Car News – We Talk Cars. Fri, 20 Apr 2018 22:06:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Car News – 32 32 8746165 Polestar 1 Heading To China After Intense Testing Fri, 20 Apr 2018 22:04:53 +0000 Test drivers and engineers recently spent two weeks in the freezing temperatures north of the Artctic Circle. The job? Put a Polestar 1 prototype through strict endurance testing in temperatures as low as -18 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the frigid temperatures and harsh conditions, the Prototype exceeded expectations.

“Our test drivers have given us some enthusiastic feedback on the handling and dynamics especially,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer, Polestar.

Testing & Analysis

The team analyzed how the car’s various components responded while in cold weather, from the chassis and suspension, to the drivetrain and batteries. Test drivers focused specifically on the Polestar 1’s torque vectoring system, enabled by two rear electric motors with individual planetary gear sets.

“Besides being very happy with the balance of the chassis, they are particularly excited about the torque vectoring,” Ingenlath continued. “We are now very confident about how this enhances the Polestar 1’s cornering responsiveness and accuracy.”

The location was also selected for the ability to test on ice, which gave the team a perspective on the handling dynamics.

“This is a driver’s car,” Ingenlath added.

A Polestar 1 prototype is subjected to rigorous testing in northern Sweden. Photo: Polestar.

In Person

The Polestar 1 is now heading to Beijing for Auto China 2018 although prototype testing will continue throughout this year. After making its global media debut in Shanghai last October, this is the first opportunity for the Chinese public to see the new performance hybrid. Auto China 2018 begins on April 25th and runs through May 4th. According to Ingenlath, Polestar’s presence at the show is crucial.

“We look forward to introducing the car to the Chinese public for the first time, a key market for Polestar,” he said.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photos & Source: Polestar.

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Infiniti Promises New Models, Manufacturing, Electrification In China Thu, 19 Apr 2018 23:50:28 +0000 Infiniti has announced plans to build five new vehicles in China in the next five years, beginning with the QX50 crossover. The news comes ahead of the Beijing International Motor Show and highlights the importance of the Chinese market and electrification for Infiniti.

“Over the next five years Infiniti is planning to localize five new vehicles in China, tripling our sales in our fastest growth market, globally,” explained Roland Krueger, Chairman and Global President, Infiniti Motor Company, Ltd. “As part of our roadmap to electrify our portfolio, we anticipate that by 2025, more than 50 percent of new Infiniti vehicles sold globally and in China will be electrified.”

Continued Growth

Infiniti operates in China via a partnership with Dongfeng Motor Company Ltd., China’s largest automotive joint venture. In 2017, Infiniti sold a record 48,408 vehicles in China, a 16 percent increase from the prior year.

“Together with our partner Dongfeng Motor Company Ltd., Infiniti is pursuing localization in China for China, expanding our network footprint and introducing new technologies, Krueger continued.

Before the Los Angeles Auto Show last year, Infiniti revealed the world’s first production variable compression engine for the 2019 QX50. The 2.0-liter engine, known as a “VC-Turbo,” adjusts its compression ratio to maximize performance. Infiniti says this challenges the notion that only hybrid and diesel powertrains can deliver high torque and efficiency.

“We will continue to strive to make Infiniti the top premium challenger brand in the market,” Krueger added. 

Infiniti spent 20 years developing Variable Compression-Turbocharged technology for production. Photo: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

Availability & In Person

During the Beijing International Motor Show the new QX50 will be unveiled for the first time in Asia. Local production of the QX50 will begin in the near future at the company’s manufacturing facility in Dalian, China. The QX50 crossovers built in China will be sold exclusively to the Chinese market and will be available for purchase later this year.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photos & Source: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

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2018 Ford F-150: EPA Figures Announced For Power Stroke Diesel Engine Thu, 19 Apr 2018 22:44:44 +0000 Earlier this year, Ford revealed the performance specs for the F-150’s first 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine. At the time, fuel economy ratings from the EPA were forthcoming but Ford says those have officially arrived. EPA-estimates come in at 22/30 city/highway and 25 combined mpg.

“Even a few years ago, customers wouldn’t have imagined an EPA-estimated rating of 30 mpg highway would be possible in a full-size pickup,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford Executive Vice President, Product Development and Purchasing.

The fuel economy ratings are achieved in part by the F-150’s aluminum-alloy body, a 10-speed automatic transmission, and the use of durable materials like compacted graphite iron throughout the engine. The 3.0-liter Power Stroke shares similar commercial-grade technologies with the larger 6.7 found in Ford’s Super Duty trucks.

“Our team of crazy-smart engineers rose to the challenge,” Thai-Tang said.

The 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel generates 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft. of torque to provide a best-in-class towing capability of 11,440 lbs., according to Ford. In addition to the tow rating, Ford says the new Power Stroke provides a best-in-class diesel payload of 2,020 lbs. for XL and XLT fleet applications, and 1,940 lbs. for retail applications.

The 2018 Ford F-150 with new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel will begin shipping to dealers in May.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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Chevrolet Cars Set For “Restyled” Faces Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:45:58 +0000 Coherency. Coherency is a good thing, especially when it comes to corporate brands and styling. Ideally, you want everything you make to have it. Take Chevrolet, for example. You wouldn’t want a Chevy Malibu to look way different from a Chevy Impala. So, when a car company, Chevrolet in this case, makes a styling update, that update has to propagate across the entire company line.

