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Land Rover Barges into Paris with New Discovery Sport

The start of a new family.

by on Oct.01, 2014

The new Land Rover Discovery Sport goes off-roading -- on the River Seine -- for a Paris preview.

Most automakers are content to reveal their new products with the help of a few spotlights, a little music, perhaps even a couple acrobats and entertainers. But Land Rover literally barged in for the 2014 Paris Motor Show, staging a splashy media preview on a Seine riverboat.

One can understand the British maker’s enthusiasm. Land Rover has been gaining significant momentum in recent years with the launch of a series of new products for its Range Rover sub-brand. Now, it’s turning its attention to the Discovery nameplate, and the all-new Discovery Sport model debuting in Paris will become the first in a family of models that will serve as Land Rover’s mid-range line-up.

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“We’re looking to how we can stretch the brand,” explained Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern, stressing that “This is very much a product-led transformation of our business. We’re looking not only to replace existing vehicles but how we can fill the white space” between those older Land Rover models.

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Jaguar Lays Out Specs, U.S. Launch Plans for New XE Sport Sedan

American debut delayed a year.

by on Oct.01, 2014

The new Jaguar XE won't reach the U.S. until Spring of 2016, but will arrive with a full range of engines, as well as rear- and all-wheel-drive.

Jaguar will wait until spring 2016 to bring its new XE sport sedan to the U.S., a full year behind the global launch of the new compact model, but it means that Stateside buyers will be offered a nearly full range of diesel and gas powertrains – as well as the all-wheel-drive system likely to be critical to ensuring the Jaguar XE’s appeal in cold weather regions of the American marketplace.

Following up on an early, invitation-only preview in London last month, Jaguar will be giving the public a first close look at the all-new XE at the Paris Motor Show, which begins with a media preview this week.

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The XE is arguably the most important new product Jaguar has launched in years, at least from a volume perspective, targeting one of the globe’s fastest-growing market segments.

Describing it as “the new custodian of the Jaguar DNA,” Chief Platform Engineer Nick Miller said the XE is intended to be “an accessible Jaguar attracting a new audience to the Jaguar brand.”

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Ford Shares Plunge on Bad News About Recalls, Europe

But maker insists it is “well-positioned for long-term.”

by on Sep.30, 2014

Ford CEO Mark Fields, shown with the 2015 Edge, insists the maker's long-term prospects are solid.

Investors took a dim view after being given an inside look at Ford Motor Co, the maker acknowledging that its European turnaround will be delayed, while it expects to run up big losses in South America, as well – with earnings taking taking another $500 million hit due to recent recalls.

Ford shares closed Monday at $15.11, down about 7.5% on nearly three times the normal volume on the New York Stock Exchange, investors having to balance the maker’s short-term problems against the more upbeat, long-term potential outlined by new Ford CEO mark Fields and his top management team.

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“Our long-term plan underscores the commitment we have to our One Ford plan, while accelerating our pace of progress, delivering product excellence and driving innovation in all areas of our business,” Fields said during a presentation to automotive analysts dubbed Ford 2020. “We remain completely focused on offering customers the freshest lineup of world-class vehicles to meet their needs.”

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Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid Expands Plug-in Mix

Third model joins Panamera, 918 Spyder plug-ins.

by on Sep.26, 2014

Porsche is rapidly expanding its line-up of plug-ins with the launch of the Cayenne S E-Hybrid.

It may best be known for its high-performance sports cars and SUVs, but Porsche is building up an impressive fleet of new battery-based vehicles, including the new Cayenne S E-Hybrid it will debut at the Paris Motor Show next week – its third plug-in hybrid model.

With the launch of the extended-range Cayenne, Porsche will become the only automaker in the world currently offering three different plug-in models, and the only manufacturer marketing one in the luxury SUV segment.

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The 2015 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid will share the stage in Paris with the Panamera S E-Hybrid and Porsche’s 918 Spyder, the first plug-in “ultracar.” The maker also produces more traditional gas-electric hybrid models.

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GM Regains Investment Grade Rating from S&P

Maker gets a much-needed endorsement.

by on Sep.26, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra on the cover of the latest issue of Mary Barra.

Despite the recall of more nearly 30 million vehicles in the U.S. this year, concerns about subprime lending and a lackluster showing in the stock market, Standard & Poors has given GM a much-needed endorsement, raising the company’s credit rating to investment grade.

The announcement comes at a welcome moment for GM, which has watched its share price slide 20% since the beginning of the year, even while the S&P 500 has gained 20%. It also coincides with a generally positive cover story in Time magazine featuring CEO Mary Barra.

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Despite taking some serious hits in recent months, the ratings agency focused on the positive side, among other things, citing the progress of GM’s European turnaround plan, which could put the company back on a breakeven level after losing money for the past 15 years. S&P also noted the automaker’s healthy cash flow and the limited reputational and market share damage from what has become a record number of recalls.

