Releases and Recalls: 7 Head Turners from the Auto Industry

Audi (VLKAY.PK) has been teasing its latest large sedan variant, due to be revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month. Ram (FIATY.PK) trucks, Dodge, and Cadillac (NYSE:GM) also have new models around the bend.

Hyundai and Kia have run into cold-weather problems, among others — while Fiat has hit headwinds with its new electric 500e runabout, Ford (NYSE:F), in the meantime, is giving its new F-150 Tremor some track time this weekend.

Here’s a smattering of stories from the auto industry this week. From anticipated new releases to recalls, these are some of the most notable stories turning heads.


1. Audi

Audi has been offering tantalizing details regarding its upcoming 2015 A8 and S8 large sedans, which are due to be revealed in full on August 21st at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The latest tease is a picture of the car’s new matrix LED headlight, which follows two teaser videos released last week. “In the new Audi A8, the turn signal light consists of lighting elements that illuminate in a defined sequence,” Audi explains. “This makes it easier for others to perceive the driver’s turning intentions, even under difficult conditions.”

However, the turn signals are probably the least innovative part of the whole assembly. ”In each headlight, 25 light-emitting diodes generate a highly variable high-beam light,” Audi continues. “When the on-board camera detects other vehicles ahead, the Audi Matrix LED headlights mask the relevant sections of the high-beam by dimming or shutting off individual diodes. Very bright illumination is preserved in the remaining zones.”


2. Fiat

That didn’t take long – Fiat’s newly launched 500e fully-electric compact has already had a recall issued for it to replace bolts that secure the vehicles’ half shafts. The half shafts transfer torque from a vehicle’s gearbox to its wheels. Chrysler initiated an investigation after the company received reports of a customer’s vehicle that experienced a loss of power. Engineers discovered two assembly steps had not been properly completed, which in turn created a condition that could lead to half shaft separation.

The company did point out that it was is unaware of any related accidents or injuries. Chrysler is contacting the 270 or so customers affected by the recall and they will receive free rental vehicles while their vehicles are being repaired. Chrysler is making the necessary changes free of charge.


3. General Motors

GM’s Cadillac wing is prepping for the release of the new Escalade in New York City on October 7th. It will be put on sale in 2014 as a 2015 model. “Its new cabin is where Cadillac will set itself apart as a luxury brand, furbishing the Escalade with its CUE infotainment system accessorized with a large touch screen and other roomy features,” Emily Coyle writes, adding that, “Motor Authority foresees the new Escalade offering a 6.2-liter V-8, rated at roughly 420 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, and believes it could even have more powertrain options in the wings.”

The new luxe SUV has supposedly gone under the knife much in the same way that the rest of the Cadillac has, which is especially crucial given that the current Escalade model had so little enhancements made over its predecessor. Moreover, the Escalade was the only Caddy not released at the Texas State Fair. It seems that the company thought that the New York City venue reflected the Escalade’s panache and stature more.

Ram Rumble Bee

4. Ram

The 2013 Woodward Dream Cruise is taking place this weekend and it’s expected that 1.5 million people will turn out to participate in the festivities. Ram is hoping to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce its new concept truck, titled the Rumble Bee.

Details are few, but Autoblog contends that the Rumble Bee, “will sport bright yellow paint and a pair of large, black, five-spoke wheels wrapped in low-profile tires. The hood sports a set of hoodscoops for a bit more aggression, while the interior gets a reinterpreted dial shifter for the eight-speed automatic.”

There are no engine details as of yet, but one can likely expect “a large hemi” under the hood.

Source: Ford Corp.

5. Ford

Ford’s new Tremor variant of the best selling F-150 will reportedly be used as the pace vehicle for this weekend’s NASCAR Truck Series at the Michigan International Speedway. The Tremor is a more road-friendly version of the off-road behemoth Raptor and features the 3.5 liter V6 EcoBoost instead of the Raptor’s V8 power plant.

“The 365-horsepower and 420-pound-foot EcoBoost is unchanged from the rest of the F-150 line,” Autoblog notes, ”but it combines the shortest drive ratio with the lightest two-door body, making it a bit of hot rod.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski will be driving hot laps with the  truck at the Speedway, offering fans a chance to ride in the vehicle before it hits showrooms.


6. Hyundai

Hyundai and Kia are collectively recalling 270,000 U.S.-based vehicles, 240,000 of which are older model Sonata and Azera sedans in cold-weather states that can suffer possible corrosion that can affect rear wheel alignment. About 20,300 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sports and 9,345 2014 Kia Sorrento crossover vehicles were recalled as well due to possible problems with the right front axle.

Reuters reports that Hyundai did not provide figures for recalls outside the U.S. market, but the company said it was not aware of any crashes or injuries in relation to the corrosion or the front axle recalls.

The recalls out for the Santa Fe and Sorrento vehicles apply only to those with front-wheel drive and 2.4-liter engines, as the right front axle driveshaft may develop a crack, which could cause a separation of the shaft and may result in a crash. The companies have not received reports of injuries or deaths resulting from the issues.


7. Dodge

The pricing for the 2014 Dodge Durango has been announced with the base SXT model starting at $30,790, in-line with its predecessor. However, the 2014 Dodge Durango R/T, the higher-performance version of the SUV, starts at $39,990 — a $2,500 price increase over the 2013 model. It’s the same story for the top-of-the-line 2014 Dodge Durango Citadel, which starts at $41,990, $1,000 more than the comparable 2013 model.

This puts the Durango at a slight $295 premium to the Ford Explorer, it’s chief competitor in the U.S. It’s also more expensive than the 2013 Honda Pilot, though the Chevy Traverse is slightly more expensive than the Durango.

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