Ford tops GM in US vehicle sales in May, driven by fleets

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Ford, bolstered by heavy sales to fleet customers, surpassed General Motors in US new vehicle sales in May, according to figures reported Thursday.

Ford said May sales rose 2.2 percent from a year ago to 241,126 units. GM sales dropped 1.3 percent to 237,364.

GM said it had been trimming sales of heavily discounted vehicles to car rental companies. Such fleet sales made up about 19 percent of its total sales in May.

Ford’s fleet sales rose 8.4 percent, representing more than 34 percent of total sales. The industry average is around 20 percent.

Analysts had expected mixed results for the industry, with sales likely propped up by heavy discounts.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said May sales dipped 0.9 percent to 193,040.

Toyota’s US sales dropped 0.5 percent to 218,248.

Nissan said US sales in May rose 3.0 percent, to 137,471.

After demand fell in March and April, analysts estimated May sales at just over 1.5 million. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales in May was estimated at 16.8 million to 16.9 million vehicles, about the same as April. A year earlier, sales stood at 17.55 million vehicles.

Early reports indicated that sales over the three-day Memorial Day weekend were helped by heavy discounts.

“While demand for new vehicles is still relatively strong, it’s a bit of smoke and mirrors,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds, the car shopping website.

Manufacturers and dealers “really pushed the deals over the holiday weekend to prop up their May numbers,” she said. “Incentives were up sharply, and it seems automakers are putting more cash on the hood to nudge car shoppers to buy versus lease.”

General Motors dealers were offering discounts of up to $12,000 on the full-size Chevrolet Silverado pickup, while some dealer discounts on Ford Motor Co’s F-series pickups were more than $10,000 on 2017 models and more than $14,000 on leftover 2016 models. The 2017 model year started eight months ago.

2017 Ford Focus EV’s range should grow by 45%

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The good news is that the 2017 Ford Focus Electric vehicle will likely have a longer single-charge range than the automaker previously indicated. The bad news is that the projected range is still substantially short of what a new EV like the Chevrolet Bolt will manage. The Focus will likely be a fair bit cheaper, though, so anyone who wants to trade dollars for miles will continue to have that option.

According to a spec sheet secured by Inside EVsthe Focus EV will feature a 33.5 kilowatt-hour battery, compared to the 23-kWh version for the 2016 model year. With capacity jumping by about 45 percent, the Focus EV’s single-charge range should grow from its current 76 miles to 110 or more. That would put the Focus EV on par with the single-charge range of the new Hyundai Ioniq Electric as well as the Nissan Leaf. Note that the Leaf is due – some would say overdue – for an upgrade, though, and so its range should jump as well.

“We don’t have any other news to share today until after EPA certification,” company representatives told AutoblogGreen. The company reiterated that the car would offer DC fast-charge capability, though.

Ford executive Kevin Layden, speaking at the SAE World Congress in Detroit in April, estimated that the 2017 Focus EV would have at least a 100-mile range, though the Blue Oval has bigger plans for future EVs. It pledged last December to invest $4.5 billion in electrification technology and CEO Mark Fields said this spring that the automaker would eventually develop an EV that can go 200 miles on a charge, kind of like the Bolt.

The Focus EV remains a fairly low-volume vehicle, though. Through July, Ford has sold only 504 units this year, down 47 percent from a year earlier. As for the 2017 Focus EV, no price tag was disclosed, though it’s likely to stay tethered to the $30,000 mark before federal and state rebates kick in. The Bolt will have an MSRP of $37,500.

[Source: Autoblog]

The 2018 Hyundai Azera looks pretty classy

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With the reveal of the new Azera, Hyundai has made it clear that it has no plans to leave the large, upscale sedan market. This South Korean Avalon-fighter underwent a significant redesign inside and out and will first go on sale in Korea next month.

