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Walking a Tightrope: Ford Trying to Please All with New Mustang Variants

The original pony car continues to draw new fans.

by on Apr.18, 2018

The Ford Mustang is celebrating 54 years, and the current best-selling sports car in the world intends to remain so.

(This story has been updated with new information.)

You can’t stand still in the muscle car market. What’s hot today could be all but forgotten tomorrow. That’s something Ford Motor Co. learned when rival General Motors brought back the Chevrolet Camaro in 2010, delivering a sucker punch to the long-dominant Ford Mustang.

Since launching an all-new version of the Mustang to mark the nameplate’s 50th anniversary four years ago, Ford has retaken its crown as king of the pony car hill. It has now been the world’s best-selling sports car for three years in a row.

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And Ford is determined to maintain that lead with a series of Mustang variants set to come to market during the next 18 months. That includes not only the latest version of the GT500 but a first-ever Mustang hybrid. (more…)

Geely’s Li Shufu Says Partnerships Key to Auto Success

Team up or get swallowed up.

by on Apr.17, 2018

Geely Chairman Li Khufu purchased 9.7% of Daimler AG for $9.2 billion.

Geely owner Li Shufu urged Daimler AG, in which he recently became one of the largest shareholders, to consider further strategic partnerships.

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Li Shufu, who is also the owner of Volvo, recently became a major shareholder of Daimler after acquiring a 9.69 % stake in the Stuttgart-based company. (more…)

Mustang: World’s Best-Selling Sports Car for Third Year in a Row

Exports to Asia and Europe pushing pony car to the top.

by on Apr.17, 2018

The Ford Mustang is the world's best-selling sports car three years running.

When the Ford Mustang turned 50, the automaker decided it was time to see just how popular the pony car was, and it began selling one of America’s first muscle cars globally.

Turned out to be a fine idea.

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Now that the Mustang is about to turn the big Five-Four, it is also celebrating its third consecutive year as the best-selling sports car in the world, according to IHS Markit. Global Mustang registrations in 2017 totaled 125,809 cars, according to Ford. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

No, VW hasn't gone all-SUV, at least not yet.

by on Apr.13, 2018

The R-Line version of the 2019 VW Jetta.

Volkswagen officials have been talking a lot about SUVs, such as the new Atlas, these days. And when they change the subject, they’re as likely as not to focus on battery-electric vehicles like the upcoming I.D. Buzz microbus.

That might seem worrisome for fans of traditional VW sedans and hatchbacks. The good news is that the people’s car brand isn’t abandoning its traditional line-up. True, you won’t be able to get a diesel in the U.S. anymore, but there are some solid alternatives under the hood of offerings like the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta that we had a chance to spend some time with in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina earlier this month.

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“It’s one of our most important products in the U.S.,” said Jan Dickmann, head of the compact car line, before we headed off into a Carolina countryside just starting to burst with spring color. Worldwide, VW has sold 17 million Jettas, including 3 million in the U.S. alone. So, while the automaker might be gaining traction with products like the Atlas and smaller Tiguan, it has a lot riding on the success of the seventh-generation Jetta sedan. (more…)

Daimler Remains Committed to Diesel Engine Use

Shareholders express concerns about continued investment.

by on Apr.05, 2018

Daimler AG's Dieter Zetsche attempted to assuage concerns of investors about the future of diesel engines.

Daimler AG management insists the diesel engine has bright future, but the company’s shareholders are growing more skeptical and are raising questions about whether they should remain part of the company’s product portfolio in the face of stringent, new emission standards.

Shareholders, mainly representatives of investment funds holding shares of Daimler AG, raised questions about whether, in the aftermath of the scandal around the cheating on the emissions tests used by Volkswagen, it was wise for Daimler and Mercedes-Benz to continue investing in diesel technology.

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The question, coming during a meeting in Germany from German shareholders, indicate how the fallout from the “Dieselgate” scandal continues to impact a technology that up until VW’s troubles emerged in 2015 was the pride of the German auto industry. (more…)

Daimler’s Zetsche Talks About Future With New Investor

Geely's Li Khufu is Daimler's largest investor, which may foster new deals.

by on Apr.05, 2018

Daimler AG's Dieter Zetsche discusses the company's future during its annual shareholders meeting.

