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Korean Newcomer Genesis Tops Vehicle Satisfaction List

Nissan, GMC, Hyundai and Ram also score well in annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Genesis was the top brand overall in the 2018 VSA, while the G90 sedan was top Luxury Car.

Reflecting the massive shift from sedans and coupes to SUVs, CUVs and pickups, light trucks are doing a better job of pleasing buyers, at least if the 2018 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are any indication. And SUVs are the most satisfying products of all, reports consulting and research firm AutoPacific, Inc.

But that isn’t a hard and fast rule. Genesis, the new Korean luxury brand that has yet to introduce its first utility vehicle, was the number one brand in the 2018 VSA, edging out more established competitors, such as Lexus, and achieving the highest score ever in the annual satisfaction study.

Best of the Best!

“In just two years, Genesis has reached a level of owner satisfaction unattained by more established luxury brands,” said AutoPacific President George Peterson, adding that the Genesis G90 sedan also won the VSA for Luxury Car for the second year in a row.

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Tesla Claims Employee Tried to Sabotage Plant – But Refuses to Say if Authorities Were Notified

Musk blames employee who didn’t receive promotion, hints others might be involved.

by on Jun.19, 2018

In a letter to employees, Tesla CEO Musk said the Fremont plant was the subject of sabotage.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk advised employees late Sunday that the company had been sabotaged by an employee who sent “highly sensitive” data to unnamed outside parties, but he and Tesla have so far refused to provide details, declining to even say whether police or other authorities, such as the FBI, have been asked to investigate.

Musk’s e-mail to Tesla workers, first reported by CNBC, was sent hours after a small fire at the Tesla assembly plant in Fremont, California briefly shut down due to a fire in its welding area. The incident was deemed minor and work quickly resumed. Tesla has been struggling to boost the factory’s output, primarily of the new Model 3 sedan, and has gone to an around-the-clock production schedule.

Breaking News!

In his note to employees, Musk said an employee committed “quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations,” among other things making “direct code changes” in Tesla’s manufacturing system while also sending “large amounts” of “highly sensitive” company data to an address outside the company.

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Hyundai, Kia Announce Global Reorganization Plans

Korean carmakers will get more regional autonomy in U.S., Europe.

by on Jun.18, 2018

The new organization is aimed at making the two brands more responsive to local markets.

Hyundai and sibling Korean carmaker Kia already operate as largely autonomous entities. Now, their regional operations in the U.S. and Europe will operate as largely independent operations to “spur sustainable growth and enhance innovation.”

The move to boost regional autonomy by Korea’s largest automaker is no surprise and follows in the footsteps of what has already been done by major Japanese automakers such as Toyota and Nissan. The first step will come with the establishment of new North American regional headquarters for each of the brands on July 2. Europe will follow shortly afterwards, as will other key global regions.

The Inside Story!

In a statement, the Hyundai Motor Group – which includes both Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motor Corp. – said the move will impact “every aspect of the business, ranging from product planning, marketing, sales, and manufacturing,”

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Cadillac Culling Sedan Line-Up, New Plant Investment Emphasizing Shift to SUVs

ATS, XTS going away as passenger car sales slide.

by on Jun.18, 2018

Cadillac is planning to end production of the slow-selling ATS by 2021.

General Motors will invest $175 million in a Lansing, Michigan assembly plant to support production of two new Cadillac sedans, but in the process, Caddy is expected to dump drop the slow-selling ATS compact coupe and XTS full-size sedan.

Early in the new decade, those two models, as well as the midsize Cadillac CTS, will be replaced by just two all-new sedans, the automaker said. The cutback reflects both the overall U.S. market shift from passenger cars to utility vehicles and, more specifically, the poor sales performance of those three Caddy models.

News Now!

It is not clear when the three current sedans will be dropped, but Cadillac isn’t expected to have the two replacement models ready to roll out of GM’s Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant until late in 2021, according to a spokesman. They will likely debut as 2022 models. (more…)

Audi CEO Stadler Arrested as Germany Expands Diesel Emissions Probe

As many as 20 current, former Audi employees now under investigation.

by on Jun.18, 2018

German prosecutors have arrested Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, though no charges have yet been filed.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has been “provisionally” arrested, the luxury arm of Volkswagen AG confirmed Monday morning, as the German government probe into emissions rigging by VW and the Audi subsidiary continues to expand.

