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To Hell with That: Fiat Chrysler Denies Chrysler 300 Hellcat Report

Chrysler 300 SRT Hellcat (spy photo)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ plans to move the next-generation Chrysler 300 sedan to the Alfa Romeo Giulia platform have reportedly been scrapped. However, rumor is that the Chrysler flagship may add a more fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine to the lineup and that, on the other end of the scale, the 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 from the Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats could show up in the 300 at the end of 2018.

According to Automotive News, the 300 will undergo an extensive refresh for the 2019 model year. The updated 300 will continue to use FCA’s aging LX platform as a base. The company, though, is expected to integrate additional weight-saving technologies to help fuel efficiency. Meanwhile, a rumored four-cylinder 300 would probably use the same turbocharged unit that is slated for the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler. (The LX-platform-based Dodge Charger and Challenger will also see the 2019 updates before being replaced in 2021, according to the report, with new models based on the Maserati Ghibli platform.)

An FCA spokesperson contradicted that report, telling Car and Driver that the company currently has no plans to produce a 300 variant featuring the Hellcat supercharged V-8. Still, we’ve been misled by FCA before, and we’ve even published spy photos of what looked like a 300 Hellcat test mule. We wouldn’t put money on Chrysler offering a 707-hp 300, but we can’t rule out the possibility. Remember, though, that the SRT version of the 300 still exists only for export markets and is not sold in North America.

Automotive News also reported that the Chrysler brand is expected to add a pair of crossover SUVs to its portfolio by the beginning of the next decade. The industry trade paper reported that a mid-size model based on the Jeep Cherokee platform will arrive for the 2019 model year and that a full-size crossover, due in 2021, will be based on the Pacifica minivan, which is itself due for a refresh in 2020. The larger crossover may revive the Aspen name, which was once used on a Dodge-brand K-car but more recently was the name of a full-size Chrysler SUV that shared its architecture with the Dodge Durango.

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Udacity to Introduce Flying Car Credential

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Le Hatch Chaud: New Renault Megane RS Debuts; We Want It

2017 Renault Megane RS

European hot-hatch fans rejoice: Renault just unveiled the latest iteration of the Mégane RS. Based on the roughly two-year-old current-gen Mégane hatchback, the RS model returns to represent the automaker in the fiercely contested European sport-compact segment. That means facing off against such storied players as the Volkswagen GTI and the Ford Focus ST, as well as intriguing hot-hatch variants of the Vauxhall Astra, SEAT Léon, Peugeot 308, and other Eurocentric offerings that aren’t available stateside.

The Mégane R.S. is wider (with a wider track to match) than its more civilian counterpart and stylistically is distinguished by its front-end graphics, R.S.-specific 18- and 19-inch wheels, rear diffuser, and trapezoidal center exhaust. A newly available Tonic Orange exterior finish grants its owner extrovert status. The interior features front sport seats with integrated headrests, red stitching, and a choice of fabric or microsuede.

2017 Renault Megane RS

The Megane R.S. will be available for the first time in two versions: Cup and Sport. Both are propelled by a 276-hp turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection. A full 288 lb-ft of grunt is on hand, delivered to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Renault’s Multi-Sense system provides five driving modes—Comfort, Normal, Sport, Race, and Personal—to fine-tune steering, throttle, and transmission responses. Of particular note is the inclusion of a four-wheel-steering system called 4Control, which is designed to improve agility and cornering stability at speed. Renault claims it’s a first for the segment.

Another unique feature is the use of rally-inspired hydraulic bump stops that assist the Cup version in delivering uncompromising handling while providing a smooth ride for the Sport version.

2017 Renault Megane RS

The infotainment system is said to be more user-friendly than before—for which we admittedly have no baseline—and, in a defining nod to the intended demographic, includes an Expert mode that allows users to connect a camera to the system and record (presumably on-track) video, which can be played back and analyzed before sharing it on social media.

Addressing buyers who might fear that the Renault Mégane R.S. doesn’t have the stones to hang with hatchback brawlers like the Focus RS and the Honda Civic Type R, Renault also is resurrecting the Mégane R.S. Trophy. Set to arrive in late 2018, it will pack the same engine, tweaked to produce in the neighborhood of 296 horsepower, plus a Torsen limited-slip-differential and other chassis revisions.


