Annnnnnd we’re back, AutoInfluence with all your current auto news headlines for the week of October 11th. It’s an odd week, with the UAW Strike and upcoming industry trade shows having a clear impact on headlines (or the lack thereof). But with all that said, let’s get down to those stories we do have to cover.
Ford / Lincoln
Even with everything going on, it’s rare that things are as quiet as they’ve been on the Ford front. So, with little choice but to move on…
GM / Chevy / GMC / Buick / Cadillac
It’s now been four weeks that 46,000 GM union workers from across the country have been on strike. This past week, GM CEO Mary Barra met with top UAW officials after GM had issued a new offer to them. The result of that meeting and review of the offer differs depending on the news source, but it has been reported that negotiators have been talking at all levels, indicating that claims of new life being injected into the talks might be accurate. Not that it’s any assurance of a tentative deal to be made as all other indicators are that resolution won’t be reached any time soon. In terms of the big picture, it has been estimated that GM is losing about $82 million each day that the strike continues. On the worker front, GM employees have been forced to support themselves and their families on scarce budgets based on $250 per week strike pay rates. Here’s to hoping talks progress in a manner agreeable and beneficial to all involved.
FCA / Dodge / RAM / Jeep
And since the domestic automotive news drought seems to have continued over at FCA, let’s jump over to Toyota.
Toyota / Lexus
It would be hard to argue Toyota’s pioneering role when it comes to hybrid vehicles; and as of 2020, the Toyota lineup consists of seven hybrid models and one fuel cell vehicle. This week, Toyota announced that they would be extending the duration of the warranty they offer on their hybrid batteries beginning with 2020 model year offerings. Applicable to hybrid, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell EV’s, the previous battery warranty of 8 years / 100,000 miles will now be set at 10 years / 150,000 miles. All other HV components will remain covered under the existing 8 year / 100,000 mile terms. And yes – this change extends to Lexus-branded models as well.
Having mentioned Toyota’s fuel cell offering, let’s talk about the Mirai. We’re still more than a month away from the LA Auto Show, which opens on November 22nd and runs until December 1st. But it’s at the LA Auto Show where Toyota plans to unveil the 2021 Mirai concept. Catalogued as a premium sedan, albeit one with a coupe-inspired design, the 2021 Mirai is slated to be the seventh iteration of the model and will kick off its second-generation. But its most notable feature is fuel economy, with Toyota planning for a 30% increase in driving range. Currently, the 2019 Mirai serves up an estimated range of 312 miles per charge. Of course, there are no hard numbers and the 2021 model being debuted is merely a concept at this point, but a range that surpasses the 400-mile mark certainly deserves some recognition. Keep in mind, however, that the current Mirai is priced to start around $58,500 so it’s reasonable to expect a comparable (or even higher) starting price point for its next-gen model.
But Los Angeles won’t get all the fun when it comes to high-profile concept debuts, with Lexus planning to debut their newest battery EV concept at the tech-centered Tokyo Motor Show, beginning in less than two weeks. There’s not a lot to share at this point, with Lexus doing little more than teasing the reveal to come – but Tokyo reveals tend to be a revelation to the senses. So the automaker’s claim that the concept will “offer a glimpse into their future vision” implies that it’s likely not to be a practical, near production-ready concept. But hey, that’s Tokyo for you.
Honda / Acura
It’s a fairly light news week for both Honda & Acura. But, after receiving 5-star overall scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program as well as a being named Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety both the Acura RLX and MDX have earned a spot on U.S. News & World Reports list of “25 Safest Luxury Cars of 2019”. In the assessment, which rates its winners on a scale of 1-10 on a variety of structural and safety features, the RLX and MDX earned ratings of 9.9 and 9.8, respectively.
Kia / Hyundai / Genesis
Not much to share on this front, but if you’re interested in seeing how the hydrogen fuel-cell powered 2019 Hyundai Nexo fares in a crash test – well – it’s your lucky day. Check it out.
Nissan / Infiniti / Mitsubishi
Keep scrolling. 😉
Yep. Keep going…
It’s been about two weeks since Tesla launched their innovative SmartSummons feature which provides a glimpse of autonomous vehicles to come, since it allows a driver to summon their vehicle to their location within about 200 feet. If you’ve never seen this feature live in-action, it’s pretty cool – and slightly terrifying depending on the circumstances. Best described as “wild, west technology” there have been countless videos of excited users, attempts at use that were aborted out of sheer panic, and even documentation of some slight vehicle miscalculations. Time will tell if there is any sort of crack-down or regulations implemented thrown at Tesla to ensure safe use but, in the meantime, be cautious and careful out there. The roads, they are a-changing.
VW / Audi / Porsche
There’s not a lot to share on behalf of the Volkswagen Group and their respective brands. But it would be hard (and somewhat foolish) to ignore the newest venture set out upon by Porsche and their newest partner, Boeing. That’s right, Porsche is teaming up with the aircraft juggernaut to “explore the premium urban air mobility market and the extension of urban traffic into airspace”. That’s right. They’re building a flying car. Of course, there are no real details, and no financials related to the partnership have been released – and most of us probably probably won’t see any kind of widespread integration of such technology within our lifetimes. But it would appear that Doc Brown was right after all. Where we’re going we don’t need roads.
Over at BMW, there’s a strategy in place to launch at least 12 fully electric models, as well as 13 plug-in hybrids over the course of the next four model years. In terms of battery EV’s we’re already aware of the iX3 SUV, the i4 sedan and iNext SUV which are slated to arrive in that order. But there are also plans by BMW to launch an all-electric hatchback model based on the current 1 series sometime in 2021. Needless to say, with BMW’s new (and impressibly flexible) architecture, the possibilities for introduction of EV offerings is impressively wide.
While last week’s Paris Motor Show was relatively light on revelations, there’s already buzz surrounding next year’s show thanks to Mercedes-Benz who (it appears) will be unveiling a revamped C-Class. What form the next-gen upmarket premium sedan will take remains to be seen, but there is expectation that it will be followed by both coupe and convertible reveals, as well as an EQ-branded EV model within a two year timespan.
And, that’s it for us this week. Just a reminder that we have the 2019 Tokyo Moto Show coming up in a few weeks, beginning on October 24th and running through November 4th. That will be followed almost immediately by the 2019 SEMA Show from November 5th to the 8th, and then by the aforementioned LA Auto Show later the same month. As always, we’ll be here to cover the highlights – but in the meantime, we’ll be back next week with all of your current auto news headlines. Until then, say hi to your mom for me.