Automotive

2019 Ford Ranger leaked

2019 Ford Ranger leaked

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Ford is bringing back the Ranger for 2019 and the first photos of the mid-size pickup truck have hit the web.

The photos were posted to the NewRangerClub forum and show the Ranger designed for Thailand and other Southeast Asian markets. The version we’ll get will feature slightly revised styling and extra features.

The 2019 Ranger is expected to make its world debut on January 15 at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Although the vehicle is all-new for the United States—we haven’t had a Ranger since 2011—it actually represents an update of the T6 Ranger that’s been offered globally since the start of the decade.

Underpinning it is a body-on-frame platform developed in Australia and used in a Ranger-based SUV dubbed the Everest. Ford engineers are working on an updated Everest alongside the Ranger, and this might end up being our new Bronco coming for 2020.

It’s too early to talk powertrains but the Ranger currently offered globally has a pair of diesels: a 2.2-liter inline-4 with 158 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque and a 3.2-liter inline-5 with 197 hp and 346 lb-ft. It’s likely the 2019 Ranger will offer gasoline mills in the U.S. but a torquey, fuel-sipping diesel would be a nice addition to the options list.

Ford is also cooking up a Ranger Raptor. The performance pickup is due for a reveal on February 7 and is likely to skip the U.S. since we already have the F-150 Raptor. The Ranger Raptor is also expected to come exclusively with a diesel engine thus further reducing the chances for our market.

Production of the Ranger (and Bronco) for the U.S. will take place at a plant in Wayne, Michigan. Potential rivals are the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.

Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 07:45:00 +0000

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Kalanick to sell some of his Uber stake

Kalanick to sell some of his Uber stake

Travis Kalanick stands to reap about $1.4 billion from the transaction. Photo credit: Bloomberg

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Travis Kalanick, who has long boasted that he’s never sold any shares in the company he co-founded, plans to sell about 29 percent of his stake in the ride-hailing company, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg.

Kalanick stands to reap about $1.4 billion from the transaction with SoftBank Group Corp. and a consortium of investors who have agreed to buy equity valuing Uber at $48 billion, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations.

Kalanick, who owns 10 percent of the company, had offered to sell as much as half of his stake — the maximum board members were allowed to tender. He had to pare back the amount because of limits outlined in the agreement between Uber and the buyers, the people said.

One of the wealthiest people in the world on paper, Kalanick would become an actual billionaire for the first time as a result of the sale. Kalanick was pressured to resign last year after the company became mired in legal woes and a raft of government investigations into how it does business. He also clashed with Benchmark, one of the company’s earliest and biggest investors, which is also selling part of its stake.

Terms of the deal bar sellers from parting with more than 58 percent of shares initially offered, requiring Kalanick to sell a smaller portion of his stake. Spokesmen for Uber and Kalanick declined to comment.

GV, Alphabet Inc.’s venture capital firm, offered up significantly less than half of its stake in Uber even though Alphabet’s self-driving car subsidiary Waymo is suing Uber for stealing trade secrets. In October 2017, another Alphabet investment firm, CapitalG, said that it was leading an investment in Uber’s primary U.S. competitor, Lyft Inc.

The SoftBank deal is expect to close later this month. Once it is finalized, a number of governance reforms that effectively reduce Kalanick’s influence at Uber will go into effect.

Published at Fri, 05 Jan 2018 02:32:59 +0000

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Jannarelly provides more insight into Design-X1 and its potential production

Jannarelly provides more insight into Design-X1 and its potential production

On Wednesday, Dubai-based Jannarelly revealed it may produce an all-electric version of its Design-1 sports car and call it the Design-X1. However, nothing is certain yet, and the company said customers interested in such a car will need to come forward and commit before it signs off on the project.

Company co-founder and chief designer Anthony Jannarelly confirmed work is underway on the Design-X1, but the company’s next step is to understand the demand for the car. Thus far, feedback has been “amazing,” according to the executive. The Design-X1 is almost identical to the company’s Design-1, which features a 304-horsepower V-6 engine. The major differences are a new fin located behind the driver’s seat and the lack of exhaust pipes for obvious reasons.

