Author Archive

Bye-Bye Beetle

Volkswagen unveils Beetle Final Edition, with "no immediate plans" for a replacement.

by on Sep.13, 2018

The last of the VW Beetles come in two "final edition" colors and styles, including convertible models.

The end is near – for the Volkswagen Beetle, that is, the automaker all but confirming rumors that 2019 will mark the last time the once wildly popular little car will roll off an assembly line.

Also known in various places as the Bug, and even the Kafer, it has had an incredible run, with only a brief stretch out of production, the Beetle has been a fixture on the road since 1938, when it was unveiled as part of Adolph Hitler’s plan to create a “people’s car,” or “volkswagen,” that was cheap and easy to produce. With nearly 22 million build since then, it is the longest-running model ever, though Toyota’s Corolla claims to beat it as the best-selling nameplate in automotive history.

Subscribe Now!

“The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America Inc. (more…)

Ford Promises to be More Transparent About Turnaround

But analysts still wonder what it’s planning.

by on Sep.13, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett hasn't been entirely transparent about his plans to revamp the company.

When Jim Hackett was named CEO of Ford Motor Co., following a senior management shake-up last year, he promised to spend the next 100 days studying the company’s strengths and weaknesses to devise a clear turnaround strategy.

A year later, however, analysts and investors are still wondering what’s in store. The company has announced a few key elements of its plan, starting with the announcement that it will all but abandon the passenger side of the U.S. new car market to focus on the more profitable SUVs, CUVs and pickups that have come to dominate the sales charts.

News Now!

Confusion about where Ford is heading with a turnaround plan it now values at $25.5 billion has translated into a sharp slump in its stock price, shares falling by more than a quarter this year, barely nudging the $10 mark all summer. Meanwhile, Ford’s debt rating has tumbled to just a bare step above junk status. (more…)

Lexus ES Becomes World’s 1st Car to Replace Sideview Mirrors with Cameras

But you’ll have to go to Japan to buy one for now.

by on Sep.13, 2018

The new Lexus ES will become the first car to offer cameras to replace side mirrors — in Japan.

If you’re driving in Japan in the coming months and catch a new 2019 Lexus ES rolling up from behind in your rearview mirror you might notice something odd: the sideview mirrors might seem oddly small.

That’s because the ES has become world’s first mass production automobile to offer optional sideview cameras, replacing standard mirrors. It’s a concept carmakers have been toying with for years and could become commonplace in the not-too-distant future, experts say, with Audi set to offer a similar feature on its first all-electric model, the e-tron.

Product News!

“The digital mirrors will make their debut on the new ES, which will go on sale in late October,” explained a news release from Toyota’s luxury brand. (more…)

Lexus Makes it Official: New UX Debuts as Millennial Focused Entry Crossover

“Creative Urban Explorer” to launch at $32,000,

by on Sep.12, 2018

Lexus is looking to court the first round of millennial buyers hard with the new UX crossover.

The Baby Boomers built Lexus into one of the powerhouse brands of the American luxury car market, but there comes a time to move on, it seems, and the high-line arm of Toyota Motor Corp. is shifting focus to millennials with the official debut of its new UX “Urban eXplorer.”

The smallest model in an expanding line-up of crossover-utility vehicles, the base, 2019 Lexus UX 200 will start at $32,000 when it rolls into U.S. showrooms in December, with the hybrid UX 250h tacking on another $2,000.

Product News!

“The Lexus UX is designed for the modern urban explorer seeking a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on luxury driving,” said Chika Kako, executive vice president of Lexus International and chief engineer of the UX. “We designed the UX to appeal to young buyers who seek not only what is new and exciting, but what is also relevant to their lifestyles.” (more…)

Racing Pioneer Don Panoz Dead at 83

Entrepreneur liked to "dream of the impossible."

by on Sep.12, 2018

Racing legend Don Panoz, here in front of many of his cars, died after a short illness

He made a considerable fortune helping millions of people stop smoking, though he never gave up the habit himself. Don Panoz then used that money to fuel another addiction: high-speed automobiles.

Not all his efforts were as successful as the transdermal patch, but he continued to venture into unusual territory with projects like the DeltaWing until the end of his life. Panoz passing away on Tuesday after a brief illness at the age of 83.

Subscribe Now!

Panoz was an unlikely force in the automotive world. A U.S. Army veteran, he started out as a pharmacist, operating two drug stores in Pittsburgh while studying at Duquesne University. In 1961, he and partner Milan Puskar formed what was to become Mylan Pharmaceuticals, the company developing a system for slowly releasing medications into the body through a transdermal patch. The device became best known as a way of delivering nicotine to smokers to help them quit smoking. (more…)

Vietnam’s First Car Company Intent on Breaking the Rules

Putting the "fast" in VinFast.

by on Sep.11, 2018

VinFast is Vietnam's first automaker and it breaking plenty of rules to get its first vehicle on the road.

