It seems Fiat is bent on bolstering its image as a global automaker, as word has leaked out that the Italian/American conglomerate has chosen to locate its global headquarters in a rather swanky neighborhood in London. According to Bloomberg, the rental location on St. James Street in London's West End is a 10-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will fill up three complete floors of an office building that also houses The Economist magazine.
As a neutral location between Italy and the United States, the London-based headquarters makes sense, though, at $277 per square foot, this area is said to be the most expensive office space in the world. There's no mention of what FCA has actually agreed to pay for renting the space, but we're certain it isn't coming cheap.
Not surprisingly, Bloomberg also cites research indicating that the largest number of immigrants moving into London from January through August of this year hail from Italy, which makes sense considering the number of Italian executives and workers we'd expect would have to relocate to the UK in order to work at Fiat's new home. The company reportedly plans to be in place in London by the time it holds its next round of board meetings in October.
Fiat Chrysler global HQ lands in London's ultra-posh West End originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The IRS has set up a page to help track individual automaker sales figures, but it's a complete mess.One of the benefits of driving a plug-in vehicle these days is a federal tax credit worth up to $7,500. Officially called IRC 30D, this credit is intended to make the high cost of new EVs sting less for early adopters. Of course, free government money doesn't last forever, and when the tax credit law was first passed in as part of the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, lawmakers built in a phase out. The rules say that the tax credit only lasts for each automaker until its first 200,000 EVs have been sold. After that, a company's qualifying vehicles (list here) will gradually net their buyers smaller and smaller tax credits - first 50 percent of the full amount for six months, then 25 percent for the next six months - over the following year until they're just gone. We've got the law's specific language at the end of this article.
Why This Matters
Let's be clear: no automaker has come close to selling 200,000 plug-in vehicles in the US. Nissan and Chevrolet are closest with over 60,000 each of the Leaf and Volt, respectively, and Tesla is catching up. Still, EVs sales are doing better than some might expect, and with around 250,000 EVs sold throughout the US from all automakers - up from just 130,000 a year ago - we're likely to hit the 200,000 target before we know it. With that in mind, it'd be nice to know how the various companies and plug-in vehicles are selling. Automakers are supposed to file their sales numbers quarterly and the Internal Revenue Service is supposed to share those official numbers with the public (more on this below), but when you try to look up the data, things quickly get messy. If if it's not clear how many the IRS says are sold, then how will anyone know when the tax credits run out?
The IRS has set up a page that is supposed to help buyers figure out how much time is left for plug-in vehicle buyers to get a tax credit, and it tracks individual automaker sales figures. Trouble is, it's a complete mess. There are years' worth of data that the IRS is not making available to the public. Or perhaps some of it's the automakers' fault. Some plug-in models - most of them, in fact - don't even show up on the chart. This all needs to be fixed before someone goes to buy a Leaf, for example, expecting to get money back and then is served a nasty surprise. We know that when incentives run out, sales tend to suffer.
IRS won't, or can't, reveal how many plug-in vehicle tax credits are left originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Toyota has announced a recall of roughly 20,000 vehicles covering the 2014 Avalon, Camry, Highlander (pictured) and Sienna, as well as the 2015 Lexus RX luxury crossover. The affected vehicles are all powered the 2GR-FE engine, which in layman's terms, is Toyota's well-regarded 3.5-liter V6.
According to Toyota's statement, a parts supplier might not have welded "the end cap on the right-hand fuel delivery pipe in the engine compartment" correctly, meaning fuel could leak. Leaking fuel, of course, increases the chance of an engine fire. That said, no fires, crashes or injuries have been reported due to the issue.
Owners will be notified to report to dealers, where techs will check the fuel delivery pipe and fit a replacement part as necessary.
Scroll down for the full statement from Toyota.
Toyota recalling 20k 2014 and 2015 cars and CUVs with 3.5L engines originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:16:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Lotus has issued a press release to day, wherein it indicates that a "need to both reshape its organisation and to reduce costs" may result in the loss of "up to 325" jobs. That's a fairly significant number of layoffs for any company, but considering that Lotus currently employs 1,215 people (per the company's bio in the same release), it could mean a full 25-percent of the automaker's workers could soon be sharpening their resumes.
