Dodge Demon priced at $84,995

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  • Demon Crate ($1): Exclusive Demon Crate offers components that unleash the car’s 840 horsepower, 770 lb.-ft. of torque and full potential at the drag strip and is personalized with the buyer’s name, VIN and serial number. The Demon Crate and the performance parts it holds are valued at $6,140, but Challenger SRT Demon owners can buy the entire package for $1. Contents of the Demon Crate include:
    • Direct Connection Performance Parts:
      • Two narrow, front-runner drag wheels
      • Performance powertrain control module with high-octane engine calibration
      • Replacement instrument panel switch module with high-octane button
      • Personalized ID badge
      • Conical performance air filter
      • Two valve stems Passenger mirror block-off plate
    • Demon-branded track tools:
      • Hydraulic floor jack with carrying bag
      • Cordless impact wrench with charger
      • Torque wrench with extension and socket
      • Tire pressure gauge
      • Fender cover
      • Tool bag
    • Foam case that fits into the Challenger SRT Demon trunk and securely holds the front runner wheels and track tools
  • Cloth rear seat ($1)
  • Leather rear seat ($1)
  • Front passenger cloth seat ($1)
  • Demon trunk carpet kit ($1)
  • Red seat belts ($195)
  • Leather Front Seat Group includes Laguna leather and Alcantara suede covered seats with embossed Demon head logo, front passenger seat, heated and ventilated leather front seats with heated steering wheel, premium floor mats, power tilt/telescoping column and bright pedals ($1,595)
  • Comfort Audio Group, Cloth Seats, includes front passenger cloth seat, 18-speaker Harman Kardon Audio, including two subwoofers and 900W amplifier, premium floor mats and bright pedals ($995)
  • Painted Black Satin Hood ($1,995)
  • Comfort Group, Leather Seats, includes Laguna leather and Alcantara suede covered seats with embossed Demon head logo, front passenger seat, heated and ventilated leather front seats with heated steering wheel, premium floor mats, power tilt/telescoping column, bright pedals, 18-speaker Harman Kardon Audio, including two subwoofers and 900W amplifier ($2,495)
  • Painted Black Satin Graphics Package, available with all 15 exterior colors, includes satin black painted hood, roof and decklid ($3,495)
  • For buyers who must have a sunroof – Power sunroof ($4,995)

No N performance models for Genesis, but Hyundai might get a Tucson N

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Although Hyundai still hasn’t fully revealed its first N product, the i30 N that we will see with an Elantra badge, the company is apparently hard at work at various N-branded follow-ups. The head of the N performance division, Albert Biermann, spoke with Australia’s Drive, and revealed some unexpected details about the future of the division. Among the surprises was the revelation that there are no plans for Genesis N models. This is a bit of a shock considering that just last year, Biermann told us that there was a five-year plan in place for N products, and that Genesis vehicles were part of that plan.

Among the vehicles that are coming, Biermann said the division is developing a B-segment vehicle and an SUV. The B-segment car is likely the European i20 hatchback. Hyundai uses the i20 for World Rally Championship, so it would only make sense to capitalize on that association. As for the SUV, Drive believes it is the Tucson, since Biermann mentioned the little crossover quite a bit when speaking to the publication. The Tucson would also be the most logical candidate for an N variant, since it’s currently the smallest crossover in the Hyundai line-up. As such, it should be the easiest to make sporty, since it’s inherently lighter and more maneuverable than other crossovers in the lineup.

Biermann also seemingly revealed that the next N-badged car after the i30 N hatchback will be a “fastback” version of the same car, which Drive describes as a coupe. We don’t expect this to be a traditional compact coupe, though. Last year, AutoEvolution reported that Hyundai would release a coupe-like five-door version of the i30 in the vein of the Audi A7 and A5 Sportbacks. This also seems more likely than a traditional coupe since Hyundai ceded the segment to the Civic with the death of the previous Elantra coupe in 2015, and its Kia Forte Koup cousin this year.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford will ‘create or protect’ 800 jobs, invest $350M in transmission plant

Ford announced today the latest in a line of multimillion-dollar investments in American factories. It will pump $350 million into its Livonia, Mich., transmission plant in order to add another transmission line. According to Ford, this new investment will either add or preserve a total of 800 hourly jobs. The move is also a notable contrast to the company’s plans of reducing salaried staff this year.

