Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
We’ve asked Ford executives repeatedly when they’re going to cowboy up and offer us the Ranger — the smaller truck it sells in lots of countries that aren’t America — or something similar. No way, ain’t gonna happen, forget it, is what they tell us.
Today we learn that might not be the case! The Detroit News reported late last night that Ford is in talks with the United Auto Workers union to build the Ranger in Wayne, Mich. starting in 2018, possibly to replace Focus and C-Max production that seems headed to Mexico.
If so, the truck would be sold here to compete with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, both of which have turned out to be solid hits. From the story:
The Dearborn automaker has entered contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers with plans to bring the Ranger to the plant in Wayne in 2018, said the sources, who couldn’t speak publicly because of the sensitive nature of the talks. They said the final decision is up for discussion in the talks now underway, and must be agreed to with the union and then Ford’s board of directors.
Do it! Do it, damn you!
For Ford, the pickup would mark the return to a small — but growing — midsize truck segment that would help it meet stricter fleet-wide fuel economy standards demanded by the federal government.
“There’s a real hunger for midsize trucks right now,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “Once upon a time, there were a lot of midsize trucks in this market. The ones that are available are cashing in on the demand.”
Let’s hope this plays out right. The Ranger would be a great addition to their U.S. stable.
2nd Gear: The F Stands For Fun
With Jaguar and Land Rover being the same company these days, you might be wondering why Jaguar needs a crossover of its own. Because money, that’s why! Also, Jaguar says their inexplicably-named F-Pace will be a ton of fun to drive, and will kick the crap out of the Porsche Macan and BMW X4. Via Automotive News:
In a statement Jaguar was keen to emphasize that the crossover’s performance will be in keeping with the brand’s sports car heritage. It touted the the F-Pace’s ability to perform on all surfaces including “twisting mountain passes, flowing country roads or high-speed motorway cruising.”
“We haven’t made any compromises or exceptions: the new F-Pace had to be a true Jaguar and had to deliver the [brand’s] dynamics DNA,” Mike Cross, Jaguar’s chief engineer of vehicle integrity, said in the statement.
Gotta have performance in your luxury crossover!
3rd Gear: Another Gran Turismo Concept, BUT!
It seems that for some time now Hyundai has been trying to launch a performance label called N, not to be confused with BMW’s M because they’re totally different okay?, but so far we haven’t seen anything come to fruition.
Hyundai may give us some hints of what they’re working towards at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show with another one of those Gran Turismo Vision concepts, but one that previews what to expect from N. One more from Automotive News:
Hyundai said its Frankfurt exhibit will center on its high performance N subbrand. The move underscores the manufacturer’s “dedication and investment to create striking and pioneering high performance cars,” Hyundai said in an Aug. 26 release.
The N line “signifies the pace of change within the brand, matching the company’s ambition to challenge perceptions by making real and emotional connections with customers,” it said.
Hyundai’s been making some great stuff lately, I’d love to see them get into the performance realm too.
4th Gear: Everyone Is Sick Of Recalls
You shouldn’t need a fancy study to tell you this, but one was conducted anyway: consumers are sick of all the recalls that have happened this year and last. From USA Today:
The American Customer Satisfaction Index reported Tuesday that its gauge for car-buyer satisfaction fell to 79 on a 100-point scale in 2015 from 82 last year.
The 3.7% drop was fueled by concerns over the massive increase in recalls throughout the auto industry since early 2014.
[...] Taken together, the recalls are starting to irk customers, ACSI found. Nonetheless, U.S. vehicle sales are expected to top 17 million units in 2015 for the first time since before the Great Recession of 2008, suggesting that disdain for recalls may not be levying a substantive effect on sales.
On one hand, it’s good that defects are getting fixed. On the other, multiple recalls mean multiple dealer visits, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
5th Gear: Should NHTSA Get Into The State Inspection Game?
Just 16 of the 50 states mandate an annual safety inspection for your car, down from 31 in the 1970s. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not offer any federal grants or support for the states that do, but a new report from the Government Accountability Office says NHTSA should aid states by giving them the latest information on safety technology. From The Detroit News:
The states told GAO that “additional information from NHTSA — for example, information related to new vehicle safety technologies — would help in operating their programs. However, there is no designated channel for communication between NHTSA and program officials.”
States have different criteria for when a LED headlight passes a test; some require 100 percent of diodes to function, while some say just 50 percent must work.
Some states said they want “more information on new technologies such as light-emitting diode brake lights. State officials also said that it is not clear whether or how to inspect new safety technologies, such as tire pressure monitoring systems, required by NHTSA for new vehicles. Without information, states have implemented different inspection pass-fail criteria or chosen not to include new technologies in their inspections, potentially reducing the safety benefit of their programs.”
On this day in 1959, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) launches its newest car, the small, affordable–at a price tag of less than $800–Mark I Mini. The diminutive Mini went on to become one of the best-selling British cars in history.
Neutral: Would You Buy A Ranger?
Or should Ford keep focusing on bigger trucks?
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