Nearly a dozen executives and managers from the vast Volkswagen Group empire have been indicted since the automaker was first charged in September 2015 with rigging various diesel engines to illegally pass emissions tests. Several have already been convicted in the U.S., though others have fled to Germany where they cannot be extradited. But as many as 20 others are now under suspicion as Germany moves forward with its own investigation, according to the Associated Press.

We Keep You In the Know!

“Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was provisionally arrested this morning,” VW’s largest luxury brand said in a statement Monday morning. It added that “the presumption of innocence remains in place for Mr. Stadler.”

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Official: First Look at All-New BMW 8-Series

BMW's flagship coupe returns after two-decade absence.

by on Jun.15, 2018

This is the first BMW 8-Series since the original was abandoned in 1999.

It may be time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the big news, trackside will turn to a new street model, BMW using the annual endurance race as backdrop to reveal the long-awaited rebirth of its flagship 8-Series model.

It’s been nearly two decades since the Bavarian automaker abandoned the original 8-Series, but we got word that it would make a comeback last year with the May 2017 debut of the Concept 8 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on Italy’s Lake Como. Finally, we’re getting a look at the production version.

The Last Word!

Like the original, the new 8-Series opts for a coupe body, albeit one with a much more modern, streamlined design. The pop-up headlights, for one thing, are gone, replaced by slim LED lamps and the automaker’s new LaserLight technology. Indeed, as you’d expect of a BMW flagship, everywhere you look the new coupe is loaded up with the latest in technology, from its optional carbon fiber roof to its self-parking system.

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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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Chicago Gives Go to Musk’s Boring Co. for Underground Link to O’Hare Airport

System would take just 12 minutes for 16-mile route, slashing travel times, hassles.

by on Jun.14, 2018

Elon Musk's The Boring Co. won the bid to build a new high-speed tunnel from downtown Chicago to O'Hare Airport.

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. has received tentative approval from the City of Chicago to build a link from downtown to its suburb-based O’Hare Airport using skateboard-like pods that could move both vehicles and individual passengers.

The Boring Co. beat out bids by a number of other transit companies, but negotiations still have to be completed before work can begin on the venture which would be privately, rather than publicly funded. It would be “transformative,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement, and that likely goes for the new company launched by Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk.

News Now!

“We’re really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago!” the Boring Co, tweeted after the city confirmed the discussion had moved to the next phase. (more…)

Toyota Latest to Push Into Ride-Sharing

Japanese maker investing $1B in Southeast Asia’s Grab.

by on Jun.13, 2018

Toyota invested $1 billion into Grab Holdings to bolster its ride-sharing operations.

Toyota will join a growing list of automotive manufacturers, including General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, making bets on the anticipated explosion in ride-sharing services.

The Japanese giant plans to invest $1 billion in Grab Taxi Holdings Inc., a Singapore-based technology company operating ride-hailing services in places like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Originally launched as a taxi company, it is now positioning itself as a regional powerhouse after acquiring Uber’s Southeast Asian operations earlier this year.

News Now!

For its part, Toyota was a relative latecomer to emerging mobility services, including ride-sharing and self-driving vehicles. But it has launched a number of investments during the last several years, both in the form of outside alliances and by setting up its own technology subsidiary, the Toyota Research Institute, or TRI. (more…)

With AMR, Aston Rapide Gets a Little More Rapid

205 mph sedan is fit for street or track.

by on Jun.13, 2018

The Aston Martin Rapide AMR was first shown as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show.

Aston is no slouch when it comes to performance, but it’s in the midst of amping things up another notch with the help of its motorsports operations, Aston Martin Racing.

Appropriately, fast on the heels of the new DB11 tune-up, it’s pulling the covers off the Rapide AMR, a production version of the concept first shown at the 2017 Geneva Motors Show. If you happened to get a look at the prototype, it turns out, you’ll have a good idea what will soon be hitting the street – and the track, as many buyers will likely be finding ways to push the performance version of Aston’s sedan to its limits.

Subscribe Now!

The new performance models, Aston explained in a statement previewing the Rapide AMR, “draw a direct engineering and aesthetic link between the company’s successful race team and its road cars. As such the Rapide AMR is a sports car capable of comfortably transporting a team of race drivers to a circuit on the other side of a continent and then tackling the track when they get there.” (more…)