Lincoln plans to unveil the production version of the 2019 Aviator crossover this month at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The luxury make showed off what it called a “production preview” of the Aviator in March at the New York auto show. The production version is expected to retain most of the production preview’s features.

The three-row, rear-wheel-drive crossover will come with a gasoline or plug-in hybrid powertrain and is expected to go on sale in the second half of 2019.

Inside, the Aviator will offer the same 30-way adjustable seats as those in the Navigator and Continental, and a 12-inch digital cluster, Wi-Fi and multiple charging ports will be standard. Also standard will be the brand’s new Lincoln Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assist technologies.

Lincoln said the vehicle’s chimes to alert drivers about open fuel doors or an unlatched seat belt were recorded by musicians with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Executives call the Aviator the “epitome” of Lincoln design. The styling includes an updated mesh grille described as an inverse of the face worn by the Navigator, Continental and other Lincolns. The vehicle is a sibling of the Ford Explorer, which is also being redesigned on the same rear-wheel-drive platform.

Lincoln used the Aviator nameplate on an SUV until it was discontinued in 2005. It’s returning as the brand is trying to reach 300,000 global sales by the end of the decade — and is relying heavily on crossovers and SUVs such as the Aviator and recently redesigned Navigator to lead the way.


700 hp, 600 lb-ft and zero emissions from an all-electric drivetrain in a COPO Camaro


Chevrolet startled the enthusiast car world the night before SEMA opened with an all-electric Camaro concept meant for drag racing.

You’d expect a beastly powerful COPO Camaro to debut at the enormous SEMA aftermarket parts show, especially considering that this is the model’s 50th anniversary. And one did. On Monday night, at a new preview event called SEMA Red Carpet, Chevy VP of performance cars, motorsports and everything else that’s fun Jim Campbell introduced a more-or-less-to-be-expected 50th anniversary COPO Camaro with a 427 LSX V8 mated to a Turbo 400 transmission.

Very nice.

But it was soon apparent that there was something else coming up.

“What could be next,” teased Campbell, rhetorically. “We’re always looking to innovate.”

He spoke of “performance and efficiency on the street and track.”

Also, certainly coincidentally, only a few days before, GM CEO Mary Barra had called for a national zero-emission vehicle program. So you could say the atmosphere the night before SEMA was electric. And after the 427-powered COPO Camaro rumbled off the Red Carpet ramp to a smattering of applause, another COPO Camaro rolled up –- only it did it completely silently.

Behold, the eCOPO Camaro Concept.

The eCOPO Camaro lights ’em up at the drag strip.

The eCOPO is powered by two big, fat electric motors under the hood, longitudinally aligned, bolted straight onto the bellhousing of a conventional Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission, routing torque to the rear wheels. The two BorgWarner HVH 250-150 motors together make 700 hp and 600 lb-ft, the latter achieved just above 0 rpm. Two battery packs sit where the rear seats used to be, and two more are in the trunk. Total power is 800 volts. Official estimates are for quarter-mile times in the high nines with trap speeds in the high 130s to low 140s.

“The eCOPO Concept is all about where we go in the future with electrification in the high-performance space,” said Russ O’Blenes, director, Performance Variants, Parts and Motorsports at General Motors. “The original COPO Camaro program was all about pushing the envelope, and this concept is an exploration with the very same spirit.”

Officially the car is just a concept, with no plans for production and no pricing estimates. But it will be raced in the Pacific Northwest by the winning Hancock and Lane drag racing team based in North Bend, Washington. The team will be at the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Nov. 1-4 at The Strip in Las Vegas and at the Auto Club Finals Nov. 8-11 in Pomona, for starters. So you can go see the car in action and see if it’ll really do nines.

It should, considering that it was built by Patrick McCue, whose all-electric Pontiac Trans-Am has already done the quarter mile in 8.3 seconds at 166 mph. McCue runs the Bothell North Shore Automotive Tech Program at Bothell High School in Bothell, Washington, northeast of Seattle. The crew first converted a BMW Z3 to electric power in 2012, then there was the “Shock and Awe” all-electric Trans-Am and now this Camaro. I spoke with team members Stephen Johnsen, Charlie Tsai and Ron Easley at SEMA and was impressed with the depth of knowledge.