CEO Jean-Marc Gales says in the statement that Lotus has "worked very hard to avoid the need to make this proposal," but admits that it is now "essential" to the future of the company. The chief indicates that post-restructuring, he expects Lotus to be a "leaner" and "more competitive" organization, one which - and we can all see a little silver lining here - is focused on "producing class-leading sports cars and innovative engineering."
The 325-job number appears to be soft at this point, with the statement indicating that some negotiation about which and how many posts will be cut is yet to come. Further, the company may "redeploy" some employees, and may even recruit new blood for "key roles," all with an eye toward running the strongest possible team going forward. Though, we imagine that the recruitment bit won't fly well for those employees getting the sack.
Continue on below for the full press release from Lotus.Permalink | Email this | Comments
For many enthusiasts, the concept of the ute - a car with a pickup bed - is somehow irresistibly appealing. On paper, it promises the marriage of a truck's utility and a car's superior driving dynamics, and for that reason alone, we'd love to see more of them. Yet while other parts of the world get them in good numbers, North America doesn't ever see them - at least not for long. Based on what we've seen of late, though, that's not due to a lack of motivation on the part of engineers.
BMW wowed us several years ago with an M3 ute, and earlier this year, some interns converted a Mini Paceman into the pickup-bodied Paceman Adventure. Loathe to let their rivals in Munich and Oxford have all the fun, Nissan has built its very own car-based pickup. Meet Sparky, the world's first Leaf Frontier.
Like the M3, this all-electric ute is used as a parts hauler for Nissan's engineering teams at its sprawling Stanfield, AZ tech center and proving grounds. "We tried to keep it a secret and be exciting for everybody. But we have visitors and they come and they see that truck and they go straight to 'What is it?' and they start looking at it, and it makes great conversation," Nissan's Roland Schellenberg said in a statement.
Schellenberg completed the months-long team-building project alongside fellow engineer Arnold Moulinet. "After [Schellenberg] told us it was going to be the Leaf that we would redo, I went home and stayed up til like four in the morning making all kinds of designs for what would work. We basically got the stock Leaf, and after reviewing a bunch of designs of pickup trucks that we have here at Nissan, we decided to go with a Frontier bed," Moulinet said in a statement. "My main job here is working on rough-road vehicles, rough-road testing. I'm pretty good at taking cars completely apart to the bare frame and putting them back together again to resume testing."
Take a look below for the video on the impetus behind Sparky, the build process and to see the final result in action.
Meet Sparky, Nissan's Leaf-based, Frontier-bedded EV parts hauler [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Kia may be an automaker with a lot going for it these days, but it's not yet one that takes pains to appeal to performance enthusiasts. Aside from its Pirelli World Challenge team, it doesn't support any major racing programs to speak of. And despite having showcased such concepts as the GT4 Stinger and the Provo, it doesn't really offer much in the way of performance models.
That is, at least not in North America. But at the Geneva Motor Show last year, Kia got itself into the Euro hot hatch game with the launch of the Cee'd GT (and its three-door compatriot, the Pro_Cee'd GT). It's based on the Korean automaker's European-market Volkswagen Golf rival that's now in its second generation and which, in its previous base iteration, served as the Reasonably Priced Car that celebrity guests drove on Top Gear before it was replaced by a Vauxhall Astra. Now with a GT moniker attached, the Cee'd has warmed up to the point that it'd potentially be better suited towards a proper romp down twisting B-roads than serving as a celebrity punching bag.
Since Kia's first genuine performance model (like the model upon which it's based) isn't offered Stateside, we jumped at the opportunity to drive it while on a recent trip to the UK. Read on to see what we found.
- With a 1.6-liter turbo four cranking out 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, the Cee'd GT falls somewhere in between warm and piping hot. Far adrift of performance leaders like the VW Golf R and Ford Focus ST in terms of output, the Cee'd GT comes in just under the Volkswagen GTI and within spitting distance of the new Peugeot 308 GT. Driven to the front wheels through a proper six-speed manual, that's enough poke to send the Cee'd GT to 60 miles per hour in a quoted 7.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 143 mph. That's right on pace with the Peugeot, but a good second behind the incrementally more potent GTI. In short, Kia's hot hatch is no slouch, but it's hardly on the cutting edge.
