• Nissan’s Lannia concept likely to see production, target young Chinese buyers

    April 29, 2014
    Nissan has all but confirmed that its Lannia concept, first unveiled last week in Beijing, will likely be developed into a production vehicle.

    Chief planning officer Andy Palmer suggests a production edition would aim to attract the “post-’80s” generation in China, a group of 240 million citizens in their mid-20s to 30s.

    The Lannia concept is a follow-up to the “Friend-Me” show car that made its debut in 2013. The original idea was more of a design exercise created by Nissan’s Chinese design studio, created specifically for young Chinese consumers. It has since taken a form that is not far off from a production car.

    “You can see that the car itself is much closer to a production type vehicle,” said Palmer. “So whilst we haven’t confirmed yet that this will definitely go into production, I think it’s definitely fair to say that we have every intention that this goes to market.”

    The interior promises to accommodate the digital lifestyle of the “balinghou” generation, likely with a large touchscreen infotainment system and a focus on mobile device integration, though full details remain unclear.

    Nissan is not saying when it expects to bring a production model to the market, but the company is vocal with its broader ambitions. It aims to reach 10-percent market share in the country, with unit sales of two million vehicles.

  • Subaru exec: No plans for BRZ STI

    April 29, 2014
    Hopes for a bona fide BRZ STI model have be squashed yet again, this time by a Subaru Australia executive.

    Performance junkies have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of a high-performance BRZ STI since the sporty coupe launched in 2011, but it looks as though that day may never come. In an interview with Motoring, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior revealed that there are no current plans for an STI model beyond the recently introduced WRX STI.

    “The focus has been on growing [Subaru] sales around the world. We are still reasonably small as a manufacturer and resources are limited and have to be targeted,” he said.”That means at the moment there is no plan to have another STI model.”

    Although disappointing, Senior’s announcement shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Earlier this year Toyota announced that it had canned plans for a hotter versions of the GT86/Scion FR-S – a sister car to the BRZ – because of weak sales.

    There is still a glimmer of hope that Subaru could massage a bit more power from the BRZ’s 2.0L boxer-four, but such a model likely wouldn’t bow until near the end of the car’s lifecycle.

  • Jaguar Land Rover recalls 2014 Range Rover, Jaguar XF

    April 29, 2014
    Jaguar Land Rover has issued two recalls, one affecting the 2014 Range Rover and another focused on the 2013 and 2014 Jaguar XF.

    More than 5,000 Range Rover SUVs built from May 7 through October 10, 2013 will be serviced to correct a defect that prevents the turning signals from flashing at a double rate if one of the lights is malfunctioning.

    The issue violates federal safety regulations that require the faster flashing to serve as a notification to drivers. Without the typical double-rate flashing, drivers could remain unaware of a malfunction and continue driving without realizing that other drivers do not see a signal.

    The Jaguar XF sedan has been found to suffer from a different issue, a defective hose clamp for the charge air cooler (CAC) hose. If the hose detaches, the engine may stall and increase the risk of a crash.

    Both recalls are expected to begin in May.

  • Toyota confirms move from Cali to Texas

    April 29, 2014
    It’s official – Toyota is packing its bags and moving from California to Texas.

    Toyota announced on Monday that it is moving its North American headquarters from Torrance, California, to the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas. Rumors of the impending move started to swirl over the weekend.

    The move will see Toyota’s three separate North American headquarters for manufacturing, sales and marketing, and corporate operations relocated to a single campus just north of Dallas. Toyota’s North American finance arm will also eventually located to the new Plano facility.

    According to Toyota, the move to Texas will affect about 2,000 people at its current Torrance headquarters, 1,000 employees at its Erlanger, Kentucky, engineering and manufacturing hub, and certain employees at Toyota Motor North America in New York City. Another 1,000 workers from Toyota Financial Services (TFS) will also be uprooted from California to Michigan.

    Toyota will start construction on its new North American HQ this fall, with construction expected to completed in either late 2016 or early 2017. Small groups of Toyota employees will work out of temporary workspaces until the facility is completed. TFS will remain in California until 2017.

    In addition to the new Texas HQ, Toyota will also expand its Toyota Technical Center near Ann Arbor, Michigan, to accommodate the relocation of direct procurement from Erlanger.

    “With our major North American business affiliates and leaders together in one location for the first time, we will be better equipped to speed decision making, share best practices, and leverage the combined strength of our employees,” Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North American CEO, said. “This, in turn, will strengthen our ability to put customers first and to continue making great products that exceed their expectations.”

    In order to soften the blow for the communities in California and Kentucky, Toyota has announced a $10 million philanthropic commitment for non-profits and community organizations. Toyota will support the communities for an additional 5 years starting in 2017.

  • Image leak shows VW’s New Midsize Coupe production prototype

    April 29, 2014
    Volkswagen’s New Midsize Coupe may have surfaced ahead of schedule as a production prototype.

    Images posted on the Chinese site Autohome.com.cn show a mystery vehicle that closely resembles the NMC concept that was unveiled last week at the Beijing Motor Show. Styling has only been subdued slightly from the concept, maintaining an alignment with the company’s current design language.

    The German automaker has not yet announced full details or confirmed plans to bring the car to market, however it is allegedly being developed on the Jetta platform for the Chinese market. It will be shorter than the Jetta, however, and wider than the Passat.

    A TSI badge can be seen in one of the images, consistent with VW’s intention to outfit the NMC with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine. It is expected to deliver 220 horsepower to the front wheels through a dual-clutch six-speed transmission.

    Rumors suggest the NMC may be in the late stages of development, potentially arriving on the market before the end of the year.