Auto Notes - May 2018
World car. The Road to World Car journey concluded at April’s New York Auto Show with the Volvo XC60 winning the 2018 World Car of the Year award. The all-new Swedish-built utility vehicle has won numerous major awards worldwide with the World Car award perhaps its crowning glory.
The XC60 was one of 34 initial World Car global entries that were reviewed and tested by 82 automotive journalists from 24 countries. The list was shortened to 10, then three finalists for the top award (Mazda CX-5, Ranger Rover Velar, and the XC60) were announced at the Geneva Motor Show in early March.
Other winners include the Range Rover Velar, 2018 World Design of the Year; Audi A8, 2018 World Luxury Car; BMW M5, 2018 World Performance Car; Nissan Leaf, 2018 World Green Car; and the Volkswagen Polo, 2018 World Urban Car.
“I am pleased to see our company’s product investments paying off,” said Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo president and CEO. “We were up against some tough competition, but this award for the XC60 shows that Volvo has the right combination of design, connectivity, and safety that appeals to customers across the world.” Samuelsson was honored with the inaugural World Car Person of the Year award in Geneva.
New Envision. The 2019 Buick Envision offers new design cues, performance enhancements, and expanded technology, said GM officials. A new nine-speed automatic transmission on Envision models with the 2.0-L turbo engine is available, making it faster than the 2018 unit.
Also new are an engine stop/start deactivation switch, a singe rate brake booster for improved brake performance, flexibility to switch from adaptive cruise control to conventional cruise control, enhanced visibility on rear vision camera, faster warming seat heaters, improved hands-free microphone for better call quality, next-generation wireless charging for faster phone charging, HID and LED lighting upgrades on all trims, and an in-vehicle air ionizer that eliminates odors and reduces bacteria.
The Envision is on sale now in the U.S. with a starting price of $32,990.
New York debuts. As with all of the major U.S. auto shows, the New York event had abundant North American and global vehicle introductions that included concepts, hybrids, sedans, SUVs, trucks, crossovers, and a $3 million Bugatti sportster for the budget minded.
The all-new 2019 Toyota RAV4’s small SUV debuted, showcasing a totally redesigned architecture and performance elements. Tech-laden, the RAV4 also has two new powertrains, an available Toyota-first Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Driveshaft Disconnect system, plus a hybrid model among its model enhancements (available winter 2018).
Toyota’s sister company, Lexus, offered a first-look in North America at its space-age 2019 UX crossover; Cadillac debuted its long-awaited 2019 XT4 crossover with plentiful style and technology (available fall 2018); the twin-turbo equipped Lincoln Aviator SUV was shown for the first time; and the all-new Genesis G70 was a hit at the show. The small sports luxury sedan augments its larger G80 and G90 sedans with great looks, outstanding performance from its two engine choices, Bremco brakes, and Michelin sport tires.
Joint venture. Mazda and Toyota have signed a deal to build a massive production plant on some 2,500 acres in Huntsville, Ala. The $1.6 billion project will open in 2021 and is estimated to employ some 4,000 workers.
While Toyota has several assembly and manufacturing plants in the U.S., including an engine plant near Huntsville, this will be Mazda’s first manufacturing facility in the country.
Tesla woes. Hundreds of thousands of Tesla customers who placed $1,000 down payments on the automaker’s new Model 3 are still waiting for delivery after two years (unveiled March 31, 2016). Production has been spotty at best, and the company has not been overly clear on when customers with deposits will receive their vehicles.
Tesla said 1,550 Model 3 units were delivered in fourth quarter 2017 and production has been ramped up for improved delivery of the electric sedan.
While Model 3 deliveries may be a vital issue, Tesla has more serious problems with a Model S power steering system recall, a major financial downgrading by Moody’s Investors Service (“outlook is negative”) in late March, and a second crash this year of a Tesla using the driver-assistance system (Autopilot) that resulted in a fatality.