The eCOPO Camaro Concept offers an electrified vision of drag racing, with an electric motor and GM’s first 800-volt battery pack replacing the gas engine, enabling 9-second quarter-mile times.

“This project exemplifies Chevrolet and General Motors’ commitment to engaging young minds in STEM education,” said O’Blenes. “It also represents our goal of a world with zero emissions, with the next generation of engineers and scientists who will help us get there.”

It’s more than just a concept, too, or it could be more, as GM said in a release:

“The eCOPO Camaro Concept expands Chevrolet and General Motors’ electrification development and supports future product development. It also suggests a potential new avenue for Chevrolet’s crate engine and performance parts portfolio.

“The eCOPO Camaro’s electric motor has the same bell house mounting pattern and crankshaft flange as the popular LS-family engines in Chevrolet’s crate engine portfolio. That allows it to bolt up to just about any General Motors transmission. In fact, the transmission, driveshaft and other drivetrain components remain in the same locations as in a gasoline-powered COPO Camaro race car, meaning the electric motor simply bolts into the engine compartment in place of the gas engine.

“The possibilities are intriguing and suggest a whole new world for racers,” said O’Blenes. “Chevrolet pioneered the concept of the high-performance crate engine right around the time the original COPO Camaro models were created, and the eCOPO project points to a future that could include electric crate motors for racing, or even your street rod. We’re not there yet, but it’s something we’re exploring.”

“In the meantime, Chevrolet and Hancock and Lane Racing will continue to develop the eCOPO Camaro and test it on the drag strip, seeking quicker elapsed times with all-new technology.”

Imagine drag racing that is quicker, but silent. Could be. And there could someday be an electric car section at SEMA -– in our lifetimes. But for this year’s show, there is just the eCOPO, and that was quite something.

Tesla is now selling a cheaper Model 3 with a 260-mile battery starting at $45,000

Tesla has announced a new mid-range version of the Model 3, one that’s cheaper than the long-range version that Tesla’s exclusively sold up until this point. It’s still not the $35,000 base model that’s been delayed until 2019. But the new mid-level option offers 260 miles of range and starts at $45,000.

The new option, which CEO Elon Musk tweeted about this afternoon, is built with the same battery pack as the 310-mile long-range Model 3, but uses fewer cells, which accounts for the lower price and shorter range. Now, instead of a top range of 310 miles on a single charge with a top speed of 145 mph and a 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, the new model gets you 260 miles on a charge with a top speed of 125 mph and a 0-60 mph of 5.6 seconds.

Adding advanced Autopilot features adds an additional $5,000, as is the case with other Tesla models. Also, the dual-motor all-wheel drive option is now restricted to the long range option, with the mid-range option getting rear-wheel drive only.

“As Model 3 production and sales continue to grow rapidly, we’ve achieved a steady volume in manufacturing capacity, allowing us to diversify our product offering to even more customers,” a spokesperson for Tesla said in a statement. “Our new mid-range battery is being introduced this week in the US and Canada to better meet the varying range needs of the many customers eager to own Model 3, and our delivery estimate for customers who have ordered the Standard Battery is 4-6 months.”

That means reservation holders who are waiting for the cheapest version of Tesla’s first mass market car will still have to wait until at least February before those Model 3s start to ship. They also won’t be eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit given out to buyers of electric cars, because Tesla recently triggered a phase out of the incentive after passing 200,000 vehicles sold in the US. Instead, the credit will dip to $3,750 starting on January 1st, 2019, and drop again to $1,875 on July 1st of next year, before completely vanishing.

2019 Yamaha Hyper Naked Lineup First Look: MT-10, MT-09, MT-07

For the 2018 model year, Yamaha renamed its FZ lineup to the one used in Europe – MT.

Regardless of the name, all three models in the MT 2018 lineup – MT-07, MT-09 and MT-10 – received instant praise from moto journalists and riders across America.

