German regulators, long criticized for having a too-cozy relationship with the German auto industry, have decided that Volkswagen—which had proposed a voluntary recall of its emissions-cheating diesel vehicles—will face a mandatory one instead.
In a press release, Volkswagen said it “welcomed the swift decision by the [Federal Motor Transport Authority].” Uh, right. The German government’s decision has implications for the rest of Europe, as VW has announced that it is recalling not just the 2.4 million diesel cars in Germany, but a total of 8.5 million throughout Europe. The recall covers Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, and Škoda brands.
The Volkswagen Golf Cabrio is set to return to the U.S. market, for the first time since 2002. According to a source close to the project, the next-generation Cabrio will be sold here alongside the Beetle convertible and will fill the gap that will be left when production of the Eos ends in a few months.
Positioned slightly below the Eos, the upcoming new Golf Cabrio’s concept will closely mirror that of the current car (pictured), which is still based on the Mark VII Golf and was just treated to a minor update for 2016.
Based on the VW Group’s MQB architecture, the new Golf Cabriolet will likely come with a plethora of powertrain options; we suspect that the TDI models, which have been popular in Europe, will be kept off the U.S. market.
Five years after being purchased by Geely, Volvo is well on its way to eliminating all remnants of previous owner Ford. The Swedish company recently announced its second Volvo-designed modular platform and is emphasizing its embrace of hybrid and electric powertrains. As Michael Fleiss, Volvo’s VP of powertrain R&D told us: “All future Volvo products can and will be electrified.”
The Volvo XC90 is the first drivable example of the firm’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) modular architecture (shown above in PHEV form), which very soon will spawn an S80-replacing large sedan called the S90. In the longer term, the platform will underpin new vehicles in the “60” family (S60, V60, XC60). The only fixed measurement in SPA vehicles is that between the dashboard and the front axle.
Now the company has detailed a new, smaller platform, called Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), that will be the basis of the next generation of its 40-series vehicles as well as some Geely products. The old S40abandoned our market in 2011, but CMA-based compact Volvos will return to the United States sometime in 2017. Like SPA vehicles (and MQB products from the Volkswagen Group), those riding on CMA underpinnings will have a fixed dash-to-axle length but will be extremely customizable in wheelbase, track width, and body size and shape. As we’ve previously reported, future Volvo engines will have no more than four cylinders.
Some future Volvos won’t have any cylinders at all. SPA and CMA were designed from the start to accommodate both hybrid and full-electric powertrains in addition to traditional gasoline and diesel engines. This reflects Volvo’s new focus on electrification. The company expects that by early next decade, at least 10 percent of its overall production will be plug-in hybrids. (This, executives say, will amount to roughly 80,000 vehicles globally each year.) It appears as though all SPA vehicles will be available with all-wheel drive; CMA cars all will be front-wheel drive, at least in the near term. SPA plug-in hybrids will have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, 9.2 kWh of battery capacity, a 27-mile EV-only range, and an 87-hp electric motor; CMA PHEVs—which likely will carry T5 badges—will use a 1.5-liter three-cylinder in tandem with a 74-hp motor and a 9.7-kWh battery, for 31-plus miles of emissions-free driving. While SPA PHEVS utilize an eight-speed automatic transmission, CMA PHEVs will have an unusual seven-speed dual-clutch automatic setup, which in EV mode will use only the even-numbered gears. This may sound strange, but remember that most electric cars have single-speed transmissions. (Even in non-PHEV form, the CMA’s three-cylinder will develop close to 200 horsepower, we’re told.)
The upcoming XC90 T8 is the first Volvo hybrid that’ll be available on American shores, but in other markets, Volvo has sold diesel PHEVs since 2012 (the V60), and this year they released a Chinese-market, Chinese-built S60 hybrid. A fleet of 400 full-electric C30s began traversing (mostly European) roads in 2010. Volvo promises an SPA-based “high-performance, long-range, fully usable, quick-charging” electric car by 2019. What does “long-range” mean? 500 kilometers, or 310 miles.