- The Cee'd GT certainly feels more oriented towards performance driving than the standard Cee'd we sampled a few weeks afterwards (which, incidentally, struck us as a solid econo hatch from the few days we spent with it) but would run short of steam trying to keep pace with the leaders of the hot-hatch class. It's worth noting, however, that the Kia offers a more attractive price: in the UK, our tester came in at £23,000 ($37,700 US at the never-directly-comparable current exchange rate) - a good £3,000 less ($4,900) than a base GTI - and that's in top-spec Tech trim, complete with seven-inch sat-nav touchscreen, heated seats, Xenon headlamps and such.
- Kia's done a good job of differentiating the GT visually from the standard version (which is similarly offered in three- and five-door hatchback forms, but also as a wagon). The brand's signature tabbed grille shape is filled with glossy honeycomb, as is the larger air dam beneath it with its bright red lower lip - similar to VW's treatment on the GTI, but lower down. The "ice cube" daytime LEDs may be a matter of taste, but they are distinctive, and while the gloss-black trim stands out nicely on, say, a white model, it naturally got lost on our black tester. Things look plenty sporty around back, as well, with twin ovoid tailpipes and a rear roof spoiler, while graphite-finish 18-inch alloys fill the wheel wells. We particularly dig the slick GT badge Kia's cooked up for this model, too. In short, the Cee'd GT looks the part - whether it plays it all the way or not.
- Inside, Kia has checked all the right boxes as well, with a thick-rimmed steering wheel, nice round shifter, gloss black trim, leather and faux-suede microfiber upholstery, red contrast stitching and aluminum pedals. The Recaro buckets up front are much more heavily bolstered than those you'd find in a standard Cee'd, of course, although we didn't find them quite as supportive as those in some of the French hot hatches we sampled on the same trip.
- Underneath all that trim, the Cee'd GT packs a fully independent suspension with MacPherson struts and coil springs up front and a multi-link and trailing arm setup at the back, with anti-roll bars at each end. Given that the softer base Cee'd already feels fairly well planted on the road, the GT version feels all the more so. It follows the usual hot hatch formula to further reduce body roll, shrug off speed, hug the road through the corners and effectively communicate what's going on beneath through the steering - albeit not quite as convincingly as some of the more experienced and established players it's going after. It all adds up to a good ride - particularly from an automaker delving into unfamiliar territory - but not a great one.
With its crazy 707 horsepower on tap and roughly $60,000 starting price, the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has been one of the most talked about cars of the summer, maybe even the year. However, there's always been one lingering question about the behemoth that Dodge has waited to answer until now - its fuel economy. The EPA ratings for the muscle car are finally out, and the numbers are actually pretty impressive for a vehicle with this much power.
A 2015 Challenger Hellcat with the eight-speed automatic is rated at 22 miles per gallon highway, 13 mpg city and 16 mpg combined. Opting for the six-speed manual drops those figures to 21 mpg highway, 13 mpg city and 16 mpg combined.
"As the fastest muscle car ever, the Challenger Hellcat can run 10-second ETs [elapsed times] at the track, and then get 22 miles per gallon on the drive home. With a starting price of $59,995, there's nothing else that even comes close," said Dodge and SRT President Tim Kuniskis in the company's release.
When comparing the Hellcat to other cars in its power class, its fuel economy numbers could almost be called frugal. Take a Lamborghini Aventador coupe for example. With 700 hp, the Lambo is rated at 18 mpg highway and 11 mpg city by the EPA, but it costs significantly more than the Challenger. Even the Dodge Viper, the muscle car's sibling rival, is slightly lower at 21 mpg highway and 12 mpg city, while making less power and torque. Scroll down to read Dodge's full fuel economy announcement about the supercharged V8.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The 2015 Volvo XC90 is a huge leap forward for the Swedish automaker as its first all-new model since leaving Ford ownership. There's a lot riding on the crossover's success, too, because its platform is supposed to underpin Volvo vehicles for years to come. The latest move for the new CUV is adding a little aggressiveness to the look with the R-Design trim for buyers desiring a sportier-looking Swede.
