Bentley will build 19 Mulsanne-based Grand Convertibles

Bentley will build 19 Mulsanne-based Grand Convertibles

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Bentley is set to launch an ultra-exclusive run of convertibles based on the (big) bones of the Mulsanne.

The car, referred to as the Bentley Grand Convertible, was first shown as a concept in 2012 during a private event coinciding with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It was only revealed to the public at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Fast forward to today and Bentley has finally confirmed a small production run.

Bentley Grand Convertible Concept - 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

Bentley Grand Convertible Concept – 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

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A Bentley spokesperson told Motor Authority that 19 examples will be built by the Mulliner personalization department. Each of the 19 cars—the number represents Bentley’s founding in the year 1919—will be tailored to the customer’s specific desires so no two examples will be the same.

The rumored starting price is a cool $3.5 million and getting your hands on one is likely through invitation only. It’s not clear if any will reach the United States because right now the vehicles have only been approved for use in Europe, the Middle East and Russia.

As mentioned, the basis for the Grand Convertible is the Mulsanne. This means there’s almost certain to be a 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 under the hood.

The project represents Bentley’s desire to cater to well-heeled customers seeking extra exclusivity through coachbuilt specials. Such projects can be extremely lucrative for automakers. Ferrari has had great success with its Special Projects division, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by other luxury brands. Rolls-Royce recently got into the action with a one-off coachbuild estimated to have cost its own an eye-watering $12.8 million.

Another coachbuilt special from Bentley was 2016’s Mulsanne Grand Limousine. The car was three feet longer than a Mulsanne and featured six seats split over three rows.

Note, if it’s a coupe you desire, there’s a company in Germany currently working on a 2-door Mulsanne.

Published at Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:00:00 +0000

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India-based Mahindra opens Detroit HQ, wants to sell EVs in U.S.

India-based Mahindra opens Detroit HQ, wants to sell EVs in U.S.

DETROIT — Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, one of India’s oldest vehicle manufacturers, is testing autonomous tractors, trucks and cars, while moving closer to bringing electric vehicles to the United States, Chairman Anand Mahindra said on Monday.

The company, which opened a new North American headquarters north of Detroit on Monday, is considering when to begin U.S. sales of the vehicles, Anand Mahindra said in an interview. Mahindra’s managing director described a similar ambition earlier this month.

Mahindra is weighing whether the vehicles should carry its own brand or those of its affiliates Pininfarina, the famed Italian design house; and Ssangyong, a Korean manufacturer of utility and crossover vehicles, he added.Mahindra & Mahindra bought Ssangyong in 2011 and Pininfarina in 2015. The Indian parent is collaborating with both companies on developing electric vehicles, including premium models for Pininfarina that likely would compete with Tesla.

Earlier this year, Autocar India reported that Pininfarina was developing a family of electric vehicles for China’s Hybrid Kinetic Group that includes the elegant H600 hybrid sedan, as well as its own electric supercar, the H2 Speed Concept. It’s also working on a supercar with Emerson Fittipaldi.

The magazine also reported that Ssangyong planned to launch an all-electric crossover vehicle in Korea in 2019.

Anand Mahindra suggested that Ssangyong and Pininfarina electric vehicles might be sold in both the United States and China.

In early November, Ssangyong said it had received approval to begin testing of autonomous vehicles in Korea, but did not say when it planned to produce them.

Anand Mahindra said his company, one of the world’s largest tractor manufacturers, had been testing self-driving models since it bought a minority stake in Japan’s Mitsubishi Agriculture Machinery in 2015. Mahindra & Mahindra operates several U.S. tractor assembly plants.

While work on the self-driving vehicles is still in the early stages, Mahindra & Mahindra has been building electric vehicles in India since the mid-1990s, when it developed a small fleet of battery-powered, three-wheeled rickshaws for use in Delhi, the chairman said.

Mahindra & Mahindra bought Reva Electric Car Co, a small Bangalore-based manufacturer, in 2010 and transformed it into Mahindra Electric Mobility Ltd, which designs and builds compact electric vehicles for the Indian market.

