Ferrari Releases 2 New Models, One with-out a Windshield

Ferrari debuted two new models at the Paris Motor Show, one of which does not have a windshield.  The models are both modern with carbon fiber skin and the fastest V-12 engine Ferrari has ever offered.  One of which is capable of hitting 125 miles an hour in under 8 seconds.  The two models are part of a new operation the Italian automakers is launching, and it will focus on bringing back the classic design concepts found in the past.

It’s part of the new strategy Ferrari has launched since the company went public in 2015, adding a variety of new models to help boost demand. The cars will be exclusive, with plans to build only 499 models.  Ferrari will only sell these to their best customers and collectors, meaning it’s by invitation only.  The two models are almost identical, while one version only holds one passenger and the other may hold two.

The super-light and ultra-strong carbon fiber bodies replace the hand-rolled and hammered aluminum that was the norm among exotic automakers in the years after World War II. That reduces weight, improves performance, and improves safety.

The models are unique in the fact that is neither have a windscreen.  Instead, the cars rely on a concept called “Virtual Wind Shield” which uses aerodynamic tricks to route air around occupants. Though modeled after classic race cars, Ferrari claims the SP1 and SP2 will be street legal. It remains uncertain if the cars, sans windshields, will be approved by U.S. regulators, however. They might require some modifications, or the use of helmets.

Speculation is that the vehicle will run between $2 million and $3 million dollars.

48,000 Mazda6 Sedans Recalled Over a Rust Problem

Mazda has announced a recall on almost 49,000 of its 2009 and 2019 Mazda6 Sedans due to a suspension component that may rust to the point that it breaks.  Broken parts results in drivers losing control of their vehicles.  Because this component is more likely to rust if it is exposed to rod salt,  the recall is limited to vehicles that were sold or registered in “salt states” where weather is typically colder.

This includes Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

There have been no crashes or injuries related to the issue according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  One way to tell if your vehicle is affected is to plug your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number into the NHTSA’s website.

The Details:

Vehicles recalled: Certain Mazda6 sedans manufactured in Flat Rock, Mich., from Feb. 4, 2008 through Oct. 1, 2010.

The problem: Mazda says it didn’t apply enough paint to a part of the vehicle’s suspension, so rust may occur if the car is exposed to road salt. A rusted component could break and the driver may lose control, which could lead to a crash.

The fix: Mazda says its dealers will inspect affected vehicles and either fix or replace the faulty component.

How to contact the manufacturer: The recall is expected to begin on Nov. 12, 2018. Owners may contact Mazda customer service at (800) 222-5500.

NHTSA campaign number: 18V631. Mazda’s own number for this recall is 2818I.

Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: NHTSA’s website will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.

Chevy Drivers Have Saved 108 Million Gallons of Gas To Date

As of October 2018,  Chevy reports that Chevrolet Volt owners contributed to reducing the amount of gas consumers use.  In total, it was reported that 147,000 Chevrolet Volts in the U.S. have covered approximately 2.6 billion miles, and saved 108 gallons of gas.

The Volt is equipped with one of the largest batteries available for cars today, which gives a range of about 53 miles.  Chevy has reported that the 2019 model year will increase this even more.

GM has also reported that the sales of the Chevrolet Volt have not specifically grown in the last few years.  The company is also approaching the federal tax credit limit, which will trigger a phase out of incentives- so the Volt will likely not expand in the market.

General Motors To Offer Their Own add-on Warranty

General Motors has announced that they are giving new-vehicle buyers the option to add two years onto their factory warranty.  The program is optional, and begins October 2018.  The warranty lengthens the factory 3-year/36,000 mile limited warranty on Chevrolet and GMC vehicles.  For Buick and Cadillac, the extension lengthens the warranty to 6 years/70,000 miles.

Pricing for the warranty will be left up to dealers.  GM suggests that they charge $1000-$2000 based on the price and type of vehicle.  The cost would be added to the vehicle price and rolled into their monthly payment.

“It keeps the GM customer experience pure, inside the GM system,” said Ken Mac, director of Chevrolet-Buick-GMC and Cadillac Protection. “We really believe the more pure you keep your GM experience, the better it is for you the consumer and the GM dealer.”

Several dealers reported having mixed feelings about the program.   They say that there is a risk associated that would help the manufacturer more than the stores.  However, some feel that the warranty is innovative and will help the dealer sell more cars as well as retain more service customers.

