Archive for the ‘Luxury Vehicles’ Category

NTSB: Model X Accelerating, Driver Took No Action in Crash

Report doesn't assign blame, just determines final moments.

by on Jun.08, 2018

A fatal March crash involving a Tesla Model S in Mountain View, California. Pic courtesy KTVU.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the crash of a Tesla Model X determined that seconds before the crash the vehicle was in Autopilot mode, accelerating and had no input from the driver to avoid the collision.

Walter Huang, 38, was killed on U.S. Hwy 101 in Mountain View, California, when his Model X slammed into a road divider, hit two other vehicles and then burst into flames, Huang, who according to his wife had complained previously about the failure of Autopilot in the same area before, was pulled from the vehicle before it caught on fire.

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Huang had the vehicle in its semi-autonomous Autopilot mode for nearly 19 minutes before the crash and it was set at 75 miles an hour. However, due to traffic in front of him, the vehicle was traveling at 65 mph before the vehicle in front of him moved, allowed the Model X to accelerate to the selected speed. (more…)

Volvo Hopes to Electrify Customers – and Investors

All-electric models now expected to generate half its sales by mid-2020s, with 1/3 self-driving.

by on Jun.08, 2018

The Volvo 40.2 Concept hints at what's coming with the marque's first all-electric vehicle.

Volvo took a lead in the push into electrification last year, announcing it would use some of battery-based drive system on all future products, whether mild, conventional or plug-in hybrids, or pure battery-electric. And, last January, it gave us a hint of what that first BEV would be with the debut of its 40.2 concept.

The production version will follow in 2019 and, if Volvo’s latest forecast is any indication, so will plenty of other all-electric models, as the Swedish automaker now says it wants them to generate half of its sales by mid-decade.

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The mid-term plan Volvo is laying out is nothing if not ambitious. It also predicts that half of the Chinese-owned automaker’s sales will come from self-driving vehicles, and that half of its volume will come through its Care by Volvo subscription service, rather than conventional sales and leasing. Oh, and add a goal of boosting volume – and profitability – to match other premium manufacturers.

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First Drive: 2019 Lexus ES 350

Bigger, faster, roomier — better.

by on Jun.07, 2018

The new Lexus ES is bigger, more powerful and has more tech than its predecessor.

Lexus has built its reputation on the quality, reliability and durability of its luxury cars and utility vehicles. But now, with the new vehicles such as the ES, Lexus is reaching out to match its German and Japanese competitors in styling and overall performance.

For one thing, the new 2019 ES 350 is impressive looking all the way around. The new exterior sheet metal is clean and gives the car a sportier and more up-to-date appearance that should wear well over the years. The front fascia on the new 2019 Lexus ES also more refined and just looks better than the previous generation and car just looks handsome when it is sitting at the curb or in motion.

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Each of the three variants of the ES – the standard, the new F-Sport and the hybrid – are separated by design details but overall the differences, to my eye, are relatively minor. (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Building 1 Billion Euro Plant in Hungary

Flexible plant comes despite Trump threats.

by on Jun.06, 2018

Mercedes-Benz Car officials kick off the groundbreaking for the company's new plant in Hungary.

Despite the Trump administration’s threats to impose steep tariffs on European-made vehicles and continuing pressure from the Peoples Republic of China to build vehicles locally in China, Daimler AG is investing 1 billion euros in a new factory in Hungary.

Mercedes-Benz Cars has broken ground for what it describes as a “full-flex-plant,” which can build multiples vehicles on one assembly line as market demand shifts, at a site next to an existing plant in Kecskemét, about 90 kilometers such of Budapest.

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The project is expected to create 2,500 jobs by the time it is complete in 2020. (more…)

Tesla CEO Musk Survives 1st Big Challenge as Chairman as Model 3 “Quite Likely” to Meet Target

Shanghai, European plants could be announced within weeks.

by on Jun.06, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk beat back challenges to his role, while 3 board members were voted back in.

Elon Musk stared down a group of dissident shareholders on Tuesday, surviving the first serious challenge to his dual role as chairman and CEO of the California automaker, while three of his hand-picked board members also fended off challenges.

Musk, who has developed an almost cult-like following among investors and electric vehicle fans alike, has faced an unusual degree of scrutiny in recent months as a result of mounting losses, struggles with production of the Model 3 sedan and a series of widely reported crashes involving Tesla vehicles. But despite some opposition, the company’s annual shareholders meeting was largely focused on promises about great things to come.

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Musk promised that after months of what the CEO has dubbed “production hell,” the pace is picking up at the Fremont assembly plant and that production will “quite likely” reach his 5,000 vehicle-a-week target by the end of June. Meanwhile, he and members of his senior management team outlined other developments to come, including the launch of additional production plants that could substantially boost global demand.

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First Look: 2019 BMW X5

A largely evolutionary update to BMW's flagship utility vehicle.

by on Jun.05, 2018

The new BMW X5 continues the impressive mix of capability and luxury of its predecessors.