In mid-September, the company renewed ties with Ford through a new alliance that envisions sharing of technology, product development and parts sourcing, especially on electric vehicles.

The companies had a short-lived joint venture, Mahindra Ford India Ltd, established in 1995. Ford took control of the venture in 1998 and renamed it Ford India.

Reporting by Paul Lienert

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Published at Tue, 21 Nov 2017 13:30:00 +0000

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Ford, Mahindra open to teaming up on electric cars in India

Ford, Mahindra open to teaming up on electric cars in India

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. and its Indian partner Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. could create their own electric car line in India to help battle pollution from the vehicles clogging the nation’s roads, Chairman Anand Mahindra said.

Mahindra & Mahindra, which already sells the e2o micro electric car, would be open to creating a new electric vehicle line in India with Ford, Mahindra said following the opening of a factory in suburban Detroit to produce an off-road vehicle for the U.S. market. Ford said earlier this month it will create a new electric car line in China with its partner there, Anhui Zotye Automobile Co.

“India could be the other location for doing that,” Mahindra said Monday when asked if Ford’s plan to create an EV lineup with its Chinese partner could be replicated in India. “In India, it may just happen because of a crisis of congestion and pollution, which is why the government there said we want every car to be electric by 2030, which is outrageously ambitious.”

Partners again

Ford and Mahindra rekindled a partnership in September to work together on electric cars, connected vehicles and distribution in India, where the U.S. automaker struggles to make money. India is set to become the world’s third-largest auto market and both companies have strengths in light trucks. As part of a three-year alliance, the two automakers are looking for ways to cut costs and boost profits by jointly purchasing parts and developing new models.

The partners are still studying what to collaborate on, but Mahindra said electric cars have been central to the conversation since he negotiated the alliance with Executive Chairman Bill Ford. A spokesman for Ford didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“When I talked to Bill, I proposed that, ‘Look, Mahindra knows electric and we have technology,'” Mahindra said. “Indian technology could be very frugal technology for a variety of things, like telematics and autonomous cars, and we have agreement we should look at those areas.”

Leading market

The partnership was an about-face for Ford after previous CEO Mark Fields put the business in India under review last year. Jim Hackett, who became CEO after Ford’s board ousted Fields in May, found a way to stay in India while sharing costs with an automaker that Ford has worked with before.

Mahindra said he believes India could become a leading market for electric vehicles because of the government’s push to eliminate gasoline-powered internal combustion engines by 2030.

“At least we are talking about ambitious goals for once in India,” Mahindra said. “And if the technology suddenly converges, it may happen sooner.”

Published at Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:39:57 +0000

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Lincoln's freshened 2019 MKC gets new mesh grille, tech

Lincoln's freshened 2019 MKC gets new mesh grille, tech

Lincoln is updating the vehicle that it says draws the most customers from rival brands in hopes of further accelerating growth in a stalling luxury market.

The freshened 2019 MKC compact crossover features new infotainment and safety technology and the mesh grille found on Lincoln’s newest products, including the Continental and MKZ sedans and the Navigator SUV. The 2019 MKC is due in showrooms next summer.

Even as overall U.S. sales of luxury cars and light trucks are roughly flat through October, Lincoln deliveries have edged up 2.4 percent and MKC sales are up 8.7 percent to 22,507. The MKC is also Lincoln’s best-seller in China, a market it expects eventually will surpass the United States in overall volume.

Since the MKC’s introduction in 2014, Lincoln executives say almost half of the crossover’s sales have come from customers switching from other brands.

“We recognize it takes a lot to attract a buyer from other luxury competitors, but the Lincoln MKC has that kind of appeal and we believe that the new MKC will capture even more luxury clients,” Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra said in a statement.

The crossover will be formally introduced next week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Besides the change to the front end, the 2019 MKC undergoes a few other exterior tweaks, including new colors, wheel choices, LED lights and chrome accents on the back end.

Inside, the crossover will offer Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It will also add driver-assist features including precollision assist with pedestrian detection with automatic braking. Active park assist, lane-keeping alert and blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert can be added as options.

Ford will also offer three new Black Label trim options.

