Posts By: stephwillems

By on July 12, 2019


As you no doubt already know, we lost a big name this week. The Volkswagen Beetle ⁠— formerly the Volkswagen New Beetle, Volkswagen Beetle, Volkswagen Type 1, Volkswagen, KdF-Wagen, etc — finally bit the dust in Puebla, Mexico on Wednesday.

A mariachi band was on hand to provide the last production Beetle with an up-tempo swan song, reports. While it’s the end of the line for the historic, Hitler-tainted nameplate, memories remain. Do you have a personal encounter with this model you’d like to share? (Find Out…)

By on July 6, 2019

BMW

Four years after taking the helm of BMW, Harald Krüger is pulling a Lyndon Johnson. The 27-year Bimmer veteran has decided not to seek a second term as CEO, the automaker reported Friday, leaving it in search of new leadership at a pivotal time in its history.

To any onlooker, it seems Krüger had enough of guiding the German luxury marque through an increasingly thorny landscape, with challenges posed by stagnating sales in the West, an economic downturn in the East, and costly, must-have EV roadmaps. (Find Out…)

By on July 3, 2019

fca

It’s seldom spoken of publicly, but every writer keeps in the back of his or her mind an obituary they hope to never pen. In this keyboard jockey’s case, that obit would be the one you’re reading now.

Tuesday night brought word that Lee Iacocca — era-defining auto executive, marketer extraordinaire, outspoken patriot and critic — passed away at the age of 94. Lia Iacocca Assad says her father died of complications from Parkinson’s disease at his Bel-Air, California home, reports. (Find Out…)

By on June 29, 2019

fca

The Dodge Grand Caravan isn’t dead yet, but minivan buyers in the market for a low-end people mover will have a new option come 2020. Earlier this week, FCA announced the reintroduction of the Voyager — a nameplate that began life as a full-size Plymouth van in the 1970s before morphing into a front-drive minivan for 1984.

Following Plymouth’s death, the Chrysler brand fielded a short-wheelbase Voyager model until 2003 in North America, with Grand Voyagers (LWB Town & Countrys) serving overseas until 2016.

While FCA doesn’t intend the new Voyager to be a cheap, bare-bones stripper, it will replace the lower-rung trim levels of the Pacifica, giving fleet operators something to consider once the Grand Caravan shuffles off into the afterlife. (Find Out…)

By on June 22, 2019

Unlike Chevrolet, GMC doesn’t just stop off on the way home from the store to introduce a new vehicle. It doesn’t get up in the middle of the night for a glass of water and create a new crossover before turning in.

The new Blazer and upcoming sort-of subcompact Trailblazer have no equals in GMC’s restrained lineup. Nor does the Traverse. Or Trax. GMC puts its pants on one leg at a time, but the rumor mill won’t stop churning out discourse on a potential new entry from America’s truck brand. And one name keeps coming up. (Find Out…)

By on June 15, 2019

2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: Volkswagen

The results of a Friday vote are in, and Volkswagen can breathe a sigh of relief. Five years after the United Auto Workers first attempted to place the automaker’s Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant under its umbrella, a second vote has yielded the same results.

Weeks and months of acrimony, ads, accusations, and other seemingly unavoidable aspects of union organizing led to a narrow win for the no-union side. As before, Southern auto plants remain just beyond the grasp of the UAW. (Find Out…)

By on June 14, 2019

fca

Fiat Chrysler is no stranger to paying the piper when it comes to its less-than-stellar fleetwide emissions, with steep fines and pricey regularly credit deals keeping the automaker’s accountants busy on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some sort of relief is on the way in the form of a $10 billion electrification plan, the results of which will see 17 electrified (electric, plug-in hybrid) models enter the fray by 2022. That’s the intent, anyway. To give the looming crop of green Fiats and Jeeps a better chance of success, FCA has partnered with a pair of European utilities — providing customers with a way of fueling their vehicles. (Find Out…)

By on June 14, 2019

Image: FCA

Large U.S. companies hoping to side-step the 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods by appealing to the government aren’t having much luck. Since July, the U.S. has imposed the tariff on billions of dollars worth of goods from the People’s Republic, leading to financial fallout for automakers heavily invested in the region.

