Annnnnnd we’re back…AutoInfluence with all your current auto news headlines for the week of August 30th – heading into Labor Day Weekend, here in the states. Now, last week, we had offered a rundown of the various auto shows waiting for us right around the corner. And if you needed any greater evidence that auto show season is almost upon us, the brevity of this week’s podcast is a great indicator. That’s right, we’re experiencing that pre-show lull, with automakers bottling up all their exciting updates and reveals for the weeks and months to come. But that’s okay, right? I mean, after all, ‘taking it easy’ is what Labor Day’s all about!
Ford has announced four separate safety recalls. The first (Recall ID# 19C07) is based around a faulty recliner mechanism that might compromise the strength of the seat itself, reducing the amount of protection offered to an occupant in the event of a crash. The recall affects 483,325 vehicles in the United Sates, 58,712 vehicles in Canada and 8,149 vehicles in Mexico. Affected vehicles include 2018-20 F-150, 2019-20 SuperDutys, 2018-20 Explorers, 2019-20 Expeditions and 2020 Lincoln Aviators.
The second (Recall ID# 19S26) is based around a risk of corrosion on the steer gear motor attachment bolts, used by insufficient coating followed by use in high-corrosion environments such as high salt-use states. This recall affects 90,646 vehicle sin the U.S. and 8,134 vehicles in Canada. Affected vehicles include 2013-16 Fusion, 2015-16 Edge, 2013-16 Lincoln MKZ and 2016 Lincoln MKX.
The third (Recall ID# 19S27) surrounds the risk of leaking brake calipers on 2019 Ford Fiestas, affecting 2,642 vehicles in the United States – only 50 of which have been delivered to customers.
Finally, a recall (ID# 19S28) issued out of concern on battery junction-box corrosion on 2012-13 Ford Fiestas. This recall affects 13,564 vehicles in Canada alone.
GM / Chevy
As we mentioned it’s been a fairly light news week – even over at General Motors – of course, GM might have been too busy ducking and weaving the onslaught of tweets from President Trump criticizing the automaker for their diminished presence in Detroit.
But an unsubstantiated leak may have just let the cat out of the bag regarding the various powertrains to be offered up for the mid engine C8 Corvette. While it’s little more than speculation at this point, the leak indicates that the base 6.2-liter LT2 V8 might be joined by a 32-valve 5.5-liter LT6 V8 engine rated for 600hp and 620 lb-ft of torque, as well as a twin-turbo variant called the LT7 capable of delivering 850hp and 750 lb-ft of torque. The implication is that the former might be under the hood of the Grand Sport, with the latter to be found in either the Z06 or ZR1, and it makes some sense (at least as far as wild speculation goes). In addition, the leak alleges the inclusion of a badass 5.5-liter LT7 hybrid good for 850hp and 922 lb-ft of torque for the C8 range-topping offering (whatever it may be). Time will tell if these rumors end up being confirmed.
FCA / Dodge / RAM / Jeep
Fans of Mopar Editions unite, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mopar Edition customization, the 2019 Dodge Challenger receives a limited North American run of 100 units – decked out with Shakedown graphics and badging. Pricing for this limited run will start around $45,835.
And, while it’s only been a few months since its release, numbers are in for the 2020 Jeep Gladiator and it’s beating out the Wrangler…well, at least in terms of dollars spent to optimize the overall experience of owning a Gladiator. Of course, Gladiator owners have already proven themselves willing to dig deep by making the purchase itself – especially since the average buyer paid out around $56,403 between the initial purchase, and special options and upgrades. But in terms of aftermarket accessories, while it’s estimated that the average Wrangler buyer spends an average of $800 right out of the gate to customize their off-roaders, the average Gladiator owner is spending about 25% more – totaling as much as $1000 in their first wave of upgrades.
Toyota / Lexus
Like most every other automotive news outlet out there, we’ve long-since run out of fingers on which to count the number of recalls centered around defective Takata airbags. To-date, recalls cross most every automaker lineup, and have totaled in the millions. But Toyota has announced a new recall for 191,000 vehicles – to replace the airbags installed in a previous recall – under suspicion that they may too be damaged. This new recall relates to Toyota Corollas produced between 2003-2008 and Matrix produced between 2005-2008. The recall consists of 135,000 U.S. vehicles and affected parties will be contacted by first class mail. They can also confirm if they are affected by searching their VIN# on Toyota.com/recall or nhtsa.gov/recalls
And while it’s been a light news week overall for Toyota, some overseas spy photography seems to introduce the possibility that the automaker might be expanding their plug-in offerings to reach further than just the Prius Prime. And that addition might come in the form of the ever-popular RAV4 – although we have no formal confirmation that Toyota plans to offer it, stateside – or anywhere. But with Honda reportedly developing a plug-in version of the Pilot, and most every other automaker embracing an EV future, it would make sense that Toyota (who has, historically, been lagging behind when it comes to plug-ins) would want to play ball. That said, we can only hope they plan to upgrade the battery from 8.8-kilowatt battery used in the Prius Prime. At this point, it would be hard to justify launching a new offering with less than a 25-mile electric range.
Over at Lexus, the media seems to be playing a new role in determining the long-term strategy when it comes to their V10 supercar, the LFA. With full-scale production discontinued back in 2012 (after a run of 500 units) discussion of a revival has never really gone away – but with only the most modest of sales conveying the most modest of interest, Lexus VP Koji Sato has all but put the fate of the LFA in the hands of the automotive media. Stating, “We need your help. We need strong requests for a new LFA from the media. This can help us proceed.” There’s nothing resembling an assurance of the LFA’s return but, considering that only five units have been sold in North America over the last two years, it’s hard to believe that there’s enough genuine interest to justify a relaunch.
