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First Drive: Jaguar F-Type 4-Cylinder

Sound off...and sound on.

by on Aug.10, 2017

The 4-cylinder version of the Jaguar F-Type joins the U.S. line-up later this year.

We’ve spent the last several hours climbing up a mountainside in the northern reaches of Norway behind the wheel of a new Range Rover Velar. Now, as we creep back down to level ground, it’s time to go from the sublime to the ridiculous…or is it the other way around?

As much fun as the new Range Rover has been over the last couple days, we can’t wait to check out the way the Jaguar F-Type will maneuver through the twisting Norwegian countryside, its narrow, but well-paved roads tracing the curves of the local rivers, lakes and fjords. Making things more interesting: our two-seater is the new, four-cylinder version of the F-Type.

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Reviews You Can Trust!

We fell in love with the sports car the moment the convertible version first rolled out, the coupe adding even more to its handling bona fides. But perhaps nothing enhanced the visceral passion quite like the raw, guttural roar of the F-Type’s supercharged V-8. Will the new, turbocharged 4-cylinder Ingenium engine deliver anywhere near the thrill?

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Toyota Delaying Launch of New Mexican Plant

Operations now set to begin in 2020.

by on Aug.10, 2017

Toyota will now produce its midsize Tacoma pickup truck at the new Mexican plant.

Toyota will push back by a year the planned opening of a new assembly plant in Mexico, a delay resulting from its decision to shift production for two key models.

The factory in Guanajuato, in central Mexico, was to have produced the popular Toyota Corolla. Instead, it will now build the Tacoma pickup. The Corolla, meanwhile, will move from a Toyota factory in Canada to a new plant Toyota is opening in the United States.

Industry News!

“With the production model change to the Tacoma pickup, the start of production will consequently be in the first half of 2020,” rather than the originally scheduled production launch in 2019, a Toyota spokesman explained. “However, we will make our utmost effort to advance the timing in order to minimize the impact to suppliers and the local community.”

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Chevy Has Big Plans for Bigger Traverse

GM’s largest brand wants to boost sales, drive up transaction prices.

by on Aug.09, 2017

The Chevrolet Traverse tied with its siblings, the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, as the most American vehicle on the market in a recent study.

When Chevrolet unveiled the all-new 2018 Traverse earlier this year, it revealed a three-row ute that is larger in just about every dimension. The question is whether it will grow larger in the column that matters most to Chevy’s bookkeepers.

Compared to the midsize SUV segments dominant nameplates, like the Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer, the Traverse has been a relative afterthought. But Chevy is hoping that the significant upgrades it’s making will sharply boost demand in the coming year, especially at a time when utility vehicles continue to gain momentum even as the overall U.S. automotive market slips into the doldrums after three years of record sales.

The Inside Story!

Officials with General Motors are so confident about the new model, in fact, that they’re studying ways to squeeze more utes out of the Lansing, Michigan plant Traverse shares with midsize offerings from the Buick and GMC brands, the brand’s marketing chief told TheDetroitBureau.com during a briefing on the all-new 2018 model.

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Flood of Long-Range Electric Cars Set to Plug Into U.S. Market by 2020

Many will target affordable niches

by on Aug.09, 2017

Mercedes will introduce a new battery sub-brand and launch it with a version of the Mercedes-EQ Concept.

With last month’s launch of the Tesla Model 3, U.S. consumers now have two “affordable” long-range battery-electric vehicles to choose from. Those with a bit more money in the bank can also opt for the more expensive Tesla Model S sedan and Model X SUV.

There are plenty of other electric vehicles in U.S. showrooms today, though most, like the current-generation Ford Focus Electric, can manage barely 100 miles per charge. The Mitsubishi MiEV, which will vanish at the end of the 2017 model-year, can only make it 59 miles before having to plug in again, according to the EPA.

We'll Keep You Plugged In!

But the new model-year not only will bring us the new Model 3 but a complete makeover of the Nissan Leaf, which will nearly double its range to at least 200 miles per charge. And that’s just for starters. By 2020, virtually every major automaker is expected to have at least one long-range model in its showrooms. Many of them will be in affordable – that is, under $40,000 base MSRP – segments, with plenty more in premium niches.

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As Many as 20 Models May Vanish During ’18 Model-Year

Even a few SUVs are heading off to the scrapyard.

by on Aug.08, 2017

While the ax is largely falling on sedans, coupes and ragtops, a couple light trucks will go away after 2017, including the Volkswagen Touareg SUV.

Every model year brings a flood of new and updated products, but you’ll also see a number of older, typically slower-selling models drive off into the sunset. And that’s certainly going to be the case as we head into 2018.

But the coming model-year seems to be a particular tough one, especially when it comes to passenger cars, which continue to lose momentum to SUVs, pickups and other light trucks. That said, even a few utes will be heading off to the scrapyard in 2018, notably including the Touareg, Volkswagen’s first SUV.

Product News!