2017 Frankfurt Auto Show Full Coverage

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Authorities nab fugitve in speeding car posing as a surgeon – Tribune

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Orioles minor league pitcher Miguel Gonzalez dead after car accident in Dominican Republic

Orioles minor league pitcher Miguel Gonzalez died Monday in the Dominican Republic from injuries suffered in a Saturday car accident, the team announced.

“Our organization is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Miguel Gonzalez,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said in a statement. “Miguel was beloved by his teammates and coaches in the Dominican Republic. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this very difficult time.”

Gonzalez, 21, was signed as an international free agent in 2014 and spent the past three seasons in the Dominican Summer League, where he appeared in 38 games (13 starts) and had a 7.65 ERA.

He is not related to former Oriole starting pitcher Miguel González, who plays for the Texas Rangers.

Expect Used-Car Prices to Skyrocket in the Southeast Post-Hurricane

Flooded cars

Remember the 2009 Cash for Clunkers program? Some hated it. Others invested in this new form of government cheese. After eight weeks, the entire USA had spent nearly $3 billion in taxpayer money to supplement the purchase of almost 690,000 vehicles. It was a big deal, but not nearly as big as what’s happening right now in the Southeast thanks to hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Roughly a million vehicles have been totaled from Texas to the southern tip of Florida. When Superstorm Sandy hit the New York tri-state area in 2012, auto sales in metropolitan New York City skyrocketed 49 percent in a single month. Yet, as far as vehicle population is concerned, the aftermath of that storm represents a fraction of the damage Harvey and Irma have left from Houston to Miami. Industry trade paper Automotive News reported estimates that retail sales in Houston were up 40 to 50 percent over year-ago levels in the immediate aftermath of the storm, even as inventories were depleted by flood damage.

When extreme disasters strike, local car dealers at ground zero will fan out into surrounding wholesale dealer auctions to buy whatever they can to fulfill the surge in demand. Within a week of Harvey’s landfall, there were dealers throughout southeast Texas visiting mega auctions in Atlanta, Tampa, and Tulsa. These folks were loading up cars and trucks on transport vehicles that were headed out to places including Houston and Corpus Christi.

Bradley Williams has been a large-scale buyer for franchise and independent dealers, and he’s seen this invasion of demand at regional auctions before. “Everyone from Texas is up in Tennessee now, and it’s going to be like this for the next two to three months now that Florida got hit, too,” Williams said. “I have to go buy cars in Ohio for a Tennessee store at this point.” The spike in demand hits every level of the used-car market, from late-model cars and trucks with fewer than 50,000 miles on their odometers to runaround beaters that have been to the moon and back.

Auto auction

A spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas told Car and Driver earlier this month that about 15 percent of Texans generally drive without insurance. Of the Texan motorists that are insured, about 75 percent have comprehensive coverage, which would cover flood damage. I would venture to estimate that a substantial number of those who did keep comprehensive insurance coverage have older vehicles that aren’t worth very much. This level of loss on the low side of the market means that cheap cars will soon be in incredibly short supply for the next several months. Even up in the Northeast.

If there is one saving grace for the Southeast in terms of shopping for a vehicle, it is the timing of these natural disasters. Most major hurricanes take place during the late summer to early fall, a time when the used-car market is usually soft. Still, values have already been going up. “I watched an ’09 Focus with 115K [miles] do $4400 today at auction,” said Kristen Mauro, owner of Image Auto Sales in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, noting that the retail value is $4800. That suggests the wholesale price allows only a slim profit margin or that the buyer plans to sell the car at an inflated price. “I seriously don’t understand where people are going with these vehicles.”

The double wallop that hit the Southeast is going to have an impact on used-car prices for a long time. A natural disaster can bring out the price gougers and opportunists like little else. So if you live in one of the hurricane-impacted areas and already enjoy what you drive, keep it if you can. Deals won’t be happening any time soon.

Steve Lang has been an auto auctioneer, car dealer, and part owner of an auto auction for nearly two decades.

