Archive for the ‘SUVs’ Category

Toyota Investing $1 Billion into Canadian Facilities

Move will add 450 new jobs, automaker says.

by on May.08, 2018

Toyota is investing $1 billion into the plant in Canada that produces the company's top-selling RAV4.

Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to beef up its manufacturing footprint in Canada with a $1 billion investment its three assembly plants in Woodstock and Cambridge, Ontario, which are dedicated to building two of the Japanese automaker’s most popular vehicles in North America, the Toyota RAV4 and Lexus RX 350.

The investment will be used to retool the company’s Ontario operations to build vehicles using Toyota’s New Global Architecture, which will make dramatic improvements in the performance and competitiveness of the vehicle, as well as how it is engineered, Toyota officials said.

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It will also support the pursuit of future production for Ontario as well as research and development, and new automation technology in the paint and plastics shop. The investment represents a reversal of fortune for Canada’s auto industry, which has lost ground production in Mexico has steadily expanded. (more…)

Production Version of Kia Niro EV Breaks Cover

Timing of U.S. launch unclear.

by on May.04, 2018

The long-range version of the Kia Niro EV will get 236 miles out of a 64 kWh battery pack.

We got a first look at the concept version of Kia’s all-electric Niro model during the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. The Korean carmaker has now pulled the wraps off the production model during the Fifth International Electric Vehicle Expo in Seoul.

A quick glance suggests the version that will be rolling into showrooms is a bit more conservative than the CES show car, with relatively conventional lights and bumpers. Perhaps the biggest difference between the Niro EV and earlier versions of the crossover can be seen in the textured, albeit solid, grille – which actually bears more than a passing likeness to the snout on the all-electric Hyundai Kona that debuted at the New York International Auto Show barely a month ago.

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Kia is being sparse when it comes to offering details about the Niro EV, though it did indicate the battery-electric vehicle will be offered with a choice of two different batteries – at least in some markets – the more powerful, 64 kWh pack will provide enough energy to travel an estimated 236 miles between charges, the 39.2 kWh pack reducing range to around 149 miles.

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Musk Looks Beyond Model 3 Problems, But Creates Some Headaches in the Process

CEO talks future product, factories – but still sends stock plunging.

by on May.03, 2018

Forget those earnings numbers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was far more interested in talking about future products, the next-gen Roadster shown here.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is not one to suffer fools – or critics – lightly, as he proved during a 75-minute teleconference call following the release of the automaker’s first-quarter earnings report on Wednesday evening.

The South African-born executive attempted to put a positive spin on what was Tesla’s worst-ever quarterly deficit, promising future earnings while also revealing plans for new factories, new products and a new, fully hands-free version of the Autopilot system. But Musk also offered a harsh assessment of some of the reporters on the earnings call, while repeatedly cutting off analysts looking for long-term financial projections that he dismissed as “boring.”

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“These questions are so dry, they’re killing me,” he interjected before dismissing one analyst’s questions. Musk later shifted his disdain to reporters, at one point suggesting that by questioning the safety of Tesla’s current, semi-autonomous version of Autopilot, reporters might convince drivers to turn it off “and then die.”

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EPA Reportedly Wants 25% Cut in Fuel Economy

Revised Trump plan would freeze CAFE at 2020 level.

by on Apr.30, 2018

The EPA's mileage rollback is coming just as gas prices start to surge. Critics warn automakers of a backlash if the numbers reach previous highs.

The EPA and NHTSA are expected to propose cutting the current federal fuel economy mandate by nearly 25% while also revoking the State of California’s ability to set its own tougher standards.

Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has repeatedly signaled a desire to roll back the rules set under the Obama Administration that current target a fuel economy average of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Reports based on sources at the environmental agency indicate that would drop to 41.7 mpg, the figure that the phase-in of the Obama rules would have reached by 2020. There would be no further increase, under the proposal, until 2026.

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That has triggered an outcry from consumer and environmental groups, but an even more controversial piece of the EPA draft memo would forbid California from taking steps on its own to effectively neuter the rollback. Under current law the state can set tougher tailpipe rules than the EPA and other states can adopt California’s guideline, something that could effectively require automakers to stick with the current CAFE rules.

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Last Wrangler JK Rolls Off Line; Jeep Truck Starts in 2019

FCA readying Toledo plant to build the Jeep pickup.

by on Apr.27, 2018

Employees celebrate the last Jeep Wrangler JK rolling off the line in Toledo.

Another piece of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. transformation plan fell into place as the last Jeep Wrangler JK rolled off the assembly line in Toledo, Ohio.

The Wrangler JK had been in production for more than 12 years with more than 2.1 million vehicles built. The new version of the Wrangler is already in production in a newer and larger assembly plant nearby that up until last year was used to build the Jeep Liberty and Jeep Cherokee.

