• First Genesis dealer agreement signed

    April 14, 2016

    Less than six months since Hyundai Motor Company announced the launch of its luxury-oriented brand, North Freeway Hyundai has reached an agreement with the Korean automaker to sell and service Genesis vehicles.

    The Houston-based dealer announced the agreement Thursday morning. It expects to have Genesis vehicles available for test drives as soon as this summer.

    Hyundai’s North American arm began negotiating with existing Hyundai dealers shortly after the announcement, starting with those who were already certified to carry and service the automaker’s Equus and Genesis Sedans.

    While the overwhelming majority of dealers who enter into agreements to sell the Genesis brand will likely be selected from among those who are currently certified, sources within Hyundai’s U.S. management previously told Leftlane that not all of them will necessarily make the final cut.

    The Genesis brand will launch with the G90 sedan–which replaces the outgoing Hyundai Equus–later this year. The G80 will follow, replacing the current Genesis, with a new compact sport sedan and coupe expected to be officially announced shortly.

    Photo courtesy of North Freeway Hyundai.

  • NHTSA: 85 million Takata airbags could still face recalls

    April 14, 2016

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced Wednesday that there are 85 million Takata air bags on U.S. roads that are not yet the subject of any recall campaigns.

    That could change shortly, as NHTSA is pressuring the troubled air bag supplier to demonstrate the safety of those remaining units, lest it order all of them recalled proactively.

    According to Reuters, NHTSA-backed recall campaigns have been launched for some 28 million units known to be of the faulty design that has been blamed for at least ten deaths.

    It is not known whether the remaining 85 million exhibit the same alleged defects as the units already under recall, but NHTSA doesn’t seem interested in taking chances.

    It would be bad news for automakers in the short-term, as some are already facing overwhelming backlogs for existing recalls. In the long-term, Takata itself could face as much as $24 billion in associated costs and automakers are already looking elsewhere for replacement units.

  • Lincoln prices 2017 Continental

    April 14, 2016

    Lincoln has announced pricing information for its brand new 2017 Continental flagship.

    The Continental lineup will be broken down into four trim levels called Premiere, Select, Reserve, and Black Label, respectively. Premiere starts at $45,485 once a mandatory $925 destination charge is factored in. Select begins at $48,440, Reserve starts at $54,840, and Black Label sits on top of the Continental hierarchy at $63,840.

    Premiere and Select models come standard with a 3.7-liter V6 engine that sends 300 horsepower to the front wheels via an automatic transmission, while Reserve and Black Label trims benefit from a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 rated at 335 ponies. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option all across the board, and the top two trims can be upgraded with a 3.0-liter V6 that makes a solid 400 horsepower at an extra cost.

    The list of standalone options includes a panoramic sunroof, a CD player, 20-inch alloy wheels, and 30-way power-adjustable front seats. Buyers also have a long list of option packages to choose from.

    The 2017 Lincoln Continental will begin to arrive on dealer lots in the fall. It’s aimed right at the Audi A6, which starts at $46,200 with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 252 horsepower and front-wheel drive.

    Photos by Brian Williams.

  • Infiniti previews Beijing-bound QX Sport Inspiration concept

    April 14, 2016

    Infiniti has released a dark teaser image that previews a brand new concept called QX Sport Inspiration.

    Set to debut in less than two weeks at the biennial Beijing Auto Show, the QX Sport Inspiration takes the form of a crossover whose front end is inspired by Infiniti’s latest design language. It features a bold rendition of the company’s ubiquitous grille, a sculpted bumper with vertical air ducts, and sharp LED headlights. When viewed from this angle, the QX Sport almost looks like a more rugged version of the 2017 Q60 coupe.

    While Infiniti hasn’t revealed what the future holds for the concept, we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a thinly-veiled preview of the next-generation QX70. The current car — which was formerly known as the FX — has been on the market since 2008 so it’s reasonable to assume that a replacement is right around the corner.

    We’ll find out for sure in a few short days when the QX Sport Inspiration concept makes its global debut in the Chinese capital. Stay tuned, we’ll be on location to bring you live images of it.

  • Toyota recalls Avalon, Camry to fix airbag glitch

    April 14, 2016

    Toyota is preparing to recall the 2016 Avalon and Camry to fix an airbag defect, affecting more than 58,000 vehicles sold in the US market.

    Some vehicles may have left the factory without proper calibration of the occupant classification system (OCS), which determines the front passenger’s weight. Proper operation will prevent the airbags from firing if the seat is occupied by an infant or small child.

    “With the improper calibration, under some conditions, the front passenger airbag and the front passenger knee airbag may not deploy as designed in a crash, increasing the risk of an injury to a front seat passenger,” the company said in a statement.

    Service technicians will simply re-calibrate the system to restore proper operation.

    It is unclear if the defect has been associated with any injuries or deaths.

  • MINI developing four-door sedan?

    April 13, 2016

    The fifth member of the MINI lineup might be a sedan, a new report finds.

    The four-door sedan could revive the heritage-laced Riley nameplate. The idea of a MINI-badged sedan is controversial today, but executives believe that launching a three-box model will help the BMW-owned brand sell more cars in key markets like China and North America, where the demand for small hatchbacks like the Hardtop is low at best.

