SEC investigating VW’s Voltswagen stunt

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an inquiry into the U.S. unit of Volkswagen’s AG over a marketing stunt in which it falsely said it was changing its name in the United States to “Voltswagen,” a person briefed on the matter confirmed.

Der Spiegel first reported the inquiry and the SEC’s request for information about the issue made in early April, and quoted VW as confirming the investigation.

Volkswagen declined to comment on the matter to Reuters. The SEC did not respond to a request for comment.

The company in March apologized after a false statement it issued about a phony name change, a stunt that was widely slammed on social media. The falsehood sparked particular outrage coming from a company that has been working to rebuild public trust after its diesel emissions cheating scandal.

The stunt, which came a couple of days before April Fool’s Day on the first of the month, a day when companies often release prank statements, was meant to call attention to its electric vehicle efforts, the carmaker said.

A supposedly statement outlining the name change was reported by Reuters and other outlets globally. It included a detailed description of VW’s purported rebranding efforts and new logos. Before running with the story, news outlets asked Volkswagen if the name change was true, they were assured it was, and the next day VW issued a press release and social media reports outlining the name change, even quoting VW of America CEO Scott Keogh to that effect.

At least one analyst wrote a research note praising the name change. VW’s preferred shares, common shares and ADRs rose on the day of the phony name announcement.

Keogh then told Reuters in an April 1 interview that the phony name announcement was a “gag” and an attempt to “have some humor” and “to celebrate our profound focus on electrification.”

Volkswagen in 2015 admitted to using illegal software to rig diesel engine tests in the United States, sparking Germany’s biggest corporate crisis and costing the carmaker more than 32 billion euros in fines, refits and legal costs.


Ford stock slumps 10% over chip shortage, drags down rival GM, suppliers

Shares of U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co fell more than 10% on Thursday, after it warned the global semiconductor chip shortage could cut its second-quarter vehicle production in half, a dour outlook for rivals and key suppliers.

Analysts said the chip shortage is getting worse as Ford also reduced its full-year outlook for earnings before interest and taxes, even after handily beating Wall Street’s profit estimate for the first quarter, helped by pricing gains.

“Ford joins a growing chorus saying the semiconductor issue won’t be resolved until 2022,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak wrote in a note.

The chip shortage has forced U.S. automakers to cut production of less profitable vehicles, while allowing them to raise prices on their most profitable ones as demand surges, offsetting the production loss.

Analysts say that trend won’t last long and prices will come down later in the year, as the supply of chips becomes normal.

Shares of Ford’s larger rival General Motors Co also fell over 4% on Thursday.

Ford’s lower second-quarter production is likely to weigh on suppliers such as Visteon, BorgWarner, Tenneco, Lear Corp, Adient Plc, RBC’s Spak said.

Shares of the suppliers fell between 1% and 5% in morning trading.

“While we believe Ford has every opportunity to execute a path that could achieve our $18 bull case valuation, we remain ‘underweight’ at this time given our elevated concerns around auto industry expectations broadly,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a note.

Shares of Ford fell as much as 10.4% to $11.14, posting their biggest one-day loss in more than 10 months. Ford’s stock is still up about 30% this year.


Honda Civic over half a century: Here are all 11 generations

On Wednesday, Honda debuted the Civic that will see the nameplate through its 50th anniversary. With that in mind, we decided to take a look back at the beloved bread-and-butter offering that made Honda a household name worldwide. 

First generation: 1973-79

The first-generation Civic, above, not only kicked off what is basically a five-decade run of Honda’s compact nameplate, but it also spawned the Accord, which began life as a long-wheelbase variant of the little hatchback. It was also the testbed for Honda’s renowned CVCC engine, which was no doubt a significant contributor to Honda’s reputation for building fuel misers. 

Second generation: 1980-83

Apart from its role in a thoroughly mediocre 2006 romantic comedy starring people you’ve probably forgotten about (not you, Dax!), the second-gen Civic also made the CVCC engine standard and got a little bit bigger (that theme continues throughout). 