That wording means the number of new jobs will likely be less than 800. In fact, a Ford representative told us that most of the new positions will be filled by current employees. Hiring for the new positions begins a the end of this year, and will continue through the next two years.

As for the new transmission Ford will be building at the Livonia plant, the company provided few details. It said it will be for a front-wheel-drive applications, and that it will be efficient and use techniques and designs developed for the 10-speed transmission in the F-150 and Expedition. This transmission line will join lines that build gearboxes for the Mustang, F-150, Transit, and Expedition.

[Source: Autoblog]

Shelby’s widebody Mustang is a concept, but its Super Snake F-150 is production bound

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Though Shelby already offers a Super Snake version of the current Mustang, the company clearly wanted more. Specifically, it wanted more width. The result is a new Super Snake concept with a wide body kit, and apparently it’s the first Shelby-designed concept in over 10 years. You would be forgiven for at first mistaking it for a normal Super Snake, as the spoilers, diffuser, and side skirts are very similar, but the fenders have been significantly pushed out, and the correspondingly wide wheels fitted underneath. The rear wheels are 12.5 inches wide, and the front wheels are 11. These modifications increase the track by 4 inches at the rear, and 2.5 inches at the front.

The Super Snake concept receives various other expected upgrades. The Mustang’s 5.0-liter V8 has a supercharger that allows it to make about 750 horsepower. Fully adjustable coilover suspension is found at each corner along with larger brakes. The front discs are 16 inches in diameter with 6-piston calipers, and the rears are 14 inches with 4-piston calipers. But if you want a widebody Super Snake of your own, you’re out of luck, since it’s only a concept at the moment.

What isn’t a concept is the Super Snake F-150 Shelby. The company will build 150 of the trucks this year. It also has a 750-horsepower supercharged V8 under the hood, and buyers can choose to mate it to a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive drivetrain. And of course, being a Shelby product, it has stripes and flashy bodywork so no one will mistake it for something else. It isn’t cheap, though. You’ll have to shell out $96,880 to take one home. To put that into perspective, just $10,000 more would buy you a new F-150 Raptor and a Shelby GT350 Mustang.

[Source: Autoblog]

Chrysler may be testing a Hellcat 300

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Another day goes by, and another mysterious, undisguised SRT prototype comes out of FCA. This time we have a Chrysler 300 SRT that looks nearly stock except for its footwear. Our spy photographer got up close and personal with this machine, and found that it has the same wheels with 315-mm tires that were on the early Dodge Demon prototypes. The only difference is the wheels on this 300 have Chrysler-branded center caps. All that extra width means these wheels stick pretty far out from the wheel wells, which would suggest that any production car running this setup would have flares to cover the wheels. Behind those wheels are four-piston Brembo calipers and slotted discs that looks similar to those on the current 300 SRT.

We doubt that Chrysler is building a Demonized version of the 300, but the tires do suggest that this is a much more potent 300 than the current SRT, which was discontinued in the US in 2015 but is still sold in the Middle East and Australia. That’s not all we have to go on, though, since our spy photographer says it sounded like it had Hellcat power under the hood. Equipping a 300 with a Hellcat engine would be a breeze, too, since the engine is already in the Charger, which is virtually identical mechanically.

What you may be wondering is why Chrysler is adding a Hellcat version of the 300 SRT when that model hasn’t been available in the US since 2015. One possible reason is that this would finally allow Aussies access to the 707-horsepower machine. Dodge is not a brand offered Down Under, so it doesn’t get the Charger Hellcat, leaving the 300 as the only V8, rear-drive Mopar available. And for the Middle East, if the normal 300 SRT was selling well, it would only make sense to offer another variant. It shouldn’t cost Chrysler too much to develop this model either, since the 300, mechanically, is virtually identical to the Charger.

[Source: Autoblog]

Fuel efficiency causes dip in demand for gasoline

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US gasoline demand has been weaker than expected this year, but a growing economy and relatively cheap pump prices have the energy industry expecting record demand again this summer driving season, which should help drain the global oil glut.

Gasoline demand in the first two months of 2017 was down 2.1 percent from a year ago, according to the US Energy Information Administration. The US gasoline market accounts for roughly 10 percent of global oil consumption, so American motorists have outsized influence over the global petroleum supply.

