal difficulties just seem to be multiplying, After receiving an order to return to his homeland of China to settle the huge debts accrued by his various companies, Bloomberg reports that Beijing First Intermediate People’s Courts seized all of Jia’s remaining assets, including some $200,000 in bank deposits. The court is also looking into two properties Jia owns in Beijing, as well as his shares in the publicly traded Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corporation, part of the LeEco corporate umbrella.

LeEco is also the primary financial partner of Faraday Future, the EV startup that put out concepts like the FF 91.


Chinese Court Seizes Assets Of Faraday Future Financier - image 700040
“Faraday Future managed to cobble together some $1 billion from unnamed investors.”

Jia’s assets were seized following a claim from Huafu Securities to enforce a previous court order, and it is said Jia still owes roughly 202 million yuan (nearly $31 million at current exchange rates 12/28/2017) to Huafu Securities.

Jia’s current whereabouts are
unknown, although he was said to be part of a recent announcement which stated that the beleaguered Faraday Future managed to cobble together some $1 billion from unnamed investors.

Jia’s business interests started with streaming Internet media, but very quickly expanded to include mobile phones, TVs, and of course, electric cars.

References


Chinese Court Seizes Assets Of Faraday Future Financier - image 700035

Read our full review on the 2018 Faraday Future FF 91.

PostHeaderIcon China Government Bans 553 Cars Because Pollution

It’s no secret that China has some of the worst air pollution in the world even with a huge improvement over the last year. And, the Chinese government thinks it can make it even better. It all starts with the banning of 553 vehicle models that don’t meet fuel consumption standards. We have yet to see a full list of specific vehicles that have been banned, but we do know they include models from Chevy, Audi, and Mercedes Benz – models like the Audi FV7145LCDBG sedan (Audi A1,) Mercedes BJ302ETAL2 sedan, and Chevy’s SGM7161DAA2 sedan (Similar to a Chevy Aveo).
The production ban will commence on January 1st, 2018 according to the China Vehicle Technology Sevice Center and is the first official ban on specific vehicles in the country.

Wang Liushend, an analyst at China Merchants Securities, said, “To emphasize a cut back on energy consumption, such documents will surface frequently in the future. It’s an essential move to ensure the healthy development of the industry in the long run.”

As far as the number of vehicles actually produced in China, your guess is as good as ours, but according to the secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, Cui Dongshu, those 553 models account for a “very small” percentage. Of course, vehicles are a very small part of China’s pollution problem, with air quality typically getting much worth in the winter months, as such, the country has worked tirelessly to switch homes from coal to natural gas heating and it has even reduced steel production by as much as 50 percent in some areas.

In the end, this ban might help the country a little bit, however, it’s a long road to travel, and you can surely expect the country to initialize more bans in the future. It has even said that it would like to jump on the wagon of banning vehicles powered by fossil fuel at some point – much like France and the U.K. have aimed to do by 2040. Is this what we can expect in the future. Will more countries, including the U.S. begin strong-arming automakers to quit producing certain vehicles? Is the move away from fossil fuels happening too soon? Are we really ready to go fossil fuel free in the next 20 years? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

References


Fastest Selling Car in History is.... the Lynk & Co 01 - image 749089

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PostHeaderIcon Uber Gets Huge Chunk Of Change With Softbank Investment

With New Years right around the corner, ride-hailing services like Uber are likely getting a major bump in use. Now, Uber has something else to get excited about, as Softbank just announced it was plunking down nearly $8 billion for a considerable stake in the company, a move that will also have far-reaching effects on how the company is run.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story

“Softbank announced it would fork over $7.7 billion for a 15 percent stake in the company”

Uber has been under considerable scrutiny lately, with heavy criticism leveled at the company’s internal culture, all while it endures federal criminal probes, a high-profile lawsuit, and the departure of former CEO Travis Kalanick this past June. This latest news is hailed as a win for Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and comes at a critical time for the company as it looks to expand while simultaneously hemorrhaging money and gearing up for an IPO sometime in 2019.