Third generation: 1984-87

Isn’t it refreshing (sorry) to see how much automakers used to cram into such brief iterations of even mainstream automobiles? The third-gen Civic was offered in a ton of variants, though not all were available in every world market. We have this car to thank for the name “Wagovan” and for the introduction of both the CRX and Si. 

Fourth generation: 1988-91

With the fourth-gen Civic, Honda turned its eyes to refinement and sophistication. This got us the double-wishbone front suspension along with an independent rear setup. The former stubbornly survived for several more generations, only to be replaced by struts; the latter is still with us, as is another fourth-gen first: VTEC. This generation also birthed the SiR, and we all know how that’s going. 

Fifth generation: 1992-95

Ah, yes. 1990s aero styling. Take your favorite 1980s design, whittle it out of soap, and let the water run over it for a few hours. Boom, 1990-ready! The introduction of the fifth-gen Civic marked the end of the Shuttle Wagon variant sold overseas. While this generation may not have offered a ton of outwardly obvious advancements, it remains an enthusiast favorite, even though the vaunted Si model was offered here for only a couple of years. The 1995 HX (the nameplate reserved for the Civic’s fuel-efficient variants) was also the first to be equipped with a CVT. 

Sixth generation: 1996-2000

The sixth-gen Civic was another example of a largely evolutionary replacement. Stylistic updates were limited and relatively subtle, but there were some noteworthy bits. The Si returned, mercifully, and this was also the first Civic offered with a natural-gas engine option. 

Seventh generation: 2001-05

This was a bit of a weird one. Adding a bit more sophistication and hardening some of the Civic’s softer edges, the seventh-gen car looked like a big step forward on paper. On the enthusiast side of things, especially here in the United States, things were a bit murkier. This was the era of the EP3 Civic Si hatchback, which was probably best known for being a worse version of the (then not U.S.-legal) Type R without any real upside; it was also upstaged by the Acura RSX. This was the first generation of the Civic to be offered in a hybrid variant as well. 

Eighth generation: 2006-11

And this was the correction. The eighth-gen Civic tossed out all of the understated elegance of the previous car and replaced it with a spaceship on wheels. Fortunately, this spaceship was quicker, as the Si returned to form (figuratively more than literally, depending on who you ask; some Si fans are hatch purists) with a nice power bump. This was also when overseas and U.S. models became distinct platforms, which further delayed hope of the much-loved Type-R coming stateside. The legacy of this split has had trickle-down ramifications that can still be seen today, as the Hatchback model of the outgoing Civic was still manufactured in England. 

Ninth generation: 2012-15

The ninth-gen Civic was yet another swing of the pendulum. The styling became more muted (though the shape remained effectively the same) and the Si got a bigger engine, albeit without a correspondingly significant bump in power. Its rev range was also reduced by a good bit, which disappointed a lot of fans who preferred the high-revving nature of older Si models. 

10th generation: 2016-2021

It’s possible we’re over-using the word “correction” in this story, so let’s just say the 2016 Civic was a true clean sheet. The Civic gained some turbocharged engines (even in the Si) and ejected the Hybrid (though the Insight is a Civic Hybrid in all but name), and the hatchback came to the United States (and was also offered in Type-R guise to boot). This generation also saw the beginning of a pivot back to the days of the Civic and Accord being more stylistically harmonious, which to many is also a good thing. 

11th generation: 2022-The End of Days (maybe)

For 2022, the Civic gets a little longer and wider, but the basic formula and the push toward a more conservative, Accord-like design both remain; the coupe, however, does not (RIP). We don’t yet know what to expect from the 11th-generation Civic Si or Type-R, but we won’t have to wait terribly long to find out, as both are expected to be revealed over the course of the next year. 