If Jannarelly does move forward with Design-X1 production, the company would build an extremely limited batch of 11 cars. The entire project began after one customer requested an all-electric Design-1; the company needs 10 other individuals to express a similar desire.

The Design-X1 wouldn’t be cheap. Jannarelly himself said to expect a price between $200,000 and $300,000. There’s an upside to the not-so-thrifty selling price, though. The profits could fund a more affordable version of the regular Design-1 for production.

Jannarelly said his company is already in talks with partners that specialize in electric powertrains, but he also invited other companies and organizations to approach him with “interest in pushing forward the electric technology.”

Meanwhile, Jannarelly said owners have been delighted with early Design-1 cars and the company will continue to ramp up production as quickly as possible. 

Published at Thu, 04 Jan 2018 23:00:00 +0000

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VW Microbus too common? This retro Mercedes bus may do the trick

VW Microbus too common? This retro Mercedes bus may do the trick

Everyone knows the Volkswagen Microbus, which stands as an icon of the German automaker to this day. The Mercedes-Benz O 319 bus is likely not as well known, but this fine example is just the ticket if the VW bus is just a little too commonplace.

RM Sotheby’s will offer the pristine 1959 Mercedes-Benz bus at its Arizona 2018 auction later this month, but this isn’t an average O 319. The previous owner spent 15 years restoring and upgrading the bus with modern amenities and luxurious touches. Onlookers won’t know it from the exterior, which has been fully restored with factory paint colors, but inside, the vintage Mercedes is a very nice place to be.

Its camper van upgrades include a custom-made cabinet that houses a sink and stove, and a centralized circuit-breaker panel that provides light for every single cubby and compartment. The previous owner also replaced the original upholstery with modern leather and included propane and water storage underneath the body.

An equally modern air-ride suspension functions with the factory dual-rear-wheel setup. Heck, there’s even a solar panel tucked away to provide power for when the Merc’s next owner wants to fall off the grid. The powertrain is also of the present day; it’s a fuel-injected Mercedes-Benz gasoline engine and automatic transmission. A variety of re-mapped chips is also included, perhaps for different driving conditions.

We’re absolutely digging this modern, yet vintage, Mercedes bus. Whoever scoops the vehicle up will end up with one very intriguing vehicle, but we’ll have to wait and see if it matches RM Sotheby’s $175,000-$200,000 sale estimate when it goes under the hammer on January 17.

Published at Thu, 04 Jan 2018 17:45:00 +0000

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2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class revealed in leaked photos

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class revealed in leaked photos

Though the official preview images Mercedes released of the G-Class showed quite a bit of the new SUV, the finer details were still hidden by camouflage. But thanks to the leaked images from German auto news site Autobahn, we get a crystal clear look at the boxy brute. The good news is that it still looks like the current G-Class.

In fact, the only major visual changes on the outside compared with the current model are in the front and rear fascias. Up front, the headlights are larger and now have the accent lights integrated in the main lamps, rather than tacked on underneath. The panels the headlights sit in also look to be angled more to the sides, lending an ever so slightly sleeker appearance. At the back, the hatch has been cleaned up with a third brake light that’s now a part of the hatch instead of attached behind the rear window, and the rear wiper appears to have been hidden behind the spare tire. The taillights have been updated, too, and have some accompanying bodywork to make them look like a part of the design rather than a necessary afterthought.

Other than those changes, the rest of the G-Class looks as old and primitive as ever, which should be a good thing for fans of the model. The doors still have exposed hinges, the windshield still looks as flat as Kansas, and it’s still so boxy it would make a Volvo 240 look like a sports car. And as we discussed recently, it should still have impressive off-road chops. We’ll have additional details about the G-Class when it makes its debut in Detroit in a couple of weeks.

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Published at Thu, 04 Jan 2018 15:40:00 +0000

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Hyundai plans Level 4 autonomy by 2021 in a fuel-cell car

Hyundai plans Level 4 autonomy by 2021 in a fuel-cell car

SAN FRANCISCO — Silicon Valley startup Aurora announced on Thursday partnerships with Volkswagen AG and Hyundai to develop a self-driving system within their vehicles, the latest tie-up between global automakers and Silicon Valley tech companies.

