Dodge Is Actually Reliable Now, Says Consumer Reports

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Dodge proves its reliability against thirty other manufacturers, city residents want us to rethink our relationship to cars, and China is bringing its first-ever electric vehicle into Europe. All this and more in The Morning Shift for Friday, November 15, 2019.

1st: Dodge Proves Actually Reliable

The Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey is in, and Dodge is likely breathing a sigh of relief as it peruses the results. For the first time ever, the brand has secured a place in the top 10 list, Automotive News reports.

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In fact, due to above-average ratings for the Challenger and Grand Caravan, Dodge has moved up to number eight on the list, thirteen spots higher than the previous survey. And that’s not all—Dodge was actually the highest-ranked of the Detroit 3 automakers.

Both the Grand Caravan and Challenger/Charger platforms are old as dirt now, but they get the job done, and Fiat Chrysler has clearly had time to iron all the bugs out.

Here’s a little background on how the survey is conducted from Automotive News:

The survey, which covers the 2000-2019 model years, is based on data collected from the organization’s members about their experiences with more than 400,000 vehicles. The nonprofit then assigns a predicted new-vehicle reliability score to various nameplates.

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Dodge wasn’t the only big mover on the board this year. Chrysler—which only sells two cars these days—jumped up seven spots, into slot number 19. “Consumer Reports said the 300 sedan continued to be ‘better than average,’ while the Pacifica minivan remained below average.” It should be noted the 300 is a platform relative of the muscle cars, so again, that family is pretty robust.

Both Volkswagen and Acura slipped nine spots down in the rankings. Cadillac came in dead last.

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Lexus made its way into first place, which is typical, followed by Mazda and Toyota in second and third. You can read the full report over at Consumer Reports, but for this survey, the top 10 was dominated by Japanese, Korean, and German manufacturers.

And then there’s the million-dollar question: Is Tesla improving in reliability? They’ve moved up four spots, into 23rd. But that’s still... not ideal.

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Here’s Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at CR.

The Tesla Model 3 struggled last year as the company made frequent design changes and ramped up production to meet demand. But as the production stabilized, we have seen improvements to the reliability of the Model 3 and S that now allow us to Recommend both models.

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2nd: Cities Are Redefining How They Feel About Cars

More and more people are living in cities these days, but that’s led to deeper conversations about traffic congestion and pollution. The New York Times has a nice feature on how several big cities across the world are dealing with those problems.

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From the article:

The immediate motivation is clear: City dwellers want cleaner, healthier air and less traffic. The long-term payoffs can be big: Curbing transportation emissions, which account for nearly a fourth of all greenhouse gases, is vital to staving off climate catastrophes.

And so, cities, which account for a large majority of global emissions, are dangling both carrots and sticks to persuade their residents to get out of their cars — or into cleaner ones.

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Several cities, like Bristol, Amsterdam, and London have proposed plans to clean up their acts through things like banning diesel trucks during rush hour or banning all internal combustion powered vehicles from city centers.

The NYT details several cities that have already started implementing climate-friendly policies regarding its ICE cars. New Delhi, for example, is notorious for its dangerous air quality. Its efforts to reduce tailpipe emissions have been pretty futile since there are just so many damn cars and motorcycles on the road.

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But it’s a start—and that’s what a lot of city residents are asking for.

3rd: China Brings Its First EV To Europe

Shanghai-based automaker Aiways has secured all the necessary paperwork and certifications, and it’s coming to Europe, Bloomberg reports. Its all-electric SUV, called the U5, is priced at a very competitive $39,000, with the intention of drawing consumers away from their favored Volkswagens and Teslas.

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The U5 is going on sale in China next month, and co-founder Fu Qiang believes it should be hitting the European markets by Q2 next year.

From the article:

While the European variant will be adapted to local tastes and regulatory requirements, Aiways could have a tough time winning over buyers in a market dominated by local, U.S. and Japanese brands for decades. The debut will be watched closely by dozens of other Chinese electric-vehicle makers with global ambitions.

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But Aiways’ success isn’t guaranteed. EV sales have been falling pretty drastically in China for the past three months. It could be a rocky start for Aiways in its home country, but there’s also a hesitant European market to convince. Essentially, Aiways is going to have one hell of a task before it if it wants the U5 to be a success.

And it’s really only a matter of time before the Chinese brands start selling in the U.S.

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4th: Volkswagen Goes All-In On New Tech Spending

The Volkswagen Group is here for the future: it’s just increased its spending on electric cars and digital tech to a whopping $66 billion over the next five years, Automotive News Europe reports. That’s an increase of 36 percent of its current budget.

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From the article:

The automaker plans to build 75 electric car variants and about 60 hybrid vehicles, it said.

New EVs on its mass-market MEB electric platform will include an ID-badged SUV, with production expected to start in 2022 at its factory in Emden, Germany, VW said. The SUV will be about the same size as the VW Tiguan.

About 20 million of the battery-powered vehicles planned through 2029 will be based on the MEB architecture, it said. These will include models for the VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat brands.

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That’s a pretty big goal to have considering there’s been a bit of a market slump going on as well as lower sales deliveries. But Volkswagen appears to believe that a big investment now will pay off in the future—especially considering Tesla just recently announced its new Gigafactory will be built in Berlin. The Germans can’t let that challenge go unmet.

5th: Ford Workers Expected To Ratify Contract Today

While the UAW’s General Motors workers went on strike for six weeks to demand a better contract, Ford is expected to ratify its own contract today without any problems or hang-ups, the Detroit Free Press Reports.

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The easier relationship between Ford and the UAW is explained in the article:

“Ford always worked to develop a more proactive relationship with the UAW than GM or Fiat Chrysler ever did. And we see Ford’s effort paying off with a relatively smooth ratification process on the new labor contract,” said John McElroy, longtime industry observer and host of “Autoline After Hours.”

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That has paid off come contract negotiation time. Included in this contract is a $6 billion investment in U.S. facilities and jobs, thousands in ratification bonuses for employees, stable health care, wage increases, promising retirement incentives, and aid given to workers affected by the closing of the Romeo Engine Plant.

You can find out more about the contract here.

Reverse: Craig Breedlove Hits 600 MPH in 1965

“That 600 is about a thousand times better than 599,” Breedlove said after he’d complete his run. “Boy, it’s a great feeling.”

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Neutral: Where Did Your Favored Brand Come In On CR’S Reliability Survey?

And do you think it’s a justified ranking? I know when my husband heard Cadillac was pulling up the rear, he adamantly rejected that it would be possible. Except for the fact that his ATS’ brakes are a mess these days and also his headlights frequently decide to start wandering all over the damn place.

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About the author

Elizabeth Blackstock

Staff writer. Motorsport fanatic. Proud owner of a 2013 Mazda 2.