Save over $150 on this Uniden R3 radar detector by purchasing from Amazon

Autoblog may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

While driving on public roads, there’s no question that we should all be obeying the posted speed limits and road rules. That said, of course no one is perfect, and if you’re worried about potential speeding tickets, you might consider picking up a radar detector. If you’re in the market, we found this solid deal on the Uniden R3, a top-rated radar detector available for more than $150 off on Amazon when compared with what you’d be paying from the manufacturer. 

Uniden R3 Extreme Long Range Radar Detector – $243 at Amazon

Key Features

  • Equipped with GPS technology to help the device remember and mute common false alerts
  • Free database and firmware updates keep the detector up-to-date with red light and speed camera locations
  • A multi-color OLED display makes information easy to read at a glance
  • Voice alerts make it easier to keep your eyes on the road
  • Advanced K/KA Band filtering reduce the amount of false alerts from the Collision Avoidance systems of other vehicles

Featured five-star review

After reading reviews and watching videos of trusted reviewers, I decided to upgrade one of my older radar detectors, mainly because of all the false alarms. My previous detector was GPS enabled and could lock-out known fixed false signals but couldn’t do anything with the false signals caused by newer vehicles with radar-equipped systems built-in for safety … I could mute them, but it was very annoying to say the least … I’m a seasoned radar detector user since I was old enough to drive. The range of this detector is awesome and definitely one of the best, if not the best on the market. It recognizes false alarms like no other. It exceeded my expectations in this manner.

… It can show your current speed and which bandwidth it is detecting, along with [the] strength of [the] signal. You can mute [the] sound of [the] signal with [the] mute button on the end of [the] plug or lockout the signal for known false alarms. It will remember those locked out and not sound them off next time. Once set up with your options, it is a dream. I set mine to not sound an audible alarm if I’m driving under 45mph but it will show visually. Also, I have it mute the audible alarm at higher speeds after a few seconds so I’m alerted but not annoyed and I don’t have to press mute .. You can also set it [to play] different sounds for different bands. In my area, ka band is prevalent along with k band … The mounting bracket is also awesome. I was able to mount the bracket/suction cup behind my rearview mirror and only have the detector showing just below the mirror …The price of this detector is a steal compared to some of its competition at twice the price. I did a lot of research before I purchased and this fit the bill and exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend this to anyone other than those willing to spend thousands for built-in protection. You won’t regret it.” – Amazon reviewer, JaxFL

Other top-rated options to consider

Escort MAX3 Laser Radar Detector – $399.95

Cobra RAD 380 Laser Radar Detector – $99.95

Radenso XP Radar Detector – $249.99 

Escort MAX360 Laser Radar Detector – $499.99


2022 Honda Civic Sedan vs. other compacts | How they compare on paper

Honda just blessed the world with a new Civic. Well, at least part of a Civic. The 2022 Honda Civic sedan debuted, but we’re still waiting on the Hatchback, Si and Type R variants to come down the road. Regardless, we know most of the important details about the 11th generation Civic now, so it’s time to do some comparing.

We chose a collection of the most popular compact sedans out there to compare it to, including the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta, Hyundai Elantra and Nissan Sentra. There are more, but we’ll keep it to just six for now. Below, you’ll find the comparison chart with all the numbers.


The 2022 Honda Civic gets entirely carryover engines for the new model. That means the 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder options are back. Just like before, the 1.5-turbo is the upgrade engine that both makes more power and returns better fuel economy.

Rated at 158 horsepower, the Civic’s base 2.0-liter is more powerful than every last one of its competitors’ standard engines. It’s obviously no barnburner, but it’s a great place to start. Volkswagen wins the torque war with its boosted base engine at 184 pound-feet of torque, and the ability to option it with a manual transmission also makes it attractive for someone who likes to do their own shifting. 

Unfortunately, Honda dropped the manual from the sedan a short time ago, and it isn’t making a return in the redesigned car. That means your only transmission choice is a CVT (re-tuned for 2022). The CVT is the most popular transmission of choice in this class for its ability to help achieve excellent fuel economy, but if you really don’t want a CVT, both the Mazda3 and Jetta offer traditional automatic transmission options. Hyundai has the best fuel economy of all these cars, maxing out an impressive 37 mpg. Honda is a close second with the Civic’s 36 mpg maximum, and the rest are a couple mpg or more below that.

