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Jaguar Busting Stereotypes to Build Sales

Three SUVs, with more likely. Now add batteries.

by on Sep.21, 2017

Design Director Ian Callum gives the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace its U.S. preview.

Say the name, Jaguar, and you’re likely to picture a sleek sports car like the F-Type or a sexy sports sedan, like the big XJ. But reality for the British automaker is starting to look quite different.

Sure, it’s getting ready to roll out the $187,500 XE SV Project 8, at 592 horsepower the most powerful street-legal model it has ever produced. But when it comes to moving the sales needle, you need to look in the other direction, starting with the F-Pace, the British maker’s first sport-utility vehicle. After a long, downward spiral it almost single-handedly transformed Jaguar into the world’s fastest-growing automotive brand in 2016.

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Beyond the Headlines!

Now, Jaguar is hoping to pull off a similar feat with the launch of its second utility vehicle, the smaller E-Pace, which it rolled out for a sedate U.S. debut on Thursday after a much more spectacular unveiling in London two months ago. A third ute, the I-Pace, will feature a pure battery-electric drivetrain, will come to market late next year.

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Fiat Chrysler Recalling 50K Pacificas

Second-row seat belt can come unlatched during "extreme" maneuvering.

by on Sep.21, 2017

The Chrysler Pacifica is being recalled by FCA for a seat-belt problem.

Fiat Chrysler is recalling approximately 50,000 Chrysler Pacificas for seat belt issue that may crop up if the minivan is put through “extreme handling maneuvers.”

The second-row seat belt in 2017-18 model year Pacificas with the eight-passenger seating option can unbuckle, according to a new report issued by the automaker. The belt can unlatch in these conditions because the release button comes in contact with the adjacent buckle.

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The recall affects roughly 48,000 vehicles in the U.S. and 1,900 vehicles in Canada, FCA said in a statement. The problem was revealed during testing by the company and reported to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration in May. Read the rest of this entry »

China Might Ease Ownership Rules for Foreign EV Companies

The move could accelerate production of electric vehicles.

by on Sep.21, 2017

Tesla is working on a deal to build its vehicles in Shanghai, which may get accelerated if China eases ownership rules for EV makers.

The recent rush of automakers pairing up with indigenous Chinese automakers to meet tough new EV production mandates may come to a happy end for those producers as the government is mulling plans to allow them to set up shop alone.

The Chinese government is considering reversing decades-old policy requiring automakers looking to do business there to partner with Chinese companies. The move would apply only to EV makers in the country’s free-trade zones, according to Bloomberg.

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Still in its preliminary stages, the move would allow a company like Tesla to set up a wholly owned operation in China, which is the biggest market in the world for EVs. It is a significant policy reversal for the country, if it comes to pass. Read the rest of this entry »

Daimler Investing $1B in US Plant to Electrify SUVs

Move gives company can produce EVs in U.S., China and Germany.

by on Sep.21, 2017

Daimler is investing $1 billion into its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, facility to ensure it can produce EVs and the batteries to run them.

The German automaker, Daimler AG, plans to add $1 billion in new investment and create 600 new jobs at its manufacturing center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to make electric vehicles and the batteries to run them.

The investment will finance the company’s strategic plans to produce EQ-branded SUV models Mercedes-Benz U.S. International that are expected to the latest technology needed for automated driving, said Daimler AG officials, noting the investment follow a $1.3 billion investment in 2015 for expanding the Tuscaloosa plant.

Beyond the Headlines!

The battery plant will also be built near the existing passenger-car plant ensuring availability of the very latest technology for future generations of Mercedes-Benz vehicles built in the U.S., the company said in the announcement, which coincided with the ceremonies, marking the 20th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz production in Tuscaloosa.  Read the rest of this entry »

Volvo Downsizes With Debut of new XC40

New “Care by Volvo” program could redefine car buying, ownership, maker claims.

by on Sep.21, 2017

Volvo continues to expand its offerings with the new XC40 utility vehicle.

Volvo is rapidly fleshing out its showrooms, and with the launch of the new XC40 sport-utility vehicle it is taking aim at one of the world’s fastest-growing market segments.

The new crossover follows in the tire tracks of the well-received XC90 and XC60 models and marks the debut of an all-new Compact Modular Architecture, or CMA platform, that will be used for a range of additional, downsized products to come over the next several years. It also helps Volvo introduce the new “Care by Volvo” program that, the maker claims, could help redefine the car buying and ownership experience.