Special Characteristics

Mainly what we’re talking about here is styling cues; belt lines, overall greenhouse shapes, grill designs, badging and where the badges go, that sort of thing. Chevy says what they are going for in the immediate future is muscular designs, new features, and more choices.

“The restyled face of Chevy cars for 2019 is characterized by a family-like appearance, with each model honoring its Chevrolet heritage while showing off expressive designs,” said John Cafaro, Executive Director, Global Chevrolet Design.

And I can totally see where he’s coming from. ‘Family-like appearance‘ is the key here.

“We are committed to offering consumers a full lineup of products with fresh designs, new technologies, and efficient powertrain options,” added Brian Sweeney, U.S. Vice President of Chevrolet. “The investments we have made in Spark, Cruze, and Malibu will help position the brand for success in competitive segments that still make up a significant part of the total industry.”

2019 Chevy Malibu. Photo: Chevrolet.

Design Language

As Sweeny alluded to, Chevy’s first go ’round will start with the 2019 Malibu, Cruze, and Spark. To that end the cars will each offer a broad diversity of trims and packages from entry-level to high-end. And Chevy will also have to serve fleets since they represent a quarter of the industry’s retail market.

Chevy’s first task in shepherding the DNA of their fleet is restyling the faces of the cars with signature lighting that will make each instantly recognizable as a Chevy. The redesigned front ends for the Spark, Cruze, and Malibu will offer a more premium look while maintaining their athletic body sides. And yeah, this is the first time I’ve heard the phrase “athletic body” used in conjunction with the Spark and Cruze. Anyway, Chevy will give greater attention to detail like the intricate sculpting on the grilles and the brand’s signature dual-element taillamps.

Malibu RS

The Malibu RS, a first for this ‘Bu generation, will offer a sporty, personalized appearance propelled by blacked-out styling cues like the sport grille, bowtie emblems, rear spoiler, 18-inch machined wheels, and dual exhaust. The inside introduces a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, black cloth seats, and a standard eight-inch touchscreen for the Infotainment 3 system. There will also be a new CVT transmission standard on models that come with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine.


2019 Chevy Cruze and Cruze Hatchback. Photo: Chevrolet.


The Chevy Cruze, along with the updated front fascia, welcomes new interior colors and a new infotainment system with a seven-inch color touchscreen. Remote start and automatic climate control are now standard on LT and Premier, but optional on other trims. The LS Hatch trim is added to the Cruze Hatch line for the first time. That sounds like a good move, since 20 percent of all Cruze sales in its first full year of production are the Hatchback.


The Spark, which sells by the train-load in its segment, gets new front-end styling with the same cues found on the updated Malibu and Cruze. New exterior color options will also be coming along with revised interior trim and an additional available safety feature called Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking. Chevy does not go into detail about what Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking is, but I bet it has something to do with hitting the brakes for you when you’re moving in a forward direction at lower speeds and aren’t paying attention.

Don’t hold me to that, though.

The 2019 Chevy Spark is powered by a 1.4-liter DOHC engine offered with either a manual or continuously variable transmission. Photo: Chevrolet.

Availability & In Person

You will be able to see the new design direction for the corporate automotive giant when the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu, Cruze, and Spark go on sale later this year.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Photos & Source: Chevrolet.

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Will Kia’s Wireless EV Charging System Change The World? Wed, 18 Apr 2018 23:05:17 +0000 Kia has come up with a rather nifty wireless charging system for EVs and, honestly, this sounds pretty cool. As anyone who has ever messed with tangled power cords and such knows, wires can be a real pain. And I’m also willing to bet a chunk of people who are hesitant to buy EVs don’t like the idea of having to mess with chords and wires, and always having to plug them in all the time.

Bright Ideas

About a hundred years ago there was this half-crazy Serbian guy named Nikola Tesla. About half of his ideas made logical sense (alternating current, florescent lighting etc.) and the other half were borderline ya-ya (electric death rays, The Tesla Ozone Company etc.) but my favorite idea of his, borderline ya-ya or not, was power transmission without wires. No, I’m not sure how it was supposed to work, or even if it would work, but the idea itself was fantastic. No more wires, no more plugging things in, everything just runs.

What Kia and their tech partner in this, Mojo, have come up with isn’t a full on Tesla deal, but it’s still pretty cool. Kia rigged up a small fleet of its popular Soul to develop the wireless charging system. And the really neat thing about what they came up with is that not only is it wireless, it’s not nearly as finicky as you’d expect. Even when the Kia Soul is misaligned over the charger, the system can wirelessly charge cars with up to 85 percent efficiency.

The wireless charging system, which has been in development for three years already, is said to be an important step in the future of electric vehicles, according to Hyundai and Kia. And it’s easy to agree with them. If you can take another hassle out of owning an electric vehicle, the better our EV future will be. The project, a collaboration between Hyundai and Kia, Mojo Mobility Inc., and the U.S. Department of Energy, shows a way for future electric vehicles in which plugs are no longer necessary.

Photo: Kia Motors America.