Making the buy is Softbank, a major Japanese telecomms player, which announced it would fork over $7.7 billion for a 15 percent stake in the company. Uber was originally valued at a $68 billion, which is pretty impressive for an app-based ride-hailing service, with this buy bringing that value down to $48 billion.

According to The New York Times, Uber’s early shareholders will be able to cash out for a substantial amount of money when the deal is complete. The New York Times also points out that the buy will include new rules and board members that will help to curb Uber’s old management from having too much sway in the company’s direction going forward. It’s expected this will result in improvements for both those working for Uber and those using the service.

References


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PostHeaderIcon Focus RS Coolant Problem Finally Solved: Ford Used the Wrong Head Gasket

At this point, just about everyone knows about the big coolant-burning problem with the Ford Focus RS. As it turns out, it’s not a problem with the engine at all, but really a problem with the head gasket used to seal the mating surface between the cylinder head and the engine block. One Focus RS owner had been digging into the problem for quite some time, reporting this problem to a very long thread on FocusRS.org forums. Upon getting his engine apart found that his head gasket was, indeed, blown. But, it’s not the fault of the gasket itself, as the gasket wasn’t designed for the Focus RS – it was designed for the Eco Boost Mustang, as evidenced by the part number cast into the metal portion of the gasket itself.

Keep reading to learn more about this breaking development

Your Focus RS has a bad Head Gasket? Nope.. It’s the Wrong Gasket


The images you see in the tweet above were originally posted on FocusRS.org and later investigated by Bozi Tatarevic. Upon noticing that the part number was likely that of the gasket for the 2.3-liter found in the EcoBoost Mustang. After reaching out to a parts supplier, who has requested to remain anonymous, it was actually confirmed that that part number was marked as originally being built for the EcoBoost:

And, this is where things get interesting because it’s commonly believed that the EcoBoost Mustang and the Focus RS have the same engine crammed under the hood. That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. There are lots of differences, including different materials used in the composition of the block and cylinder heads. Despite the fact that the engines are the same displacement, and even look somewhat similar at some angles, they are actually unique to one another, which means the coolant passages between the block and cylinder head of the RS are different than those in the engine of the EcoBoost. As such, the incorrect gasket in the Focus RS causes a coolant blockage. This ends up resulting in a hotspot within that part of the engine or cylinder head. The coolant eventually boils and is forcefully pushed out between the mating surface – blowing the head gasket.


Focus RS Coolant Problem Finally Solved: Ford Used the Wrong Head Gasket - image 664711
“The problem is limited to early models and maybe 3 percent of the entire production run, so it only affects a handful of models in the grand scheme of things”

As for how this happened remains unclear. It could have been a simple mistake in the rush to get production going. After all, there was a problem with Ford hitting its delivery targets and a ton of drama around it; mistakes happen when you rush. The problem is limited to early models and maybe 3 percent of the entire production run, so it only affects a handful of models in the grand scheme of things. The chances are that someone grabbed the wrong crate in a hurry and, since the engines are so similar, nobody noticed the problem.

Ford, so far, has been sending customers that have fallen victim to this problem back to the dealer for warranty repair, but now you really have to ask: Have the hot spots created by the lack of coolant flow pose any risk to the engine down the road? Is there a higher chance of engine or component failure? An official word from Ford or an official fix has yet to be announced, but with all of this new information coming to light, you can bet the blue oval with start investigating. Ford will likely continue to replace the head gaskets, only under recall instead of warranty, but with any luck, customers will find themselves getting all new engines – it would be an easy way to ensure there won’t be any other problems as a result of this seemingly minor but catastrophic production mistake.


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 664713
“Ford, so far, has been sending customers that have fallen victim to this problem back to the dealer for warranty repair”

What do you make of all of this? Are you one of Ford’s customers that are dealing with this problem? If so, leave us a comment below telling us what you expect the official fix to be.