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Chaotic Scene as St. Louis Cop Backs Through Protest Crowd (Video)

click to enlarge A St. Louis police officer takes a statement from Richard Williams and Johnny Roberts Jr. (far left and left) on Sunday. - PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY

  • A St. Louis police officer takes a statement from Richard Williams and Johnny Roberts Jr. (far left and left) on Sunday.

A tense moment on Sunday outside of police headquarters separated a long afternoon of peaceful marching from another night of broken windows and arrests.

About 7:30 p.m. on the third day of protests following the acquittal of ex-cop Jason Stockley on a murder charge, an officer driving an unmarked patrol car put the blue Impala in reverse and shot through an approaching crowd, narrowly missing protesters who scrambled out the way.

See also: Downtown Swelled with Protesters Sunday (PHOTOS)

People chased the sedan south on 20th for about a block and a half, a few chucking water bottles before protest organizers shouted at them to stop.

The chaotic scene began with a 7 p.m. a traffic stop at 20th and Locust streets, near the northwest corner of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Officers pulled over a minivan and arrested the driver and a passenger. The driver was wanted for first-degree assault and the passenger for making terrorist threats, according to police. Officers confiscated three guns, police say.

Officers arrested a third suspect who threw a rock at them. They put him in the back of the Impala, police say.

The scene took place outside of the view of the majority of protesters, who were around the corner on Olive after an hours-long, peaceful march. At least half of the crowd, which was probably about 1,000 people at one point, had left by then.

See Also: Protesters March Through the Delmar Loop

Richard Williams and Johnny Roberts Jr. say they were on their way out when they walked up the street toward the traffic stop. That’s when officers from the unmarked patrol car grabbed them.

“We was leaving,” Williams says. “I didn’t even know they were getting pulled over.”

One officer threw Roberts up against wall of the station, and another started to take Williams into custody before other officers told them they had the wrong guys, according to Williams.

About the same time, one of the protesters sprinted down the street and around the corner to tell others police were taking people into custody. Several dozen people began hurrying over to 20th to see what was happening.

The two officers hopped into the unmarked patrol car and backed down the street. It wasn’t full speed, but it wasn’t slow either. People screamed as they dodged the fleeing Impala.

The threat of cars driving into crowds has been one of the concerns of demonstrators, who have been protesting in the streets since Friday when Jason Stockley was acquitted of first-degree murder in the 2011 killing of Anthony Lamar Smith. An anti-racist protester was killed last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a white supremacist drove a Dodge Challenger into a crowd of demonstrators, and marchers in St. Louis have been leery of approaching cars.

City police say their officer  backed down the street for safety because the crowd “started moving in a threatening manner” toward the car, police said in an email. They also posted a surveillance video clip of the Impala driving away. (See below.)

Williams and Roberts say the officers roughed them up for no reason and then the driver reversed wildly through crowds of people, who could have been injured.

“He needs to get locked up for reckless driving,” Williams says.

The incident happened at the tail end of Sunday’s main march, which began with six minutes of silence meant to symbolize the six years since Stockley killed Smith.

Leaders in the crowd worked to usher protesters away from a police line that formed around the Impala, and then talked with police representatives about what had happened. Officers eventually took statements from Williams and Roberts about their clash up the block with the other officers.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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In Frankfurt, Angela Merkel Lectures Automakers over Dirty-Diesel Fallout

Frankfurt Auto Show 2017

Allegations of cheating on diesel emissions controls were only days old the last time the auto industry gathered for the Frankfurt auto show, and the ensuing headlines overshadowed whatever announcements carmakers had planned. So it was understandable that organizers were eager this year to move beyond that sullied spectacle, preferring to focus on a fresh wave of electrification plans and future mobility efforts.

But German chancellor Angela Merkel was in no mood to put the emissions scandals of her country’s largest automaker in the rearview mirror. With the CEOs of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW in the audience at the opening ceremony of this year’s Frankfurt show, she admonished industry leaders for their roles in jeopardizing the German economy and urged them to take full account of the diesel scandal before turning attention toward a future filled with autonomous and electric cars.

“Living in the future means learning from our mistakes,” she said. “Companies misused loopholes and not only hurt themselves but cheated the government and consumers. They need to regain trust as quickly as possible.”

