No More What If: Mazda Bringing Out a Faster Miata

Engineers squeeze out a 17% power increase.

by on Jun.20, 2018

The 2019 Mazda Miata gets a bunch of new safety tech, but more importantly: a 17% boost in power.

The Mazda Miata has always been a “but what if…” car.

The “what if?” What if it had more power? It’s a roadster and that generally means that the car is more about the experience of driving rather than how far back are you being pressed into your seat when you push the go pedal to the floor.

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Well, Mazda’s heard enough “what ifs” apparently since it it’s now upping the power in the latest iteration of the MX-5, known casually as the Miata. Mazda’s engineers enriched Miata’s SkyActiv-G 2.0-liter engine with the goals of improved response, performance, feel and efficiency.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hyundai, Audi Latest Automakers to Partner Up

The pairing is just the latest in a growing line of partnerships.

by on Jun.20, 2018

Hyundai and Audi are partnering up to develop fuel cell technologies.

The automotive industry is increasingly becoming reliant on partnerships, the latest being the tie-up between Hyundai Motor Group and Audi AG.

Like so many other companies before them, the South Korean and German automakers are looking to find a way to get to the promised land of alternative fuel vehicles. In this case, the makers are partnering on the development of fuel cell electric vehicles.

Beyond the Numbers!

Unsurprisingly, whatever patents, technologies and revolutionary breakthroughs resulting from this new coalescence will trickle down, well, more like over to Kia Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG. Kia is Hyundai’s sibling and VW is Audi’s parent companies. These advances can also be shared among other affiliates within either group. Read the rest of this entry »

Volvo Launches Car Production at First-Ever US Plant

Automaker will add second vehicle in 2021.

by on Jun.20, 2018

Volvo's first-ever manufacturing plant in the U.S. is building the new S60 sports sedan.

Volvo Cars opened its first manufacturing plant in the U.S. near Charleston, South Carolina, as it expands its global manufacturing footprint beyond Europe and Asia for the first time.

Volvo officials said the establishment of the plant in South Carolina follows the company’s manufacturing strategy “to build where it sells.”

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“The Charleston plant establishes the U.S. as our third ‘home’ market,” said Hakan Samuelsson, the president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “The sedan segment and the SPA platform’s proven ability to boost profitability offer significant growth opportunities for Volvo Cars in the U.S. and globally.” Read the rest of this entry »

Try and Try Again: Honda Finally Nails it With 2019 Insight

Third-generation hybrid is more than just another bland eco-cruiser.

by on Jun.20, 2018

The 2019 Insight is Honda's third attempt to market a mainstream, entry-level hybrid.

It was quite literally another century when the first Honda Insight came to the U.S. market. Beating the now familiar Toyota Prius by several months, Honda’s originally hybrid was a quirky little two-seater that, in one configuration, delivered more than 70 miles per gallon.

But its trade-offs were many and, unlike its HEV rival, sales of the original Insight tanked, Honda soon pulling it from the market. But the Japanese automaker brought the nameplate back in 2008, this time as a five-door hatchback promoted as the lowest-priced hybrid available in the U.S. It didn’t fare any better and was culled from the line-up in 2014.

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Now, Honda is back with a third-generation Insight and, if our initial drive is any indication, three’s a real charmer. While the 2019 Honda Insight delivers some of the best mileage numbers on the market, reaching as much as 55 miles per gallon on the highway, it is far more appealing in other ways, including its design and its fun-to-drive factor. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Surprises in 2018 JD Power Initial Quality Survey

Overall quality reaches record high – and Korean brands lead the surge.

by on Jun.20, 2018

The Genesis G90 topped its segment while the Genesis brand led the industry overall.

New vehicle quality has reached an all-time high according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, and the 2018 IQS reveals a number of surprising trends, starting with the fact that three Korean brands lead this year’s study.

The latest IQS, which looks at “things-gone-wrong” with vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership, reveals that traditional mechanical issues, whether powertrain problems or squeaks, rattles and wind noise, are today increasingly rare. Motorists are far more likely to experience issues with infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems, but many of those problems are also being addressed.

High Quality News!

“There’s no question that most automakers are doing a great job of listening to consumers and are producing vehicle quality of the highest caliber,” said Dave Sargent, the head of global automotive research for Power. “That said, some vehicle owners are still finding problems. As vehicles become more complex and automated, it is critical that consumers have complete confidence in automakers’ ability to deliver fault-free vehicles.”