References

Ford Focus RS


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 664705

Read our full review on the 2017 Ford Focus RS.


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PostHeaderIcon Elon Musk Really Is Using SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy to Launch a Tesla Roadster into Space!

Just a month ago, I told you Musk just might load up his Cherry-Red Tesla Roadster and send it to Mars. Well, as it turns out, the man behind SpaceX and Tesla, among other companies, wasn’t playing around as he has made an Instagram post showing Falcon Heavy just about ready to go, followed by another post that depicts – and I kid you not – his very own Cherry-Red Tesla Roadster in payload-prep for its maiden voyage off this spinning rock we call Earth. Now, even though the rocket probably won’t fly until after the turn of the year, with January 2018 being the most likely date, it’s still breaking a number of records. First, it’ll be the most powerful operational rocket in the world, and two, it’ll be the first time a rocket has carried a production car into space. Oh boy, what a time to be alive.

Falcon Heavy and it’s Roadster Payload

As you can see, Musk made it a point to explain how most test flights use big blocks of cement or steel to simulate mass, but why not live up to the hype and send a Roadster. I have to admit; it’s ballsy and pretty damn cool too. After all, it will be playing Space Oddity as it makes its billion-year elliptic orbit of Mars. Just think what a future civilization from Earth, one that has undoubtedly forgotten about Musk and his antics, will think when they find a then ancient electric car floating around in space. It’s pretty exciting to think about.

But, let’s not forget about the most important part: Falcon Heavy:



This baby is a serious extension of one’s manhood, that’s for sure. Set to make its maiden voyage in (as of the time of this writing) sometime in January of 2018, the Falcon Heavy rocket will be the biggest operational rocket in human history as long as it doesn’t blow up on ascent, anyway. It will have the ability to carry as much as 54 metric ton or about 119,000 pounds, more than double that of the closest operation rocket at just one-third of the cost. SpaceX and Elon Musk have a habit of making history, and it will likely do so again, not only launch this baby into space but by taking the first production car into space with it… will The Musk ever stop? Probably not until we find out he’s really an alien from another world, but we’ll leave that conversation for another day.

Falcon Heavy Launch Animation


References

Tesla Roadster


2020 Tesla Roadster - image 746102

Read our full review on the 2020 Tesla Roadster.


2015 Tesla Roadster 3.0 - image 600358

Read our full review on the 2017 Tesla Roadster.


Elon Musk Wants A 5-Mile Hyperloop Test Track - image 611786

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PostHeaderIcon Elon Musk Delivers Easter Eggs for Christmas with Latest Tesla Software Update

A new OTA update rolled out to Tesla Vehicles in the days before Christmas, and wouldn’t you know it – there was a hidden Easter Egg built into the update. Last year, we had the synchronized light show on the Model X, but Musk went a little more complicated this year and replaced the Model S on the main display with an image of Santa and his sleigh. It went even a step further with cars shown on either side being replaced by reindeer and the turn signals being replaced by Jingle Bells. If you haven’t accessed Santa Mode on your Tesla yet, it’s not that hard. Just access the slider or say “Ho Ho Ho” through voice command and you’ll see the fat man himself pop up and prepare to guide you through traffic.. or uh… reindeer that is. Check out Elon’s tweet, a couple of images, and a video showing it all down below.

The Initial Tweet

So much for making people look for the eggs, though.






And…. A Video for Those Without a Tesla


References

Tesla Model S


2017 Tesla Model S - image 703865

Read our full review on the Tesla Model S.

Tesla Model X


2016 Tesla Model X - image 722484

Read our full review on the Tesla Model X.


