Annnnd we’re back. AutoInfluence with all of your current auto news headlines for the week of July 26th. This includes the all-electric F-150, the Silverado 1500 Diesel, and California Emissions standards taking home a big win thanks to a few automakers in particular.
In fact, let’s get that last one out of the way first. Despite a dozen U.S. states having adopted, and others walking the line of compliance with California’s vehicle emission regulations, widespread implementation has largely been a matter or choice or, in some cases, a result of peer pressure. Setting aside any discussion of politics on a national scale, four automakers have signed a formal agreement to improve their fleets’ average efficiency by 3.7% beginning with the 2022 model year. Those automakers are Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW. Of course, a group of automakers have been advocating for standardized regulations through all 50 states, making it easier for each to secure what they called “much-needed regulatory certainty”.
Ford seems to be keeping their eyes on the prize, despite their announcement that Q2 profits were down while also confirming that annual profits would be lower than originally projected. Of course, there’s more to the story considering that Ford’s $11B restructuring plans are the primary catalyst behind the lower bottom-line numbers. Intended to span a few years, we’re only seeing the earliest steps starting to take effect, but a boost in operating cash-flow seems to indicate that the restructuring moves could be successful in boosting their overall profitability. With new offerings like the Ranger helping to offset some of the revenue loss brought on by flattened interest in small cars and sedans, it would appear that Ford’s making some prudent choices, even if they are experiencing some growing pains while doing so.
Which segues nicely to all-electric EV F-150 pickup, currently in development. Despite the appeal of near-instant torque delivery, there are still plenty of naysayers when it comes to the idea of all-electric trucks, with the majority of traditionalists still favoring the all-encompassing capabilities of traditional and diesel powertrains, and understandably so. And while Ford has set no firm timeline for release of an EV F-150, they’re certainly chumming the waters with a new video designed to prove that their prototype is ‘Built Ford Tough’. So if you have just under six minutes to spare, and want to see a video of an EV F-150 pulling 10 double-decker freight cars filled with 42 F-150 trucks – the equivalent of more than 1 million pounds – a total distance of 1,000 feet, here you go…
Oh, and Ford’s creating the first ever pick-up emoji (awkward pause) so…yeah…there’s that too…
General Motors / Chevy
Following up on last week’s epic reveal of the mid-engine 2020 C8 Corvette Stingray, GM has announced that their Towanda NY engine plant will be the home of the next-gen LT2 6.2-liter Small Block V8 engine that will be found under the hood of the C8 once it hits the production floor of GM’s Bowling Green, Kentucky plant later this year.
Now, the 2020 Silverado 1500 Diesel is due to hit dealerships in the next few months. With a 3.0-liter straight six Duramax powertrain, the full-size pickup boasts 277hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, with a towing capacity of up to 9300 LBS. But setting aside those performance specs, the Silverado just earned the distinction of besting diesel variants of both the F-150 and the RAM 1500 in terms of fuel economy. Scoring 33 mpg combined, it beats out the Ford by 3 mpg and the RAM by 6mpg.
FCA / Dodge / RAM
FCA is celebrating their recognition by J.D. Power & Associates, with Ram and Dodge ranking 1st and 2nd respectively on their Automotive Performance Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, displaying the most notable improvement, of any automaker, year-over-year in 77 different categories. Scoring 851 points out of a possible 1,000, RAM bests all other names in the 18-brand mass-market truck line. And Dodge comes in just as competitively with 848 points, with notable offerings such as the Challenger, Durango and Charger winning top picks for ‘midsize sport car’, ‘midsize SUV’ and ‘large car’ categories.
And speaking of the Charger, the numbers are in and sales of the full-size beast are up 9% for the first half of 2019 while other full-sized domestic competitors are down. At 45,046 units sold between January 1st and June 30th, the Charger bests the Chevy Impala at 25,795 units as well as the Ford Taurus at 8,121 units.
And this week marked the launch of ‘Key by Amazon’ In-Car Delivery, a service for which Amazon Prime customers are eligible for – if they drive a 3rd-gen 2019 or 2020 Acura RDX. Allowing for secure in-car deliveries by Amazon, minimizing risk of threat, Key by Amazon service is now available in 50 U.S. cities and their surrounding areas.
Hyundai / KIA / Genesis
For the most current model year, the Hyundai Accent had earned an EPA-estimated 32 mpg combined – which breaks down to 38 mpg highway, 28 mpg city. But with the introduction of a new Dual-Port Injection engine as well as a new Intelligent Variable Transmission, the 2020 Accent will present improved ratings of 36 mpg combined, broken down to 41 mpg highway and 33 city. The 2020 Hyundai Accent will be priced to start around $16,125 MSRP.
And according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, KIA now has more vehicles with ‘Top Safety Pick’ and ‘Top Safety Pick Plus’ ratings than any other automotive brand. In fact, that list consists of twelve KIA models in all. “We are extremely proud of this significant achievement,” said Orth Hedrick, Executive Director, Car Planning & Technology, KMA. “We constantly strive to build the best quality and safest vehicles possible and being the automaker with the most TSP and TSP+ ratings is ultimately gratifying.
For those of you interested in, or having preordered the new Kia Seltos midsize SUV, it is set to begin rolling off the production line next week, on July 31st. First unveiled last month, the Seltos earned 6,000 bookings in its first day of preorders alone, and those preorders have continued to flood in, proving that the Seltos has created a lot of excitement.
Over at Nissan, it has been announced that significant job cuts will be made over the next four years. Expected to affect a minimum of 12,500 Nissan employees, with at least 1400 being right here in the U.S. It is expected that plant workers will make up the lion’s share of the cuts, adding to the 381 contract workers already laid off and Mississippi, as well as the Tennessee employees who were offered buyouts of up to $125K. The cuts result from a 12.7% drop in revenue, and a staggering 94.5% decline in overall net income. Further actions include a planned 10% cut in global production capacity, while streamlining their lineup by 2022.
This week, Mazda issued a 2,476 vehicle recall for the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata under suspicion of poor welding on a skid plate and its associated metal brackets. Should the weld deteriorate, either component could detach from the vehicle, creating a road hazard. And for those of you who memorize your VIN#, affected vehicles begin with JM1NDAD79G0100681 and end with JM1NDAD7XG0103315.
This week Audi confirmed that the Audi S6 is headed stateside, albeit with a different powertrain. Rather than a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, or the option of a diesel, the S6 will come powered by a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6. Offering a 4.4-second print to 60mph, the engine wrangles 444 horses while delivering 443 lb-ft of torque. It also trades out a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for a new eight-speed torque-converter.
And finally…BMW has confirmed that they are currently doubling their US battery production to support production of the 2020 X5 xDrive 45e as well as the X3 xDrive 30e, being built in South Carolina beginning in August and December respectively. Of course, this expanded battery production helps to support their goal of introducing 25 new plug-in offerings (which includes 13 EV models) by 2023.
So, that about wraps things up for us and – it would seem – the month of July. Get out there and enjoy yourself over the next week and, until next time, say hi to your mom for me.