Aurora was founded in 2016 by robotics expert Drew Bagnell, Chris Urmson, who came from Alphabet Inc’s Google, and Sterling Anderson, who formerly worked at Tesla.

For Hyundai, Aurora’s technology will be incorporated into custom-developed models and tested in markets including China. Hyundai said the first model to be used in testing will be its latest generation fuel-cell vehicle, debuting at the CES technology conference in Las Vegas next week. The model name of the car, shown above, will be announced then.

Under the alliance, Hyundai plans to commercialize level 4 autonomous vehicles — which can operate without human input or even human oversight under select conditions — in unidentified “pilot smart cities” by 2021.

This is the first announcement on a self-driving technology partnership by the South Korean carmaker, which has traditionally shunned tie-ups in favor of developing technology in-house. The strategy has raised investor concerns that it may be left behind in the race for self-driving and electric cars.

A company spokeswoman said Hyundai has “various collaborations” under way in self-driving technology and would continue to pursue cooperation.

In a statement, Volkswagen said Aurora’s self-driving technology can be integrated over time across the automaker’s brands and in different product categories, whether self-driving pods, shuttles, delivery vans or self-driving trucks.

Aurora and Volkswagen said they had been working together over the past six months to integrate Aurora’s sensors, hardware and software into the German carmakers’ electric vehicles to develop self-driving ride services in cities.

The non-exclusive partnerships mark the first deals for the young Silicon Valley company and show how some carmakers have chosen to partner with technology companies with more experience in artificial intelligence, deep learning and robotics in order to save time and money bringing self-driving cars to market.

Within the self-driving car space, Waymo — formerly Google’s autonomous program headed by Urmson — is offering something similar. The tech company has been working with Fiat Chrysler since 2016 to outfit its Chrysler Pacifica minivans with autonomous technology. Waymo plans to launch a fully autonomous ride-hailing service early next year in Phoenix, Arizona.

Urmson said that while each carmaker partnership requires close collaboration to integrate the self-driving system, the technology is “quite transferrable” between vehicle models and manufacturers.

Reporting by Alexandria Sage

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Published at Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:02:00 +0000

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Takata creditors to vote on bankruptcy plan

Takata creditors to vote on bankruptcy plan

WILMINGTON, Del. — The judge overseeing the bankruptcy of Takata Corp.’s U.S. unit on Wednesday cleared the way for the company’s creditors to vote on its Chapter 11 plan, which critics say limits the legal rights of those injured by its deadly airbags.

Takata and its U.S. entity TK Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy in June after more than 100 million of its airbags were recalled because they could inflate with too much force and spray metal fragments.

The airbags have been linked to at least 180 injuries and 18 deaths, including one in Louisiana that was identified last month.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the judge reviewed the adequacy of TK Holdings’ disclosures, which attempt to summarize and translate the dense legalese of the company’s proposed reorganization plan.

Critics have said the plan favors automakers over car owners. They used the hearing to test arguments that could be raised again at a Feb. 13 confirmation hearing, when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Brendan Shannon in Wilmington, Del., will decide if the plan is fair and meets other requirements.

Shannon raised the possibility on Wednesday that he might not approve a proposal contained in the reorganization plan to establish a fund to compensate those with personal injury claims caused by airbags in vehicles made by Honda Motor Co.

The trust would pay compensation based on the injury, ranging from $10,000 for bruising to $5 million for death or loss of eyesight, according to court documents.

Car owners would be barred from suing Honda and other car makers could opt to join the trust arrangement.

Sander Esserman, a lawyer representing car owners seeking to recover costs related to the recall, criticized the trust proposal because it limited the rights of consumers by barring punitive damages and paying compensation in installments.

Honda’s attorney, Jessica Boelter of Sidley Austin, said the company was owed $9.4 billion from the recall, which she said was the biggest claim of any automaker.

Takata plans to sell its viable operations to Key Safety Systems, an affiliate of China’s Ningbo Joyson Electric Corp., for $1.6 billion. The proceeds will fund restitution claims for automakers and help pay personal injury and wrongful death claims. 

