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BREAKING: Mike Manley Named New FCA CEO Amid Marchionne Health Crisis

Sat, 07/21/2018 - 2:22pm

FCA has made Mike Manley the CEO of FCA with the sudden and unexpected news of a health crisis for Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Manley, 54, takes over the job immediately, initially as interim chief until an emergency board meeting can make the succession official. It is a move that was not supposed to be announced or take effect until next year when Marchionne planned to retire. Marchionne was also CEO of Ferrari which had been spun off of FCA. Ferrari said Louis Camilleri, former chairman of Philip Morris International, will take over as CEO.

Mike Manley, former Jeep chief and current FCA CEO

Marchionne developed complications following surgery in Italy and his health took a turn for the worse, making the corporate news necessary. Marchionne is 66 and was recovering from a shoulder injury.

“With reference to the health of Sergio Marchionne, FCA communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours,” the company said in a statement today. “As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work.”

Manley was considered a top candidate to replace Marchionne next year. His credentials include running the profitable Jeep and Ram brands and he also built the company’s presence in Asia. Another top contender was Richard Palmer, the chief financial officer.

As thoughts go out to Marchionne and his family, John Elkann, Chairman of Exor, released a statement. “I am profoundly saddened to learn of Sergio’s state of health. It is a situation that was unthinkable until a few hours ago, and one that leaves us all with a real sense of injustice. My first thoughts go to Sergio and his family.”

The two men have worked together for 14 years; Marchionne became CEO of Fiat in 2004. While they did not always agree, Elkann watched Marchionne create the company now known as FCA from the partnership of an ailing Fiat and a bankrupt Chrysler in 2009 that needed a business partner as a condition of exiting bankruptcy protection.

Marchionne managed to take two ailing companies and return them to profitability. Evidence of that: last month at an event to release the company’s next five-year business plan, the sweater-wearing CEO wore a tie to signal he had paid down the debt, as promised. It was a feat many did not think possible and sets up the automaker well to implement the new plan that takes FCA through 2022.

 

Elkann said, “What struck me about Sergio from the very beginning, when we met to talk about the possibility of him coming to work for the Group, even more than his management skills and unusual intelligence, were his human qualities, his generosity and the way he understood people. Over the past 14 years together we have lived through successes and difficulties, internal and external crises, but also unique and unrepeatable moments, both personal and professional. For so many, Sergio has been an enlightened leader and a matchless point of reference. For me, he has been someone with whom to share thoughts and in whom to trust, a mentor and above all a true friend.”

Marchionne, an Italian as well as a Canadian, is steeped in economics as well as philosophy and held a law degree. He likes to quote poets and philosophers in corporate speeches and the audiophile often plays his own soundtracks ahead of press conferences and earnings calls. He was also known for living on cigarettes, espresso and little sleep for most of his career.

“He taught us to think differently and to have the courage to change, often in unconventional ways, always acting with a sense of responsibility for the companies and their people,” Elkann said.

Marchionne also had a team of leaders who were being groomed to take over the top job to allow for a transition that was to take effect next year. Manley likely did not know he was the chosen one as Marchionne had told reporters repeatedly that the new CEO would be told at the last minute.

Elkann said because of the succession plans in place, there will be a smooth transition.

“It has been my privilege to have had Sergio at my side for all these years,” Elkann said in asking for respect for Marchionne’s privacy at this time.

 

 

The post BREAKING: Mike Manley Named New FCA CEO Amid Marchionne Health Crisis appeared first on Motor Trend.

Watch: 8 Reasons Why the Acura RDX is Poised to Lead the Segment

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 7:00pm

BMW, Mercedes, and some other luxury automakers have more brand cachet, but the 2019 Acura RDX crossover has enough style and substance to compete with rivals from these brands. It’s a bold claim, but there is an argument to be made for lusting after the RDX over more expensive German competitors.

The RDX has been been extensively redesigned with a lighter, more rigid body and a re-engineered chassis. It also receives a new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine that produces a whopping 272 hp.

In our First Drive review, we said the RDX is “cool, collected, self-assured, and unflappable.” Admittedly, it’s not the crossover with the most raw emotion, but there is beauty in its precision. “Most customers like the somewhat disconnected performance Audi trades on, and it’s easy to see where Acura set its benchmarks (Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC 300, and Volvo XC60),” we wrote. “Anyone can get in an RDX and comfortably and confidently drive very quickly.”

Check out the video above to find out how the RDX holds its own in such a competitive segment.

The post Watch: 8 Reasons Why the Acura RDX is Poised to Lead the Segment appeared first on Motor Trend.

Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Audi Q8

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 6:29pm

As Audi’s new flagship SUV, the Q8 ushers in a new design language for the brand’s utility vehicles. In contrast to the conservative Q7, which shares a platform with the Q8 and will be sold alongside it, the new model takes design risks—so much so that it looks more like a concept than a production vehicle. The folks at Audi say this vehicle, which goes on sale in the U.S. late this year, blends the best of an SUV and a coupe. Are they right, or did Audi go too far with the design?

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Q8 is its thick silver grille frame. It protrudes out from the front fascia, giving the Q8 a more three dimensional look. You’ll also notice the grille forms the shape of an octagon, compared to the Q7’s grille that takes on the shape of a hexagon. Audi finished off the look with a sculpted hood, narrow headlamps, and large air inlets lined with more silver trim.

