Category Archives: Industry News

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.

 

BMW Confirms Return Of 8 Series

Following on the heels of BMW’s quiet axing of the 6-Series coupe, the German car maker revealed that it is breathing new life into its long dormant 8-Series moniker in a bid to renew its push into the large luxury coupe market.

For those unfamiliar with the 8-Series, it originally appeared in 1989, and was designed to cater to big coupe buyers looking for a distinctive alternative to the 6-Series. However, its glitchy electronics, as well as the global recession in the 1990s, caused sales to plummet before it was mercifully pulled from the U.S. in 1997, and from Europe in 1999.

BMW accompanied this announcement with a lone teaser image that showcases a sleek side profile, as well as wide rear hips and a raked roofline. These traits are promising, especially since the 8-Series is expected to renew its focus on style and flair. Look for the new model to embrace plenty of cues from the Gran Lusso concept which made its apperance back in 2013, and wowed audiences with its stunning good looks.

BMW claims that the concept in the teaser image is a design study, but expect minimal changes when it makes the transistion to production, and arrive on dealer lots in 2018. A higher price tag will also be part of the package given its status as a flagship offering.

Look for the 7-Series to play a key role in the car’s devlopment, with much of its technology and even its V12 engine making the jump into the bigger 8-Series. The model could also spawn Gran Coupe and M8 versions, though plans for these models are mere rumors at this point.

With the confirmation of the 8- Series, the Mercedes S-Class coupe will have a new rival in its niche segment, and it could very well become a three way fight if seperate rumors of an Audi A9 are indeed true.

 

Lexus To Debut LS 500 F Sport In New York

Following on the heels of the LS 500’s debut in Detroit, as well as the Geneva debut of its eco friendly sibling the LS 500h. Lexus has revealed that it will complete the circle with the New York debut of the sport tuned LS 500 F Sport.

Like its siblings, the F Sport will be built on Lexus’s all new GA-L platform which is already the stiffest LS architecture ever produced. Lexus claims that the F Sport will make full use of its stiffness which should translate into possibly offering a tweaked suspension as well as other minor modifications.

The lone teaser image Lexus released does not reveal too much about the exterior styling, but it does confirm that sporty elements will be at the forefront here. These cues include tinted tailights, a gloss black diffuser, intergrated dual exhaust system, and prominent F-Sport badge.

Look for the car to also come equipped with the Lexus Dynamic Handling Package as well as the Lexus Safety System+pack. Beefier brakes help improve stopping distances while a limited slip differential could help sharpen power distribution.

Lexus will be unveiling the LS 500 F Sport on April 12th in New York at the Jacob Javitz Cinvention Center. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest.com for our live coverage of the New York Auto Show including the unveiling of the LS 500 F Sport.

Honda Civic Si Torque Figure Revealed

With all the attention focused on the range topping Civic Type R, its easy to forget that the Japanese car maker is also preparing to unleash an updated Civic Si to appeal to budget minded enthusiasts. Honda has kept the bulk of the details under wraps so far, but it appears that this tight cloak of secrecy is beginning to unravel.

While it is currently unknown how much horsepower the next generation Civic Si will produce, an email that was sent to a prospective buyer has revealed the amount of torque that the upcoming model will produce. The message was posted on the CivicX forum last Thursday, and proclaims “The all new Civic Si features a turbocharged engine and 192 lb-ft of torque, making your everyday errands more exciting than ever.

If this figure is true, then the 1.5 liter turbocharged engine that will be powering the Si will be significantly less potent than the 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder that will be powering the Type R. For reference, the Type R’s engine will produce 295 lb-ft of torque. As a matter of fact, this figure is actually not that much higher than the 177 lb-ft of torque wielded by the Civic Hatchback Sport.

However, look for the Si to stand out from that model by offering more horsepower with early projections suggesting that it will have at least 200 horsepower versus the 180 horsepower that the Sport possesses.  This would also support Honda’s plans to formally revive its performance intentions, and create ample separation in performance numbers for each of its models.

Despite this relatively modest figure, 192 lb-ft is still an impressive number from a 1.5 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine, and it would also finally resolve the lack of torque that defined older iterations of the Si, which embraced higher rev limits and a pure naturally aspirated layout in terms of power delivery.

Ford, Magna Develop New Carbon Fiber Subframe

The quest for higher fuel economy has forced many automakers to explore alternative solutions to overcome this dilemma with Ford and Magna revealing an interesting solution to this challenge that could redefine the way we think about vehicle underpinnings.

Unlike the bulk of new technologies that focus on the engine compartment, Ford and Magna’s new innovation focuses on the vehicle’s subframe, with the new unit embracing carbon fiber construction versus traditional steel.

In addition to the obvious weight savings this provides, the new frame also uses fewer pieces, and has simpler construction than before. This is thanks to the elimination of 45 steel pieces which are replaced with two molded parts and four metallic mounting points. This slashes the part count by 87 percent, and the moldings even use high strength adhesives and rivets to help hold the entire unit together. Magna also revealed that despite the 34 percent drop in weight, the prototype frame does not skimp on safety, and will not sacrifice rigidity or crash worthiness.

