After Tesla opened a whole new level for the EV world, we’ve been waiting for automakers from Europe like: Audi, Renault Sport, or Mercedes to come fight with it for the first spot but they didn’t. Instead of big automakers the first one to try its luck with Tesla is Polestar. Polestaris shifting gears, though. Instead of being a small-volume Volvo fettler, it’s expanding its business model to include its own machines, crowned with Polestar badges and not a Volvo symbol in sight (on the outside, at least).
From minute one Polestar performance cars will be rely on electrified drivetrains, split across hybrids and all-electrics. Wow. Tesla aside, no one volume-sells fast electric cars. Apart from Elon Musk and his team, no one has built a good enough one, yet. We’ve obviously excluding the likes of the Nio EP9 and Rimac Concept One, here, because they’re never going to be built in numbers.
Takata Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan and the U.S., after the world’s biggest automotive recall scandal. The company will be bought by the U.S. supplier Key Safety for $1.59 billion. The sale will not include some operations related to Takata’s business in the ammonium nitrate airbag inflators that were the subject of a global recall linked to defects that resulted in some airbags exploding with too much force and spraying the cabin with metal shards.
Malfunctioning Takata airbag inflators have been linked to at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide and a $1 billion fine in the U.S. In January, a federal grand jury indicted three former Takata executives for criminal wrongdoing in connection with the safety defect. Key Safety said the amonium nitrate airbag inflator operations would be run by a reorganized Takata following the closing of the transaction — and they would eventually wind down.
Mercedes-Benz USA is lifting a key restriction on Tier 3 local advertising by dealers. Instead of limiting that ad spending to new-car sales, Mercedes will let dealers use the money to promote any area of the business. Ken Schnitzer, chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board and owner of four Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Texas, says that they can spend money on new, preowned, service — whatever they think their need is. He thinks that’s really a big improvement.
The company’s U.S. leaders talked to dealers about the change earlier this month at its national dealer meeting in Miami. It is unclear exactly when the restriction was lifted, but it is effective now, dealers said. Mercedes-Benz declined to comment on the meeting or the change. While the change seems like a simple thing, it should make a big difference and give dealers a chance to improve their service retention or their used-car sales. There is no change in the amount of money earmarked for Tier 3 cooperative advertising nor in the formula used to determine available co-op money. Read more
Have you already heard about the 2018 812 Superfast? If not, meet the new Ferrari with the silliest, most childish, and absolutely coolest name ever! Officially, the name is an homage to the 4.9 Superfast of the 1950s, Ferrari getting all gushy and sentimental as it celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. But forget all that and just say the name again: Superfast. There hasn’t been a more descriptive and honest moniker for a product since Sugar Pops.
Replacing the F12, the Superfast is the fastest, most powerful regular-production Ferrari ever made (and, no, the LaFerrari was definitely not a regular-production car). It matches the LaFerrari’s V-12 in hp, tops it in torque, and simply obliterates the already stupefying special-edition F12tdf. The Superfast is able to reach 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds. The top speed is 211 mph. Though based on the 6.3-liter unit in the F12, the Superfast’s naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V-12 is 75 percent new. In addition to the increased displacement (via a longer stroke), the Superfast’s engine features a new crankshaft, new con rods, a new piston design, and a more robust crankcase. Read more
Wall Street is fretting that the U.S. auto industry is heading for a downturn, but for thousands of workers at General Motors factories in the United States, the hard times are already here. Matt Streb, 36, was one of 1,200 workers laid off on Jan. 20 – inauguration day for President Donald Trump – when GM canceled the third shift at its Lordstown small-car factory here. Sales of the Chevrolet Cruze sedan, the only vehicle the plant makes, have nosedived as U.S. consumers switch to crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks. Streb is looking for another job, but employers are wary because they assume he will quit whenever GM calls him back.
Layoffs at Lordstown and other auto plants point to a broader challenge for the economy in Midwestern manufacturing states and for the Trump administration. The U.S. auto industry’s boom from 2010 through last year was a major driver for manufacturing job creation. The fading of that boom threatens prospects for U.S. industrial output and job creation that were central to President Trump’s victory in Ohio and other manufacturing states. Last week the Federal Reserve said U.S. factory output fell 0.4 percent in May, the second decline in three months, due partly to a 2-percent drop in motor vehicles and parts production. Read more
Have you already heard about the release of iOS 11’s latest beta on Wednesday? Testers can now get their hands on one of the new mobile operating system’s most important – if not most glamorous – new features: a long-needed “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode. Announced in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, the feature aims to combat the very dangerous practice of texting from behind the wheel, while also switching off other alerts that entice people to look at their phones while driving. In 2015, 3,477 people were killed because of distracted driving, and 391,000 were additionally injured.
Apple’s “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature isn’t a tool to fully prevent texting or alerts while in a moving vehicle. Instead, it offers to clamp down on distractions at a system level in a way that Apple has never before offered. The feature, when active, will be able to tell if you’re in a car when your phone is connected to the car’s USB connection or Bluetooth. It will also be able to use the iPhone’s sensors to determine your speed, even if your phone isn’t connected to a car. When the car is in motion, anyone else who texts will get an automated response that reads: “I’m driving with Do Not Disturb turned on. I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going.” Read more
You need to pay more attention at cars like Hyundai Azera, you never know when you find a real diamond. This underappreciated vehicle deserves a lot more recognition than it gets, especially now when it got redisigned for 2018.
The new Azera has all the good things that made previous generations of the car brilliant, i.e. spaciousness, quality, awesome features, and fantastic engines coupled with almost flawless ride and comfort. But it also addresses some of the issues that kept those old cars in the shadows, namely iffy design and less than savory handling. The 2018 Hyundai Azera looks grown up, sophisticated, and pretty luxurious. It also gets a sportier chassis and driving aids for a better drive and a range of good engines.