MAMA Finalists for Family Vehicle of the Year Awards

The choices don’t get any tougher since they reflect current automotive state of the art as Midwest Automotive Media Association members drove and debated and debunked family vehicle and luxury family vehicles at Road America in the spring and at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet this fall. AutoInformed was an active and vocal participant.

Voting MAMA members chose as Family Vehicle of the Year finalists: 2020 Ford Escape, 2020 Ford Explorer, 2020 Hyundai Palisade, and 2020 Subaru Outback. The Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year Award finalists: 2020 Cadillac XT6 and 2020 Lincoln Aviator. The above vehicles joined the list of finalists from the 2019 MAMA Spring Rally, and a final round of voting takes place online: 2020 Cadillac XT6, 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Toyota Supra.

Reporter’s  Notebook – Family Vehicle of the Year Finalists:

Ford Explorer – The new 2020 model year Explorer is a 4300-4700 lbs. 6-passenger unibody SUV, with stronger construction, the broadest model lineup ever, more powerful EcoBoost engines and increased towing capacity.

AutoInformed.com on MAMA Family Vehicle of the Year

Most sophisticated and expensive Explorer yet.

Powertrain offerings include a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 at 365 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque using 93-octane gas, making this the most powerful Explorer ever. It’s also the most expensive, most complex Explorer ever, even though the all-new rear-wheel-drive and AWD platform is shared by the Ford Police Interceptor Utility and the all-new 2020 Lincoln Aviator and upcoming revisions to the Mustang. Continue reading

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EU Passenger Car Registrations Barely Up in 2019

AutoInformed.com on 2019 EU Passenger Car Registrations

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In December 2019, EU passenger car demand grew for the fourth month in a row (+21.7%), marking the highest December total on record to date. However, most of this was a statistical anomaly not caused by real growth. This was largely the result of a low base of comparison, as registrations fell by 8.4% in December 2018.

There were significant market interventions in France (+27.7%) and Sweden (+109.3%), as both countries announced large changes to the “bonus-malus” (negative incentives for poor performance) component of CO2-based taxation for 2020. The Netherlands (+113.9%) decided to increase taxation of electric company cars from 4% to 8% from January 2020. As a result, all EU countries – including the five big markets – posted solid growth rates in December. Continue reading

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Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I – Best in Arizona Auction?

AutoInformed.com on Sotheby's 2020 Arizona Auction

The most valuable performance car brand in the universe?

A 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I is set to star at RM Sotheby’s Arizona auction, says Sotheby’s with abundant self-interest. The 250 GT Cabriolet Series I joined by a 250 Europa GT Coupe, alongside additional Ferrari highlights  and tomorrow at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. The Arizona lineup also includes modern performance and supercars, led by Pagani Huayra Roadster.

There are 147 motor cars and a selection of memorabilia on the block. Ferrari’s road cars of the 1950s and 60s were some of the fastest -and these days – some of most expensive automobiles on the planet. The built-for-touring 250 GT Cabriolet Series I – sold to support Enzo’s racing addiction – had smooth lines defined by its covered headlamps, bumperettes, and tiny taillights in the rear wings. Considered by some to be one of Pinin Farina’s most elegant designs, ownership of a 250 GT Cabriolet signaled a taste for engineering and performance and transportation as a statement.   Continue reading

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Isuzu, Honda to Research on Fuel-Cell HD Trucks and Vehicles

AutoInformed.com on 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Honda is a leader in fuel cell vehicles.

Isuzu Motors and Honda R&D today signed an agreement to undertake joint research on heavy-duty trucks, using fuel cells as the powertrain. (GM and Honda to Make Fuel Cells in Michigan)

In a statement datelined Tokyo, they said: “Today, the automobile industry is facing demand to reduce exhaust gas/carbon emissions from mobility products in order to address the on-going global challenge of reducing humanity’s environmental footprint. Moreover, from the perspective of energy security, the industry is required to take initiatives to promote utilization of renewable energy.”
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Genesis Launches Its First SUV –  GV80

AutoInformed.com on Genesis GV80 launch

Late to the luxury truck market dominated by the Germans and Japanese.

