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Toyota Rated as Best Automotive Brand

Sixteen auto brands make Top 100 — GM and FCA brands not on the list.

by on Oct.11, 2018

Toyota was the top automotive brand in this year's Best Global Brands Top 100 list, taking seventh overall.

A quick poll of people asking what automaker is the best might net several folks saying “Tesla!” and while it does have a massive market cap, they’d be wrong. The best brand? Toyota.

According to Interbrand’s 2018 Best Global Brands report, Apple was the top company on the list with a valuation of $214 billion. Toyota was seventh on the list at $53 billion, which was up 6% over last year’s result.

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Overall, 15 automotive brands made the Top 100 list and while there aren’t really any surprises about what ones are on the list, those that are not on the list may be reason to take pause. None of the General Motors brands made this year’s list. The aforementioned Tesla did not make the list either. Nor did any of Fiat Chrysler’s brands. (more…)

Toyota Supra Set to Debut at 2019 Detroit Auto Show

Disappointment, again, in Paris.

by on Oct.02, 2018

With each passing day, the Toyota Supra inches closer to reality, including this heavily camouflaged model at Goodwood.

Supra fans, rejoice!

Every major auto show during the last two years has brought with it a flurry of rumors suggesting the reborn Toyota sports car would finally make its debut, hopes only to be dashed when the Supra was a no-show. And that happened again in Paris, Toyota defying hope and speculation it would finally pull the covers off the production model.

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But now, it seems, we have official or, at least, semi-official word that the long wait will soon be over. Just stay patient until January when, according to the Facebook channel operated by Toyota’s German subsidiary, the Supra will make its appearance at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (more…)

First Look: BMW Rolls Out 7th-Generation 3-Series in Paris

This time they mean it when they it’s all-new from the ground up.

by on Oct.02, 2018

The 2019 BMW 3-Series sticks with a relatively familiar exterior design.

It may not be the most expensive model in the BMW line-up, and considering where the global luxury car market is going, SUVs and CUVs are coming to dominate the sales charts. But perhaps no model line better defines the DNA of the Bavarian automaker like the long-lived 3-Series.

So, expect to see and hear a lot about the all-new, seventh-generation compact, the 2019 BMW 3-Series to launch next spring in the U.S. market with the arrival of the 330i and 330i xDrive, as well as the M340i andM340i xDrive. And you also can expect to see a slew of additional versions, all the way up to the de rigueur M3, to follow in relatively short order.

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Automakers often overuse phrases like, “all-new,” or “ground-up redesign,” but they appear to fully apply here, the gen-7 3-Series pretty much revisiting everything, including its basic platform, suspension and powertrain line-up. It also introduces or updates a wide range of technologies. That includes the 330e plug-in hybrid coming in 2020, as well as the debut of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant that uses plain-English commands to operate everything from navigation to audio and even lets you ask it what a warning light might be trying to tell you.

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Brexit Woes Starting to Impact Automakers

Companies warning of job losses in the UK.

by on Oct.01, 2018

Toyota Plant Director Marvin Cooke told the BBC that the plant could close if a "no-plan" Brexit takes place. (Photo credit: BBC)

With the United States finally resolving the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, the Brexit saga automatically elevates to the level of grave importance for automakers.

Manufacturers have warned for months that Brexit, Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union approved by UK voters two years ago, holds devastating consequences from automakers. Carmakers with factories in Britain are already paying more for parts because of the devaluation of the British pound.

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Toyota Motor Corp. is now threatening manufacturing jobs in the UK. The company could be forced to halt production at its Midlands U.K. factory in the event Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, the plant’s managing director, Marvin Cooke, told the BBC over the weekend. (more…)

Smaller Paris Show Still Set to Deliver Big Product News

Audi, BMW, Mercedes among the headliners at Mondial de l’Automobile.

by on Oct.01, 2018

Audi is ready to take on the industry leader, Tesla, with the all-new e-tron, which will make its public debut at the Paris Motor Show.

It may be the City of Lights but things will be a little darker at the 2018 Mondial de l’Automobile. Otherwise known as the Paris Motor Show, it’s been hit by the same industry retrenchment that has hammered other major shows, including Detroit and Chicago during the last several years.

Among the manufacturers who’ll sit things out for 2018 are Ford, Infiniti, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Subaru, Volkswagen and Volvo, as well as several Fiat Chrysler brands. And several other carmakers are expected to downsize their presence when the show begins with the annual two-day media preview on Tuesday.

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That said, it will just allow the spotlight to shine more brightly on those brands that have decided to stick with Paris this year. Among the most prominent previews on the docket will be debuts at the BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari stands. And while some of its Volkswagen Group siblings will be notably absent, Audi will retain a high-profile presence with three important public unveilings. (more…)

BMW Charges Up 2019 i3 With 153-Mile Battery

But has the Bavarian City Car finally found the sweet spot for range?

by on Sep.28, 2018

BMW is looking to eliminate the criticism about the range, or lack thereof, on its i3 city car with a bump to 153 miles.