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Ford Plants the Blue Oval in Detroit

Bill Ford says move isn't a gesture, company expects a return on its investment.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and Bill Ford share a laugh after the announcing the company's plans for the Michigan Central Station in Detroit.

In a ceremony that was equal parts pep rally, political rally and outdoor concert, Ford Motor Co. officially told the world it would be putting its new most precious resource – its mobility campus – in the city of Detroit in a yet-to-be-renovated train station.

The automaker purchased the Michigan Central Station, once the hub of train travel in and out of Detroit, for an undisclosed sum. Bill Ford Jr., founder Henry Ford’s great grandson and current company chairman, also declined to say how much the company would spend renovating the structure.

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Ford also was quick to note that even through the company was in the midst of a cost-cutting effort that was initially set at $14 billion and has since gone up to $25 billion, the acquisition of the building and some of the surrounding ones and property parcels fits within the company’s belt-tightening measures. Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota’s Patent Leader Among Automakers

Automaker maintains leadership position, but Ford only three spots lower.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Toyota Engineer Cassie Grant works on advancing the technologies of a vehicle display meter.

While Akio Toyoda spoke of transforming the company that bears his family name from an automaker into a mobility company, Toyota’s engineers and scientists have steadily expanded their research and development efforts to include mobility solutions and technology during the past several years.

The results of their continuous improvement of existing technology and innovation of new solutions has generated a lot of patents.

Electrifying!

In 2017, Toyota was awarded 2,015 patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office — the most of any automaker, according to records compiled annually by the Intellectual Property Owners Association. Read the rest of this entry »

Apple Raises Profile in Race for Autonomous Vehicles with Waymo Exec Hire

Hiring Waydo signals company's intentions.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Former Waymo engineer has moved over to Apple and Project Titan.

Apple has hired one of Waymo’s top engineers, Jamie Waydo, to work on its secretive self-driving car program named Project Titan.

According to Silicon Valley news site, The Information, the tech giant Waydo, who was focused on making sure software and hardware worked together in the name of safety. The question is whether or not Waymo will fight back.

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Waymo sued Uber after the ride-sharing company acquired a company founded by an engineer who had left Google to launch his own start up. The $1.8 billion lawsuit was ultimately settled for less than $275 million after several bitter exchanges in federal court. Read the rest of this entry »

Korean Newcomer Genesis Tops Vehicle Satisfaction List

Nissan, GMC, Hyundai and Ram also score well in annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Genesis was the top brand overall in the 2018 VSA, while the G90 sedan was top Luxury Car.

Reflecting the massive shift from sedans and coupes to SUVs, CUVs and pickups, light trucks are doing a better job of pleasing buyers, at least if the 2018 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are any indication. And SUVs are the most satisfying products of all, reports consulting and research firm AutoPacific, Inc.

But that isn’t a hard and fast rule. Genesis, the new Korean luxury brand that has yet to introduce its first utility vehicle, was the number one brand in the 2018 VSA, edging out more established competitors, such as Lexus, and achieving the highest score ever in the annual satisfaction study.

Best of the Best!

“In just two years, Genesis has reached a level of owner satisfaction unattained by more established luxury brands,” said AutoPacific President George Peterson, adding that the Genesis G90 sedan also won the VSA for Luxury Car for the second year in a row.

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Tesla Claims Employee Tried to Sabotage Plant – But Refuses to Say if Authorities Were Notified

Musk blames employee who didn’t receive promotion, hints others might be involved.

by on Jun.19, 2018

In a letter to employees, Tesla CEO Musk said the Fremont plant was the subject of sabotage.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk advised employees late Sunday that the company had been sabotaged by an employee who sent “highly sensitive” data to unnamed outside parties, but he and Tesla have so far refused to provide details, declining to even say whether police or other authorities, such as the FBI, have been asked to investigate.

Musk’s e-mail to Tesla workers, first reported by CNBC, was sent hours after a small fire at the Tesla assembly plant in Fremont, California briefly shut down due to a fire in its welding area. The incident was deemed minor and work quickly resumed. Tesla has been struggling to boost the factory’s output, primarily of the new Model 3 sedan, and has gone to an around-the-clock production schedule.

Breaking News!

In his note to employees, Musk said an employee committed “quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations,” among other things making “direct code changes” in Tesla’s manufacturing system while also sending “large amounts” of “highly sensitive” company data to an address outside the company.

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