The 2019 MKC will carry over the standard turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and twin-scroll turbocharged 2.3-liter engine available on the current model. The 2.0-liter makes 245 hp and 275 pound-feet of torque, while the 2.3-liter makes 285 hp and 305 pound-feet of torque.

Each powertrain comes in a two- or all-wheel-drive option.

The MKC is included in Lincoln’s pickup and delivery service, which is standard on all models. It can be accessed through the Lincoln Way app, which also allows customers to start, lock, unlock and locate their vehicle.

Published at Tue, 21 Nov 2017 05:01:00 +0000

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2019 Lincoln MKC crossover dials up the luxury perks

2019 Lincoln MKC crossover dials up the luxury perks

Lincoln is taking the wraps off its 2019 MKC, which hits showrooms next summer, revealing a substantially refreshed, more stylish compact luxury crossover that adds new driver-assistance and connectivity technologies and a host of premium ownership perks and options. They include new Black Label personalized trim themes and the ability to pick an exclusive dinner from a curated list of chef-driven restaurants.

As we previously forecast, the MKC gets the new Continental-style grille, plus new LED headlamps and a neat touch in a Lincoln welcome mat illuminated on the ground from underneath both front doors to welcome driver and passenger. It also adds new driver-assist features including a pre-collision assist warning and braking system that can detect pedestrians, plus available options like lane-keeping alerts, parallel-parking assistance and a blind spot information system.

Owners can also opt for the Lincoln Black Label treatment, which includes premium trim upgrades but also a roster of membership perks: annual vehicle detailing, anytime carwashes and access to a curated list of restaurants where feted chefs will prepare a special dining experience. There are three Black Label themes, each inspired by the arts, travel, fine food and culture:

  • Modern Heritage, defined by a clean, modern aesthetic and Vianca White Venetian leather
  • Indulgence, which lives up to its billing with surfaces trimmed in Venetian leather and Alcantara and accents from Ziricote wood
  • And Center Stage, inspired by the world of theater, featuring a diamond-L perforation pattern on the Alcantara cloth inserts finished with precisely stitched Foxfire Red piping, exotic wood accents and Jet Black Venetian leather with Firefox Red accents.

In addition, the Reserve trim features a Rialto Green cabin with black ash wood accents, which Lincoln says reflects a current theme popular in high fashion. Other options include a panoramic roof and heated and cooled seats.

As part of what the Ford sub-brand calls the “effortless ownership experience,” the MKC will come with standard pickup and delivery service to and from dealerships for service visits, plus the use of a loaner Lincoln while the car is being worked on. Lincoln says it’s the only luxury brand that offers such a service standard.

“For Lincoln, every client is unique and and we want every element of the Lincoln shop, buy and own process to be a truly personalized and effortless experience,” Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra said in a statement.

As before, connectivity is standard through Ford’s SYNC 3, which is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with WiFi and USB ports throughout. The 2019 version also keeps the crossover’s two turbocharged, direct-injection, twin independent variable camshaft-timed four-cylinder powertrain options: the standard 2.0-liter making 245 horsepower, and the 2.3-liter direct-injection, producing 285 hp and 305 pound-feet of torque. Either can be paired to Lincoln’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system.

Pricing has yet to be announced.

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Published at Tue, 21 Nov 2017 05:01:00 +0000

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Junkyard Gem: 1989 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe

Junkyard Gem: 1989 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe

The 1983-1988 Thunderbird was based on the same rear-wheel-drive Fox platform as the Mustang and Continental, then moved to the bigger and more sophisticated MN12 platform for the 1989 model year. The earlier Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, with turbocharged Pinto engine, was replaced by the Super Coupe, boasting a supercharged 3.8 liter V6. Here’s an evil-looking black ’89 Super Coupe, spotted in a Denver self-serve yard.

The Super Coupe came with an Eaton blower making 12 pounds of boost, feeding an Essex pushrod V6. In 1989, this engine generated 210 horsepower (a junkyard customer has already purchased the Eaton from this car, as junkyard customers tend to do).

The ’89 Ford Taurus SHO was good for 220 very nervous naturally-aspirated horses and weighed a couple hundred pounds less, making it a fair amount quicker (but front-wheel-drive scared away many performance-minded buyers from the Taurus). The price tags on the Super Coupe and SHO were nearly identical in 1989.