From the side, the Q8 doesn’t look terribly imposing. Although it has the same wheelbase as the Q7, it’s 3.3 inches shorter and 1.4 inches lower. However, it’s an inch wider which contributes to its planted stance. Silver trim along the windows and doors, along with strong character lines above the door handles, make the vehicle stand out from the crowd. Its roof is considerably sloped, and its beltline is high.

In the rear, the Q8 continues to surprise with a unique taillight signature that runs across a black bar. The taillights appear in a series of vertical lines and are connected by a light bar that runs the span of the rear end. On top of the black bar is a lip that gives the rear end a more sculpted look.

Take a peek inside, and the Q8 gets an interior worthy of a flagship. Basically, it’s covered in screens. There are two central screens: a 10.1-inch display for infotainment functions and an 8.6-inch screen for climate controls. To the left, there is a fully digital instrument panel measuring 12.3 inches. The dashboard design is dominated by clean, horizontal lines. Air vents are barely visible as they are incorporated into the horizontal lines that run across the top of the dashboard. Also notice the model features a flat-bottom steering wheel and contour lighting that provides depth to the surfaces.

Do you think the new 2019 Audi Q8 is refreshing or revolting? Let us know on Facebook! Also check out what Audi Q8 designer Sascha Heyde had to say about creating the vehicle.

The post Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Audi Q8 appeared first on Motor Trend.

Watch: 7 Reasons Why the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Beats the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 5:30pm

The off-road king of the Chevrolet Colorado lineup is the ZR2, and one could argue that it’s also more rugged than a long-standing competitor, the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

In addition to a beefy suspension, the Colorado ZR2 features front and rear tracks that are 3.5 inches wider than the standard Colorado. It also has functional rockers, and front and rear bumpers that provide extra clearance for avoiding off-road obstacles.

In an off-road truck comparison, we said the Colorado ZR2 “excitedly bounds over any terrain you throw at it.” We continued, “The ZR2 is small and nimble enough to fit down tight trails that’d leave pinstripes on the other two while still packing the hardware to get itself out of trouble if it gets stuck.”

Of course, the Tacoma TRD Pro is up for the job as well. “Control and forgiveness are the names of the off-road game, and the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro ably exercises its skill in both departments,” we wrote in a review.

Watch the video above to find out why the Chevy Colorado ZR2 may be the more impressive truck.

The post Watch: 7 Reasons Why the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Beats the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro appeared first on Motor Trend.

Bentley Offers New Open-Pore Walnut Veneer

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 3:45pm

What do you call nuts on a wall? Walnuts. What do you call walnut in a Bentley? Simply divine. Bentley and its special vehicle division, Mulliner, offer a new classic wood veneer for interiors of the Bentayga, Flying Spur, and Mulsanne called open-pore walnut.

The wood is sourced from an extraordinary tree type that combines European Walnut and American Walnut, according to Bentley.

The distinctive trees are rooted mostly in California, and Bentley’s wood specialists visit frequently to guarantee only the best quality walnut veneers are selected.

A handcrafted finish is finalized at Bentley HQ in Crewe, England. This improves the large pore structure to expose the powerful dark coloring of the wood.

Bentley uses specific materials to do so, and the handcrafted process helps ensure customers can feel the wood.

The open-pore walnut veneer is then painted with three ultra-thin layers of lacquer, together amounting to just 0.1mm thick. To put that into perspective, Bentley’s high-gloss lacquer coating is 0.5mm thick and has a glossy, smooth finish. Each layer is applied by hand and sanded between applications, of course.

Source: Bentley

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Ferris Bueller’s Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder Replica Heads to Auction

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 3:00pm

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. —Ferris Bueller.

We all admire the day Ferris Bueller had playing hooky, but what we admire most of that day is the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder he steals from his best friend’s dad’s prized car collection to roam around the streets of Chicago. It is time to live like Ferris, as one of the three cars used in the filming of the 1986 classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off will be featured at Mecum’s 2018 Monterey auction next month.

Believe it or not, the film’s lead, played by Matthew Broderick, doesn’t actually drive a Ferrari in the film. The movie car is in fact a replica, a 1985 Modena GT Spyder California. Neil Glassmoyer and Mark Goyett originally founded Modena Design and Development to manufacture the Modena GT Spyder based on the original Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder. Because a genuine 250 GT would have cost a pretty penny, director and writer of the comedy John Hughes tasked Modena with creating two running replicas and one shell for the film in only four weeks.

This red-hot Ferrari replica is powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 engine with four downdraft carburetors mated to a five-speed transmission. The rectangular steel-tube frame chassis that the movie car sits on was constructed by Bob Webb, one of the original builders of Roger Penske’s Zerex Special.

Modena added multiple Ferrari-style elements, including the windshield, turn signals, grille, hood scoops, and fender vents to replicate the Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder.

The Modena GT Spyder California that will be featured at the auction went through nine months of updates with the help of the original builder Glassmoyer. In April of 2018, the Modena GT Spyder was the 22nd vehicle to be inducted into the Smithsonian Historical Vehicle Association Hall of Fame.

The auction takes place on Saturday, August 25, in Monterey, California, and the bidding is expected to move pretty fast—so don’t miss it.

Source: Mecum

Photos courtesy of Mecum and Paramount Pictures.

