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First Drive: 2020 Toyota Supra

Are sports car fines likely to debate its merits? Probably, but the new Supra was well worth the wait.

by on May.12, 2019

The 2020 Supra was born of an unusual collaboration between Toyota and BMW.

It’s easy to feel intimidated at Summit Point Motorsports Park. The Shenandoah Circuit is an undulating, 2-mile course that sends you ping-ponging from one blind corner to another, rising and falling over the rocky West Virginia landscape. But it was as close to perfect a place to get my first ride in the all-new 2020 Toyota Supra as I could imagine.

It’s been 21-years since the last Toyota to wear that badge appeared in U.S. showrooms. Rumors of Supra’s revival have been circulating ever since. We got a hint that something really might be in the works five years ago when the Japanese automaker revealed the striking FT-1 concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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The show car was anything but the sort of plain vanilla product Toyota has become known for, it’s long nose and sweeping roofline embodying the “passion” that Akio Toyoda has been crying out for since being named Toyota president and CEO in 2009. But the question was whether the Japanese automaker would actually ever put the FT-1 into production. Coming up with an answer became even more iffy in the years that followed, as new car buyers around the world began to migrate from sedans, coupes and sports car to SUVs, CUVs and pickups.

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“You Want to Be There” When the EV Market Takes Off, Ford CEO Hackett Tells Shareholders

The upcoming “Mustang-inspired,” all-electric SUV will “reconceptualize’ the way cars are designed.

by on May.09, 2019

Ford is counting on its "Mustang-inspired," long-range electric SUV, codenamed Mach1, to help it plug into the emerging BEV market.

Ford Motor Co. will launch its “Mustang-inspired,” crossover later this year, its first long-range battery-electric vehicle, and CEO Jim Hackett told shareholders that while the EV market has been slow to build momentum, “When it happens you want to be there.”

Hackett focused a lot of his energy on describing the automaker’s electrification plans during Ford’s first “virtual” shareholders meeting on Thursday, clearly hoping to build support for a program in which it plans to invest $11 billion by 2022, more than double what Hackett’s predecessor, Mark Fields, had committed to spend by 2020. All told, Ford has laid out plans to roll out 40 hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

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The question is whether there will be a market for those vehicles, especially when considering the generally tepid response for earlier Ford battery-based models like the C-Max Energi, a PHEV, and the Ford Focus Electric, a BEV. (more…)

Infiniti Qs Inspiration EV Concept Charges into Auto Shanghai

First new Infiniti battery-car “to be built in China, for China."

by on Apr.16, 2019

Infiniti brand design chief Karim Habib helps debut the new Qs Inspiration battery-car concept.

Infiniti has formally unveiled its new Qs Inspiration battery-car concept at 2019 Auto Shanghai and confirmed it will strongly influence the maker’s design direction as it begins rolling out its first all-electric models.

With its tall, blunt nose, and low, fastback roofline, the Qs is meant to “reinterpret” the traditional look of three-box sedan designs. Meanwhile, the flexible architecture underlying the Qs will wind up being used for an array of upcoming battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

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Eventually, Infiniti officials have said, the goal is to offer battery-based powertrains for all of the Infiniti line-up, whether plug-in hybrid or pure electric. But the automaker noted that its first BEV will be “built in China, for China.” That comes as no surprise to many industry observers considering the New Energy Vehicle mandate enacted in late 2017 which has already transformed China into the world’s largest market for plug-based vehicles.

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Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition Bound for NYIAS

Q Inspiration Concept will share stage.

by on Apr.11, 2019

The 2019 Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition adds more luxurious touches to the mainstream sedan.

The sedan is dead. Long live the sedan.

While SUVs and CUVs may be taking over the U.S. market at a rapid pace, there’s still a sizable market for classic, three-box models like the Infiniti Q50. Nissan’s luxury brand is betting it can increase the sedan’s appeal by upping its luxury quotient.

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An upgraded version, dubbed the 2019 Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show next week – sharing the stage with the Infiniti Q Inspiration concept that offers a glimpse into the future of the brand.

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Mustang Electrified?

Ford counter-programs debut of the Tesla Model Y and hints of a high-performance CUV to come.

by on Mar.15, 2019

“Hold your horses,” or so said Ford Motor Co. in a tweet not-so-coincidentally timed to reach the social media world just as Tesla CEO Elon Musk was getting ready to debut his company’s new Model Y battery-electric SUV.