Outside, the Azera has a significantly different and more formal, profile. While the previous model was rakish and wedgy, the new model adopts an upright version of Hyundai’s new corporate grille, along with a long hood and more vertical windshield. The flanks also receive long, flowing character lines that give it a muscular appearance. At the back, the Azera gets a new version of the full width taillights that the model has had since the nameplate’s introduction two generations ago.

The Azera also changes radically inside. Instead of the downward flowing dash of the old model, the new interior features an instrument panel that emphasizes width, with a dark top portion and lighter lower section. Sandwiched between the two halves of the dash is a section that rises up at the center stack to house the large touch screen and an analog clock, which looks a bit out of place.

Hyundai has yet to reveal any stats, pricing or availability for the new Azera, except for its aforementioned launch date in South Korea, where it will carry the Grandeur name. However, we would imagine more details will be coming soon ahead of its US launch.

[Source: Autoblog]

Jeep Grand One and Quicksand Concepts lead the charge to Moab

cn017-003jp-2.jpgJeep’s past, present, and future all share equal billing at the 51st annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab. We’re suckers for vintage Jeeps, so the all-new Grand One Concept really stands out among the seven vehicles that make up Jeep’s conceptual take on the off-road event. It’s based on a 1993 Grand Cherokee in a slightly early celebration of the model’s 25th anniversary. Exterior mods include custom fender flares for clearance over 18-inch wheels and 33-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires, trimmed front and rear fascias and what FCA is calling a “subtle wood grain” splashed on the vehicle’s bodysides. An extended wheelbase ought to offer a bit more room inside, and a two-inch suspension lift will help when the going gets tough. No alterations are mentioned to the vehicle’s 5.2-liter V8 or 4-speed automatic transmission.

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The second most interesting concept for Moab is the Jeep Quicksand. It’s clearly Wrangler-based, but instead of a traditional rock-climbing focus, this one’s built for the sand dunes. Power comes from a worked-over Mopar 392 Crate HEMI engine topped with an eight-stack fuel injection system that peeks through the hood. A six-speed manual sends the ponies to all four wheels, but with a unique twist: 32-inch BFGs in the front and 37s in the rear in what Jeep says is its first application of staggered tire sizes on a concept vehicle. A Warn winch concealed in a vintage-style Moon tank at the front is the finishing touch.

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The Jeep Safari Concept is all about letting the outdoors in while keeping the elements out. A translucent hardtop and four aluminum and clear vinyl doors are the most obvious changes from stock, and two rear seats have been angled outward so that their occupants get a better view outside. Dana 44 axles and a two-inch suspension lift come from the Mopar parts catalog, but the roof-rack-mounted drone and dash-mounted iPad are custom one-off touches. Power comes from a stock 3.6-liter V6 and five-speed automatic transmission.

Perhaps more intriguing than all the custom bits and baubles, though, are what appears to be next-gen Wrangler bodywork. Take a look at the kinked grille, the outer slats of which are pinched by the headlights, and the shape of the rocker panel between the front and rear door. No, this isn’t exactly a 2018 Wrangler hiding in plain sight, but it’s certainly a nod toward the future.

CN017_011JP.jpgJeep’s Switchback Concept looks to be a rolling Mopar parts catalog. Its front and rear Dana 44 axles, 4-inch lift with Remote Reservoir Fox shocks, heavy-duty cast differential covers, 10th Anniversary steel front and rear bumpers, Rubicon winch, grille, winch guard and cold air intake are all available from your nearest Jeep dealer. Most of the exterior bits, including the fender flares and rear spare tire carrier, are also off-the-shelf parts. The concept’s hood, cutout-style half doors, hard top, roof rack, and LED lighting package are conceptual, for now at least. Power again comes from a 3.6-liter V6 and automatic transmission.

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The Jeep Luminator Concept will be nice to have around when the lights go out at night. It’s plastered in LEDs head to toe, including some cool seven-inch projectors in place of the standard headlights. The magnetic underbody rock lights are a cool touch, but the lighted drone landing pad on top seems mostly for show, and the rooftop solar panel can’t possibly be powerful enough to provide any meaningful battery life for all those LEDs.

