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BMW Reversing Course With Future EVs

Automaker abandoning unique platforms to offer electric options on all models.

by on Mar.22, 2018

The BMW i4, due to market around 2020, will offer a battery range of more than 400 miles.

BMW made headlines when it launched the industry’s first unique electrified vehicle sub-brand with the debut of its i3 and 15 models five years ago and its getting ready to expand the line-up with several new offerings, including a production version of the coupe-like i4 sedan that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show last autumn.

Set to reach showrooms by 2020, BMW CEO Harald Kruger said the i4 will offer a range of up to 435 miles per charge, nearly a third better than the industry’s current long-range champ, the Tesla Model S P100D – and more than triple what the all-electric i3 model today delivers. But the debut of the i4 will also mark another critical milestone for BMW’s push into electrification.

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On Wednesday, as reports in a separate story, BMW announced a major increase in spending on both electrified and autonomous vehicle programs. The i4 will be one of 25 electrified models by 2025, 12 of them pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs. According to an earlier statement by Kruger, “all fully-electric BMWs will belong to BMW i,” but, that said, there will be some major changes to that electric brand going forward. Most importantly, future products, like the i4, will no longer be based on unique, standalone platforms like those use for the i3 and 15 models.


New Senior Personnel Departures at Ford Comes at Awkward Time

Key players in smart mobility push leave company even as Ford ramps up autonomous, electrification programs.

by on Mar.22, 2018

Musa Tariq, Ford's chief brand officer was hired away from Apple just 14 months ago.

Ford Motor Co. has been hit with another round of senior level departures, a development that not only continues the turmoil touched off by the ouster of CEO CEO Mark Fields last May but threatens to shake up the carmaker’s push into advanced mobility services.

Musa Tariq, the chief brand officer Ford lured away from Apple just 14 months ago, will be leaving the company, Ford has confirmed. And he’s not alone. Raj Rao, the CEO of Ford Smart Mobility, will also depart the automaker on May 1st.

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“Musa is a proven leader of brand transformation, having led similar work at some of the world’s most admired brands before coming to Ford, and he is a leader known for creativity and social media expertise,” said Ford CEO Jim Hackett. “Over the last year, he has been helping to drive the same transformation at Ford.”


Study Finds Strong Support for Keeping Mileage Rules Among Key Auto Suppliers

EPA expected to announce CAFE revisions by April 1.

by on Mar.22, 2018

The auto industry is waiting anxiously to see if and how the Trump Administration rewrites the current Corporate Average Fuel Economy mandate.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce revisions to federal mileage rules by April 1, but while a number of automakers are hoping to see a sharp cutback in the standards a new study finds key automotive suppliers hoping the Trump Administration will let the rules stand as they are, ramping up to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

After completing a mandated mid-term review just before leaving office, the Obama Administration decided to maintain that target. But soon after President Donald Trump entered the White House, his EPA chief Scott Pruitt said he would revisit the Corporate Average Fuel Economy mandate, appearing to side with auto industry critics who complained CAFE was set to price many buyers out of the new car market.


The debate has led to an unusual split between automakers like Ford and General Motors, who want to roll back the rules, and a number of auto suppliers who support the 54.5 mpg target, according to several reports, including a new study by CALSTART, a California-based consortium aimed at developing clean transportation technologies.


First Look: Cadillac’s First Unique New Engine in 35 Years

Hand-built, hand-signed.

by on Mar.21, 2018

Cadillac's first all-new engine in 35 years is this 4.2-liter, twin turbo V8 putting out 550 horsepower for the all-new CT6 V-Sport.

When it relocated its headquarters to New York a few years back, Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen promised the move would help the luxury brand gain some much-needed distance from the rest of the General Motors line-up. One welcome indication that we can take him at his word will make its debut in the Big Apple next week.

While much has been said about the upcoming Caddy XT4 crossover, the New York International Auto Show will also bring the debut of the CT6 V-Sport. More significantly, that high-performance sedan will bring with it the launch of the first unique-to-Cadillac engine since the marque introduced the Northstar V-8 for the old Allante roadster 35 years ago.

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“Designing an all-new engine was the best way to achieve the performance goals for the CT6 V-Sport,” said Jordan Lee, 4.2L TT V-8 chief engineer. “It builds on Cadillac’s well-established turbocharging know-how and forges new ground with innovative features that deliver exceptional performance and refinement.” (more…)

Cadillac’s New CT6 V-Sport to Debut Its 1st-Ever Twin-Turbo V-8

Following the Northstar for improved performance.

by on Mar.21, 2018

The 2019 Cadillac CT6 V-Sport is set to make its debut at the New York International Auto Show next week.

We’ll be hearing and seeing a lot from Cadillac in the months ahead as it launches the CT4, the first in a wave of new sport-utility vehicles it hopes will help it gain some new momentum in a crossover-crazy market. But, that said, Caddy is by no means walking away from the passenger car side of its line-up.

Word has it parent General Motors may give the greenlight to a production version of the stunning Escala concept of a few years back. More immediately, we’ll get a first look during the upcoming New York International Auto Show at a high-performance version of the flagship CT6 sedan. And the new CT6 V-Sport will introduce Caddy’s first-ever Twin-Turbo V-8. It will be the first completely unique engine developed for Cadillac since the Northstar V-8 debuted more than three decades ago.