Factories Say Tariffs Hurting Their Business

The recent administration says that tariffs on Chinese imports will shift manufacturing back to the United States, but some small to midsize factories are saying that the tariffs are hurting their business.  Many of these factories including automotive, rely on steel tubes cut in China for painting and welding.  One plant noted that they planned to hire another 40 workers, and because of the tariffs has decided to hold back.

The Trump administration says the tariffs are designed to counter what it sees as unfair trade practices that give Chinese firms the advantage over their U.S. counterparts. Some U.S. manufacturers have also reported an increase in revenues as it has forced customers to rethink supply chains.  However, other automotive companies have said that the U.S. tariffs are raising their costs and making them less competitive.

Some companies hit by tariffs aren’t only raising prices to offset the added costs, but some are delaying plans to expand within the U.S. while they search for other offshore production options.  One nonprofit that helps manufacturers make decisions about relocating production stated that “overall, manufacturing in the short-term, the U.S. is worse off because of the tariffs.”

ARE TRUCKS & SUVS BECOMING THE “LUXURY SPORTS CARS” IN AUTO LEASING?

Vehicle Lease Preferences Show Noticeable Changes in Type of Vehicle, Term, Brand Loyalty

Swapalease.com, the nation’s largest car lease marketplace, unveiled today new analysis of its marketplace trends that show a culture of automotive preferences that continues to be redefined by America’s enchantment of trucks and SUVs. The analysis shows interesting preference trends that have changed for auto leasing that may help the industry understand what consumers want in a lease.

Trucks & SUVs Replacing Luxury Sports Sedans

During the second quarter of 2016, roughly 27.5% of Swapalease.com drivers listed their vehicle under the category of “luxury sports sedan”, while another 24.0% listed their vehicle as either a truck or an SUV. During the second quarter of 2018 these numbers essentially reversed, with 22.8% listing a luxury sports sedan and 27.2% listing a truck or an SUV as their current vehicle lease.

As far as the type of vehicle consumers “want” to drive, 30.3% listed an SUV during the second quarter of 2018, and this number increased to 32.9% in 2018. For small cars, this number dropped from 7.1% in 2016 down to 6.7% in 2018.

Shorter Terms Continue To Increase

Vehicle leases have historically been written for either 36- or 39-month terms. However, during the second quarter of 2016 roughly 50.1% of drivers said their ideal lease term was for two years; this number increased to 54.1% during the second quarter of 2018. For a three-year lease, 42.8% listed this term as ideal in 2016; while only 39.4% listed this term as ideal in 2018.

Domestic vs. Import Leases | Brand Loyalty

Historically, the majority of leases written were for foreign brands, and this trend seems to be growing over the last few years. Approximately 66.0% of drivers said they were currently driving a foreign brand for their lease in 2016, and this number increased slightly to 68.2% in 2018. What’s more, while 44.7% said they wanted their next vehicle lease to be with a different brand in 2016, this number increased to 49.9% in 2018.

“America continues to say they want to drive trucks and SUVs rather than smaller cars, and this is especially true in a lease environment,” said Scot Hall, Executive Vice President of Swapalease.com. “We still see very attractive and aggressive deals on smaller car leases, and we certainly don’t think these will go away any time soon, but it would be wise for dealers, OEMs and even lenders to take note of this trend to build lease offers around their trucks and SUVs to satisfy this growing demand further.”
About Swapalease.com:

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Swapalease.com is the world’s largest automotive lease marketplace and the pioneer in facilitating lease transfers online. More specifically Swapalease.com matches individuals who want to get out of their lease with people who are looking for short-term lease agreements. Prospective buyers can search the listings for the exact vehicle they want, and then register for a nominal fee, allowing them to use Swapalease.com’s safe online system to contact the prospective seller and close the deal. For more information about Swapalease.com or how to exit your lease early, call 866-SWAPNOW or visit www.swapalease.com.

Nissan to Leverage Technology to Defy Sedan Slump

Next month Nissan will launch the 2019 redesigned Altima and hopes to challenge the industry decline of sedan sales. For a long time, Americans have been abandoning sedans for crossovers, SUVs, and trucks.

