Auto Notes - June 2016
So long Scion. For some time, Toyota has had plans to cease its Scion line that debuted in 2003 with small boxy, fuel-efficient cars. That year the brand sold 10,898 units with just a few models available and had it best year in 2006 with sales of 173,034. In 2015, just 56,167 Scions were sold.
The original Scion xB and xD models will apparently go away, but models such as FR-S, iA, and iM will transition into the Toyota lineup. The tC coupe will complete production in August and the C-HR crossover will likely become a Toyota model at some point.
Cheaper Tesla. During the late hours of March 31, Tesla Motors unveiled its long-awaited Model 3, an electric sedan with an MSRP of $35,000 and with tax breaks could be under $30,000 (though it may be impossible to get one under $50,000 due to demand). Tesla officials said the new Model 3, due to begin shipping in late 2017, will have a driving range of at least 200 miles.
Tesla’s other offerings, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, are priced at $71,000-plus and $81,000-plus for 2016 models that often sell for much more than posted MSRPs. The Model 3 is designed to attract a wider audience for the California automaker.
Even though initial deliveries of the Model 3 are well more than a year away, more than 300,000 consumers have made $1,000 deposits for the new electric. Some industry analysts are questioning when, or if, all those interested buyers will receive their new cars. There is also an issue of the $7,500 federal tax credit, which will be phased out after sales of 200,000 units.
While Tesla sold just under 15,000 units in the first three months of this year, up some 50 percent over last year, the company had hoped for stronger sales. The company said parts shortages kept the automaker from supplying more vehicles.
Recall gets bigger. While the Takata Corp. air bag recall was already huge in the U.S with 24 million vehicles affected, on May 3 the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that an additional 35 to 40 million cars, trucks, and SUVs have been added to the list. The largest automotive recall in American history, the government estimates it will take until late 2019 to complete installation of new inflators in air bags.
The issue with Takata’s products involves the air bag inflators that can explode with too much force causing injuries. Takata’s front air bags use an ammonium nitrate chemical that creates an explosion to inflate the bags. The determined problem is that the chemical degrades over time and when inflated blows apart a metal canister that discharges shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Deleted, unless we can verify this.
Some 14 automakers have vehicles covered under the Takata recall with Tesla, Land Rover, and Fisker just added to the list in May.
Most industry and government analysts agree that Takata Corp. will likely not be able to financially survive the massive recall process and will file for bankruptcy. The cost of replacing the inflators will be substantial, but the actual financial burden on Takata will be law suits filed by motorists.
Hot RS. The new 2016 Ford Focus RS, now available to American buyers, has much to offer Focus enthusiasts. It’s reported that more than 1,200 pre-orders were received for this track model that by all evaluations exceeds the dreams of those who want power and excitement with their street (or track) driving experience.
The Focus RS is powered by an EcoBoost 2.3-L turbocharged I-4 engine that creates 350 HP and 350 lb.-ft. of torque with its six-speed manual transmission. The 0-62 MPH can be obtained in 4.7 seconds and the top speed is 165 MPH.
One new Focus feature on the RS includes a torque-vectoring rear differential allowing up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque to go to the rear axle. This works in conjunction with the Ford Performance All-Wheel-Drive System that provides power when needed. Also, front and rear subframes have been reinforced with the chassis stiffness increased by some 23 percent. There is also a Ford Performance
Among other improvements not found on other Focus models are unique RS fog lamps, a quickened steering system, a new selectable sport suspension, and plenty more.
With an amazing list of standard equipment that includes Recaro seats, Bremco brakes, a 10-speaker Sony audio system, dual-zone climate control system, Hill Start Assist, rear view camera, high-mounted RS spoiler, electronically adjustable shocks, and much more, the MSRP is a competitive $35,900.