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Hyundai N Brand Exec: We’re Working on a Halo Model

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 1:31pm

So far, Hyundai’s N division has produced high-performance versions of the i30 and Veloster. Now, the sub-brand wants to make its own standalone vehicle, reports Auto Express.

Thomas Schemera, Hyundai’s vice president of high-performance and motorsport operations, told the outlet that a bespoke model would inject some more emotion into the brand. “I can tell you Albert Biermann [Hyundai engineering boss] and myself are interested in hot things and have some ideas in the pipeline for a halo model—rest assured we are coming up with something,” he said.

It’s unclear what such a halo model would look like, but Auto Express claims Hyundai is debating between a two-seat sports car and a performance sedan like the Kia Stinger. Whatever form it takes, the vehicle isn’t expected to enter production for several more years.

Earlier this year, reports surfaced that Hyundai was working on a high-performance two-door car. According to the report, the model would have some kind of electrification. Yang Woong Chul, Hyundai’s head of research and development, reportedly said the new sports car was being worked on by N employees, although he wouldn’t confirm whether it would be a standalone N product or something else.

The i30 N isn’t coming to the U.S. market, but we will receive the Veloster N and its upgraded 2.0-liter turbo-four making 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Schemera said Hyundai has only completed “the first phase of N vehicles,” so more models are on the way.

Source: Auto Express

The post Hyundai N Brand Exec: We’re Working on a Halo Model appeared first on Motor Trend.

2017 Mazda CX-9 Touring AWD Long-Term Update 5: How the Interior is Holding Up

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 12:11pm

With almost 27,000 miles on the odometer and countless road tips, photo shoots, and weekend errands, my time shepherding our long-term 2017 Mazda CX-9 will soon be ending, and I find myself reflecting back on some of the less exciting and adventurous parts of my year of “ownership.”

During my 11 months with the CX-9, I’ve taken the vehicle in for service at my local dealer, South Bay Mazda in Torrance, California, three times. At each of these services, the CX-9 has had its oil changed and tires rotated. During the second service, the cabin air filter was replaced and a minor issue with the sunroof seal was repaired. In the course of my chaperoning period, I also picked up a nail in the CX-9’s tire, which had to be patched. All in, including the tire patch, I’ve spent $316.25 on basic maintenance and an additional $155.10 on other issues. The friendly service representatives at South Bay Mazda have always worked quickly to make my visits as enjoyable as possible. I would never make an automotive purchasing decision based on my experience with any one dealership, but it definitely helps lessen the sting when it comes to spending your hard-earned money on maintenance.

Now that it’s legal to buy pot in California, I figured I should give it a try. I’m really not sure what the big deal is; couldn’t you always buy these?

When I hopped into the CX-9 after an abnormally long stretch of out-of-state and international travel, I noticed that the interior was holding up pretty well. For the most part, the CX-9 looks as good today as it did when I first got the keys 11 months ago. The leather and other soft surfaces have withstood the abuse that a vehicle takes after driving 27,000 miles in less than a year. The one glaring exception to this observation, though, is the heavily scratched piano black finish on the center console and door armrest. As good as piano black may look in a design sketch, it just doesn’t make sense to use it on a surface that takes so much abuse. I would rather have more durable but less attractive textured black plastic on those surfaces than for it to look like a cheap pair of road-worn sunglasses that flew out of someone’s car onto the highway.

With only a month or so to go with the CX-9, I’ll continue to enjoy my time with it. I don’t know yet what my next long-term test vehicle will be, but whatever it is, I hope it will provide me with as much enjoyment as the Mazda has.

The piano black shift surround has seen better days. From my vast experience photographing car interiors, piano black often scratches the first time you try to wipe dust off it.Read more about our 2017 Mazda CX-9 Touring AWD:

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Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition Suits up for Comic-Con

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 12:00pm

The Hyundai Kona has suited up in full Iron Man attire for this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. But it turns out this is more than just a show car. The small crossover, which receives a number of cosmetic touches that hark back to the popular movie series, will enter a limited production run later this year.

First up, the model receives an exclusive red and matte gray paint job. Then there is the Iron Man mask motif painted onto the roof, as well as front-fender mask badging, Stark Industries lower fascia and rear door decals, special engraving on the D-pillars, and Iron Man-engraved headlamp internal surfaces. Topping things off are custom 18-inch alloy wheels with Iron Man mask center caps as well as dark chrome for the front grille.

There are plenty more red accents inside the cabin. Also look for a special shift lever knob, custom seats, and Tony Stark’s signature on the instrument panel. The head-up display even features unique Iron Man graphics. Special treatment has also been given to the instrument panel and touchscreen.

Sure, it’s no Audi R8 or Acura NSX and there are no jet boots or flamethrowers, but there are a few unexpected touches that might earn Tony Stark’s approval. Hyundai will begin production of the Kona Iron Man Edition in December, with sales to start in the first quarter of 2019. The automaker hasn’t said how many it will make, or at what price, but it will be sold globally on a built-to-order basis.

Source: Hyundai

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2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic SE Long-Term Update 1: Wall of Power

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 8:00am

The performance of a $76,000 crossover should be impressive. And damn if Land Rover doesn’t deliver.

Its 2,000 break-in miles complete, our long-term Range Rover Velar P380 SE R-Dynamic was set for its requisite flogging at the Fontana test track. We came back with some rather compelling numbers.

