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First Drive: 2018 Infiniti Q50

A few new tricks from a not-that-old sedan.

by on Jul.21, 2017

Once known as the G model, the Infiniti Q50 remains the brand's top-selling model.

There always seems to be that one product that truly represents a brand: in the luxury category the list is likely to include the BMW 3-Series, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the Audi A6. Despite its rapidly expanding line-up and the growing shift from passenger cars to SUVs, the Q50 is the model most folks are likely to think about when talk turns to Infiniti.

In various incarnations, it dates back to the earliest days of the brand and has been the brand’s best-seller since the days when it was known by such designations as the G30 and G35. Now dubbed the Q50, the sedan has remained Infiniti’s top model since undergoing a complete makeover in 2016. And now, just two years later, it’s getting a welcome, if not extensive, mid-cycle update.

The Last Word!

The 2018 refresh of the Infiniti Q50 isn’t going to deliver any major surprises. There are some modest exterior and interior visual updates, some additional technology and subtle changes to the unique drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering System. There’s also a new hierarchy of trim levels, starting with the now base-level Q50 Pure, and running up to the top-line Q50 Red Sport 400.


Lyft Establishes Stand-Alone Autonomous Vehicle Unit

Ride-share company expands self-driving car plans.

by on Jul.21, 2017

Luc Vincent, Lyft's autonomous vehicle chief, announced the company's plans to establish a self-driving car unit. (Photo credit: Lyft)

The competition level between ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft just got ratcheted up another notch as Lyft announced plans to establish its own autonomous vehicle arm.

The move just adds to Uber’s ongoing problems that recently culminated in the departure of company founder and now former CEO Travis Kalanick, who was basically forced out by investors last month.

Come Along for the Ride!

Lyft, which counts General Motors among its substantive investor base, plans to have a self-driving car team staffed with hundreds of engineers by the end of next year. (more…)

UAW Eyeing Production Levels at US Plants

Union officials about rising import levels.

by on Jul.21, 2017

GM CEO Mary Barra and UAW President Dennis Williams talk regularly about the number of vehicles GM imports from other countries, Williams said.

The United Auto Workers union is keeping an eye on General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles concerned about the potential threat to plants and jobs from slumping U.S. car sales and by increased imports from countries like China.

“We are talking to (GM) right now about the products that they currently have” at underused car plants such as Hamtramck in Michigan and Lordstown in Ohio, and whether they might be replaced with newer, more popular vehicles such as crossovers, UAW president Dennis Williams said.

Beyond the Headlines!

“We are tracking it (and) we are addressing it,” said Williams noting he meets quarterly with GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. The discussion about replacement products is ongoing. (more…)

First Drive: Nissan ProPilot Assist

Not quite autonomous, new system to debut on next-gen Nissan Leaf

by on Jul.21, 2017

A Nissan Rogue outfitted with ProPilot Assist. But the first production model will be the '18 Leaf.

Like parents helping their child learn to walk, automakers are trying to teach their cars how to drive on their own. And Nissan will take a big step closer to that goal later this year when an all-new version of the Leaf battery-electric vehicle comes to market.

The 2018 Nissan Leaf will see its range roughly doubled, the automaker signaling it will be able to deliver around 200 miles per charge. It also will feature a number of new technologies, including the e-Pedal system announced earlier this week, as well as something it has dubbed ProPilot Assist.

Tech News!

Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has promised that the company will have its first fully autonomous car on the market by around 2020. But before then, Nissan plans to roll out a series of increasingly sophisticated, semi-autonomous driver assistance systems. ProPilot Assist is the latest. And we jumped at the chance to spend some time checking it out.


Audi Recalls 850k Diesels as German Automakers Accused of Collusion

German magazine reports on alleged diesel tech price fixing scheme.

by on Jul.21, 2017

Audi is recalling 850,000 diesel-powered vehicles in Europe to fix them so they meet emissions standards.

Audi, already under fire for rigging some of its diesel-powered vehicles, said Friday that it will recall 850,000 of its products to update emissions control software.

The move came days after rival Mercedes-Benz announced the recall of 3 million vehicles to bring them into compliance with European emissions laws. The latest announcement by Audi does not cover vehicles sold in North America where it had previously been involved in a series of recalls and legal settlements involving rigged diesels.

News Now!

Separately, Audi is one of three luxury automakers who took steps to fix the price of diesel emissions treatment systems, according to a report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel. The others are BMW and Porsche. Audi and Porsche are both subsidiaries of Volkswagen AG, the automaker that in late 2015 admitted rigging more than 11 million diesel vehicles sold worldwide. (more…)

Volvo, Geely Create Joint Venture Aimed at EV Market

New deal helps reduce development costs.

by on Jul.21, 2017

Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson expects development and production costs to drop with the new joint venture with Geely and Lynk.

