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.

Read the rest of this entry »

First Drive: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Improved power, comfort and tech in an attractive package.

by on Apr.30, 2018

The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback features more power and tech for the small hatch.

While sales of small cars have dwindled in recent years, hatchbacks have made a slow, steady of comeback of sorts.

Now Toyota, one of the largest and most versatile carmakers in the world, is adding a new hatchback to its popular Corolla family. The 2019 Corolla Hatchback arrives with new styling, a more powerful engine and clever technology that will help the car stand out in a crowded segment.

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In fact, Toyota is describing the Corolla Hatchback as the most “technologically advanced” small car it has ever built, which is saying something for a company that has more or less dominated the small car market around the world for past 50 years. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

DeLorean’s Widow Suing to Get Movie Car Royalties

Company using DeLorean name says suit is baseless.

by on Apr.27, 2018

Back to the Future - the DeLorean DMC-12 with co-stars Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox.

The ongoing feud between John DeLorean’s widow and Humble, Texas-based DeLorean Motor Co. went back to the future with a new lawsuit over proceeds from the use of a DeLorean coupe in the movie “Back to the Future.”

Sally DeLorean filed suit in federal court in New Jersey claiming Universal Pictures, which produced the film, owes the DeLorean estate a “substantial” amount of money in unpaid royalties for the company’s use of the modified DeLorean coupe in the three “Back to the Future” movies.

The Last Word!

She wants a judge to decide who – the estate or DMC – should be paid the royalties as part of a decades-old agreement. The fees have been paid to the DeLorean Motor Co. instead of to her husband’s estate. Read the rest of this entry »

Daimler Profits Drop Double Digits Despite Car Sales

Strong results from Mercedes-Benz can't halt slide.

by on Apr.27, 2018

Daimler AG's Dieter Zetsche said that despite the drop in profits, the company was on track with its plans.

Daimler AG saw net income drop by double digits in the first quarter despite an increase in revenue in and record unit sales by Mercedes-Benz Cars.

The Daimler Group reported net profit for the first quarter of 2018 of 2.4 billion euros or 2.12 euros per share was 11% below the prior-year figure of 2.7 billion euros or 2.39 euros per share. First-quarter of earnings before interest and taxes of 3.335 billion euros was 13% below its prior-year EBIT of 3.8 billion euros.

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“We are sustainably continuing along our profitable growth course and sold more vehicles in a first quarter than ever before,” said Dieter Zetsche, Daimler CEO and chairman of the board of management. Read the rest of this entry »

Honda Profits Soar 72% in 2018; Maker Predicts 2019 Drop

Declining sedan sales, stronger yen and dollar to crimp 2019.

by on Apr.27, 2018

Honda's concerned about the falling sales of sedans in North America, and it predicted falling profits in 2019.

Honda Motor Co. gaveth with its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings report and it tooketh away with its 2019 forecast. The Japanese automaker reported a 12% jump in its quarterly profit while its full year profits soared 72% due to changes in U.S. tax policy.

For the final quarter, Honda reported a profit of 107.7 billion yen, or $988 million, up from 95.9 billion yen a year earlier. Revenue for Q4 was 3.9 trillion yen, or $36 billion, an improvement of 4%. For the full year, the company saw profits of 1.06 trillion yen, or $9.7 billion, on revenue of 15.3 trillion yen.

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The company sold nearly 5.2 million vehicles around the world for the fiscal year, up from 5 million the previous fiscal year. The result was just slightly short of its forecast of 5.22 million vehicles. Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota Investing $170M in Mississippi Plant

Despite SUV surge, Japanese automaker remains committed to passenger cars.

by on Apr.27, 2018

Toyota is investing $170 million in its Mississippi plant that builds the Corolla.

Just days after Ford Motor Co. announced it would all but abandon the U.S. passenger car market in a major shift to SUVs, Toyota has underscored its commitment to sedans by announcing it will invest $170 million in its Blue Springs, Mississippi plant to prepare for the next version of its long-popular Corolla model.

Sales of sedans, coupes and other traditional models have crashed as demand has surged for the SUVs, CUVs and other light trucks that now account for two-thirds of the American new vehicle market. Ford and crosstown rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have all but abandoned passenger car as they ramp up light truck production.

Industry News!

Toyota is also boosting its utility vehicle capacity, both in the U.S. and other markets, but it is not ready to walk away from the sedans like Corolla that still generate a significant share of its annual sales. Just this week, in a splashy pair of previews in Los Angeles and at the Beijing Motor Show, the automaker’s luxury brand Lexus revealed a seventh-generation version of the ES sedan that was one of its very first two models. Read the rest of this entry »

Carmakers Likely to Report April Sales Declines

Month has two fewer selling days, adding to the slide.

by on Apr.27, 2018

Sluggish sales in the U.S. are expected in April, which has two fewer selling days..

Analysts anticipate a drop in new vehicle sales when carmakers report their total deliveries for April next week.

U.S. new-vehicle sales in April are expected to fall 3.6% compared to April 2017, according to a forecast from Cox Automotive.

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Despite the expected volume decline, the sales pace in the U.S. remains strong, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.3 million units, above year-ago levels. In April 2017, the SAAR was 17.0 million, Cox analysts noted. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Auto Show News!

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. Read the rest of this entry »

BMW’s iX3 Reveals a More Normal-Looking Approach to All-Electric Driving

New battery-electric SUV ushers in a dramatic shift in direction for BMW’s i brand.

by on Apr.26, 2018

The BMW iX3 Concept debuted in Beijing and revealed the automaker's shift in its electric vehicle strategy.

The BMW i3 is one of the market’s more technologically advanced vehicles – and also one of the weirdest looking. Introduced in 2014 and updated for the 2018 model-year, it helped introduce the Bavarian automaker’s distinctive i brand of electrified vehicles.

But with BMW getting ready to roll out a new wave of battery cars, and shift away from its original strategy of using unique platforms for products like the i3 and i8, the iX3 concept making its debut in Beijing this week gives us a good hint of what’s to come.

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The concept debuting at the Beijing Motor Show “offers a look ahead to the expansion of the model line-up in this area,” the automaker announced ahead of the formal unveiling. “The first model from the BMW brand to be driven purely by electric power will be a fully-fledged Sports Activity Vehicle – and without compromises when it comes to functionality and comfort.” Read the rest of this entry »

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