Posts By: Matt Posky

By on May 17, 2019

Nissan’s Hiroto Saikawa appears to be staying on as CEO, despite claiming late last year that he would soon step down. While not sensational news in itself, the decision is underpinned by growing animosity between the automaker and alliance partner Renault.

Back in March, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance was doing damage control following the arrest of its chief architect, Carlos Ghosn — resulting in a memorandum of understanding that aimed to restore balance between the automakers and prove to the public that they were all still friends.  However, less than a month later, things began to unravel. Renault (encouraged by the French government) was, once again, pushing for integration and hoping to rejigger Nissan’s management structure.

Now the very legitimacy of Nissan’s board is being called into question.  (Find Out…)

By on May 17, 2019

As per its $11 billion investment in electrification, Ford intends to have 40 electrified vehicles — 16 of which will be battery-only — on sale by 2022. That includes the widespread hybridization of trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. As towing has not historically been a great strength of hybrids, the automaker is developing a new transmission system it calls “modular hybrid technology.”

The system, which debuts on the 2020 Explorer, is said to incorporate an electric motor, clutch and torque converter to help vehicles deliver superior fuel economy without sabotaging a vehicle’s ability to haul ass or whatever customers choose to hitch up behind the tailgate.  (Find Out…)

By on May 16, 2019

Bentley’s celebrating its centenary this month, but rather than launch some dingus special edition, the automaker issued a promise that the all-new Flying Spur will redefine contemporary craftsmanship and luxury when it finally debuts. It’s also offering a limited run of extravagant books illustrating the brand’s history.

While the cheapest of these printed works will set you back £3,000 ($3,837), there will be a “100 Carat Edition” that costs £200,000 ($255,811) per copy. Weighing more than 66 pounds, the book comes laden with 100 carats of diamonds. At over 3 feet wide, and housing gatefolds that can double those dimensions, Bentley proudly proclaims the 800-page monstrosity as the “heaviest book ever produced” for an automotive brand.  (Find Out…)

By on May 16, 2019

Self-driving shuttle company May Mobility expanded its operations to include Rhode Island this week. The state agreed to pay the firm $800,000 for the first year of operations, allowing it to get its six-passenger micro shuttles running between an Amtrak station and downtown Providence as part of an ongoing pilot program.

However, one of the shuttles was pulled over just hours after entering service for a rather baffling reason. (Find Out…)

By on May 16, 2019

Even though Mini has issued teasers for the new batch of John Cooper Works models for months, we’ve been disinclined to take the bait. It’s not that there’s something wrong with JCW cars; there just wasn’t a lot information to be gleaned from those announcements.

We were waiting for the company to confirm the rumor that the 2020 model year would see an upgraded powerplant to serve as a bit of a game changer for the brand — which is exactly what Mini did this week.  (Find Out…)

By on May 15, 2019

Before Smart goes all-electric next year, Daimler plans to offer “an exclusive and strictly limited special edition” model as a farewell to its combustion-engine vehicles. Designed by Konstantin Grcic, a man known for designing mass-manufactured minimalist furniture, the automaker says these limited-edition cars are for the “most ardent collectors only.”

Presumably, Daimler is referring to collectors in the general sense, as we’ve never heard of anyone with a devoted throng of Smart cars.

While it may sound like a bit of a turd, the company also said Brabus’ involvement was essential in developing the 21 models slated to roll off the assembly line in August of this year. That means more grunt and improved noises coming out of the back end — something we can all appreciate, be it in the bedroom or out on the open road.  (Find Out…)

By on May 15, 2019

On Tuesday, Volkswagen announced its plan to assemble 600,000 electric vehicles utilizing the brand’s MEB platform at two plants in China. The facilities, said to be located in the cities of Anting and Foshan, will help bolster EV volume after the completion of VW’s Zwickau plant in Germany — which the company previously claimed would manufacture 330,000 cars annually.

While that facility is nearing completion and supposed to be up and running before 2020, there’s no firm timeline in place for China. But that’s the least of the issues Volkswagen must solve in order to make this dream a reality.  (Find Out…)

By on May 15, 2019

Auditors attempting to assess how down and dirty Carlos Ghosn’s spending habits were have reportedly become very interested in a YouTube video of a party held at the Palace of Versailles in 2014. While the clip doesn’t showcase any cash-fueled orgies or golden idol worship, it does present a extravagant party that was supposedly paid for by Renault-Nissan B.V. (RNBV). As you might recall, Ghosn’s repeated arrests in Japan were due to the alleged “mismanagement” of alliance funds.