Few products have meant more to BMW, especially over the last couple decades, than the X5. The original Sport Activity Vehicle was a groundbreaking entry into what was then the just-emerging luxury market for utility vehicles.

Today, high-line utes have come to dominate traditional luxury sedans, coupes and sports car, bringing a flood of new entries – such as the all-new Audi Q8. BMW itself now has a range of SAVs, from the little X1 up, but it’s the original model that defines the brand as much as the classic 7-Series. So, BMW designers and engineers faced some serious pressure when they set to work on the fourth-generation X5.

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“The BMW X5 embodies the origins of the BMW X family and, in its fourth generation, sends out its most powerful message yet in terms of presence and modernity,” said BMW Group Design Director Adrian van Hooydonk, in a statement accompanying these images of the new X5. “It defines a new X design language – robust, clear and precise.” (more…)

Audi Expanding Its SUV Line-up with New Q8

New sport-ute sets tone for brand's design language going forward.

by on Jun.05, 2018

Audi's new 2019 Q8 sport-utility is lower and wider than the Q7 giving it a more coupe-like feel.

Audi revealed a brand-new luxury SUV called the Q8 in the home of specialized bigger and better sport-utility vehicles: China.

The 2019 Audi Q8 bowed at the Audi Brand Summit in Shenzhen, China. The new ute aims to attract customers moving from passenger cars into bigger vehicles. The five-passenger Q8, which was originally a concept shown in Detroit in 2017, is lower and wider than the Q7 giving it a more car-like ride and feel.

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Unsurprisingly, the new Q8 is the new basis of the company’s exterior and interior styling language, Audi notes. On the exterior, the coupe-like feel of the ute is accentuated by the sloping roofline that ends in gently inclined D-pillars and the pronounced wheel arches pay homage to the vehicle’s quattro DNA.  (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Aiming for Off-Road Autonomy

Project Cortex “all-terrain, all- weather autonomous capability.”

by on Jun.04, 2018

Negotiating a rugged trail is difficult enough for humans, but JLR aims to make it possible for autonomous vehicles.

As a series of recent collisions has demonstrated, it’s not easy to develop cars capable of driving on their own on a regular roadway. Now, imagine the challenge that would be involved in programming an autonomous vehicle to operate off-road, as well.

But that’s precisely what Jaguar Land Rover is hoping to do with its new Project Cortex, the British automaker saying it will invest nearly $5 million to come up with vehicles that have all-terrain, all-weather autonomous capability.”

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“Self-driving is an inevitability for the automotive industry,” explained Chris Holmes, JLR’s director of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research. “It’s important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance customers expect from all Jaguars and Land Rovers.”

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Lexus Isn’t About to Give up on Cars

Commitment remains despite moves of other automakers.

by on Jun.04, 2018

Lexus, like its parent Toyota, remains committed to selling sedans as other automakers bail out of the segment.

Even though utility vehicles accounted for more than two thirds of Lexus’ sales in May, Toyota’s luxury vehicle unit, Lexus, isn’t about to give up on the passenger cars that built its reputation even as American car makers walk away from the sedan segments.

“The fact is there is and will continue to be a very important role for sedans,” said Cooper Ericksen, Lexus vice president of marketing, as he showed off the new, seventh generation Lexus ES during a press event in Nashville, Tennessee. “Half the buyers of SUVs also own a sedan,” he said.

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Sales in the “near luxury” segment, where the ES competes against the cars such as BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Acura TLX, totaled more than 400,000 units last year, which is a substantial market. In addition, like its competitors, Lexus sells the ES in dozens of markets around the world, making it easier to justify the cost of designing, engineering and developing a new model. (more…)

What’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Without Fiat and Chrysler?

Two namesake brands will survive – barely, for now.

by on Jun.04, 2018

The Chrysler Pacifica may soon go it solo as the brand continues to shrink.

It’s been nearly a decade since struggling European automaker Fiat combined with the post-Chapter 11 Chrysler, and if the 5-year plan unveiled during a day-long meeting in Milan last week comes close to being accurate, the carmaker could be in for a “brighter future” than ever, according to John Elkann, the chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the heir to the Italian side of the company’s founders.

There’s just one problem: neither the Fiat nor Chrysler brands seem poised to share in the spoils. The Fiat Capital Day briefing focused all but exclusively on just four brands – Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo and Maserati – expected to dominate FCA’s future. For now, Fiat and Chrysler will survive, but in greatly diminished form, and observers question whether they’ll be around for the long-term.

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“There was enough doubt…about their future because they barely showed up in the presentations,” said Joe Phillippi, chief analyst with AutoTrends Consulting, after attending the day-long session at Alfa’ proving grounds near Milan. Fca’s management team “took pains to say (Fiat and Chrysler will have a future, at least in the near-term. But it will be up to the next management team to determine whether they will remain in the portfolio for the long-term.”

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