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+++ The BMW 2 Series Coupé and Convertible models will be refreshed with a mid-life facelift next year. The rear-wheel-drive two-door models will receive minor exterior tweaks focused on the headlights and tail-lights, with new LED daytime running lights and an adjusted design for the rear clusters. Changes will also be made to the front grille surround and lower section of the rear bumper. Other than that, it looks as though the 2017 model’s exterior will be identical to that of the current car. Inside, even fewer aesthetic changes are expected but upgraded infotainment and more standard-fit driver assist features are likely. These could include BMW’s new speed limit assist function, which was introduced with the 5 Series and allows speed limits to be incorporated into the adaptive cruise control. BMW is remaining tight-lipped about drivetrain specifications, but it’s highly unlikely that any drastic changes will be made to the engine line-up. Instead, we can expect the regular 2 Series range to retain its line-up of turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines and the M240i and M2 performance variants to keep their turbocharged straight six petrol units. The M240i was updated only recently with a new 340 hp 3.0-litre unit, shared with the 540i, which implies that no power upgrades will be made when the 2017 facelift is applied. The M2, with its slightly more potent 367 hp six-cylinder unit, is also expected to remain largely unchanged. Mechanical adjustments during mid-life refreshes often include minor changes to improve engine efficiency and BMW has a habit of offering retuned chassis settings with facelifts, so expect these to form the bulk of the under-the-skin changes for 2017. Both the Coupé and Convertible facelifted models are expected to arrive in the middle of 2017, with slight increases in their starting prices. +++

+++ The UK motor industry faces the threat of a 5,3 billion euro BREXIT car tariff if the country does not stay in a single EU market, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ president Gareth Jones. Analysis from the SMMT suggests that EU tariffs on cars could add an annual 3,2 billion euro to imports and 2,1 billion to exports. The UK motor industry body also said tariffs could push up the list price of cars imported to the UK from the Continent by an average of 1.700 euro if brands and retailers were unable absorb the extra costs. That figure is based on a 10% standard tariff on cars exported to and imported from the EU. Speaking at the SMMT’s centenary annual dinner, Jones said its members – car manufacturers and traders – had told the SMMT what it wanted: ”Membership of the single market, consistency in regulations, access to global talent and global markets and the ability to trade abroad free from barriers and red tape”. Jones admitted it wouldn’t be an easy task but said the SMMT will continue to make this case to the UK government. “We have the strength of our successful sector behind us and will ensure your voice is heard”, he told the audience at the annual dinner. He outlined the current success of UK production for the automotive industry, siting a new record for exports. However, he warned that this was the result of multi-billion-pound investment decisions made years before the EU referendum and could not be taken for granted. He said: “We need to create the right conditions for future competitiveness, for developing skills and securing the strength of our economy by investing in R&D and enabling new technologies to be developed here in the UK. The challenge now is to make a success of the new future. We want a strong UK economy and we want to see the UK’s influence in the world enhanced. But this cannot be at the expense of jobs, growth or being an open, welcoming trading nation”. Commenting on the strength of the relationship between government and industry, Jones said the government had put industrial strategy at the heart of business but added that it faces its toughest challenge in leaving the EU. “We must make the right decisions: on trade, on regulations and on business competitiveness”, he said. +++

+++ DODGE has confirmed that ordering for the 2017 Viper will reopen before the end of the year. The company paused ordering for the final production year of the famed American supercar on October 7 to assess just how many cars it could produce for the 2017 model year. According to Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis, it was important for the brand to determine how many orders its suppliers could fulfil, given the high demand for the run-out model. Kuniskis said: “We actually had to shut down the ordering because we outran our headlights. We didn’t know if we were going to have enough parts to build all the cars that people ordered. The demand for ACR is off the charts — way more than we ever expected. We are close to opening it back up now that we know how many more we can build. They will sell out quickly”. Soon after Dodge announced that 2017 would be the final year for the Viper, North Carolina dealership, Gerry Wood Dodge, made headlines after revealing that it had ordered 135 Vipers and would even be creating its own special edition models courtesy of the automaker’s customization program. +++

+++ Just after stopping construction of its $1 billion factory in Nevada, reports have surfaced suggesting that FARADAY FUTURE is facing additional challenges. Not long ago, the main investor behind the electric startup, LeEco chief executive Jia Yueting, admitted that he was running out of cash after over-extending in its automotive ventures. Now, it appears increasingly unlikely that the brand’s first production vehicle will arrive in 2017. In a detailed report by The Financial Times, people close to the company have said that it will be “unachievable” for Faraday’s model to hit the market next year, given its financial issues and the pause in construction at its factory. The company has announced that it will reveal a working prototype at CES 2017 in January but according to a former employee, even that won’t strengthen the possibility of the model hitting production anytime soon. “If CES goes badly, it’s all over. It will be a long while before there is a production car”, they said. This skeptical sentiment is one shared by Nevada treasurer Dan Schwartz who provided the company with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to build its factory in the state. Schwartz says that FF is overdue by millions of dollars worth of payments to its general contractor, Aecom. +++

