Category Archives: Industry News

BMW Teases Next Generation Z Roadster

BMW has been hard at work on the upcoming replacement to the dearly departed Z4 for a while now. While various heavily camoflauged prototypes have been spotted, the German auto giant has released a compelling sneak peek of the new two seater ahead of its eventual debut.

Released on the company’s Facebook page, the lone teaser image is obscured and darkened, but there are still a few details that peek out from beneath the covers. Sharper headlights as well as a more aggresive profile help it stand out from the decidedly more elegant predecessor it is replacing. This will be good news for BMW, which is hoping that the car can put up a more targeted resistance to the segment benchmark, the Porsche 718 Boxster.

The new Z will be underpinned by an all new rear drive platform that is being co-developed with Toyota engineers, and could also herald the revival of the Supra nameplate for a new generation of young Toyota buyers. Look for BMW’s turbocharged four and six cylinder engines to carryover in both models, but a Toyota designed hybrid system could make its way into the mix to increase fuel efficency  if rumors on the subject turn out to be true.

2019 V8 Vantage

Aston Martin Teases 2019 V8 Vantage

With the Aston Martin Vantage in desperate need of a replacement, Aston Martin has released several images of a 2019 V8 Vantage prototype that serve as the most compelling glimpse of the upcoming sports car to date.

While the psychedelic camouflage thwarts any attempts at discerning some of the car’s finer details, the lack of fabric obscuring elements does help shed some light on the basic design and shape. At first glance, there are welcome elements from the DB10, as well as select traits from the DB11, though look for the Vantage (assuming it keeps that name) to carve its own identity when it eventually makes its way to Aston Martin showrooms. This new identity will also benefit from a healthy dose of futurism, which will do away with the bulk of the dated design themes that comprise the current Vantage.

 

 

Look for the performance hardware to fully benefit from Aston Martin’s close relationship with Mercedes Benz. The most obvious candidate would be the 4.0 liter biturbo V8 which was recently announced as a lighter alternative to the V12 in the DB11. The new engine would replace the wheezy 4.7 liter naturally aspirated V8, and also being 503 horsepower and 512 lb-ft of torque to the festivities. This engine already helps motivate the equally potent AMG GT range, so look for the Aston version to help propel the car to 60 mph in a brisk 4.0 seconds flat.

There is still more that remains unknown about the upcoming Vantage, but we’re confident that the interior (another dated element) will receive a healthy dose of design mojo from the DB11. This includes better ergonomics, a much welcomed upgrade for the navigation system, as well as better materials including higher quality leather and metal trim. Thankfully, the wait will not be very long, with Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer revealing that the Vantage replacement is due to bow by the end of the year.

 

Audi Showcases 2018 A8 Model Family

Audi’s venerable A8 flagship has always served as a compelling glimpse into the current state of the luxury car market. However, when it came time to unveil the 2018 A8, Audi instead chose to use the model to showcase the future, and if all goes according to plan, the future could indeed be a very different battleground for luxury car brands.

 

The exterior styling of the 2018 A8 then can be viewed as the perfect camouflage, with a look that does not stray too far away from the current generation A8. It’s a little bigger in appearance, and Audi designers will have 12 different color choices for buyers to ogle over, but its conservative suit of clothes, as well as the subdued approach it takes to styling will no doubt please the Audi faithful. A key change can be found at the front fascia which features an all new Singleframe grille, as well as equally futuristic HD Matrix LED headlights that feature lasers.

While the lasers are still a step or two behind from replicating your favorite sci-fi battle scene, they do help double the visible range of the high beams at speeds above 43 mph. It is currently unknown if the system will formally make its way to the U.S. due to our country’s strict safety regulations, but look for Audi to possibly make tweaks to the system to help it comply with U.S. regulators and give buyers across the pond something to look forward to.

 

 

The nifty lasers are cool, but it is the cabin where the A8’s leap into the future becomes more apparent. The flagship model gets an all new iteration of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system with a digital instrument cluster that now displays various readouts in crystal clear HD quality. The 10.5 inch dash mounted infotainment system is virtually flush with the dashboard itself, and arrives with fewer buttons than the old car. This is due to the Multi Media Infotainment system utilizing more touch and voice commands to access various features. Audi lists a lofty 400 commands for the system, but thankfully, they were kind enough to leave the steering wheel controls intact as well as various oral and tactile feedback cues to let occupants know a task has been executed.

