Listen to “AD #3032 – Peugeot Not Returning to U.S.; VW Passat Impressions; All Automakers Should Advertise Destination Charges” on Spreaker.
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0:07 Peugeot Not Returning to the U.S.
0:36 Hummer EV SUV Debuting in April
1:00 Ford Updates Super Duty Pickup
3:04 Audi Shows New Q4 e-tron Interior
4:11 Magna’s Thermoplastic Tailgate Opens New Opportunities
5:42 Rolls-Royce Creates Phantom Privacy Suite
6:53 Volkswagen Passat Impressions
7:53 All Automakers Should Advertise Destination Charges
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
PEUGEOT NOT RETURNING TO THE U.S.
Well, Peugeot won’t be returning to the U.S. after all. A few years back, the PSA Group, the parent company of Peugeot, revealed plans to bring the automaker back to the American market. But now that PSA has merged with FCA to form Stellantis, it’s scrapping those plans. This was widely expected, since FCA already has well established brands in North America, like Ram, Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler.
HUMMER EV SUV TO DEBUT IN APRIL
GMC used a winter testing teaser video of the Hummer EV truck, which starts production this fall, to reveal that it will reveal the SUV version of the Hummer EV during college basketball’s Final Four on April 3rd. Last production update we had, pegged that vehicle to start rolling down the production line in January of 2023.
FORD UPDATES SUPER DUTY PICKUP
Ford is updating its Super Duty pickup. It’s now available with a 12-inch center touchscreen with SYNC 4 that features wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as connected navigation. A new Lariat Sports Appearance Package is also available which includes body-color grille, bumpers and mirrors, plus a chrome exhaust tip and black running boards. And new colors are available both inside and out. Its powertrains remain the same, a standard 6.2L V8 engine, an available 7.3L V8 and a 6.7L V8 diesel. The new Super Duty will be available this summer.
We’ve got a great Autoline After Hours this week about how car companies do product planning. Our special guest will be Mike O’Brien who worked at both Toyota and Hyundai. So join John and Gary this Thursday for some of the best insights into how the auto industry works.
AUDI SHOWS NEW Q4 e-tron INTERIOR
Before the year is out Audi will have another electric vehicle in its lineup, the Q4 e-tron. It’s a compact crossover that’s slightly smaller than the all-electric e-tron that’s out right now. While it would be nice to have some driving figures, Audi is first detailing the interior. Here’s some of the highlights. Fully digital displays come standard on the vehicle. A 10.25-inch screen sits in the instrument cluster, while a 10.1-inch display is mounted into the center of the dash. There’s an optional 11.6-inch screen as well. And Audi must have a lot of active customers because it added a spot just in front of the armrest on all four doors to hold a container, like a water bottle or coffee mug. Lastly is a feature we’re seeing become more common, a head-up display with augmented reality. You still get useful information, like speed and if you have cruise control engaged, but also dynamic arrows that assist with directions when a destination is programmed into the navigation.
MAGNA’S THERMOPLASTIC TAILGATES OPEN NEW OPPORTUNITIES
The specs of competing vehicles has gotten so similar that we’ve seen a rise in much more expressive styling as a way to separate one brand from another. But those beautiful swooping lines or aggressive hard edges can cause manufacturing headaches. That’s why Magna is already supplying its thermoplastic liftgates for the Acura RDX, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Cherokee, Dodge Durango and the BMW i3. And not only do they allow for complex surfaces, but there’s fewer parts, they’re 20-30% lighter than a similar steel piece and there’s lower tooling costs for mid-cycle refreshes. But there’s a number of other cool features thermoplastic parts allow for that haven’t been tapped into yet. Magna’s working on voice activation to open and close the door, rather than having to kick your foot around and it shows how the tailgate can be split in two, which is good for keeping things separated and we also see a benefit for shared mobility. The most intriguing might be the ability to light the surface and what Magna calls ‘hidden till on’ technology. Not only can interesting patterns and logos be displayed, but there’s also the possibility for license plates and control pads that are backed by sensors to operate certain functions. Hopefully some of that stuff makes it to production too.
ROLLS-ROYCE CREATES PHANTOM PRIVACY SUITE
Sometimes it can feel hard to get away from everything, but if you’ve got the money, Rolls-Royce can help give you some alone time. It’s showing off the new Privacy Suite for its Phantom sedan. Think of this like a limousine package, but Rolls-Royce style. Electrochromatic glass that can change opacity at the push of a button separates the front from the rear. There’s also privacy glass in the rear and curtains to block the outside world out even more. Without that open space to the front, an intercom system was added and so was a pass through for documents and other things. Rolls even added more acoustic insulation so conversations in the back don’t make their way to the front. Two 12-inch monitors wrap up the package.
VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT IMPRESSIONS
VW hopes to become the largest EV brand in a few years. But in the meantime it still has to sell a ton of ICE cars, like the Passat that just came through the Autoline Garage. VW is struggling to do that. Like all other passenger sedans, sales of the Passat are falling. They’re down 39% for the first two months of the year. And it will probably fall further as VW diverts almost all its marketing muscle behind its electrics. The Passat is a decent car. Roomy, responsive, and at a rated 28 miles to the gallon, reasonably efficient. For 2021 VW didn’t do a lot to upgrade it, with the exception of a new infotainment system. We had the 2-liter turbo R-line, which goes for $31,400, and of course that includes the destination charge, which leads me to my next point.
ALL AUTOMAKERS SHOULD ADVERTISE DESTINATION CHARGES
For years, we here at Autoline have complained about destination charges for new vehicles. When most automakers advertise the price of their cars and trucks, they don’t include the destination charge. It’s buried in the fine print, and usually adds $1,000 to the price. In many cases it adds a lot more.
Here’s the other thing. Consumer Reports says the cost of destination charges is going up at more than twice the rate of inflation. No automaker will tell you exactly how they calculate the destination charge. They keep it a secret. I believe that’s because the destination charge is a way to raise prices, yet claim the MSRP has not gone up.
Look, I don’t have a problem with automakers tacking on a destination charge. What I have a problem with is them advertising a price that does not include it. In other words, the price they’re advertising is misleading. I’m surprised the Federal Trade Commission has not weighed in on this. I thought the FTC’s job was to prevent fraudulent advertising, because one thing’s for sure. You can’t buy a car without paying for the destination charge.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching and we’ll see you again tomorrow.
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John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.