With its profits climbing 21.4% in the first half of 2017, Volvo Cars is planning to set up a new joint venture technology company with Geely Holding. The new deal is designed to reduce development and production costs.

Volvo’s venture with the Chinese car group is to “share existing and future technology, deepen industrial synergies and provide the economies of scale that will allow them to more rapidly develop next generation electrified vehicle technology,” the two companies said in a joint statement.

Global Auto News!

Volvo Cars, Geely Auto and Lynk & Co. will share vehicle architecture and engine technologies through cross licensing arrangements of technologies managed by the new joint venture. The new partners will also commonly sourcing components cutting procurement costs. (more…)

Ford Gives Police a High-Performance Pursuit Machine

Automaker’s new offering lets cops go anywhere to get their man.

by on Jul.20, 2017

Ford unveiled its new F-150 Police Responder giving police officers the ability to nab bad guys no matter where they go.

Just a few months after giving police officers the ability to go farther in their interceptor units with the new Ford Fusion Hybrid Interceptor, the automaker is giving them the ability to go anywhere to track down those running from the long arm of the law.

Ford unveiled its new F-150 Police Responder model today. The newest addition to the line-up is designed to give law enforcement officers the ability to pursue criminals anywhere.

Safety News!

More Raptor Interceptor than Police Responder, the truck features a 3.5-liter EcoBoost putting out 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque allowing for speeds up to 100 mph and plenty of off-road performance in the event pursuits go off tarmac. (more…)

Under 30 Minutes – Underground – From NY to DC? Musk Claims He’s Gotten the Go

Tesla CEO claims “verbal” approval for buried Hyperloop system.

by on Jul.20, 2017

A rendering of the HyperLoop shows a vehicle blasting through its near complete vacuum.

You take a quick elevator ride down into a cavern dug well below the busy streets of New York City. A half-hour later you ride back up to the surface, but now you’re in the nation’s capital.

At least that’s the scheme envisioned by entrepreneur Elon Musk, who said in a tweet that he has gotten “verbal govt approval” for his new tunneling venture, the Boring Company to build an underground version of his Hyperloop concept to connect New York and Washington, D.C. Total travel time, he estimated, would be just 29 minutes, or a fraction of what it today takes even by air, never mind the fastest conventional trains operated by Amtrak.

Keeping You Looped In!

The project would create a revolution in transportation, especially by linking up two major cities on the East Coast. But Musk is also trying to pull together another underground project that would allow motorists to avoid the traffic jams of Los Angeles by traveling through a network of underground tunnels.


New Car Sales Have Peaked in US, Analyst Says

Boston Consulting Group said last year’s record is safe.

by on Jul.20, 2017

Boston Consulting Group predicts fewer people will be heading to dealers to buy new cars this year.

New vehicle sales in the U.S. have clearly peaked and are unlikely to exceed the 17.5 million-unit level posted in 2016 in the next decade, according to Xavier Mosquet, senior partner in the Boston Consulting Group’s Detroit office.

“We’ve hit peak auto (sales),” said Mosquet, who notes that BCG has revised its forecast for 2017 and expects sales to settle in at 16.8 million units, which is at the low-end of the predicted range of current sales forecasts for the industry.

Sales News!

“The U.S. market for vehicles has peaked, at least for the foreseeable future,” the group noted in a new report prepared for MEMA, the organization representing automotive suppliers in the original equipment and aftermarket. (more…)

GM Invests in Autonomous Driving Software Developer

Detroit automaker joins BMW, Toyota in supporting Nauto.

by on Jul.20, 2017

General Motors invested an undisclosed sum in Nauto, an autonomous driving software developer.

General Motors Co has joined a long list of investors in a new Silicon Valley startup called Nauto, which is developing software for self-driving vehicles.

Palo Alto, California-based Nauto said this week that it closed a new funding round, led by Japan’s Softbank and venture capital firm Greylock Partners. It also has attracted financial support from companies such as BMW and Toyota Motor Corp, as well as the German insurance firm Allianz.

News Now!

Automakers have been scouring the tech world both in the U.S. and abroad for partners with technology that could potentially be used on self-drive vehicles. They have been willing to invest significant sums in new ventures targeting the development of autonomous vehicles to keep pace with new entries into the automotive field such as Tesla and Google/Alphabet. (more…)