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Archive for October, 2017

Spied: Nearly Naked 2019 Ford Ranger

Expect Raptor version to boost performance and credibility.

by on Oct.30, 2017

Ford is slowly peeling back the camo as the 2019 Ranger pickup gets closer to launch.

After wavering for several years, Ford is finally getting back into the midsize pickup market with the planned launch of the 2019 Ranger.

It’s been six years since the Detroit automaker abandoned its ancient Twin Cities plant in Minnesota, walking away from what was, back then, a dying market segment. But it failed to reckon on what might happen when new product would be injected into the midsize category, General Motors scoring a hit with the likes of its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, and Toyota hitting the ball out of the park with a new version of its segment-leading Tacoma model.

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For Ford, the good news was having a Ranger in place for other markets, though it has needed some major updates to get it ready for U.S. buyers, and our spy photographer Jim Dunne has captured a nearly naked version of the American version undergoing late testing in the Detroit suburbs not far from Ford’s world headquarters.

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Chevy, Hot Wheels Team Up for 50th Anniversary Camaro

New collectibles ready for SEMA week.

by on Oct.30, 2017

Chevrolet and Hot Wheels have teamed up to come with two new Camaros in time for the SEMA show.

The annual weeklong SEMA show, one of the high points of car culture in the U.S., rolls into Las Vegas this week and Chevrolet is doubling its fun this year by offering a unique version of the Camaro COPO Camaro on “Hot Wheels” toy cars long popular with the sandbox set.

The 2018 Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition, will celebrate 50 years of partnership, performance innovation and design, officials from General Motors said, and the full-scale version will be available through Chevy dealers in the first quarter of 2018.

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“The Chevrolet Performance design studio is full of designers who were inspired by Hot Wheels,” said Tom Peters, director of Exterior Design for Chevrolet Performance Cars. “The Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition captures that passion, turning childhood fantasy into reality.” (more…)

Nissan May Amp Up its New Leaf EV With NISMO Touch

Performance version of gen-2 battery car could boost appeal.

by on Oct.27, 2017

Nissan rolled out the NISMO version of the Leaf at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Nissan reports its already taking more orders than expected for the second-generation Leaf EV just getting ready to roll into U.S. showrooms. It helps that the 2018 battery-car gets a big boost in range and some nifty new technologies like the e-Pedal.

But while the 2018 Nissan Leaf is a bit quicker it’s by no means what one would call a performance car. And that’s the sort of feature that a lot of the Japanese manufacturer’s EV competitors are starting to emphasize. Indeed, Nissan itself is teasing the idea with its IMx concept which boasts more torque than the marque’s GT-R supercar.

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But is there a peppier version of the new Leaf in the works? Maybe yes, at least if you think there was a reason for Nissan to roll out the Leaf NISMO Concept during this week’s Tokyo Motor Show media preview. (more…)

Truckin’ Through Tokyo

Tokyo Motor Show isn't all kei cars and electric vehicles.

by on Oct.27, 2017

The Yamaha Cross Hub truck is a study in unique style and functionality.

The Tokyo Motor Show may be known for its small quirky vehicles, but if there is one truth that is self-evident it’s that people love trucks. Fortunately, there were plenty of trucks on display in Tokyo as well.

Perhaps the “least” unique is Yamaha’s Cross Hub concept truck. The compact concept truck is definitely not your average looking pickup with plenty of curves and angles, the truck screams “Look at me!”

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The truck is just large enough to carry two passengers and two motorcycles in the bed. However, it’s flexible design also allows for four passengers as well with a unique diamond-shaped seating pattern design. At 176.7 inches long, the Cross Hub is about the same size as a Honda Civic hatchback. (more…)

NHTSA Investigating 841K Fusions Due to Steering Wheel Issue

Steering wheel came off while driver was turning.

by on Oct.27, 2017

NHTSA has launched an investigation into problems with the steering wheels in 2014-16 Ford Fusions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it has opened an investigation into 841,000 Ford Fusions due to reports of problems with car’s the steering wheel.

There have been three reports of steering wheel bolts coming loose on 2014-16 model year Fusions. In one case, the wheel came completely detached as a driver attempted to turn into a gas station.