As expected from a car befitting of its status, the 2018 A8 offers a whole host of amenities to its occupants. These include 3D sound for the rear passengers, a host of climate and electronic amenities, and so much more. Our favorite feature is the all new “relaxation seat.” Only available on the passenger side rear seat of the A8L, this enviable throne offers the usual assortment of heating/cooling and massage functions as well as a trick foot rest that comes equipped with massage capability. This novel feature would also be the first time that a massaging foot rest has ever appeared in a factory vehicle, and look for it to be replicated by rivals such as the Mercedes S-Class, as well as the BMW 7-Series in the near future.

 

 

Meanwhile on the mechanical front, Audi engineers left their mark on the forward thinking 2018 Audi A8 in a number of ways. Big news here is that every A8 model is now a hybrid. The 2018 A8 will initially launch with a pair of turbocharged V6 engines – a petrol powered 3.o liter turbocharged TFSI V6 good for 340 horsepower, as well as a 3.0 liter TDI engine that produces a slightly lower 286 horsepower. Each engine is paired with a mild hybrid system that allows the beefy A8 to coast for up to 40 seconds without the engine being activated at speeds between 34 to 99 mph. The novel system also allows for slow speed operation as well as start -stop capability.

After those engines launch, Audi will be bringing out a pair of 4.0 liter V8 engines for both gas and diesel buyers, as well as the return of the silky smooth W12 engine, and the green e-tron plug-in hybrid model. All 2018 A8 variants will send their power to all four wheels through an eight speed automatic transmission, as well as the latest iteration of the company’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. The suspension also gains new moves, and aims to help improve the A8’s composure in corners. Audi dubs the system “AI Suspension,” and the new system incorporates and electric motor, as well as separate components for each wheel. According to the company,  the end result is a two toned experience with the 2018 A8 having the comfort oriented compliance of a luxury car, while also having the agile stance of a sports car at the same time.

The new 2018 Audi A8 will make its initial appearance in German showrooms this fall, and will command a hefty price tag for its futuristic take on motoring. The V6 model leads the charge with a base MSRP of €90,600 while the A8L wields a slightly higher €94,100. These figures roughly translate to $103,000 and $107,000 U.S. dollars with various options and other equipment potentially pushing the price as high as $120,000 a far cry from the current model and its $82,500 base price.

V90 Cross Country

Volvo To Produce Only EV and Hybrid Models By 2019

When Volvo first announced that it intended to seriously pursue electrification a few years ago, the world wondered what it would entail for the Swedish brand, and its lineup of vehicles. In a new announcement released earlier today, the car giant further detailed its ambitious plans while perhaps signaling a broader shift for the industry.

A key item of note here is that every new Volvo offering will be either a full EV or hybrid vehicle starting in 2019. Volvo also promises to include at least one electric motor in each of its new offerings.

“This is about the customer. People increasingly demand electrified cars, and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose which electrified Volvo you wish” explained Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson.

However this sudden embrace of electrified powerplants doesn’t mean that Volvo’s iconic internal combustion engines will get the figurative pink slip anytime soon. Buyers will be asked to choose from either mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or full electric technology for their Volvo purchase, which will help retain customer flexibility and loyalty.

Volvo also plans to release a 48 volt hybrid system before the end of the decade, and to also roll out five all new battery electric models. Three of them will join the main Volvo lineup, but the other two will be performance tinged Polestar entries. Look for all five models to roll out between 2019 and 2021 with information being released possibly in late 2018.

 

2018 GT Stinger

Kia Rules Out Range Topping Stinger GTR, Says Its Too Early To Go All In

While the Kia Stinger has yet to fully complete its distribution to all of the world’s markets, Kia is already shedding some light on potential variants of the already desirable liftback, including perhaps a range topping performance model that would slot above the current GT model, and possibly adopt the GTR moniker.