Park & Charge

The system works by using an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two coils. There’s a transmitter on the ground and a receiver on the bottom of the vehicle. You simply park your car above the transmitter to begin charging and the electrical energy is sent through an inductive coupling, which uses that energy to charge the battery. It’s the same way a Sonicare toothbrush charges, only on a much bigger scale. And again, even if there is some misalignment between the transmitter in the ground and the receiver in the car, charging can still happen.

It’s easy to see how this system could play out: every shopping mall and downtown parking lot will have an inductive charging pad buried in it. All you have to do is park your car as you normally would, and while you’re away, it’s automatically charging, no muss, no fuss.

2018 Kia Soul EV. Photo: Kia Motors America.

Future Considerations

Sadly, there are no current plans to offer the wireless charging system on production vehicles for sale to consumers. That makes sense, because while installing the wireless charging gear in the car would be pretty straight forward, it’s the parking space part of the equation where things get sticky. Sure, simply modifying parking spots is relatively easy, but it’s the number of parking spots that’s the potential problem.

There is also a downside on getting the charging pad installed for home use. The home high voltage charger for a Tesla, say, is easy to bolt into your wall and any competent electrician can hook it into your 220V line in a snap. The Kia system potentially means cutting into your garage floor to install the pad and run the wiring. That could be a hassle.

On the upside, if this system works out and becomes widely adopted, driving and charging – and therefore living with – your electric vehicle could become a lot easier.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Photos & Source: Kia Motors America.

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Buick Enspire Concept Debuts In China Wed, 18 Apr 2018 01:06:42 +0000 The Buick Enspire all-electric concept SUV has made its global debut in China, billed as an exploration of the brand’s design ideas and innovative technologies for future mobility. With the Enspire name, Buick retains the general practice of using the letter “e” for their SUV nomenclature; Enclave, Envision, and Encore.

Power & Performance

Buick was slim on the details but the Enspire has advanced propulsion technology, allowing the concept to travel 370 miles on a single charge. The propulsion system, dubbed “eMotion” by Buick, generates a maximum power output of 410 kW and can launch the vehicle to 60 in four seconds. Buick says the Enspire supports both fast and wireless charging, and the battery can be charged to 80 percent within 40 minutes.

2018 Buick Enspire Concept. Photo: Buick.

Styling & Technology

The “surround skyline” interior theme is really of note. Buick says this is a suspended theater-type seating arrangement, meant to open up the cabin for occupants. There is an OLED screen, an augmented reality heads-up display system, and 5G connectivity.

Judging by the press photos, the interior is smooth and streamlined with most of the vehicle’s functions being controlled either by voice, gesture, or touch. Although Buick did not specify, the interior looks befitting of an autonomous vehicle.

Typical to most concepts, the body is aerodynamic and nicely sculpted.

The “surround skyline” interior theme for the Buick Enspire Concept. Photo: Buick.

Availability & In Person

Unfortunately, Buick did not reveal their long-range plans for the Enspire. Given Buick’s presence and following in China, it’s likely to see a release there first if anywhere. No word on if it will arrive in the United States or other nations. In the meantime, the Enspire Concept will be on display at Auto China 2018 in Beijing from April 25th until May 4th.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photos & Source: Buick.

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2019 Honda Odyssey Arrives: A Brief Walk Around Tue, 17 Apr 2018 12:02:54 +0000 Families looking to upgrade their daily commuter may find a likely candidate in the 2019 Honda Odyssey. Honda’s top-selling minivan has arrived at dealerships with a variety of technology and safety features. Retail data from Urban Science shows Honda has lead the minivan segment for the last eight years. During our evaluation of the 2017 model, corresponding data from IHS Markit noted the Odyssey is the preferred minivan for buyers under 35.

Power & Performance

The new Odyssey has a 3.5-liter V6 engine, complete with direct injection and Honda’s i-VTEC and Variable Cylinder Management systems to increase performance and efficiency. The engine comes mated to either a nine- or ten-speed automatic, depending on trim level. The engine, which produces a healthy 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque, carries an EPA fuel economy rating of 19/28 city/highway and 22 combined.

During our extensive test drive of the current 2018 Odyssey, we believed the 3.5-liter V6 had enough power for all driving situations. We found the transmission was smooth-shifting and thought the rear sunshades were a nice touch.

2019 Honda Odyssey. Photo: Honda North America.

Safety & Technology

The Honda Sensing package of advanced safety features is standard and includes Collision and Road Departure Mitigation Systems, Lane Keeping Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control. On the tech front, there is everything from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to in-vehicle Wi-Fi and an entertainment system with Blu-Ray and streaming video.

Of note is the CabinWatch feature, available for the Touring and Elite. CabinWatch allows parents to view their kids in the back via the eight-inch display screen, and even talk to them through the rear speakers or wireless headphones if the Rear Entertainment System is equipped.

Pricing & Manufacturing

The entry-level Odyssey LX starts at $31,065, with the mid-range EX-L coming in at $38,585. At the top of the mountain are the Touring and Elite trims, coming in at $45,635 and $47,945 respectively.

The 2019 Honda Odyssey was researched, designed, and engineered by Honda R&D Americas in Raymond, Ohio. The Odyssey and its engine are produced exclusively by Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Photos & Source: Honda North America.

