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Weakening Sales Worry Automakers Gathered for NY Auto Show

Industry execs fear a Trump “grenade," but automakers are creating some of their own problems.

by on Apr.19, 2019

Toyota's U.S. sales chief Bob Carter expressed concern about the potential impact of actions by the Trump administration could have on sales this year.

U.S. auto sales suffered a severe chill over the winter. Demand was widely expected to slip slightly after posting an unexpected increase in 2019, but the market has been surprisingly weak and many of the industry officials gathered for this week’s media preview at the New York International Auto Show fear the situation could get worse.

In particular, there was a clear sense of concern that President Donald Trump could be “pulling the pin out of the grenade,” as Bob Carter, head of U.S. sales for Toyota put it, escalating the various trade wars to the point that it could send American car sales into a tailspin.

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The harsh weather that swept through much of the country in January and February clearly took some of the blame for the way demand tumbled during the first quarter. But even a climactic reprieve in March did little to improve the situation, and sales for the first three months of the year were off by 4%. Only four brands finished the quarter in the black – and even then, only on the retail side. (more…)

Hyundai Venue Completes Korean Carmaker’s SUV Roll-Out

Targeting buyers who’d love to get out of a used car.

by on Apr.18, 2019

Hyundai keeps growing its sport-utility offerings. The new Venue, its smallest SUV, made its debut at the NYIAS.

Hyundai was one of the few automakers to use the Great Recession to its advantage, actually picking up sales and market share while the rest of the U.S. auto industry plunged to levels unseen in decades. Ironically, the Korean carmaker took an unexpected tumble as the rest of the market turned around, unprepared to adapt to the sudden shift from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs.

Hyundai isn’t about to let that happen again, the automaker using this year’s New York International Auto Show to roll out the seventh, and newest, member of its rapidly expanding utility vehicle line-up, the 2020 Hyundai Venue. In sharp contrast to the recently added Palisade, its biggest and most lavish CUV, the subcompact Venue targets a mostly younger buyer on a tight budget.

Product News!

“About one-third of (used car) buyers started out looking for a new vehicle but couldn’t afford it,” said Brian Smith, Hyundai Motor America’s chief operating officer, during the Venue’s NYIAS debut. “That’s a perfect opportunity for a vehicle like this.” (more…)

Hyundai Names Former Nissan Exec José Muñoz its New COO

The 53-year-old exec was forced out in wake of Nissan’s Ghosn scandal.

by on Apr.18, 2019

José Muñoz, Nissan's former chief performance officer, is joining Hyundai and will oversee U.S. operations as part of his duties.

José Muñoz, the widely admired Nissan chief performance officer forced out in the wake of the scandal surrounding former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, is moving to South Korea, where he will become the global chief operating officer at Hyundai Motor Co.

The 52-year-old Muñoz was considered a rising Nissan star and a potential successor to Ghosn but tendered his resignation in January, sources told TheDetroitBureau.com, in protest over the Japanese automaker’s handling of the Ghosn investigation. The 65-year-old Ghosn remains in a Japanese detention center accused of a variety of financial crimes, though skeptics contend he has become the victim in a power struggle between Nissan and its French alliance partner Renault.

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In his new post, Muñoz also will serve as president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor North America and Hyundai Motor America. (more…)

California Start-Up Plans to Launch $149,000 Chinese-Made EV Sports Car

Qiantu K50 will be modified for American market.

by on Apr.18, 2019

The Qiantu K50 will be produced in China, but sold in the U.S. through Mullen at a cost of $149K.

A California start-up wants to sell a Chinese-made battery-electric sports cars to American drivers, the Qiantu K50 by Mullen scheduled to make its debut in the U.S. market sometime in 2020.

With its classic, supercar silhouette, the K50 is expected to join an array of electric vehicles destined for U.S. shores that will either be produced in China or come from American factories operated by Chinese companies, such as Karma and Byton.

Product News!

The new sports car, perhaps more importantly, will be part of a wave of new entries likely to reshape the perception of electric vehicles, from slow and stodgy to sleek, fast and fun-to-drive. (more…)

Kia Ups the Performance Quotient with Stinger GTS

Sports sedan adds AWD and drift mode.

by on Apr.18, 2019

Kia's new Stinger GTS package allows drifters to go all out while still having all-wheel drive.

For a brand traditionally known for affordable, albeit plain-vanilla products, Kia delivered a major shock when it rolled out the Stinger sports sedan two years ago. Stinger quickly nabbed a string of awards and was a finalist for North American Car of the Year.

Now, the Korean carmaker wants to increase Stinger’s appeal with performance-oriented buyers, introducing a new version, the GTS, which adds a new all-wheel-drive system, dubbed D-AWD, that can let a driver drift to their hearts content.

Performance News!

Set to reach showrooms later this year, the Kia Stinger GTS will remain one of the most affordable vehicles in its segment, with a base price of $44,995 for the rear-wheel-drive version, and $47,495 with D-AWD. (more…)

Kia HabaNiro Offers a Hint of Brand’s Future EV Strategy

The automotive equivalent of an everything bagel.

by on Apr.17, 2019

The Kia HabaNiro is an exercise showing where the automaker wants to take its electric vehicles in the future.