These revelations come from Albert Biermann the chief exec behind the company’s performance models during a recent interview with the folks at Motoring magazine. Biermann revealed that while “The car technically has more potential no doubt” the reason why Kia has not introduced any variants of the Stinger yet is actually very simple and straightforward.

According to Biermann before the company can introduce a “GTR or something” Kia has to know how  the current iterations of the Stinger will do in terms of overall sales, as well as their long term sustainability in the broader marketplace. Biermann also revealed that Kia needs to identify the customer base for the car, and after that it will then make its mind up on whether there should be a spicier version of the Stinger for buyers that want to have even more performance than the current range topping model, the Stinger GT.

With that said, it appears that for the moment, the Stinger GT (which is the fastest accelerating car Kia has ever produced) will remain the flagship version. As for U.S. buyers, the StingerGT will arrive in our country by the end of the year in either rear or all-wheel drive with a 3.3 liter biturbo V6 producing 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to propel the car to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds, so look for the proposed performance model (whenever it arrives) to shave some seconds off of that figure as well as a higher top speed than the GT’s 167 mph.

Source: Motoring

Apple

Tim Cook Confirms Apple’s Stance On Autonomus Vehicles

Apple has had a shroud of secrecy over its autonomous vehicle efforts for the past several years. While the tech giant’s Project Titan in-house vehicle program is largely dead when it comes to building a vehicle from the ground up, Apple revealed that t is still exploring other projects in this burgeoning segment of the automotive world.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple is officially exploring self-driving technology that could potentially make its appearance in production automobiles .

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems” said Cook. It’s a core technology that we view as very important.” Cook claimed that the technology is “the mother of all AI projects,” and that it’s “probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.”

This news follows on a previous statement by Apple’s Director of Product Integrity Steve Kenner. At the time, Kenner laid out a vision for developing and testing autonomus vehicles on public roads as part of a letter that he wrote to the NHTSA. The letter stated that Apple “is heavily investing in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.

 

 

2019 Ram 1500

Spied: 2019 Ram 1500

It’s not too often we have a chance to encounter upcoming model, but that’s exactly what happened when we had the opprotunity to encounter this 2019 Ram 1500 quad cab tester in the wilds of Michigan.

Being an early stage mule, this particular tester does not shed a whole lot of light on the styling direction that the next generation Ram 1500 will embark on. However, a closer look does showcase glimpses of whats in store. For example the switch from the traditional 5-lug setup to an all new 6-lug arraignment for its wheels could suggest that the new Ram is gaining weight, and that in turn could lead to increased towing and payload capacities.

Extensive interior camoflauge thwarted our efforts to get a clear view of the IP and dashboard. But the appearance of a Chrysler Pacifica derived steering wheel, as well as a mysterious contraption on the front grille could indicate that some of the van’s technologies will carry over to the 2019 Ram 1500. These could include lane keep assist, collision detection software, as well as adaptive cruise control.

Performance hardware is unknown at this juncture, but look for the familiar 3.6 liter V6 and 3.0 liter diesel engine to make their respective returns. The 5.7 liter Hemi V8 however could be axed, and replaced with an all new engine that would embrace turbocharging. This would allow Ram to follow Ford’s lead in this area, while also improving fuel economy.

Look for the 2019 Ram 1500 to eventually make its debut either later this year, or early next year at a future auto show, most likely in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show, or the Chicago Auto Show.

 

Model Y

Tesla Teases Model Y CUV

Following the launch of its Model X SUV, Tesla has released a shadowy teaser image of the next step in its plans to dominate the CUV market the Model Y.

Like Tesla’s other teaser images, this one does not reveal too much detail. However, it does give a preview of the basic styling direction Tesla is trying to achieve with the Model Y, as well as the proportions for the front end. Unlike the Model X, the Y is expected to feature a more traditional apperance, and that could include ditching the X’s glitchy falcon doors for more conventional units.

While the Model Y is based on an all new platform, Tesla admits that the Y will eventually outsell the Model 3 due to the high demand from CUV buyers. Tesla also admitted that it wanted to avoid some of the styling compromises that emerged when designing the Model X.

