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First Drive: 2018 Lexus NX 300h

New version boasts an improved powertrain and expansive interior.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.15, 2018

The 2018 Lexus NX 300h features an updated powertrain that provides plenty of power right away without the hard shifts.

Lexus doesn’t have the long history of Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac or BMW but over the years it has succeeded in pushing innovation and change within the luxury segment, which for most of the auto industry’s history was built around expensive sedans.

However, as the prices of new vehicles have climbed and what was once considered luxury equipment winds up in more and more cars, sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks, brands such as Lexus are being forced to reconsider what defines luxury.

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The 2018 Lexus NX 300h certainly doesn’t look like a traditional luxury vehicle, inside or out. But it has plenty of the attributes long connected to luxury vehicles such as a quiet cabin, comfortable interior and a smooth ride powered by some of the latest and most sophisticated technology. (more…)

Automakers on Edge Over Possibility of New Tariffs

Commerce Dept. findings key to Trump administration's plans.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.14, 2018

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is leading the Section 232 investigation into whether or not imported automobiles and parts represent a threat to the United States.

While the U.S. midterm elections have passed, carmakers are waiting on a final decision from the Trump administration on the Section 232 investigation. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 allows the White House to use national security grounds to impose tariffs on vehicles and auto parts imported into the U.S.

The industry’s lobbyists have said they were expecting the U.S. Department of Commerce, which is responsible for the investigation, to issue its ruling soon, perhaps this week well ahead of the February deadline fixed by the statute. The general assumption is the report will offer Trump a chance to impose new tariffs on autos and auto parts made in Europe and Asia.

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The 232 query has become a major issue for the Japanese government of Shinzo Abe, which has spent weeks trying to defuse the administration’s threat to impose tariffs that could have a major impact on the Japanese auto industry. (more…)

Lexus Launches Key Holiday Advertising Campaign

The originator of the "holiday" sales push, kicks off its latest round.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.13, 2018

Lexus, which essentially originated the holiday season ad campaigns for automakers, is kicking off its latest round of ads.

The traditional American holiday season, stretching from Thanksgiving to New Year, has long been marked by parties, celebration and football but in recent years it also has become a critical period for selling cars, SUVs and trucks.

For the 19th consecutive year, Lexus, one of the brands instrumental helping make the holiday season in into a major period for marketing vehicles, is launching its annual “December to Remember” Sales Event this week.

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The marketing campaign began with three national spots, showcasing how the gift of a Lexus during the holidays offers experiences throughout the entire year. It has since been copied by others in the industry such as Mercedes-Benz and GMC. (more…)

Renault, Alliance Partners Boost Investment in France

Group invests $1.6B in the country in the past year.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.12, 2018

Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron, center, tour Renault's plant in northern France.

Renault plans to build new Nissan and Mitsubishi vans at plants in France, raising investment in the country as it continues to explore a tighter integration of the three-way carmaking alliance.

The announcement, which timed to coincide with a plant visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, “underlines the importance of France for the alliance,” Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi said in a statement.

Global News!

Renault will build a new Nissan NV250 delivery van at the Maubeuge factory in northern France, which has been hard hit by de-industrialization. The new van will be built on an architecture shared with its own Kangoo model that includes an electric version, the alliance said in a statement. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado RST Crew Cab

Laden with new tech, plenty of power and impressively quiet.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.09, 2018

GM is counting on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado RST to be competitive in the full-size pickup sales battle.

The auto industry is a global industry and highly competitive. But few segments of the business are anywhere near as competitive as the pickup truck market in U.S. where Ford, Ram, Chevrolet and their respective corporate managers are engaged in intense contest for sales and bragging rights.

The contest of has gotten even more intense lately as all three manufacturers have introduced new trucks.

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I recently got to drive the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – a four-wheel-drive RST Crew Cab Silverado to be precise – and it is far cry from the old trucks that have helped make the American pickup into something of a legend and the object of enormous affection and desire. (more…)

Hyundai Set to Debut New Large Ute – Palisade – at LA Auto Show

New seven-passenger ute coming to U.S. next year.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.08, 2018

Can you guess the name of Hyundai's newest member of its SUV line-up? Yup. Palisade.

