1st Gear: The Driverless Future On Display At The Motor City (And Vegas)
The next two weeks will be so jam-packed full of car news that you and your friends and loved ones won’t know what do with each other. CES begins in Las Vegas this week, followed by the Detroit Auto Show (in Detroit) immediately after. We’ll be covering both live.
Since the next great frontiers in cars have more to do with technology and new concepts of ownership than cars themselves, CES is basically a car show these days, and that puts Detroit in a bit of a weird spot in terms of big debuts.
But there are some BIG DEAL REVEALS at Detroit this year, like Kia’s rear-wheel drive sport sedan, the new Honda Odyssey minivan, the Audi Q8, some more Mercedes-AMG GT variants, and an all-new Toyota Camry, the only car capable of weathering the sedanocalypse due to its sheer, terrifying sales dominance.
More on what to expect at Detroit from The Detroit News:
As the 2017 North American International Auto Show gets ready to roll into the Motor City for its annual run, the auto industry is at what Waymo CEO John Krafcik likes to call “an inflection point.” Mary Barra, General Motors’ chairman and chief executive, puts it another way: “The auto industry is likely to change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50.”
Skeptical? Just spend a day at Cobo Center, where more than 40 cars, trucks and crossovers will make their North American or global debut — with scores of other recently launched models on display. With many of those new models, what seemed like science fiction just a few years ago is about to become reality.
[...] Indeed, more and more of the new production models on display at Cobo Center will be featuring the latest in semi-autonomous technologies capable of watching your blind spot, minding oncoming traffic as you back out of a mall parking lot and even slamming on the brakes automatically if you don’t respond quickly enough to a potential collision.
We will soon find out what all that means for people who love to drive, and drive more than just Camrys.
2nd Gear: Faraday Future’s Make Or Break Moment
Meanwhile in Las Vegas, the big news comes later tonight when Chinese-backed electric startup car company (?) Faraday Future holds a big presentation to supposedly unveil its production car models.
The revolution will be livestreamed at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST and, Kinja-willing, you should be able to witness here on Jalopnik too.
FF blitzed onto the scene a year ago with big promises about an industry-upending vehicle only to haul out a bizarre and unrealistic concept, and then spent most of the year dealing with headlines about how it may be out of money, is getting sued by suppliers and has no working factory at the moment. If FF doesn’t pull off something big and convincing tonight, its goose is cooked—and even then, it has a long, long way to go to be the Tesla-killer its backer says it will be.
3rd Gear: Hyundai-Kia Says It Will Grow Because It Will
Meanwhile in actual car companies, as we reported late last year, Hyundai and Kia aren’t doing too hot at the moment. After a decade that saw them grow from econobox makers to legit power players, their lack of SUVs, trucks and crossovers—among other problems—have led to issues in the U.S. and other markets.
Now, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo says he projects global sales to rebound five percent in 2017, which is quite a bit more than Hyundai’s own internal projections, so it seems to be more based on the force of his own will than anything else. Via Reuters:
“With the global economy continuing its low growth, trade protectionism spreading and competition intensifying in the automobile industry, uncertainty is growing more than ever,” Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo said in his New Year message to employees.
The 78-year-old chief said the automakers will launch more than 10 new models every year, including a new SUV for advanced markets and a Genesis G70 sedan this year.
The projected 5 percent rise in global sales for 2017 to 8.25 million vehicles easily beats the 1.9 percent rise forecast earlier by Hyundai Motor Group’s own think-tank.
“The 2017 goal is slightly higher than my projection,” said Ko Tae-bong, an auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities.
4th Gear: The Cars Of 2017
The Detroit Free Press has a good rundown of all the new and thrilling car debuts to happen this year, and besides the Ford GT, you know what I’m kind of excited about? The new Buick Regal, which is the best-looking and most interesting Buick to debut in decades:
Buick’s new sport sedan will have dynamic looks and plenty of technology, based on early looks at its overseas cousins, the European Opel Insignia Grand Sport and Australian Holden Commodore. The three brands share their performance attributes, styling and many features.
Expect the Regal to be around 350 pounds lighter with a longer wheelbase than the car it replaces. It will probably share the Insignia Grand Sport’s fastback profile.
The new Enclave family-carrying SUV is the long-awaited replacement for the model that began Buick’s American resurgence. Expect the new model to lose substantial weight but remain big and roomy, unlike its showroom-mate, the GMC Acadia, which shrank considerably when the new model arrived in 2016.
The Enclave should be Buick’s flagship, so expect the brand to pull out the stops on style, luxury and technology.
5th Gear: Dieselgate Will Never Die
A new lawsuit filed in Germany against Volkswagen wants to make the automaker buy back its cheating diesel cars there, like it’s doing in the U.S. too.
I will be covering this story until I am dead! Via Bloomberg:
Volkswagen AG is facing a new lawsuit in Germany claiming the company needs to buy back diesel cars, potentially for thousands of drivers, at the full original purchase price because of the emissions scandal.
The suit by one car owner was filed today here to become a sample case that may help thousands of other European claimants, according to Jan-Eike Andresen of legal-tech portal My-Right.de. The suit is the first filed in a project being litigated by German lawyers of U.S. law firm Hausfeld that is designed to skirt Germany’s lack of American- style class actions.
My-right.de set up a website enabling car owners to sign up online to have their claims heard without running financial risks plaintiffs normally have because of Germany’s loser-pays rule. The company is cooperating with litigation fund Burford Capital. The website promises car owners “up to 5,000 euros” ($5,200) in damages or to make VW buy back the vehicle. Hausfeld and My-right.de declined to say how many people signed up or describe the total value of potential claims.
Reverse: Forza Michael
Neutral: What Car Are You Most Excited For In 2017?
Let’s all drive good cars until the robots take our keys away! Then eat our medicine for fuel.