• Daimler, Renault-Nissan break ground at new Mexico plant

    September 4, 2015
    Daimler and the Renault-Nissan Alliance today broke ground at their new joint-venture manufacturing facility in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

    The partners plan to invest $1 billion to build the plant, which will eventually produce luxury vehicles for the Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz brands. It is located adjacent to an existing Nissan factory.

    The companies have been working to co-develop a compact car platform. Previous reports suggest it will borrow heavily from parts and architecture developed for Mercedes-Benz’ latest A-, B-, GLA- and CLA-Class models. In return, the German automaker looks to increase its North American manufacturing capacity.

    “The two partners will closely collaborate at every stage of the product creation process,” the automakers noted in the joint announcement. “Brand identity will be safeguarded as the Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti vehicles will clearly differ from each other in terms of product design, driving characteristics, and specifications.”

    The factory will have an initial capacity of more than 230,000 units annually, with the ability to ramp up to 300,000 if needed. Approximately 3,600 jobs are expected to be created by 2020.

    The Infiniti-badged car will be the first to roll off the fresh assembly line sometime in 2017, while Mercedes-Benz’ variant will follow in 2018.

  • Mercedes planning Tesla Model S rival

    September 4, 2015
    A top Mercedes-Benz official has confirmed that the automaker is working on a battery electric vehicle set to rival the Tesla Model S.

    During a recent interview with Germany’s auto motor und sport, Mercedes development head Thomas Weber revealed that his company is currently developing an answer to the Tesla Model S. Weber said the upcoming EV will have an all electric range in the 400-500 kilometer (228-311 miles) range.

    Weber added that Mercedes’ EV architecture is being developed on a modular platform, meaning it will be able to underpin vehicles of varying types and sizes.

    Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to Tesla, having acquired a 9.1 percent stake in the California-based automaker in 2009. Mercedes even used Tesla batteries in its B-Class Electric Drive. However, the two companies parted ways in 2014.

    Mercedes-Benz isn’t the only German automaker trying to knock off Tesla. Audi recently announced that it was working on an electric SUV that would go up against Tesla’s Model X utility vehicle. If all goes as planned, Audi’s take on the Model X should be ready for a 2018 market introduction.

  • Honda recalls Fit to fix faulty ignition coils

    September 4, 2015

    Honda has announced another recall for the 2015 Fit, this time to replace faulty ignition coils.

    The plug-top coils are said to be prone to degradation over time, which could eventually cause the engine to stall. Failure while underway could increase the risk of an accident.

    The company discovered the issue by monitoring warranty claims. No crashes or injuries have been associated with the defect, which affects approximately 18,000 vehicles.

    The campaign is only the second on record for the Fit’s 2015 model year, however several problems with earlier models prompted the company to penalize several top executives and appoint a new leader for quality control. Issues have ranged from
    driveshaft failures to faulty window switches and stability control deficiencies.

    Image by Drew Johnson.

  • Subaru prices HyperBlue BRZ, WRX STI

    September 4, 2015
    Subaru has announced pricing and availability details for its HyperBlue BRZ and WRX STI.

    The limited-edition packages both feature the same color scheme, starting with a unique body color and matching stitching on the seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter boot.

    The BRZ carries a $28,485 price tag (including $795 freight), representing a $2,295 premium over the recently-reduced MSRP for the base model. Aside from the blue elements, buyers also get unique 17-inch black alloy wheels and a new frameless rearview mirror.

    The WRX STI will sell for $39,790, an increase of $4,300 over the entry-level package. Special features include 18-inch black BBS wheels and matching exterior mirrors.

    The special editions are merely aesthetic; both the BRZ and WRX STI retain their same powertrains and other core components.

    Subaru will build only 700 examples of the HyperBlue WRX STI and just 500 BRZs, both of which are scheduled to arrive in showrooms sometime this fall.

  • Tesla Model X first deliveries scheduled for September 29

    September 4, 2015
    After opening an online configuring tool for the Model X, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that the first deliveries will be made on September 29.

    First customers will be able to pick up their long-awaited crossover at the company’s factory in Fremont, California, presumably with much fanfare after several development delays.

    Musk also dismissed speculation that the Model X would start at more than $100,000 for the base model. The figure had been based on the Signature series, which carries an price tag of $133,200 (including $1,200 freight).

    “With same options, Model X is $5k more than an S due to greater size & body complexity,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “Sig Series is fully loaded, hence high price.”

    The comments suggest the base price could be as low as $81,200, but only if the Model X is available with a package equivalent to the entry-level all-wheel-drive Model S 70D.

    Only the Signature edition will be available for the initial launch. Buyers opting for the less-expensive variants will likely have to wait until early next year, when Tesla will begin ramping up production to full volume.