Here’s the specs spew: 0–60 in 5.7 seconds. 0–100 in 14.9 seconds. The quarter mile in 14.2 seconds at 97.7 mph. A 26.2-second figure-eight time at 0.70 average g. And 60–0 braking in 124 feet. All that from a 4,547-pound crossover.

Granted, it’s no Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, but if you wanted these kinds of performance numbers from a luxe-packed Landie, you’d have to pony up for a Range Rover or RR Sport with a supercharged V-8—and then you’re either tickling six figures or well into them. So, really, it’s a value proposition.

Road test editor Chris Walton found the supercharged V-6’s thrust to deliver all the way to redline. Shifts come slowly but smoothly. Threshold braking entails the expected and generous dive, long pedal travel, and some ABS buzz (but little vibration)—but also good directional stability and no sense of the rear getting too light.

Testing director Kim Reynolds found power delivery to be “solid and smooth,” while handling was “rather tail-happy, immediately rotating on entry under braking and then very happy to hold it out under power.” He describes this sensation as “fun and unexpected.”

That said, Reynolds noted the Velar “needs to be driven rather smoothly. Its body motions are slow, so changing its mind takes time.” Walton describes its handling as coming with “a load of body roll, but it doesn’t wallow.”

A couple complaints were made regarding some low-speed chassis boom, as well as the need for a very early upshift into third gear; wait too long, “and it gets hung up in the rev limiter, and that screws up everything,” Reynolds noted.

In the name of science, we also tested a turbo-four version of the Velar, which as you might expect was slower: a 7.7-second 0–60 and a 16.0-second quarter mile at 85.7 mph. It was also more ponderous around the figure eight. But it shaved 7 feet off its sibling’s threshold braking test—that’s what saving 155 pounds in the nose gets you.

Quicker brakes in the turbo-four aside, we’re still happy we got the P380 version and its irresistible surge of power.

Read more about our long-term Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic SE:2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar P380 R-Dynamic SE BASE PRICE $70,595 PRICE AS TESTED $76,041 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 3.0L/375-hp/332-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,547 lb (50/50%) WHEELBASE 113.1 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 189.1 x 76.0 x 65.6 in 0-60 MPH 5.7 sec QUARTER MILE 14.2 sec @ 97.7 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 124 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.84 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.2 sec @ 0.70 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 18/24/20 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 187/140 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.96 lb/mile

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2018 Subaru Crosstrek Long-Term Update 3: It’s Time to Grumble

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 8:00am

It has been six months since we received our long-term Crosstrek tester, and although we’re enjoying our time in Subaru’s smallest crossover, it’s time to complain. Sorry, little Subaru, but the honeymoon is over.

At Motor Trend, we have a large fleet of short- and long-term testers to review, and because automakers like to send us higher-trim vehicles to test, it’s rare we get one that doesn’t have a push-start ignition. A proximity key—a feature that allows you to simply touch or push a button on the door handle to lock and unlock the door—almost always accompanies a push-start ignition. Sadly, our mid-level Premium trim Crosstrek is equipped with neither a push-start nor a proximity key, and these aren’t available unless you opt for the top Limited trim. This is unfortunate considering the Premium trim’s price (the 2019 model carries an MSRP of $24,870 with an automatic transmission).

Now, this might sound like nitpicking but trust me: Once you get used to the convenience of just touching a door handle to get in and pushing a button to start a car, you’ll never want to go back. Gone are the days of searching for your key fob while you hold items in your hands, or hunting for the ignition and scratching the area around it from failed attempts.

Another feature I miss that the Crosstrek should have at this price point are door locks that automatically unlock when the vehicle is put into park and automatically lock again when the vehicle is put into drive or reverse. I don’t see this as only a convenience feature that makes life a little easier but also as a safety feature because it secures your doors as you take off.

And Subaru, please give the Crosstrek linear acceleration. A common complaint about many Subarus is their neck-snapping initial throttle response. We complained about this in our First Test review on the Outback 3.6R. Touch the throttle pedal just a little too aggressively, and the Crosstrek surges forward quickly, surprising passengers with an uncomfortable jerk. During daily driving with passengers, this is always in the back of my head and forces me to apply the throttle carefully so that I don’t annoy my occupants.

Read more about our 2018 Subaru Crosstrek:

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Spied! Audi RS Q8 Put to the Test on the ‘Ring

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 6:00pm

The 2019 Audi Q8 flagship SUV should be quick enough for most, with its turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and mild hybrid system making 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, but these days there’s no shortage of demand for more power and performance. We know an SQ8 is on the way, as we’ve seen a completely uncamouflaged prototype, and these latest spy shots show Audi is hard at work testing an RS variant as well.

Spotted on Germany’s famed Nürburgring race track, the prototype wears camo on its front and rear valance and along its rocker panels. The front end sports intake openings similar to the SQ8, but it appears to hang lower thanks to a new front lip piece. There’s also a different mesh pattern in the grille. In back, we can see two large oval-shaped exhaust tips in place of the SQ8’s quad round tips. Further evidence that this is a mule for an upcoming RS model can be seen in the large wheels backed by enormous brake discs.

Not much is known about the RS Q8, but the model could inherit a version of the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 found in the Porsche Cayenne and Lamborghini Urus. Given that the mill makes 641 hp in the Urus, it should be up to the RS brand’s high-performance standards.

Take a look at the spy shots in the gallery, and find out how the standard Q8 drives here.

