Author Archive

EVs Aren’t Ready to “Take Over the World,” Says Toyota’s Lentz

North American CEO warns “It’s going to be a battle” are models flood market but sales lag.

by on Jan.16, 2019

Toyota's Jim Lentz believes the auto industry is putting too much stock – and money – into electric vehicles.

By various estimates, there should be as many as 100 all-electric vehicles on the market by the end of 2020, with scores more plug-ins and conventional hybrids already available. And that could pose a major challenge for automakers who are investing billions into the market to build battery-based vehicles. That includes Toyota which is investing about $1 billion to open up a new plant in U.S. in a partnership with Mazda that will, among other products, produce a new line-up of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

The question is whether all that money could be going down a rathole. For the moment, at least, Tesla appears to be the only automaker making any money on battery vehicles, as a number of industry leaders pointed out during a series of events in Detroit this week.

News Now!

That included Jim Lentz, the CEO of Toyota North America, who warned that, “It’s going to be a battle,” as manufacturers struggle to grab customers in a market where “There’s not much growth.” (more…)

BMW Updates Flagship 7 Series

In an SUV era does it matter?

by on Jan.16, 2019

BMW's new flagship model, the 7 Series, is ready to hit the road, borrowing some styling cues from the X7.

In an era of exotic SUVs like the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, do sedans really matter anymore? Can a conventional four-door model still be considered a “flagship?”

That’s a question BMW is trying to answer with the launch of the updated, 2020 7 Series. But it’s takes just one look to recognize which side of the product line-up is influencing the other. With the all-new X7 set to roll into showrooms in short order, it looks like the SUV is setting the tone for the sedan.

Product News!

Just one glance at the image shown here and you’ll see what that means. As a midcycle update, there’s a limit to what the Bavarian marque can achieve, since it won’t be able to change the underlying platform for a few years. Nonetheless, you can’t miss the massive new version of the traditional BMW double-kidney grille that looks like it was lifted whole from the new X7. (more…)

Make Room in Your Garage for the Octocopter

Ohio start-up wants to have this 2-person drone in the air by mid-2020.

by on Jan.16, 2019

The SureFly Octocopter is expected to cost $200,000 and could be airborne by 2020.

With highway congestion getting worse and worse in most major cities, there’s plenty of talk about flying cars and cabs that could leapfrog traffic, and a small Ohio start-up is determined to be the first one to take to the air.

More than 90 years after Henry Ford gave up on his Flying Flivver project, Columbus-based Workhorse Group is seeking FAA approval for its SureFly Octocopter, something that could come as early as mid-2020. The company is already taking orders for what is essentially a flying drone.

Winging It!

In fact, the Octocopter on display this week at the North American International Auto Show looks a lot like the popular drones marketed by DJI and could have just as many uses, Workhorse CEO Steve Burns saying his company is already talking with farmers, firefighters and the military – never mind individual customers who like the idea of having something so easy to fly.

(more…)

New President, New Strategy for Infiniti

Luxury brand wants to downsize its ambitions.

by on Jan.15, 2019

Infiniti's new boss, Christian Meunier, plans to streamline the luxury brand's product portfolio.

Nissan’s luxury division Infiniti has a new president. And Christian Meunier has a new strategy for the brand, one that downsizes the marque’s line-up but which he is confident will also make Infiniti more nimble and responsive to changing consumer trends.

The automaker offered a hint of where it is going during a news conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday – or at least it tried to. But the QX Inspiration Concept vehicle didn’t want to cooperate, refusing to budge from its hiding spot behind the stage. It was eventually towed out almost two hours after the event ended.

Business News!

Glitches aside, the electric concept vehicle is meant to showcase a variety of trends Infiniti is looking at, including autonomous and electrified technologies, as well as the shift from conventional sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs. While the timing for Infiniti’s first self-driving vehicle to reach market is uncertain, it intends to “electrify” all of its models by 2021, whether using pure battery-electric power or as plug-in hybrids. (more…)

Ford, VW Announce 1st in Promised Series of Joint Ventures

Carmakers will focus first on midsize pickups, light commercial vehicles.

by on Jan.15, 2019

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and VW AG CEO Herbert Diess downplayed the immediate impact their new deal.

Confirming months of rumors, Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen announced Tuesday that they will launch the first of what they suggested will be a series of joint ventures, focusing initially on midsize pickups and light commercial vehicles.

Moving forward, they anticipate adding projects that will pair their costly efforts on electrified and autonomous vehicles, while Herbert Diess, the CEO of VW, said during a joint teleconference that the new partners could work together on “other” products in the future.

Breaking News!

Alliances are becoming more commonplace in an industry where changing consumer tastes and emerging technologies are stretching thin the budgets of even the most well-funded manufacturers, said Diess, who added that, “In such an environment, it just makes sense to share investments, pool innovation capabilities and create scale effects that are clearly defined.” (more…)

Exclusive: Ford-VW Deal Kicking Off With Commercial Vehicle JV, VW CEO Diess Reveals

“We are looking at other things,” VW’s Diess tells TheDetroitBureau.com.

by on Jan.14, 2019

Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett, left, and Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess talk on the floor of the Detroit Auto Show today.

