Auto Notes - July 2017
College grad auto choices. According to Swapalease.com, the top five cars recent female college grads were getting out of included the Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Nissan LEAF, Toyota Prius, and Ford Edge. As they are transitioning into new jobs, the top five vehicles recent grads are leasing are the BMW 4 Series, Dodge Charger, Audi A5, Ford F-150, and Lexus IS 250.
The colleges with the highest number of import vehicles for 2017 were Harvard, UCLA and the University of Washington. The university with the highest domestic car registrations was, not surprisingly, Michigan State.
While several surveys of Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2004) indicate that vehicle ownership is not as important to them as their parents, the Accel + Qualtrics Millennial Study 2017 noted that 80 percent of the group do own vehicles. Another recent study said that personal transportation in urban areas is just as easily accomplished by Millennials using public transportation, or ride shares like Uber or Lyft, as opposed to driving their own vehicle.
Change at Ford. In an abrupt move in late May, Ford CEO Mark Fields, 56, was replaced by Jim Hackett, who hailed from Ford Smart Mobility, a Ford advanced technology subsidiary that is developing autonomous cars. Fields, a 28-year veteran at Ford, has retired, the company said.
The change at Ford coincided with an announcement of a 10-percent layoff of white collar workers within the company, plus a layoff of some 700 plant employees in Wayne, Mich., over the summer. Ford also announced a decline in Q1 profits of 35 percent during the same week of the CEO change.
FCA diesel news. FCA US recently announced it has formally filed an application for diesel fuel emissions certification with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for its 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 diesel vehicles. Both models feature updated emissions software calibrations.
The filing is a result of months of collaboration between FCA US, the EPA, and CARB, including extensive testing of the vehicles. With the permission of the EPA and CARB, FCA US intends to install the same modified emissions software on 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500 diesel vehicles.
FCA US officials said the company is confident that the filings will address the concerns the agencies have had with the emissions software in those vehicles.
Hot Alfa. If a small, stylish, and performance-oriented crossover is enticing, the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio may be intriguing to buyers. Built in Italy and available this fall in the U.S., the new offering will be available in three models, the base Stelvio, the Ti, and the Quadrifoglio.
The first two models are powered by a direct-injected 2.0-L four-cylinder aluminum engine that produces 280 HP at 5,200 RPM, but the Quadrifoglio has an impressive Ferrari-built 2.9-L V-6 with 505 HP. It can reach 0-60 MPH in just 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 177 MPH. All models will be equipped with all-wheel-drive and an eight-speed transmission.
Notable features on the new Alfa include a lightweight carbon fiber driveshaft, standard 18-inch tires (with 19- and 20-inch tires on upper models), multiple safety features (including lane departure warning and forward collision warning), leather seating, bi-xenon head lamps, and selectable driver modes.
Pricing on the Stelvio begins at $41,999. It will compete in the marketplace with the Audi Q5, BMW X4, Jaguar F-Pace, and Mercedes-Benz GLC models.
Toyota milestone. In celebration of its 40th anniversary of its North American research and development operations, Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) recently opened its expanded North American Research & Development Purchasing & Prototype Development centers in York Township, Mich.
Three years ago, Toyota announced its “One Toyota” plan to create more unified operations in North America with a $154 million expansion of the TMNA R&D centers in Michigan. The effort moved direct procurement and supplier engineering development from Kentucky and vehicle development and powertrain operations from California to Michigan.
“We now have a fully developed research and development operation in the heart of the auto industry in southeast Michigan,” said Shinichi Yasui, who was recently named as Toyota’s president of engineering and manufacturing, and will serve as executive vice president of TMNA R&D. “I am excited to join the TMNA R&D team as we celebrate 40 years of engineering excellence in Michigan.”
New Denali. The 2018 GMC Denali goes on sale this fall with new exterior styling and a new Hydra-Matic 10-speed automatic transmission that is mated to a powerful 6.2-L V-8 engine that produces 410 HP. GMC has been producing trucks since 1902 and today offers a variety of fuel-efficient trucks, SUVs, and crossovers.