Photo source: CarPix

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Volvo Moves XC60 Production to Avoid Tariffs on Chinese Imports

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 3:30pm

Volvo has been making XC60 crossovers for the U.S. market in China, but that plan isn’t going to fly with the newly imposed tariffs on Chinese imports. To solve this problem, Volvo will shift production of U.S.-bound XC60s to Europe, where it already builds copies of the crossover for the local market.

Speaking with Reuters, Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said the shift has already started. “We will of course reshuffle here and take XC60s for the U.S. … from our factory in Europe, and let China produce for other markets.”

The Chinese-built XC60s that would normally go to the U.S. will be sent to other markets around the globe. Also, some will be sent back to Europe to get the right mix. Volvo is owned by China’s Geely.

President Donald Trump has announced import tariffs against other countries in order to reduce the U.S. trade deficit. He has also talked about putting a 20 percent tax on European carmakers.

It wasn’t until very recently that Volvo had a production presence in the U.S. The automaker just opened a new plant in South Carolina last month, where the very first Volvo made in the U.S. will roll off the line this fall. The plant will start off producing the S60, and in 2021, the automaker will add production of the XC90.

Producing vehicles in the U.S is another complication with President Trump’s tariffs, however. Samuelsson told CNBC, “With our [Charleston] factory we are going to employ up to 4,000 people, half of those are planned to be building cars for export, so if these tariffs would in any way restrict the possibilities for us to export out of South Carolina, that would of course mean less employment in Charleston.”

The 2018 Volvo XC60 has been fully redesigned with new engines, a new exterior design, and a new suspension setup. The compact crossover now rides on the modular SPA platform. In our First Test, we complemented its luxurious interior but lamented its jittery ride on imperfect road surfaces.

Source: Reuters, CNBC

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Mopar’s New NHRA Funny Car Gets Dodge Charger Hellcat Branding

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 2:45pm

Having 707 hp on tap is plenty for a street car, but nowhere near enough to hang in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car class. As such, the 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat NHRA Funny Car packs more than 10,000 hp. The drag racer inspired by the Charger Hellcat makes its competition debut at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado, this weekend.

“Our job at Mopar is to put the best race car underneath our drivers and keep them winning. We know this new body, developed in collaboration with the Dodge//SRT brand and Don Schumacher Racing, will do just that,” said Pietro Gorlier, FCA parts and service head in a statement. “The changes made to this new Funny Car body will improve on-track performance and help us carry on the Mopar brand’s long tradition of success at the dragstrip.”

Driver Matt Hagan of Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) will have the pleasure of screaming down the track at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar.

“This new Funny Car body is something that Mopar and Dodge//SRT have put a lot of work and support behind, from R&D to wind tunnel testing,” said Hagan. “We improved on the body design. It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage. We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run.”

 

The car can hit 330-plus mph and cover 1,000 feet in less than 4 seconds, according to Dodge. Up front, a new carbon fiber and Kevlar splitter generates gobs of downforce to plant the rocket ride to the track.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it. I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

Though it’s hard to see much of a resemblance looking at the picture above, a production Charger SRT Hellcat was used for inspiration to create the front end graphics and other design elements.

“We are really excited to run the new Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat body in competition, both in qualifying and the race itself at Denver,” said Don Schumacher, DSR owner in a release. “It’s been a great project, working together with Mopar, Dodge//SRT, DSR and DSM to get the whole project finished and done in this period of time. We are really looking forward to how it’s going to change our program.”

The hellish funny car will debut at Bandimere on July 20-22.

Source: FCA

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Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat Will Still Play Key Role in FCA Lineup

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 2:30pm

Steve Beahm took over as head of FCA passenger car brands (Dodge, SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat) for North America in February, responsible for selling and marketing once-majestic brands now struggling for relevance in an SUV-happy market. In 32 years with FCA, the Washington native has done fieldwork and supply chain management, and he led Maserati North America. He started racing at 16 and still follows the sport, so when FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne asked him to take this job, “it was a quick yes.”

Congratulations on the new job.

I started February 1, so we’re on four months, but I’ve been around the company for almost 32 years, not necessarily in this role, but in a lot of commercial roles throughout that time frame. Never in the brand. Most of my career has been in sales, in the operations side, running incentives, field operations. I had Maserati for a short period of time, as well as the supply chain.

So you have it in your blood?

I started racing with my dad when I was 16 and did it for about 20 years and only gave it up because I ran out of time. The career was taking more of my time, and I had some kids at the time so I had to give up the sport, but I still follow it today.

What were you racing?

My first car was a ’69 (Plymouth) Roadrunner and the second one was a ’70 (Dodge) Challenger. Then I went on the dark side and raced a couple GM models for a while, but I started on the Mopar side and whatever my dad had available, I was willing to drive at the time.

So you are the perfect man for this job.

When Mr. (Sergio) Marchionne (chairman and CEO of FCA) asked me, it was a quick ‘yes.’

FCA’s five-year plan centers on volume brands. What is the role of the brands you oversee?

Passenger car brands represent 20 percent of NAFTA revenue. Dodge is the biggest brand by volume and revenue. Dodge’s role is to be prominent as America’s sports car brand. That’s what we’ve labelled it in the past few years, and I truly believe that’s where the brand is at today and where it’s headed for the future.

Charger and Challenger stay on the same platform, and you just keep updating it?