We’ve pulled together a list of 17 models that we know are going to be gone by the end of the current model-year, but while their manufacturers have yet to give official word, several other entries seem likely to vanish, as well, including the little Ford Fiesta and C-Max models. And General Motors is reportedly reviewing six more models that could be culled from its line-up in the near future, very possibly before the end of the 2018 model-year.

Here are 17 products we know for sure won’t be around in 2018:

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Mazda To Launch Breakthrough Homogeneous Compression Engine

Skyactiv-X said to combine best of diesel, gas engines, including hybrid level mileage.

by on Aug.08, 2017

Mazda reportedly will use the new HCCI engine technology in the next Mazda3 model.

Just days after Mazda announced plans to partner with Toyota on the development and production of new battery-electric vehicles, the smaller automaker said it is getting ready to launch a new breakthrough gasoline engine that could give hybrids a run for the money.

Known as a homogeneous charge compression ignition, or HCCI, engine, what Mazda plans to call the Skyactiv-X has been a long-held goal of many major manufacturers for decades. It essentially combines the best aspects of gas and diesel engines to deliver, among other things, extremely good mileage with low emissions.

Breaking News!

“We think it is an imperative and fundamental job for us to pursue the ideal internal combustion engine,” Mazda R&D head Kiyoshi Fujiwara told reporters in Japan on Tuesday. “Electrification is necessary but,” he added, “the internal combustion engine should come first.”

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Faraday Future Lines Up New Factory in CA

Move follows decision to abandon $1b plant in Nevada.

by on Aug.07, 2017

More than 300 Faraday workers gathered at the plant last weekend to help clean it up.

Reports of Faraday Future’s demise, as Mark Twain might have suggested, have been greatly exaggerated. Or so the Chinese-funded battery-carmaker wants us to believe.

Faraday has seemed on the verge of extinction for some time, “temporarily” halting work on its $1 billion Nevada assembly plant last year and then, barely a month ago walking away from the project entirely.

Stay Plugged In!

But Faraday on Monday announced it has lined up a new factory to produce the FF91 battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, it unveiled in January. The new site is a one-time Pirelli tire plant in Hanford, California that has largely sat idle since 2001.

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Pressed for Cash, Tesla Issues Junk Bond in Bid to Boost Model 3 Production

Automaker lowers price of Model X SUV to reflect “efficiencies.”

by on Aug.07, 2017

The first "saleable" Model 3 shown after rolling off the line at the Fremont plant last month.

Aiming for a massive increase in production to meet strong demand for its new Model 3 battery-electric vehicle, Tesla is issuing $1.5 billion in high-yield junk bonds.

The announced comes less than a week after Tesla said it had narrowed its losses for the second quarter. During a conference call to discuss the earnings report, CEO Elon Musk indicated the automaker might need a new cash infusion but would try to avoid issuing new stock.

Breaking News!

The new debt offering is meant “to further strengthen its balance sheet during this period of rapid scaling with the launch of Model 3, and for general corporate purposes.”

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Leaked Pics Show More Conservative Nissan Leaf

Gen-2 battery-car set for September debut.

by on Aug.07, 2017

A reader of Broom, a Norwegian magazine, caught the new Leaf being filmed in Spain.

With little more than a month to go before Nissan pulls the covers off its second-generation Leaf, what appear to be pictures of the battery-electric vehicle being shot for a promotional video have leaked out onto the web.

The Japanese automaker has already dropped some hints about the update, revealing that it will be the first of its products to get the semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist technology, as well as the drive-by-wire e-Pedal system which will effectively allow a motorist to use the throttle pedal to both accelerate and stop.

Spy shots!

But the newly leaked images, on top of a company-released shot of the 2018 Nissan Leaf headlamps, indicate the new model will be far less quirky and distinctive than the original battery-electric vehicle. If anything, it will now look a lot more like the European subcompact, the Nissan Micra.

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Toyota Pairing Up with Mazda on EV Project, $1.6b US Car Plant

Mazda to issue new shares as Toyota set to take 5% equity stake.

by on Aug.04, 2017

Toyota President Akio Toyota and his Mazda counterpart Masamichi Kogai announce their alliance.

On the same day Toyota Motor Corp. announced a 6% jump in net earnings, the Japanese automaker confirmed it will take an equity stake in Mazda Motor Corp. on a venture that will lead them to jointly develop and produce electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, the two carmakers confirmed they will also set up a new, $1.6 billion assembly plant in the United States that will create up to 4,000 new jobs. Toyota already operates a broad network of factories in the U.S., but Mazda hasn’t operated a plant there since exiting a long-running joint venture with Ford Motor Co. several years ago.

Beyond the Headlines!

“The greatest fruit of our partnership with Mazda is that we have found a new partner who truly loves cars,” said Toyota President Akio Toyoda. “It has also sparked Toyota’s competitive spirit, increasing our sense of not wanting to be bested by Mazda.”

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