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Rivian Offers Short Video Sneak Peek at New Vehicles

New R1T and R1S star in new short film promoting the company's debuts.

by Michael Strong on Nov.16, 2018

Rivian's new R1T electric truck is blazing a trail to its debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show.

It wasn’t long ago that when an electric vehicle was going to be announced it was big news. Now, the declaration of a new EV, even a new company making EVs, requires a bit of flair to get attention.

Rivian Automotive went for the flair with the release of video of its new Rivian R1T and the all-new 3-row 7-passenger SUV will be named Rivian R1S “all-electric adventure vehicles.” They’ll debut at the upcoming Los Angeles International Auto Show.

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The 57-second video, entitled “The Electric Adventure Begins,” actually doesn’t reveal either of the vehicles until the end, and even then it’s a far away shot of the fast moving vehicle on a dirt road, kicking up dust. (more…)

Ford Issues Recalls for More Than 38K Vehicles

Actions cover sport-utilities and pickups.

by Michael Strong on Nov.16, 2018

The Expedition is part of the recall of more than 37,000 large SUVs.

Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 38,000 SUVs and pickups as part of four individual recalls covering problems involving seats, airbags, fuel system components and transmissions.

The largest is for 2018 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigators. The action covers large utes that have second row center bench seats. In that instance, the seats could be missing reinforcement brackets in the seat track assembly.

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If not properly secured, the rear seat may come loose. As of this moment, the company is unaware of any incidents or injuries. There are approximately 37,801 vehicles in North America, with 34,946 in the United States and federalized territories, 1,900 in Canada and 955 in Mexico. (more…)

Tesla Promises Model 3 Delivery by Dec. 31 to Meet Tax Deadline

Order by end of month, get by end of year, Musk tweets.

by Michael Strong on Nov.16, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company would deliver any Model 3 ordered by the end of November by Dec. 31.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims that Model 3s ordered in the U.S. by the end of November will be delivered by Dec. 31 — a delivery rate that is much faster than for earlier Model 3 sedans.

The edict, issued by Musk via Twitter, is designed to push sales to get them completed in time to take advantage of tax breaks for buyers. The move comes as Tesla and General Motors are lobbying government officials to extend tax incentives for EV buyers.

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“Tesla just acquired trucking capacity to ensure Model 3 can be delivered in U.S. by Dec 31 if ordered by Nov 30,” Musk tweeted on Thursday. He late clarified how they’re going to get this done. (more…)

Advanced Driving Systems Can Be Misleading and Don’t Always Work as Promised

Autopilot, ProPilot, Pilot Assist, names can confuse motorists expecting full autonomy.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.16, 2018

This Model X crash reveals the short comings of Autopilot and, potentially, other similarly named advanced driver assistance systems.

Soon after Tesla first introduced its Autopilot system in October 2014, videos began popping up on YouTube showing owners doing things like jumping into the back seat while their cars cruised down the highway. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk was shown in his Model S sedan, hands out of the window, rather than on the steering wheel.

After a couple high-visibility crashes, Tesla now takes pain to make sure its owners know Autopilot isn’t a fully autonomous system – at least not yet. But not everyone seems to be getting the message. And it’s not just Tesla. With Nissan adding ProPilot Assist to some new models and Volvo opting for Pilot Assist.

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The new car market is experiencing a flood of new advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, that claim to help drivers stay in their lanes, brake automatically, and even change lanes by simply tapping the turn signal. But testing by AAA finds that many of these systems don’t work as promised – at least all the time. And, worse, the names manufacturers have chosen may lead to a false sense of security, some motorists believing these systems can but drive all but fully autonomously. (more…)

EU Trade Chief Warns Trump Administration to Back Off Tariff Threat

Malmstrom comes to D.C. with a list of tariff targets.

by Michael Strong on Nov.15, 2018

Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU's top trade official, warned that if the Trump administration implemented auto tariffs on the EU, the union would respond in kind.

If President Donald Trump makes good on a threat to impose a 25% tariff on cars and trucks imported into the United States from Europe, the European Union is prepared to implement a new policy of its own: an eye for an eye.

Cecilia Malmstrom, the top trade official for the European Union, met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to talk about trade issues. After the meeting, she warned the EU would implement tariffs of equal size and strength on U.S. goods if Trump made good on his threatened auto tariffs.

