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VW Seven-Seat Crossover to be Built in Chattanooga in 2016

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Volkswagen announced today that it will build its new seven-seat crossover at its Chattanooga, Tenn. plant.

Despite being the worlds number two automaker, Volkswagen is having a hard time in the U.S. market and the company hopes a large utility vehicle that will sit above the Touareg will help shore up its sales here. The mid-size sedan segment expanded from roughly 7500,000 in 2009 to about 1.4 million currently.

“The Chattanooga-built midsize SUV will allow us to fulfill the wishes of our dealer network, bringing new customers to our showrooms and additional growth for the brand,” VW Group of America CEO Michael Horn said. “We are eager to be entering this growing vehicle segment with a world-class, seven-passenger SUV from Volkswagen.”Volkswagen

Volkswagen’s yet-unnamed SUV will begin rolling off Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly line by the end of 2016, the company said today. Horn also said the MQB-based crossover will be offered with a diesel variant.

Apart from announcing the official decision to build the SUV there, Volkswagen also announced a commitment to invest $7 billion in its U.S. operation by 2018 including a new research and development facility in Tennessee that will employ 200 engineers. Early reports suggested that Volkswagen was leaning toward manufacturing the SUV in the U.S. over its Puebla, Mexico plant where the seventh-generation Golf is being built for this market.

“The Volkswagen brand is going on the attack again in America,” Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said today.

The news also means that VW’s Tennessee facility will be tooled up to build MQB-based vehicles by 2016 including the next-generation Passat. Horn expects the new SUV to become one of Volkswagen’s key sales pillars in the U.S. along with the Jetta, Passat and Tiguan compact crossover.

Production of the new SUV alone will merit an investment of about $900 million in Tennessee and 2,000 new jobs, the company said today.

“The United States of America is and will remain one of the most important markets for Volkswagen,” Winterkorn said. “We are now launching the second phase of the Volkswagen campaign in the US.”

GALLERY: Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept

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Five New Tech Features in the 2015 Ford Edge

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2015 Ford Edge Technology

Whether it’s a base model small car or a flagship luxury sedan, every modern automobile is chockablock with high-end features, some of which seemed like impossibilities just a few years ago.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Ford Edge Revealed with New Style

Things like adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and voice-activated infotainment systems have become commonplace in the market. In order to appeal to tech-savvy customers the all-new 2015 Ford Edge offers some attractive, high-end features.

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Chrysler Makes Start-Stop Standard on Two Models

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Later this year the V6 Jeep Cherokee or four-cylinder Chrysler 200 will both add engine start-stop (ESS) technology to their list of standard equipment.

Chrysler said today that it expects both vehicles to offer up to three percent better fuel economy as a result of the system. The Jeep Cherokee will gain the system first, sometime during the third quarter of the year while the Chrysler 200 will add it during the fourth quarter of 2014.

This is the same system that Chrysler uses in its Ram 1500 pickup truck to save a single city-cycle MPG along with aerodynamic features like active grille shutters that shut at highway speeds to reduce drag. Chrysler also said today that its system is able to adapt to driver habits to speed the re-starting process.

SEE ALSO: Ford Offering Start-Stop on ’70 Percent’ of Line by 2017

The company didn’t release specific fuel economy estimates for either of the vehicles equipped with ESS, but the V6 front-wheel drive Cherokee is rated for 19 MPG in city driving. A three percent gain in that case would boost the crossover to 19.57 city MPG. Chrysler’s four-cylinder 200 would rise from 23 city MPG to 23.7.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Chrysler 200 Review

Marginal as those increases might seem, the company also says it will allow drivers to shut off ESS at the touch of a button.

Engine start-stop systems started as a feature on premium vehicles but is quickly finding its way into less expensive products. Last December, Ford said it plans to offer engine start-stop technology on 70 percent of its lineup by 2017. Depending on driving conditions, Ford said it expects up to 10 percent better fuel economy in its vehicles or a 3.5 percent savings on average.