Daimler AG continues to enjoy record success even as it spends heavily on new investments to prepare the company to meet future challenges in an auto industry that is changing quickly and dramatically even as it adjusts to new shareholders.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche also moved quickly at the beginning of the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Berlin to head off questions about the investment of Li Shufu, the Chinese entrepreneur who recently acquired approximately 10% of Daimler’s shares.

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“I’d like to start by saying our talks with Li Shufu have been very positive,” Zetsche said. “He wants to have a long-term investment with Daimler and he supports our successful strategy,” said Zetsche, adding that future collaboration with Li Shufu’s automotive empire, which includes Geely, the Chinese company he founded, and Volvo, is a possibility. (more…)

GM to Stop Reporting Monthly Sales Numbers

“Not enough time to separate” trends from fluctuations.

by on Apr.03, 2018

Car sales can see big short-term fluctuations that don't really reveal long-term trends, GM says.

General Motors will stop reporting monthly sales numbers in the U.S., China and Brazil, three of its largest markets, the automaker announced Tuesday, saying that it does not believe the numbers provide an accurate snapshot of what is happening in the automotive market.

The largest Detroit-based automaker will continue to provide monthly data to industry associations and government agencies, as well as the U.S. Federal Reserve, but will ask that the data not be released to the public or media. The move could trigger other manufacturers to follow suit, though analysts and investors could also seek other sources for the information.

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“Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president for sales operations said in a statement.

(more…)

Volvo XC60 Lands Honors as World Car of the Year

Six World Car Awards help open 2018 NY Auto Show.

by on Mar.28, 2018

Volvo's Anders Gustafsson accepts the trophy for the World Car of the Year for the XC60.

Volvo racked up another award for its expanding line-up of SUVs as the 2018 New York International Auto Show opened up its annual media preview.

Already honored as North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, the Volvo XC60 expanded its reach by nabbing the title “World Car of the Year,” the most prestigious of six trophies handed out by a jury of 82 automotive journalists from around the world.

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The choice of the Volvo was significant on several levels, as was the fact that “all three of the finalists are SUVs,” noted World Car Chairman Peter Lyon. “That’s definitely a sign of the times.” (more…)

Porsche Adds to 911 GT3 Family With Less

New Weissach Package offering cuts weight with carbon fiber.

by on Mar.28, 2018

Porsche introduced its new lighter 911 GT3 RS with the Weissach Package with a 0-to-60 time of under 3 seconds. Photo credit: AutoBlog.com

Perhaps no automaker better takes an iconic vehicle and tweaks it everso slightly to the squealing delight of a dedicated fan base than Porsche and its 911. For 2019, Porsche is adding the Weissach Package to the 911 GT3 RS model.

Based on the 911 GT3 RS just unveiled in Geneva, the optional Weissach Package is available for the first time on a 911 GT3 RS model and complements the most powerful naturally aspirated road-going 911 ever with additional lightweight components, Porsche notes.

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Naturally, there’s a price for such subtle visual changes: $18,000 for the Weissach Package, which helps the 4.0-liter 520 horsepower flat six push the car from 0-to-60 mph in less than three seconds. (more…)

Mercedes-AMG Muscling Up the C-Class Line-UP

NYIAS brings debut of C63 versions of coupe, cabrio and sedan.

by on Mar.27, 2018

The new Mercedes C63 S Coupe comes with two V-8 engine options, one of which propels the two-door from 0-to-60 mph in 3.8 seconds.

There was a time when Mercedes’ AMG models were as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth. These days, however, it’s rare to find a model line that doesn’t get the AMG treatment.

So, it’s likely going to surprise few to see the three new AMG models headlining the German automaker’s big display at this year’s New York International Auto Show. Mercedes-AMG is giving its special touch, this time around, to three C-Class models: the C63 sedan, coupe and Cabriolet.

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“The AMG C-Class is our best-selling model series and therefore a key cornerstone of our company’s success in recent years,” explains AMG CEO Tobias Moers. With the launch of the C63 versions, he adds, there are now a full dozen different C-Class variants in the Mercedes line-up. (more…)

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