• Ram considering mid-size pickup after all

    March 26, 2016

    Last year, Ram announced that it had no plans to take on the Chevrolet Colorado/ GMC Canyon twins and the Toyota Tacoma with a mid-size pickup truck. However, a new report suggests the company has changed its mind over the past few months.

    “I think there’s opportunity there in the U.S. if you look at what’s happened in the mid-size segment here – significant growth last year,” said Ram boss Mike Manley in an interview with The Detroit News.

    Ram parent company Fiat-Chrysler will return to the mid-size truck segment in a couple of years’ time when Jeep introduces a pickup variant of the next-gen Wrangler. Manley believes there’s enough room in the segment for both a Wrangler truck and a successor to the Dodge Dakota (pictured), though he wouldn’t confirm that Ram is preparing to launch a model positioned below the 1500.

    Launching a mid-size truck could help Ram expand its presence outside of the United States, where the 1500 is often considered too big. A mid-size model likely wouldn’t fare very well in Europe, where pickup sales are low at best, but it could go head-to-head against popular similarly-sized trucks built by Nissan and Toyota in regions like Latin America, the Middle East, and Australia. The global mid-size truck segment is promising enough that even Mercedes-Benz is eager to get a slice of the pie.

    If approved for production, Ram’s mid-size model is at least a couple of years away from hitting showrooms.

  • All-electric Jaguar crossover coming by 2018?

    March 26, 2016

    Jaguar has hinted that its first all-electric model is right around the corner.

    “Within two years, we’ll have something that’s not driven by a petrol engine,” revealed Ian Callum, Jaguar’s head of design, during a recent interview with AutoGuide.

    Callum joked that the model he’s referring to will be powered by “a couple of hamsters,” but AutoGuide believes he was talking about the battery-powered model that Jaguar has allegedly been working on for the past couple of years. Tentatively called E-Pace, the EV will take the form of a crossover that will ride on the same modular platform as the bigger F-Pace (pictured) and the XE sedan. Earlier reports claim it will feature a striking design inspired by the experimental C-X75 supercar.

    Interestingly, Callum suggested Jaguar is preparing a “big surprise” that will be revealed before the end of the year. He stopped short of confirming what the car maker has in store, but it’s not too far-fetched to speculate the British car maker will preview the E-Pace with a close-to-production concept either at the Paris Motor Show or at the Los Angeles Motor Show. The production model will fight in the same segment as the Tesla Model X when it goes on sale about a year later.

    Photos by Ronan Glon.

  • 2016 New York Auto Show: The Complete Roundup

    March 26, 2016

    The 2016 New York International Auto Show has has concluded its final day of press conferences.

    Like day one, the second round of introductions mostly focused on production vehicles rather than concepts. Notable models include the 2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab and the US-bound Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

    Despite a short list of day-two unveilings, the 2016 show will provide visitors with plenty of new vehicles to check out when the Javits Convention Center opens to the public on Friday.

    The event continues to be one of the most important global venues for automotive unveilings, typically with an abundance of luxury vehicles. The 2016 public show runs from Friday to Sunday, April 3. Tickets cost $16 for adults and $7 for children. Attendees will likely be screened through metal detectors, potentially resulting in long lines due to heightened security.


    Lincoln Navigator Concept
    Ford’s luxury division appears to have big plans for its full-size SUV. The Navigator concept follows the Continental’s design language, with unique gull-wing doors that span the first and second rows. Concertina steps deploy nearly to the ground, while the interior features a mix of opulence and technology.

    2017 Subaru Impreza Sedan, Hatchback
    Subaru has finally shown its long-awaited fifth-generation Impreza lineup. Styling has been refreshed, while the new SGP platform architecture is more rigid and promises a better ride.

    2017 Nissan GT-R
    Rumors have focused on the next-gen GT-R, however Nissan believes the current model has plenty of life left. The facelift now meshes with Nissan’s latest design language. Designers and engineers also worked to refine the interior, increase engine output and enhance handling.

    Full list:

    2017 Acura MDX
    2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia, Giulia Ti
    2018 Audi R8 Spyder
    2017 Buick Encore
    2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
    2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible
    2017 Chevrolet Sonic
    Fiat 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth
    2016 Ford Mustang GT-H
    Genesis New York Concept
    2017 GMC Terrain Nightfall
    2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited
    2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, Trailhawk
    2017 Kia Cadenza
    Lincoln Navigator Concept
    2017 Mazda MX-5 RF
    2017 Mercedes-AMG E43
    2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet
    2017 Mercedes-Benz CLA/CLA45 AMG
    2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe
    MINI Clubman ALL4
    MINI John Cooper Works Convertible
    2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4

    2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

    2017 Nissan GT-R
    2017 Nissan Titan half-ton
    Porsche Macan with 2.0-liter four
    Scion tC RS 10.0
    2017 Toyota 86
    2017 Toyota Corolla 50th Anniversary Special Edition
    2017 Toyota Highlander
    2017 Toyota Prius Prime
    2017 VW Golf Alltrack

    Image by Brian Williams.

  • Honda, Takata were aware of faulty airbag design in 2009: Report [Update]

    March 26, 2016

    Updated with statement from America Honda Motor Co.

    Honda has confirmed that it was aware of Takata’s defective airbag design as early as 2009, but the company failed to inform U.S. regulators about the potential safety risk until years later.

    That potentially damaging revelation was discovered following a review of Takata presentations and internal memos. Those documents revealed that Honda secretly asked Takata to develop a “fail-safe” airbag inflator after it observed four injuries and a death linked to its vehicles’ airbags.

    Honda spokesman Chris Martin confirmed to Reuters that the automaker requested the design change, but add that the redesign was to “protect against the possibility of future manufacturing errors – it was not an acknowledgement of a larger design flaw in the inflators.” Martin added that Honda did not inform U.S. regulators of the design change request.

    The new airbag inflator design, which featured additional gas vents that helped funnel pressure away from the driver, was first installed in some vehicles in 2011. Honda still uses the same airbag design today.

    Reuters reached out to the NHTSA for comment on Honda’s legal obligation to inform the administration about the airbag design change, but spokesman Bryan Thomas declined to give a statement. It remains unknown at this time if Honda’s actions broke any laws.

    The news, however, could put Honda in the legal cross-hairs of several liability suits. Honda, along with Takata and several other automakers, are facing federal, state and potentially class action lawsuits stemming from the defective airbag design.

    “You can’t say, ‘It’s a supplier problem, not ours, so we don’t have to talk about it,” Peter Henning, a corporate law professor at Wayne State University, said. “They are responsible for every part on their car and also responsible to report a problem with any part on that car.”

    So far Honda has recalled 8.5 million vehicles due to the airbag defect, with the vast majority of those occurring in 2014 or later.

    Statement from Honda: “Honda categorically rejects the assertion that a redesigned airbag inflator component is evidence that the prior inflator design contained a safety defect. As technology evolves, Honda and other automakers regularly work with suppliers to make design changes.

    It was Honda’s understanding at the time that all inflator ruptures were due to Takata manufacturing errors associated with a previous inflator design. Thus, Honda’s request to Takata to incorporate a change into a new airbag inflator design, was prudent on our part. Importantly, we are aware of no customers experiencing rupture events with the new inflator design.

    Regarding Honda’s reporting obligations, Honda does have an obligation to report safety defects to NHTSA, and we fully comply with this requirement. However, it is not NHTSA’s expectation, nor the industry practice, that automakers will automatically report every new inflator design to NHTSA.”