Auto Notes - August 2019
Trade tariffs. In late June, more than 600 associations and companies sent a multi-industry letter urging the Trump administration to avoid tariffs and reach a resolution on products imported from and exported to China. The “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” campaign is supported by more than 150 trade associations, including several representing the automotive industry.
In that letter, and during later testimony to U.S. trade officials, hundreds of associations and companies said that tariffs on the $300 billion targeted imports from China would result in higher product costs for Americans and loss of jobs in the U.S.
Auto Care Association CEO William Hanvey has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the increased tariffs and said the association’s members would experience heavy financial strains from absorbing tariff-related costs.
As of press time, some tariff restrictions are on hold with China as trade negotiations are scheduled to be held by the Trump administration, but other tariffs remain in place until a final agreement is reached on the trade war.
New Mercedes compact. Mercedes-AMG has unveiled its new compact sports car, the CLA 45. “We have completely redesigned our 45 models, from the engine and transmission through the chassis, the elaborately constructed drivetrain to the body structure, plus of course, the design itself,” said Tobias Moers, Mercedes-AMG chairman of the management board.
“It’s all with one goal – to raise the vehicle dynamics and sporty driving experience to a level previously unimaginable in the compact class,” Moers said.
The CLA 45 is powered by a developed M139 2.0-L engine (0-60 MPH in four seconds), the world’s most powerful turbocharged engine in a production series. It creates 382 HP and is mated to a new AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT-8G dual-clutch transmission with eight gears.
With a “shark nose” and deeply contoured headlamps, the CLA 45 also has a distinctive front bumper and jet-like external air inlets. There are also twin tailpipes and two-piece rear taillights. Standard are 19-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels with high-quality 19-inch tires.
On sale in the U.S. later this year, the 2020 CLA 45 has a standard variable all-wheel-drive system with Torque Control in the new rear axle differential.
New minivan. FCA US has added the Chrysler Voyager to its multi-award-winning minivan lineup. The 2020 Voyager has seven-passenger seating, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone capability, wider entry doors, a next-generation Pentastar V-6 engine, TorqueFlite nine-speed transmission, and a seven-inch touchscreen.
Designed for budget-friendly family and fleet customers, the Voyager replaces the Pacifica L and LX models to now offer Voyager L, LX, and LXi (fleet only) value-added models. The LXi trim has UltraTec leatherette seats for fleet rental customers, plus Stow n’ Go storage in the second row, a Stow n’ Place roof rack, and other features.
FCA US has sold 14.6 million minivans globally since 1983, twice as many as any other manufacturer over the 35- year period, and the new Voyager model is expected to increase sales numbers. Starting price is expected to be in the $28,000 range.
In Memoriam: Lido (Lee) Anthony Iacocca, 94, known as an iconic auto industry leader, died, July 2, in Los Angeles. Born to Italian immigrants Oct. 15, 1924, in Allentown, Pa., he joined Ford Motor Co. in 1946 after obtaining an undergraduate degree at Lehigh University and a master’s degree in engineering at Princeton. Iacocca worked in Ford’s engineering and sales departments prior to becoming vice president and general manager of the Ford division in 1960. He was hailed for bringing the Ford Mustang to market in 1964, and in 1970 he was named Ford president. As an outspoken person, he clashed with Henry Ford II and was fired by him in 1978, landing as head of Chrysler Corp. (now FCA US) that was $5 billion in debt. Along with cooperation from the United Auto Workers union, Iacocca was able to secure U.S. government loans to get Chrysler back in business and repaid the money ahead of schedule. During his tenure, Chrysler added the minivan to its lineup, as well as a variety of other vehicles, and Iacocca was notable for doing TV ads for Chrysler products, writing two books, and seriously considering a run for U.S. president. “Lee Iacocca was truly bigger than life, and he left an incredible mark on Ford, the auto industry, and our country,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co.