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First Drive: 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody

The love child of a Hellcat and a Demon.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Smokin'! The Challenger Hellcat Redeye's Line Lock lets you spin the rear tires before launch.

In barely the time it takes to say its full name, the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody will already be blasting past 60, on its way to a top speed of 203 mph.

Think of the Redeye as “the child that came out of the marriage of the Hellcat and Demon,” suggests Chris Cowland, the otherwise mild-mannered Brit who has overseen powertrain development for some of the fiercest muscle cars ever unleashed on public roadways.

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The new-for-2019 Redeye is the latest in the Dodge performance line-up, offering yet one more variant on the Challenger platform. While not the most powerful version ever – a distinction that belongs to the limited-edition, 2018 Demon – the Redeye has nothing to be ashamed about. As Cowland suggests, it is, indeed, what you’d expect from the lovechild of a Hellcat and Demon, as we found during a day’s driving through the Maine Countryside, wrapped up with lap time on the Club Motorsports track an hour outside Portland.

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Ford Treks into New Territory With New China-Built Ute

New SUV to help revive sales in China.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Ford's new entry-level sport-utility, the Territory, is the first of a wave of 50 new or redesigned products coming to China between now and 2025.

Ford Motor Co. has been perpetually behind when it comes to selling vehicles in China. Last year’s results were bad and with 2018 shaping up to be worse, the automaker is looking to move into new territory in 2019 with its new Territory SUV.

The entry-level ute is the first in a slew of new products the automaker expects will cut its double-digit monthly sales losses. In all, the company plans to introduce 50 new or redesigned vehicles in China between now and 2025.

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The SUV, which is expected to be start at just under $22K, is part of an extremely popular segment in China. It’s a segment in which Ford has been a nonfactor until now. (more…)

Light Trucks Dominating Honda’s Familiar Sedan, Coupe Lines This Year

Pilot shows the real momentum in brand’s line-up.

by on Aug.06, 2018

Strong momentum for the Pilot means Honda's trucks will likely outsell passenger cars, including the all-new Accord, this year.

Its traditionally been known for popular sedans and coupes like the Accord and Civic, but unless there’s a sudden shift in demand, Honda will end the year with its light truck line-up dominating its U.S. sales.

The automaker’s luxury arm, Acura, has largely been dependent on crossovers like the RDX and MDX for a number of years, but Honda had continued to buck the light truck trend – at least until this year. Through the end of July, Honda-branded utility vehicles, minivans and pickups rang up sales of 434,169 vehicles in the U.S., while familiar passenger car models managed only 406,357 sales.

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The shift in demand is leading Japan’s second-largest automaker to not only shift production at its North American assembly lines, but also look at its product mix. During the last several years, Honda has added the entry-level HR-V crossover to its line-up and brought back the Ridgeline pickup. Few observers would be surprised to see it follow the path of crosstown rivals Toyota and Honda and add even more light trucks to its portfolio in the years ahead. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Cadillac Escalade

Once an add-on to the line-up, the luxury ute is now the icon.

by on Aug.03, 2018

Once almost an afterthought in Cadillac's line-up, the Escalade is now the brand's centerpiece.

It seems the Escalade has been the heart and soul of Cadillac’s line-up of luxury vehicles forever.

No other car or sport-utility vehicle comes close, in the mind of the broad public anyway, to representing Cadillac’s nameplate in any kind of meaningful way.

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I suspect this has caused no end of consternation in General Motors headquarters over the years because the Escalade seems to have been an afterthought by GM product planners who were thinking along the lines of up-level Chevrolet Suburban with a bright Cadillac badge. (more…)

Automakers Caught “In Limbo” As New CAFE Rules Face Major Legal Hurdles

Anticipated court battle could delay changes for years.

by on Aug.03, 2018

Automakers are caught in the middle over the CAFE debate and could face even more challenges if the proposed Trump rollback drags on in court.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the Trump Administration’s plan to roll back the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, automakers are finding themselves in what one long-time industry analyst calls “limbo,” and it could be a year or more before they’ll actually be able to incorporate the CAFE update into their plans due to anticipated legal challenges.

As a result, it could be well into the upcoming decade before the White House revisions actually have any significant impact, according to numerous industry executives who spoke to TheDetroitBureau.com, if any changes ever actually occur.

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There is the very real possibility that the courts could rule against the proposed changes or that the legal battle drags on long enough for a new administration to come into office and revert back to the guidelines established under the Obama White House. As a result, automakers and suppliers face a major conundrum when it comes to planning for products set to come out through the middle of the coming decade.

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Toyota Motor Reports Increased Q1 Profits

Strong sales in U.S. and cost-cutting efforts pave way to profits.

by on Aug.03, 2018

Toyota's Masayoshi Shirayanagi noted that increased trade tensions and U.S. tariffs will eat into Toyota's bottom line.