We also experienced the first U.S.-market step in Volvo’s electrification plan—the plug-in-hybrid XC90 T8—and we found it to be well-behaved and powerful (not to mention great-looking, spacious, and comfortable, like all XC90s). The brakes are a bit grabby, especially when you initially push the pedal, but they’re no worse than most hybrids. Volvo says this is the “performance product” of the XC90 lineup, but it feels much more akin to a BMW X5 xDrive35i than an X5 50i, let alone an X5 M. Still, this is the most-powerful non-Polestar Volvo ever, and its so-called Twin Engine setup (there’s actually one gasoline engine and two electric drive motors, and none of them are twins) creates 400 horsepower in total. Its maker says the 5000-plus-pound SUV is good for a 5.3-second sprint to 60 mph.
Volvo considers our market to be the biggest for the XC90 T8, and we look forward to testing one on our home soil. The first T8s should reach U.S. dealers around Thanksgiving. No one knew quite what to expect when Volvo was sold to Geely, but the coming years look to be quite interesting for Sweden’s only remaining major car company.
It’s that time of year again, when Ford swamps SEMA with factory-authorized modded pickup trucks. After previewing seven SEMA Edge and Explorer SUVs, we turn our attention to the SEMA F-150s—lifted, lit up, and generally made to out-macho the 600,000 other Americans that buy one of these pickups each year. Here’s a sneak peek.
There hasn’t been a notable half-ton pickup with a manual transmission since the 2006 Dodge Ram SRT-10, the Viper-powered chainsaw that proclaimed itself the world’s fastest production pickup. MRT, a shop in Plymouth, Michigan, is reeling in those years—and a Tremec six-speed that otherwise would have slipped into a Viper ACR. The stick shift teams with an EcoBoost V-6 of unknown power, along with a lowered suspension, a limited-slip differential, and a roll cage, which in a perfect world would make this F-150 eligible for the Nascar Truck Series. That’s not our world, though, so don’t expect to see this stock F-150 on a Nascar oval or a Ford showroom anytime, probably ever.
Leer Edition Outdoorsman
Leer has been synonymous with fiberglass bed caps and tonneau covers since the 1970s, and this side-windowed, paint-matched example is no different, aimed at guys who who’d like their Crew Cab F-150 to resemble the old Excursion SUV. A six-inch lift, 22-inch off-road tires, LED rock light kits, a leather interior, and a 1000-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo complete the package.
Automaker promotions using the ride-sharing service Uber aren’t new, but this may be the first instance where the taxi alternative’s name dovetails with a promotional partner’s German heritage. However you spell it, BMW is giving free Uber rides in its 2016 7-series sedan to folks in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago, starting at noon local time today.
Besides offering Uber users a chance to skip the ubiquitous—Uber-quitous?—Toyota Prius and try something several magnitudes classier, the free-ride promotion is a logical way of getting potential customers’ butts in the 7’s spacious back seat. This being an “ultimate driving machine,” BMW didn’t merely stop at rides—this weekend it actually enabled Uber users to set up test drives of the new 7 via the service’s app. Even among those not looking to buy an $82,295 luxury sedan, or even drive one, a ride in the 7-series is sure to generate plenty of warm fuzzies toward BMW—if only because it isn’t another damn Prius.
GM is recalling 3073 vehicles for ignition switches that can be hard to turn and become stuck with their keys in the run position. According to GM, the lock actuator gear has “an outer diameter that exceeds specifications” and the sticking problem is more likely when cabin temperatures are “higher.” At that point, if the vehicle goes over a bump or the interior cools, the key can then slide to the accessory position, thereby shutting down the entire car and all of its passive safety systems (like airbags). Affected models include 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500s and GMC Sierra 1500s, certain 2015 HD versions of the Silverado and Sierra, and the 2015 Suburbanand Tahoe. According to the Detroit Free Press, a GM employee reported the defect under the company’s “Speak Up For Safety” program initiated in April 2014, just two months after the first ignition-switch recall.