Just barely over 100,000 miles on the odometer. There was plenty of life left in at least some of this car’s components.

There are signs of the car’s final owner cutting some maintenance corners, such as the tried-and-true taped-up-taillight repair.

CDs were still somewhat futuristic in 1989, and you won’t see many cars with factory CD players from this era. This player was a $491 option, which comes to about $1,000 in 2017 dollars.

This car also has the JBL Audio System option. Price tag in 1989: $488 ($994 in inflation-adjusted bucks). To put those numbers in perspective, I bought a running and driving 1965 Chevy Impala sedan that year for $300.

The base price of the 1989 Super Coupe was $19,823 (about $40,375 in present-day bucks). Compared to the 1989 BMW 635CSi ($47,000), Mercedes-Benz 300CE coupe ($53,800), Nissan 300ZX 2+2 ($23,449), or Toyota Supra ($22,360), that was a great price for a quick and sporty rear-wheel-drive coupe. The writers at Motor Trend thought so, and awarded the Super Coupe their 1989 Car of the Year prize.

Further evidence that Ford is winning the world over!

Published at Mon, 20 Nov 2017 20:30:00 +0000

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2019 Jeep Cherokee and Cherokee Trailhawk spotted in Pittsburgh

2019 Jeep Cherokee and Cherokee Trailhawk spotted in Pittsburgh

The current Jeep Cherokee debuted for the 2014 model year, meaning it’s about due for a refresh. When it was revealed, the controversial styling and front-wheel-drive-based platform caused a stir among the Jeep crowd. While there isn’t much Jeep can do about the platform at this point, it seems the automaker’s designers have a much more traditional refresh in the works. Thanks to Autoblog readers Matthew Young and Mike Bothwell, we have a new batch of spy shots, include a couple of the new Cherokee Trailhawk.

The refreshed Cherokee looks to crib quite a bit from the new Jeep Compass. Rather than splitting the front lighting like before, the driving lights, headlights and turn signals are all one unit. The whole fascia seems to be a bit more upright than before, though the grille is still canted backward.

Out back, the Cherokee gets new taillights that feature clear lenses, again similar to the Compass. The rear bumper gets a mild refresh, too. The reflectors move up, and the Trailhawk’s exhaust looks like it moves further inward. One of the Cherokees seems to have a crushed pipe, suggesting some unlucky engineer had a mishap. The red tow hook looks to be in about the same place.

No word on when the Cherokee will go one sale, but expect some news as soon as the Detroit auto show in January.

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Published at Mon, 20 Nov 2017 22:50:00 +0000

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Ford now offers a plug-in hybrid cop car

Ford now offers a plug-in hybrid cop car

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Ford loves a good police vehicle. Earlier this year, Ford showed us the first pursuit-rated Hybrid police vehicle. The Blue Oval also offered the 2018 Expedition for police use. Now Ford is bringing a plug-in hybrid sedan into active duty.

It’s called the Special Service Plug-In Hybrid Sedan. Based on a Ford Fusion plug-in hybrid, this fuel-sipping four-door has been reworked to make it a smart fit for police departments throughout the country. Fitted with a 7.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, this electrified cop car can run for 21 miles on electrons alone. It will also blast up to 85 mph on that battery power before it needs the help of the 4-cylinder gas engine.

This vehicle, unlike the pursuit-rated hybrid shown earlier, is not intended for fast dashes to catch the baddies. Instead, it’s designed for the other facets of police work, like for use as a detective’s car. It boasts a range of more than 500 miles, and the interior has been prepped for perps in the back and gear in the front. There’s a trunk storage vault, trunk ventilation system, and a rear door control-disabling feature…though we assume that’s a slightly more advance version of child locks.

With this Special Service Plug-In Hybrid Sedan, Ford has a full lineup of vehicles for police departments. From trucks and full-size SUVs to hybrid detective cars, there’s a reason why the Blue Oval is the preferred vehicle provider for the men and women in blue. 


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Published at Mon, 20 Nov 2017 21:29:00 +0000

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