Published at Thu, 04 Jan 2018 11:23:50 +0000

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HYUNDAI/KIA: Slump continues

HYUNDAI/KIA: Slump continues

The Hyundai brand’s U.S. sales fell in 2017 for the first time since 2008. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

UPDATED: 1/3/18 7:35 pm ET – adds U.S. market share data

Hyundai-Kia’s 2017 U.S. sales dipped 10 percent to 1,275,223 vehicles, with December volume off 8.6 percent, as the company pared fleet shipments and battled the industrywide slump in car demand.

Brands: Hyundai down 13% in 2017, up 1.8% in December; Kia down 8.9% in 2017, off 21% in December. Genesis U.S. volume up 196% in 2017, up 12% in December.

Notable nameplates: In December, Hyundai Sonata down 38%; Veloster — due for a redesign this year — off 72%; Tucson up 34%; Elantra up 9.2%; Santa Fe up 21%; Kia Optima down 44%; Rio up 28%; Sorento down 34%; Soul down 39%.

For 2017, Sonata off 34%; Veloster down 58%; Tucson up 28%; Elantra down 4.9%; Santa Fe up 1.5%; Optima down 13%; Rio off 42%; Soul down 21%; Sorento down 13%.

U.S. market share: 6.6% in Dec. 2017, down from 6.9% in Dec. 2016; 7.4% for all of 2017, down from 8.1% in 2016.

Incentives: Hyundai discounts averaged $3,095 per vehicle in December, up 18% from the same period last year; Kia’s average incentives increased 1.3% in December from a year earlier to $3,413 per vehicle, according to ALG.

Average transaction price: Hyundai averaged $22,461 per vehicle in December, down 2.1% from a year earlier; Kia off 1% to $22,672, ALG reported.

Quote: “Hyundai and our dealers closed the year strong and we are one of the few companies to achieve a sales increase in December,” John Angevine, director of national sales for Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement. “While our run of eight straight years of annual sales growth came to an end, we improved our SUV mix, reduced our fleet sales and have positioned ourselves for a rebound and quality growth in 2018.”

Did you know? Annual U.S. sales of the Tucson crossed the 100,000 mark for the first time in 2017.

Katie Burke contributed to this report.

Published at Wed, 03 Jan 2018 22:46:01 +0000

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Turns out snow can conquer a Mercedes-AMG G63 6×6

Turns out snow can conquer a Mercedes-AMG G63 6×6

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The Mercedes-AMG G63 6×6 is an absolute monster of a machine. You start with a regular G-Class, which is already a tough off-road-oriented beast with three differentials. Then, you add more power, more off-road ability, and an entire third axle. With the G63, you’re unleashing a 544 horsepower 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine that sends its power out to all six wheels. You also have portal axles, locking differentials, and a mind-set that you can conquer pretty much anything in your path…except, as supercar collector Greg B discovered, a lot of snow in the Italian Alps.

Greg is well-known among the car-loving folks on Instagram. His account routinely shares images and videos of high-dollar machines being driven and enjoyed. It appears that Greg is on holiday over in Italy, and while there he’s making good use of an AMG G63 6×6. Heavy snow is falling and the pumped up G-Class appears to handle most of it with relative ease. Greg even takes a moment to poke fun of a Porsche driver who’s managed to get stuck in the white, wet stuff.

Karma, however, quickly arrives to bite both Greg and his G-Class in the bottom as he manages to get the six-wheel monster stuck in the winter mush. A Snowcat shows up to attempt an extraction, but even the track-equipped snow machine can’t pull the big Benz free.

You might be tempted to make fun of Greg, but we’re going to cheer him on. The G63 6×6 caught the attention of a handful of wealthy folks who quickly scooped up the entire production run, but Greg is one of the few who is using it as it was intended. The Mercedes-AMG engineers probably didn’t expect their truck to be conquered by snow, but that doesn’t matter. Greg’s having fun and we’re having fun watching his vehicular adventures.

Perhaps Greg should consider giving Hennessey a call the next time he goes on a ski trip. Perhaps the Velociraptor 6×6 is a better match for the Italian Alps, though we doubt that a combination of Detroit and Texas engineering is any better than the German variety.

Published at Wed, 03 Jan 2018 23:01:00 +0000

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