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Ghosn Dismisses Speculation of a Renault Takeover of Alliance

Complex ownership structure, that includes French government, makes it difficult.

by on Jun.26, 2018

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chief Carlos Ghosn recently reiterated there is "zero chance" of Renault taking over Nissan and Mitsubishi.

The question of what company in the three-legged stool that is Renault Nissan Mitsubishi might acquire the other two has been broached a few times since Mitsubishi was added. The issue is apparently important enough for Carlos Ghosn, who heads up the three companies, to address recently.

“Anybody who will ask Nissan and Mitsubishi to become wholly owned subsidiaries of Renault has zero chance of getting a result,” Ghosn told shareholders of Mitsubishi Motors at a meeting las week.

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Ghosn is CEO of Renault as well and chairman of Nissan. He recently turned over the role of CEO there to Hiroto Saikawa. The simple reason for encouraging the automakers to work together but remain autonomous is simple: You don’t fix what isn’t broken. (more…)

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.  (more…)

Byton Taking Second Byte at the Apple with New Concept

New model predicted to be available in 2021.

by on Jun.15, 2018

Byton introduced its second EV concept, the K-Byte, at CES Shanghai.

With a newly gained $500 million in its pocket, electric carmaker Byton rolled out the new K-Byte, an autonomous electric vehicle concept, at CES Shanghai.

The K-Byte is the company’s second concept. At CES 2018, it debuted its first-ever vehicle, a crossover-style EV that now gets the moniker M-Byte.

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The new K-Byte would seem to be just another of a slew of newly minted autonomous battery-electric concepts that have been unveiled in the last 12 months, but this one is a little different. Byton officials claim it will be capable of Level 4 autonomy when it hits the road in 2021. (more…)

Electrifying Jaguar I-Pace Sets a Benchmark Even Tesla Will Have to Clear

Performance, handling, style and spaciousness come together to redefine the BEV.

by on Jun.14, 2018

Whether on a track or a back country road the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is a real game-changer.

I have seen – and driven – the future, and it is electric.

And I found it in a place you normally wouldn’t go looking, Faro, in the heart of Portugal’s Algarve region. When my plane touched down there, earlier this week, I was looking forward to some pleasant driving time. It’s beautiful countryside with lots of winding, lightly traveled mountain roads that pass through pastoral villages almost lost in time. As for the vehicle I’d crossed the ocean to test out, the new Jaguar I-Pace was, if nothing else, distinctively styled, both inside and out. Whether it would deliver that sometimes intangible concept we describe as “fun-to-drive” was going to be the real question.

When the first mass market battery-electric vehicles came to market early in this decade, about the most you could say for them was that they were environmentally friendly. They were slow, stodgy and required you to keep a constant eye on the range gauge lest you find yourself stranded miles from home. Tesla kicked it up a big notch by offering range comparable to a gas-powered vehicle and, with the optional Ludicrous Mode, blindingly fast acceleration. That said, the Models S, X and 3 each have their shortfalls. For most of us, they’re still not quite serious alternatives to conventional vehicles.

Electrifying Reviews!

The I-Pace, on the other hand, changes the equation. It is easy to fall back on clichés when trying to describe Jaguar’s first all-electric model, but it truly is electrifying, and by virtually every measure, it not only sets a benchmark for future battery-electric vehicles but also shows that BEVs can pose a direct challenge to conventional gas-powered models when it comes to not only design, interior space, comfort and utility, but performance and handling, as well.

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First Drive: 2019 Lexus ES 350

Bigger, faster, roomier — better.

by on Jun.07, 2018

The new Lexus ES is bigger, more powerful and has more tech than its predecessor.

Lexus has built its reputation on the quality, reliability and durability of its luxury cars and utility vehicles. But now, with the new vehicles such as the ES, Lexus is reaching out to match its German and Japanese competitors in styling and overall performance.

For one thing, the new 2019 ES 350 is impressive looking all the way around. The new exterior sheet metal is clean and gives the car a sportier and more up-to-date appearance that should wear well over the years. The front fascia on the new 2019 Lexus ES also more refined and just looks better than the previous generation and car just looks handsome when it is sitting at the curb or in motion.

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Each of the three variants of the ES – the standard, the new F-Sport and the hybrid – are separated by design details but overall the differences, to my eye, are relatively minor. (more…)

Kia Shows Off Latest Niro Model: the EV

New EV expected to compete with Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3.

by on Jun.07, 2018

The Kia Niro EV made its public debut at the Busan Motor Show in South Korea.