For 2019, the three “Hyper Naked” MT motorcycles (MT standing for “Masters of Torque”) return unchanged from an engine/chassis standpoint, but not from an aesthetics standpoint.

2019 Yamaha MT-07

The MT-07 (twin), MT-09 (triple) and MT-10 (inline four) are now available with a new “Ice Fluo” color scheme.

Speaking of the updated color scheme, Yamaha says: “For 2019 Yamaha takes the MT’s aggressive and streetwise image to the next level. The forceful and uncompromising new Ice Fluo color not only underlines the assertive character of Yamaha’s Hyper Naked bikes, it also creates an instantly recognizable look that strengthens the strong family feeling amongst MT owners.

“Consisting of a super cool new ice-grey body color contrasted by fluorescent red wheels and a black engine, frame, forks, and headlamp – with tuning fork logos on the tank or air ducts – the new Ice Fluo color option is exclusive to the Yamaha MT range.”


2019 Yamaha MT-10

Following are the highlights of each 2019 model (courtesy of Yamaha).

2019 Yamaha MT-10 Highlights

  • Powerful 998cc inline four-cylinder crossplane engine derived from YZF-R1
  • Lightweight chassis based on YZF-R1
  • Linear torque with outstanding agility
  • Sophisticated electronic control technology
  • Available in Ice Fluo and Matte Raven Black
  • MSRP $12,999.00
  • Arrives at dealerships beginning in October 2018

2019 Yamaha MT-09 Highlights

  • Exciting 847cc inline triple-cylinder engine and sporty, agile chassis
  • Radical naked style with thrilling performance
  • Comfortable, upright ergonomics
  • Available in Ice Fluo, Matte Raven Black, Team Yamaha Blue
  • MSRP $8,999.00
  • Arrives at dealerships beginning in November 2018

2019 Yamaha MT-07 Highlights

  • Compact 689cc twin-cylinder engine with plenty of torque
  • Thrilling performance with outstanding value
  • Sporty and light with neutral handling character
  • Available in Ice Fluo, Matte Raven Black, and Breaker Cyan
  • MSRP $7,599.00
  • Arrives at dealerships beginning in December 2018

For more, visit www.yamahamotorsports.com/hyper-naked.

Volkswagen fires Audi CEO after Dieselgate arrest

Audi executive Rupert Stadler has been forced out of the company as a result of his alleged role in the Dieselgate scandal. Stadler was fully removed from his post as CEO on Tuesday, as well as his position on the boards of Audi and Volkswagen Group, according to the German automakers. Stadler was suspended from the CEO role earlier this summer after he was arrested by German authorities on suspicion that he knew about the company-wide effort to cheat emissions tests.

Stadler was CEO of Audi when the emissions cheating scandal broke in 2015. That September, the EPA accused Audi’s parent company Volkswagen of intentionally installing software on a variety of its diesel-powered cars that lowered emissions during testing, which made them appear compliant. In truth, when the cars were back on the road, some polluted upward of 40 times more than the allowed limit.

Volkswagen Group has paid billions of dollars in fines as a result of being caught. Stadler, meanwhile, is the sixth executive to be imprisoned for charges related to Dieselgate. His arrest spurred Audi to briefly postpone the launch of the E-tron, the company’s first all-electric car. The reveal was originally scheduled to take place in August in Brussels, where Audi is manufacturing the E-tron. Instead, Audi revealed the car in San Francisco a few weeks later.

Audi’s temporary CEO Bram Schot did not directly address Stadler’s arrest while onstage at the San Francisco event, and only obliquely referenced Audi’s role in Dieselgate. “I think that’s known we have not forgotten our past, we have not forgotten about what happened over the past few years,” he said before unveiling the car. “We needed to improve ourselves, to assume responsibility and become better than ever before.”

Volkswagen was similarly vague about the reasons for Stadler’s firing in the company’s statement. “Mr. Stadler is [leaving] because, due to his ongoing pre-trial detention, he is unable to fulfill his duties as a member of the board of management and wishes to concentrate on his defense,” the company wrote.

Correction: The cars with cheat software polluted 40 times more when not being tested, not 40 percent more as originally stated.