Nissan plans to alter the reality of the automobile market and leave consumers reconsidering sedans, particularly the 2019 Altima. Previous models had a lot less tech, now Nissan is employing the most concentrated technology they ever have.
Consumers want tech and are choosing to forgo other preferences, like vehicle style, color, and brand, for a high-tech ride. The new Altima places an emphasis on new technology. Nissan is packing the new Altima with all wheel drive, new variable compression engine and advanced safety technology including their ProPilot Assist and Safety Shield 360 which boasts rear automatic braking.

Altima sales in the U.S are off 16% this year along with the overwhelming decline in demand for sedans over the past six years.

Despite success with crossovers, notably the Rogue, decline in sedan demand has remained an issue for Nissan. Nissan is still seen as a “car brand” and continues to rely on sedan sales.

Chairman, Denis Le Vot, recognizes the massive decline in sedan sales but remains hopeful, predicting they will return. His reasoning is that higher interest rates will push price-sensitive buyers away from pricey SUVs and crossovers, leading them back to sedans. By incorporating awd, consumers who want the safety of an SUV will be reassured by the new Altima.

For Le Vot, this is just the beginning. He hinted that all Nissan sedans will be enhanced in the coming years and follow Altima with redesigns.

Ford Halts Plans to Bring Focus Active Crossover to U.S

The new Ford Focus was introduced last year and it seemed like a promising vehicle to challenge the best cars in the crossover segment. Shortly after, Ford announced that instead of the focus, the US would get the Focus Active. Yet again, plans have changed in response to Trump’s imposed tariffs and resulting higher cost of building small cars in the U.S.

U.S plans for the Focus Active are no longer. The automaker explains profits would not be enough to import the vehicle made in China and blames the Trump administration’s tariffs. In addition, the automaker was expecting to sell a small number of the vehicle each year in the United States has also contributed to the decision.

The president of Ford North America notes in lieu of tariffs, costs would be substantially higher and resources could be better allocated. In a tweet Donald Trump suggested Ford begin building the vehicle in the United States, however, the automaker notes that this is easier said than done.

Based on an expected sales volume of less than 50,000 units each year, it would not be profitable. A Ford spokesperson highlighted Ford’s manufacturing presence in the United States noting 80% of Ford vehicles sold in the U.S are built in the U.S proving that the decision made is based on cost.

The Focus Active is the first vehicle to halt plans in the U.S following the tariffs but unlikely to be the last. There are many complexities to face with tariffs and their effect on global supply chains.

GM Recalls Over 1 Million Trucks and SUV’s

General Motors has issued a recall in the United States for over 1.2 million Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac vehicles.

The recall extends to 2015 SUV and pickup truck models including the Escalade, Yukon, Tahoe, Suburban, Silverado, and Sierra. Of those, the Silverado has proven the most affected model with over 450,000 included in the recall.

Thus far, GM is aware of 30 accidents and 2 injuries related to the issue prompting recall. Drivers of the affected vehicles may encounter a temporary loss of power steering. GM states this most likely occurs while taking low-speed turns. The abrupt loss of power steering is extremely dangerous and can reduce driver control of the vehicle and increase the risk of an accident or collision.

GM will contact owners of the affected vehicles and instruct hem to make an appointment with their local dealership. From there, dealers will fix the vehicle at no cost to the owner. To solve the issue, updates will be made to the vehicle software system. A date has not been set for when the recall will begin, however GM has a recall search tool online to check if your vehicle has been affected.

Volkswagen seeks to minimize risk with autonomous vehicle alliance

Volkswagen is in discussion with more than 15 companies to consider partners for an industry wide alliance.

The is looking to build a team with other automakers to develop self-driving technology. VW believes joining forces will help them to create an industry standard for autonomous driving technology and provide further legal protection in the case of accidents involving autonomous cars.

With the alliance, Volkswagen intends to bring products to the market that diminish damage claims. To create an industry standard, automakers would use the same sensor kit and software. The idea revolves around sharing costs, risk, and additional liabilities. If an automakers vehicle is involved in an accident, the company would have a greater chance to prove the vehicle is compliant with technical standards.

Autonomous cars are the future and the race to bring them to market is on. It may be difficult to bring competing engineers to work together on the venture but immense liability and regulatory complications that accompany autonomous intelligence provide good reason.

Concerns regarding damage claims and lawsuits involving autonomous vehicles elevated after an accident involving a self-driving Volvo being tested by Uber struck killed a pedestrian earlier this year. The car failed to recognize the pedestrian and brake.

A VW Group executive notes “I don’t believe we are the only ones asking ourselves if we really want to take on these kinds of risks”.