And it seems no one complained more than General Motors. Tesla, Nissan, Fiat Chrysler, and Uber also sent in official gripes in the hopes of receiving an exemption, only to have the door hit them on the way out. (Find Out…)

By on June 14, 2019

Lincoln Motor Company

That didn’t take long. After six years spent crafting the design language of Lincoln’s growing stable of vehicles, design director David Woodhouse abruptly resigned earlier this week. The 50-year-old’s connection with parent Ford Motor Company was a long one — 20 years, since his days at Ford’s Premier Automotive Group.

The mystery as to where Woodhouse would land next is over. On Friday, Nissan announced the former Lincoln designer will go to town on the next generation of the brand’s vehicles. (Find Out…)

By on June 14, 2019

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid - Image: Toyota Canada

Fans of excessive idling will want to consider a 2019 Toyota model rather than a 2020. The automaker has announced two new safety features destined for most of its lineup for the 2020 model year, one of them being a system that shuts off the engine if left running for too long. How long? That’s for Toyota to decide.

The second feature is one employed by automakers with unconventional transmission shifters that really want to keep litigation at bay. (Find Out…)

By on June 13, 2019

You’ve probably just read about the Performance Appearance Package foisted on the doomed Chrysler 300. Now that your heart rate has returned to a resting level, here’s another Fiat Chrysler options bundle for your consideration: the Ram 1500 Classic’s Sub Zero Package.

The first new Ram grab bag offered to customers in what seems like eight minutes, ticking the box for Sub Zero prepares customers for a season literally no one wants to think about in mid-June. (Find Out…)

By on June 13, 2019

2017 Chrysler 300C - Image: FCA

Brace yourselves and hide the kids. The Chrysler 300, an aging full-size sedan whose best sales days are long behind it, wants to add a little flair to its top-flight 300C model.

No, there won’t be a monster of an engine borrowed from a Satanic-sounding Dodge. There won’t be head-turning paint options. Instead, Fiat Chrysler will endow its glitziest model with something found on the lesser-ranked 300S. (Find Out…)

By on June 13, 2019

Steph Willems/TTAC

On the way to meet a longtime friend for dinner last night, your author stopped off to gawk at old cars at a local cruise night event — a common occurrence when the snow isn’t flying.

Thank God for retirees with plenty of resources and lots of free time. I fear what will happen to these rides after the old guys lose their license. And, because this is TTAC and not one of those other sites, you’re not about to hear a bitter, angsty screed about Boomers and their undeserved money and opportunity, etc, etc.

Anyhow, one beauty beckoned to me from across the lot. A 1955 sedan with a badge that should prove unfamiliar to American readers urged me to take a closer look, prompting a bit of rumination about modern-day choices. (Find Out…)

By on June 13, 2019

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

Volkswagen is close to sealing a deal with Ford Motor Company for the next phase of the two companies’ fledgling alliance. The German giant seems poised to join Ford in its pursuit of self-driving technology through Argo AI — the autonomous startup Ford sunk $1 billion in back in 2017. Paving the way for some sort of tie-up or investment, VW this week with another self-driving startup, Aurora Innovation.

As well, news could soon be forthcoming about a much-rumored electric vehicle pact between the two automakers. (Find Out…)

By on June 12, 2019

Ford’s F-150 Raptor represents the pinnacle of off-road performance for adventurous full-size truck buyers — it’s a vehicle capable of blasting through brush (not that you would) with its extra-wide stance and enlarged fenders, running full-bore across the backcountry with the 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque on tap from its high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, and sticking bone-crushing landings with the help of its long-legged suspension.

And still buyers wish for more. According to one report, the Raptor could be due for an engine upgrade that puts the correct number of cylinders beneath the hood. (Find Out…)

Recent Comments

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