Honda has expanded their Certified PreOwned program in order to make it more expansive, and now includes two separate tiers. HondaTrue Certified is a rebranded version of the standard program which will focus on 2014 and newer models, driven more than 12,000 miles. HondaTrue Certified+ will focus on model year 2018 and newer, specifically with less than 12,000 miles. Both will still offer a limited 7-year / 100,000-mile warranty while the standard program warranty will be 12-months / 12,000 miles, and the Certified+ program warranty will be set at 24-months / 50,000 miles.
And Honda has announced finalization of an innovative new airbag technology that they plan to integrate beginning in 2020. According to the automaker’s media site, their “next-generation airbag is designed to reduce the potential for injuries that can occur in a wider variety of frontal impacts. It is particularly beneficial in angled frontal impacts in which lateral collision forces can cause an occupant’s head to rotate severely or slide off the airbag, increasing the chance of serious injury. Unlike conventional airbag systems that rely on a single inflatable compartment, the new system utilizes four major components: three inflated compartments — a center chamber and two outward-projecting side chambers that create a wide base across the dash — along with a “sail panel” that stretches between the two side chambers at their outermost edge. Operating something like a baseball catcher’s mitt, the sail panel catches and decelerates the occupant’s head while also engaging the side chambers, pulling them inward to cradle and protect the head, mitigating the potential for injury. ”
Hyundai / Kia / Genesis
With relatively little to report on when it comes to Hyundai and Kia, Hyundai Motor Group has released an announced meant regarding their prototype electric scooter first teased back at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2017. In its current form, the collapsible rear-wheel drive scooter weighs around 17lbs, comes powered by a chargeable lithium battery capable of a 12-mile range, has a modified front-end suspension and both front and rear LED lights. There is even intention to modify it further, by adding a regenerative braking system designed to increase the range of the scooter by 7%. But why is this interesting? Well, the intentions is to begin integrating these scooters into future Hyundai Motor Group vehicles. When mounted within the vehicle, the scooters are charged, making them readily available as a means of secondary and emergency transportation. It’s a novel idea, but one that actually makes some applicable sense in real world scenarios.
Nissan / Infiniti / Mitsubishi
And Nissan shares in having little to offer in the way of headlines, even with continual speculation regarding their revived merger talks with Renault. There’s really nothing new to share on that front – or with Infiniti and Mitsubishi for that point – so, here we are, with little choice but to move on to…
Which would have been nice if Mazda had anything of import to share this week. I mean, there’s the announcement that the automaker will be changing consumer loan and lease financing partners, leaving J.P. Morgan for Toyota Financial Services, effective April 1st of 2020. But aside from that, there’s really nothing to share on the Mazda front.
Elon Musk’s recent visit to China proved a success in ticking several boxes on Tesla’s to-do list. But the most notable accomplishment came in the announcement that certain Tesla EV offerings will earn exemption status in regard to the December 15th restart of the 25% auto tariff which the Chinese government had decided to hit ‘pause’ on back in April. The models which have earned that exemption are the Model 3, Model S and Model X.
Volkswagen / Audi / Porsche
Skipping over the uncharacteristically quiet Volkswagen, Audi has chosen to play havoc with the English language this week by announcing an update for the 2020 Audi A3. The update which features either either red or black leather upholstery with contrast stitching, a unique three-spoke / flat-bottom steering light, and underbody lighting effects (among other highlights) has been named ‘The Final Edition’. This, of course, is an odd name considering that the next-gen A3 has been in development, propelled by the A3’s soaring popularity with young consumers. Which begs the question, does Audi know what the word ‘final’ means? That’s not our place to answer, but it’s certainly created some confusion among the segment of our population that runs rampant based on poorly-worded headlines. And, if your social media newsfeed is anything like ours, you probably know a few of them, yourselves.
And it’s just about a week before Porsche unveils the highly-anticipated Taycan electric sedan. For those of you unfamiliar with early reports on the EV Taycan, it will come equipped with an overboost feature that unlocks over 700hp for a 2.5 second period, capable of propelling the Taycan to 60mph in under three seconds. Even without utilizing the overboost feature, the Taycan still delivers 600hp as well as a 300-mile range, offering a reassuring reminder that electrification doesn’t necessarily equate to compromise when it comes to performance.
BMW is pitching what they called “the blackest black” courtesy of the 2020 BMW X6, a crossover which is being offered with the option of a Vantablack VBx2 coating. Absorbing more than 99% of visible light – the Vantablack X6 (which you can the featured image of by visiting this podcast on AutoInfluence.com) delivers a confusing visual effect, obscuring the finer details of the third-gen X6’s body styling. And, apparently, that’s the goal. In fact, here’s an even closer look, for anyone as interested in Vantablack as we are…
And that about wraps things up for us, this week. Here’s another reminder that we have the 2019 International Motor Show coming up in Frankfurt Germany, running from September 12th to the 22nd. Of course, we’ll be back one more time before then, so check back next Friday for the week’s current auto news — and then we’ll talk more from Frankfurt!
In the meantime, get out there an enjoy the last big weekend of the summer months, and say hi to your mom for me.