Most drivers don’t understand limitations of car safety systems, AAA finds

Most drivers don’t understand the limitations of advanced safety technology installed on new vehicles, according to a new study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The study indicates that drivers overestimate the capabilities of features such as blind-spot monitoring systems, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

“A substantial proportion of respondents demonstrated what we believe was a concerning lack of awareness of some of the key limitations of the technologies,” said Brian Tefft, senior researcher for the AAA Foundation.

The findings raise questions about whether Americans are ready to adapt to partially self-driving vehicles, which typically require drivers to remain alert and ready to take over the steering wheel if the car can’t handle the conditions it encounters.

Problem spots flagged by AAA:

• Blind-spot monitoring: Nearly 80 percent of drivers don’t understand the limitations or thought that the system had greater capability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Relying too much on blind-spot monitoring, about 25 percent don’t look for oncoming vehicles when they change lanes.

• Forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking: Many drivers confuse the two. One is a warning system, while the other takes action. More than 40 percent of drivers don’t know these limitations.

• Adaptive cruise control: About 29 percent of drivers who use this system, which accelerates and brakes on its own, are sometimes comfortable “engaging in other activities” while the system is activated, according to the study.

To be sure, the researchers emphasized that advanced driver assistance systems are generally helpful. Such technologies can prevent about 40 percent of crashes and 30 percent of crash deaths, according to federal estimates.

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The problem is that technology backfires when people don’t understand how it works.

“I think there’s a general assumption among members of the public that technologies in vehicles today will do things for us,” said Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy and research for AAA. “These technologies are not meant to replace us behind the wheel. They’re meant to help us out.”

Nelson said that it’s important for dealers, automakers and rental-car companies to educate drivers, at the time they take delivery of their vehicle, on how these systems work.

And “we shouldn’t be marketing them in a way that could potentially mislead folks,” Nelson added.

Porsche says that it will no longer make diesel vehicles

Porsche says that it’s getting out of the diesel business — for good. In a release this morning, it explains that amidst falling demand for diesel vehicles, and a growing interest in hybrids, it “has decided to no longer offer diesel propulsion in future.”

Porsche CEO Oliver Blume notes that his company isn’t “demonising diesel” with the announcement, and says that the fuel still important worldwide, even though it’s never been a huge part of the company’s offerings. There’s been indications of this attitude in recent months: the German automaker has been increasingly interested in electric and hybrid vehicles. Last year, the company unveiled the 2019 Cayenne SUV , which was notably missing a diesel version, and later unveiled an updated hybrid model.

Earlier this year, it announced that by 2022, it would double investment in greener vehicles, and that by 2025, “every second new Porsche vehicle could have an electric drive – either hybrid or purely electric.” Porsche will release its electric sports car, the Taycan (formerly known as Mission E) next year, which will take on other electric sports cars like Tesla’s Model S.

Porsche’s desire to put diesel behind it makes sense: the automotive industry is increasingly betting on a future in which we drive electric and hybrid vehicles, and the company was embroiled in Volkswagen’s 2015 diesel emissions scandal. The company also hasn’t sold diesel vehicles in the US marketplace since 2015, and last year, it recalled 22,000 of its Cayenne SUVs after they were found to be equipped with devices that allowed them to get around emissions tests. Following that recall, Porsche opted to halt production altogether on its diesel engines, rather than update them to adhere to existing regulations. At the time, it seemed that it was simply pausing production, but today’s announcement reveals that it’s settled on the route that it will take — one without diesel.

Google partners with the world’s biggest auto group to bring Android to cars

Starting in 2021, millions of cars globally may have media displays powered by Google’s Android OS. Google is partnering with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which sells more cars than any other carmaker collective, to build the operating system behind the entertainment and GPS systems. These new systems will offer apps through the Play Store, navigation through Google Maps, and voice commands via Google Assistant.

“In the future, the Google Assistant, which employs Google’s leading AI technology, can become the main way customers interact with their vehicles, hands-free,” Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi’s Global VP of connected vehicles Kal Mos said in a statement.

