• Buick Envision heading to US market in 2015?

    October 7, 2014
    General Motors is reportedly planning to bring the Buick Envision to the US market within a year.

    A US launch has been rumored since the crossover was first unveiled as a China-specific model. An unnamed insider has now told Edmunds the move will happen sometime in the third quarter of 2015.

    Slotting between the Encore and the Enclave, the five-passenger Envision is expected to be offered with stop-start technology and an option for all-wheel-drive.

    Power will likely be provided by the same 2.0 four-cylinder engine that can be found under the hood of the Chinese edition, where it produces 256 horsepower and 256 lb-ft of torque.

    We can’t confirm anything, but clearly it is a very nicely designed and executed product that is very much a Buick,” Buick-GMC sales VP Duncan Aldred said in a statement.

  • Ford Fusion, Lincoln MKZ face investigation over steering problems

    October 7, 2014
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into power-steering problems with the Ford Fusion, Lincoln MKZ and Mercury Milan.

    The agency has received at least 508 complaints alleging loss of power-steering assist, resulting in increased steering effort and increasing the risk of a crash. The Office of Defects Investigation cites four known crashes blamed on the problem, but no fatal accidents or injuries.

    “I was turning out of my street approx. 5 mph in my 2010 Ford Fusion and … the steering wheel got very stiff,” one complaint reads. “I could not turn, making me hit a concrete barrier. Car had no warnings before steering went out.”

    Other owners voiced frustration that they were facing repair bills exceeding $1,500 for an out-of-warranty problem. Dealers are also said to be having trouble pinning down the behavior to the failure of any specific part, leading some to recommend replacing the entire steering rack.

    The issue is believed to be limited to the 2010 through 2012 model years, including hybrid variants. All of the vehicles included in the inquiry use an electric power-steering system.

    Ford has not yet publicly reacted to the investigation.

  • GM victims fund receives 1,130 applications

    October 7, 2014
    Applications submitted to General Motors’ victim fund have continued to rise, reaching a total of 1,130 filings by the end of last week.

    The program’s administrator, attorney Kenneth Feinberg, has so far approved two dozen death claims and another 16 applications seeking compensation for injuries.

    Families of drivers or passengers killed in accidents involving vehicles included in the ignition-switch recall have submitted 165 applications overall. Most are still under review, but the number of approvals is already approaching twice GM’s own official tally of 13.

    At least three families have accepted Feinberg’s offer, with eligible death claims each receiving at least $1 million, according to Reuters. The company already allocated $400 for the program, though financial disclosures suggested the total could top out at $600 million or higher.

    The fund will likely continue to receive more applications as its December 31 deadline approaches.

  • Wrangler production to leave Toledo?

    October 7, 2014
    In the face of ever-increasing fuel economy targets, Chrysler may be forced to move Wrangler production from its long-time home in Toledo, OH to a more advanced facility in order to incorporate lightweight materials.

    The core of the issue is the Wrangler’s current body-on-frame construction, which appears to be incompatible with Chrysler’s goals of incorporating aluminum. It seems a move to aluminum also requires shifting from body-on-frame to unibody construction, a process for which Chrysler’s Toledo South Assembly Plant is not currently tooled.

    According to Automotive News, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said, “If the solution is aluminum, then I think, unfortunately, that Toledo is the wrong place, the wrong setup to try and build a Wrangler because it requires a complete reconfiguring of the assets that would be cost-prohibitive.”

    “It would be so outrageously expensive that it would be impossible to try and work out of that facility.”

    Marchionne insisted that jobs would not be lost in the transition, however it is not clear how those personnel will be utilized if Wrangler assembly leaves Toledo. The inability to produce unibody vehicles will severely limit the potential for moving production of other vehicles to the site. Ram production was just recently expanded and could require additional capacity if sales continue to increase. As a body-on-frame pickup, it would be an excellent candidate for Toledo South.

  • Cadillac CT6 to get plug-in hybrid powertrain

    October 7, 2014
    General Motors has confirmed that Cadillac’s upcoming CT6 will be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

    The company has also focused on reducing overall weight. The new full-size flagship will be more than 50 pounds lighter than the existing CTS, which is already 700 pounds below the current BMW 7-Series.

    We will create with the CT6, the world’s most advanced body structure, and it’s not aluminum,” said GM development head Mark Reuss, as quoted by The Detroit News.

    The platform architecture will use some aluminum parts, helping reduce the part count by approximately 20 percent, though it will still be mostly made of traditional steel and high-strength steel alloys.

    Taking full advantage of the lightweight build, the CT6 will also be offered with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged engine that Reuss claims is the most powerful in the segment.

    Full details will likely be confirmed early in 2015 ahead of market arrival later in the year.