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PostHeaderIcon Henrik Fisker Gives the Middle Finger to the Battery Industry as he Advances Solid State Battery Technology

Henrik Fisker may not have the best track record as far as success goes, but you’ve got to hand it to the man for having an incredible reach and drive, for that matter. It can be hard to believe what the man puts out there sometimes. Take his new battery, for instance. We’re talking about 500 miles in range, one-minute charging times, and even better cold-weather conductivity. Well, it’s time to start believing him. He’s joined the fight to build a usable solid-state battery alongside even global brands like Toyota and, where Toyota sees plenty of struggle, Fisker is elbow deep in lithium putting in the work himself, as evidenced by a tweet of him holding a massive, but light, core of Lithium metal – the barebone of juice for every electric car on the road today.
But that’s not all. Fisker scientists have apparently produced samples of solid-state bulk that can deliver 2.5 times the energy and works as low as -31 degrees Fahrenheit. See that bulk sample, the first battery label, and the infamous image of the man himself holding up that Lithium metal below.

A Strong Middle Finger to the Battery Industry

Obviously lightweight… or maybe he’s much stronger than he looks… Seriously, though. He’s not Iron Man or Hercules – this stuff is really light. On a second thought, one could argue that our man Fisker is actually giving the middle finger to the rest of the battery industry, don’t you think?


The Future of Battery Tech? We Think YES!

Pretty crazy to think that something like this will propel us into the future, huh?


Just Listen to What the Label Says…

Okay, Folks. If you see a Fisker Solid State Battery, don’t try to puncture, disassemble, or crush – you’ll definitely have a bad time. Besides, the crazy brains at Toyota can’t even figure these things out, so what makes you think you can take it apart hmm?


References

Fisker Emotion


2017 Fisker EMotion - image 693723

Read our full review on the 2018 Fisker Emotion.


maker logos - image 754438

Read more Henrik Fisker news.

PostHeaderIcon Britain’s Dream Car for 2017 Is a Frankenvehicle with Lambo, BMW, and Alfa Romeo Cues

Dream cars, we’re talking about them on a regular basis. They’re usually exotic vehicles that we can’t afford, and we wish we will be able to buy them at some point. But dream cars isn’t always about Bugattis, McLarens, and Ferraris. A recent study conducted in Great Britain revealed that the country’s dream car for 2017 is a mess design-wise, combining features from vehicles that are radically different. More than 2,300 motorists were polled in this study on what makes their perfect car, with options ranging from badges and headlamps to doors and paints. And the result is essentially a Frankenstein of car features and designs launched over the last decade.


Britain's Dream Car for 2017 Is a Frankenvehicle with Lambo, BMW, and Alfa Romeo Cues - image 754154

Commissioned by webuyanycar.com, the survey reveals that drivers favor sporty car features but prefer the higher ride of an SUV. Specifically, most participants nominated the Lamborghini Urus as their body of choice. Far from surprising given that crossovers are highly popular now and considering that the Urus was unveiled only a couple of weeks ago. And it makes you better understand why Lamborghini wanted an SUV in the first place.

But things become really weird once we take a look at the other styling elements combined with the Urus body. The SUV combines an Alfa Romeo Giulia grille with BMW 6 Series headlamps up front, a Lamborghini Gallardo spoiler and Hyundai i30 exhaust around back, and Audi R8 doors with Honda Civic Type-R wheels wrapped in off-road tires onto the sides. The mash-up is rounded off by a Bentley badge and an electric blue color. Well, while none of the cars mentioned above are ugly, all these features combined into one vehicle make for a horrible concept. It’s so awful that it took “several weeks” to turn it into an accurate 3D rendering.

The company that commissioned the survey says it’s a bit surprised that people didn’t vote for two-seat configurations, convertibles, and high-performance supercars, opting for a high-riding body instead.


Britain's Dream Car for 2017 Is a Frankenvehicle with Lambo, BMW, and Alfa Romeo Cues - image 754156

Design aside, the study also revealed that drivers are willing to spend an additional £1,552, on average, on upgrades and add-ons, while more than a third said that heated seats are a must. Nearly half wanted a personalized registration plate. One in three drivers would want their car to handle any type of terrain, while an equal amount with their cars would have the ability to fly. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to see this FrankenUrus fly in front of my bedroom window.

References


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