The Ford post featured that short blurb and a blue version of the Mustang logo against a black background, nothing more. But it does hint at several projects that Ford has already confirmed are in the works. That includes both a hybridized version of the pony car, as well as a Mustang-influenced all-electric SUV that Ford announced during the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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An early player in the electrification field, Ford has fallen behind not just Tesla but conventional rivals like General Motors and Volkswagen, both investing heavily in long-range, battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs. Ford officials say they are going to make a push to catch up and have confirmed that the first entry into next-gen electric technology would be a performance-oriented crossover tentatively named Mach 1 and due to market about when the Tesla Model Y hits the street about a year from now.

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Infiniti Set to Abandon Western European Market

Weak demand leading Nissan’s luxury brand to focus on Europe, China.

by on Mar.12, 2019

The concept version of the Infiniti Q30 debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show as part of the brand's push to become an EU presence.

Infiniti has come to recognize there are limits to its global growth plans, the Nissan luxury brand announcing it will pull out of Western Europe by early next year.

Going forward, the brand will limit its scope to just two markets: the U.S. and China. Along with ending sales in Europe, Infiniti also will halt production of the Q30 and QX30 models at Nissan’s assembly plant in Sunderland, England. The parent company has raised questions about the broader viability of that plant as Britain struggles to manage its planned exit from the European Union later this month.

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A broader restructuring by Infiniti will see the luxury marque pair back on its overall product line-up, the brand’s new global CEO told TheDetroitBureau.com during an interview earlier this year.

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VW Expects to Sell 22 Million EVs Over Next Decade

CEO’s new target marks a 50% jump.

by on Mar.12, 2019

VW CEO Herbert Diess is shown here with the I.D. Crozz and Buzz concept vehicles.

Germany’s Volkswagen AG expects to sell 22 million battery-electric vehicles over the next decade, CEO Herbert Diess said during the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday.

The carmaker has been on an aggressive push into electrification and has outlined projects expected to cost it close to $100 billion by 2025 alone. But, until today, Diess had set a target of selling just 15 million battery-cars. Either figure would mark a massive increase considering VW sold just 50,000 all-electric vehicles last year.

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“The supertanker is picking up speed,” Diess said Tuesday in a speech to shareholders gathered in Frankfurt. “We are aligning Volkswagen with e-mobility like no other company in our industry.”

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Nissan IMQ “Signals the Direction” of Future Electric CUVs

A “seamless” blending of exterior and interior design.

by on Mar.05, 2019

Nissan designers opted for a sharper and more angular approach to the design of the IMQ.

Think of the new Nissan IMQ concept vehicle as a rolling crystal ball. Following on the debut of the IMs prototype at the Detroit Auto Show two months ago, the Japanese maker says its latest concept “signals the direction of (its) next generation of crossovers.”

Make that battery-electric CUVs, for the concept vehicle that debuted today at the Geneva Motor Show reveals the next-generation e-Power system, an all-electric powertrain that you might think of as the familiar Nissan Leaf on steroids.

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Actually, that is a bit misleading, as the Nissan IMQ carries with it a 1.5-liter gas engine that serves solely as a generator, providing energy when the battery is drained. That’s the same approach BMW has taken with its little i3 city car. The internal combustion engine never actually provides direct power to the wheels.

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UAW Seeks to Reverse GM Plant Closure Decisions

Officials say they've done it before, they can do it again.

by on Jan.21, 2019

The UAW protested before and during the annual NAIAS Charity Preview, in hopes to changing GM's opinion about the plant closures.

The United Auto Workers has succeeded in reversing plant closing decisions in the past and union leaders believe they can pressure General Motors Co. into reversing its decision to close factories in the United States and Canada.

Frank Stuglin, a member of the UAW’s executive board from the region in which GM plans to shutter two plants, said in an interview Friday night during a union rally outside the “Red Carpet” Charity Preview for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the union has succeeded in the past in reversing plant-closing decisions by GM and Chrysler.

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“We kept open the plants in Orion Township, Michigan, and in Sterling Heights, Michigan, when they were supposed to close,” said Stuglin, referring to the plants the UAW succeeded in protecting even after they were ordered shut during the 2008-09 recession. (more…)

Dodge Likely to Produce Hybrid-Based Hellcat in Future

CEO Manley says the days of an 800-hp beast are numbered.

by on Jan.18, 2019

Smokin'! The Challenger Hellcat Redeye's Line Lock lets you spin the rear tires before launch. Will the hybrid do that?

Hybrids have long had a reputation as slow, eco-friendly city cars, but recently automakers have discovered the benefits of slapping some electric motors on their high-powered gasoline-fueled sports cars to generate even more power.

Add Dodge to the list.

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There may be no brand more synonamous with fossil fuels that Dodge and its line-up of Hellcat-branded Challengers and Chargers. The Hellcat broke new ground pushing past 700 horsepower when it came out two years ago and its variants have since pushed past 800 hp. (more…)