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2019 Genesis G70 Launched In Russia Mon, 16 Apr 2018 11:36:17 +0000 The 2019 Genesis G70 is headed to the Russian market following a recent ceremony at The Museum of Moscow. Over 500 guests and influencers joined the Genesis brand for a music festival that ultimately welcomed the G70 to Russia. In the Russian market, the G70 will come in five trim levels: Premier, Elegance, Advance, Sport, and Supreme.

“The launch of G70 in the Russian market confirms our strong commitment to deliver customer-oriented models that combine innovative technology, superior design, and the latest engineering advancements,” said Alexey Kalitsev, Managing Director of Genesis Brand in CIS.

Expansion & Design

The G70 is the brand’s foothold in an already competitive entry-level luxury segment. The car rounds out the Genesis sedan lineup alongside the G80, G80 Sport, and flagship G90.

“The brand will continue to expand its product portfolio to all areas of the luxury auto market,” reads a statement from Genesis.

The G70 is characterized by the company’s “Athletic Elegance” design language, which consists of a long hood, short overhangs, and high beltline. From the side, Genesis notes the “parabolic character line” that accents the curves and smooth surfaces alike. Similar its sedan stablemates, the G70 features the Genesis Crest Grille with LED daytime-running lights.

The 2019 Genesis G70 debuts in Russia. Photo: Genesis Motor America.

Power & Performance

The 2019 G70 for the Russian market will be offered with two different four-cylinder engines with 197 and 247 horsepower respectively. Engine availability will depend on trim level. In the United States, the G70 is offered in both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive, although Genesis was not exactly clear in their press materials if this would be the case in Russia.

The G70 will have a generous array of safety features with the Genesis Active Safety Control package.

Pricing (RUB)

In the basic version, the G70 is 1,949,000. The G70 in Elegance starts from 1,999,000. Advance (197 horsepower) – from 2,249,000 and the Supreme from 2,709,000. The G70 Sport is 2,899,000.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photos & Source: Genesis Motor America.

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New Dodge Durango Package Keeps Departed Era Alive Sat, 14 Apr 2018 20:06:11 +0000 The Dodge Durango is one of the most underrated SUVs of our time. I’ve said this before, but “grown ups” who still love performance or muscle cars will find the Durango satisfying to their appetites. The modern day Durango has plenty of room, comfort, and technology for the family, but lots of grunt under the hood. It’s so nicely balanced on the spectrum: there’s luxury and technology, but also aggressive styling and raw power. Lots of raw power. Lots.

House of Power

For example, the 2018 Durango SRT features a 392 (cubic inches) HEMI V8 with 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of torque. It hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and runs the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds as certified by the National Hot Rod Association. Trips to the swimming pool, piano recital, and grocery store are now infinitely more exciting. The Dodge Durango laughs at the notion that family vehicles are boring vehicles. And Dodge is continuing to chuckle with the new Rallye Appearance Package for the 2018 Durango GT.

If this were any other SUV, a new appearance package might fly under the radar. New appearance packages sprout up like dandelions on a spring day, and understandably so since they do dress up a given vehicle nicely. Yet, for Dodge, announcements like this go just a bit farther, because they are the only automaker still carrying the muscle car torch. This was evidenced recently by the new Shakedown Package for the mighty Challenger, which gives the iconic car a Dominic Toretto, Brian O’Conner vibe.

The Dodge Shakedown Challenger mixes design cues from the past and present to create an original Mopar machine. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Light Em’ Up

Again, new packages like this are common, but for Dodge there is distinct purpose when they release one. It goes beyond trying to attract more people to the dealership, or to get the automotive press to talk about it, or to jazz up the front end so it looks pretty at the auto show. Yeah, it may well do all those things, but for Dodge it’s about adding one more layer as they stay true to the unembellished and fervent mantras that are the muscle car culture. The GT resides at the midpoint in the Durango lineup, but it’s no exception. It gets lit by that aforementioned torch just as the Challenger would.

“Many of our customers love the performance look of the Durango R/T and Durango SRT, but are happy with the award-winning Pentastar V6 engine’s 295 horsepower and the excellent fuel efficiency it delivers,” explained Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge/SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America. “This new Durango GT Rallye Appearance Package gives those three-row SUV buyers the best of both worlds.”

The Durango GT’s new Rallye Appearance Package adds a performance-inspired hood with a cold air duct and two heat extractors. The front fascia and LED fog lamps have a look that mimics the R/T and SRT models, and it’s available with the popular Brass Monkey Wheels. That’s it. Simple. Simple but effective.

2018 Dodge Durango R/T (left) and 2018 Dodge Durango GT. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Performance & Technology

The Durango GT runs a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that generates 295 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque, mated to a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic. When properly equipped, it can tow 6,200 lbs., a best-in-class figure according to Dodge. The Durango’s list of available features is nearly endless from Blu-ray and DVD players, to premium audio systems and navigation. Inside, driver’s have 85 cubic feet of cargo space and 50 different seating configurations at their disposal.

Pricing & Availability

The new Rallye Appearance Package for the Dodge Durango GT is $1,495 and is available now. If you add it to your Durango, do share a picture with us on Twitter.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Photos & Source: FCA US LLC.

