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Volvo Relaunching Polestar as “Electrified High Performance” Company

Polestar joins growing list of dedicated electric spin-offs.

by on Jun.22, 2017

Going forward, the Polestar logo will stand alone, without a Volvo badge.

Volvo has become the latest automaker to set up a separate operation focused specifically on electric vehicles, in this case, putting the emphasis on “high performance” models.

The move appears to position its Polestar division to challenge the new Mercedes-EQ sub-brand, which is set to launch at least seven electric vehicles by 2022, and BMW i, as well as upstart battery-carmakers like Tesla, Faraday Future and Lucid. The announcement does not appear to preclude Volvo’s ability to produce less performance-oriented electric vehicles under its own badge.

Electrifying News!

Purchased by Volvo in 2015, Polestar will now operate as a standalone company with a new management team. That includes Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Gooding, who had been Volvo’s communications chief, and new Chief Executive Officer Thomas Ingenlath, who had been Volvo’s global design director.

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Tesla Closing in on Deal to Build Cars in China

EV maker inking deal with city of Shanghai.

by on Jun.21, 2017

Tesla is apparently closing in on a deal to build new cars in Shanghai.

Not long after suggesting a new plant in India was coming, it appears Tesla’s Elon Musk is making headway on plants around Asia, especially China.

The EV maker is reportedly close to an agreement with the city of Shanghai to build a new plant in the city’s Lingang development zone. The deal could be done in just a few days, Bloomberg reported.

Technology and Business News!

China’s central government has been pushing hard for an increase in electric vehicle sales in the last two years, providing incentives and easing regulations to help manufacturers get moving on the needed escalation of EVs. Read the rest of this entry »

Kia and Koreans Top J.D. Power Quality Study as Japanese Slide

Quality up overall, but Power warns of some “early warning bells.”

by on Jun.21, 2017

The 2017 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study rankings by brand.

For the second year in a row, Kia nabbed the top spot in the closely watched J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, with all three of the South Korean carmakers sold in the U.S. market landing in the Top 10.

Detroit automakers also fared well in the study, with four brands in the Top 10. But the Japanese, long credited with driving up the quality of vehicles sold in the U.S., didn’t fare nearly as well, with only Nissan landing in the upper reaches.

Stay in the Know!

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2017 Initial Quality Study was the poor showing by Japanese giant Toyota. Along with its Lexus brand it ranked number one more often than any other manufacturer – for 14 of the 31 years the IQS has been released to the public. But this year, Toyota was 14th, and only barely above industry average. The Lexus brand fell below average for the first time since it was launched. Read the rest of this entry »

Kalanick Forced Out as CEO of Uber

Embattled founder resigns as turmoil wracks ride-sharing giant.

by on Jun.21, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has been forced to resign in the wake of lawsuits, sexual harassment charges and other complaints about the company.

With his company facing an array of problems, including lawsuits, complaints about sexual harassment, and the exodus of key senior executives, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has been forced to resign.

The news was announced early Wednesday, barely a week after the embattled Kalanick said he would take an indefinite leave of absence motivated, at least in part, by the death of his mother in a boating accident. The ride-sharing giant said Kalanick will remain on its board of directors.

News Now!

For his part, the 40-year-old Kalanick appeared to recognize he had become not a leader but a polarizing distraction for Uber Technologies, Inc., in a statement noting that “rather than be distracted with another fight,” his departure will let Uber focus on building its business. Read the rest of this entry »

First Drive: 2018 Toyota Camry

Toyota aims for a younger buyer with the 2018 Camry, but what will the faithful think?

by on Jun.21, 2017

Coming at you: Toyota has more gas and hybrid variants to choose from with the 2018 Camry.

Here’s a question for you: how many redesigned sedans have been launched over the last two or three years, and what are they? It’s something Jack Hollis, Toyota Division general manager, asked last week as journalists gathered for the first drive of the completely redesigned Toyota Camry.

“Nothing really stands out,” he said during the event in Oregon. “If you’re a sedan buyer, what are you getting excited about? The new truck, the new crossover the new SUV.”

Reviews You Can Trust!

It’s a concern for Hollis and his employer as Toyota gets ready to launch the fully redesigned midsized sedan later this year. The Camry has been the number one-selling passenger car in the U.S for 19 of the past 20 years, while more than 18 million have been sold worldwide since its launch in 1982. Yet Toyota hasn’t been exempt from the sudden shift in buyer preference, as 63 percent of U.S. car buyers opt for trucks, SUVs, and crossovers rather than passenger cars.