    The MINI Riley will ride on the same front-wheel drive UKL platform as the Hardtop, the Clubman, as well as BMW’s 2 Series and X1, among others. It will allegedly stretch roughly 170 inches from bumper to bumper, and it will use the same three- and four-cylinder engines as other members of the MINI lineup. Front-wheel drive will come standard, and all-wheel drive will be offered at an extra cost.

    When we can expect to see the MINI Riley is anyone’s guess at this point. However, MINI made the promise to launch five core models in 2014, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see the fifth car previewed by a thinly-veiled concept in the next year or so.

    What’s in a name?
    Founded in 1890 as a bicycle manufacturer, Riley was an England-based car maker whose products were gradually diluted by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) until it shut down in 1969. The Riley Elf (pictured in our gallery) was essentially a more luxurious version of the original Austin Mini whose three-box design cleared up much-needed cargo space. The Elf was built primarily for its home market from 1961 to 1969.

  • Base Tesla Model X gets bigger battery, higher price

    April 13, 2016

    Tesla has axed the entry-level Model X 70D after just a few short months on the market, and replaced it with a new base model called 75D.

    As its name implies, the X 75D benefits from a bigger 75kWh battery pack that boosts its total driving range from 220 to 237 miles. The rest of the crossover’s drivetrain remains unchanged, meaning the 75D is powered by a pair of electric motors that each spin an axle. All-wheel drive and a generous amount of instant torque help the 75D hit 60 mph from a stop in about six seconds flat, and go on to a top speed of roughly 130 mph.

    Unsurprisingly, the bigger battery pack brings with it a higher base price. The Model X 75D now starts at $83,000, an increase of $3,000 over the outgoing 70D model, before tax credits, incentives, and a mandatory $1,200 destination charge are factored in. The 75D remains markedly more affordable than the 90D and the P90D variants, which cost $95,500 and $115,000, respectively.

    The 2016 Model X 75D is already on sale at Tesla stores nationwide. In the United States, the first deliveries are scheduled to take place in June.

  • Report: Ferrari CEO to retire, succeeded by Marchionne

    April 13, 2016

    Ferrari chief executive Amedeo Felisa is reportedly planning to retire in the near future.

    The executive is believed to be planning to vacate the role after shareholders vote on board appointments, sources have told Bloomberg. He is expected to retain his seat on the board.

    Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne is Felisa’s presumptive immediate successor. It is unclear if he plans to hold the reins indefinitely, or serve as an interim fill-in while the Prancing Horse explores other potential candidates.

    Marchionne currently serves as CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and as a board member or director for three other companies. He spearheaded Ferrari’s spinoff from FCA in October.

    It is unclear if Felisa’s retirement is related to previous executive disagreements over the company’s future. Former chairman Luca di Montezemolo resigned amid a public spat with Marchionne. The veteran argued in favor of a 7,000-unit annual production cap to maintain exclusivity. After taking over as chairman, Marchionne quickly moved to raise output to 9,000.

    Ferrari shares have declined by approximately 30 percent since the initial public offering in October.

  • Hennessey Venom GT Spyder sets convertible speed record [Video]

    April 13, 2016

    Hennessey Performance has raised another performance benchmark, setting a convertible speed record with its Venom GT Spyder.

    The roadster reached a Racelogic-verified 265.6 mph on a 13,500-foot concrete runway at the Naval Air Station Lemoore, beating the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse‘s existing 254-mph record. The hardtop Venom GT set a speed record in 2014 at the Kennedy Space Center, topping out at 270.4 mph.

    Both variants are powered by a twin-turbo 7.0-liter V8 with 1,451 horsepower and 1,287 lb-ft of torque, delivered to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Drivers can expect to hit 60 mph in less than 2.4 seconds, reaching 200 mph in a blistering 13 seconds.

    “”I thought that this would be a special way to celebrate 25 years of making fast cars faster,” said company founder John Hennessey. “This was a great way to validate the technical excellence of our car which includes high-speed stability with an open roof.”

    Hennessey will offer a limited run of three “World Record Edition” Venom GT Spyder roadsters, each carrying a $1.3 million price tag.

  • Ford details Dearborn campus transformation plan

    April 13, 2016

    Ford has detailed a transformation plan for its Dearborn operations, eventually merging 70 buildings and 30,000 workers into two primary campus locations.

    More than 7.5 million square feet of work space will be rebuilt into a the new Product Campus, currently known as the Research and Engineering Center Campus, and a revamped World Headquarters Campus.

    The product center will feature paths, trails and covered walkways for workers who prefer to travel on foot. Others can opt for an autonomous vehicle, shuttle service, or Ford’s electric eBike, while softball and soccer fields will promote on-site outdoor activities.

    An all-new design center will be the focal point of the Product Campus. It will span 700,000 square feet, adding new studios and an outdoor design courtyard. The existing 14,000-square-foot Design Showroom will be converted into an event venue.

    Building interiors will be thoroughly redesigned and modernized, with new work spaces that aim to bolster collaboration and better contribute to innovation.

    “We are taking a holistic approach when integrating employee wellness into work environments,” said Ford Land Development Corp CEO Donna Inch. “We realize people are our greatest asset, and we are putting them at the heart of our workplace design to create healthy, happy work environments.”

    The changes will be gradually rolled out over the next decade.