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The assembly line in the FCA US Toledo Supplier Park where the Wrangler was built will now be used for the all-new Jeep pickup truck, which will launch in the first half of 2019. Sergio Marchionne, FCA CEO, told analysts this week that production of the Jeep pickup will start by the end of 2018. (more…)

Jeep Grand Commander: Bigger is Better, at Least in Beijing

Three-row SUV borrows heavily from Grand Cherokee.

by on Apr.27, 2018

The new Jeep Grand Commander made its debut at the Beijing Motor Show.

We’ve been hearing rumors for as long as we can remember that Jeep will finally catch up to the competition by adding a third-row SUV to its growing line-up.

It’s finally happened – sort of – with the debut of the Jeep Grand Commander at this week’s Beijing Motor Show. The question is whether that seven-seater is what we can expect in the U.S. or if there is another model under development for the States that would revive the old Wagoneer nameplate.

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That could certainly hit a welcome target for Jeep considering the strong U.S. demand for three-row SUVs and crossover-utility vehicles. The Fiat Chrysler brand is one of the few key players in the ute market that doesn’t offer a three-row model these days. Even Lexus has gotten into the game with the recent unveiling of a stretched version of its long-popular RX model. (more…)

Earnings Down, GM Still Beats Q1 Forecast

Automaker plans “significantly lower investments” in passenger car models.

by on Apr.26, 2018

"We are on plan to deliver another strong year," says GM CEO Mary Barra.

General  Motors net earnings dipped 60% to $1.05 billion during the first quarter but still managed to beat Wall Street expectations thanks to strong demand for its North American light truck line-up.

The announcement by the nation’s largest automaker came less than a day after Ford Motor Co. also topped earnings forecasts by riding a wave of demand for pickups, SUVs and CUVs. Ford yesterday said it was going to all but abandon traditional passenger cars in North America and GM is also expected to trim its sedan line-up, though not nearly as drastically as its cross-town rival.

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“Results this quarter were in line with our expectations with planned, lower production in North America related to the transition to our all-new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra,” General Motors CEO Mary Barra said in a statement accompanying the earnings report. “We are on plan to deliver another strong year in 2018.”

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Lexus Betting Big on All-New ES

Gen-7 sedan expected to remain key model in luxury line-up.

by on Apr.25, 2018

The seventh-generation 2019 Lexus ES.

For those who haven’t been watching, the 2019 Lexus line-up won’t have much in common with the model mix of just five years ago. Where sedans once dominated the brand’s product portfolio, crossovers like the new UX and NX, as well as the long-popular RX, have overwhelmed traditional Lexus sedans such as the LS and GS.

So, it might come as a surprise to see the big deal Lexus is making over the launch of the all-new 2019 ES sedan, going so far as to stage simultaneous previews in both Los Angeles and the Beijing Motor Show.

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“We’re acutely aware there’s a robust SUV market in the U.S., and Lexus is playing a part in that,” said Cooper Ericksen, the brand’s U.S. marketing chief, said during the L.A. ES unveiling. “We understand the importance of SUVs, but we also understand the importance of great sedans.”

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Images of Mercedes-Maybach Ultra-Lux SUV Leak Ahead of Beijing Debut

“Vision Ultimate Luxury concept” set to make official debut on April 24.

by on Apr.23, 2018

The Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Concept is ready to make its mark in Beijing.

Just days ahead of its official debut at the Beijing Motor Show – and shortly after an official teaser video was released – we’ve gotten our hands on leaked images of the Mercedes-Maybach Vision Ultimate Luxury concept.

Unlike several recent Maybach prototypes, the show car set to debut in Beijing on April 24 appears to be giving us a good sense of what the ultra-premium brand eventually will bring to bring to market – a production SUV set to take on the likes of the Bentley Bentayga and the upcoming Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

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And reflecting the choice of venues Maybach has chosen – China is ramping up rules calling for more zero-emission vehicles, the Ultimate Luxury Concept uses an all-electric drivetrain delivering power through four individual electric motors developing a total of 738 horsepower which Maybach will suggest can punch the show car up to 155 mph. (more…)

Japanese Surge Reveals Broader Jump in Auto Imports

Rising numbers from Japan, Mexico, Korea, China challenge Trump 

by on Apr.20, 2018

Demand for the latest version of Nissan's Rogue has contributed to an increase in imports from Japan.

When Toyota and Mazda open a new assembly plant in Alabama in 2021, it will become the latest in a growing array of automotive plants Japanese manufacturers have set up in the U.S. since the mid-1980s – yet despite investing billions in their American operations, Japanese manufacturers have also been increasing exports to the U.S. from their home market factories.

The number of Japanese-made vehicles imported into the U.S. rose almost 10% during the first quarter of 2018. And Japan wasn’t alone.  Auto imports, as a whole have actually been on the rise, whether from Korea, Europe or Mexico, the latter country shipping about 7.5% more vehicles to the U.S. in March than the year before – despite Pres. Donald Trump’s high-profile push to bring more auto production back to the States.

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“Japan sends us million and millions of cars, and we tax them virtually not at all. And we don’t send so much product because we have trade barriers and lots of other things,” the president complained during a news conference this week while standing alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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