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Dealers Latest to Settle With VW Over Diesel Scandal

Funds to be paid out over 18 months.

by on Aug.25, 2016

Livingston VW, of Woodland Hills, CA, is one of the maker's 650 American franchisees.

(This story has been updated to reflect the cost of the new settlement.)

Two months after agreeing to a $14.7 billion deal with federal regulators over its cheating on diesel emissions tests, Volkswagen has reached another settlement covering its 650 U.S. dealers.

The maker will pay about $1.2 billion over the next 18 months to cover the losses dealers claim to have run up as a result of the scandal, in large part due to a sharp drop in the maker’s sales. Along with cash payments, VW will provide “additional benefits” to those dealers. The announcement moves Volkswagen closer to resolving its ongoing legal problems, though it still faces a number of additional challenges, including lawsuits by shareholders.

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Breaking News!

“We believe this agreement in principle with Volkswagen dealers is a very important step in our commitment to making things right for all our stakeholders in the United States,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North American Region, Volkswagen. “This agreement, when finalized, will strengthen the foundation for our future together and further emphasize our commitment both to our partners and the U.S. market.”

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Expansive Cadillac Product Plan Getting Squeezed

Product portfolio delayed, some models could be cut.

by on Aug.25, 2016

Cadillac smooths out the edges of its Art & Design design language with the Escala concept.

(This story has been updated to include additional insight into Cadillac plans, including the brand halo product frequently referred to as the CT8.)

Cadillac offered a hint of its future design direction last week, in the form of the Escala concept car unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. But plans to launch a large luxury sedan that might share that design theme have been delayed and could even be cut, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

With General Motors’ flagship luxury brand struggling to boost U.S. sales, despite the addition of several new models, Caddy is facing the prospect that the aggressive product growth strategy outlined by brand boss Johan de Nysschen will be sharply paired back, according to various company sources and industry observers. Among the projects being delayed are the full-size sedan, which was expected to be called either the CT8 or CT9, but also the twin-turbo V-8 that would be used to power it.

What a Concept!

While the South African-born de Nysschen declined to discuss specific changes to the Cadillac product program, he did indicate there could be some slowdowns during a conversation following the reveal of the Escala show car. The twin-turbo V-8, for example, might not make it into production until “the next-generation CT6.” Since biggest sedan in Caddy’s current fleet just came to market, that might mean the high-performance engine wouldn’t be available until around the 2023 or 2024 model-year.

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Forget Sports Cars, SUVs Set to Dominate Super-Premium Luxury Market

Utility vehicles likely to be best-sellers for brands like Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, even Rolls-Royce.

by on Aug.24, 2016

Lamborghini first revealed the Urus SUV concept at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show.

They’re both known for their high-performance sports cars, but when Aston Martin and Lamborghini launch two of their most critical models ever, both in 2019, the focus of the two brands will shift to sport-utility vehicles.

If all goes according to plan, those two models, the Aston Martin DBX and the production version of the Lamborghini Urus concept, will generate at least 50% or more of their sales. But that’s far from precedent setting. Best known for sports cars like the 911 and the Boxster, it’s the Cayenne and Macan SUVs that already generate the biggest sales numbers for Porsche.

Insight!

Super-premium utility vehicles are “going to be the hottest segment in the luxury market,” said Simon Sproule, the chief marketing officer for Aston. “As with the mainstream market, that’s what people want to drive.”

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Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Looks Back at the Future

Massive coupe offers hint of new life for ultra-premium brand.

by on Aug.19, 2016

That hood seems to stretch to the horizon - which is surprising for an electric vehicle.

Mercedes is going forward into the past with the retro-futuristic concept it has unveiled ahead of the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

At a full 18.5 feet, and painted in a vibrant, eye-catching red, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 is almost certain to be one of the stand-outs among a collection of show cars assembled for the classic car show. And while there are no plans to put the boast-tailed coupe into production, Mercedes officials hint it could influence models as the maker presses further into the ultra-luxury market.

Show Cars!

While the maker bridles at the term, “retro,” there is no question the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 delves into the brand’s past for its inspiration, said Davis Lee, the senior designer who gets credit for the concept. “Fundamental beauty never changes,” he told TheDetroitBureau.com, adding that, “This is very true” to Mercedes’ history.

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Cadillac Shifts Design Direction with Escala Concept

A more buttoned-down take on Art & Science.

by on Aug.19, 2016

Cadillac smooths out the edges of its Art & Design design language with the Escala concept.

It’s been more than a decade since Cadillac set out to rebuild its once trend-setting credentials with the introduction of the edgy Art & Science design language. Since the debut of the first generation CTS sedan, it’s been tweaking the theme but as General Motors’ luxury brand gets set for what it’s calling an “unprecedented” product blitz, it seems we’re in for another major design makeover.

But if anyone was expecting an equally radical new look, it seems that Caddy is going in a different, more buttoned-down direction. The new Cadillac Escala Concept making its debut ahead of this weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance won’t get lost in the crowd, but it’s certainly not the bold showstoppers of other recent Caddy concepts, like the Elmiraj Coupe Concept that was unveiled in Pebble Beach three years ago.

