Volkswagen will expand the Arteon lineup this year with the addition of a high-performance R version and a Shooting Brake estate.
The new models come as part of a package of updates, which also include a fleet-friendly plug-in hybrid and a mild facelift.
Changes from the existing model are largely centred around new powertrains and enhanced technology but minor visual revisions have been applied, including a new daytime running light that now stretches across the width of the grille.
Inside, the Arteon features an updated dash. There is new steering wheel and climate control, both with touch sensitive panels rather than traditional buttons. It also gets the brand’s latest infotainment system.
As on the old model, there’s a plethora of assistance systems including adaptive cruise control on all versions. The new model is fitted with IQ Drive, a partially autonomous system that can control the steering, throttle and brakes at motorway speeds, while also providing stop and go in traffic jams.
A new plug-in hybrid engine, borrowed from the Passat GTE, will be offered in the Arteon for the first time. Known as the eHybrid, it develops 218PS and has a 33-mile EV range from its 13kWh battery.
The diesel engines have also been updated with a twin-dosing SCR system, which is said to reduce NOx by up to 80%. There’s a choice of 150PS or 200PS, the latter available with 4Motion all-wheel-drive.
Petrol models are offered in 1.5-litre 150PS and 2.0-litre 190PS, as before. There is also a 280PS version with all-wheel-drive.
For the first time, the Arteon will be available in flagship R guise. Using a 2.0-litre TSI and “specially configured” all-wheel-drive system, the Arteon R serves up 320PS.
Launching alongside the revised Arteon is new Shooting Brake, offering additional practicality. It’s available with the same range of engines and offers additional carrying capacity.
There’s only modest increase in useable boot capacity (up to rear seat height) of two litres (563l vs 565l), but with the seats folded the Shooting Brake can accommodate an extra 75 litres.
It has the same footprint as the Arteon fastback, but is slightly taller by around 20mm.
Prices are yet to be revealed and will likely be announced when the car goes on sale towards the end of the year.
BMW X3 M Modified By Tuner Has Pure Rear-Wheel-Drive Mode
Thanks to the clever manipulation of on-board computers, tuners can change far more than just the power output of your car. Modern cars rely heavily on computers to control virtually every aspect of the vehicle including the drivetrain, infotainment, and safety features to name a few. These computer systems make it hard for the average car owner to work on their vehicle, however, it opens up a world of opportunity for tuners. Take for example the high-performance BMW X3 M, which now has a rear-wheel-drive mode thanks to the clever tuners at Mission Performance.
It’s fairly commonplace to see tuners adding impressive horsepower to turbocharged engines with a simple tune file, but a new market is slowly emerging. Now with greater computer-integration, tuners can access more aspects of a vehicle. Tuners can add flex-fuel capabilities to allow cars to run e85 ethanol, reprogram automatic transmissions, and even change how your brake lights react to different brake pressure. Although these features are impressive; Mission Performance has changed the game allowing X3 M owners to change their all-wheel-drive SUV into a rear-wheel-drive drift missile at the flip of a switch.
This new tune feature is currently in progress while the team works to refine the tune before releasing it to the public. This new feature is offered from the factory on the BMW M5 and M8 so it’s certainly within BMW’s capabilities to offer this from the factory, however, they choose not to add this feature to the X3 M. Mission Performance is here to make things right and offer owners the option to have a rear-wheel-drive BMW performance SUV.
The results are predictably amazing as the X3 M completes some impressive donuts without any intervention from the front wheels. This ability offers the best of both worlds and allows you to enjoy the benefits of all-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive with the flip of a switch.
Chinese truck maker making big moves in Mexico
Global manufacturer Shacman Trucks recently expanded into Mexico, aiming for the Class 6-8 market for heavy- and medium-duty trucks.
The company is creating a distribution and service network throughout Mexico, and plans to open a truck assembly plant within a year or two, said Carlos Pardo, chief executive officer of Shacman Mexico.
“My responsibility goes from Mexico to the United States to Canada. And our plan is to start in Mexico, set a strong footprint in Mexico and from here start going up north,” Pardo said from Mexico City. “We are planning to assemble vehicles in Mexico to meet the specifications of the [United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement].”
Shacman Trucks is based in Xi’an, China. The company, known as Shaanxi Heavy Duty Automobile Co. in China, is one of the largest truck manufacturers and dealers in that country, according to its website.
The company has factories in 13 countries, around 35,000 employees worldwide, and 100 dealerships in countries throughout Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America.