We didn’t include dedicated performance options in this comparison like the Elantra N Line, Jetta GLI or Mazda3 Turbo, just because those would match up best to the Si that will eventually arrive. That said, if you want a little more pep, Honda’s 1.5-turbo is comparable to the Corolla with its 2.0-liter, or the Mazda3 with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Mazda wins for the most power and torque on tap here. Plus, Mazda offers all-wheel drive with the 3, something none of these other six make available. The Subaru Impreza is standard with all-wheel drive, too, in case that’s one of your must-have features in this class. Honda takes the fuel economy crown for these higher power options by a good margin.

Space and size

Before we dive into how the new Civic compares to the competition, we’ll explain how this new generation is different from the old. Total size growth is minimal, but the Civic is still bigger this year than it was before. Overall length us up by 1.3 inches, and wheelbase is up by 1.4 inches. That translates to very little change inside. Legroom in front and back are identical to the previous Civic, and cargo capacity is actually down to 14.8 cubes versus the 15.1 cubes it maxed out at before.There’s an extra inch of rear shoulder room, but it must be packaging related, because the car is no wider for 2022. Unfortunately, weight is the big loser here. The new Civic weighs 106 pounds more than before in its base form. When you compare the loaded-up 2022 Touring to its 2021 Touring counterpart (both 1.5-turbo-equipped), the new Civic is 114 pounds heavier.

Versus the score of competitors, the Civic is on the larger side. Both the Jetta and Elantra are technically longer, but just barely so. Strangely, Toyota provides no interior dimensions for the Corolla sedan. We had little to no complaints about how spacious the back seat of the last Civic was, so keeping it the same this year works. However, competitors like the Elantra and Jetta have gone and matched or bettered the Civic in rear legroom. All three of those will serve backseat passengers well. It’s when you get into a Mazda3 or Sentra that the rear could begin to feel a bit cramped. Those couple are still deserving of their compact car status, whereas the new Civic hardly seems compact in any seat.

Another big plus for the Civic is its spacious trunk. And even though its size went down this year, it’s still the second-biggest in this class. Only the Kia Forte listed at 15.3 cubic-feet (not included in this comparison) can beat it for quoted volume.

Interior design in photos

The biggest improvement in this year’s Civic is undoubtedly its interior design. We haven’t sat in it yet, but we’re already impressed at the clever, horizontal air vent integration, use of technology and continued excellence in ergonomics and utility. Mazda still wins any argument when it comes to interior quality and luxuriousness in this segment, but Honda is creeping up as a very close second.

For some visual comparison, we’ve compiled interior shots for all six of these models into a gallery below that you can scroll through. Let us know which you like best in the comments.


The whole field in photos

2022 Honda Civic

Mazda3 Sedan

Toyota Corolla

Volkswagen Jetta

Hyundai Elantra

Nissan Sentra

Related video:


Rivals believe Aston has no grounds to dispute aero rules

During the opening two F1 races of the season, Aston Martin voiced unease that the change to floor rules for 2021, aimed at cutting downforce, had excessively punished the low rake concept cars the most. Team principal Otmar Szafnauer suggested that the performance swing between the high-rake and low-rake cars could be as much as one second per lap. Szafnauer wanted the FIA to respond with some rule tweaks to level the playing field this season, and did not completely dismiss the idea of legal action if a positive response was not forthcoming. However, Aston Martin’s complaints have found little support among rival competitors, who are clear that they believe that the right procedures were followed by the FIA and F1 in coming up with the floor solution. Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Ferrari Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said: “There is a governance in place and if you need to change aero rules, you need to go through that governance. “As Ferrari, we believe what was said on the safety reasons was the proper choice. But more than that, that choice was discussed at the time, with all technical directors, in the Technical Advisory Committee. “We all converged to that regulation, and no one was raising at the time any concerns.” McLaren boss Andreas Seidl added: “I think from our point of view it was a clear transparent process how these regulations came into force for this year. “So I don’t see any reason or also any way for a [rule] change now for this year.” Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images Seidl added that when the rules were originally put forward, there was no clear answer as to whether they would favour one rake concept over another – which meant they could not have been formulated to hinder anyone in particular. “To be honest, it’s difficult for each team, in my opinion, to give a solid or valid judgment on the effect these new aero regulations have on different car concepts,” he explained. “We all went into winter with the car concept that we used last year, because of the regulations. It wasn’t really possible to do a big change there, and none of the teams I guess did a parallel development with the same manpower and the same energy with two different concepts to see actually where would you come out.” Read Also: Aston Martin itself has backed away from talk of a major conflict with the FIA over the matter, with Szafnauer saying after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that he was more understanding of the rule change situation. “At this point, I’m pretty satisfied that all the correct steps were followed,” he explained. “I mean, we’re still in discussion. We’re just trying to discover what all the steps were to make sure that it was done properly, and equitably. So that’s the reason for the discussion.” shares comments Related video

What is rake in F1 and why are Aston Martin upset about changes?

The 2021 technical regulations have introduced an interesting side-plot into Formula 1, especially with the way it has affected the teams running low-rake aero concepts. In particular, the rules seem to have hindered the likes of Mercedes and Aston Martin, while teams like Red Bull – running higher-rake designs – have been able to capitalise on them. This has thrust Red Bull and Max Verstappen firmly in the title battle, hinting at the potential to offer Lewis Hamilton the biggest competition he has faced from a competitor outside his own team since the turbo-hybrid regulations came into force in 2014. Meanwhile, Aston Martin has taken a dim view of its own drop in performance thanks to the new rules, and divulged that it is to begin lobbying the FIA to unlock the regulations to reduce its disadvantage. But why is there such a discrepancy between the two concepts when it comes to the new rules? Here is an explainer to look at the effect of rake, and what Aston Martin’s next steps are. George Russell, Williams FW43B, Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-21, Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C41, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images What is rake?Rake applies to inclination of an F1 car when viewed from side on. A high-rake car has a more visible difference in angle between the front of the car and the rear, where the diffuser is jacked up considerably and the front tray of the floor runs very close to the ground. A low-rake car has a much reduced angle, and so the incline of the diffuser means it’s much closer to the ground. Rake is one of the key parts of the aerodynamic setup of a car, and is one of the aspects that defines a concept of a car – where everything else must be built around it. Why do teams go for high-rake designs?The idea behind increasing rake is to increase the effective volume of the diffuser while also helping to accelerate the airflow underneath. By increasing the velocity of the airflow, the floor can generate lower pressure, and thus the suction created develops a stronger level of downforce. In scientific terms this relates to Bernoulli’s principle, which is a conservation of energy equation. In short, increasing the speed of a fluid decreases the static pressure. As fluid – in this case, air – moves from a small volume to a large volume, the velocity increases to generate that reduction in pressure. The best way to describe this is by imagining putting your thumb halfway over a hosepipe. By creating a bigger difference between volumes, the water accelerates out of the hosepipe and sprays out at a much faster speed. However, this has traditionally come with a greater level of sensitivity. In the past, the low-rake teams have also had the slots in the floor to offset that, creating a seal to develop a much more consistent level of downforce. But without those slots, now removed in the 2021 regulations, the likes of Mercedes and Aston Martin have lost more downforce relative to the high-rake teams. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21 Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images What are Aston Martin’s main complaints about the 2021 rules?As it has lost downforce, Aston Martin has fallen back in the midfield battle – of which it was one of the front-runners in 2020 as Racing Point. Having developed a car strongly rooted in the design of the previous year’s Mercedes, Racing Point was able to transition to a low-rake design and benefit from the tools available to the floor which helped it to perform. Now it has lost that performance, Aston Martin believes that the 2021 rules changes, featuring the cuts to the floor, along with the diffuser and brake duct winglet size, have disadvantaged the low-rake cars. However, the teams can’t make particularly big changes, and any change to the rake concept would require a new suspension package – which is now homologated and unable to be changed due to the 2021 token system. Aston Martin spent its tokens on developing its chassis to introduce a new sidepod inlet design, and so had to forgo making suspension changes. Over the grand prix weekend at Imola, Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer expressed his displeasure at how the rules were introduced. The FIA made the floor changes on safety grounds, owing to the escalating downforce produced by modern F1 cars, which would have left the Pirelli tyres having to cope with loads they were not designed to carry. But Pirelli changed the tyre construction anyway to make them more robust, leaving Aston to question whether the floor cuts were needed in the first place. Aston Martin has also suggested that F1’s role as the commercial rights holder extended beyond its remit, and had influence in changing the rules to peg back runaway leader Mercedes. Szafnauer explained that the changes to rules should be the responsibility of the FIA alone, and wanted to open talks with the governing body to make the changes more equitable for the low-rake teams. “I think the right thing to do is to have the discussions with the FIA,” Szafnauer said, “and find out exactly what happened and why. Then we can see if there is something that can be done to make it more equitable. “I think that’s the right thing to do. We as a team have to work hard to try and claw back everything we can. But at the same time, we should be having the discussions with the FIA to make it a bit more equitable.” Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, battles with Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR21 Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images Will Aston Martin take legal action? Szafnauer has hinted that, if Aston Martin has a case, it may make a claim that it was unfairly disadvantaged by the 2021 rules. “I think we get to that point after the discussions,” he said. “It’s hard to predict. I think the right thing to do is to see what can be done.” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner feels that Aston Martin is being somewhat naïve, however, and underlined that the Milton Keynes team have also been the target of regulations to peg it back before. “There is a process for regulations to be introduced and they were voted through unanimously through the different regulations,” Horner told Sky after practice at Imola. “Aston Martin or Racing Point would have had to vote for before being passed through the Formula 1 Commission and the World Council. They were all voted through unanimously. “When there was a front wing change a few years ago it really hurt us. We voted against it, but you just have to accept it. “It seems a little naive to think that suddenly the rules are going to get changed after the sample of a single race after the process has been fully followed.” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added that he respects Aston Martin has the right to query the FIA’s decision process, but also added that the team was “collateral damage” in a bid to reduce Mercedes’ dominance. “I think there is always certainly the right to review and look at things and discuss them with the FIA, to find out what has actually happened, and how have things happened. “That’s why I respect Aston Martin’s enquiry into the whole thing. Maybe things were targeted at us, and they are collateral damage. So yeah. That’s OK.” shares comments