Toyota Motor Corp. rode a wave of increased sales and decreased costs to a 7.2% increase in net income in its fiscal first quarter of 2018. Revenues also increased 4.5% during the quarter.

The company also announced it was ending its partnership with Isuzu Motor Ltd. The companies built diesel engines, but with oil burners falling out of favor, replaced by EVs and potentially fuel cells down the road, the two sides will split.

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Toyota owns a 5.89% stake in Isuzu. (more…)

19 States, DC Launch Legal Move to Block CAFE Cuts

“We are prepared to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”

by on Aug.02, 2018

Massachusetts Attorney-General Maura Healey is taking the lead in opposing the CAFE cuts.

It didn’t take long for the backlash to begin as critics took aim at the White House effort to roll back the federal mileage mandate, 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, announcing plans to sue the Trump Administration.

The plan revealed Thursday would freeze the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard at 37 miles per gallon, the target automakers had been expected to achieve by 2020, on the way to an official target of 54.5 mpg by 2025 – though the original, real-world number would be in the low to mid-40 range. The administration said the move would not only save new vehicle buyers an average of $2,340 but also save 1,000 lives annually. Critics, however, contend the move will increase demand for imported oil, boost household energy costs and worsen global warming.

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“We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan,” the coalition of states attorneys-general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, said in a news release.

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Tesla Q2 Losses Double, But Profits Promised in Q3

Investors happy to see capex spend drop, stock jumps nearly 5%.

by on Aug.01, 2018

Tesla CEO delivered enough positives in the second quarter to excite investors. The company's stock rose 5% in after hours trading.

Tesla Inc.’s mad dash efforts to meet its ever-shifting production quotas didn’t result in a narrowing of financial losses for Q2, not that CEO Elon Musk implied that. However, the end result was a doubling of losses on a year-over-year basis.

In the second quarter of 2018, Tesla’s automotive business saw revenue rise to $3.1 billion compared with $2 billion for the same period last year; however, losses jumped to $717.5 million, or $4.22 a share, from $336.4 million, or $2.04 a share.

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However, the letter produced to explain the quarterly results suggests that only good times are on the horizon despite the company missing analyst expectations for losses this quarter. Ultimately, shareholders were pleased with the results as the stock jumped nearly 5% after hours on the news.  (more…)

Automakers Watch July Sales Get Hammered

Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen buck the trend, post positive results.

by on Aug.01, 2018

Jeep sales were up 15% in July, helping Fiat Chrysler to a sales increase for the month.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. and Volkswagen of America posted solid sales increases during July, but the rest of industry was feeling the downward pressure of slowing sales in the face of major headwinds such as rising interest rates.

FCA reported July 2018 sales increased 6% when compared to sales of the previous year. Jeep brand July sales rose 15% while Ram brand had its best July ever as sales increased 2%, the company reported.

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Volkswagen of America Inc. reported an increase of 12.7% over July 2017. With 203,418 units delivered year-to-date in 2018, the company is reporting an 8% increase in year-over-year sales. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

The hills are alive with the sound of…a 715 hp V-12.

by on Aug.01, 2018

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera becomes the 3rd in what will become a 7-model line-up.

We’re not quite at the top of the world, but from our perch high up in the quaint Bavarian mountain town of Berchtesgaden, one can see nearly forever. But it’s the guttural roar echoing off the steep and rocky Alpine cliffs that has caught our attention. Faint, at first, it grows ever louder, until the sleek GT coupe pops into view, racing through the mountain pass towards our hotel. The good news is that the driver will soon be handing us the keys to the 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, the car we’ve crossed an ocean to drive.

Low, wide and finished in what Aston dubs “satin xenon” paint, the Superleggera has an imposing presence. Not surprisingly, it bears a strong resemblance to the DB11 that came to market barely a year ago, as well as the more aggressive Aston Vantage that followed. Indeed, all three share their underlying platform, albeit with some notable revisions to DBS to handle its incredible power. It is, in fact, the third in what the British automaker promises will be a series of seven distinct models and, for at least the moment, replaces the familiar Vanquish nameplate – though there are hints that badge may yet return.

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The DBS Superleggera also shares the same 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 found in the DB11, albeit with some notable revisions, including significantly more boost, meant to punch it up to a spectacular 715 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. With its heavy emphasis on lightweight carbon fiber, the 2+2 weighs in at around 3,725 pounds. Do the math and you’re talking about a foreboding power-to-weight ratio that allows for 0 to 60 launches in a mere 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 211 mph. It also gives Aston bragging rights when compared to a Ferrari 812 Superfast, which has about 147 lb-ft less torque.

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