GM says it will replace the ignition lock housing, but not the entire switch. It also did not include the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, mechanical twins to the Tahoe and Suburban, in the action. Since the start of 2014, GM has recalled nearly 12.6 million cars in the U.S. for ignition-related defects, most of which involve cars randomly shutting off. GM has only been implicated by the government for the initial 2.2 million cars and recently settled with a U.S. Attorney’s office for $900 million, or less than what Toyota paid for a defect many largely attributed to driver error.
General Motors is recalling 395 cars with Takata-sourced airbag inflators that can send pieces of the inflator into the passenger compartment upon deployment, according to filings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Unlike the roughly 19 million cars that have been recalled since last fall, the faulty inflators in these 2015 GM models are not frontal airbags but seat-mounted side airbags. In August, NHTSA began investigating Volkswagen after a side curtain airbag (which deploys from the roof rails to protect occupants’ heads) ruptured in a 2015 Tiguan. The affected GM models include the 2015 Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Camaro,Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Malibu, and GMC Terrain. Takata notified GM early this month after a side airbag inflator failed during a factory quality check, the automaker said. No injuries or accidents have been reported. Dealers will replace the airbags with new Takata inflators manufactured “outside of the suspect lot.”
At this point, neither Takata nor NHTSA has implicated additional vehicles in the recall for side and side curtain airbags. They have also not indicated whether these inflators are made with the same ammonium nitrate compound that has proven to degrade over the vehicle’s lifetime and with exposure to humidity. However, the agency is planning to disclose more details—including additional manufacturers subject to the recalls beyond the current 12—during a Thursday hearing live on its Takata page.
Chevrolet’s rapidly proliferating “Midnight Edition” treatment keeps things simple: Darken the exterior trim, slap on some black-painted wheels, and generally give the subject vehicle an overwhelming sense of subtle meanness.
And so it goes with the Silverado Midnight Edition. We experienced the 2015 model just beforedriving the updated 2016 Silverado 1500, and, unable to pick out any difference in the driving experience—as it turns out, blacked-out everything does nothing to alter the Silverado’s essential goodness—we decided to play up its Midnightyness. To that end, we set our photographer loose in Detroit with the truck after daylight hours. (Get it? Midnight Edition?) All we can say is, the Midnight Edition’s blacked-out grille, bumpers, badges, wheels, tow hooks, and black-bezeled headlights and fog lights looked right at home in the depths of night.
The concept is likely to carry over many existing Datsun parts including switchgear, dashboard and engines to keep production costs as low as possible. The sole teaser image of the raked back headlight gives little away, other than the concept will use a two-part LED headlight arrangement.
Having recently unveiled a new 5-door city car concept called the Redi-Go – similar in size to the Tata Nano – Datsun looks set to expand its range from one model to three.
These cars are unlikely to reach the UK or Europe, however, following the success of Dacia, the approach of introducing another budget brand may be reconsidered at a later date.
Yamaha is once again entering the concept fray at this year’sTokyo Motor Show, with a mid-engined sports car concept dubbed the 4Wheeler set to have its wraps pulled off at the end of the month.
Yamaha is a name traditionally associated with motorbikes, engines and musical instruments – but the firm occasionally turns its hand to producing a car, even if many never make production. This time it has enlisted the expertise of designer Gordon Murray (the man behind the McLaren F1, as well as the new TVR sports car project).
Little is known about the 4Wheeler concept, but the sole teaser image shows what looks like a small, mid-engined two seater with a wedgy profile and prominent rear wing. Its likely the car could be a showcase for Yamaha’s mechanical expertise and Murray’s design, but it’s unclear as to whether production is the intention.
The last car we saw spawned from a partnership between Gordon Murray and Yamaha was the T25 city car, so this is an entirely different prospect. We’ll learn the full story when we head out to the Tokyo show later this month.