+++ The 4 distinct versions of the new Fiesta serve as an indication of how far FORD can diversify its big-selling small car, says European boss Jim Farley, and if the strategy proves successful, other models in Ford’s range could benefit from it. At the launch of the new Fiesta, 4 production variants were revealed: Vignale, Titanium, ST-Line and Active. The expanded line-up is intended to add emotional appeal to the model, push the Fiesta gently upmarket and reinforce the brand’s B-segment offerings under a growing threat from premium car makers entering the category. Titanium is aimed at traditional Fiesta buyers, albeit with a high-spec to take into account for the fact that the recently revealed Ka+ has slotted in to the range as an option for customers who might have previously considered a lower-spec Fiesta. ST-Line, inspired by Ford Performance, is the sporting offering that is also part of Ford’s “heart and soul”, as Farley puts it. But it is the other 2 offerings, Active and Vignale, that represent the more radical diversions from the traditional Fiesta blueprint. Farley said that he is particularly intrigued at how the market would receive Fiesta Active “because it is something very new. I can think of a lot of places in the UK and in southern Europe where it will make sense for people – they want the SUV look and the higher ride height for driving and ground clearance”. Such customers, he said, didn’t want a full SUV because “it is expensive, doesn’t have great fuel efficiency, they’re heavier vehicles”. Farley wouldn’t rule out other models in Ford’s range being given an Active makeover, describing Fiesta Active as ‘step one’ in the strategy: “We’re putting our shoulder into the Fiesta Active and we’re really trying to understand the customer, knowing what they visually want visually and in terms of functionality, and I do think that we will continue to look at this”. Further Fiesta variants could also be possible if the new line-up succeeds. “I can see some people saying I’d like a combination of ST-Line and Active ”, said Farley. He dismissed any suggestion that the Fiesta Active could impinge upon sales of the Ford Ecosport, which endured a troubled birth in Europe but is said to be selling more positively now. “There’s no competition between those products – they are quite different”. Fiesta Vignale variant benefits from a high-spec makeover from Ford’s luxury sub-brand and follows in the footsteps of the posh Vignale-badged versions of the Mondeo, S-Max, Kuga and Edge. Farley was confident there is scope for a B-segment car such as the Fiesta to benefit from the high-end and more expensive treatment, which will also come with a raft of after-sales benefits offered by Ford’s larger Vignale models. “We can do it in scale now because we have Vignale on other models so a dealer can really invest money into it”, he said. “We’ve seen it grow now on Mondeo, where it is now close to 10% of the overall sales and on S-Max it is above 10%”. He wouldn’t be drawn on what percentage of Fiesta sales the Vignale derivative might account for, but said: “We have a lot of work between now and next summer to offer Vignale on a Fiesta”. Farley said the company had proof that customers were open to the prospect of more expensive, well-appointed Ford models due to the number who chose high-spec Titanium trim from the across the wider Ford line-up: “We have customers who want more. When you look at our mix of Titanium in the UK, it is basically becoming our volume model. For example, 70% of the Kugas we sell are Titanium. We have to give people more choice than to have a Titanium”. The overarching goal, said Farley, was to offer an alternative to premium brands at a more competitive price. “We knew we had to make the brand more emotional. We can that with Mustang, but how do we do it with Fiesta? Active, Vignale and ST-Line are ways to do that. We want that pride of ownership that people have with a premium brand, but we can give it to them at a lower price. We just have to execute it in a way that gives people more choice”, he said. +++

+++ LEXUS will not rush to provide plug-in hybrid versions of its cars before 2021, as it remains on track to hit European Union targets of average emissions of 95 gram/km across its fleet. “Other companies need a few batteries and plugs to hit that target, but even with the growth of our SUV sales we are on course to be below 95g/km”, said Lexus Europe boss Alain Uyttenhoven. “It doesn’t mean we’ll ignore the technology and in time I’m sure we will need it to hit tougher targets – but we’re ready for that if and when we need it. For now, we don’t; our customers will get the car they need without the added complexity”. Uyttenhoven also predicted that hybrid sales would continue to rise. Some 25% of all Lexus sales are currently hybrids, although European sales are made up of 98% hybrid sales. “As pressure on diesel increases, we predict hybrid sales will rise”, he said. +++

+++ Serving as a replacement for the larger and more expensive SLS AMG, the new MERCEDES-AMG GT family has just welcomed three new members – two roadsters and the beastly ‘R’. Daimler’s road map of future products revealed the addition of a sixth model next year in the form of the GT C Coupe, which will probably be identical to the convertible in all bar the open-top layout. This means that it will pack 557 HP and, due to the slightly lowered weight, the 0 to 100 km/h sprint could be trimmed from the roadster’s 3.7 seconds. Yet it’s another variant that is even more interesting, namely a possible GT R Roadster. According to the Mercedes-AMG chief Tobias Moers, such a model was examined briefly, but it remains to be seen whether it’s actually viable to bring it out. “I don’t know. It’s just a discussion going on, we talked about it in the company, but I don’t know the market potential about that”, Moers said. The fact is that the Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster was nowhere to be seen on Daimler’s product map. However, if it gets the green light, then, judging by the coupe, it will truly be a petrolhead’s delight. +++

+++ Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess recently stated that the automaker would never sell another diesel model in the United States, but that statement might not have been totally accurate. Although Volkswagen likely has given up on developing new diesel models for the U.S., it still has some old models to deal with, namely the PORSCHE Cayenne Diesel. You see, when Volkswagen announced it was halting diesel sales in the U.S. last year, Porsche dealers still had about 1,500 new Cayenne Diesels in stock. Volkswagen was able to quickly divert other Cayenne Diesel models destined for the U.S. to other global markets, but those 1,500 units already here were forced to stay within American borders. That’s right, there are still 1,500 brand new year-old Cayenne Diesels waiting for their forever home. As it stands, Porsche can’t sell those vehicles until it has a fix, but one is expected in the not-too-distant-future. So what happens to those SUVs once a fix is found? Porsche will sell them as used vehicles. “Then they’re going to be sold as used cars”, Porsche Cars North America CEO Klaus Zellmer told on the sidelines of the recent Los Angeles auto show. “They will be low-mileage, very attractive used cars, based on the age of the car. There’s always a market for any car. You just have to get the price right”. The Porsche Cayenne Diesel carried a sticker price of about $62,000 when new, but the “used” versions should offer a nice discount over that year-old MSRP. +++

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