What a Concept!

The concept “marks an inflection point” for Cadillac, said its President Johan de Nysschen, who declared the Escala, “the next design chapter” for the brand, and promised key elements of the show car “will be incorporated in every one of our new products over the next five years.”

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Mazda Plans Limited Edition Miata RF Launch Edition

“Loyal” MX-5 owners to get first crack.

by on Aug.18, 2016

The Mazda MX-5 Miata FR made its formal debut at the 2016 New York Auto Show.

Mazda will mark the New Year with the launch of the new MX-5 Miata RF, and it says  its “most loyal customers” will have reason to celebrate because they will get first crack at ordering the distinctive retractable fastback model that made its debut at the New York International Auto Show last March.

A special MX-5 RF Launch Edition model will be available and will feature just one option: the choice of a SkyActive-MT six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission.

Product News!

“Rarely does any automaker have a vehicle that garners the sort of loyalty and enthusiasm MX-5 generates,” said Robert Davis, senior vice president with Mazda North American Operations, “something we don’t take lightly. MX-5 RF is the next chapter of this storied model line, and we can’t think of a better way to give back than to first offer this bespoke Launch Edition to those who have stuck with us.”

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As Waters Dry, Beware of Buying Flood-Damaged Cars

Storms may have ruined 1,000s of vehicles.

by on Aug.17, 2016

A car sits in flood waters in Louisiana this past week. Photos courtesy NBCNews.

Devastating floods have hammered several parts of the country in recent weeks, leading to a number of deaths and injuries and heavily damaging many communities in Louisiana, West Virginia and several other states.

But as the waters begin to recede, the storms have also left behind thousands of flood-damaged vehicles, according to industry experts, and they worry that many of those could wind up back on the U.S. car market, their titles “washed” so that unsuspecting buyers don’t realize the risks they face.

Be a Smart Shopper!

It’s not illegal to sell a flood-damaged vehicle. You can find auctions that specialize in them with a quick online search. But while those vehicles are supposed to be clearly identified, that’s not always the case with less scrupulous resellers. And if you’re not careful, you could wind up finding yourself underwater considering the costly repairs such vehicles may need.

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Ford Planning to Launch 1st Driverless Car by 2021

Initial focus: ride-sharing services like Uber, and delivery companies.

by on Aug.17, 2016

Ford recently began testing autonomous vehicle prototypes on public roads in Silicon Valley.

It has become conventional wisdom within the transportation industry that the introduction of autonomous vehicles will be a step-by-step process, starting with so-called “driver assistance” systems and only eventually reaching the point where cars and trucks will be capable of driving entirely on their own.

Ford Motor Co. says it is heading in a very different direction, however, the Detroit automaker revealing plans to put its first completely driverless vehicle into production by 2021. The model it is working on, global product development chief Raj Nair tells TheDetroitBureau.com, won’t even have a steering wheel or pedals.

We'll Do the Driving!

“We don’t think the path to true autonomy is through a step-by-step, incremental process,” Nair said during a telephone interview. Having a driver sit behind the wheel, waiting to take over in an emergency is actually a dangerous solution, he explained because, over time, “You lose driver awareness. You lose the ability for a human to respond in a timely manner.”

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First Drive: 2017 Genesis G90

Big car, big ambitions.

by on Aug.16, 2016

The 2017 Genesis G90 will take on such lofty competitors as the BMW 7- and Mercedes S-Class.

Say the name, “Hyundai,” and most folks are likely to think of a small econocar like the original Excel, or perhaps something a little larger and more modern, such as the Sonata. And that’s the problem the Korean carmaker has been struggling with as it has tried pushing into the luxury market with offerings like the Genesis and Equus sedans.

No wonder, then, that Hyundai decided to reverse course last year, announcing plans to launch a separate luxury brand that could more directly be positioned against established high-line competitors like BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.

Reviews You Can Trust!

The all-new Genesis brand made its debut earlier this year with the launch of the G80, a modestly updated version of the Hyundai Genesis sedan targeted against the likes of the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class. But now, the Koreans are set to put a halo around the new marque with the roll-out of the big Genesis G90. And we jumped at the chance to take the premium luxury sedan for several hundred miles of driving through the gorgeous mountains outside of Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Justice Dept. Readying Criminal Charges Against VW

Fine, government monitor among possible options.

by on Aug.16, 2016

VW could be asked to pay a criminal fine of as much as $1.2 bil, according to reports.

The U.S. Justice Department is reportedly in talks with Volkswagen AG as it prepares to lay out criminal charges against the automaker following an ongoing investigation of VW’s rigging of diesel emissions tests.

While charges against individuals could yet be revealed, several reports out of Washington suggest that federal prosecutors will focus on levying as much as $1.2 billion in fines against the embattled German automaker, and possibly appointing a monitor to oversee VW’s future behavior.

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Any settlement would come on top of the $14.7 billion Volkswagen agreed to pay as part of a civil settlement with the Justice Dept., the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission. That deal, announced in June, included about $10 billion to buy back as many as 475,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. equipped with 2.0-liter diesel engines.

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