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“The XC40 is our first entry in the small SUV segment, broadening the appeal of the Volvo brand and moving it in a new direction,” said Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson during a preview of the new model in Milan on Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »

FCA, Hyundai Rumors Heating Up Again

South Korean media stoking acquisition fires.

by on Sep.21, 2017

CEO Sergio Marchionne is open to all options whether that means selling the company, partnering with another automaker or lopping off units.

Despite an air of crisis hanging over the Korean Peninsula, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.’s ongoing search for a partner or buyer has apparently migrated from China to South Korea, according to the South Korean press.

Rumors Hyundai Motor was looking to acquire the world’s seventh-largest auto manufacturer Fiat Chrysler Automobiles first surfaced in late August shortly after FCA’s flirtation with Chinese automakers appeared to falter.

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However, the rumors have taken on new life this week with lengthy articles in the South Korean press and speculation by analysts in Seoul that a deal for FCA could be in the offing. Read the rest of this entry »

A Year Before it Opens, Volvo Set to Double Size of New Charleston Plant

Will start with S60; second model to be announced "soon."

by on Sep.20, 2017

The new Volvo XC60 is anchoring parent Geely's ambitious global expansion plans.

The first car isn’t scheduled to roll down the assembly line at Volvo’s new Charleston, South Carolina assembly plant for another year, but the automaker already appears to be optimistic enough to plan for a second, $1 billion line.

The plant will become Volvo’s first assembly plant in the U.S., and will combine its capacity with two new facilities that have already opened in China. The Charleston facility originally was designed with just one line, and was expected to produce about 140,000 vehicles annually – relatively small by modern automotive standards. Sources indicate that will be boosted to more than 200,000 with the addition of a second line.

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“The factory is extremely important for Volvo,” Lex Kerssemakers, the CEO of Volvo North America, told TheDetroitBureau.com during an interview last month. Among other things, he said, when the original investment was announced “it sent a signal” to both consumers and dealers that Volvo was making a serious commitment to the U.S. market.

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Delphi, BlackBerry Partner on Self-Driving Car Tech

Once-time GM parts subsidiary hopes to have driverless tech in production by 2021.

by on Sep.20, 2017

Delphi has already teamed with BMW, Mobileye and Intel to develop an autonomous prototype.

Detroit-based mega-supplier Delphi is teaming up with BlackBerry Ltd., the Canadian company best known for its once-ubiquitous smartphones, to develop the underlying software needed to put autonomous and driverless vehicles on the road.

Once the auto parts unit of General Motors, Delphi has been rapidly shifting away from traditional, mechanical parts to focus on high-tech automotive systems. It already has developed a self-driving system called CSLP that could put it in direct competition with the likes of Google spinoff Waymo.

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But at a briefing at its suburban Detroit headquarters Wednesday, Glen De Vos, Delphi’s Chief Technical Officer said that the “incredibly complex” technology needed for tomorrow’s cars makes it difficult “to do this alone. We need partners.” Read the rest of this entry »

FCA Recalling Half-Million Trucks for Fire Issue

No injuries or fatalities tied to problem, FCA says.

by on Sep.20, 2017

Chrysler is recalling more than 494,000 Ram medium- and heavy-duty trucks with 6.7-liter V8 engines in them.

Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly 500,000 medium- and heavy-duty Ram trucks due a water pump issue that could potentially lead to a fire.

The problem affects 2013–2017 model year Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups as well as 3500, 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs. The action covers only trucks with 6.7-liter engines, according to FCA. The problem hasn’t led to any injuries or fatalities, the company noted.

Safety News!

According to reports, the automaker is “aware of a small number of incidents,” that met the “regulatory definition of fire, which includes everything from a burning odor to open flame.” Some of those fires caused damage to the vehicles in the area around the water pump. Read the rest of this entry »

Spy Shots: 2019 Ram 1500 Pickup

Peeling back the camo.

by on Sep.20, 2017

The new 2019 Ram 1500 is expected to get several upgrades from the previous version, including the use of ultra high strength steel.

Ecdysiasts aren’t the only ones who peel things back one glove at a time. Automakers routinely begin testing new products on public roads wearing heavy camouflage, slowing stripping layers off as they come closer to production.

So it has gone with the next-generation Ram 1500 pickup, which is expected to make its formal debut for the 2019 model-year, parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles optimistic enough about its prospects to expand production capacity. Among other things, the new Ram truck will begin rolling out of FCA’s plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan that, until recently, was producing the Chrysler 200 sedan.

Product News!

While there’s still enough camouflage here to keep some of the next Ram’s naughty bits concealed, we’ve been able to track down some key details about the 2019 pickup, starting with the fact that the 1500 will continue to be made almost entirely out of steel, FCA declining to take its lead from Ford’s big F-150 and migrate to an aluminum-intensive design. Read the rest of this entry »