2019 Chevrolet Silverado Diesel Engine Will Be Made in Flint, Michigan

General Motors will produce the diesel engine for the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado at its Flint Engine Operations plant in Michigan, the automaker said today. The news comes about two years after the automaker announced an investment of $263 million to support a new engine line at the plant.

The Chevrolet Silverado diesel engine will join 1.4-liter engines that are currently built at the plant in Flint. These engines are used in the Chevrolet Cruze, Equinox, and Volt.

The 2019 Silverado features a new Duramax 3.0-liter inline six turbodiesel paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Mileage figures haven’t been announced yet, but GM’s Mark Reuss, head of global product development, said it would be better than the competition. That means we could be looking at 30 mpg or more on the highway. Both the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 offer 3.0-liter turbodiesel engines as well.

In addition to the diesel engine, the Silverado will offer 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V-8 engines. These engines will come equipped with technology that can shut off as many as seven cylinders when not needed, helping to boost fuel economy.

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado will enter production at GM’s Fort Wayne, Indiana, assembly plant. Customer deliveries of the truck start this fall.

2019 Hyundai Veloster First Look: Halo Kiddy

Hyundai refers to its quirky one-plus-two-door Veloster coupe as a “reverse halo vehicle,” meaning it’s intended to draw young buyers in and get them hooked so that as they age, start families, and get promoted they’ll buy ever fancier Hyundai cars and utes. In Korea they even sell it under a “Premium Youth Lab” subbrand. Well, it’s hard to keep the kids interested year after year, and this new-for-2012 sporty car is arguably overdue for a do-over. One might expect a more radical redo in a market so fashion-conscious, but the new 2019 Hyundai Veloster certainly won’t be mistaken for anything else.

The continuous sweep of the roof into the backlite, the third half door on the passenger side, and the center exhaust outlet are all faithfully retained in this reimagining of Hyundai’s “city rally car,” but there’s a new wider sunroof, the A-pillars and cowl are moved back to visually extend the length of the hood, and aerodynamic air curtains are fitted to the front and (less expectedly) rear wheels. Up front, LED headlights and daytime running lights flank the new “pouring steel” cascade grille, and at the rear there are new LED taillights, dual centrally positioned exhaust outlets, and a more aggressive diffuser. Overall length increases by 0.8 inch (it’s all in the extended front overhang), and it’s wider by 0.4 inch.

Meanwhile most of what you don’t see has been substantially upgraded. The wheelbase is retained but the chassis shares more Elantra/Kona platform architecture, including the standard multilink rear suspension. The base naturally aspirated engine upgrades from 1.6 to 2.0 liters, gaining Atkinson-cycle efficiency plus 15 more horsepower and 12 additional lb-ft. That adds up to peak ratings of 147 hp at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. A choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions is offered.

The up-level engine is still a 201-hp, 195-lb-ft 1.6-liter turbo, though it’s retuned so that peak torque arrives earlier (1,500 rpm versus 1,750) mated to a six-speed manual or a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic that gets sportier programming to hold lower gears when cornering. And augmenting the sport-tuned intake and exhaust sounds made by these engines will be Active Sound Design noises delivered via the sound system and tailored to the drive modes, which now include normal, sport, and smart.

Chassis-wise, 17-inch aluminum wheels are standard with 18s optional. Four different wheel designs are offered. Michelin Pilot Sport summer tires are available on Turbo models. The steering ratio is also quicker by 10 percent for more agile feeling dynamics.

The 2019 Veloster’s interior design aesthetic was apparently inspired by café racer motorcycles, and it echoes the exterior’s asymmetry. A 7.0-inch display audio system is standard with an optional 8.0-inch display that offers performance gauges for turbo boost, engine torque, and lateral/longitudinal g forces. Qi wireless charging and an Infinity premium audio system are available, as is a wide, full-color pop-up reconfigurable head-up display that can depict speed limit, navigation instructions, adaptive cruise and lane-keep assist icons, and several more warnings along with the more traditional speedometer and tachometer.

New safety features include forward collision avoidance assist, lane keep assist, blind-spot detection with rear cross traffic alert, high-beam assist, and driver attention alert (which analyzes driving behavior, looking for increased lateral movement in lane, sudden increase of steering pattern, or insufficient lane guidance).

