Auto Car News and Review

Mercedes moving some Sprinter production to North America

October 23rd, 2014 0 Comments
2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter



If you look at the Sprinter and wonder how Mercedes-Benz can possibly compete against locally produced commercial vehicles with a model built in Germany and shipped over the Atlantic, you’re not alone. In fact, in order to mitigate the tariffs (but at the cost of added logistical expense), Mercedes builds the vans in Germany, takes them half apart again, ships them as kits and reassembles them in Ladson, South Carolina.



Apparently the method is worth it, because the United States has become the largest market for the Sprinter outside of Germany. But Mercedes is understandably keen to cut down the costly process, and so it is reportedly looking to build the Sprinter somewhere in North America – although it has yet to confirm the move, let alone determine (or at least announce) where that location may be: in the US, Canada or Mexico.



According to Automotive News, regardless of where a new facility might be located, production would still continue in Germany, where Mercedes builds the Sprinter in two factories: one in Düsseldorf (150,000 units per year) and another in Ludwigsfelde (50,000/year). The Sprinter is sold as a Mercedes or as a Freightliner, was formerly offered as a Dodge and is still rebodied as the Volkswagen Crafter in a deal that is soon set to end.

Former Fisker CEO has some advice for Tesla Motors

October 23rd, 2014 0 Comments




Former Fisker Automotive CEO and ex-Chevrolet Volt vehicle-line director Tony Posawatz has some words of caution for Tesla Motors. The long-time automaker executive questions the California automaker’s long-term viability – and gives some praise – in a talk with Benzinga, which you can listen to below.



While the all-wheel-drive D that Tesla unveiled earlier this month in Southern California wowed a packed crowd, Posawatz (starting at around minute 4:45 in the interview) says Tesla would’ve been better off taking the resources it expended toward that Model S upgrade and directed them towards speeding up the development of a more affordable plug-in. Perhaps a number of investors agreed, since the company’s stock fell the day after the D was announced.


Posawatz says Tesla has been over-reliant on the sale of ZEV credits.

Posawatz also says that Tesla has been over-reliant on the sale of zero-emissions vehicle credits in California for its earnings and questions whether the automaker will ever work at a large enough scale to sufficiently drive down costs and make consistent profits. Tesla CEO Elon Musk would take issue with this characterization.



Posawatz first made his mark in the plug-in vehicle world when he was the vehicle-line director at General Motors for the Volt extended-range plug-in from 2006 to 2012. Later that year, he joined extended-range plug-in maker Fisker Automotive as its CEO, though quit that job during the summer of 2013 as the company was descending into insolvency. He joined the Electrification Coalition this past March.

Jaguar Land Rover opens first overseas factory in China

October 23rd, 2014 0 Comments
Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Company



Anyone who’s a car fan knows that Jaguar and Land Rover cars and trucks all come from the UK. And while we don’t doubt that will remain true for the most part, it won’t be an absolute truth for long, as the British automaker has just opened its first factory overseas.



Its new plant in Changshu, China, is the result of a $ 1.8-billion joint venture between JLR and local automaker Chery. It covers some 4.3-million square feet and will, once at peak capacity, produce 130,000 units specifically for the Chinese market, where JLR sells over 100,000 vehicles each year to make it the company’s single largest market worldwide.



Production at what’s officially known as the Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Company will start with the Evoque, of which one in five globally are currently sold in China. Production will eventually encompass three models. We already know that the Discovery Sport will be next, but the third model line has yet to be announced. JLR has confirmed, however, that the Changshu plant will produce unique models and derivatives specifically for the Chinese market, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see a long-wheelbase version of the forthcoming XE or next-generation XF assembled there to satisfy local tastes.



The Changshu location isn’t the only overseas plant Jaguar Land Rover has in store. A new plant in Brazil is set to come on line in 2016, and another is reportedly being considered in the southern United States. Don’t think that JLR is abandoning its traditional home, however, as the company is also set to open a new engine plant later this month in Wolverhampton, England, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Honda discontinuing Euro Accord, no replacement in sight

October 23rd, 2014 0 Comments
Honda Accord



Honda has built two Accords for many years. There’s the one we’re familiar with here in the United States, and then there’s the Accord sold in markets like Europe and Australia, known here in the US as the Acura TSX. But just like Acura did with the TSX, the Euro-market Accord has been discontinued.