Kia is billing the appropriately named HabaNiro as a “spicy” take on its future EV strategy. Of course, the name offers a hint of where its going with the reference to Kia’s first long-range battery-electric vehicle, the Niro.

Like its sibling brand Hyundai, Kia has big plans to electrify during the coming decade, with a mix of hybrids, plug-ins, BEVs and even hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. The HabaNiro, which was created at the Korean carmaker’s advanced design studio in California, is being billed as an “everything car,” or ECEV, and incorporates all sorts of creative design details and advanced technologies, including butterfly doors and Level 5 autonomous driving capabilities – as well as 300 miles of all-electric range.

EV News!

“We imagined a car for everyone and nearly everything,” said Tom Kearns, vice president of design for Kia Design Center America. “Then, when we saw the finished product, we were blown away by the imagination of the HabaNiro’s creators and its laboratory of technology and we want it in our driveways. Today.” (more…)

Better Late than Never, Mazda Gets into Diesel Game with CX-5 Skyactiv-D

High-torque engine is five years behind schedule.

by on Apr.17, 2019

Mazda finally put a diesel in to one of its products: the 2019 CX-5 crossover.

Nearly five years after Mazda originally planned to launch its SkyActiv-D powertrain, the Japanese automaker is finally ready to make its first diesel engine a reality.

It pulled the wraps off the new powertrain at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday, the oil-burner getting its first American application under the hood of the familiar Mazda CX-5 crossover. The diesel joins a growing mix of Mazda engine alternatives that just a year ago saw the launch of the breakthrough homogeneous-charged SkyActiv-X technology.

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“As Mazda continues our climb toward premium, we will offer more powertrain choices that premium customers expect,” said Jeffery Guyton, the newly appointed president of Mazda North American Operations. “I am happy to share that Mazda’s SkyActiv-D 2.2-liter diesel engine is joining the U.S. powertrain line-up with our debut model, the 2019 CX-5 Signature AWD with SkyActiv-D.” (more…)

Jaguar Snags Three Honors at World Car Awards in NYC

I-Pace takes World Car of the Year title.

by on Apr.17, 2019

Jaguar's Ian Callum, center, celebrates the I-Pace being named World Car of the Year at the New York International Auto Show.

It’s not common to find Ian Callum, the normally garrulous Jaguar global design chief, at a loss for words, but that’s precisely what happened, at least momentarily, when the British automaker’s first battery-electric vehicle, the I-Pace, was named World Car of the Year during a ceremony at the New York International Auto Show Wednesday morning.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that Jaguar pulled off a first-ever hat trick during the show’s media preview, also being named World Car Design of the Year as well as World Green Car of the Year.

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“I’m speechless for once,” said Callum, taking a deep breath before regaining his composure as he accepted the third – and most important – trophy of the morning. “This is astonishing — my Oscar moment.” (more…)

Lincoln Corsair: a Small SUV with a Big Role to Play

Plug-in and full battery-electric models now in the works.

by on Apr.17, 2019

The 2020 Lincoln Corsair breaks cover in NY.

Check the dictionary and you’ll find a variety of different meanings for the word, “corsair.” It can be used to describe a pirate ship, as well as a World War II fighter plane, though Joy Falotico prefers the Latin definition, “journey,” or “course.”

That would seem more appropriate for Lincoln, the brand Falotico runs, because the Corsair is the newest in a series of recent models that are starting to put the luxury marque back on track after years of struggle.

Auto Show News!

Replacing the old Lincoln MKC, and making its debut at this week’s New York International Auto Show, the Corsair gets a complete new look, a lot more upscale features and, about a year from introduction, it will also add a new plug-in hybrid drivetrain – with Lincoln likely to also add an all-electric version soon afterwards, Falotico told TheDetroitBureau.com during a conversation in New York ahead of Corsair’s official NYIAS debut.

(more…)

NY Auto Show Sees Return of the Porsche Speedster

Buyers will have to put up with a manual top – but the tradeoff is a 502-hp GT3 engine.

by on Apr.17, 2019

Porsche is bringing back a historic name with its new 911 Speedster, which debuted at the NYIAS.

It’s a name that dates back almost seven decades, so Porsche whipped up plenty of enthusiasm when, last year, it showed off two 911 Speedster Concepts. Now, the German automaker is turning concept into reality, unveiling a limited-edition production model at the New York International Auto Show.

In some ways, the new Speedster goes back to basics with a cloth tap that has to opened and closed manually, but the trade off is a two-seater that draws power from the same engine used in the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS models. The 502 horsepower package will launch the Speedster from 0 to 60 in just 3.8 seconds, with a top track speed of 192 mph.

Auto Show News!

Despite a price tag of $274,500 – not including the $1,250 delivery charges – the 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster is expected to sell out relatively quickly. (more…)