There’s a lot to be said for keeping a similar platform from the standpoint of knowing the bones that you have and how to make it better. We’ve had a proven vehicle out for a period of time, and right now that would be the direction we would head and for the vehicle it’s the right thing. No full commitments, but that’s part of our direction right now.

With the Challenger, have Hellcat and Demon been a boost to visibility?

It has been. Challenger started as a 2008, then Hellcat in 2015; Demon came out as a 2018 model. And we’ve got some other stuff coming down the road. For 2019 we’re going to do a Redeye. It’s a Hellcat that’s been possessed by a Demon. It’s  got a Hellcat body—basically suspension and platform—with the Demon engine. It’s calibrated a little bit differently than in the Demon, but it’s pretty much the Demon engine, so 797 horsepower. It’s a wide body, as well, so you get the 3.5-inch-wider wheels, which means more rubber on the ground.

Are those Nexen tires?

Redeye has Pirelli P Zeros. In terms of performance, the Demon was intended for the track even though it was street legal. We wanted to provide a car that wouldn’t be just on a race track or in somebody’s garage, but a car that would actually be out on the road. So the Redeye has a lot of the same features that were in the Hellcat or the Demon, performance-wise. We’re excited about it. It’s going to be a mainstream vehicle. It’s expected to sell 7 to 8 percent of our mix within Hellcat.

Will it have the transbrake, too?

It will not have the transbrake. It has line lock. Transbrake was the dragstrip piece on the Demon side, along with the suspension that was created for the Demon, so a lot of those features are not available on the Redeye.

Will it be a special edition or limited run?

It is not a special edition. I view it as no different than the Hellcat itself, other than we got an additional version with higher horsepower. It’s not limited to certain volumes. We have no limitations of the volumes right now, and we’re estimating it will be somewhere between 6 and 9 percent of Hellcat sales.

What other variants are planned?

Scat Pack: the first performance vehicle on the Challenger side. We’re going to make wide body available on the Scat Pack for the first time. The second feature is that it gets the waterfall hood from the Hellcat, and the Hellcat is going to get a dual-snorkel hood. That provides an extra 10 horsepower on the Hellcat, so it goes from 707 to 717. It’s fully functional. The left snorkel on the hood goes straight into the induction system and allows the engine to give us 10 more horsepower.

The (Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack) 1320 is another model that we will announce at the Dodge Mile High NHRA event in Denver on July 19. It’s a special model, a buzz model. The 1320 is intended to be a vehicle that someone can drive to work, but if they’re working on a Saturday they can head over to the dragstrip and take it down the track. It has a lot of features that you may have seen on the Demon or on Hellcat, that’s available as a Scat Pack. So the Scat Pack is the base model of 1320. It has 485 hp. It’s got special wheels and tires in terms of traction and capability, so the vehicle will be able to hook up in all conditions whether it be on the road or on the track. And it’s got some cool down features for someone who might be hot-lapping at the track, for the staging lanes. It will have some other cool features that will allow the vehicle to be a little bit more race-friendly for someone who is driving it to the track.

Are there other models for 1320?

No, it’s just going to be the Scat Pack for now. And Scat Pack will be the wide body whether it’s on a 1320 or not. But the only way you can get a 1320 is in a wide body off the Scat Pack. Nexen street-legal drag radials will be available, and it’ll also come with a little “Angry Bee” on it (an homage to the Dodge Super Bee). We’ll also supply some additional screens (in the instrument cluster) for setting up your car, similar to what we did with the Demon. In this case, it may not be to the same extent, but you have the capability to go in and try to set up the right balance for track conditions on the 1320.

You can keep doing that until you are limited by regulations or unable to add the tech you want?

(What stays the same) is the bones of the platform: A frames, suspension. All the other stuff underneath it will actually be all brand new in terms of our wiring harness, electrical capability. The architecture might be off the same platform—in some cases, we might make some enhancements—but everything else pretty much will be relatively all new.

Is there room to further expand the Hellcat family?

We’re always challenging our engineers. We’re always challenging our people on the marketing side to come up with what the people want. Dodge has the largest social media following of any brand, and we think we’re closer to our customers because of that. We have the most Facebook followers, most followers on Instagram and Twitter; our job is to listen to [our customers], and when we can go down some paths they want us to, if it’s good for our brand, we’ll do it. That’s a lot of what’s happened with Hellcat, Demon, and then the Redeye. A lot of the Demons are in storage rooms, a few of them are on the track. I want to see some Redeyes out on the road.

The FCA plan has the Hellcat engine going into the Ram pickup.

Yeah, we’ve got great engineers that provided us with an outstanding engine that has a bunch of performance, and the Ram guys think that’s a good fit for them to take advantage of it as well, and we’re good with that.

There were reports that the Viper is coming back.

As Mr. Marchionne indicated, the Viper is not in the [next five-year] plan.

The Viper plant no longer exists.

It does not. It is being modified for meetings, as a conference center, and a way to display some of our cars.

Does SRT remain as a brand?

It’s a brand that’s very important to Dodge. As America’s performance brand, SRT has to be the organization that continues to push us on the edge of performance. It’s that fine line of putting it on the track and driving it on the street. The SRT engineering team continues to find ways to provide us that performance level that our competitors can’t match.

Durango has performance versions.

Absolutely. It has an SRT version, so don’t underestimate the Durango. The Journey may be a little different, but the Durango SRT is one impressive vehicle.