Ford and Volkswagen will formally announce on Tuesday the first of what is expected to become a broad range of joint ventures and other partnerships, the head of the German automaker told TheDetroitBureau.com during an impromptu interview at the North American International Auto Show.

The tie-up will begin with a partnership involving commercial vehicles that should help VW expand its marginal presence in the pickup segment, with Ford gaining access to product in other commercial sectors. But there are other projects that have been approved by both companies’ boards that will be revealed on Tuesday, said Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess.

Breaking News!

Not everything will be announced this week, Diess said, confirming that the relationship is a work in progress. He noted that beyond what either has already been set in motion, “We are looking at other things.” (more…)

Hyundai Powers Up With New Elantra GT N Line

Targeting the tuner crowd with sporty looks and performance and “compelling price points.”

by on Jan.14, 2019

The 2020 Hyundai Elantra GT N Line gives the South Korean brand another entry into the hot hatch segment.

Hyundai continues evolving away from its roots as a basic econobox brand, and the Elantra GT N Line coming to the North American International Auto Show suggests the Korean carmaker will be delivering a lot more sporty products going forward.

The GT becomes the first American offering to carry Hyundai’s new N Line badge – but it clearly won’t be the last. Globally, we’ve already seen several more models added to the performance sub-brand, Veloster N, i30 N and i30 Fastback N, with more expected to follow.

Subscribe Now!

“Hyundai N models satisfy the needs of performance-oriented enthusiasts with exclusive, custom-tuned powertrain and chassis applications,” said Thomas Schemera, executive vice president of Hyundai Motor Group’s Product Planning & Strategy Division.” “N Line is designed for those buyers craving N’s sporty styling cues coupled with performance-tuned suspension upgrades, all at compelling price points.” (more…)

Infiniti Charges into Detroit With QX Inspiration Battery-Car Concept

This could be “a direct blueprint” for the first pure-electric Infiniti.

by on Jan.14, 2019

Infiniti revealed the all-electric QX Inspiration concept at the 2019 NAIAS on Jan. 14.

It’s been nearly a decade since Infiniti first promised to bring a battery-electric vehicle into its line-up, the automaker quickly deciding not to go with a gussied-up version of the decidedly down-market Leaf sold by parent brand Nissan.

With Infiniti now trying to plug back in and promising that it will electrify virtually everything in its line-up by 2021, you can expect to get a good idea of what’s coming with the QX Inspiration Concept making its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

News You Can Trust!

“The Infiniti QX Inspiration marks the beginning of a new generation of Infiniti cars and establishes a direct blueprint for the brand’s first electric vehicle,” said Christian Meunier, the luxury brand’s new president and chairman. “Based on a new, dedicated electric vehicle architecture and inspired by Infiniti’s Japanese DNA, the SUV concept previews a product portfolio which will offer high performance, ultra-low emissions and range confidence.” (more…)

Koreans Pull Double Win in North American Car, Truck, Utility of the Year Awards

Ram overwhelms its truck competition as Genesis, Hyundai score in truck, car categories.

by on Jan.14, 2019

William Lee, CEO of Hyundai’s North American operations, celebrates the South Korean brand's win for North American Utility of the Year.

In a rare double victory, the Koreans managed to nab two of the three awards as the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year Awards were announced Monday morning.

“These are like the Oscars,” declared Erwin Raphael, the president of the Genesis brand which took home the trophy for Car of the Year with its new G70 sedan, a BMW 3-Series fighter and only the third model the luxury brand has introduced since it was spun off from parent Hyundai mid-decade.

News Now!

Hyundai itself claimed honors in the widely followed Utility Vehicle of the Year. Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Ram brand, meanwhile, wrapped up the morning event by claiming honors for Truck of the Year for its new, full-size Ram 1500 pickup. (more…)

Kia Goes 3-Row With New Telluride SUV

Korean carmaker reveals its biggest model ever.

by on Jan.14, 2019

Kia is playing catch up when it comes to its sport-utility line-up. The new Telluride is a big move in that direction.

Automotive designers like to keep an eye on the fashions of the day – which helps explain why we got a first look at a concept version of the new Kia Telluride at New York’s Fashion Week last autumn. Now, the actual production version of the three-row SUV is making its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Like sibling brand Hyundai, the Korean carmaker clearly needs what will be its biggest vehicle ever. The American market has shifted rapidly from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs during the last several years, short-circuiting what had been a decade of substantial growth.

Business News!

As was widely expected, the production model is all but identical to the ute we saw in New York, minus some extreme touches like the snorkel, bumper-mounted, spare, ladder and, oddly enough, the hat box on the roof. (more…)