Some analysts believe weak gasoline demand and a recent dip in auto sales will keep the global oil glut swollen. Analysts said weak demand may be temporary, due to the weather and other unusual factors. But oil refiners doubt that summer demand will be strong enough to boost their profit margins.

Last year, US gasoline demand hit a record 9.33 million barrels per day. Despite the dip in demand so far this year, vehicle miles traveled are up, a sign that fuel efficiency is rising.

Analysts and refiners blamed the drop in gasoline demand to unusually bad weather in California and Texas, states with the highest US driving volumes. California’s rainfall in January and February was more than double the amount in the same period last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

With summer driving season in sight, the outlook for gasoline demand is strong. Motorists are expected to hit US roads at rates not seen in a decade, the nation’s largest motorists’ advocacy group said on Wednesday.

The American Automobile Association projected that 34.6 million people will drive 50 miles (80 km) or more from home during the end-of-month holiday period, most since 37.3 million in 2005.

Steady economic growth and low unemployment should help boost demand in coming months, analysts said.

“I am a bit more bullish on US gasoline demand than I was six months ago,” said John Auers of refining consultancy Turner, Mason, & Co. “People thought 2016 would be a peak year, but I think we will top that this year.”

US gasoline prices have risen in recent months, but remain relatively cheap. The average pump price for regular gasoline was $2.34 per gallon on Thursday, up just a dime from a year ago, according to AAA.

US President Donald Trump’s tougher anti-immigration stance also hurt demand, Barclays analyst Paul Cheng said in a note this week. He estimated fear of deportation decreased driving activity among illegal immigrants enough to shave 0.4 percent from last year’s total demand.

MORE VEHICLE EFFICIENCY

Vehicle miles traveled on US roads were up 1.5 percent from last year through the first three months of 2017, according to the Department of Transportation. Analysts said higher fuel efficiency standards are starting to take hold, which could mean US gasoline demand will peak soon.

Sales of new cars and trucks hit a record high in 2016. SUVs and light trucks account for more than 60 percent of sales in 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, according to Barclays. Yearly auto sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.9 million cars in April.

The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the United States is up by 0.2 miles per gallon since the start of the year, hitting 25.3 mpg in April, according to Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, nearing August 2014’s peak of 25.5 mpg.

US gasoline inventories, thanks to weaker demand, remain 5.8 percent above the five-year seasonal average, according to the EIA.

Unless gasoline demand sharply increases, oil refiners may be in for another tough year. US gasoline refining margins have remained below 2016 levels for most of the year, an ominous sign ahead of summer driving season.

“The book has already been written,” said one refining executive. “Inventories are just too high, and they are not going away. We have pretty much written off the summer.”

Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw at [Autoblog]

Ford to add Android Auto and CarPlay to 2016 SYNC 3 cars via update

Ford is updating a large number of 2016 model year cars equipped with SYNC 3 infotainment software, adding Android Auto and CarPlay to the vehicles with a free, over-the-air update via Wi-Fi, or using either USB or going through their dealer. The upgrade will be available for around 800,000 vehicles in total, giving a huge number of Ford car owners the chance to get big infotainment improvements without having to buy a newer model car.

The OTA update option is also a big step for Ford – it’s the company’s first for software ever, and it’s one of the major reasons that Ford recently hired around 400 new mobile smartphone engineers, the company tells me.

For CarPlay, users will still also need to upgrade their vehicle’s USB hub to make this work (which will also incur a dealer visit and a cost), but for those on Android, all that’s required is a simple software installation. The USB install method is also faster, but the Wi-Fi update option is the start of the company’s efforts to really increase its OTA update program, which will be used for security improvements as well as infotainment bumps.

Even with a dealer visit and hardware upgrade for CarPlay, this sounds like a worthwhile thing for 2016 vehicle owners to do. CarPlay and Android Auto are huge upgrades vs. most in-car software, offering navigation and entertainment options that follow you from your phone to your car.

Retroactively offering this kind of thing to car owners is a definite change in tone for carmakers, since they typically use these kinds of things as incentives to get people interested in vehicle model updates. But as data becomes increasingly important to automakers as a business, it makes sense to encourage greater in-car use of devices.