2019 Kia Forte First Look: More Stylish and Efficient Compact Now Offers a CVT

The 2019 Kia Forte sedan makes its debut with a sleeker, more coupelike exterior at the 2018 Detroit auto show. Kia says that its compact sedan takes design cues from the Stinger to give it a more aggressive appearance. With its updated powertrain and an all-new CVT option, the 2019 Forte aims to be stylish and fuel efficient.

Unlike most compact sedans, the 2019 Kia Forte adopts a cab rearward exterior, giving it a fastback silhouette and a short trunklid. Designers moved the cowl back 5 inches to achieve this look while giving the car a more planted appearance on the road. Out back, the 2019 Forte has a trim piece connecting both of its taillights, similar to the Sportage crossover. The car has also been stretched by 3.2 inches, making it 182.7 inches long and allowing for more legroom and a larger trunk that now measures 15.1 cubic feet. It also grows slightly in width by 0.7 inch to 70.8 inches and is a half-inch taller at 56.7 inches, improving headroom.

The last-generation Kia Forte sedan won a Big Test comparison test in 2013. Read about it here.

Compared to the outgoing model, the 2019 Kia Forte features a stronger body made of 54 percent advanced high-strength steel and expects the car to receive top crash test scores from the IIHS. The seat frames are also stronger yet lighter, and the body-in-white is 16 percent stiffer. According to Kia, the 2019 model’s new motor-driven power steering system should minimize the artificial feel and friction while the revised suspension geometry improves handling. Throttle and braking feel have also been reworked to smooth out tip-in response and achieve better stopping performance.

Under the hood is a carryover 2.0-liter I-4 running on the Atkinson cycle and is estimated to make 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. It can be couple to either a standard six-speed manual or Kia’s first CVT, dubbed Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT). The automaker worked to ensure its first gearless transmission didn’t have a rubber band feel, which resulted in the addition of a “shifting” logic to make it feel like a conventional automatic. It also features a chain-type belt to help reduce the rubber band effect. Kia wrapped the transmission case in a sound-insulating cover to improve NVH and to ensure that the CVT doesn’t get noisy. The Korean automaker is expecting the new powertrain combination to get 35 mpg in the combined cycle.

Inside, the 2019 Forte comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, which is the centerpiece of its minimalistic cabin. The updated infotainment system comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on all models and can now read text messages on phones linked via Bluetooth. Additional features include full LED headlights, a 320-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system, and a wireless phone charger. A full suite of active safety tech will be offered on the 2019 Kia Forte including blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, which bundles together automatic emergency braking and forward collision braking.

Look for the 2019 Kia Forte to go on sale later this year. A hatchback variant should follow sometime after the sedan, possibly with a 201-hp turbo-four engine option.

Aston Martin Sold 5,000 Cars for the First Time Since 2008

Back in November, we reported that Aston Martin sales were strong enough that it would likely turn a profit in 2017. At the time, it had sold 3,330 cars, an increase of 65 percent for the year. Now that 2017 has drawn to a close, it looks like those record sales continued, helping Aston turn a profit for the year.

Aston Martin says it sold a total of 5,117 cars in 2017, passing the 5,000-car milestone for the first time since 2008. That’s a claimed 58-percent year-over-year sales increase for the British automaker. It credits the newly introduced DB11 for that strong sales performance, as well as the Vanquish S and special editions like the Vanquish Zagato and Vantage GT8.

Even better for Aston Martin, it says it made a yearly profit in excess of $244 million. Granted, that’s only counting earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, which makes it more of an on-paper profit, but it’s still a good sign. When it reports its full-year earnings in March of this year, expect to see more information on exactly how profitable Aston actually was in 2017.

“We continue to perform ahead of expectations, both in terms of financial performance and in meeting our targets for the DB11 and special vehicles. This strong sales performance shows that our Second Century transformation plan is building momentum,” said Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer in a statement. “Phase Two of the program will be largely completed in 2018 with the introduction of the Vanquish replacement and production of the new Vantage, contributing to continued sustainable profitability at Aston Martin.”

The Second Century Plan that Palmer referenced was laid out in August of 2016. It involves introducing seven new models by 2023 and includes the redesigned Vantage, a new Vanquish, the production DBX crossover, two Lagonda-badged sedans, and a mid-engine Ferrari 488 rival.

Tesla Model 3 Deliveries Up to 1,550 in Q4

Tesla announced today that it built 29,870 vehicles this past quarter, including 15,200 Model S sedans, 13,120 Model X SUVs, and 1,550 Model 3 cars. Approximately 3,380 vehicles were still in transit at the end of the fourth quarter, a figure that includes about 860 Model 3 cars. That means a total of slightly more than 2,400 Model 3 vehicles were built last quarter.

