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Scion brand discontinued by Toyota

Toyota has just announced that it's pulling the plug on its youth-focused brand Scion after 13 years.

The Scion brand was launched back in 2002 to appeal to a younger generation that might not have been interested in Toyota products. It started out strong with a sales peak in 2006 in the United States, but for the past nine years sales slowly drifted away that saw the retirement of several vehicles over the past two years. In Canada, Scion had a smaller timeframe beginning in 2010 with a similar fate as sales peaked at only 5,500-plus unit sales in 2012.

Toyota's plan for Scion is simple. The Scion iM and FR-S models will transition over to Toyota and its Scion badges will be replaced by Toyota ones for the 2017 model year. The CH-R crossover that will hit the market in 2017 will become a Toyota product. The tC coupe will get a final release before it gets cut as expected in August.

The consolidation of Scion will take place in August, so for now dealerships will be selling its remaining Scion stock. Current Scion owners will still be able to go to Toyota dealerships for maintenance or questions.

Scion sold more than a million cars since its establishment, and Toyota hopes those previous-Scion models will do even better with the Toyota badge. Toyota announced in a press release that its relationships that were built with Mazda and Subaru over the creation of the FR-S and iM will continue.

No Toyota vehicles are expected be discontinued from this business decision.

Toyota set to bring a concept to Toronto

Toyota has sent out a media advisory for the 2016 Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto on a new urban utility concept model that they want to show off.

Toyota is calling it the U2 Urban Utility Concept. Not to be confused by the rock band, the urban utility mobile is actually called “U Squared.”

“From its retracting roof panels, to its uniquely configurable utility rail system, the U2 offers a concept vehicle that is only limited by the imagination,” says Cyril Dimitris, Vice President, Sales, Toyota Canada Inc. “Our North American design team left no stone unturned in masterfully creating a concept vehicle that truly embodies the spirit of today’s Maker culture from the inside out.”

Besides the name, picture and the quote, there isn't any other information available about the U2 concept. We will have to wait and see what's released in Toronto on February 11 on press day.

Audi to take different course after diesel issues


Audi had big plans for a Range Rover Evoque rival Q4, but now that's been tabled due to the diesel scandal that rocked all of Volkswagen AG late last year.

The money that was set to be allocated for the design and production of the Q4, based on the same platform as the Q5, will now be going to support the companies new line of pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. This announcement came from Car & Driver magazine from a source close to the Audi AG board of directors.

The electrification push is one that Volkswagen AG have been talking about ever since the company tried to steady its ship after the diesel crisis. They've attempted to realign the brand into a more acceptable, greener arena with several leadership changes and a reorganization of how they conduct business within each global region.

The e-tron Quattro, revealed at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show would be a vehicle to look out for in the future, but nothing has been confirmed as of now. What we do know is that Volkswagen AG plans to introduce close to 20 new models that will either be pure electrical vehicles or of the plug-in hybrid variety by 2020.

FCA surges ahead to capture 2015 Canadian sales title


For the first time, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has taken top spot in annual new vehicles sales in Canada. 


In a record year for vehicle sales in Canada that saw 1.898 million new vehicles sold, the FCA surged ahead of its main competitors at Ford and General Motors, mainly due to an increase in light truck sales that include trucks, SUVs and the ever-increasing in popularity crossovers. 


For the FCA brand, the main driving force for them was the Jeep Cherokee that saw an increase of 41 per cent from its 2014 sales. 


In total, the FCA sold 293,061 vehicles, followed by Ford Motor Company at 278,531 with General Motors taking third with 263,335. 


If you look at it from a specific best-selling brand, Ford maintained its top spot for a seventh consecutive year, largely due to the Ford F-Series that saw its trucks continue to be the best-selling vehicle for a sixth consecutive year and the best-selling pickup in Canada for an incredible 50th consecutive year. 



According to a statistical report from industry analyst DesRosiers, sales of light trucks rose 8.8 per cent, while the sales of cars saw a decline by 6.3 per cent. The decline is reflected in the sales of the Honda Civic that retained its spot as the best-selling Canadian car for an 18th consecutive year, but slipped in sales from its 2014 numbers by 1.7 per cent for a final total of 64,950 units.

Nissan and Infiniti reveal new engines


It was a big week for engine announcements at Nissan and Infiniti. The Japanese brand wanted to jump the gun ahead of the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and revealed what would be under the hood of not only the Nissan Titan, but the Infiniti Q50 as well.