Ghosn’s camp maintains that the event was held for business purposes — a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the alliance, which just happened to overlap with the ousted exec’s 60th birthday. Guests reportedly included a few Renault or Nissan executives scattered among roughly 160 celebrity attendees. You can watch the video yourself and decide whether or not it’s an egregious mishandling of corporate assets.  (Find Out…)

By on May 14, 2019

As much as it pains us to say it, manual transmissions are on their way out. While car enthusiasts bemoan the matter incessantly, as we just did, the reality is that most drivers aren’t interested in owning something with a stick. It’s gotten to a point where many automakers no longer offer vehicles with a manual transmission, or just keep one high-performance model around with an optional clutch pedal just to appease a subset of their customer base.

Toyota, which sells more manual models than most, recently spilled its guts to after the outlet requested the company reveal the percentage of its new cars still sold with a manual while attending the Supra launch event.

The resulting figures are about what you’d expect.  (Find Out…)

By on May 14, 2019

Planned successor for Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, Ola Källenius, says Mercedes-Benz will significantly reduce development costs under his supervision by accelerating alliances throughout the industry. This, of course, has everything to do with electric cars, as that’s all auto executives seem capable of discussing anymore.

“The cost structure of the electric car is above that of the combustion engine car. We are working hard on lowering this,” Källenius said on Monday. “We need to work on the cost of vehicle architectures. From where we are now, we need to make a significant step by 2025 in terms of cost.” (Find Out…)

By on May 14, 2019

Nissan is bracing for a bad year. On Tuesday, the automaker held a press conference at its headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, to tell the world that it’s forecasting a 28-percent decline in operating profit this year. While that sounds bad, it comes on the heels of the company’s for the 12-month period ending March 31st, 2019 — which was a dumpster fire.

Operating profit plunged 45 percent to 318 billion yen ($2.9 billion), while revenue fell 3 percent to about 11.6 trillion yen ($105 billion). Vehicle sales were down 4.4 percent. “Today we have hit rock bottom,” CEO Hiroto Saikawa told the press, suggesting the company could rebound in a few years.  (Find Out…)

By on May 13, 2019

Mercedes-Benz is reportedly considering moving C-Class production out of America to make room on its Alabama assembly line for more high-margin utility vehicles. Despite being the brand’s best-selling sedan in the United States, Mercedes knows it has to acknowledge the public’s growing propensity for luxurious light trucks.

While ignoring the present doesn’t seem like the wisest of business decisions, the market’s current trajectory is no secret. People want crossovers and SUVs and it looks as though Benz will happily provide them, even if it means icing out the still-popular C-Class before the end of next year.  (Find Out…)

By on May 13, 2019

Exclusivity is the name of the game for high-end automakers. While mainstream brands are busy chasing down volume, they’re courting your betters. Unfortunately, not every manufacturer can simply tag a vehicle with a lofty MSRP and call it a day. They have to convince their smaller customer base that they’re getting something special in return. Enter the most insane special edition we’ve seen in a while: the Land Rover Astronaut Edition.

As the name suggests, this is an SUV literally reserved for those who have been in space — or, more accurately, have set aside the necessary funds to do so through Virgin Galactic.

The vehicle is the offspring of a longstanding partnership between Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations and Richard Branson’s space-fairing lovechild, so owners will actually be more astro-tourist than astronaut. That said, they’ll still be able to proclaim they’ve been to sub-orbital space and motion to their “Zero Gravity Blue” SUV to prove it.  (Find Out…)

By on May 13, 2019

Having already announced plans to cut thousands of jobs in Europe in an effort to stem the region’s ongoing cash hemorrhage, Ford has reportedly begun re-examining the United Kingdom. Initially, the automaker’s restructuring plan involved ending production at a transmission plant in France, killing the C-Max in Germany, and dissolving its Ford-Sollers joint venture in Russia.

While Ford hoped to shed as many employees as possible through voluntary retirement, it acknowledged it would have to fire at least 5,000 people in Germany and an unspecified number of U.K. citizens in March. The company hasn’t settled on a figure, though inside sources claim it should be no more than 550 jobs — all of which should be of the non-manufacturing variety.  (Find Out…)

By on May 12, 2019

Subaru may be getting too big for its britches. Despite seeming like it was positioned for nearly incalculable growth at the start of last year, the automaker’s latest financial report showed the period was actually plagued with problems. Over the full fiscal year, which ends on March 31st for Subaru, the company basically showed that its operating profit had been cut in half.

How could this have happened? Subaru’s commitment to all-wheel drive has given its sales a shot in the arm as the crossover craze has escalated and it has one of the best reputations in the business. Seriously, ask any automotive layperson what they think of the brand and they will almost always have something positive to say. However, for all of its presumed advantages, the company is reporting a 48.5-percent decline in operating profit (to 195.5 billion yen) and a 6.3-precent loss of global sales volume.  (Find Out…)

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