For anyone who doesn’t remember, Volkswagen duped regulators by installing software that circumvented testing on millions of vehicles, which, unchecked, then spewed nitrogen-oxide emissions that exceeded permissible levels in the United States by as much as 40 times. That news broke in the midst of the 2015 Frankfurt show.

Approximately 11 million vehicles encompassing the Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche brands were soon ensnared in the scandal worldwide. Volkswagen agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement in the United States in October 2016, but the global fallout continues. In August 2017, German government officials agreed to a software fix for 5.3 million diesel cars still on the country’s roads.

Yet with the automotive industry at the heart of the German economy, employing roughly 800,000 workers and generating about $470 billion per year, it was something of a surprise for Merkel to criticize industry leaders so bluntly at their signature event, only one week before her own re-election campaign concludes. She toed a line between outright hostility and appreciating the economic contributions. She acknowledged engineering efforts that have already made cars more fuel efficient but said they weren’t nearly enough to remove the pall from the scandal or pivot toward a future that involves reducing pollution at all costs.

“Increases in efficiency have been offset by bigger cars and more traffic on the road,” she said via an interpreter at the event. “Industry will have to come up with responses to car sharing, connectivity, and urbanization, which plays a role. Cities are affected by pollution. Only China is phasing out the internal-combustion engine. Germany needs to wake up and meet these global challenges.”

Going forward, she said, the principles behind the Paris climate accord should serve as an overarching guide for whatever steps the auto industry takes on future innovations. She singled out Norway and Finland as aspirational examples and touted financial incentives as a means of encouraging car owners to dump their older diesel vehicles in favor of electrics.

That doesn’t entirely mean she wants engineers to give up on improvements to cars that are still using internal-combustion engines. Noting that such cars will remain on the road for decades to come, Merkel acknowledged that automakers face dual challenges in wringing still more efficiency out of engines while simultaneously turning toward electric and other alternative power sources. Merkel also announced a billion-euro investment in infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.

“We have to charge toward emission-free mobility,” she said. “For cars, we have to make sure limits are respected and tests are conducted in real driving conditions.”

Merkel wasn’t alone in urging further introspection and a full accounting of the toll these misdeeds have taken on the relationships with customers. Volker Bouffier, minister-president of the central state of Hessen, said the 2017 Frankfurt show will help “regain lost trust” and acknowledged that “the trust we have worked on for years can be easily lost.” Matthias Wissmann, chairman of the IAA, the trade association that runs the show, said, “We are aware we’ve lost some confidence.” Still, the two urged Merkel to avoid outright bans on diesel vehicles.

Outside the convention hall on the morning of Merkel’s visit, Greenpeace organizers staged a protest against gas-guzzling vehicles and the dependency of the country’s 46 million registered vehicles on “big oil.”

Aiming to rebuild trust, show organizers added a New Mobility World exhibit that augments the traditional unveilings of new vehicles. Following her remarks, Merkel toured this portion of the show, stopping at the Qualcomm showcase and asking about the longtime microchip maker’s role in the evolving auto industry.

Since connected and automated technologies will play a central role in future products, Merkel suggested, companies can do right by consumers by better explaining these new technologies.

“When I talk to people about automated driving, they look at me with wide eyes and say, ‘That’s 100 years away,’ ” she said. “You, the industry people, need to change that and help pull them into acceptance of these new technologies.”2017 Frankfurt Auto Show Full Coverage

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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Tesla, Honda Motor, BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – September 18, 2017 – announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include  Tesla, Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA - Free Report ), Honda Motor Company (NYSE: HMC - Free Report ), BMW AG (OTCMKTS: BAMXF - Free Report ), Volkswagen AG (OTCMKTS: VLKAY - Free Report ) and Daimler AG (OTCMKTS: DDAIF - Free Report ).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ”Buy” stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free .

Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

4 Auto Stocks with Great Value for the EV Race

In order to tackle air pollution problems, many countries are focusing on usage of electric cars. In fact, this ground reality has prompted many automakers to shift their attention from gasoline and diesel-automobiles to electric cars.

Per a report by International Energy Agency, the number of on-road electric vehicles rose to 2 million in 2016, which was almost non-existent even a few years back. This trend is expected to continue with aggressive targets to address climatic changes and reduce urban congestions in many countries.