Let's start with the Nissan group and their long-awaited new Titan that previously only had the 5.0-litre Cummins turbo diesel V8 (310 hp and 555 lb.-ft. of torque). The Cummins will now be paired with a 5.6-litre gasoline V8 producing 390 hp and 401 lb.-ft. of torque that's matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission, a change from the diesel that gets the six-speed. This new engine is a significant improvement on the last generations 5.6-litre V8 due in large part to direct injection and a higher compression ratio. This new engine option becomes available in the spring.

The Nissan Titan sales start this month, and we expect to see pricing for this new engine come out shortly. Just keep in mind, that there will also be a third powertrain option, that has yet to be revealed.

As for Infiniti, they're getting set to bring in three new engine options for their best-selling vehicle, the Q50 sedan.

The biggest change would be the arrival of a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that will have 300 horses and set the highest standard horsepower in its class to go along with 295 lb.-ft. of torque.

Additionally, consumers will have the choice of a base 208-hp 2.0-litre turbo four or the frisky Red Sport edition that shoots up to 400 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. All three options come standard with rear-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The 3.5-litre hybrid version V6 with a 50-kWh electric motor will be the one mainstay, and offer a fourth choice for consumers.

According to Infiniti, the Q50 will possess a new Direct Adaptive Steering system, which can adjust instantly. On top of that, it will receive a new Dynamic Digital Suspension that can allow the driver to choose between firm, comfort, or sport mode.

The Q50 and QX60 crossover will have a much improved exterior and interior, but we will have to wait for Detroit to see their new looks, along with the all-new 2017 Q60 sport coupe reveal.

Ford Super Duty unveiled in cowboy country


Regina, SK – With the Ford F-150 making waves for its alumium-body, it was time for the first major redesign of the F-Series Super Duty in 17 years.

To do this, we went to truck country and the largest livestock show in Canada – the Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Saskatchewan. It's there where the all-new 2017 Ford Super Duty was unveiled to the public.

Yes, the Super Duty was uncovered a couple months earlier at the Texas State Fair, but this event was different, it was all-Canadian. Agribition is a tradeshow that lives and breathes agriculture and entertainment, and you have more truck owners walking these buildings that need this truck to pull their trailers and livestock more than any place in Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver. It was a chance not to just show it off to the journalists attending, but mainly to the consumers – the one's who've made the Ford F-Series the best-selling pickup in Canada for 49 years.

“We listened to our customers, and created a tougher, smarter and more capable truck,” said Bill Rowe, Product Marketing Director at Ford Canada in a discussion with television celebrity Ricky Forbes, the Tornado Hunter.

Set to go out at the end of 2016, this new Super Duty has a longer fully-boxed frame made up of 95 per cent high-strength steel. The use of aluminum in the body, and high-strength steel in the frame has combined to save up to 350 lbs., but also makes it 24 times stronger than the current model, and less resistant to dents and dings. According to Ford, that weight has been re-invested in larger axles and a larger driveline.

It's structure is not only longer, it sits higher, has expanded in width, and due to its added strength, it can handle heavier loads with its highest payload and the best towing of any Super Duty that came before. Unfortunately, these are all statements now, as Ford has not released any statistics that would include payload, towing capacity, not even horsepower or torque. We should expect those to come in with other announcements as we get closer to launch.

What we do know is that there will be three engine choices: a 6.7-litre turbo diesel, 6.2-litre V8 and a 6.8-litre V10. But as you already know, there's no horsepower or torque numbers attached yet to them.

The inside is where many of the new innovations have been made. The new and improved eight-inch Sync3 infotainment system is a welcomed addition to any Ford product. Furthermore, the Super Duty doubles its storage space with two glove compartments, a redesigned under-seat storage unit that locks, a plethora of outlets throughout and the auxiliary switches have been moved to the overhead console for easy access.

In total, there are seven cameras at your disposal. Some of these will be extremely helpful when towing with a rear view camera that zooms in when lining up your hitch, and one that mounts on the rear of the trailer. You will have the choice of a split-view screen with any of the 360-degree view points with one that focuses directly into the cargo bed.

The addition of more safety technology has made the Super Duty safer and smarter. The Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) has been installed to modify to the length of the truck's trailer. It also uses adaptive steering for the first time that understands when you're towing heavier loads and the need for less effort to steer at lower speeds.

Now that we've been teased with this new Super Duty, we will all have to wait until late 2016 to see how this mammoth truck drives.

The risks of driving fatigue

Ambrose is a professional accountant, he drives 52 kms to and from work every day, six days a week. Driving to Ambrose has always been about getting from point A to B, regardless the situation or condition he's in.

That problem comes to ahead one day when he dozes off at a traffic light. After three minutes of horns and screams, the driver behind him gets out of their car and knocks on his window to wake him up, which finally does the trick.

This story serves as a point for all drivers, not to get behind the wheel under excessive fatigue. Ambrose was lucky that this situation occurred at a stop light, and not while in motion. If you have to fight to keep your eyes open, you've lost the fight, and should pull over immediately.