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Toyota & Alabama A&M University Partner On Mobility Initiative Sat, 14 Apr 2018 13:44:03 +0000 Toyota Motor North America and Alabama A&M University (AAMU) are launching a “student-led mobility initiative,” which aims to strengthen the area’s connection and access to education, jobs, and clean vehicles. The initiative will unite an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty for the “Clean Low Emissions Approach & Novel Transportation Innovation Practice,” otherwise known as “CLEAN-TRIP.”

The effort is the first of similar initiatives Toyota is establishing across the United States.

“Creating a clean, safe and more efficient environment for the campus proper, as well as the immediate and larger community, has been a major thrust of AAMU for decades,” explained Dr. Ernst Cebert, facilitator of the project and professor within the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences. “Through this project, we will engage students with hands-on learning to address real world problems.”

“We partnered with AAMU because of their focus on renewable energy, strong STEAM programs, and history of preparing well-qualified graduates,” added Al Smith, Group Vice President, Toyota Social Innovation.

Toyota is providing an initial grant of $300,000, which includes scholarships for students accepted into the program.  In addition to monetary support, students will work with Toyota to learn the company’s approach to problem solving and critical thinking. Once in the program, students will interact with local residents to better understand their mobility challenges.

“By developing a mobility solution through collaboration with the community, we can help guide students to create better ways to move that also improve quality of life,” Smith said.

In 2017, AAMU received funding from the Federal Transportation Agency to purchase zero-emission electric buses. AAMU was founded in 1875 by a former slave, William Hooper Councill and opened as the Huntsville Normal School. Today, the university has nearly 5,000 undergraduates and over 800 graduate students, with 75 percent of those students already involved in community service projects.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photo & Source: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., Alabama A&M University.

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Land Rover “Draws” Massive Defender Outline At 9,000 Feet In The French Alps Thu, 12 Apr 2018 12:59:42 +0000 So Land Rover has been in the truck-making game for 70 years now. That’s an impressive string, especially when you consider what the British automotive industry went through in the late-70s, early-80s. But here we are, and as you would expect, Land Rover decided to celebrate.

And how did they celebrate this milestone? By making a giant Defender in the snow of the French Alps, of course. No, it doesn’t make much sense to me either, but it’s still kind of cool. The giant Land Rover snow art was made in anticipation of World Land Rover Day, April 30th, which will be exactly 70 years since the original Landy was first shown at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show.

Vertical Limits

In La Plagne, France, which is southwest from Chamonix, snow artist Simon Beck, who somehow has a job creating geometric art on foot, confronted sub-zero temperatures to produce the outline of a Defender 820 feet across, 9,000 feet up in the French Alps. Yeah, the idea is kind of nutty, and the details make it even more so. To create the high-altitude Defender, Beck walked for 20,894 steps through the French Alps. That adds up to a total of 10.2 miles.

“Making my snow art requires endurance, accuracy, and strength – all attributes shared with the Defender. Its iconic shape is so simple and recognized across the world; this must be the most recognizable piece of art I’ve ever made,” related Simon (although that sounds like he was reading something a marketing weasel handed him).

And I get what they were going for here, but if it was me in place of Simon Beck, I would have made them trace it out on a sandy beach in Hawaii or some place warm like that.

Snow artist Simon Beck at work. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover.

Humble Beginnings

Of course, the thing about doing this in the first place is that it ties back to how Land Rover got its start. You’ve heard the phrase, “I sketched it out on the back of a napkin?” That’s pretty close to how Land Rover got going. It all started when Rover’s Engineering Director, Maurice Wilks, first sketched the shape for the original Land Rover in the sand of Red Wharf Bay, England. See guys: Sand. Hawaii would have been much better.

Anyway, Maurice proposed the idea to his brother, Spencer, who just happened to be Landy’s Managing Director. Spencer liked it, christened it the “Land Rover,” which over time turned into the modern day Defender.

Waxing Poetics

If you’re a fan of the go-anywhere Brit, there’s no need to hike up into the Alps to join the celebrations. Land Rover is inviting fans to join the World Land Rover Day fun via an online broadcast from the UK at 3:00 pm EDT on April 30th. Programming will feature the significant people who created “the world’s most-loved 4x4s.” That, of course, made me cough the word “JEEP!” very loudly, but okay, people still like Land Rover. Let’s not gild the lily too much, shall we chaps?

Anyway, that online broadcast will also take an in-depth look at the band’s most innovative technologies, from the original Series Land Rover and Defender origins, up to the introduction of the Range Rover in 1970 and the Discovery in 1989.

Continued Celebrations

The U.S. market will get in on the fun by celebrating World Land Rover Day at its new 12-acre headquarters in Mahwah, New Jersey. There will be a gathering of people and products of historical significance for the Land Rover brand. Members of the winning 1993 American Camel Trophy U.S. team will be reunited with the vehicles that competed in that year’s rally in Malaysia.

In addition, a North American Spec Range Rover Classic from the first year Range Rover was sold in America will be on hand, along with several examples of the North American version of the Defender sold here from 1992 to 1997.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

70 Years of Land Rover Timeline

1948       Land Rover Series I launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show.

1953       Long Wheelbase version of the Series I is introduced.

1956       Oxford and Cambridge teams complete on London to Singapore expedition in Series I.

1958       Land Rover Series II unveiled with more refined design.

1970       Original two-door Range Rover (the Classic) goes on sale.

1971       Land Rover Series III launched.

1972       Range Rover crosses Darien Gap on 18,000-mile Trans-America expedition.

1976       1,000,000th Land Rover built.

