Annnnnnd we’re back…AutoInfluence with a relatively slow week in terms of current auto news. And that’s okay, because it’s the first day of Summer, and you have better things to do, we’re sure. Hell, if we’re being completely honest, we have five racks of ribs, 10 lbs of chicken, 7.5 lbs of beef jerky and a bunch of Mac & Cheese in the smoker right now – and guess what – Fatty’s getting a little bit hungry, so let’s get down to it.
And this week, Ford finally announced the performance numbers for the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, validating their earlier claim that it would (in fact) be the fastest and most powerful street-legal Ford ever. Powered by a 5.2-liter V8, the GT500 wrangles 760 horses and 625 lb-ft of torque. It is also estimated to sprint to 60mph in the “mid-3 second range” with an 11 second quarter mile. The jump from the 526hp rating of the 2019 GT350 is an impressive one, and it makes the new GT500 a worthy competitor to the celebrated Challenger Hellcat (a phrase which, admittedly, pains me a little to say).
Ford and Lincoln rank among J.D. Power and Associates pick of the Top 5 automotive brands in terms of their 33rd annual U.S. Initial Quality Study. With 10 models (combined) ranking among the top three of their respective segments, it was a strong showing for both automakers. Ford models spotlighted include the all-new Ranger, within the midsize pickup segment and the Ford Fusion, for the midsize car segment. Other inclusions were the Escape, Expedition, Flex, F-150 and Super Duty. While over at Lincoln, the Navigator, Nautilus and MKC earned top honors.
General Motors / Chevy / GMC / Cadillac
Now, last week we talked about Jeep’s “Death Wobble”. This week, it appears we’re going to be covering “Chevy Shake”, a phrase used to describe a class-action lawsuit reporting that certain Chevy Silverados are prone to violent vibrations between 75-80mph. With 109 separate complaints, the lawsuit places the blame on the Silverado’s aluminum driveshafts, claiming that customized steel driveshafts are required to remedy the problem and calls for reimbursement for any repair costs that come out of pocket of affected consumers.
And for the fourth year in a row, GM is petitioning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for exemption in the widely publicized Takata Airbag recalls, drawing the ire of both safety advocates and roughly 7 million consumers. The request for exemption, focuses on model years 2010-2014 and includes: Chevy’s Tahoe, Suburban, Avalanche and Silverado 1500/2500/3500, GMC’s Yukon, Yukon XL and Sierra 1500/2500/3500, as well as the Cadillac Escalade ESV and EXT. Claiming that comprehensive testing without any defect issues should eliminate the need for further action, on top of the 1.4 million recalls the automaker has already facilitated to-date. While no further details are available at this point, it is worth reiterating that the defective airbags have been deemed responsible for 24 deaths worldwide. In the US alone, they have been responsible for 16 deaths and more than 250 injuries.
Toyota / Lexus
Even though there’s not much in the way of news, it’s ‘Rumor City’ over at Toyota with speculation that both Toyota and Mazda will be making use of Mazda’s upcoming rear-drive platform including the new inline six-cylinder with Skyactic-X tech due for introduction by 2022. Allegedly, Toyota will be introducing a successor to their Mark X premium sedan while Lexus will be slotting a new offering between the RC and LC. At this point there has been no confirmation aside from the original report by Japan’s Best Car, but it’s interesting to say the least.
If its order guide is correct and any indication, the Infiniti Q50 will have one less powertrain to choose from, with turbocharged 2.0-liter getting the axe. With the entry-level option out of the way, that will leave either the turbo 3.0-liter V6 , or its twin-turbo variant. Delivering 300 and 400hp respectively, the change might imply a higher entry-level price point, making the Q50 slightly less accessibly-priced (to the tune of about $12,000). Time will tell, if this is accurate, but it certainly seems inline with the current trend of streamlining sedan lineups.
Hyundai / Kia / Genesis
Earlier we had mentioned Ford’s strong showing in J.D. Power & Associates 2019 U.S. Initial Quality Study, but Hyundai is enjoying their second consecutive year’s placement in the second spot for non-luxury brands, and the third spot overall. The Santa Fe was the standout, earning Top-Ranked Midsize SUV status, but the Tucson, Elantra, Accent and Veloster finishing second within their respective segments, and bot the Kona and Sonata scoring third in theirs.
Kia also had a strong showing, ranking first among mass market brands for the fifth consecutive year. In fact four Kia models (the Rio, Forte, Sportage and Sedona) took the top spots within the subcompact, compact, SUV and minivan segments.
And Kia debuted the their new small crossover the Seltos this week. Slated between the subcompact Soul and compact Sportage, there’s no hard guarantee when we’ll see it stateside — but it has been described as a global offering, so we expect a 2020 U.S. offering. With a truly unique aesthetic, and fueled by Kia’s big win with the Telluride, we’re pretty certain that a large number of people will have their fingers crossed. I mean, not us. But other people.
Volkswagen / Audi
Depending on which side of the case you find yourself mentally aligned with, a German court has ruled in favor of Volkswagen in a copyright claim dispute filed by the descendent of one of the original designerss of the VW Beetle. The daughter of Erwin Komenda, who passed away in 1966, was seeking $5.7 million in compensation, claiming that the newest model of the Beetle still employed design elements created by her father. Sketches were presented as proof, but could not be validated for originality.
Following the Audi e-Tron’s cameo in Avengers: Endgame, it appears that Tony Stark might have left Peter Parker with a present (or three) at least judging by a new crossover short for the upcoming ‘Spider-Man: Far from Home’. In it, Peter Parker (as played by Tom Holland) is featured alongside the e-Tron as well as the all-new versions of the A7 and Q8.
According to Sven Schuwirth, Head of Brand Audi, “Teaming up with Sony Studios gives us an ideal opportunity to stage Audi´s electric offensive in a spectacular environment and to customize this important technology for a highly engaged audience. Therefore product placement plays a significant role in our new brand strategy”.
Well, we promised you a slow news week and there you go. Get out there this weekend and enjoy the beginning of summer, and we’ll be back next week with more current auto news headlines. Until then, say hi to your mom for me.