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February 12, 2018 News of the Day: Mercedes AMG Project One EV Technology to Appear in Other Models, Ford Ramping up Production of Full-Size Navigator and Expedition SUVs to Meet High Demand

Author: Eric Walz   

Mercedes AMG Project One EV Technology to Appear in Other Models

The Mercedes Benz Project One hypercar EV, one of the world's highest performing electric race cars, is not a car for the masses, with only 275 being built. However, in the future some of the cutting edge technology in the supercar will make its way to the rest of the Mercedes Benz lineup, according to AMG's boss Tobias Moers.

Moer's said in an interview with Autocar published on Friday that the Project One's technology will feature in regular production models from about 2020 or 2021. Moer was referring specifically to the hypercar's four-motor electric drivetrain.

In the current Project One, one electric motor is mated to the engine and helps power the rear wheels. While another electric motor is integrated with the turbocharger to help spin its compressor.

Where the Project One differs is the addition of two more electric motors independently powering each of the front wheels — making the hypercar an all-wheel-drive car. Most importantly, all four electric motors are able to recapture energy that's then stored in a lithium-ion battery.

AMG will unveil the limited production version of the Project One later this year. Build slots for the 275 cars are sold out and the first customers should start receiving their cars in early 2019.

Ford to Boost Production of Full-Size Navigator and Expedition SUVs to Meet High Demand

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Although the industry trend is building smaller, fuel efficient hybrid and plug-in vehicles to meet regulations, the large SUV is growing in popularity in the U.S. once again.

According to date collected by the Wall Street journal, SUV sales, and that of crossovers — which are just smaller SUVs — are on the rise. In the U.S., sales of large cars are down 63 percent from Jan 2017 through Jan 2018. Sales of small and midsize cars are all down around 12 percent. Meanwhile, sales of large SUVs and crossovers are up 13.6 percent.

The drop in large car sales in mainly due to consumers purchasing smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. Still, the SUV remains an appealing option for those with active lifestyles, larger families, with the need to haul a load of gear. Additionally, breakthroughs in manufacturing and engine technology have increased the fuel-efficiency of larger, gas-guzzling vehicles.

This is great news for Ford and Lincoln's profitable full-size SUVs. The Ford Motor Company announced on Monday it will increase production of the 2018 Expedition and 2018 Navigator to meet consumer demand.

Ford is making an additional $25 million in the Kentucky truck plant to boost output of the two SUVs. Assembly line speed will increase with the help of 400 new robots and a new 3D printer that enables workers to make parts and tools more quickly and cheaper.

The 3D printer is not producing parts for the actual SUVs, but the technology is being used to create tools and parts for machines at the plant. The automaker said it can sometimes take 16 weeks to produce a prototype part for the plant; the 3D printer can potentially have the same part ready in days, if not hours at a fraction of the cost.

The 2018 Expedition and Navigator production targets have been boosted by 25 percent with the latest announcement.

Ford noted that the Navigator is spending an average of just seven days on dealership lots before customers sign on the dotted line. In addition, the automaker said average transaction prices for the luxury SUV have surged $21,000, no doubt thanks to the fact that nearly 85 percent of all Navigator buyers have chosen high-end Black Label and Reserve models.

Driver's switching from Mercedes-Benz and Land Rovers are two of the Navigator's best customers thus far, which may concern those luxury rival companies.

The automaker didn't provide as much in-depth data for the Expedition, but it did say top-of-the-line Platinum trim models have represented 29 percent of sales. The sales figure has been enough to push the average dealer transaction price up by $7,800.

FCA to Bring Truck Production Back to the U.S. From Mexico With $1 Billion Investment

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. (FCA) plan to spend $1 billion to move production of its heavy-duty Ram pickup out of Mexico has big economic implications for Detroit. But it's unclear how it impact will affect local suppliers near Detroit.

OEM suppliers are typically the biggest generators of jobs in a major plant project, but FCA already has a large number of truck suppliers in the Detroit area, says Mike Robinet, managing director of IHS Markit's automotive global advisory practice.

Last month, the automaker revealed that in 2020 it will move heavy-duty Ram production from Saltillo, Mexico to its Warren, Mich., assembly plant north of Detroit. In discussing the plan with reporters, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne called moving truck production to Mexico in 2008 "an error."

The Warren plant already is scheduled for a major capital project, handing off production of the light-duty Ram to a nearby Detroit-area assembly plant with increased capacity, while Warren will be repurposed to build high-end, body-on-frame Jeep SUVs. Adding the heavy-duty Ram will require the automaker to hire 2,500 workers on top of the workforce needed for the Jeep plan, FCA said last month.

But unclear is how much additional spending or how many more Detroit-area jobs will be created by suppliers to the pickup.

Many heavy-duty Ram suppliers are also likely to provide parts for the light-duty Ram 1500, which has been moved 10 miles north to FCA's Sterling Heights, Michigan assembly plant.

New Geely SX11 SUV to Debut at the Beijing Auto Show in April

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Chinese automaker Geely, the parent company of Volvo, will debut its new compact crossover SUV at the Beijing Auto Show in April.

Images published by Chinese portal Autohome, shows what looks like a surprisingly sporty exterior, with angular design elements, an aggressive front bumper, wheel arch bulges, a blacked-out rear pillar design that leads to a floating roof aesthetic, a tailgate spoiler, dual exhaust tips, and a full-width chrome trim piece uniting the taillights.

At 4,330 mm (170.4 in) in length, 1,800 mm (70.8 in) in width and 1,609 mm (63.3 in) in height, and with a wheelbase measuring 2,600 mm (102.3 in), the SX11 is slightly longer, wider and taller than a Honda HR-V, nearly matching the latter's wheelbase length, which sits at 2,610 mm (102.7 in).

The new SUV is also believed to feature three different wheel sizes of 16,17 and 18-inches, adaptive cruise control, a panoramic camera, panoramic sunroof and more.

As for the previously mentioned engine range, there will be an entry-level three-cylinder 1.0-liter turbo unit producing 134 HP, and a bigger 1.5-liter turbo engine boosting output to 174 HP.

Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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