The California-based EV automaker says it’s been working hard to solve the problems that have significantly slowed Model 3 production. In the last week of Q4, Tesla says it was able to build 793 Model 3 cars, but by the end of that week, the production speed had increased to the equivalent of 1,000 per week. “As a result of the significant growth in our production rate, we made as many Model 3’s since December 9th as we did in the more than four months of Model 3 production up to that point,” the company said in a statement.

Still, those numbers fall far short of the 20,000 Model 3s per month that Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted back in July.

 

 

At the same time, Q4 was a much better quarter for Model 3 production than Q3. In that time period, Tesla only delivered 220 copies of the Model 3. Assuming Tesla’s current predictions are close to realistic, look for Model 3 production to stay steady at about 2,500 cars per week through Q1 and most of Q2. At the moment, Tesla doesn’t expect to hit that 5,000-per-week mark until the end of Q2.

Lyft, Aptiv to Offer Autonomous Rides at CES

Self-driving tech company Aptiv has partnered with Lyft to offer the public rides in autonomous cars during CES.

The cars will chauffeur people to more than 20 different destinations around Las Vegas where the annual show is held. CES attendees can request a ride from the Las Vegas Convention Center between January 9 and 12. As a precautionary measure, a safety driver will sit in the front seat on every ride, accompanied by an in-car host.

Aptiv spun off from automotive supplier Delphi last year. Delphi offered autonomous rides during last year’s CES on a 6.3-mile loop that included city streets and stretches of highway.

Aptiv recently acquired nuTonomy, a self-driving car software developer that has worked with Lyft on an automated driving pilot program in Boston. Unlike vehicles from some other developers, Aptiv’s automated cars don’t have bulky sensors on the exterior. The company says its technology will be ready for production by 2019.

“This partnership represents a real-life application of scalable, automated driving technology that will have a significant impact on improving safety, emissions and urban congestion challenges,” said Aptiv President and CEO Kevin Clark in a statement.

In the war against Uber, Lyft has acquired a host of partners to bolster its autonomous car ambitions, including Waymo, GM, Ford, and Jaguar Land Rover. Last year, Lyft announced it would give automakers and tech developers access to its network consisting of nearly one million riders a day.

Infiniti Previews Q Inspiration Concept Ahead of Detroit Debut

A few weeks ahead of its official reveal at the 2018 Detroit auto show, Infiniti gives us a peek at the new Q Inspiration concept. This all-new concept is a design study previewing what we can expect from the brand in the near future.

At the moment, we’re only privy to a single rear-three-quarter shot of the car. From the looks of things, it’s still recognizably Infiniti, with distinctive cut-lines and drop-off edges toward the rear of the car. Beyond that, the Q Inspiration appears a bit slab-sided, with a noticeable amount of flat real estate around the doors and portions of the rear quarter panels.

“Experimenting with new proportions in a typically conservative segment, the Q Inspiration features a shorter hood and elongated body,” said Infiniti Executive Design Director Karim Habib, in a release. “We aim to take the traditional sedan architecture to its next stage of evolution.”

At the moment, information remains scarce on both the powertrain and interior design, but it’s expected to pack either an electric/hybridized powertrain or the variable compression four-cylinder found in the new QX50.

2018 Infiniti QX80 First Drive: Same Old, But Better Looking

Big luxury SUVs tend to have long life cycles. There are more years between all-new versions compared with the increasingly short lifespans of today’s small crossovers. And there are fewer choices when it comes to big SUVs that fit entire families and can tow their toys. It means midcycle refreshes are mandatory to stay competitive and keep these profitable land yachts on buyers’ radar screens.

Such is the case for the 2018 Infiniti QX80, which is an upgrade of the second-generation SUV that came out in 2010 as a 2011 model and was called the QX56. But Nissan’s luxury brand deems its 2018 midcycle refresh significant enough that it introduced a design concept, the QX80 Monograph, at the 2017 New York International Auto Show and then introduced the production QX80 at the Dubai auto show in November. The vehicle is headed to dealers now.

Infiniti knows it is a challenger premium brand. The QX80 is up against the all-new Lincoln Navigator that is turning heads and the 2017 Land Rover Discovery was also a full revamp. Over at General Motors, the 2018 Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon Denali use a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Lexus made news at the Los Angeles Auto Show when it said it would add a two-row version of the LX 570 and a three-row version of the RX, calling the new seven-passenger hauler the RX L. Mercedes freshened the GLS for the 2017 model year to go with its name change.

