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Week in Review: Recalls, Shutdowns, and Spy Shots

Another week has come and gone, and with it, summer is finally here. As we get ready for the long holiday weekend, we've gathered the week's top stories for you to enjoy. Monday kicked off the week with summer production shutdowns, and Tuesday picked up some excitement with the 600-plus horsepower 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Wednesday introduced us to a new potential rivalry, while Thursday gave us a glimpse of what to expect from the next-gen Mazda Miata. Friday rounded out the week with more General Motors recall news, but this time, they've started to fix the problem. Read on below to see what you may have missed this week.

Monday, May 19

Summer shutdowns at vehicle plants across the country haven't occurred over the last few years, as vehicle demand has been high. But this summer may be different. Because of the brutal cold weather from the first few months of the year, many automakers have extra inventory they need to move. Right now, your typical vehicle will sit on the lot for some 69-70 days, which is above the target range of 60 days. While automakers are expected to decrease the shutdown times, nothing is set in stone. General Motors refuses to talk about their summer plans publicly, but Ford will make announcements after the holiday weekend. We expect Chrysler Group to announce their plans shortly. But even with these shutdowns, 2014 may be a record year for the automotive industry, with automakers on track to sell more than 16 million cars and trucks, the best year since 2007.

Tuesday, May 20

Even though Dodge just revealed the new 2015 Challenger at the New York Auto Show, they're already pumping out new models, including the 600-plus horsepower SRT Hellcat. Powered by the most powerful V-8 engine ever produced by Chrysler Group, the Challenger SRT Hellcat will feature a massive 6.2-liter engine that can be paired with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, a first for the SRT lineup. But the power isn't the only thing that makes the SRT models different from the pack. They feature three new driving modes --Sport, Track, and Custom--and keep the traditional design aesthetic. However, the Hellcat takes is one step further with a large front splitter, quad projector headlamps, a taller rear spoiler, and massive 20-inch wheels.

Wednesday, May 21

A new rivalry is on the horizon. Chinese billionaire Lu Guanqiu, who recently purchased Fisker Automotive Holdings Inc., has set his sights on Tesla Motors. Apparently he'll "burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust." What a philosophy. But Guanqiu didn't just buy Fisker; the acquisition also included about three-dozen current and pending patents, along with an abandoned General Motors plant in Wilmington, Del. This is ideal for Wanxiang as it's an entry point for selling cars in the U.S., and it also gives the automaker access to technology it would have taken years to develop. We're looking forward to the rebirth of Fisker, and with the backing of one of the largest Chinese automotive conglomerates, that may happen sooner rather than later. Tack on the goal of going head-to-head with one of the strongest electric vehicle manufacturers, and you know these guys are driven.

Thursday, May 22

Our colleagues at Motor Trend have captured spy shots of a prototype for the next-gen Mazda MX-5 Miata testing in the foothills of Southern California. Driving with a caravan of other Miata models, including the current model and a very early first gen NA-chassis Miata, we get an idea of where the automaker wants to take the latest model. While outfitted with the current model's sheet metal, the prototype appears to be longer in the hood and nose, reminding us of the Honda S2000. With the new chassis that was debuted in New York, the next-gen Miata will feature four lug nuts per wheel instead of five like the current model. Although these shots reveal much about the new model, perhaps the most telling thing is the location. Seen on Glendora Mountain Road with previous generations, we have a feeling that the new Miata will return to its roots.

Friday, May 23

We're getting tired of hearing about recall after recall from General Motors, and we've yet to hear what they've done to repair all the affected vehicles. Well, we finally have some information. Since April, the automaker has only managed to fix 47,000 of the nearly 2.6 million ignition switches under the massive recall. Since February, the automaker has made some major changes in its organization, as well as how it will handle recalls from here on out. But is it enough to appease the public, especially as the numbers continue to rise? We recently heard that we can expect to see even more recalls through the summer, as the company will be looking over old files to uncover any more potential problems. Right now, General Motors is on track to beat its all-time record of recalled vehicles.
 
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