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Last Chrysler 200 Rolls off Sterling Heights Line Today

Marks end of FCA compact car production in U.S.

by on Dec.02, 2016

An FCA employee installs a center console on a Chrysler 200. Production on the 200 ends today.

“Imported from Detroit” no more. Today marks the end of production for the Chrysler 200, a sedan seen only a few years ago as critical to the revival of the once-bankrupt automaker.

But like the Dodge Dart sedan that was pulled from production in September, Chrysler’s four-door has fallen victim to shifting market trends. Sedans, especially midsize ones, have taken a beating as motorists by the millions switch to sport- and crossover-utility vehicles. Light trucks, in general, now account for more than 60% of U.S. new vehicle sales.

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The precise time when the last Chrysler 200 will roll down the assembly line at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, isn’t clear. The 1,700 hourly employees are scheduled to work the line until around 3 p.m., “but it’s all a matter of parts,” noted spokesperson Jodi Tinson. When they run out, workers will be sent home. (more…)

Auto Market Likely to Maintain Near-Record Momentum

But shift to utes could accelerate, forecasts Toyota autos chief.

by on Dec.02, 2016

The Toyota RAV4 may soon be Toyota's best-seller.

After several tenuous months, U.S. new car sales slipped back on their record track in November, and while it’s likely the industry has hit the peak of the current economic cycle, demand is likely to remain strong for several more years, forecast the U.S. head of automotive operations for Toyota.

What consumers will be buying is another matter, according to Senior Vice President Bob Carter, who stressed that the shift from conventional passenger cars to utility vehicles and other light trucks “is going to continue to accelerate in the future.”

Barring a sudden slowdown of the American market, sales should just nip past last year’s all-time record of around 17.5 million, said Carter, during a meeting with journalists in Detroit. “By anyone’s estimation,” he said, “that’s fantastic.”

(more…)

Toyota Goes Back to Drawing Board for Next-Gen Camry

No more “refrigerators” mantra pushes maker to improve styling.

by on Dec.01, 2016

Toyota offers a hint of the new Camry model it will reveal at the North American International Auto Show.

Look for an all-new, eighth-generation Toyota Camry to make its debut at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the automaker’s top U.S. executive confirmed today.

Calling it perhaps the most important product the automaker has ever launched in the U.S., Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter said the 2018 Camry will introduce a new and much more passionate approach to design and driving dynamics. The goal is to move away from the reliable but boring product that, Carter acknowledged, is often derided as a rolling “refrigerator.”

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“We’ve been criticized for being conservative in our styling. Some of you call it boring,” said Carter, speaking to reporters at a holiday gathering in Detroit. “Now we’re focusing on building a more fun-drive, stylish vehicle” which, he said, “sent shivers down my spine the first time I saw it.” (more…)

China Thumbs Nose; Raises Tariffs on Imported Luxury Cars

Move could raise trade tensions with new administration.

by on Dec.01, 2016

General Motors opened its new plant in Shanghai that will build the Cadillac CT6 for China, which will allow it to avoid the new 10% import tax.

China may be thumbing its nose at the incoming Trump Administration and its push to increase American manufacturing – especially in the automotive sector.

The Beijing government this week decided to add a 10% import tax on super-luxury vehicles, a move it justified by saying it encourages “rational consumption” and should help curb the higher level of emissions those vehicles create.

Global Auto News!

China’s communist government has some of the world’s toughest rules regarding automotive imports and manufacturing, heavily taxing foreign-made vehicles to encourage local production. So foreign makers must then partner with local auto companies in order to gain access to the market. (more…)

Rolls-Royce Offers 1st Good Look at Upcoming SUV

Project Cullinan “takes next step.”

by on Dec.01, 2016

The Rolls-Royce SUV mule will be getting a serious workout in the months to come.

Rolls-Royce is plowing plans to put its first SUV on the road – and its giving us a first look at the vehicle it’s developing as part of what it has dubbed Project Cullinan.

The British ultra-luxury brand is just one of the latest manufacturers to adapt to shifting market trends, echoing rival Bentley which launched its own Bentayga sport-utility vehicle earlier this year. With the exception of Ferrari, in fact, all major super-premium brands – including such names as Aston Martin and Lamborghini – intend to roll out utes of their own.

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“This is an incredibly exciting moment in the development of Project Cullinan both for Rolls-Royce and for the patrons of luxury that follow us around the world,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, in a statement accompanying these two images.

(more…)

Major Automakers Team Up on Ultra-Fast EV Charging Project

System could deliver 300+ miles range in 10 minutes.

by on Dec.01, 2016

A Level 4 charger could give a long-range vehicle a "fill-up" in 10 minutes or less.