GALLERY: 2014 Jeep Cherokee

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Rolls-Royce Code-Names SUV After a Giant Jewel

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Rolls-Royce is reportedly code-naming its SUV after the world’s largest diamond.

Internally called “Cullinan,” the super luxury utility vehicle is expected to arrive in 2018 according to a report by German magazine Autobild. The BMW-owned brand has yet to officially confirm that it plans to sell an SUV, but CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes has been quoted in the past saying he thinks there is a market for such a high-end vehicle.

SEE ALSO: Rolls-Royce SUV Under Serious Consideration

Bentley is already several steps ahead and has prototypes of its SUV undergoing testing with what looks like production sheet metal. Its SUV – still unnamed – is scheduled to arrive in 2016 and will be offered as a the first plug-in hybrid, eventually to be followed by the rest of the Bentley product portfolio.

Rolls-Royce is also expected to offer a plug-in hybrid version of its ultra-luxury utility vehicle, which will likely share an aluminum and carbon fiber structure with the next Ghost and planned BMW 9 Series flagship.

Discuss this story at our luxury lifestyle forum

[Source: Autobild]

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Mercedes-Benz Plug-In Hybrid ML-Class Planned

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Mercedes is planning a plug-in hybrid ML-Class crossover that will likely arrive in U.S. showrooms late next year.

One of three planned plug-in hybrids that the company will launch in North America, the ML-Class will join the S-Class and C-Class in offering Mercedes customers highly-efficient options. The ML is due to be refreshed in 2016 and the company is expected to include a small number of plug-in hybrid models when the revised versions start to arrive.

Mercedes is expected to launch the trio of plug-in vehicle over the next 18 months starting with the S-Class sometime in the spring of 2015. The C-Class will be next, followed closely by the ML. BMW, Volvo, Mitsubishi and Land Rover are all planning plug-in hybrid SUVs. Bentley is also preparing to launch its first-ever SUV, which it will offer with a version of the Volkswagen Group plug-in powertrain.

[Source: Green Car Reports]

Discuss this story at our Mercedes forum

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Bentley SUV Teased in New Video

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The Bentley SUV is being teased again ahead of its official debut.

Bentley’s engineers are “now completely dedicated to creating the world’s most powerful and luxurious SUV,” the company said in a press release.

The SUV will be offered as a plug-in hybrid and will be the first model with such a powertrain to wear a Bentley badge. Initial models will arrive in 2016 with the plug-in version following in 2017.

SEE ALSO: Bentley SUV Teased With New, Less Ugly Look

Bentley said in March that it expects the SUV to create an entirely new segment in the auto market. Bentley’s concept preview of the SUV took styling cues from the Mulsanne and received a lukewarm reception at its 2012 Geneva Motor Show debut.

The first teaser Bentley released this year of the new SUV revealed that its front fascia is more in line with the Continential. Today’s clip offers glimpses of the wheels spinning, shots of the rear quarter panel and of course the front.

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Discuss this story at our luxury lifestyle forum

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Bentley Bolsters British Workforce to Build SUV

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Storied British brand Bentley is adding 140 employees to its payroll. The new hires will be put to work at their headquarters in Crewe, England.

The extra person-power is required to produce the company’s upcoming SUV. Engineers will account for 90 of the workers while the remainder will be apprentices. Currently the company employs about 3,700 people in Crewe.

This hiring spree is the result of a large investment made by parent company Volkswagen Group. They’re pouring 800 million pounds into the U.K. over the next three years to upgrade the factory that will assemble this new vehicle.

Bodies for the SUV will be imported from the mothership’s plant in Bratislava, Slovakia. This is where the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg are built. However, final assembly of the new Bentley model will take place in England.

Crossovers are big business these days, even in the super-luxury segment. Bentley hopes the new model will boost annual sales to 15,000 units by 2018. That’s a pretty hefty increase considering it delivered a little over 10,000 vehicles last year. A company spokesman said they anticipate sales of the new SUV will tally around 3,000 per annum.