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Ford told Reuters in an emailed statement Friday it was cooperating “with the agency on its investigation, as we always do.”  (more…)

First Drive: 2017 Fiat 500 Abarth

Good performance at a good price.

by on Oct.27, 2017

The 2017 Fiat 500 Abarth provides plenty of comfort with even more performance.

The Fiat 500 hasn’t exactly been a smashing commercial success in the U.S. for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

For one thing, it has been submerged by the wave of utility vehicles, which have become the most popular choice for buyers not only in the United States, but also in other corners of the world such as China. But FCA keeps on adding to the 500′s basic formula.

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With Abarth hatchback version of the Fiat 500, FCA has given the car a distinctive and explosive personality. The Abarth designation, with its distinctive badge, has long been associated with motorsports in Europe and it clearly means this version of the 500 embodies what people talk about when they say a car is fun to drive.   (more…)

Japan’s Auto Safety Scandal Spreads to Subaru

Automaker admits 30-year lapse; will recall over 250,000 vehicles.

by on Oct.27, 2017

Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga bowed to reporters to acknowledge his company's safety lapses.

Subaru acknowledged Friday it improperly inspected products sold on the Japanese market for over 30 years and will recall as many as 255,000 vehicles.

The company is the latest Japanese automaker to reveal faulty inspection practices, Nissan earlier this month reporting similar lapses. The announcement by Subaru comes at a time when the once-lofty image of Japanese industry has been severely tarnished by a raft of scandals that include rigging of fel economy numbers by Mitsubishi, the production of faulty airbags by supplier Takata, and the falsification of data by metals manufacturer Kobe Steel.

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“The final inspection process is very important and we acknowledge that we did not meet requirements,” Subaru Chief Executive Officer Yasuyuki Yoshinaga at a news conference on Friday in Tokyo. “We used the same process for more than 30 years without realizing that it did not meet ministry requirements.”

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Tesla Fires SolarCity Employees, Smacked with NLRB Charges

UAW applying more pressure to EV maker.

by on Oct.27, 2017

The UAW filed complaints against Tesla related to the firing of workers at its Fremont, California, plant.

Tesla Inc. has begun firing employees, following performance reviews, at is non-automotive SolarCity subsidiary as it prepares to release its third-quarter financial results at time when the company is under some intense scrutiny.

Meanwhile, United Auto Workers filed a new round of complaints with the National Labor Relations Board in Oakland, California, in response to the dismissal of employees, including a number of union supporters, from Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont, California.

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The UAW charges the company intimidated and harassed employees, terminated a group of employees to discourage protected pro-union activity and disciplined employees for wearing items with the UAW logo.  (more…)

Captivating Concepts Capture Attention at Tokyo Motor Show

Makers pulling out the stops on automotive anomalies.

by on Oct.26, 2017

The Yamaha MWC-4 is part of its Leaning Multi-Wheel Vehicle line-up that can navigate the crowded streets of Tokyo.

The biennial Tokyo Motor Show often features some of the most cutting-edge designs and technologies within the industries, but it’s also known for some of the quirkiest concepts produced by automakers.

The 2017 edition of the show was no different.

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Toyoda Gosei, which manufactures rubber and plastic auto components, found a way to alleviate a fear that many car owners have when they park their vehicle in a crowded lot: door dings. (more…)

Maserati Set to Launch 2nd SUV in 2020

Critical to business plan, says CEO Marchionne.

by on Oct.26, 2017

The Maserati Levante has quickly become the Italian brand's best-selling model.

With the Levante already the most popular model in its history, Maserati is readying a second SUV, CEO Sergio Marchionne has revealed, a critical step in meeting the luxury brand’s business plan.

The new model, Marchionne hinted during this week’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earnings conference call, will be smaller than the midsize five-seat Levante. That would position the Italian luxury brand in one of the world’s fastest-growing market segments and target competitors ranging from the Jaguar E-Pace to the Porsche Macan.

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Beyond the Headlines!

Maserati sold about 40,000 vehicles last year, the Levante largely responsible for a 27% year-over-year increase. But the maker’s target is somewhere closer to 80,000, and EBIT earnings of 1 billion euros. “We should be able to get there” with the addition of a second ute, Marchionne said during the call with investors and journalists.

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