The R-Design joins the already announced Momentum and Inscription trims. Mechanically it doesn't change anything, but ticking the box for the R-Design adds a slightly different grille with horizontal slats, a redesigned lower air dam, new window trim, matte silver side-mirror covers and rectangular exhaust nestled in an altered lower rear bumper. The sportier XC90 comes standard with 20-inch wheels, but a 22-inch design is optional, as well.
The meaner look is carried inside with sport seats covered in Nubuck and Nappa leather, a perforated leather steering wheel and R-Design trim for the gearshift, pedals, floor mats and illuminated tread plates. The touchscreen infotainment system also gets an R-Design theme.
According to Volvo, the XC90 R-Design is all about giving buyers a chance to personalize their crossover. With the Momentum as the base and the Inscription trim representing more luxury with high-end finishes, the new addition goes after one more niche. Scroll down to read the official announcement of this slightly meaner looking XC90.Permalink | Email this | Comments
This week marked the launch of the Forza Horizon 2 demo on the Xbox One (go play it, it's darn entertaining as demos go). This partial version of the game doesn't allow you to explore the entire playing area, and you're limited to a paltry trio of vehicles, but it does come with a big-ticket item: the full, live-action video that introduces the open-world racer.
The roughly two-minute "countdown" focuses on two of the central themes of FH2. That means there's plenty of epic sheetmetal, including the game's flagship vehicle, the new Lamborghini Huracán, as well as the ability to go just about anywhere on the huge open-world map. The video leads into the traditional opening race which, like the original Forza Horizon, sees you hurtling through the countryside towards the Horizon Festival.
Take a look at the video and keep your eyes open for our review of Forza Horizon 2, ahead of its September 30 on-sale date.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Mini just doesn't want its Rocketman concept to die. It unveiled the truly mini model at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, and since then, there have been countless on-again, off-again rumors about the possibility of it going into production. If the latest talk proves true, a smaller vehicle like the Rocketman might make it into the automaker's lineup after all, as competitor to other stylish city cars like the Smart ForTwo.
According to the company's head of design, Anders Warming, speaking to Auto Express, Mini likes the idea of having a smaller model in its lineup, but it has to figure out a way of actually making it work. Warming is clear that the next iteration of the Rocketman concept (or whatever it's called then) won't be seen until a design is ready.
There are still plenty of challenges keeping a production Rocketman off of the city streets of the world, and chief among them continues to be finding a platform. But Mini is at least considering it. "At the moment, we don't have the right tech solutions, but we are working on it. We don't yet have a final solution, you could say," said Warming to Auto Express. He also thinks the final version would drop the concept's carbon fiber in favor of more aluminum components.
The other key is getting the interior just right, and Warming's plan is to keep things simple. "Driving in the city is stressful enough, so we need a reduction in the number of elements," he said to Auto Express.
If Mini can jump these hurdles, then a city car like the Rocketman might make sense in the lineup. After all, the standard Mini Cooper is growing with every new generation. But with no platform or design ready, it might be a few years before we see a production version, if at all.
Mini Rocketman back on the table, might go aluminum originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The Citroën Divine DS Concept won't be the only model in the newly separated DS sub-brand to ditch its Chevrons. In fact, the entire DS line will go without the iconic badge, according to PSA Chairman Carlos Tavares.
The goal, Tavares told Autocar, was to continue to distance the DS line from the main Citroën brand and in turn, craft the group's offerings into premium challengers for Audi.
"From 2015 DS will be disconnected from Citroen. We don't need to have separate platforms, or even separate dealers, but we will have separate manufacturing and engineering standards," Tavares told Autocar. "DS can be an Audi rival by 2020. The products in the pipeline are extremely exciting but we are not just going into premium as we're not going to be fighting the Germans with the same weapons."
"We want to convey a French sophistication, trendiness and the French way of life. The Germans can't do this and we'll see some concept cars that will back this up," Tavares added.
Meanwhile, the styling of the Divine DS, which we'll be seeing in person at next month's Paris Motor Show, shows the way ahead for that sophistication and trendiness. Look for more on Citroën and the Divine DS in early October.Permalink | Email this | Comments