When you're feeling fatigue, you're aren't as familiar aware of what's around you and it creates a slow reaction time. Additionally to awareness, it also impairs your judgment, making fatigue as severe as drugs or alcohol.

Many driving safety campaigns stand behind drinking and driving, which is definitely a noble cause. Many are aware of the dangers after drinking, but driving drowsy can be as fatal causing innocent drivers or pedestrians to lose their lives.

In order to be a safe driver, you must become aware of your own biological clock. Based on your normal daily life, you might have a certain time to eat and a certain time for sleep. It's all on an individual basis, where some people are alert in the early part of the day; while others enjoy staying up late. Take a moment to realize when you're most drowsy and when you're most alert, and take those necessary precautions into your car and onto the road.

If you're planning a long distance trip, I would strongly advise to get enough sleep the night before and constantly be aware of when you should start to feel drowsy, and not just at that moment, but plan ahead for it.

Additionally, a healthy diet provides proper nutrition and increased energy. Simple exercise each day can work on cardiovascular and muscle strengthening, and will go a long way in helping to keep you alert behind the wheel.

Remember, next time fatigue sets in, pull over to a safe place and place the car in park. Take a nap, if you need to, so that your body can rejuvenate. There's no better thing you can do for yourself and your fellow drivers.

Mazda2 no longer coming to Canada

Back in January, the Mazda2 made its reveal at the 2015 Montreal International Auto Show. But only a few months later, the debut of the Mazda2 was postponed in order for Mazda to focus its attention on the new releases of the CX-3 crossover compact and MX-5 roadster.

Now, according to a press release from Mazda Canada, it will no longer be postponed, but dropped completely from the Canadian market.

“The opportunity for success in the subcompact segment is rapidly shrinking as the segment has lost considerable share of the market this year,” Mazda Canada said in a statement to the press. “This decision will allow Mazda Canada to focus our resources on the biggest growth opportunity, which is our CX line of crossovers, including the CX-3, CX-5 and an all-new CX-9 which will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 18, 2015.”

In its second-generation and fourth globally, the Mazda2 was set to be a big player in the small subcompact segment. It was to get the full Kodo – Soul of Motion and Skyactiv technology treatment, as found on the latest newer models from the Japanese outfit.

Perhaps, if that styling does well in other global markets, Canada might see the Mazda2 in the forseeable future.

Volkswagen takes first steps towards TDI customers

Volkswagen of America are offering up $1,000 USD of vouchers to its TDI customers that have been affected by the emissions scandal. It's the first step by the German-brand to offer up some form of goodwill, as they figure out how to fix the situation with the need for software and hardware changes.

Volkswagen Canada are expected to make a similar announcement next week in Canadian dollars. Details haven't been disclosed, but we're expecting similar figures to be handed out.

The American system's $1,000 will be broken down into a $500 prepaid Visa card that can be used wherever Visa is accepted and an additional $500 voucher that can be redeemed at Volkswagen dealerships. The offer also includes three free years of 24-hour roadside assistance.

“We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles,” said Michael Horn, Volkswagen of America CEO in a statement. “In the meantime we are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers’ trust.”

There are no strings attached to these vouchers, and can be used on top of any current Volkswagen offering or trade-in. Customers eligible for the voucher are 2.0-litre owners that were cited initially by the EPA, and don't include the 3.0-litre TDIs that were reported to have the same defeat device that cheats the emissions test, as Volkswagen has denied those claims.

Audi is expected to make a similar offer to its affected customers later this week.

Hyundai to create standalone Genesis brand: report

For years, there's been debate of a separate premium Genesis-line from Hyundai. Hyundai even created a separate Genesis winged badge, instead of the regular Hyundai H.

The rumours have swirled, and now it looks like the South Korean-brand is ready to make the move to create that standalone company. According to Reuters, in an announcement expected to come out Wednesday, the premium company Genesis will take the first steps in a launch in order to boost profitability.

Hyundai has declined to comment, but the report suggests that Genesis will have a lineup that includes the flagship Equus, and a possible midsize SUV to be added to the lineup by 2019. The distribution of the luxury brand will still take place at Hyundai dealerships, at least for now.

“A small line of upscale products is going to be sold under the Genesis brand name,” one of the unidentified Hyundai representatives told Reuters. “It’s not a physically separated brand with its own channel...setting up a separate channel of Genesis stores carries too much risk.

A few years ago, Hyundai was quick to dismiss any standalone brand at the time or in the future, but a strong Korean won seems to be the driving force behind this decision. Currently, the currency diminishes revenue on cars sold outside of Korea.

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