BMW in Germany. I've been to Kia's HQ in Korea. I've seen Honda's goods in Japan. No one, from the factory worker to the executive in her pinstriped suit, is more obsessed with cars than Michigan Inc. That's why it was interesting this week to see the state have a moment of introspection four hours north of the Motor City on a scenic island called Mackinac.Ironically, cars are not allowed here. Normally a tourist trap, it played placed host to the Mackinac Public Policy conference this week. While politics took center stage (I may be the only person here not considering a run for governor) the evolution of the industry through connectivity and data was a theme of the conference.If you're reading this in New York, Silicon Valley, or one of the automotive heartlands listed above, you do care about this. If Michigan rethinks its approach to the car business – and makes moves to become more competitive – that affects you the consumer and enthusiast. It's jobs. It's technology, … [Read more...] about Michigan ponders its automotive future in the connected age
Future s r l
motorcycle line of products by 2017, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito announced a handful of exciting new models for the latter two that range from high performance to fuel efficient. While the U.S. news was essentially limited to the confirmation that the Acura RLX will be debuting in production form at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show, Honda fans in Europe have a lot more to look forward to.After a five-year hiatus, Ito confirmed that the Honda Civic Type-R (pictured above) would be returning to Europe in 2015. No details were revealed about this high-output Civic, but Ito did mention that Honda's goal is to make the new Type-R the "fastest front-wheel-drive vehicle on the Nürburgring" where we've already seen the car testing. The Euro-spec Civic Type-R went out of production in 2010 due to stricter European emissions standards. No word as to whether the new Civic Type-R would eventually be offered in the U.S., but don't hold your breath.Also headed to the European market is the upcoming … [Read more...] about Honda CEO confirms return of Civic Type R, announces new Fit-based CUV and super sports bike
Toyota New Group Architecture (TNGA) strategy have come out since the initiative was first reported on in March of this year, but Autoblog did learn a few new things about it on a recent trip to Japan. Probably the second-most important detail is that each new segment platform will be based around a common hip point to create an "optimal driving position architecture."Previously, each car was conceived on its own, so Toyota couldn't extract savings from cars that were close in size. The Etios, sold in Latin America and India, is not much smaller than the Corolla, but the two compacts had two different lead engineers, so they have different hip points and require different manufacturing processes and different kinds of commodity parts like seat belt equipment.A common hip point and driving position, as well as other moves like the an R&D reorganization and the switch to parts engineered for global approval and pooled buying, will allow Toyota to harmonize parts like airbags, pedal … [Read more...] about Toyota fills in details about its future design direction and global platform
Volkswagen is offering all sorts of new Beetle models for 2013, but one that we won't be getting here in the U.S. is the new 2013 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line. Giving a glimpse at what the future might have in store for the high-performance Beetle R, this new R-Line model is defined by its sporty looks.The R-Line model is actually available in two different packages. For buyers just searching for a meaner-looking Beetle, the starting R-Line option offers an exterior upgrade package. The package has features like a more aggressive front fascia with black inserts, a rear diffuser and 18-inch "Twister" alloy wheels. 19-inch polished and painted alloy wheels are available as an upgrade, too. There is also an interior R-Line package that brings two-tone sport seats with an "active-breathing" fabric. This interior upgrade also boasts R-Design logos on the leather-wrapped, flat-bottom steering wheel, embroidered onto the front headrests and rendered in dark metallic inlays throughout the cabin. … [Read more...] about Volkswagen Beetle R-Line cops an attitude
Each week, our German correspondent slices and dices the latest rumblings, news, and quick-hit driving impressions from the other side of the pond. His byline may say Jens Meiners, but we simply call him . . . the Continental.Bentley’s new boss, former Porsche R&D chief Wolfgang Dürheimer, is beginning to put his stamp on the luxury brand. His predecessor, German executive Franz-Josef Paefgen, was said to be “more British than the Brits themselves”—the former Audi chief loves classic cars and was largely responsible for Bentley’s rise since the early past decade. Dürheimer, who arrived from Porsche this February, is now poised to create a far more contemporary image for the brand.One example of this approach is a promotional video for the new Continental GTC, which does not feature long gravel driveways and the expected country manor, but instead a young couple breezing along coastal highways. Clearly, Bentley wishes to be … [Read more...] about The Continental’s L.A. Notebook: Bentley’s New Direction, a Lambo SUV, BMW’s i8 Saves Weight with a Three-Cylinder, and Some Designer Talk
