• BMW X5 M, X6 M to bow next year

    December 31, 2013
    BMW’s next-generation of hot rod utility vehicles, the X5 M and X6 M, will reportedly debut by the end of 2014.

    According to Autocar, BMW will rollout high-performance versions of its X5 and X6 SUVs by the end of next year. BMW recently introduced a new version of its X5 and an updated X6 is expected to debut this August at the Moscow Motor Show.

    Like the current generation X5 M and X6 M, the next iteration of the SUVs will use a 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8, but power levels are expected to grow from today’s 555 horsepower and 501 lb-ft of torque. Despite that bump in power, look for improved economy figures.

    On the styling front, the X5 M and X6 M should adopt a few more distinctive M design cues to help differentiate them from lesser models.

  • Volvo recalls 30,929 S60 sedans over sensor flaw

    December 31, 2013

    Volvo is asking owners of certain 2011-12 S60 sedans to head down to their local dealership in order to address an oil pressure sensor problem.

    The recall covers 30,929 examples of the S60 that were fitted with the turbocharged five-cylinder engine and built June 22, 2010, through May 14, 2012.

    According to a notice posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, the affected S60s left the factory without having the oil pressure sensor activated.

    As a result, the driver won’t receive a warning if oil pressure levels fall below normal. In that situation, the car could be driven until the engine stalls out (and suffers catastrophic damage), increasing the risk of a crash.

    A defect report submitted by Volvo to the NHTSA indicates the automaker identified the issue after three owners reported excessive engine noise and/or stalling. Notably, two of the incidents occurred after dealer technicians forget to refill the engine oil during the course of routine maintenance.

    Volvo will notify owners of the recall before the end of the year, and dealers will fix the problem with a software update.

    Photo by Andrew Ganz.

  • Mercedes-Benz breaks production record

    December 31, 2013
    Mercedes-Benz says that, by the end of the day tomorrow, it will have broken a production record by assembling 1.49 million vehicles bearing its distinctive three-pointed star logo.

    That figure is about 90,000 vehicles higher than it was last year, and it comes as the German automaker is in the midst of a number of major new product roll-outs. In therms of volume, the automaker’s new CLA-Class compact sedan range arrived in the second half of 2013. On the other hand, Mercedes says that its Sindelfingen, Germany, assembly plant that builds its S-Class flagship sedan is working at capacity by building 460 new sedans a day. That’s the highest daily production output ever recorded for the S-Class lineup, spurred on mainly by demand in Asia and North America.

    The automaker says it has invested more than 1 billion euros each in its Sindelfingen and Rastatt, Germany, assembly plants over the last year or so and it is currently pumping a similar sum into the Bremen, Germany, plant that will soon be building its next-generation C-Class lineup. The 2015 C-Class has been revealed online but won’t actually debut for a couple of weeks until the Detroit auto show.

    Mercedes is also hard at work expanding its presence at its South American and Chinese assembly plants.

  • Fisker founder, board face new lawsuit

    December 31, 2013
    Fisker Automotive founder Henrik Fisker and the automaker’s board of directors are facing a new lawsuit seeking $2 million for damages incurred as the result of the company’s financial collapse.

    Atlas Capital Management LP, a Fisker investor, filed a federal suit in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 27 claiming the California-based automaker withheld information regarding the company’s financial health. Lawyers representing Atlas stated that the investment firm “would not have purchased or otherwise acquired its Fisker securities, or, if it had purchased such securities, it would not have done so at the artificially inflated prices which it paid.”

    Atlas alleges that Fisker withheld information about a recall involving 239 units of the company’s Karma sedan until the day after it closed a round of financing. Atlas added that Fisker issued “materially false and misleading statements” about the status of the company.

    Anita-Marie Laurie, a spokeswoman for Fisker with Sitrick & Co., declined to comment on the case when asked by Bloomberg.

    Fisker filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, listing $500 million in assets and $1 billion in liabilities. The company was recently sold to China’s Hybrid Technology.

  • Ford to repeat as U.S.’ best-selling brand

    December 31, 2013
    The Ford brand will easily outpace Toyota Motor Corp.’s namesake division to retain its position as the United State’s best-selling vehicle line in 2013. This year will be Ford’s fourth-consecutive year atop the U.S. sales charts.

    After outselling Toyota by 329,677 vehicles in 2012, Ford entered the last selling month of 2013 with a 396,041 unit lead. Thanks to strong demand for vehicle like its Fusion sedan and F-150 pickup truck, Ford should be able to extend its lead over Toyota by the time December comes to a close.

    “The great news is that we are not overly reliant on any one segment – we’re seeing double-digit sales growth in cars, trucks and utilities,” said John Felice, vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service. “The Ford brand has had more retail share growth than any other brand in the country, with our most significant gains coming from import-dominated coastal markets.”

    Ford is expected to sell more than 290,000 units of its Fusion sedan, which would set a single year record for the mid-sizer. Meanwhile, the F-150 pickup is expected to push past the 700,000 unit mark in 2013, which would secure its position as the best overall selling vehicle in America for the 32nd straight year.