The news comes from The Motor Report in Australia, which is reporting that the Accord Euro will be discontinued in 2015. Sold Down Under alongside the US-market model, the discontinuation of the Aussie car indicates an end to Honda’s midsize sedan efforts in Europe, where there is no obvious replacement for the four-door and wagon models.



According to TMR, Honda Australia Director Stephen Collins indicated that focus will be placed instead on the US market “wide-body” model, as it’s known. That said, this decision doesn’t sound like it’s sitting too well in Oz.



“To be honest, we’re a bit disappointed in the global decision for it to be discontinued,” Collins told TMR. “If we had our way, we would definitely be continuing down that track.”



Collins, meanwhile, ruled out rebadging the Acura TLX, saying it’s “definitely not” a replacement for the Accord Euro.

BMW X4 M40i caught production-ready

October 23rd, 2014 0 Comments
BMW X4 M40i



It seems like BMW is pretty committed to this whole X4 thing. Aside from the current xDrive28i and xDrive35i, we’ve captured a round of spy photos showing what our spy shooters tell us is a more dynamic M40i model.



The higher-performance hunchback follows in the footsteps of BMW’s other sub-M cars like the M235i. In fact, much like the high-po 2 Series, the M40i is expected to make use of a 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder, developing 365 to 375 horsepower.



Aside from that, the rest of the X4 M40i fits the brief of other near-M models, with a more aggressive body kit, larger wheels, firmer suspension and brawnier brakes. Expect some mild tweaks inside, too, including sportier seats and an M-specific steering wheel.



Judging by the uncamouflaged nature of this tester caught testing on Germany’s Nürburgring, production will kick off before the end of the year, perhaps in December. That means a LA Auto Show debut is likely, provided BMW opts to sell the hotter X4 in the US market. Take a look above for our full gallery of spy photos.

What you missed on 10.22.14

October 23rd, 2014 0 Comments
uturn



Subaru Outback2015 Subaru Outback review



The Subaru Outback strikes an interesting balance between the needs of the everyday crossover shopper and the wants of car enthusiasts. It’s more of a tall wagon than a proper CUV, and even with its 2.5-liter boxer-four and continuously variable transmission, it’s pretty nice to drive. Brandon Turkus explains in his review, here.









Scion iMScion’s LA Auto Show concept previewed



Finally – something new from Scion is on the horizon. Kind of. Teased today, Toyota’s youthful-ish brand will be bringing the new iM to this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, though it’s kind of hard to tell exactly what’s in store. Scion claims it’s a pretty sporty offering, but we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, check out these first few teasers.









Honda CivicTakata recall expanded, affected car list updated



The big Takata airbag recall keeps getting bigger, and there’s a new, updated list of affected models now available for your perusal. Unfortunately, the there still seem to be a number of inaccuracies, and NHTSA’s own VIN-lookup site is overwhelmed by this situation. Read through the latest installment of the Takata saga, here.









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Caterham F1 manufacturer files for bankruptcy

October 23rd, 2014 0 Comments
Caterham F1



Caterham is hardly the most stable and successful team on the Formula One grid, but things are looking even more troubling for the embattled outfit, as the company that makes its racecars has reportedly filed for bankruptcy protection.



The company in question, Caterham Sports Limited, is separate from both the team that races its cars and the consumer automaker of the same name, an outfit best known for continuation versions of the classic Lotus Seven. Tony Fernandes, the Malaysian executive who first started the F1 team, then bought the automaker and thereafter sold the team to a consortium of investors a few months ago. But unlike other teams which produce their own chassis in-house, the Caterham team that fields the cars (incorporated as 1 Malaysia Racing Team) is a separate entity from the factory that makes them. It’s that factory which has fallen into financial trouble.



In the short term, Caterham Sports Limited (CSL) has reportedly transferred the contracts of its 200 employees to 1MRT, but if the factory is liquidated, they won’t have the facility or the equipment to operate. 1MRT insists that it remains unaffected by CSL’s bankruptcy administration, but if the factory falters, the team likely won’t have cars to race next season.



This is just the latest episode in a string of problems affecting the team, which recently changed leadership again after only a couple of months of independence. In five years on the grid now, the team has yet to score a single championship point (let alone a podium finish or race win) and currently sits dead last in the standings. It’s only managed to get both of its cars to the finish line at seven of the sixteen grands prix so far this season.