Infiniti sees itself as entrepreneurial with the ability to be a bit scrappy. That is one way to describe the outgoing QX80 that had a love-it-or-hate-it look replete with snub nose. For 2018, from the A-pillar forward has been changed to reflect Infiniti’s new and more upscale look. There is a new front fascia, wider and more upright grille, and raised signature eye-shaped LED headlights and foglights for a front end that is no longer polarizing. The liftgate, taillights, and rear bumper finisher are also new, and the turn signal is now in the rear bumper, which can be hard to see, especially from a vehicle with a high perch.

The overhangs are longer, and the vehicle gained some weight, but fuel economy remains the same at 14/20 mpg in city/highway driving with the rear-drive model and 13/19 with four-wheel drive.

The standard 20-inch wheels have been redesigned, and buyers can opt for new 22-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Softer sidewalls are designed to improve the ride quality

If you like the performance of the current QX80, you will like the 2018 model, as well, because it is the same Nissan Patrol platform, same V-8 powertrain and seven-speed automatic transmission, parking brake on the floor for your left foot to engage, and largely the same ride. The shocks were retuned for additional comfort.

The 5.6-liter engine generates 400 hp at 5,800 rpm and 413 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.  It is still satisfying to hear and feel the rumble of eight cylinders in a world where they are heading toward extinction. The air suspension absorbed bumps well, and there is a self-leveling rear suspension for the body-on-frame SUV that can tow 8,500 pounds. The four-wheel-drive system has a dial to choose auto, 4WD high for snow and light off-road duty, or 4WD Low for heavy off-road.

EV Startup Byton to Show New Autonomous Electric Concept at CES

Byton, a startup based in Santa Clara, California, will show its concept for an autonomous electric vehicle at this year’s CES show. The startup calls its all-electric vehicle a smart device that’s geared toward ridesharing and smart mobility.

Byton says the goal with this concept was to improve the human-vehicle interaction, and expand it to all occupants, not just the driver. Some key features include multiple screens and a dashboard dominated by a Shared Experience Display that allows content to be shared with passengers. In addition to interacting with the car via voice and touch controls, Byton’s all-electric concept car features what it calls Air Touch sensors that allow passengers to control the main display with hand gestures.

To improve the infotainment experience, Byton has added what it calls the Life Cloud Platform, which enables the driver and passengers to connect apps and mobile devices to the car. It also personalizes the car’s settings based on the driver’s preferences. The car uses a security system with cameras that have facial recognition to unlock the vehicle. LED lights inside and outside the car can also be configured to suit different moods and driving situations.

Byton says it will manufacture its autonomous electric vehicle in its plant in Nanjing, China. The Chinese market will be the first to receive the car when it goes on sale there in 2019 followed by the U.S. and Europe in 2020. Following its first vehicle, Byton also plans to produce a sedan and a utility vehicle using the same platform.

Will Audi Offer a New Coupe to Rival the BMW 8 Series?

The Audi Prologue concept turned heads when it debuted at the L.A. auto show in 2014, and even more when we took it for a spin on the roads around Beverly Hills. Given that Audi’s design boss would like to add a two-door coupe to the lineup, it’s possible we haven’t heard the last of the Prologue.

Speaking with Autocar, Marc Lichte indicated that Audi may produce a rival to the BMW 8 Series. However, low demand could pose problems for green-lighting such a car. “I love the shape of a two-door coupé, but it is also true that the [sales] volumes [for them] are much lower than for four-doors,” he said. “In the future, who knows? We have many ideas in this direction.”

The Prologue concept influenced the design of the new Audi A7. But it was also thought to serve as the inspiration for a possible A9 flagship coupe. Incidentally, one of Lichte’s first projects at Audi was the Prologue.

Lichte didn’t indicate when we may see a range-topping two-door coupe join the lineup. But it won’t be before 2019. “First we must launch the A6, then we have the Q8 next year, A1 and Q3,” he said. “We won’t do anything before this. It’s step by step.” Such a model could share underpinnings with the new A8.

BMW showed an 8 Series coupe concept last year, and it’s a jaw-dropper much like the Prologue. The concept ditches the boxy look of its predecessor and features 21-inch alloy wheels and a redesigned three-dimensional kidney grille. A production version has been confirmed for this year.