Hyundai continues to expand its SUV portfolio, looking to turn around sluggish sales after missing the utility craze by a few years. The new three-row sport utility vehicle is named Palisade and hits dealer showrooms next year.

Mike O’Brien, Hyundai vice president of product, corporate and digital planning, said the new name carries with it connotations of luxury strength and safety.

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“The Palisade is place and a fortress,” he said, recounting that a Palisade can mean either a place with towering cliffs topped either by a castle or expensive homes. A palisade also means a fortification, he said. (more…)

Former Auto Designer Elected to Michigan Senate

"Build that wall" chant by middle schoolers pushed her into politics.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.08, 2018

Former auto designer Mallory McMorrow is now Michigan state senator-elect Mallory McMorrow.

In a first, a car designer is going to the Michigan State Senate in Michigan come January.

“Everybody thinks I’m a lawyer,” said Mallory McMorrow, but her experience as an automotive designer proved useful in striking up conversation as she campaigned across her state Senate District that includes a large portion of suburban Oakland County, just north of Detroit, against a seemingly entrenched incumbent whose father had also served in Congress for 16 years.

Insight!

McMorrow studied industrial and car design at Notre Dame University, and in 2007 she won a design contest that led to a six-month internship while working on high profile projects such as a concept Mazda3. However, she admits, somewhat wistfully, her stint at Mazda was cut short by the Great Recession.   (more…)

More UAW, FCA Officials Sentenced in Bribery Scandal

Borman declared no leniency for defendants.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.07, 2018

The UAW long tried to maintain a squeaky clean reputation, but the scandal has sorely tarnished its image.

Two former Fiat Chrysler Automobile N.V. officials and one former leader of the United Auto Workers have been sentenced to prison terms, ranging from 12 months to 15 months, for their part in a conspiracy to violate federal labor law.

The sentences imposed on FCA’s Michael Brown and Jerome Durden as well as the UAW’s Keith Mickens come more than two years after the federal government announced indictments triggered by a scheme in which FCA officials used subterfuge to bribe union officials in a bid to secure labor peace.

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Former FCA Vice President Alphons Iacobelli, a central figure in the case, was sentenced to five and a half years in a federal prison, while Monica Morgan, the widow of former UAW VP General Holiefield, one of the central figures in the scheme, was sentenced to 18 months prison earlier this year after pleading guilty to federal tax charges.

(more…)

GM Moves to Close Ohio Parts Warehouse

Company building new site in Michigan.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.07, 2018

GM officials break ground on $65 million ACDelco and Genuine GM Parts processing facility.

General Motors is moving to close a warehouse outside of Dayton, Ohio, as it re-aligns its parts distribution system.

Jim Cain, GM spokesman, told TheDetroitBureau.com the closing of the Ohio warehouse does not represent a cutback. The labor team at West Chester was informed in June that work for would be transferring to a new facility sometime in 2019, Cain said in an e-mail.

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“The new facility is under construction in Burton, Michigan,” he added. The United Auto Workers had no immediate comment. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Mazda6 Signature

Company continues its pairing of sportiness and comfort in this sedan.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.06, 2018

Mazda is staying the midsize sedan game and its latest iteration of the Mazda6 is one of the better options.

Sedans have fallen out of favor with motorists in the United States sales tallies suggest. Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobile N.V. indicate, with the exception of muscle cars, they are prepared to exit the segment, perhaps for good.

But the midsize sedan segment remains one of the largest in the business; accounting for sales of more than an estimated 1.5 million units and drawing interest from key manufacturers such Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Mazda, specifically with its Mazda6.

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Mazda has made a substantial effort to re-engineer its midsized sedan for 2018 and while its predecessor was awfully good, the 2018 Mazda6 with its retuned suspension, quieter cabin and revamped connectivity, has been made even better. (more…)