Currently Magna is producing the subframes for continued development and testing at Ford. The auto giant will evaluate factors such as corrosion, stone chip resistance, as well bolt load retention. Look for elements of this technology to eventually trickle into production vehicles though it could be a while before the cost and feasibility challenges are surpassed for mass vehicle production.

Alpine Won’t Sell A110 Coupe In U.S. Market

For eager enthusiasts that were interested in perhaps slaying the USA’s toughest driving road’s in Alpine’s resurrected A110 coupe, those dreams have been dashed, according to a new report that has emerged from the halls of the Geneva Motor Show.

In an interview conducted with the folks at LeftLane news, Alpine CEO Bernard Ollivier revealed that the stylish, and distinctively French alternative, to the Porsche Cayman will not be making the trek across the pond to our shores anytime soon.

“At the moment we are not planning on selling the A110 in the U.S. Relaunching the brand is a big project. Right now we’re focusing on markets like Europe and Japan” said Ollivier.

This is a disappointing decision, but it is understandable at the same time, especially due to Alpine’s relatively low awareness among U.S. customers. At one point, the brand nearly arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s, but Renault’s collapsing foothold on the U.S. market as well as the chaos caused by the demise of AMC forced Alpine to shelve those plans.

Meanwhile in its home European market, demand for the quirky two door is very strong. This is buoyed by its potent 252 horsepower engine, as well as its sleek and lightweight aluminium body. The first wave of A110s to roll off the assembly line will be part of a limited edition series dubbed the “Premiere Edition.” Production of this series will be limited to 1,955 copies, and fans have already claimed a good chunk of the production run especially before the coupe even made its official debut at Geneva.

GM Announces Sale of Opel/Vauxhall To PSA

Confirming long suspected rumors and speculation that such a deal was indeed in the works, GM officially revealed that it has sold both Opel and its British cousin Vauxhall to PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) ahead of the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The €2.2 billion sale marks the end of an era for GM, with the automaker completly leaving the European market after a decades long presence. While both Vauxhall and Opel had considerable history in the British and German markets respectively, they also transformed into a colossal money pit for GM in recent years, with both brands not being able to make a profit in the last sixteen years.

This is despite the shuttering of Chevrolet’s European sales division two years ago, which was supposed to give new life to lagging Opel sales, but ultimately failed to achieve the turnaround GM wanted.

GM revealed that it will still be involved with Opel via its rights to purchase warrants of PSA shares, which could resolve some issues regarding the use of GM technologies in the current lineup of Opel/Vauxhall models.

As for PSA, the French auto giant believes that it can return Opel to profitability by 2020 thanks to slashes in research and development costs, as well as the sharing of platforms and technologies across their portfolio of brands.

PSA CEO Carlos Tavarres, the man who helped Peugeot and Citroen rise from the brink of collapse a few years ago, is confident that he could pull the same feat for struggling Opel and its British sibling Vauxhall.

“We are confident that the Opel/Vauxhall turnaround will significantly accelerate with our support, while still respecting the commitments made by GM to the Opel/Vauxhall employees.” stated Tavarres in an online statement.

The U.S. market will feel some of the ripple effect from this action, since many of Buick’s product offerings like the Cascada and Encore trace their roots to Opel based products. GM revealed that PSA will continue to honor existing supply agreements with Buick and Australia-based Holden, but it could throw a sizable monkey wrench into plans for their next gen replacements, especially those currently on the drawing board.

That said, the next generation Buick Regal could provide an opprotunity for PSA to expand its reach into the U.S. market where its main Peugeot and Citroen brands still have a poor reputation among buyers, versus the more favorable history associated with Buick.

Finally, the deal was preceded by several minor collaboration efforts that took place back in 2012 when GM bought a seven percent stake in PSA. Several Peugeot-Citroen models are already built by Opel and vice versa, with the upcoming Citroen C3 Picasso sharing its components with the Geneva bound Opel Crossland X.

Smart To Go EV Only In U.S. Market

A new report from Daimler owned Smart reveals that the brand will stop selling a large slice of its current lineup in the U.S. and Canada, with only EV models making up the range after 2017.

This decision was shared to Smart dealers via a letter that was written by Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dieter Exler, and was not made public. Automotive News however, managed to obtain a copy of this letter which reveals.

“Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current smart product portfolio,” he explained. “The smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero-emissions smart electric drive coupe and cabrio in the U.S. and Canada.”

Production of the U.S. spec fortwo will cease in April, but sales will continue until the present inventory runs out, which will give dealerships time to sell them to interested buyers. The first deliveries of the electric models will begin this summer, and expect the full rollout to be completed in early fall.

The announcement does not come as a suprise since the brand’s North American sales have been slowly dwindling over the past few years. According to Automotive News, the brand’s, peak sales year was in 2014, when it sold 10,453 cars. Since that time, sales have plummeted, with the brand only selling 6,211 units.

The first generation Smart car was a compelling idea when it first came out, and it managed to have strong success due to the spike in oil prices in 2008. However, with gas prices lower, and demand for SUVs and crossovers on the rise, many Americans were simply not interested in the pint sized two seater.

Smart’s decision to go EV only after 2017 applies to the U.S. and Canada. Buyers in other markets like Europe, will still have access to the current generation fortwo petrol model, which is powered by a Renault sourced three cylinder engine.