• Jaguar to unveil F-Pace in Frankfurt

    April 6, 2015
    Jaguar has confirmed plans to formally unveil the F-Pace crossover in September at the Frankfurt motor show.
    Originally introduced as the C-X17 concept, the F-Pace represents Jaguar’s first utility vehicle. It promises to take styling inspiration from the F-Type, pairing a sporty exterior design with a luxurious interior consistent with the brand’s broader family.

    A high-performance variant is believed to be powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine. It is unclear if the powerplant is borrowed from the new XF sedan, where it produces up to 380 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque.

    Lesser trim levels will likely be outfitted with Jaguar Land Rover’s new four-cylinder Ingenium mills, fed by gasoline or diesel in certain markets. A supercharged V8 is also possible for a range topper, and an all-electric version has been mentioned in rumors.

    “This was our first crossover design and, yes, it was hard,” admitted Jaguar design director Ian Callum, according to quotes published by Autocar. “We found the initial results quite difficult and disappointing. But I reckon we cracked it in the end.”

    The F-Pace is said to be more than 15 inches longer than a Range Rover Evoque, with a similar seating position. Curb weight is expected to be comparatively light, thanks to an aluminum chassis shared with the XE.

    The company has promised to bring the F-Pace to market sometime next year.

  • SRT chief Ralph Gills gets promotion to FCA design head

    April 6, 2015
    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has promoted SRT chief Ralph Gilles to serve as head of design for the entire company.
    Gilles succeeds Italian designer Lorenzo Ramaciotti, who is retiring after serving as Fiat Group design chief, responsible for Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Maserati, and then head of design for FCA following the merger with Chrysler Group.

    “We extend our sincere appreciation to Lorenzo for his unwavering dedication, service, leadership and many contributions to the organization,” said FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.

    Gilles joined Chrysler in 1992 and eventually led the company’s motorsports division and both Dodge and SRT brands. He managed the Jeep-interiors design office in the late ’90s, directed truck exterior/interior design in 2005, styled the 2005 Chrysler 300 and led the design team responsible for the 2014 SRT Viper.

    He will also serve on the FCA Group Executive Council, reporting directly to Marchionne.

  • Cadillac: No stretched CT6, but a longer flagship is coming

    April 6, 2015
    Cadillac has rejected the possibility of offering a stretched CT6, but the company is working on a new model with a longer wheelbase.
    The CT6 is viewed as the current flagship sedan in the lineup, but General Motors executive vice president Mark Reuss suggests it will not keep its lofty status forever as the CT-badged family continues to grow.

    “There’s a car above this,” he said at the New York auto show, as quoted by Car and Driver.

    The executive did not provide further details, but GM has already reserved trademarks for the nameplates CT7 and CT8. It is unclear if the upcoming flagship sedan will take even more inspiration from the Elmiraj concept that was revealed in 2013.

    Whatever form it takes, the bigger car will be squarely aimed at long-wheelbase variants of German rivals including the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

    Reuss claims Cadillac will be working hard to fill the top of its range, without directly competing against entry-level models from luxury competitors.

    “There’s a whole generation out there whose moms and dads drove BMWs and Audis and Mercedes, and they didn’t drive Cadillacs,” he said. “We need to get on that consideration list.”

    The company is expected to have its new flagship sedan ready before the end of the decade.

    Image by Brian Williams.

  • GM ignition-switch victim fund approves 80 death claims

    April 6, 2015
    The General Motors ignition-switch victim fund has continued to approve more claims, bringing the unofficial death count up to 80.
    The latest status report adds an additional 16 deaths from early last month, while injury-claim approvals have risen to 148 (PDF).

    The fund, administered by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, has been implemented with a lower standard of proof than GM used for its own official death count of 13. The numbers appear to vindicate a statistical analysis that estimated a true toll of at least 74 victims, based on the relatively high number of deaths in GM’s affected vehicles compared to segment peers.

    The program stopped accepting new submissions at the end of January, however more than 1,200 filings are still under review. Approximately 22 percent of the processed death claims have been approved, and 91 are currently awaiting a final decision.

    The company has not updated its cost estimate for the program, which was initially expected to require $400-600 million.

  • VW Passat faces investigation over airbag electrical problem

    April 6, 2015
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into an electrical problem with the 2012 Volkswagen Passat and CC.
    The agency has received at least nine complaints alleging apparent failure of the steering-column control module, which connects to the vehicle’s electrical system via a spiral ribbon cable.

    “A failure of the SCCM results in a loss of connectivity of the steering wheel electrical devices to the rest of the vehicle, potentially affecting the performance of the driver side air bag, as well as the other steering wheel mounted components,” the agency notes. “If a vehicle with a failed SCCM were to be involved in a crash of sufficient severity to require deployment, the driver air bag may not deploy properly. “

    Some owners report an audible noise from the steering column when the failure occurs, accompanied by an airbag warning light on the dash.

    The agency could take many months to complete the preliminary investigation before considering an engineering analysis and potentially pushing for a formal recall.

    Image by Mark Elias.