Ford posts surprising big profit, but chip shortage may cut production 50%

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. posted a surprising $3.26 billion first-quarter net profit on Wednesday, but the company said a worsening global computer chip shortage could cut its production in half during the current quarter.

Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said the second quarter should be the low point for the chip shortage, but it probably will last into next year. The situation will improve in the second half, but Ford still will see production fall 10% over original plans, he said. That means Ford won’t be able to make up for any lost production this year. But CEO Jim Farley said Ford will work to limit the 10% cut.

The company expects to lose factory output of 1.1 million vehicles for the year, up from an earlier estimate of 200,000 to 400,000. That will mean fewer vehicles to sell, but thus far it’s brought higher prices because demand is strong.

Nearly all automakers are struggling with the chip shortage, caused by semiconductor makers switching their factories to more profitable consumer-electronics processors when auto plants closed due to the coronavirus last year. The auto factories came back faster than expected, but the chip makers didn’t quickly switch their factories back to automotive-grade chips.

Farley said at first the company thought it could make up lost production later in the year. But a March fire in Japan at a Renesas Electronics Corp. chip foundry made things much worse. Renesas supplies about two-thirds of the auto industry’s chips, including nine top-tier parts makers for Ford, Farley said. Other chip makers haven’t shifted from consumer electronics to make more automotive chips, he said. Auto chips have to meet tougher specifications to handle weather extremes and vibration.