In the next 12 months, GM says we’ll see four new trucks for GMC—and presumably Chevy, too—and two new sedans for Buick. Later, GMC will get a new Canyon mid-size pickup truck, based on the all-new Chevy Colorado. Here’s what you can expect of the new models. Buick LaCrosseFor the 2014 model year, the LaCrosse will get a major reskin and updated technology, including the latest touch-screen iteration of the Intellilink infotainment setup. It’ll be mechanically similar to the new Cadillac XTS and introduced-but-not-on-sale-yet Chevy Impala, offering a hybrid four and a 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 and either front- or all-wheel drive. Once fairly suave, the current LaCrosse’s interior hasn’t aged well; for 2014 it’ll be all new, and judging from the XTS and Impala, modern and high-quality. Buick RegalUnlike the LaCrosse, which will be heavily reworked, the Regal just gets a face lift next year. Figure on some shuffling of the … [Read more...] about Buick and GMC Future Products through 2015: What to Expect
TTAC Commentator Halftruth writes:Hey Sajeev,While watching the Mecum auto auctions recently, a beautiful Plymouth GTX came thru on the auction block. It got me thinking about the rash of brand-icide we’ve seen these past ten or so years. As they pass, others come in.So my question is, are the newbies up to the task? I know Olds, Pontiac and Plymouth kind of slid into oblivion after the glory days but will there be a newly minted brand that you think will have staying power and be a “classic”? Or perhaps an already existing one?Sajeev answers:History is a bizarre thing: when my 1988 Cougar was new, it was quite the head turner. One person tangentially connected to our family was enamored with it. But, 10 years ago, nobody understood why I was pumping thousands into its resto-modification treatment. Why not do it to a Fox Mustang? It’s easier! Why not get an LT-1 Camaro instead? That’s a waaay better car, right?But these … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: Modern Sleeper, Future Classic?
Today, October 21, 2015 at precisely 4:29 p.m., is the time when Marty McFly and Doc Brown (and Marty’s girlfriend) end up in what was in the late 1980s considered “the future” in the movie Back to the Future Part II. The car that got them there? A specially outfitted, time-traveling DeLorean DMC-12. But for as compelling as time travel is—and the 1989 vision for what the year 2015 is like—the DeLorean’s real-life history is far more cinematic. Officially, DeLoreans were sold between 1981 and 1983, but the company’s tale spans much longer and involves multiple criminal trials, the IRA terrorist group in Ireland, the British government, and even the founder of Lotus Cars, Colin Chapman. In the Beginning, There Was StainlessJohn Z. DeLorean was a former manager at General Motors who successfully ran Pontiac and Chevrolet, and just as his future appeared rosiest, he hung it all up in the early 1970s to start an all-new … [Read more...] about Back to the Future: The Rise and Fall of the DeLorean Motor Company
Volkswagen’s American fortune will not come by way of an electric, next-generation Beetle. No, the automaker’s U.S. game plan rests firmly on the success of existing and future utility vehicles. With no new models kicking around to bring to L.A., the automaker decked out its recently introduced second-generation Tiguan in ever-so-edgy R-Line trim and headed to the show.Featuring an added (but not heaping) dose of visual aggression, the Tiguan R-Line, available in the first quarter of 2018, should give crossover buyers something new to look at while the company fleshes out its lineup with new tenants. It’s early days yet, but it seems the company’s crossover push is already working.Let’s be honest — finding the differences between the R-Line and another uplevel Tiguan would be much more difficult if the model shown above wasn’t white. Clearly, adding the R-Line package brings a revamped lower fascia with black-ringed air intakes, front … [Read more...] about Volkswagen Tosses Out an R-Line Tiguan as It Waits for More Crossovers
This is day five of TTAC’s Future Writers Week. We have three new winners. We have seven new contestants. And I have a huge problem.Let’s get to Thursday’s winners first. It looks like you had no problem picking them. Sex, crime, Autobahn and Nürburgring carried the day yesterday. Not quite in that order, but that’s what keeps it interesting. Keeping with the budding writer theme, it was mostly PG13: We did read stories about front bench seats that were used for nothing else than a dumping ground for fast food residue, we learned about a pervert who did not want to party with people half his age, and who preferred an affair with a Peugeot instead. It was a winning combination. Yesterday’s winners are:Andrew Lok, a.k.a. Contestant #28Matt Oppen, a.k.a. Contestant #22Sean Scoggins, a.k.a. Contestant #24We congratulate thee! With the votes and confidence of your peers, you have advanced into the ranks of TTAC’s Future Writers. Hold your horses, … [Read more...] about TTAC Future Writers Week: Help! Help! I’m Drowning!