So Durango fits with what you are trying to do with Dodge.

Absolutely.

How do Journey, Caravan, and Durango still fit in Dodge? Or do they have a long-term role?

They have a role through the ’19 model year. We don’t talk much beyond that. But being America’s performance brand, long term, [some of the vehicles] may not fit.

When does the Grand Caravan go away?

We haven’t announced the end of production. It’s going to be through the 2019 model year, like the Journey, at this point.

Was the Magnum ahead of its time? It fits the Dodge persona now.

We had a couple trendsetters: the original Pacifica and then the Magnum. They’re both unique vehicles. We’ve actually looked at it, but at this stage we’re not headed down that path.

Is Chrysler the minivan brand?

I view it as people movers. The Pacifica is the anchor of the brand. It’s an outstanding vehicle, good for us to build upon. We’re looking for other opportunities. It’s my job to find ways for that brand to grow.

A Pacifica-based corssover was delayed. Is it still in the plan?

It’s not in the future plans Mr. Marchionne spoke about so I can’t give more details about that.

Do you stop making the Chrysler 300 but keep the Dodge large cars?

The 300 goes through the ’19 model year. If you step back and say, ‘Does it fit people movers?’ it does from the sedan standpoint, but not from a utility.

Can Chrysler survive with just a minivan?

It’s my job to look for opportunities—in a profitable way—to build on the Pacifica. Waymo agreed to buy 62,000 [Pacifica hybrids for their autonomous vehicle fleet]. I want to build on that and add Chrysler products.

Waymo is a great partnership.

I look forward to that relationship. I think it’s good for both of us.

Are there plans to take Dodge and Chrysler international? Are they NAFTA-only brands?

The passenger cars for Dodge and Chrysler are NAFTA influenced heavily, way north of 90 percent, and that will continue moving forward.

Is Fiat’s product line streamlined for North America?

The product plan is driven from EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa). Our job is to identify what models work for the U.S. and NAFTA. We’ll take products they build in Europe, homologate them, and they’ll be electric with a high percent of them hybrids.

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2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 First Look

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 2:30pm

Just when you thought the Hellcat franchise was tapped out, FCA uses the Dodge Mile-High National Hot Rod Association Nationals event in Denver to announce its latest buzz model: the 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320. The drag-oriented, street-legal muscle car for the grassroots drag racer will go into production by the end of the year for sale in early 2019.

Efforts to define Dodge as America’s sports car brand continue with the Challenger 1320, which follows a line of performance muscle cars that started with the 2008 Challenger and was followed by the 2015 Hellcat, 2018 Demon, and 2019 Redeye.

In the 1320, a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 generates 485 horsepower, 475 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Dodge claims it will cover the quarter mile in 11.7 seconds at 115 mph, fastest for a naturally aspirated, street-legal muscle car. The $45,980 MSRP includes the $3,995 1320 package as well as the $1,595 automatic transmission (and $1,395 destination) over the regular R/T Scat Pack trim.

“It’s a special model, a buzz model,” says Steve Beahm, head of passenger car brands – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat for FCA North America. “The 1320 is intended to be a vehicle that someone can drive to work, but if they’re working on a Saturday they can head over to the drag strip and take it down the track.”

The 1320 is essentially a 2019 Challenger with the new Widebody Scat Pack. It has the bulging aluminum hood from the outgoing Hellcat and enough drag strip technology from the Demon for the serious drag racer.

That includes an SRT-tuned Adaptive Damping Suspension with exclusive Drag mode, extreme-duty 41-spline halfshafts, line lock, and the TransBrake that was developed for the Demon to address wheel spin on launch. This allows the car to be staged with a foot only on the gas because the TransBrake mechanically locks the transmission’s output shaft as the throttle builds. When it unlocks, the transmission sends full power to the rear. For those who take the 1320 hot-lapping, there are cooldown features.

Like the Demon, the 1320 comes with just a driver’s seat, but buyers can add passenger and rear seats as an option (they were a $1 option on the Demon). Specially developed Nexen 275/40R20l street-legal drag radial tires are available for better grip.

To denote the new model, Dodge has created a modern version of the Dodge Super Bee logo. The new Angry Bee logo can be found on the front fenders, instrument panel, startup splash screen in the instrument gauge cluster, and it’s even illuminated in the headlights. There will also be additional screens in the instrument cluster to set up your car the way you want for the track.

Beahm said Scat Pack accounts for about 20 percent of Challenger volume. As for the growing Challenger line, he said lots of people want a muscle car and Dodge has the youngest buyer demographic in the lineup.

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The 2019 Ford Edge ST Will Reportedly Cost $43,350

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 1:45pm

Earlier this year, Ford announced that there would be an ST version of the 2019 Edge. The the ST essentially replaces the previous Edge Sport, and we knew it would offer more power and better handling, but we weren’t sure how much Ford’s first performance SUV would actually cost. Though there’s still no official confirmation from Ford, a leaked document may provide some clues.

According to a dealer pricing sheet reportedly seen by Automotive News, the 2019 Ford Edge ST will start at $43,350 including destination. If you want the fully loaded version, expect to pay just under $52,000.