At the same time, automakers are launching or planning to unveil new, practical and affordable versions of electric cars to cater to growing demand.

In Europe, demand of these vehicles is expected to rise owing to advanced technological changes, declining battery costs and strong government support. Per a report by Dutch bank ING Group, between 2017 and 2024, European customers will prefer buying more electric vehicles over other conveyance types.

Notably, China – the largest automotive market – will soon put a deadline to stop production and sale of gasoline-run cars with an aim to end carbon emissions by 2030. This plan is in line with the government’s mandate in June that compelled automakers to manufacture more electrically powered vehicles. (Read more: Autos Eye China’s CO2-Free Drive to Push Electric Vehicles ).

Currently, U.S. auto market is trailing among others but is expected to flourish with several electric vehicles being introduced in the market. As a matter of fact, the U.S. electric vehicle market witnessed a 32% annual growth rate between a period of 2012 and 2016 and will likely reach 40% in the next six years, per some published estimates Among other new vehicles, Tesla, Inc. ‘s (Nasdaq: TSLA - Free Report ) recently unwrapped the Model 3 sedan specifically for the U.S. market might play a major role in doubling electric car sales in the country.

Screening the Stocks

Overall, the auto sector has been bearish so far this year. Considering the volatile environment of the sector, value stocks may prove to be most beneficial. It is important to find the right kind of stocks to capitalize on ample opportunities.

We have chosen the probable best bets with strong fundamentals to increase potential returns with the help of our VGM Score . A value stock implies stocks trading lower than its fair price or intrinsic value and thus, offers a significant upside potential. For this particular strategy, stocks with a VGM Score of A or B have been selected.

In addition, we have zeroed in on stocks with a low price/earnings (P/E) ratio as these can prove to be great bargains. A low P/E indicates decline in a stock’s price or an improvement in its earnings performance.

Top Picks

We have picked four stocks in the auto sector, expected to provide good returns over the long haul and perform well with the increasing demand for electric vehicles.

Honda Motor Company (NYSE: HMC - Free Report ) is a leading manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles in the world. It offers products ranging from small general-purpose engines to specialty sports cars. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 (Strong Buy) Rank stocks here .

The company holds a VGM Score of A.

Zacks Rank #1

P/E ratio: 9

BMW AG (OTCMKTS: BAMXF - Free Report ) is a leading German automotive manufacturer, headquartered in Munich, Germany. It designs, produces and distributes luxury vehicles, sports cars and motorcycles. It also offers premium financial and mobility services.

The company has a VGM Score of B.

Zacks Rank #1

P/E ratio: 7.4

Volkswagen AG (OTCMKTS: VLKAY - Free Report ) is another well-known German automaker, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. It designs, manufactures and sells passenger and commercial vehicles, motorcycles and engines.

The company carries a VGM Score of A.

Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)

P/E ratio: 6.2

Daimler AG (OTCMKTS: DDAIF - Free Report ) is a German multinational automotive company, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. It is one of the largest manufacturers of premium cars and the largest producer of commercial vehicles.

The company has a VGM Score of B.

Zacks Rank #1

P/E ratio: 7.2

Challenges Abound, Too

In order to roll out new electric cars, automakers are currently making huge investments to develop and manufacture them. With sales still hitting lows, mostly due to higher prices and lack of fast-charging stations, carmakers are in a difficult situation to balance expenses without compromising margins.

With a view to curtailing expenses, auto companies are resorting to various initiatives. A few of these measures include outsourcing their component manufacturing rather than going for in-house production besides curbing costs.

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Strong Stocks that Should Be in the News

Many are little publicized and fly under the Wall Street radar. They’re virtually unknown to the general public. Yet today’s 220 Zacks Rank #1 “Strong Buys” were generated by the stock-picking system that has nearly tripled the market from 1988 through 2015. Its average gain has been a stellar +26% per year. See these high-potential stocks free .

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The SP 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit  for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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Tesla Inc. (TSLA): Free Stock Analysis Report

Honda Motor Company, Ltd. (HMC): Free Stock Analysis Report

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Looking for Auto Insurance? Here Are 6 Things You Need to Know

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