1979       A Range Rover wins the inaugural Paris-Dakar rally (and again in 1981).

1981       Land Rover begins legendary partnership with Camel Trophy.

1981       Four-door Range Rover released.

1989       Land Rover Discovery, the third Land Rover model, goes on sale.

1990       Original ‘Landie’ relaunched and renamed Defender.

1994       Second generation Range Rover launched.

1997       All-new Freelander is unveiled with innovative new technology: Hill Descent Control.

2001       Third-generation Range Rover with all-round independent air suspension revealed.

2003       Inaugural G4 challenge sees 16 teams traverse USA, South Africa and Australia.

2004       Range Stormer Concept previews performance Range Rover and three-door body.

2004       Discovery 3/LR3, the third-generation Discovery, launched at New York Motor Show.

2005       All-new Range Rover Sport unveiled.

2006       Freelander 2/LR2 launched. The first Land Rover to be manufactured at Halewood.

2007       LRX concept car previews design language of a new luxury compact SUV.

2009       Fourth generation of the Land Rover Discovery introduced.

2010       Range Rover Evoque, the world’s first luxury compact SUV, makes global debut.

2012       Fourth-generation Range Rover introduced – the first all-aluminum SUV.

2013       New generation of Range Rover Sport unveiled at New York Motor Show.

2014       Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division is officially launched.

2014       Range Rover Sport SVR debuts, the fastest, most agile, most powerful Land Rover.

2014       Discovery Vision Concept previews design vision for new family of Discovery vehicles.

2014       Launch of Discovery Sport, a new premium compact SUV with 5+2 seating.

2015       Trio of end-of-line Defender editions revealed with biggest sand drawing in UK.

2015       Exclusive Range Rover SVAutobiography long wheelbase launched in New York.

2015       Evoque Convertible becomes world’s first luxury compact SUV convertible.

2015       One-of-a-kind Land Rover ‘Defender 2,000,000’ sells for £400,000 at charity auction.

2016       Last Defender rolls off the production line.

2016       All-new Discovery with world-first remote Intelligent Seat Fold technology launched.

2017       Land Rover launches the fourth Range Rover, the Velar.

2018       Limited Edition Range Rover SV Coupé debuts at Geneva Motor Show.

Photos & Source: Jaguar Land Rover.

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New Chevy Silverado HD To Arrive Next Year Wed, 11 Apr 2018 16:50:40 +0000 Chevrolet announced the new Silverado HD will debut next year as a 2020 model. The forthcoming HD will be the third entirely new Silverado in just 18 months, joining the 2019 Silverado 1500 and Silverado medium-duty series trucks. The automaker believes the new Silverado portfolio will drive growth and sales.

“With a completely new, expanded range of Silverado models on the horizon, we expect to see even more truck buyers in Chevrolet showrooms,” explained Alan Batey, Global Head of Chevrolet. “All three Silverado models offer a wide range of choices, as no two truck customers are alike.”

According to Chevrolet, the new Silverado HD is undergoing rigorous performance testing, with the validation metrics for durability having increased. Silverado HD prototypes will be road-tested later this year in an effort to meet the market’s demands and expectations.

“Chevrolet has built more than 85 million trucks in 100 years and we have applied that accumulated truck expertise to the new Silverado range,” Batey said. “Every Silverado is built to be long-lasting and dependable, as many customers need their trucks to earn a living or to do what they enjoy most when they’re off the clock.”

The first production models are scheduled to roll off the assembly lines in Flint, Michigan during the third quarter of 2019. Chevrolet says complete product and pricing information will be available closer to that time.

The Automoblog Staff contributed to this report and can be reached anytime.

Photo& Source: Chevrolet.

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Global Ford Focus Introduced; Inspires New Product Development Trends Wed, 11 Apr 2018 02:03:08 +0000 Take a new product development process, mix in human-centered design and customer feedback, and toss in a dash of new technology and simmer until tender. What do you have? The new Ford Focus.

“We’re evolving our successful One Ford strategy to find new ways to create a sporty-looking small car our customers will love,” explained Jim Farley, President of Global Markets, Ford Motor Company. “We’ll tailor which cars in the Focus lineup we offer in markets around the world to ensure we best meet customers’ different needs and preferences.”

Tailor Made

Ford employees spent hundreds of hours speaking with customers from around the world, and the new Focus will be “tailored” to each global region accordingly. Ford says, through the use of globally common but flexible architectures and modules, the new Focus can better appeal to individual needs while maintaining a high level of commonality but low complexity.

Future Ford vehicles will adopt this pattern. In essence, the automaker will move from individual platforms to more flexible architectures paired with modular “families.” This will streamline a number of common components like engines, electronics, and sunroofs.

The next generation Focus has as few as 26 configurations, depending on the global market, versus 360 for the current generation. Ford says the complexity reduction helps lower costs while ensuring customers can more easily find the right vehicle. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Tech Goodies

Expect the new Focus to tech it up with high-speed internet, wireless device charging, and the new CoPilot360 system, essentially a package of advanced safety features. The content of CoPilot360 will vary by region, but generally includes things like Adaptive Cruise Control, Speed Sign Recognition, Lane-Centering, Evasive Steering Assist, and an updated version of Active Park Assist.