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“It would be a rebalancing list covering a lot of different sectors,” Malmstrom said. “That would be ready if we thought those measures would hit us. We hope not.”  (more…)

Negotiating Deal VW is a “Delicate Dance,” Says Ford CEO Hackett

First project could be announced before year-end.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.15, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett described the talks with Volkswagen as a "delicate dance."

A deal between Ford and Volkswagen focusing on joint efforts in the light commercial vehicle market could come together quickly, but in his first official acknowledgement that the two carmakers are exploring a wide range of additional options, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said those negotiations involve a “delicate dance.”

Like a growing number of competitors, Ford has opened up to the possibility of teaming up with erstwhile rivals on a variety of projects. And, in recent weeks, sources have indicated it is discussing deals that also could see them team up on everything from autonomous and electrified vehicles to joint production and marketing efforts in markets such as Europe and Latin America.

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“(VW CEO) Herbert (Diess) and I had a great discussion” about a possible alliance on commercial trucks, Hackett said in an interview with the Reuters news service, noting that things are “going better than we thought it would.” (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Lexus NX 300h

New version boasts an improved powertrain and expansive interior.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.15, 2018

The 2018 Lexus NX 300h features an updated powertrain that provides plenty of power right away without the hard shifts.

Lexus doesn’t have the long history of Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac or BMW but over the years it has succeeded in pushing innovation and change within the luxury segment, which for most of the auto industry’s history was built around expensive sedans.

However, as the prices of new vehicles have climbed and what was once considered luxury equipment winds up in more and more cars, sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks, brands such as Lexus are being forced to reconsider what defines luxury.

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The 2018 Lexus NX 300h certainly doesn’t look like a traditional luxury vehicle, inside or out. But it has plenty of the attributes long connected to luxury vehicles such as a quiet cabin, comfortable interior and a smooth ride powered by some of the latest and most sophisticated technology. (more…)

Gas Prices Dropping Heading into Holiday Weekend

Abundance of oil is pushing down prices.

by Michael Strong on Nov.15, 2018

Normally a holiday weekend means a jump in gas prices, but not this Thanksgiving as they have dropped 7 cents in the last week.

This is the time of year that folks should be getting ready to enjoy Thanksgiving by piling into a car and trekking off to a family members’ house and celebrate the season — and paying way more for gas than normal.

“Should be” is the key part of that sentence, but this year appears to be different.

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Instead of taking their slow climb upward, gas prices are actually falling as the Thanksgiving holiday travel period approaches. Oil prices, due to an ample supply, are declining, which drives down the price of gas. (more…)

Porsche Takes Top Spot in 2018 Power Sales Satisfaction Index

Survey shows that dealers who text secure more deals.

by Michael Strong on Nov.14, 2018

Porsche took first place in JD Power's 2018 Sales Satisfaction Index, ahead of Infiniti and Lexus.

New car customers rated Porsche as the top brand in J.D. Power released its annual Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study today and Porsche took top honors overall while Mini was the leader in the “mass market” category while Porsche is considered a luxury car.

The study reviews the sales process, such as how the customer and the dealer interact. The average score was an 823. The big take away from this year’s study? Despite recent claims that people want to haggle face-to-face, Power’s results reveal that customers prefer to be contacted via digital communications such as text message, but it happens less often than desired.

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“These aren’t apples to apples comparisons by any means, but the scores are clear indicators of where shoppers and buyers are going, especially as the consumer base gains a larger mix of younger customers,” said Chris Sutton, Vice President of the Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power. (more…)

2020 Kia Soul Teased Ahead of LA Auto Show Debut

New platform, new longer-range EV, more tech - but a familiar design.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.14, 2018

Kia's quirky crossover will likely grow slightly larger when the gen-3 model hits the road.

The annual L.A. Auto Show is approaching fast and that means manufacturers are starting to drop hints about all the new models they’ll be debuting in the City of Angels later this month.

The latest to weigh in with a teaser image is Kia, which will pull the wraps off the 2020 Soul at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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Official details about the 2020 Kia Soul are sparse, the Korean carmaker noting only that “the Soul is all new for 2020 and will come to market with a bold, immediately recognizable design.”

(more…)