Today, Genesis officially launched GV80, its first sport-utility vehicle. GV80 has a six-cylinder diesel (not in the US), electronically controlled suspension, and active noise cancellation. The launch and media test drive took place at the Korea International Exhibition Center west of Seoul. (Hyundai Motor Group Refines Active Noise Control)

The GV80 SUV joins the lineup alongside the G70, G80 and G90 sedans with more than a common thread of design identity. The interior and exterior styling of GV80 was the result of a collaboration between Genesis Design studios located in South Korea, the United States and Germany. (Hyundai to Try to Make Genesis a Global Luxury Brand and Hyundai Genesis – a Rebadging Flop?) Continue reading

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Punch It Performance and Tuning to Stop Selling Illegal Devices to Defeat Emissions Controls

AutoInformed.com

Performance tweaks can come with bad effects.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) say they have reached a settlement with Punch It Performance and Tuning, and Michael Paul Schimmack resolving alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the manufacture and sale of aftermarket products that defeat the emissions control systems of motor vehicles.

EPA has recently begun a National Compliance Initiative on Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines.  Continue reading

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Subaru America Recalls Exploding Takata Air Bag Inflators  

AutoInformed.com on deadly Takata airbag inflators

Once again Takata airbag inflators are implicated. The many critics of geographical recalls – a vehicle can change states, while some are exempt – say they leave potentially unsafe vehicles on the road.

Subaru of America, Inc. (Subaru) is recalling once again 2009-2013 Forester, 2003-2006 Baja, 2004-2011 Impreza, 2004-2014 WRX (including STI), 2003-2014 Legacy and Outback, and 2005-2006 Saab 9-2X vehicles because a previous recall used defective Takata replacement parts. An inflator explosion may result in shrapnel – sharp metal fragments – striking the driver or other occupants resulting in serious injury or death.
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Land Rover, Mitsubishi Top 2020 Maker Website Ratings

AutoInformed.com on 2020 Automaker Website Ratings

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The J.D. Power 2020 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study  claims that overall satisfaction averages 834 (on a 1,000-point scale) for the luxury segment, while the mass market segment averages 826.

  • Land Rover (864) ranked highest in the luxury manufacturer brand segment
  • Mitsubishi (848) is the highest-ranked mass market brand.

Manufacturer websites are rated during the process of shopping for a new vehicle by examining four key measures (in order of importance): information/content; appearance; navigation; and speed.

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Ford Motor Declares $0.15 Dividend for Q1 2020

Autoinformed.con on Ford Dividend

Tough year ahead?

The board of directors of Ford Motor Company today declared a first-quarter regular dividend of 15 cents per share on the company’s outstanding Class B and common stock.  (Ford Motor US Sales Down in -3% 2019 as War Worries Increase)

The amount is equal to regular dividends paid by the company each quarter since 2016. The first quarter dividend is payable on March 2 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Jan. 30. Continue reading

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Japanese Issue Arrest Warrant for Wife of Carlos Ghosn

AutoInformed.com on Ghosn Criminal Fraud Matter

Carlos Ghosn.

In the latest twist in the Ghosn Matter, Japanese prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Carole Ghosn, the Lebanese wife of Carlos Ghosn. In their opinion, she gave false testimony nine months ago. In a statement, they said Mrs. Ghosn had falsely testified about not knowing a person who was involved in Mr. Ghosn’s case. Lebanese law bars the extradition of a citizen so both Ghosns likely will remain at large.

The statement alleges that she was in contact with an unnamed person while the person was wiring money between companies at Mr. Ghosn’s request.
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Uber and Hyundai Show Full-Scale Air Taxi at CES

AutoInformed.com on Hyundai Uber VSTOL Concept

Vaper Ware or Vader Ware?

