Saturday, June 30, 2018

This week’s flurry of Dodge announcements points to FCA aligning to fill voids Ford, GM are leaving in the market.

Selected submodels from the 2019 Dodge Challenger & Charger lineup.
Photo: FCA Media website.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) issued a flurry of Dodge-division announcements late this week that, although they tell us little that we didn’t know already, further clarify their strategic direction for Dodge going into the 2019 model year.

The Dodge announcements give us a snapshot of an automaker that is continuing to stay the course with two of their current strong suits: fleet sales and performance-focused passenger cars.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Volkswagen, Dumas electrify the automotive world with all-time Pikes Peak International Hill Climb record.

Race-car driver Romain Dumas atop the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak electric race car.
Photo: Volkswagen U.S. media website.
As covered in our article just over a month ago, Volkswagen said they would do it. And on Sunday, they did it.

Those of us who have been watching the advances in electric vehicle technology have known it for a while. But in case you haven’t been paying attention, something happened at Pikes Peak this week to add a big, public, exclamation point to the reality that electric vehicles aren’t just for tree-huggers any more.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

You’ve come a long way, Hyundai (and Kia and Genesis): Unprecedented J.D. Power findings rank 3 Korean automakers at the top of the quality scale.

A red 1986 Hyundai Pony
Photographed in the UK, this 1986 Hyundai Pony is an example of
the model that Hyundai marketed in the U.S. as the first-generation Excel.
Photo by Charles01 (posted in Wikimedia Commons).
If you’re old enough to have been around and aware in 1985 when the first-generation Hyundai Excels started arriving in the U.S with a bargain-basement sticker price of $4,995—incredible even then for a brand new car—you’re well aware of what a long way Korean automakers have come in the last 30 years. 

The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata is getting more horsepower. And we approve.

Red 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Roadster
Photo: Mazda USA Newsroom.
Ah, Miata. The car that, in spite of sometimes being maligned as a “chick-mobile” or “secretary’s car,” has earned a reputation as the world’s best selling roadster, the world’s most raced car, and the universal solution to how an enthusiast on a budget can gain entry into ownership of a true sports car.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Show cars, hot rods, hoopties and more roll in for the car show in downtown Columbia PA today.

Photo: Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster
No, it ain’t exactly the concours d’elegance at Pebble Beach.

But maybe that’s what’s good about it—because being an auto enthusiast need not be an elitist hobby. The hobby should be accessible to everyone who owns a car that he or she thinks is kinda cool and wants to get more enjoyment out of the ownership and driving experience. It doesn't have to be restricted to those with the fatness of wallet needed to own a trailer queen that will meet the Classic Car Club of America’s definition of a classic and score points based on “the French rules.”

Thursday, June 14, 2018

No, Rolls-Royce didn’t announce thousands of job cuts today. But Rolls-Royce did.

A Rolls-Royce on display at a Cars and Cognac event hosted by the automaker.
Rolls-Royce Cars and Cognac Event. Photo: BMW Group Press Club.
It was a study in random PR mishaps and brand confusion. And it’s hard to imagine how the timing could have been much worse.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Does size matter when it comes to safety? MINI Hardtop 2 Door bags IIHS safety award for criteria that include ‘nearly avoiding’ a collision, BMW Group says.

Mini Hardtop 2-Door
Photo: BMW Group media website.
When it comes to factors that affect crashworthiness as well as lighting and driver assist technologies, size might not matter so much. The 2019 MINI Hardtop 2-Door, which weighs in at 2,690 pounds with automatic transmission and sports a wheelbase of 98.2 inches, just brought home a 2018 Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Monday, June 11, 2018

5 things to love about the Lincoln MKT.

Lincoln MKT station wagon.
Photo: Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster.
You can make a strong argument that, of any automotive format, it’s the station wagon that encompasses the widest range of elements of the American automotive experience—from hauling big boards home from a lumber yard, to sliding surfboards in the back for a day of thrills at the beach, to packing the family in for a leisurely roadtrip with luggage neatly tied under a tarp on the roof rack, to three rows of seats packed with a youth soccer team, to screaming burnouts from funkily modded, tire-shredding station-wagon street rods. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Vending machine for cars opens in Orlando.

Carvana's vending machine for cars.
Photo: Carvana.
Move over, Disney World and Universal—because Orlando just earned a new distinction as the home of the latest vending machine for used cars.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Drivers of new Cadillacs will soon be able to say, ‘Look, Ma—no hands!’

A woman interacts with on-board technology in the interior of a Cadillac.
Photo: GM media website.
Soon, when your baby drives off in a brand new Cadillac, he or she might not even have hands on the wheel. Cadillac announced plans yesterday to roll out Super Cruise, a hands-free driver assistance feature designed for use in highway driving, throughout their entire lineup beginning in 2020.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Pre-sale tickets available now for 6th annual 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegance in Minnesota

Attendees browse through the classic cars on display at the 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegnance
Photo: 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegance.
Pristinely preserved vintage automobiles along the bucolic shores of a placid lake on a lazy Minnesota summer day... it can't get much better than that, right?

If you agree, and if your travels next month will take you anywhere near Excelsior, Minnesota, you just might want to grab some tickets to the sixth annual 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegance, set for Sunday, July 22, 2018, from 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m at Excelsior Commons along the shores of Lake Minnetonka.

Monday, June 4, 2018

To sell the new Focus lineup, Ford is asking Europeans to talk to a sign.

Artificially intelligent outdoor video display to promote the Ford Focus.
Photo: Ford Media Center.
Although Ford announced in April that that they will discontinue U.S. sales of all of the Focus lineup except the Focus Active crossover, the situation is different across the pond in Europe, where Ford began pitching an "all-new" lineup of four flavors of Focus this spring. 

European Ford Focus lineup.
Photo: Ford Media Center.
Now, imagine the conversation around the conference room table as the marketing campaign to support the European launch of the lineup, which includes the Focus ST, the Focus Vignale, the Focus Titanium, and the Focus Active, was under discussion. Did some marketing guru actually say, "Hey, let's have people talk to a sign outdoors?"

Yeah.  Of course. That sounds like a great way to sell a car. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A (partially, I hope) driverless future: here is what intrigues me.

Self-driving Chevy Bolt outside the General Motors Technical Center
Self-driving Chevy Bolt. Photo: GM Corporate Newsroom.
Not long after we published our post yesterday on what the “money trails” of the automotive and financial industries are telling us about the future of autonomous vehicles, an ad for a curious book showed up in my feed: The Big Data Opportunity in Our Driverless Future, by Evangelos Simoudis, PhD, a former IBM executive known for expertise in big-data strategies and corporate innovation.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Despite tragic accidents, the self-driving car money trail tells one story: They’re here. They’re autonomous. Get used to it.

A Waymo-branded self-driving Chrysler Pacifica.
Waymo-branded self-driving Chrysler Pacifica. Photo: FCA.
It doesn’t take much research to at least get a “Zen sense,” if not a quantitative sense, that auto enthusiasts tend to be, to say the least, ambivalent about the self-driving vehicle juggernaut.

And that’s not hard to understand: it's all about the sense of individual freedom and control that comes from owning and driving your own vehicle. The American driver knows that he or she can, theoretically, at least, decide on any given day to pack up the car and go anywhere in this vast country—whether it’s a temporary vacation or a permanent move.