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Jaguar Set to Reveal 2nd SUV

New Jaguar E-Pace to make world premiere on July 13 in London.

by on Jun.21, 2017

The new Jaguar E-Pace will compete with compact SUVs like the Audi Q3.

Jaguar is adding a second utility vehicle to its line-up, the compact E-Pace set to make its debut in London next month, with sales set to start in early 2018.

The compact performance utility vehicle will complement the bigger F-Pace which has already become the British marque’s best-seller since going on sale last year. Meanwhile, Jaguar is working up a third ute, the battery-powered I-Pace that is still more than a year from coming to market.

2018 Product News!

While Jaguar is saving a number of details for the London debut on July 13 it has already confirmed that the E-Pace will carry a base price of $38,600 – plus delivery fees – or about $3,000 less than the starting price for the 2017 F-Pace.

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Mercedes New Russian Plant: Start of Change?

Most automakers cut ties to market, although Ford pondering expansion.

by on Jun.20, 2017

Daimler and Russian officials show off the model for the new Mercedes-Benz plant just outside Moscow.

As many automakers have been running away from the Russian auto market, a few others are moving into to expand their foothold in their absence. Daimler AG began construction of a new Mercedes-Benz plant near Moscow: the first new investment by a major foreign automaker in years.

The German maker is investing nearly $280 million into the new factory to build new Mercedes E-Class sedans starting in 2019 with the luxury brand’s GL class sport utility vehicles following afterward.

News You Can Trust!

“Establishing a passenger car production in Russia is a strategic investment in an important sales market for Mercedes-Benz. We are extending our local footprint and, at the same time, strengthening our global competitiveness,” said Markus Schäfer, member of the Divisonal Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain, during the groundbreaking ceremony. Read the rest of this entry »

Audi A8 Set to Swing Into View With Debut of New Spider-Man Flick

Complete makeover to introduce new design language, new safety and infotainment tech.

by on Jun.20, 2017

Spider-Man's alter ego - played by actor Tom Holland - goes for a drive in Audi's new A8

Automakers are breaking with tradition these days. Where you might have once expected to see Audi unveil its next-generation flagship at a major auto show, the luxury brand is planning to reveal the all-new, 2018 A8 on the silver screen.

The automaker has already begun teasing the new sedan in a series of digital shorts, including one titled “Driver’s test,” but those who want a closer look at the A8 will have to pick up tickets for “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the latest take on the classic Marvel comic, which web-swings into U.S. theaters on July 7th.

We're Swinging!

The 2018 Audi A8 will be a critical entry for Volkswagen AG’s luxury brand. It is the first product to feature the full new design language developed under Marc Lichte, the styling chief who joined the marque in 2014. The big sedan also introduces an assortment of new technologies, including the new Audi AI traffic jam pilot.

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Ford Moving Focus to China

Scrapping plans for Mexican production entirely saves another $500M.

by on Jun.20, 2017

Ford had planned to shift production of the Focus to Hermosillo, Mexico, but instead will produce it in China.

In a surprise move, Ford Motor Co. says it won’t move production of its Focus model to Mexico., but rather Ford plans to move it to China.

That would make the Ford Focus the first mainstream model to be imported from China, a move that could also raise the ire of President Donald Trump, who has been pressing the auto industry to bring more production – and jobs – back to the U.S.

News Now!

But with sales of the compact vehicle line sliding sharply, Joe Hinrichs, Ford President of Global Operations, said the move will save the carmaker about $500 million. Ford had already said it would save at least $500 million by scrubbing plans to build an entirely new Mexican plant for the Focus and other small car lines. Read the rest of this entry »

BMW Taps Magna to Produce New 5 Series EV

Canadian supplier now builds EVs for two luxury makers.

by on Jun.20, 2017

BMW announced it has selected Magna to build its new 5 Series EV, the 530e. Magna will produce it at its plant in Graz, Austria.

BMW announced that its new plug-in hybrid, the 530e, will be built at Magna’s contract manufacturing plant in Graz, Austria, starting this summer.

Magna noted the decision by BMW to have the 530e built in Graz means that the Canadian company is now the manufacturing partner for two premium electrified vehicles – the BMW 530e and the Jaguar I-PACE.

Global Auto News!

BMW’s decision to build the 530e in Graz isn’t exactly a surprise since Magna already builds the 5-Series for the German luxury carmaker at the manufacturing complex. Read the rest of this entry »