“I think we really made a mistake trying to derive the design for the Model X from the Model S platform” Musk revealed at a recent shareholders meeting.

Look for the Model Y to also feature a more approachable pricing ladder albeit in the higher end of the CUV segment where it will compete with rivals from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.

2018 Dodge Demon Priced, Tears Up The Strip At $85k

When Dodge first unleashed the limited production 840 horsepower Dodge Demon at the New York Auto Show, the brand promised to deliver a drag strip experience at a price below $100,000. Admittably, we were a bit skeptical at first, but Dodge has followed through on its word, and delivered the goods.

In fact, Dodge delivered in spades, with the 2018 Dodge Demon featuring a base price of $84,995. This includes the $1700 gas guzzler tax, but not the $1,095 destination fee. Furthermore, many of its options are better deals than the bargain sales at many thrift stores, with each one only costing $1

This includes the Demon Crate as well as more basic additions such as the front passenger seat, rear passenger seat, as well as carpeting for the trunk to make the Demon more civilized (if you must…) Otherwise we recommend indulging yourself with the contents of the forementioned Demon Crate. They include the drag spec front wheels and tires, conical air filter, as well as the PCM and replacement instrument panel switch to unlock the full 840 horsepower wielded by the tricked out V8.

Dodge will also offer 15 diffrent paint colors, and even offer a full leather interior and premium audio system, though look for those two items to hurt the Demon’s performance somewhat.

Overall the grand total adds up to $86,094 when the Demon has its performance and basic occupant friendly options installed. This is a hefty price to pay for a Dodge Challenger at first glance, but considering all the drag spec gear it possesses straight from the factory, the prospect doesn’t seem so crazy. Especially since its the only factory ready drag car with a full factory warranty including a five year/60,000 mile warranty for the powertrain.

Ford Ousts Fields In Management Shakeup

In a move that aims to address a recent slide in Ford’s core automobile shares, The company is set to formally oust CEO Mark Fields, and also shuffle three other excecs in an effort to create a new corporate structure, according to those familiar with the situation.

Jim Hackett the chief of Ford’s autonomus vehicle program will assume full control from Fields, with the company poised to make an announcement later today.

The departure of Fields comes amid a 40 percent slide in Ford’s share price, and slower than expected progress in the development of mobility solutions. This is in contrast to when Fields first took the reigns three years ago from Alan Mually, and promised to bring newfound vigor and vibrancy to Ford’s corporate operations.

Fields departure also comes after he was viciously criticized by investors and members of Ford’s board two weeks ago for the company’s deteriorating financial results. Fields appeared to try and address these failures by cutting 1,400 salaried jobs in the company, but that wasn’t enough to curb the damage that was already done.

Hackett will have plenty of things to do when he formally assumes control of the company. A big project is supercharging Ford’s research into autonomus vehicles. Ford is currently lagging behind larger firms like General Motors, as well as Silicon Valley upstart companies in the race to develop self driving vehicles. Ford originally revealed that it would have a vehicle on the road by 2021, but both GM and Google have beaten Dearborn to the punch with self driving test vehicles.

The strong growth of Tesla in recent years also highlighted how behind Ford was in developing electric vehicles. While the company does have plug-in versions of the Focus and Fusion, the axed Ford C-Max proved to be a sales flop, and Ford still does not have a competitor for the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Hackett will also need to address a 25 percent decline in overall sales especially in compact and mid-size cars, with the company making little if any money on the vehicles it does sell. A wave of safety recalls has also focused unwanted attention on vehicle quality.

The departure of Mr. Fields is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, with three other executives expected to be moved as part of the shakeup. Joseph R. Hinrichs head of Ford’s Americas Division will broaden his role, and become executive vice president of global operations. James D. Farley Jr., who currently oversees Ford Europe, will be appointed head of worldwide marketing and sales. Lastly, Marcy Klevorn (Ford’s chief technical officer) will take over Mr. Hackett’s old posistion at the mobility division.

It will be interesting to see if this corporate shakedown will help improve Ford’s long term performance, and also what models could end up on the chopping block as part of any Hackett motivated turn around plan.