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Rounding out the new Jeep concepts is the Trailpass. It’s based on the new Compass Trailhawk, but gets a 1.5-inch lift kit and 18-inch wheels shod with Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires. A Mopar/Thule roof basket holding some traction mats ought to come in handy if the Trailpass can’t pass a trail. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and nine-speed automatic are unchanged from stock.

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The final vehicle Jeep is bringing to Moab is the CJ66 Concept that was first shown off at the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. A Mopar 345 Crate 5.7-liter Hemi engine sends 383 horsepower through a six-speed manual transmission to all four wheels. A narrowed body hearkens back to the time when Wranglers were actually CJs. Take a look at the instrument panel and its single centrally located gauge.

[Source: Autoblog]

Here’s another look at the next-gen Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

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Yesterday, we got a sneak peek at the next generation Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. As you might expect, it looks a lot like the current Wrangler. Really, did you expect anything different? The big news is that the leaked images show that the doors and top are removable, something that was unclear until now. Thanks to our friends at JL Wrangler Forums, we have some pretty new renderings based on those same leaked images.

While these aren’t official, this should be pretty damn close to what the final production model will look like. While it may be all new, the design is just a revolution of the tried and true formula. Fans might burn down the factory if designers strayed too far. The entire body has been worked over, with changes to the grille, bumper, fenders, and lights. The square tail lights look a lot like those on the Renegade.

We keep seeing more and more leaks and spy photos, so an official reveal can’t be too far off. In addition to the four-door Wrangler Unlimited, look for the long awaited Wrangler pickup truck.

[Source: Autoblog]

Dodge Demon’s A/C helps its supercharged Hemi make more power

Staying cool is one important key to performance. Simply, more air means more power, and cool, dense air is better than hot air. While forced induction might help make copious amounts of horsepower, turbos and superchargers produce heat. Intercoolers help, but the new Dodge Demon and its supercharged Hemi need a bit of an extra boost. In Drag Mode, the Demon’s engine commandeers the car’s air conditioning system to help chill things out.

The Demon will have the first production application of a liquid-to-air charge air cooler chiller system. Literally, the car’s air conditioning system is used to cool the air going into the engine, dropping temps by up to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Dodge claims the system helps achieve “temperatures previously unattainable by pressure-charged street-legal production vehicles.”

As cool as this may sound, the technology isn’t new. Ford had a prototype system in the early 2000s called SuperCooler, though that system never made it to production. While the Demon’s system doesn’t have a super cool name like the one from Ford, the pair essentially work in the same way. In theory, it should have the same effect as a bottle of nitrous. According to Autoweek, Ford’s system bumped up the output of the F-150 Lightning by about 50 horsepower. Turns out that air conditioning isn’t always a huge power suck.

Hyundai’s Genesis G90 caught totally uncovered

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It seems weird to type “Genesis” without “Hyundai” in front of it – unless we’re referring to the band, of course, which we aren’t. What we have here is the first car that’ll launch under Hyundai’s new premium brand, officially called Genesis. This is essentially the replacement for the Equus, and when it reaches the States, it’ll be called G90.

The G90 clearly makes strong use of Hyundai’s “Athletic Elegance” design language, and looks like a more premium version of the existing Genesis sedan. There’s a long hood, hexagonal grille, and vertically oriented taillamps that flow down the rear fascia. Judging by these low-res spy shots, we like what we see – even if, from some angles, it looks strangely familiar.

Genesis (the brand) launches next month in Hyundai’s home market. Following the G90, the Genesis sedan as we currently know it will move to G80 nomenclature, and a midsize, rear-wheel-drive sedan – G70 – will follow. A luxury SUV and sport coupe will round out the premium lineup.

Head over to Korean site Bobaedream.co.kr for a view of the G90’s rump, as well.

[Source: Autoblog]