Uber and Hyundai Motor Company today announced a new partnership to develop Uber Air Taxis for a future aerial ride-share network and unveiled a new full-scale aircraft concept at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Hyundai is the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative, bringing automotive-scale manufacturing capability and a track record of mass-producing electric vehicles. Continue reading

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Electronic Sales Process – Power Acquires Trilogy Automotive

J.D. Power, the data analytics and consumer intelligence consultancy has bought Trilogy Automotive, software division of Trilogy Enterprises. Trilogy’s enterprise lead management platform will be integrated into J.D. Power’s AutoData Solutions division’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) digital dealer platform.

This in theory expands the capabilities and reach of its existing offering so manufacturers and dealers to improve retail lead management programs. Trilogy Automotive’s patented technology ranges from custom and client driven to turnkey configuration, design and lead management systems. Trilogy has powered automotive companies such as Ford, GM, Nissan, Chrysler, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Volvo, Jaguar and AutoNation.
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Nissan Blasts Ghosn as Unfit to Serve as An Executive

AutoInformed.com on Nissan Motor and ex-Chairman Carlos GhosnNow that Japan has returned from the New Year’s holiday break, Nissan finally issued a statement that said it “discovered numerous acts of misconduct by Ghosn through a robust, thorough internal investigation. The company determined that he was not fit to serve as an executive and removed him from all offices.”

Ghosn and his attorneys have repeatedly challenged the fairness of the so-called Japanese justice system, which uses solitary confinement and what looks to be forced confessions to western reporters. Ghosn had rich, powerful friends in business and the Lebanese Government, a country where he is the equivalent of royalty even down to appearing on a postage stamp. As a latter-day tycoon, he had numerous global connections at the top of the business and policy making elite. (Universal City Nissan Sues Saudi Billionaire, Khaled al-Juffali and Nissan Motor, Among Others, over Payoff by Carlos Ghosn) Continue reading

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Ford Motor US Sales Down in -3% 2019 as War Worries Increase

AutoInformed.com On Ford Motor 2019 US Sales Decline

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Ford Motor reported today that US vehicle sales declined during 2019 to 2.4 million or a drop of -3%. The middling performance in a strong market came as Tesla’s market valuation reached twice that of Ford Motor due to increasing sales. During 2019, Tesla delivered 367,500 vehicles, an increase of 50%, year-over-year, close to the company’s full-year guidance of 360,000 vehicles and has just announced it will expand EV production again, this time in Germany and out will increase in China as well.

Ford skipped the usual sales press conference but, in a release, touted that F-Series achieved its 43rd straight year as America’s best-selling pickup, while Ranger finished its best sales quarter since its reintroduction in early 2019. Combined sales of F-Series and Ranger totaled almost 1 million pickups at 986,097 vehicles for the year – an increase of 8.4%. Ranger Q4 sales hit 33,059 pickups for the quarter, totaling 89,571 for the year.

However, that strong performance – now threatened by rising gas prices as the result of expanding hostilities in the Mid-East, was not enough to offset breathtaking declines in car segments (-28%  at 486,000) that continue to be dominated by Japanese and Korean automaking conglomerates that are now rapidly expanding into truck and SUV segments. The other domestic makes GM and FCA also saw similar declines of ~3% as the U.S. market looks to be headed for more declines.
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Hyundai Motor 2020 Business Direction – Electrification, Autonomous Vehicles, Mobility Services. Sound Familiar?

AutoInformed.com on Hyundai Motor Group 2020 Business Path - Executive Vice Chairman Chung’s New Year’s Talk

“To consolidate our leadership in vehicle electrification, we plan to operate 44 electrified models by 2025, including 11 dedicated BEV models.” Click to Enlarge.

Hyundai Motor Group held its 2020 New Year ceremony at its headquarters in Seoul, outlining its priorities and strategic direction. It wants to use sustainable growth in various industries. We enter 2020 as the “inaugural year for securing its future industrial leadership,” claimed Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman.

The plan focuses on securing Hyundai’s leadership in the vehicle electrification, expansion of hydrogen industry ecosystem and self-driving commercialization, as well as the progressive expansion of its mobility services businesses. Continue reading

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