The enhanced version of Active Park Assist operates the gear selection, acceleration, and braking when parking – prior versions required the driver to shift the gear and control the brake pedal. CoPilot360 also includes an Adaptive Front Lighting System, a camera-based technology that pre-adjusts the headlamps for improved visibility, like around a curve for example.

SYNC 3, housed in the eight-inch color touchscreen, is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With SYNC 3, drivers can voice control a number of functions like audio and navigation, or climate and connected devices. The FordPass app has a vehicle locator service, just in case you lose your new Focus in the mall parking lot on a Saturday afternoon. That same app doubles as a remote start.

“Aha! Found ya! Thanks FordPass.” Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Big Things & Small Packages

Get ready to stretch out backseat passengers! The new Focus gains nearly 2.4 inches of shoulder room, two inches of knee clearance, and nearly three inches of legroom. Up front, Ford says the instrument panel is “optimized for getting in and out of the car.” Wonder how they pulled that off?! The electronic parking brake and rotary shifter make for easier access to the cupholders. Perfect. Coffee time!

There are even soft knee pads on the center console for added comfort.

And how about this: special consideration was given to the shape of the mirrors to help reduce that air throbbing effect when one window is lowered while driving. Pretty cool!

Those with furry family members will find ample room in the wagon models for pet carriers. With the rear seats folded flat, the new Focus wagon offers a generous 58 cubic feet of space. Ford says considering the needs of pet owners was important during development.

“May I always be the type of car owner my dog thinks I am.” Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Power & Performance

The new Focus receives a chassis and suspension overhaul to increase torsional rigidity by 20 percent. Standard drive modes include Normal, Sport, and Eco, and adjust the engine and transmission responses, steering feel, and Adaptive Cruise Control to match a driver’s preferences.

In China, the new Focus offers the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine or an all-new 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine. In Europe, customers have a 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel available. North American powertrain options will be announced at a later date. The engines can be paired to an optional eight-speed automatic that actively assesses vehicle and environmental information to adjust clutch pressures for smoother gearshifts.

“The transmission shifts so quick, I just can’t even.” Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Pricing & Availability

No word yet on pricing but configurations include, depending on the market, a four-door sedan, five-door estate/wagon, and five-door hatchback. Expect the new Ford Focus in Europe and China yet this year, and in North America in the second half of 2019.

Ford says they will formally introduce the new Focus in North America closer to its on-sale date, which hints at a possible reveal during the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, or the 2019 North American International Auto Show.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25: The “Collector’s Piece” Tue, 10 Apr 2018 23:01:26 +0000 Okay, I am being totally serious here: I think Lotus is messing with us. They have put out so manyspecialeditions that I am starting to doubt them. Seriously, has anyone ever seen all the special editions in the same place at the same time? At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone at Lotus said, “Nah, sorry mate! We was just havin’ a laugh!” and this all turns into some sort of prank.

Anyway, here is the new “special” edition: The Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25 Collector’s Piece.

Name Game

No, that is the real, full name for this thing: Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25 – billed by Lotus as a “collector’s piece.” At first I thought it was a piece, like a piece of a racecar or something. But no, this is an entire car. A specially-prepped, painted and limited-run Lotus Exige Cup 430. And yes, like all Lotus cars, it is impressive. It’s quick, fast, turns like the devil, and does the business.

Lotus will be making only 25 of this version, although the name also applies to it being a tribute to the Lotus 25 Grand Prix car from 1963.

Distinct Markings

To distinguish this edition, every Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25 is finished in metallic Lotus Racing Green, or Old English White, with contrast pinstripes on the front splitter, front access panel, bargeboards (which are new), roof panel, and rear wing, as well as unique decals on each rear buttress. In case you don’t know, Lotus Racing Green is not as dark as British Racing Green, and Old English White was the primary color on the Lotus Cortina (potentially the original sport sedan). This is all the work of the Lotus Exclusive program that combines traditional British craftsmanship with the best of modern design.

Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25

Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25. Photo: Group Lotus plc.

Power & Performance

The Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25 employs a supercharger and chargecooler, designed specifically for the unique demands of the engine, which pumps out a very impressive 430 horsepower and 325 lb-ft. of torque. Given the size and weight of an Exige, that is a beautifully grotesque amount of horsepower. 60 mph comes up in merely 3.2 seconds before topping out at 180 mph. Lotus says it’s one of the fastest road cars to lap their Hethel circuit, covering the 2.2 miles in just 1 minute 24.8 seconds.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Exige Cup 430 Type 25. There is also a variable traction control function, linked directly to the ECU and controlled by a six-position rotary switch on the steering column. There are five pre-set traction levels as well as “off”. . . and this is pointing out the obvious to us gearheads, but we all know how much capital-F, Fun that “off” position is going to be!

Aerodynamic Art

Yes, the Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25 is road legal, but it is sort of a British version of a Porsche GT3: This thing shines brightest on the track. Motorsport aero can be found all over the place. The carbon fiber front splitter’s trailing lip helps separate and speed airflow under the car. The new air curtain elements on the front clamshell move air through to the front wheel wells to reduce turbulence and drag. The front louvers reduce the pressure within the front wheel arches and cut lift.