If true, the Edge ST certainly won’t be cheap, but that price is also only $1,500 or so more than Ford currently charges for the Edge Sport. For your money, you’ll get a more powerful 335-hp engine, active roll control, a sport-tuned suspension, and larger brakes. Automotive News also reports that Ford will offer an optional high-performance brake package that costs $2,695 and includes 21-inch lightweight black wheels. A $5,585 package will reportedly include the larger wheels, bigger brakes, heated and cooled seats, a hands-free tailgate, and Ford’s Co-Pilot360 driver safety system.

When asked for a comment, a Ford spokesperson couldn’t confirm the Automotive News report. They did, however, point out that the Edge ST’s 380 lb-ft of torque is only slightly less than that of “a performance SUV from Mercedes-Benz” that costs about $17,000 more. Presumably, they were referring to the GLC 43, which makes 384 lb-ft of torque and starts at $56,250 not including destination. Working backward (and assuming a base GLC 43 with no options), that would put the starting price of the Edge ST closer to $40,000.

Either way, look for official pricing to be released later this summer.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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Nissan Leaf Nismo Heading to Japan

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 12:00pm

Nissan has unveiled the production version of the Leaf Nismo, destined to go on sale in Japan starting July 31. The model receives cosmetic upgrades as well as a sportier suspension and other performance bits.

Nissan added red accents all around the exterior, from the bumpers, side sills, and door mirror caps. Buyers can choose between nine body colors including two-tone paint jobs such as Brilliant Silver/Super Black and Dark Metal Grey/Super Black. Custom 18-inch aluminum wheels are designed to mitigate air resistance, and they’re wrapped with grippy Continental ContiSportContact 5 tires.

Inside, you’ll find a special carbon-like finish on the instrument panel as well as an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel. Nissan added a red finish around the air conditioning vents and used red stitching on the custom seats. There is also a unique electronic shifter with a gun metal chrome finish.

Other than design, the Nismo model features a custom tuning computer that promises more responsive acceleration. Still, expect to get the same 147 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque from that electric motor. The car also features an upgraded suspension and custom-tuned electric power steering. The Intelligent Trace Control is specially tuned for increased stability while cornering.

Nissan introduced a Leaf Nismo concept late last year, although it was unclear at the time if the model would make it to production. But it’s not such a surprise that Nissan gave it the green light. Not only does Nissan have Nismo versions of the 370Z and GT-R, but it has also given the special treatment to the more pedestrian Juke, Note, March, and Serena minivan.

Source: Nissan

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Dodge Challenger Photos! See Motor Trend-Taken Challenger Pics Right Here

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 8:00am

Dodge revived the Challenger name in 2008 after a 25-year absence, and today it’s hard to imagine the automotive landscape without the retro-styled two-door and its ever increasing power figures. That’s partially because Dodge won’t let us forget about it, constantly introducing new variants including the Hellcat, Demon, and Redeye. Continuous updates have allowed the Challenger to thrive even as it approaches its 11th year on sale. We’ve extensively covered each new development in the modern Challenger’s story, from its first appearance all those years ago to its 2015 refresh to the many special models released throughout its run.

Check out all the photos of the current-generation Dodge Challenger Motor Trend has shot in the galleries below to relive the resurrected muscle car’s history.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon First Look

2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack First Test

2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1  vs. 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Comparison

2011 Chevrolet Camaro vs 2011 Dodge Challenger vs 2011 Ford Mustang vs 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 First Test

2011 Dodge Challenger R/T First Test

2010 SMS Supercars SMS 570 Challenger First Test

2011 Mustang V-6 vs 2010 Genesis Coupe 3.8 vs 2010 Camaro RS vs 2010 Challenger SE

2011 Ford Mustang GT vs 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS vs 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8

2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Verdict

2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 vs 2010 Hennessey Camaro HPE550 vs 2010 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS vs. 2009 Dodge Challenger RT vs. 2010 Ford Mustang GT

2009 Dodge Challenger SE, R/T, SRT8 First Test

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 First Test and Comparison with 2008 Ford Shelby GT500

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 First Drive

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2019 Audi A8 Starts at $84,795

Wed, 07/18/2018 - 7:45pm

Audi has released a configurator for the A8 flagship sedan, revealing a BMW 7 Series-rivaling starting price of $84,795. The model comes standard with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 and 48-volt mild-hybrid technology for a total system output of 335 hp.

The base A8 is just a hair more expensive than the base BMW 7 Series. The 2019 BMW 7 Series starts at $84,645, although the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class is quite a bit more expensive at $90,895.

Audi shows 10 exterior color options available for the A8, from various shades of gray to black, blue, dark red, and sand. For the interior, buyers can choose between different leather patterns and wood inlays.

An Executive Rear Seat Comfort package offers back seat passengers extra luxury. In the four-seat configuration, buyers get folding tables in the center console, a foot massage function, footrests, and heated surfaces for $7,550. The five-seat version is a little less elaborate. A $4,250 Luxury package adds upgraded leather, air ionizer and fragrance, and ambient interior lighting, while a $4,150 Executive package brings along 22-way front seat adjustments, head-up display, Audi parking system plus with surround view, and other features. Buyers who want a driver assistance package will pay $2,750, and those who want to splurge for all-wheel steering can do so for $1,950.

The 2019 Audi A8 sits on a new platform and comes exclusively with all-wheel drive. The car sends power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The turbo V-6 will be the only engine available at launch, but a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 with mild-hybrid tech and 453 hp should arrive at some point later.

Build your own Audi A8 in the configurator right here.

Source: Audi

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