Getting off on the right foot, the company already has some 2,000 pre-orders for the vehicle. Catering to affluent clientele, it should be priced competitively with Range Rover’s top-of-the-line model, which stickers for around 140,000 pounds in Great Britain; that’s about $236,000 USD.

[Source: Automotive News]

Discuss this story on our luxury-lifestyle forum

 

 

 

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Audi Considering Q9 Flagship SUV

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German luxury automaker Audi will likely launch a new flagship SUV, though the four-ring brand has no plans to expand its lineup in the opposite direction below its tiny A1.

While at the Beijing Motor Show the company’s chairman of the board and CEO, Rupert Stadler mentioned that they want to expand the SUV side of their business.

A possible Q9 super-SUV would compete with products like the confirmed BMW X7 crossover as well as vehicles currently in development by Bentley and Lamborghini.

Stadler also said that by 2020 Audi’s Q products will account for more than 45 percent of their sales. Currently they offer three such models. In ascending order by size they have the Q3, Q5 and Q7.

The small Q3 is a hot seller around the world, particularly in China. This crossover battles for best-selling honors in its segment, which grew by nearly 50 percent last year to just about 3 million units.

According to Stadler they have no plans to offer an Audi version of the Volkswagen Up! city car.

Discuss this story on our Audi forum

[Source: CAR]

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McLaren SUV Not in the Works: CEO

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McLaren won’t be following in the footsteps of its competitors Lamborghini and Bentley.

The British automaker has confirmed that it won’t be entering the SUV market like other exotic automakers are, such as Lamborghini, Bentley and even Maserati. In a recent interview, the company’s CEO Mike Flewitt believes McLaren needs “to remain very focused,” which means concentrating on remaining a sports car brand.

SEE ALSO: McLaren Bespoke Program Makes 650S Even Hotter

Naturally, McLaren believes it makes the best sports cars in the world and recently debuted the 650S at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. The company plans to introduce a new model each year with its entry-level starting from $177,000 down the road.

GALLERY: McLaren 650S Coupe Concept

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[Source: Automotive News]

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Land Rover’s Discovery Vision Concept is an SUV of the Future

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Land Rover is synonymous with off roading the way McDonalds is to fast food or the airline industry is to terrible service. This rough-and-tumble British brand revealed its cutting-edge Discovery Vision concept right here in the urban jungle of Manhattan.

Aside from all of the advanced technology this puppy is loaded with, it also indicates the design direction future members of the Discovery family will take. That’s right, going forward the nameplate will morph into a whole range of models. As for this concept, it’s clean and modern looking, though its stepped roof and alpine lights are pure Land Rover heritage.

Of course it also features a huge range of Star Trek-grade technologies. For instance it’s got gesture control, which allows you to operate things like the turn signals, headlamps and display screens by merely gesticulating. It’s also got something called Smart Glass that brings augmented reality to the vehicle’s glazed surfaces. Now, if it only came with warp drive and a tractor beam.

SEE ALSO: Complete 2014 New York Auto Show Coverage

Another crazy feature is called Remote Drive Control. It allows a motorist to operate the vehicle at very low speeds while not seated inside. This could be particularly useful in tight off-road situations or when hooking up a trailer.

Powerful laser headlamps provide day-like lighting and automatically dip to keep from blinding others. How thoughtful.

Beyond all of this the Discovery Vision’s signature feature is arguably its Transparent Bonnet heads-up display. This nifty idea allows the driver to see what’s going on immediately in front of the vehicle, even if the ground is obscured by the hood.

Cameras mounted below the grille look ahead and their images are projected onto the windscreen in a manner that makes it look like the bonnet is actually transparent.

Of course this seven-seat concept is loaded with even MORE advanced features like special folding seats, luggage that’s integrated into the doors and Laser Terrain Scanning, but we just don’t have time to cover them all in this video. If Land Rover can bring even a handful of this cutting-edge technology to market in future versions of the Discovery they’ll probably win A lot of new customers.

GALLERY: Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept Live Photos

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GALLERY: Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept Stock Photos

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