Week In Review: Diesels, Plug-ins, and Micros

By | January 11, 2014
The holidays are finally behind us, but it seems that we can't shake the laziness we've experienced over the last few weeks. The automotive industry hasn't missed a beat, as Monday informed us that the Mitsubishi Outlander won't be making its U.S. debut until late 2015. Tuesday showed us that Volkswagen has found a way to make diesel cars more affordable. Wednesday had Alan Mulally squashing rumors of his move to Microsoft, while on Thursday we learned about the future of technology in new vehicles. Friday offered some disappointment, as the Nissan Micra will debut in Canada and not the United States. Catch up on the top stories of the week below.

Monday, January 6

It could be quite a while before we see the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in reach the United States. Thanks to a battery shortage, the Japanese automaker has had to push back the launch date of the all-new model. It will make its debut in 2015 as either a late 2015 or early 2016 model. Mitsubishi is trying to remedy the situation by moving production of i-MiEV batteries to a new plant, freeing up capacity for roughly 4,000 battery packs a month. The new Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in is a critical model for the automaker, as it will not only help to reduce costs and increase volume sales, but it will add another model to the currently thin lineup of new vehicles.

Tuesday, January 7

Diesel cars have become a hit among American car buyers, as they offer better fuel economy and are environmentally conscious. There is still a hefty price attached to these vehicles, but Volkswagen is pushing to create a more affordable diesel model with the Jetta TDI Value Edition. This model will come with standard keyless entry, air conditioning, power door locks, headed side mirrors, power steering, heated cloth seats, satellite radio, and a few more amenities. It will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that delivers 140 horsepower and gets 30/42 mpg city/highway. For a price that comes in a few thousand dollars less that the current Jetta TDI, it's not a bad way to go.

Wednesday, January 8

Rumors that Alan Mulally from Ford will be taking over as the new CEO of Microsoft have been circulating since Steve Ballmer stepped down. Mulally went on record with The Associated Press to debunk these myths. He made a statement saying that he "would like to end the Microsoft speculation because I have no other plans to do anything other than serve Ford." This is good news to the other candidates looking to fill that role, but not so good for Microsoft stock. After the announcement, Ford stocks rose slightly during after-market trading, but Microsoft's took a slight dip south. Mulally plans to stay with the Detroit automaker for at least the remainder of 2014, when the company plans to launch 23 models worldwide.

Thursday, January 9

Las Vegas has once again hosted the Consumer Electronics Show, and this year, the big hitters came in the form of Google, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Kia, and Mazda. Google brought with it the technology that will bridge the gap between smartphone and tablet technology and vehicle infotainment systems, called the Open Automotive Alliance. Mercedes-Benz showed off the new S-Class Coupe Concept, along with the Pebble Steel watch that acts like a smartphone, and dropped the news of a new vehicle homepage that will launch later this year. Audi delivered the next-generation of the TT, along with the Sport Quattro Laserlight Concept. A Kia representative said that the Korean automaker will be focusing on social integration for its Uvo infotainment system, as well as a handful of useful updates. And last but not least, Mazda showed off the future of its connectivity systems.

Friday, January 10

We've been wondering when the Nissan Micra will be making it to the North American market, and we finally have our answer. Too bad it won't be coming to the U.S. The new Nissan Micra will be making its debut at the Montreal Auto Show in Canada later this month. The model originally debuted in 1982, and has grown into a global model. The new model is offered with a range of engine options, including an 80 horsepower 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine and a 106 horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. More automakers have been bringing subcompact cars to the U.S. within the past few years, including the Mitsubishi Mirage and Chevrolet Sonic, but because of the Nissan Versa, we don't know where the Micra would fit into Nissan's lineup.