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Chrysler Recalls 349,000 Vehicles for Ignition Switch Defect

One crash linked to defect.

by on Sep.25, 2014

The 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee, one of the vehicles covered by Chrysler's ignition switch recall.

General Motors isn’t the only automaker facing problems with ignition switches. Chrysler is recalling 349,442 older sedans, wagons and SUVs because of a problem that could inadvertently lead vehicles to shut off while being driven.

The announcement is one of the latest involving faulty ignition switches, though the most notorious case involves 2.6 million small cars produced by GM that were recalled last February and which have since been blamed for at least 21 deaths.

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In the case of Chrysler, the ignition switches may inadvertently slip out of the Run position without a driver’s intervention. In some cases, that will simply shut off accessories such as the windshield wipers. But if the key turns all the way to the Off position, the vehicle’s engine may then shut off, leading to a potential loss of control and possible crash.

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Update – Cadillac Flagship Gets a Name: CT6

Caddy to adopt new product naming structure.

by on Sep.24, 2014

Cadillac will call its new flagship the CT6, while it begins to adopt a new naming plan for future products.

Cadillac is adding a significant detail to the various headlines it has made over the last two weeks, announcing that its planned flagship sedan will be emblazoned with the name, CT6 – not to be confused with the midrange Cadillac CTS.

The latest news follows up on Caddy’s confirmation it will be moving its headquarters to NYC in the near future as part of an effort to come in closer contact with the sort of luxury car buyers it hopes to win over to the struggling brand. Word of the flagship sedan was first revealed by General Motors CEO Mary Barra earlier this month. But, as TheDetroitBureau.com reported this week, new Cadillac brand boss Johan de Nysschen is giving strong consideration to a model that would rise even higher into the luxury spectrum.

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As for the CT6, “This Cadillac will be the lightest and most agile car in the class of top-level large luxury sedans,” said Travis Hester, the project’s executive chief engineer. “Using the lessons learned from our dynamic ATS and CTS product lines, we have developed an entirely new vehicle architecture for the CT6. It will employ a mixed material philosophy that combines the best and most efficient components optimized for each area of this new top-of-the-range car.”

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Mercedes Pumps Up Performance with AMG C63

“Power spectrum” runs up to 503 hp.

by on Sep.24, 2014

Mercedes will deliver up to 503 hp with the new AMG C63 - along with 32% better fuel economy.

Mercedes-Benz wants to pump you up – at least if you’re looking to buy one of its new C-class models. With the addition of the AMG C63 line next year, you’ll be able to order a package that tips the scales at more than 500 horsepower.

That’s a far cry from the old Baby Benz, but the latest C-Class is larger and far more luxurious than ever, undergoing a number of significant changes for the 2015 model-year, as TheDetroitBureau.com has already reported. The AMG treatment takes it up a significant notch, both in terms of features and performance.

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What Mercedes describes as the “pinnacle” of the C-Class spectrum will be powered by an all-new biturbo 4.0-liter V-8. It’s a derivative of the engine that will be powering the maker’s new AMG GT sports car. Officially set to debut at the Paris Motor Show in little more than a week, the C63 will be offered with a “power spectrum” of choices.

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NACTOY Jurors Make First Cut for Car, Truck of the Year

U.S., Japanese makers land equal numbers on “short list.”

by on Sep.23, 2014

Ford hopes to smoke the competition with the 2015, 50th anniversary remake of the Mustang.

With most of the new 2015 models now in showrooms, and the stragglers soon set to follow, the nearly 60 journalists on the North American Car and Truck jury are beginning to weigh all the options in the hunt for the top products of the year.

Members of the group – which includes this author – were asked to weigh in on dozens of new offerings, from the little Honda Fit to the full-size Ford F-150 in the first of a three-part voting process that will wrap up in time for the annual Detroit Auto Show next January.

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The jurors have culled the original list down to a much more manageable 10 cars and a dozen trucks and utility vehicles. That includes two U.S, three European, three Japanese and two Korean passenger car models. Domestics dominate the truck list, however, with five separate entries, including the Ford F-150 and GM’s new midsize pickups, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. The Japanese have four, with European makers landing three models on the truck/utility list.

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Infiniti Lifts the Covers on Q80 Inspiration Flagship

A “no-compromise ambassador” for Japanese luxury brand.

by on Sep.23, 2014

A production version of the Q80 Inspiration would mark a return to the Premium Luxury segment for Infiniti.

Three weeks after giving us a first tempting tease of the flagship model it will reveal in Paris next month, Infiniti is lifting the covers to provide a full look at the new Q80 Inspiration concept vehicle.

The maker is billing the Q80 show car as a “vision of category-breaking, supreme luxurious driving.” It is not your typical premium sedan with a big V-8 or -12, but a high-tech, four-seat fastback that features a hybrid-powered and new, autonomous driving technology.

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“In Q80 Inspiration, we wanted to capture that unforgettable feeling when you experience something important, something beautiful, something magnetic for the first time,” explained Infiniti Executive Design Director, Alfonso Albaisa.

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