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“Cadillac V-Sport is the embodiment of our passion to deliver an exhilarating driving experience without compromises,” Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen said, ahead of the NYIAS debut. “The all-new CT6 V-Sport provides the perfect balance of performance and luxurious refinement.” (more…)

Back From the Dead: Chrysler Finds New Use for Old Viper Plant

Maker auctioning Viper memorabilia for charity.

by on Mar.21, 2018

The last Viper - and the original Viper Concept - will join 400 other classics kept at the newly renamed Conner Center.

The Dodge Viper may have been relegated to the automotive scrapheap but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has found a new use for the old factory on Detroit’s Northeast side that spent a quarter-century building the high-powered sports car.

The Conner Assembly Plant, which was idled last year when production of the Viper was halted, is in the midst of being converted into a combination corporate meeting center and car museum, FCA officials revealed Wednesday. At a media gathering at the 77,000 square-foot plant, meanwhile, they also announced that nearly 2,000 items of Viper memorabilia – ranging from signed hoods to kiddy cars – will be auctioned off, the money to go to a regional charity.

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“This is a way to get this memorabilia into the hands of people who will appreciate it … while giving back to the community,” said Mike Tonietto, the last manager of the Conner plant and now a director of manufacturing for FCA. (more…)

Toyota Will “Pause” Testing of Autonomous Vehicles on Public Roads

Hyundai adding “caution” to its program; Boston mayor wants autonomous tests halted in city.

by on Mar.20, 2018

In light to Uber's autonomous vehicle killing a pedestrian, other companies are revisiting their testing plans and procedures.

Reaction has been quick in the wake of a fatal Phoenix crash involving a prototype autonomous vehicle operated by ride-sharing service Uber, at least one major automaker saying it will temporarily “pause” testing of its own self-driving vehicles on public roads.

Though police in the suburb of Tempe say preliminary evidence indicates the Uber-modified Volvo SUV was not at fault in the death of a pedestrian Sunday night, the incident has raised flags that could slow the race to put self-driving technology on the road.

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While Toyota issued a statement noting that it “cannot speculate on the cause of the incident or what it may mean to the automated driving industry going forward,” the automaker added in a statement that, “Because we feel the incident may have an emotional effect on our test drivers, we have decided to temporarily pause our Chauffeur mode testing on public roads.” (more…)

2019 Fusion to Be Ford’s “Most Technologically Sophisticated Sedan Ever”

But is the Fusion nameplate going to be around much longer?

by on Mar.20, 2018

The 2019 Ford Fusion Energi will boost its EV-mode range from 21 to 25 miles.

There’s been plenty of speculation in recent months about the long-term fate of the Ford Fusion but, at least for now, it will remain an anchor of the automaker’s sedan line-up and get some major new technologies for 2019.

The emphasis will be on safety, the 2019 Fusion introducing Ford’s new Co-Pilot360 driver assistance suite, company officials revealed during a background session ahead of the midsize model’s official debut at the New York International Auto Show next week. They also confirmed a big increase in EV-mode range for the plug-in hybrid version of the Fusion.

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“The 2019 Fusion will be the most technologically advanced Ford sedan ever,” said Corey Holter, Ford’s Car Group Marketing Manager, during a media briefing in Detroit on Tuesday.


Ford Negotiating Deal to Revive Long-Time Symbol of Detroit Decay

Automaker reportedly looking to purchase long-abandoned Michigan Central train station.

by on Mar.20, 2018

The 18-story Michigan Central Station was once the world's tallest railroad depot.

Ford Motor Co. is negotiating the purchase of the old Michigan Central train station a mile from the city’s downtown, according to numerous sources.

The 500,000 square-foot tower, once the world’s tallest railroad depot, has served as a symbol of the Motor City’s decay since closing three decades ago. But if the deal comes together, insiders suggest, it could serve as a sign that Detroit’s nascent renaissance is truly taking hold.

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It would also bring Ford back in a big way to the city where it was born. The automaker was incorporated along the Detroit riverfront and founder Henry Ford’s earliest factories were just miles away from the Michigan Central Station. But for most of the last century, Ford has centered its operations in Dearborn, a suburb to the west of Detroit that largely escaped the economic collapse of Motown.


VW Charged Up About EV Racer Heading to Pikes Peak

“It’s about time we settled the score.”

by on Mar.19, 2018

VW hopes to leave the competition in the dust when it takes the I.D. R up Pikes Peak.

Volkswagen has put in an order for a whopping $25 billion worth of lithium-ion batteries and related technology, as we reported last week. A small share of that will be going into its new electric motorsports program which is charged up and ready to challenge Pikes Peak a few months from now.

These pics preview the new I.D. R electric race car that VW plans to use as its first entry into the grueling Pikes Peak International Hill Climb since 1987. I.D. is the new sub-brand the German automaker will begin rolling out late in the decade, with a total of 20 full-electric models due out by 2025, so it’s no surprise the hill climb car will share that badge.

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“We want to be at the forefront of electro-mobility with Volkswagen and the I.D. family,” said Frank Welsch, the Volkswagen board member overseeing its electrification efforts. “Competing in the most famous hill climb in the world with the I.D. R Pikes Peak is a valuable test for the general development of electric cars.”


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