• Frankfurt preview: 2016 Borgward BX7

    September 12, 2015
    After spending no less than 54 years in the history books, Germany’s Borgward will travel to next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show to introduce a SUV called BX7. The company was recently revived by Beiqi Foton Motor, one of the largest commercial vehicle manufacturers in China.

    Designed by former Saab designer Einar Hareide, the BX7′s front end gains sharp, slightly up-swept headlights and a 17-slat grille with a modern rendition of the diamond-shaped emblem found on Borgwards built half a century ago. It inaugurates the design language that will influence all of the company’s upcoming models.

    The BX7 stretches 185 inches long, a figure that makes it roughly half a foot shorter than a BMW X5. Borgward hasn’t revealed if the BX7 is an all-new model, or if it rides on an existing platform.

    Interior pictures haven’t been published, but the car maker says the BX7 will be offered with either five, six or seven seats. A 12.3-inch touch screen will run the SUV’s infotainment system, and buyers will be able to order adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera.

    German magazine Auto Bild reports the BX7 will go on sale in China, where it will be built, and in a handful of emerging markets next year. The company hopes to eventually sell cars in Europe once again, but a more specific time frame is not available. At this point, seeing the Borgward brand return to the United States – where it was present from 1949 until it shut down in 1961 – is unlikely at best.

    What’s next?

    To quickly re-join the ranks of mainstream automakers, Borgward ambitiously plans on introducing no less than two new models every year until it has built up a full lineup made up largely of crossovers and sedans. If everything goes according to plan, Borgward will build 800,000 cars annually in 2020 and no less than 1.6 million cars a year by 2025.

  • GM CEO Mary Barra leads Fortune’s ‘most powerful women’ list

    September 12, 2015
    General Motors chief executive Mary Barra has risen to the top of Fortune‘s “Most Powerful Women” list.

    The magazine credits Barra with skillfully navigating the company out from “under the shadow” of the 2014 ignition-switch crisis, which exploded just months after she took the helm. She is also said to be willing to encourage other girls and young women to get involved in the tech industry, participating in the #ilooklikeanengineer Twitter campaign.

    “Barra spent $2.9 billion on recalls, which dropped 2014 profits 26%,” the report notes. “Yet in recent months she has beaten back headwinds from weak international markets, as sales of expensive trucks and SUVs have soared.”

    Analysts are closely watching Barra’s ongoing leadership as she continues to push for a new corporate culture at GM, which emerged from bankruptcy just a few years ago. It could take years to determine if the changes have made a long-term impact.

    This year’s Fortune list includes 27 CEOs that control companies with a collective stock-market value of more than one trillion dollars.

  • 2016 Honda Civic exposed ahead of official unveiling

    September 12, 2015

    We’re less than a week away from the 2016 Honda Civic’s unveiling on September 16, but the all-new compact has been fully revealed ahead of schedule thanks to some careless parking.

    Most automakers keep future vehicles under tight wraps until their scheduled unveiling, but somehow an example of the 2016 Civic made it out into the wild where it was casually parked on the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Luckily for us an in-the-know member of the Civic X forum spotted the yet-to-be-unveiled Civic and snapped a few pictures.

    The 2016 Civic is pretty much the exact same car that was laid out earlier this year in a set of leaked patent drawings. Up front the new Civic gets a more aggressive styling treatment that better reflects the car’s youthful side. Although not a full-on four-door coupe, the Civic’s sharply raked roofline gives the car a sense of perpetual motion. The rear of the Civic features pronounced hips and taillights that adopt a new boomerang shape.

    Overall this new Civic is a far more attractive vehicle than the model currently on sale. We’d say the new Civic is nearly the styling equal of the segment beauty queen, the Mazda3.

    Following its formal unveiling next week, the 2016 Honda Civic should begin rolling into dealer showrooms by either late October or early November.

  • Automakers agree to make automatic braking a standard feature

    September 12, 2015
    A group of 10 major automakers has agreed to make automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature on future vehicles.

    Several government agencies have recommended the technology for new vehicles, but so far none have moved to include the systems in new regulations. The National Transportation Safety Board recently issued a public call for a mandate, criticizing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for not already initiating such laws.

    In an interesting twist, the automakers have voluntarily come to the table and agreed to work with the NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to establish a strategy that will ultimately make collision-avoidance technologies standard on new cars. Notably, the language in statements from automakers and the IIHS suggests it will be a voluntary program.

    “General Motors supports the call for a voluntary industry safety agreement that would lead to making forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking standard on light vehicles,” GM said in a statement.

    Aside from GM, the list of supporting automakers includes Audi, BMW, Ford, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. Notable exclusions currently include brands associated with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi and Subaru, among others.

    “We are entering a new era of vehicle safety, focused on preventing crashes from ever occurring, rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “But if technologies such as automatic emergency braking are only available as options or on the most expensive models, too few Americans will see the benefits of this new era.”

    The IIHS suggests AEB tech can reduce insurance injury claims by up to 35 percent, echoing the NTSB’s estimate that rear-end collisions cause 1.7 million accidents and 1,700 fatalities in the US each year.

  • Lamborghini to show Huracan Spyder in Frankfurt

    September 12, 2015

    Lamborghini has announced that it will travel to next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show to show off its latest Huracan Spyder.

    It was originally thought that Lambo would save the open air version of its Huracan sports car until the Geneva Motor Show in March, but the Italian automaker confirmed via Twitter that it will unveil the Huracan Spyder in Frankfurt.

    Lamborghi’s Tweet was short on details, but the company did include a teaser shot. Although the car is obscured in the photo, it appears as though the car will retain the Huracan coupe’s C-pillar line, indicating the Huracan Spyder will be more along the lines of a targa top like the Aventador Roadster instead of a true convertible like the old Gallardo Spyder.

    Whatever the roof configuration, the Huracan Spyder should come packing the same 5.2L V10 found in the middle of the Huracan Coupe. With 601 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque on tap, the Huracan Spyder should be able to run from 0-60 in just over 3 seconds.

    No pricing information has been reveal, but the Lamborghini Huracan Spyder will likely carry a price tag north of $240,000.

    Be sure to check back for Leftlane’s live coverage of the Frankfurt Motor Show next week.