Shacman launched in Mexico in December, when Pardo came aboard as CEO. Prior to joining Shacman, Pardo had been the CEO of Navistar Mexico since 2011.
The company plans to develop an assembly plant in Mexico sometime in the next two years, Pardo said.
“We’re going to start with a small assembly line and grow from there, step by step,” Pardo said. “We are in the process of looking logistically at what will be the best place to be located, in terms of suppliers, customers, finding the best spot.”
Currently there are only two truck manufacturers in Mexico, including Daimler Trucks North America, which produces its Freightliner Cascadia in the cities of Saltillo and Santiago, and Navistar, which has a large truck assembling operation in the city of Escobedo.
Shacman’s products include military off-road vehicles, heavy-duty trucks, medium- and light-duty trucks, medium and large coaches and buses, mini vehicles, mini vehicle axles, Cummins engines, heavy-duty axles and various vehicle components.
“In Mexico, we are starting with two type of trucks — a Class 8 truck in different applications, tractor trucks, mixers, heavy duty; and also a medium-sized truck,” Pardo said.
The two trucks — the Shacman X3000 and Shacman L3000 — can be configured with a diesel engine, concentrated natural gas (CNG) engine or liquefied natural gas (LNG) engine.
“Our strategy is to be the number one natural gas engine option in the country,” Pardo said. “The three main [truck] players in the market don’t have a [CNG] option, or if they have an option, it’s a modified truck or it is very expensive, and doesn’t fit the necessities of the market.”
Shacman has opened or will soon have dealerships/distributors in Mexico City, Monterrey (northern Mexico), Guadalajara, Veracruz and Bajío (central Mexico) by the end of year.
“The most important thing is that we are developing all the service points throughout the country in order to make sure that our trucks can be served and maintained, wherever they are,” Pardo said.
Pardo said the coronavirus pandemic has slowed the company’s plans, but Shacman remains focused on growing the dealer network and brand awareness across North America.
“Right now our focus is Mexico, but we do see opportunities in the U.S. and Canada,” Pardo said. “We want to set a firm foot in Mexico first, gain a reputation of quality, gain a reputation of profitability for our customers, set up our manufacturing facility, then we’ll start exploring going north.”
Geofencing data: Less-than-truckload boost carries into June
Less-than-truckload (LTL) volumes continued to improve throughout May and into the first week of June, said Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB) analyst Amit Mehrotra in a note to clients.
He reported that in the first week of June, LTL activity levels improved 7% versus the average levels seen in May and were up 8% compared to the last week of May. Mehrotra believes that Old Dominion Freight Line (NASDAQ: ODFL) and SAIA (NASDAQ: SAIA) outperformed the average increase and UPS (NYSE: UPS) and YRC Worldwide (NASDAQ: YRCW) underperformed.
The investment firm has mapped approximately 1,000 LTL service sites, providing it with a high-frequency geolocation dataset for the LTL industry. The geofencing data covers all regions for major public and private LTL carriers, including all of Old Dominion’s more than 200 facilities. The week-by-week analysis evaluates shipment trends for both regional and national carriers. The note said that the firm hasn’t mapped XPO Logistics’ (NYSE: XPO) facilities yet.
The regional data showed “sharp inflections.” The Midwest saw activity improve 19% and the Northeast climbed 28% in the first week of June compared to the last week of May. The data shows that activity “stabilized at lower levels” in the Southwest.
The PMI, a survey of manufacturing supply executives, jumped 9.5 percentage points in June to a level of 52.6%. A reading above 50% implies expansion in the U.S. manufacturing sector. This was the second consecutive monthly improvement in the survey. The New Orders Index increased 24.6 percentage points from May to 56.4%, with the Production Index climbing 24.1 percentage points to 57.3%.
Manufactured goods can represent nearly 85% of total tonnage for some LTL carriers.
The early June data is a continuation of a meaningful recovery from the COVID-19-induced lows seen in April. Many LTL carriers highlighted improving tonnage and revenue trends from April to May in their midquarter reports.
ArcBest Corp. (NASDAQ: ARCB) and Old Dominion reported year-over-year revenue declines of around 20% in April and in the mid- to high teens in May. SAIA reported a 12.9% year-over-year decline in April tonnage, with May tonnage down only 8.8%. SAIA doesn’t provide midquarter yield metrics.
“Our observations are positive for our overall bullish stance on LTL industry and pricing dynamics, with our top picks remaining XPO and SAIA, and only valuation keeping us on the sidelines with respect to ODFL,” concluded Mehrotra.
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