Despite the monsoon-level rain, workers scramble through the mud and debris. They don’t have time to waste. Little more than a year ago, nearly half the 827-acre site was still under water, but before the end of the year, the first pilot cars are expected to start rolling off the assembly line rising on the edge of Haiphong Harbor.

Vietnam is about to get its first car company, and it’s called VinFast for a reason. The first retail-ready models are expected to reach showrooms by mid-2019, barely two years after the company was founded.

News You Can Trust!

“We’re doing in 24 months what most OEMs need up to 60 months to do,” said Jim DeLuca, the former General Motors executive who was lured out of what he describes as “a comfortable retirement” last year to serve as VinFast’s chief executive officer. (more…)

Woman Injured in Model S Autopilot Crash Sues Tesla

Owner blames Autopilot but was looking at cellphone when crash occurred.

by on Sep.10, 2018

The driver of the Tesla involved in this March crash in Utah suffered a broken foot and other injuries

A Utah woman who was injured in the crash of a Tesla Model S in May has filed a lawsuit against the automaker alleging negligence and claiming that the vehicle’s Autopilot system should have prevented the crash – even though she admitted to police that she was looking at her cellphone when the battery-sedan ran into the back of a fire truck.

Heather Lommatzsch broke her foot in a crash, which occurred about the same time as several other high-profile incidents involving Tesla vehicles using the automaker’s semi-autonomous Autopilot technology. That included one in California in which a motorist was killed when his vehicle hit the center barrier on a freeway and ultimately caught fire.

Beyond the Headlines!

The lawsuit comes at a particularly awkward time for Tesla, the automaker watching its share price plunge by nearly a third since shortly after CEO Elon Musk announced his interest in taking the company private. That project has since been abandoned and both Musk and Tesla now face an investigation by the SEC. Tesla also faces a number of lawsuits and Autopilot is under investigations by federal regulators following several of those recent crashes.

(more…)

Riding the Runway: New Kia Telluride Debuts at NY Fashion Week

Kia’s biggest-ever SUV teams up with designer superstar Brandon Maxwell.

by on Sep.10, 2018

Kia's new Telluride Concept is all but production ready -- minus the hat box.

It had all the accessories you might expect on a rugged new SUV, including brush guards, a snorkel for fording deep water and a ladder meant to make it easier to get up to the Kia Telluride’s big luggage racks. But there were also a few things you likely wouldn’t expect, including the leather-wrapped sideview mirrors and the transparent hatbox tied down on the roof rack.

It was all in keeping with the theme of the evening, the new Telluride sharing the stage with designer Brandon Maxwell’s launch of his fall clothing line during New York’s annual Fashion Week. Maxwell, a 33-year-old star in the garment industry, has developed close ties with Kia and may even lend his name to future special editions, he and Kia officials told TheDetroitBureau.com at the weekend event.

We're Always in Fashion!

Automakers have been looking for ways to stand out from the crowd, increasingly searching for alternatives to classic car show product debuts. Kia is just one of several automakers who were active during Fashion Week. The tie-up to Maxwell made sense considering the Texas native’s focus on his down-home roots in this year’s collection.

(more…)

Musk Lights Up – But Tesla Shareholders Are Turned Off

Increasingly erratic behavior raises concerns about Musk's leadership.

by on Sep.07, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk continues to court controversy, smoking a joint on comedian Joe Rogan's podcast.

Elon Musk has always generated plenty of buzz, but he may have taken it to new highs this week, sipping whiskey and lighting up a joint during an appearance on California comedian Joe Rogan’s widely followed podcast.

Unfortunately, Tesla shareholders seem to be having something of a bad trip, the 2-1/2 hour interview just the latest in what some see as increasingly erratic behavior by the carmaker’s chief executive. And investors aren’t alone.There has been an escalating exodus of talent from Tesla in recent months, including the July departure of its chief engineer.

News Now!

On Friday morning, two more top executives, including its human resources director and its chief accountant revealed they are joining an escalating exodus of top Tesla talent. (more…)

J.D. Power Targets Consumers with New Auto Website

Site will go beyond familiar quality and reliability awards.

by on Sep.07, 2018

JD Power is skipping the journalistic middleman and taking its information straight to the people.

It may be a familiar name to American new car buyers, but until now, J.D. Power and Associates has only reached out to consumers indirectly, largely by relying on traditional media outlets to summarize the results of familiar studies, such as the annual Initial Quality Survey.

Now, however, the California-based company wants to cut out the journalistic middleman, so to speak, by launching its own automotive website, JDPower.com. It will offer a much deeper dive than media coverage of those surveys alone can provide, giving readers access to what Power describes as “3 million verified owner experiences.”

Dig Deeper!

“J.D. Power is really a data company, and the data we’ve aggregated is truly amazing,” explained Troy Snyder, the vice president of the company’s new Consumer Division, which will publish the website. “The challenge was how to create a website and the tools that let consumers comb through that data as part of their shopping experience.” (more…)