BMW’s little city car, the i3, has won plenty of kudos since it was first launched in the 2014 model-year, but it has also turned off a number of potential buyers who simply can’t get charged up about its limited range.

That may change in the coming months, BMW today announcing a new, extended-range model, the i3 120Ah, as well as the sportier i3s 120Ah, The two versions will deliver a nearly 30% increase in range compared to the current, all-electric i3. BMW also plans to offer the new battery pack with the i3 REX, the city car variant that adds a gas-powered range-extending engine, though final EPA numbers have not yet been released.

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Even with the more capable battery pack the i3s 120Ah might best be described as a longer-range version of the quirky BMW electric vehicle, now offering 153 miles between charges, compared to 115 miles with the largest battery pack it previously offered. That roughly matches what you’ll get with the second-generation Nissan Leaf, but falls well short of the 238 miles offered by the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the nearly 300 miles delivered by the Tesla Model 3 with its optional extended-range battery pack. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 BMW X5

A crossover by any other name: a worthy successor to mark the X5's 20th anniversary.

by on Sep.27, 2018

BMW will offer three versions of the 2019 X5, including a plug-in hybrid to come later in the year.

Few new models have done more to redefine a brand – indeed, to help transform the auto business overall – like the BMW X5. But there were plenty of doubters when the Bavarian automaker first announced plans to add a sport-utility vehicle to its line-up back in the late 1990s.

Even BMW seemed to have some doubts, deciding to call the new line a “Sport-Activity Vehicle,” rather than an SUV. But those concerns were quickly forgotten, demand for the midsize ute taking off from almost the moment the first X5 rolled out of BMW’s then-new assembly plant in Spartanburg South Carolina in 1999. The first generation alone generated more than 600,000 sales and, with production of the third-gen X5 now winding down, that’s jumped to more than 2.1 million.

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These days, BMW offers a full range of Sport-Activity Vehicles, from the little X1 all the way up to the new X7 set to launch next year as a crossover alternative to the brand’s traditional flagship, the 7-Series. But much like the 5-Series sedan, the X5 remains a lynchpin of that line-up, meant to combine both the utility of a crossover and the performance of a classic BMW sedan.

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Shake-Up at Daimler Takes Zetsche Closer to Retirement

Ola Kaellenius set to become first non-German ever to run the 132-year-old company.

by on Sep.26, 2018

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche - shown at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show with Arnold Schwarzenegger after debuting the new G-Class SUV.

Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Daimler AG, will be moving up, and a step closer to retirement next year when he assumes the job of chairman of the German manufacturer’s Supervisory Board.

Easily recognizable with his brush mustache, Zetsche will turn 66 as he hands day-to-day control over to Ola Kaellenius, currently the director of vehicle development for the Mercedes-Benz brand. A 49-year-old Swede, Kaellenius will become the first non-German to head the company since it was founded 132 years ago.

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“In Ola Kaellenius, we are appointing a recognized, internationally experienced and successful Daimler executive,” said current Daimler Chairman Manfred Bischoff in a statement, adding that “With Dieter Zetsche’s intended appointment as Chairman of the Supervisory Board, we are ensuring continuity for the sustained success of Daimler AG.”

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BMW Cuts Earnings Outlook for 2018

Mobility investments and currency fluctuations hurting bottom line.

by on Sep.25, 2018

BMW CEO Harald Krueger said the company's 2018 financial results will be impacted negatively by investments in mobility programs and currency fluctuations.

The BMW Group cut its guidance for the current financial year, noting it had expected 2018 to be a challenging year, due in part to additional upfront investments of around one billion euros on mobility programs that will mature in future years.

In addition, currency headwinds in the mid-to-high three-digit million-euro range compared with 2017 will negatively impact the company’s bottom line, BMW said in its update to investors.

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In the Automotive Segment, revenues are now forecast to be slightly lower than the previous year, compared with the previous expectation of slight year-on-year increase. (more…)

Merkel Pressing German Automakers for Diesel Pollution Solution

Companies scrambling to find a cleaner diesel.

by on Sep.24, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, is pressing German automakers for a solution for cleaner diesels.

With driving bans aimed at diesel engines looming in several German cities, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing German carmakers for help in coming up with ways to make vehicles cleaner while avoiding limits on traffic, averting a potential political crisis that could threaten her government.

The government, however, is yet to come up with a specific plan though it indicated some progress is being made after a high-level meeting in Berlin attended by Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess, Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche and BMW AG chief Harald Krüger, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer also took part in the deliberations at the Chancellery, according to German press accounts

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Scheuer indicated carmakers rejected expensive hardware retrofits of diesel vehicles that had been suggested for vehicles from the emission class Euro 5. Reports from German regulators have described the retrofits as “technically feasible and economically justifiable.”  (more…)