“We’ve yet to see significant new (factory) capacity come online for our industry,” Farley said, adding that the company now estimates that recovery will stretch into the fourth quarter or even next year.

Renesas, he said, expects to return to full production in July.

Ford also said it has built about 22,000 vehicles without some computers due to the shortage, and it will retrofit them when chips become available.

Excluding non-recurring items, the Dearborn, Michigan, automaker made 89 cents per share from January through March, trouncing Wall Street estimates of 22 cents per share. Quarterly revenue was $36.23 billion, beating analysts’ estimates of $36.13 billion, according to FactSet.

Lawler attributed the large profit to Ford’s years of restructuring to make the company leaner, as well as higher prices for its vehicles due to tight inventories.

Ford now predicts full-year pretax income to be between $5.5 billion and $6.5 billion, including a $2.5 billion cut due to the chip shortage. In February it estimated the shortage could reduce its full-year pretax earnings by $1 billion to $2.5 billion.

Investors apparently weren’t happy with Ford’s outlook for the year due to the chip shortage. Company shares fell 2.7% to $12.09 in extended trading Wednesday.

Lawler said the company’s decision to allocate capital to develop more higher-profit trucks and SUVs is paying off with higher margins.

“You’re seeing that flow through with the strong products,” he said. Since 2019, Ford’s average vehicle sales price is up $1,900 over the industry average, he said.

He also said the company has cut warranty costs by $400 million from the first quarter a year ago. Ford’s first-quarter earnings included a $902 million noncash gain on Ford’s investment in electric vehicle startup Rivian.

Ford did benefit from the chip shortage, especially in North America, its most profitable market. Lower production made vehicles more scarce, driving up prices as Ford shifted production to higher profit versions of vehicles like the top-selling F-Series pickup truck.

The company only had enough inventory March 31 to supply about 33 days of consumer demand. Ford, like other automakers, is looking at keeping lean inventories after the chip shortage passes, Farley said. That could mean fewer discounts and higher prices for consumers.

During the quarter, Ford sold more than 521,000 vehicles in the U.S., up 1% from a year earlier. Helped by strong pickup truck sales, the average sale price of a Ford vehicle was $47,858, more than 8% higher than the same period last year, according to

Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of industry insights, said the chip shortage could diminish what should be a highly profitable year for Ford, which was recovering from an old product lineup and production problems.

The automaker should be making big dollars based on high prices, Caldwell said.

“Ford is hanging on tight for now, but might find itself in a less secure position as this chipset shortage continues with no immediate end in sight,” she said.


New 2021 Maserati Levante Hybrid arrives with 325bhp

The Maserati Levante Hybrid has joined the luxury Italian brand’s line-up as its second hybrid model, with a focus on performance and fuel saving, according to Maserati.

The Levante Hybrid sits alongside the Ghibli Hybrid, and is Maserati’s first hybrid SUV. It’s actually a mild-hybrid set-up that uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and a belt starter-generator (BSG) powered by a compact battery to deliver a total output of 325bhp and 450Nm of torque – 90 per cent of which is available from just 1,750rpm.

This is sufficient for a 6.0-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 149mph, helped by standard all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Maserati claims that the 48-volt electrics in conjunction with its new eBooster tech – which backs up the car’s turbocharger to improve response and sustain the engine’s power at low revs – delivers a performance level similar to the V6 petrol Levante, but that CO2 emissions have been cut by up to 18 per cent compared with that car.

Fuel economy is yet to be confirmed due to pending certification, but the car’s CO2 output stands at a best of 231g/km.

The brand says in the car’s Normal driving mode performance and efficiency is balanced, with energy recovered by the system when decelerating, while in Sport the BSG and eBooster combine to provide a small extra hit of power.

The Hybrid weighs less than the V6 too, and thanks to the battery’s location at the rear of the car, offers a 50:50 weight distribution. Of course, the four-cylinder hybrid might not quite sound like the V6, but Maserati has tuned the exhaust’s fluid dynamics and fitted resonators to boost the sound signature, rather than resorting to artificial enhancement inside the cabin.