Kia Motors is giving the public a look at what many in the media have already seen: the Niro EV. Introduced at the 2018 Busan auto show in South Korea, the new battery-electric Niro is a reminder that the mainstream EV market is getting more and more crowded.

The original concept was unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show with the production version being shown to the media in South Korea last month, helping to round out the Niro line-up, which already has gas-powered and hybrid models.

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“The Niro EV will be Kia’s second globally-sold electric vehicle, following the immensely popular Soul EV. It demonstrates the progress Kia has made in delivering comfortable, practical and fun-to-drive vehicles that lead the way in zero-emissions driving,” said Han-Woo Park, president and CEO of Kia Motors Corp. (more…)

EVs at the Tipping Point? Global Sales Could Surge 25% to 1.6m in 2018

Nearly 200 electrified vehicles already on the market.

by on Jun.05, 2018

Automakers are planning to launch as many as 400 electrified vehicles by decade's end, including an all-electric version of the upcoming Maserati Alfieri.

After a painfully slow start, sales of electrified vehicles finally seem to be gaining some desperately needed traction, a new study suggesting global sales of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles will reach 1.6 million this year, a 25% increase from 2017.

The shift comes at a critical time for the auto industry considering even manufacturers like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, long skeptical of battery-based technologies, are ramping up production plans. About 165 models are already available in various markets worldwide, according to the study by London-based ReportBuyer, and that will grow to “more than 400 models” by 2025.

We're Clearing the Air!

“If all the announcements made so far were to come true, there will be about 25 million EVs sold by 2025 or 20% of all cars sold would be EVs,” the electrified vehicle study forecast. While that includes a mix of different products, many of which combine gas and electric powertrains on one platform, other studies have forecast that BEVs alone could account for 20% of the total world vehicle market by 2030.

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Lexus Isn’t About to Give up on Cars

Commitment remains despite moves of other automakers.

by on Jun.04, 2018

Lexus, like its parent Toyota, remains committed to selling sedans as other automakers bail out of the segment.

Even though utility vehicles accounted for more than two thirds of Lexus’ sales in May, Toyota’s luxury vehicle unit, Lexus, isn’t about to give up on the passenger cars that built its reputation even as American car makers walk away from the sedan segments.

“The fact is there is and will continue to be a very important role for sedans,” said Cooper Ericksen, Lexus vice president of marketing, as he showed off the new, seventh generation Lexus ES during a press event in Nashville, Tennessee. “Half the buyers of SUVs also own a sedan,” he said.

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Sales in the “near luxury” segment, where the ES competes against the cars such as BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Acura TLX, totaled more than 400,000 units last year, which is a substantial market. In addition, like its competitors, Lexus sells the ES in dozens of markets around the world, making it easier to justify the cost of designing, engineering and developing a new model. (more…)

More Products, More Volume, Bigger Margins: FCA Lays Out Aggressive, 5-Year Growth Plan

Morning presentation outlines plans for Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Ram TRX will be among the new models FCA will bring out over the coming five years.

(This story has been revised to update plans for Jeep’s pickup and a midsize pickup from Ram that, CEO Marchionne now says will come to the U.S. market.)

In a sweeping presentation designed to give analysts, investors, media and potential buyers a good look at its future, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives are spending a day detailing their plans for the company and its various brands.

At the midway mark, as they break for lunch, they’ve already lifted the kimono far enough to show what’s coming for the Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands and, in a nutshell, it can be summed up as more products targeting lots more volume and much bigger margins.

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The new five-year plan will be the last crafted under the guidance of Sergio Marchionne, the 65-year-old executive who helped pull off the pairing of two struggling manufacturers to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. His third five-year plan, Marchionne stressed that “The true finish line is the one always yet to come.”

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Trump Slaps Tariffs on Canada, Mexico and EU

All impacted moving to retaliate.

by on May.31, 2018

President Donald Trump implemented tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

The Trump administration moved to raise tariffs to 25% on steel and aluminum from Mexico, Canada and the European Union, all of which promptly moved to retaliate against the U.S. raising the prospects of a trade war.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reported that the Canadian government had already prepared a list of goods on which it would be raising tariffs and the Mexican government also announced tariffs on American-made products.

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The European Union is expected to retaliate by imposing stiff new tariffs on American-made products, such as bourbon and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Harley is now struggling and is the process of closing a plant in Kansas City, Missouri. It could be shutting down more plant capacity in the U.S if sales continue to decline. (more…)