Out back you’ll notice the large cut-out sections behind the rear wheels to reduce wheel arch pressure and boost downforce. Put all that together with the high-set rear wing and rear diffuser, and you’re looking at over 450 lbs. of downforce.

Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25 white

Composite technology, according to Lotus, plays a considerable role in the Exige’s construction, with every area examined with the intent to cut unnecessary mass. Photo: Group Lotus plc.

Suspension & Braking

The suspension is as close to perfect as Lotus can make it. That means, as far as you’re concerned, it is perfect. Nitron three-way adjustable shocks and adjustable Eibach front and rear anti-roll bars are standard. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are fitted to ultra-lightweight, fully machined, forged aluminum wheels. Stopping is done via forged, four-piston AP Racing brake calipers and race-derived two-piece, J-hook brake discs.

Interior Treatments

On the inside it’s all down to business. The Type 25’s interior includes in-house manufactured carbon race seats, themed in black Alcantara, with bespoke trim and a custom stripe for the head and backrest. The door panels and face-level vents feature new contrast double stitching, and the cabin is finished all around in anodized aluminum and carbon fiber bits and pieces. In a nod to the original Lotus Type 25 Formula 1 car, there is a wooden gear selector knob. Sweet!

Curiously, the Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25 is not all Harry Hairshirt track-focused austerity. There is air conditioning, an entertainment system, including iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, and cruise control. There is even carpet and floor mats. However, Lotus says if you want to be all Harry Hairshirt track-focused austerity, you can delete some of those items.

Sigh. I guess this “Special Edition” Lotus will have to go in my Lotto Garage as well.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Photos & Source: Group Lotus plc.

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A Brief Walk Through The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta Lineup Tue, 10 Apr 2018 13:01:47 +0000 Volkswagen has released complete pricing information and trim level content for the 2019 Jetta. Based off VW’s MQB platform, the 2019 Jetta made its debut earlier this year in Detroit, Michigan. The new Jetta will be available in five different trim levels, and offer more interior room and technology than the outgoing model. Every Jetta contains a Driver Personalization feature with up to four settings.

Should you find yourself in the market for a new Jetta, here is a brief look at each individual trim level.

Jetta S

This entry Jetta has a host of tech features including Bluetooth capability, 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, VW’s Car-Net App-Connect, and a USB port. Other standard features include 16-inch silver “Rama” aluminum-alloy wheels, LED Daytime Running Lights, chrome grille, multi-function steering wheel, rearview camera, electric parking brake, and Eco driving mode.

With a starting MSRP of $18,545 for the six-speed manual, it’s hard to go wrong if you’re looking for a simple commuter car. The eight-speed automatic Jetta S is slightly more, starting at $19,345. Add the Driver’s Assistance Package for $450 and receive Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, and heated side mirrors.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta. Photo: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Jetta SE

The SE adds a few more premium treatments like a panoramic sunroof, push-button start, leatherette seats, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The eight-speed automatic is standard as are the 16-inch two-tone “Rama Black” aluminum-alloy wheels. Toss in the Cold Weather Package (available mid-year – $495) and ward off Old Man Winter with a heated steering wheel and rear seats, heated windshield washer nozzles, and remote start.

The Jetta SE starts at $22,155.

Jetta R-Line

The R-Line brings a bit more personality to the party with an XDS electronic differential, 17-inch dark gray “Trenton” aluminum-alloy wheels, gloss-black front grille, fog lights, special R-Line rear bumper, and dual exhaust. R-Line badges decorate the car inside and out while driver’s are treated to a multi-function steering wheel with contrast stitching, and two-tone black and grey seating surfaces with contrast stitching.

The aforementioned Cold Weather Package is available. The R-Line starts at $22,995.

2019 Jetta R-Line. Photo: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Jetta SEL

The SEL starts by adding LED Projector/Daytime Running headlights, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a Drive Mode Selection system. The interior can be cooled (or warmed) via 10 different ambient lighting colors. The interior can also be rocked by the 400 Watt BeatsAudio system with three months free of satellite radio. The 10.25-inch Volkswagen Digital Cockpit can be configured according to a driver’s wishes and there are two USB ports.

The aforementioned Car-Net App-Connect is standard, and the Cold Weather Package is available; standard driver assist features include Adaptive Cruise Control, High Beam Control, and Lane Assist. The SEL begins at $24,415.

Jetta SEL Premium

At the top of the mountain is the SEL Premium with its 17-inch two-tone “Tornado Metallic” aluminum-alloy wheels, fog lamps, power leather seats, eight-inch infotainment screen, and navigation. The Cold Weather package will be included when it becomes available mid-year. The SEL Premium also features the R-Line’s rear bumper.

The SEL Premium starts at $26,945.

2019 Jetta SEL Premium. Photo: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Power & Performance

Under the hood of the new Jetta is a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine complete with direct-injection. Billed as the “TSI” engine by VW, it sends a healthy 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque to the Jetta’s front wheels. Automatic transmission models come standard with a Start/Stop function which disables the engine during what would otherwise be extended idle times to improve fuel efficiency.

Warranty & Availability

The 2019 Jetta is covered by a bumper-to-bumper, new vehicle limited warranty of six years or 72,000 miles, whichever occurs first.  Expect the new Jetta at VW dealers in the second quarter – destination fee on all models is $850.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Photos & Source: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

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