The intelligent Q4 all-wheel drive system helps handling too. It distributes 100 per cent of the system’s torque to the rear wheels, with the front axle only assisting to a maximum split of 50:50 when the set-up senses a loss of traction. There’s also a standard-fit limited-slip differential on the rear axle, while torque vectoring features as well as air suspension, which is also fitted as standard.

This controls a double wishbone layout at the front and a multi-link rear axle. It’s adaptive depending on driving mode, which along with the Levante Hybrid’s Q4 set-up, means the car can be set-up for sporty driving on road, or light off-roading away from the tarmac.

The air suspension also boosts comfort and efficiency, according to Maserati. The system automatically lowers itself at speed to reduce drag, while the ride height can be manually selected for entry and exit in its lowest position, or boosted by 85mm when off road.

There are more driver assistance systems, including a new adaptive cruise control with Active Drive Assist that will steer for you, as well as an updated 8.4-inch multimedia system that is powered by Android Automotive, boasting more connectivity and Amazon Alexa compatibility.

The Levante Hybrid will make its debut in GT trim and with a new metallic blue Azzuro Astro paint finish. It’ll feature cobalt blue detailing for the three air vents on each side of the car, the brake calipers and the new C-pillar logo, while the Hybrid ushers in different badging around the car and on the inside for the infotainment screen.

GT spec features the GranLusso external styling features from the regular Levante, while inside standard leather and piano black trim are standard.

The Levante Hybrid will go on sale in July, and while prices haven’t been confirmed, expect the Hybrid to start from around £69,000.

Click here for our full in-depth review on the Maserati Levante SUV…


New 2022 Nissan X-Trail SUV makes Shanghai Motor Show debut

A new version of the Nissan X-Trail has been unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show, with the large SUV set to go on sale in Europe next year using similar technology to Nissan’s Qashqai family SUV.

The brand has also confirmed some Europe-specific information for this fourth-generation X-Trail, with the car available in this market with Nissan’s e-Power hybrid powertrain from launch.

It moves onto the CMF-C platform that underpins the latest Qashqai. Designed with the adoption of the brand’s hybrid e-Power powertrain in mind, it uses the same set-up as the Qashqai. A variable compression ratio 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that charges a compact battery, which supplies an electric motor for a total of 184bhp and 330Nm of torque on offer.

This allows the combustion engine to run at its optimum level for efficiency, lowering emissions and improving fuel consumption, while also, according to Nissan, giving the feel of driving an electric car, given the wheels are driven by electric motors. 

Nissan says the four-wheel drive version will give the new X-Trail “rugged versatility” and improve ability off-road, with the all-wheel-drive system configurable for snow, gravel or mud, helping boost confidence in bad conditions.

The styling follows the latest Qashqai’s too, with a more pronounced V-Motion grille and narrow headlight units. The SUV boasts some strong, angular styling lines giving it a chunkier look to its softer-surfaced predecessor, while at the rear shallow tail-light units, a big silver insert for the bumper and a contrasting roof complete the look.

The new CMF-C platforms means the X-Trail will also be available with a third row of seats, offering seven-seat capability for larger families.

The interior will pack more advanced kit, including more driver assistance systems to help safety in this family-oriented machine, while the upgraded platform will also help boost refinement and dynamic performance, according to Nissan.

The fourth-generation X-Trail completes Nissan’s overhaul of its SUV line-up, which started in late 2019 with the second-generation Juke, followed by the Ariya all-electric model and the exclusively hybrid new Qashqai, revealed towards the start of this year.

With the X-Trail’s on-sale date some way off in 2022 and the car only just unveiled, Nissan hasn’t yet revealed pricing, but given the new platform and the increase in technology on offer, expect the new car to rise over the outgoing model’s £26,835 starting price.

Click here for our in-depth review of the latest Nissan Qashqai SUV…