• Infiniti confirms Q30 hatchback, QX30 crossover for 2015 production

    June 27, 2014
    A Nissan executive has confirmed that the Infiniti Q30 hatchback and its crossover counterpart, the QX30, will begin production in 2015.

    “[Infiniti president] Johan de Nysschen just said that we’ll build our Q30 premium compact car and the QX30 crossover in the UK (Sunderland) next year,” said Nissan’s British-born Chief Planning Officer, Andy Palmer, in a Twitter post. “I’m Proud.”

    Nissan and Daimler earlier today announced that their new jointly-owned production facility in Mexico is aiming to begin production in 2017. The Q30 and QX30 have been reported as likely products for the plant, which is expected to focus on the Mercedes MFA architecture that underpins both Infiniti models.

    The Japanese automaker previously outlined plans to invest more than $400 million to expand the Sunderland facility in preparation for the Q30, bringing the annual capacity up to 60,000 vehicles.

    The production identity of the Q30 and QX30 remain unclear, pending formal unveilings that are likely scheduled for early next year.

  • 2016 Chevrolet Camaro to offer turbocharged four-cylinder?

    June 27, 2014

    A turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a long-wheelbase Alpha platform and 1970s-inspired styling could be in store for the redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, a new report finds.

    To compete with the 2015 Ford Mustang’s EcoBoost four-cylinder option, the next-generation Camaro will gain a turbo four of its own, according to Automobile. Likely to be a variant of Cadillac’s 272 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque 2.0-liter mill, it’s unclear whether the motor will serve as the entry-level engine or an upgrade over the 3.6-liter V6, which will return along with small-block V8 powerplants.

    As expected, those motors will team with GM’s Alpha platform, although Automobile claims the CTS’ long-wheelbase setup will be utilized instead of the ATS’ shorter configuration. That move will leave space for a potential entry-level sports car – either a rear-driver modeled after the Code 130R concept or a front-wheel-drive coupe inspired by the Tru 140S show car. The Camaro’s overall length isn’t anticpated to grow, however, and curb weight should be reduced by several hundred pounds thanks to the lighter platform.

    On the styling front, the new Camaro will reportedly draw inspiration from the second-generation model that launched as a 1970 ½, incorporating elements such as a squared-off egg crate grille and semi-fastback roofline.

    Exact debut timing for the 2016 Camaro is unclear, but an unveiling during the 2015 calendar year is likely.

  • Korea levies fines against five automakers for exaggerating mpg

    June 27, 2014
    The South Korean government is reportedly preparing to levy fines against five major automakers, penalizing the companies for exaggerating fuel mileage ratings.

    Korea’s own Hyundai is on the list, along with Chrysler and German rivals Audi, BMW and Volkswagen. Hyundai’s fine is expected to be around a billion won (~$1 million USD), according to Reuters, though the industry ministry has not yet detailed penalties for the others.

    Hyundai is reportedly being targeted because of its fuel efficiency ratings for the Santa Fe SUV. Other examples of violations include the Audi A4 2.0 TDI, BMW Mini Cooper Countryman, Jeep Grand Cherokee and VW Tiguan 2.0 TDI.

    Interestingly, Korea’s industry ministry upholds Hyundai’s Santa Fe ratings while the transportation ministry claims the figures have been overstated. The government has suggested the transportation ministry’s numbers will be considered the official figures.

    The fine is relatively paltry for the large automakers, though they may be forced to pay significantly more to settle compensation claims from vehicle owners. Hyundai and Kia agreed to pay up to $395 million in lump-sum payments to US owners for overestimating mpg ratings for a dozen models.

  • Jeep Cherokee diesel unlikely for U.S.

    June 27, 2014

    While Chrysler has shown a willingness to experiment with expanding its U.S.-market diesel offerings, an oil-burning Jeep Cherokee for the states is looking unlikely, at least for the time being.

    Jeep chief Mike Manley, speaking at a media event at Chrysler Group’s Chelsea Proving Grounds, stated that sales of the Grand Cherokee diesel would need to essentially double before the brand would start mulling a Cherokee diesel for the U.S.

    At present, about 8 percent of total Grand Cherokee volume is comprised of diesel models, which command a $4,500 premium and are rated at 21/30 city/highway mpg in rear-wheel-drive form.

    “Cherokee is slightly different [than the Grand Cherokee] because of its weight and size. When I think about bringing Cherokee diesel here, I would like to see Grand Cherokee diesel get much higher than 8 percent,” Manley said. “It would have to be in mid-double digits.”

    The European-market Cherokee offers a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder that produces 140 horsepower or 170 horsepower when equipped with a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic, respectively. Both configurations generate 258 lb-ft of torque.

    In the future, Manley said he expects Grand Cherokee diesel volume to grow, which could open the door for other diesel-powered Jeep models.

    “I think what we’re going to see is a continued increase in market acceptance. The initial dealer take was higher, and now we’re seeing the market settle down to about 8 percent,” Manley said. “That will, over time, continue to grow.”

  • Angry with ‘arrogant’ Tesla, Chinese customer smashes new Model S

    June 27, 2014
    Tesla Motors continues to face backlash from Chinese buyers frustrated by shipping delays, including one man that reportedly smashed the windshield on his new Model S upon delivery.

    The company began delivering the Model S in China on April 21, limiting initial availability to Beijing and Shanghai. Many buyers in other regions were not happy to be forced to wait until June to receive their orders.

    CEO Elon Musk claimed that the regional delays were necessary to establish charging infrastructure and service centers in other areas. At the delivery event in Beijing, he met with a group of disgruntled buyers — led by Internet commerce entrepreneur Yu Xinquan — and claimed to have “resolved the issue.”

    Living well outside the initial launch areas, Yu reportedly took delivery of his Model S this week and immediately shattered the windshield with a wrench to escalate his protest.

    He claims Tesla promised the vehicle would arrive in six weeks, during which time the company would provide free installation of charging hardware at his home, according to a Wall Street Journal interview. Tesla allegedly reported the vehicle delayed again in customs, and suggested he take a floor model instead.

    The company hasn’t delivered,” he said. “Tesla’s arrogance made me angry.”

    The vandalism protest reportedly gained significant attention in the country, which Tesla views as vital to its future growth. Chinese buyers currently pay a 50-percent premium over US prices, however the company plans to build a local factory to eliminate import duties and shipping costs.