Another barrier to electrification is about to fall, thanks to a new coalition pairing BMW, Daimler, Ford and the various Volkswagen AG brands.

The automakers have signed a preliminary agreement that would begin rolling out a network of ultra-fast electric vehicle charging stations across Europe – setting the stage for the adoption of similar Level 4 technology in the U.S., as well. The chargers will deliver 350 kilowatts of direct current, or roughly 2.5 times the jolt of the Superchargers Tesla is deploying across much of North America.

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The new system would leapfrog other Level 3 chargers just beginning to come online in many parts of the world. More importantly, they would allow a vehicle like the new, 200-mile Chevrolet Bolt (or the European version sold through Opel) to get a full charge in 10 minutes or less.

(more…)

Obama EPA Upholds Tough 54.5 MPG Fuel Economy Standards

Decision could still see challenge from incoming administration.

by on Nov.30, 2016

President Obama is trying to keep the tough 54.5 mpg CAFE standard agreed to by automakers in place after his administration ends next year.

In what could be one of the Obama Administration’s last critical decisions on the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency has decided not to change the tough, 54.5 mile per gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard phasing in between now and 2025.

The announcement comes despite strong opposition from an auto industry having to adjust to a market moving away from passenger cars to less efficient pickups, utility vehicles and other light trucks. And it raises the question of whether the incoming administration, led by a president-elect who has questioned the reality of climate change, will step in after it sweeps into office in January.

By the Numbers!

Officially, the EPA will continue taking comments through Dec. 30 as part of a so-called mid-term review of the mileage regulations enacted under President Obama, but in a conference call with reporters, Janet McCabe, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation said EPA chief Gina McCarthy’s “judgement is now is not the time to introduce uncertainty by changing the standards.” (more…)

Ford Looking to Crossover With New Fiesta

New, ute-like version could shore up appeal amidst global market shift.

by on Nov.30, 2016

Ford unveiled its next-gem Fiesta in Germany, including a new version call the Fiesta Active. It's unknown if the Active will hit U.S. shores.

It may be one of the smallest models in the Ford Motor Co. line-up, but the Detroit-based automaker has some big plans for the all-new Fiesta subcompact it unveiled during a splashy event at its Cologne, Germany, assembly plant.

Among other things, Ford hopes to take the Fiesta up-market, adding a higher-priced – and significantly higher-profit – Vignale version. There will also be a new crossover-like version of the Ford Fiesta, dubbed Fiesta Active, a move that could help rebuild momentum in a number of key markets, such as the U.S., where buyers by the millions are shifting from passenger cars to utility vehicles.

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“We don’t want to build commodities anymore,” declared Jim Farley, Ford Europe CEO, during an event that brought together 2,500 Ford dealers and staff and members of the news media. (more…)

Start-Up Lucid Set to Build Arizona EV Plant

The list of electric-car wannabes continues to grow.

by on Nov.30, 2016

Lucid's prototype may seem a little tame compared to its EV-making competition, but it will get a complete redesign, officials claim.

Yet another electric vehicle wannabe has announced it will enter the still-small U.S. market, Lucid Motors revealing plans for a new assembly plant based in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona.

Construction on the $700 million factory is set to begin early next year, the company – originally called Atieva – promising to have its first vehicles on the road in 2018. As Lucid, it would join a growing procession of electric vehicle manufacturers, both start-ups like Tesla Motors and traditional auto companies like General Motors, vying for what is still a miniscule part of the American automotive market.

EV News!

Whether demand will absorb all the new comers is far from certain and could be strongly impacted by the as yet-uncertain energy policies of the incoming Trump Administration which could relax or even eliminate upcoming auto mileage rules that are promoting developing of alternate propulsion technologies. (more…)

Fiat Heir Arrested, Charged with Faking Own Kidnapping

Fashion designer and entrepreneur faces January trial.

by on Nov.29, 2016

Lapo Elkann is the grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli and brother of FCA Chairman John Elkann.

Italian fashion designer and industrial heir Lapo Elkann has been arrested by New York police for allegedly faking his own kidnapping.

The 39-year-old reportedly ran out of money, according to initial news reports, possibly due to involvement with an escort. Authorities were called to a housing complex on New York’s East Side after being told Elkann was being held against his will. They subsequently determined the claim was false.

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Lapo Elkann is the brother of John Elkann, currently the chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. He is the grandson of the late Giovanni Agnelli, who turned his family’s holdings into one of Italy’s most powerful industrial enterprises after World War II. That included Fiat SpA, the automaker that took control of Chrysler after the American firm’s 2010 bankruptcy.

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