Last year, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance sold 10.6 million cars worldwide, and it sold 5.54 million vehicles by June 30th this year, so we might expect similar numbers for 2018. Android won’t arrive on these branded cars for three more years, so the total number of vehicles Google ultimately brings Android to could shift considerably. The alliance estimates it will sell more than 14 million cars in 2022.

As The Wall Street Journal notes, Google has been trying to get into the car space for over a decade. Its efforts have somewhat been hindered because auto companies view Google and other tech giants as potential competitors who may mine user data for profit. Many automakers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW prefer to create their own proprietary GPS systems rather than let companies like Google in, but they have come across difficulties streamlining the technology.

Still, considering a lot of drivers just mount their phones on the dash and use Google Maps and Waze to navigate traffic, the popularity of these apps over car company systems is already there. Google also offers its Android OS and services like Android Auto for free, which is expected to make the transition easier. At its I/O developer conference earlier this year, Google and Volvo showed off a 2020 model year XC40 that runs Android Auto natively, with Volvo’s Sensus skin over Android Pie. On the user’s end, they will be prompted to give Google permission to collect and analyze data through its apps, according to the WSJ.

It’s not going to be all Google, however. The systems will still be compatible with mobile devices running other operating systems like Apple’s CarPlay, so it looks like automakers are still keeping their options open.

Ford tells Trump why it won’t make China-built car in US

President Donald Trump offered some business advice to Ford Motor on Sunday: because of the administration’s high tariffs on car imports from China, Ford can start making its Focus Active in the United States.

Ford wasted little time responding to say that wasn’t going to happen.

“It would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S. given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units,” Ford said Sunday.

The statement came after Trump tweeted about an article from August 31, when Ford announced that it was canceling plans to make the Focus Active, a compact crossover, in China and ship them to the United States.

“This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!” Trump wrote, citing a Reuters article posted on CNBC.


The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, including some automobiles, in a move Trump has touted as necessary to punish Beijing for what he says are its unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft. China has retaliated in kind, and Washington and Beijing have continue to ratchet up threats of more tariffs.

Ford spokesman Michael Levine said the Focus Active is built in Europe. The company had plans to begin making the vehicle in China in the latter half of 2019 and exporting them to the US market.

But Ford said last month that it was scrapping that plan because Trump’s tariffs would make the cars too expensive.

The company also reaffirmed that it has no plans to start making the car on US soil. It will continue to sell the vehicle outside the states.

Sedans and other small cars are falling out of favor with Americans.

Ford already announced earlier this year that it would reallocate $7 billion of research and development funds from cars to SUVs and trucks. Executive James Farley said at an investor’s conference in January that the carmaker’s lineup is “shifting from cars to utilities.”

It’s not just Ford. All three Detroit automakers have made it clear that they’re going all-in on SUVs and trucks.

Ford added in its statement that it’s committed to “growing its U.S. vehicle lineup – including introducing all-new trucks, utilities, hybrids and fully electric vehicles.”

The company said about 80% of the vehicles Ford sells in the United States are built domestically.

Ford recalls 2 million F-150 trucks to fix a fire risk

Ford is recalling F-150 pickups built between March 12, 2014, and August 23, 2018, at the Dearborn, Michigan plant as well as trucks built from August 20, 2014, through August 23, 2018 at the Kansas City, Missouri factory — or roughly 2 million trucks — because of a possible fire risk. According to Ford, the seat belt pretensioner can create excessive sparks when deployed and ignite its own residual gasses in the B-pillar. Obviously, sparks and combustible gasses can ignite fabrics in the cabin.

Earlier this year NHTSA launched an investigation into the issue, which resulted in this recall. Ford is aware of 17 reports in the U.S. and six in Canada but denied being aware of any accidents or injuries related to the matter.

The repair is straightforward but apparently doesn’t include a new seat belt pretensioner. Instead, Ford will remove insulation from the B-pillar area and excess wiring harness tape before applying a heat-resistant tape to the carpet and the remaining insulation. Of course, as is the case with all recalls, the repair will be free of charge to owners.

If you think that your truck falls under this recall, you should reach out to your local Ford dealer, or at least check your VIN against Ford’s recall tool.