• Volvo promises tuning kits for Drive-E engines

    April 29, 2015
    Volvo has reaffirmed its promise to offer tuning kits for the new Drive-E engine family.
    The Polestar Performance Optimization add-ons will be available for the majority of the three- and four-cylinder powerplants in the automaker’s downsized engine lineup.

    Developed through collaboration between Volvo’s in-house research-and-development team and transmission maker Aisin Warner, the kits are said to borrow technology from the performance-focused S60 Polestar and V60 Polestar packages. Both cars have been selling faster than the company expected, prompting a second production batch and inspiring the tuning kits for basic models.

    The kits are designed to improve engine performance, while also tweaking throttle response, shift speed, shift precision and off-throttle response. The company has not yet detailed how much additional performance buyers can expect.

    “The more exact response to driver input and predictability from the powertrain, the higher level of control for the driver,” said Thed Bjork. “This is something we have achieved with the new generation where we have focused on mid-range drivability for the engines and combined that with a further developed gearbox and throttle package. This is the next level of driving experience for Volvo cars.”

    The kits will be released near the end of June, with initial availability limited to the T6, T5, D5 and D4 engines. The company promises over 140 additional variations and optimizations to be added in the coming months.

  • Jaguar announces XE specs, trims

    April 29, 2015
    Jaguar has announced full details for its U.S.-bound XE sports sedan. The XE will arrive in U.S. showrooms during the spring of 2016.
    The U.S.-spec Jaguar XE will be offered in two basic flavors — the sport-oriented 35t and the fuel-sipping 20d.

    The XE 35t will make use of Jaguar’s supercharged 3.0L V6. Developing 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, the XE 35t will be capable of ripping off 0-60 runs in just 4.9 seconds. The 35t will be electronically limited to a top speed of 155mph.

    The XE 20d, meanwhile, will use an efficient 2.0L four-cylinder turbo diesel rated at 180 horsepower and 318 lb-ft of torque. Jaguar hasn’t announced fuel economy figures for either model, but the company promises the XE 20d will be the most efficient vehicle in its lineup.

    Both engine will come paired to an updated version of the eight-speed auto found throughout Jaguar’s vehicle lineup.

    In addition to the XE’s two powertrains, buyers will also have the choice of three trim levels — Premium, Prestige and R-Sport. All XE models will ship standard with rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive can be specified for an additional charge.

    On the technology front, the XE will be equipped with Jaguar’s latest InControl infotainment system. The system boasts an eight-inch touchscreen and smartphone connectivity. A navigation system will be an optional extra.

    Pricing for the Jaguar XE will be announced closer to the car’s 2016 on-sale date.

    Photos by Drew Johnson.

  • Porsche posts improved Q1 sales, profits

    April 29, 2015
    Porsche looks to be poised for another banner year after posting improved sales and revenue during the first quarter of 2015.
    Porsche announced on Wednesday that it delivered 51,102 new vehicles worldwide during the first three months of the year, marking a 32 percent improvement over the same period a year prior. Thanks to that increase in sales, the sports car maker’s revenue jumped 29 percent to 5.08 billion euros ($5.647 billion). Operating profit surged 10 percent to 765 million euros ($805 million).

    Porsche attributed its first quarter success to the popularity of its latest Macan small utility vehicle. Porsche also expects its latest GT models — the 911 GT3 RS and Cayman GT4 — as well as the upcoming Boxster Spyder to boost the company’s sales in the coming months.

    “Our successful vehicle derivatives strategy lets us satisfy the wishes of many customers who want to own a comprehensively personalized vehicle,” said CEO Matthias Muller.

    In order to keep up with growing demand, Porsche expanded its workforce by 12 percent to 22,945 people during Q1.

  • GM lobbies against Tesla direct sales

    April 29, 2015
    General Motors has reportedly stepped up its lobbying campaign against Tesla Motors’ direct-sales ambitions.
    After supporting legislation that succeeded in blocking direct sales in its home state of Michigan, General Motors is said to have deployed its lobbyists to wage a last-minute fight against a Maryland bill that gave the California-based startup a thumbs up to open a handful of sales outlets in the state.

    The Maryland bill’s supporters reportedly worked with the local dealers association to draft a compromise, limiting the number of stores Tesla could open. The dealer group is said to have been collaborative, not wanting to be “seen as an obstacle,” however GM lobbyists allegedly tried to derail the talks, Montgomery County Delegate Kirill Reznik said in in a video for Tesla Road Trip, as quoted by Green Car Congress.

    “GM showed up, and as I like to put it, pulled the pin on the grenade and threw it in,” he claims.

    Despite the resistance, the legislation passed earlier this month — with six minutes to spare before the end of the legislative session — and is expected to be signed into law next month by Governor Larry Hogan.

    GM believes that “all industry participants should operate under the same rules,” an argument echoed by dealer associations in other battleground states, a spokeswoman said in a statement to AutoblogGreen. “GM plans to compete in the all-electric vehicle market. By enacting HB 235, multiple manufacturers may compete with similarly capable vehicles and similar price points, yet they would operate under a distinctly different set of rules, which is why we opposed HB 235.”

    The company has generally received public support in its state-by-state war over direct sales, and Federal Trade Commission officials have even criticized restrictive franchise laws as “bad policy” that is potentially bad for consumers.

  • Ford recalls 50,000 vehicles for fuel pump issue

    April 29, 2015
    Ford announced Wednesday that it is recalling 50,157 vehicles in the U.S., Canada and Mexico for potentially defective fuel pumps.
    The defect applies to components installed in the 2014 Ford Focus, Edge, Escape and Transit Connect and 2014-15 Ford Fiesta with Bosch fuel pumps. The nickel plating in the pumps can fail, resulting in contamination, increased friction and eventual failure.

    Bosch pumps plated with the same process as those found in the recalled Ford models have been at the center of campaigns launched by Volkswagen Group, BMW and Nissan.

    Failed fuel pumps can result in affected cars being unable to start, or engine stalls if the failure occurs while they are in use. If the vehicle is rendered inoperable while in use, it could result in a crash.

    One incident has been reported to Ford that may be linked to this issue, but Ford did not report that anybody involved was injured.