Windshield Time: Automotive-related news

Car-buying tools

Buying a vehicle has long required in-person communication, often followed by a request to fill out a customer survey a few miles long. Over the past few months, Volkswagen has tackled both of those challenges amid a pandemic with two new tools. Volkswagen of America and VW Credit have worked with CDK Global, Inc. to launch Sign Anywhere, a digital signature tool that’s among the first of its kind in the U.S. auto industry, according to the auto manufacturer, allowing vehicle buyers to finish their financial paperwork with a participating dealer without having to visit the dealership.

The other step is a new system of customer surveys that ditches a long list of multiple-choice questions for a few open-ended questions that gives customers the power to give detailed feedback and post their review to and the dealer’s website.

The Sign Anywhere tool developed by CDK Global allows customers to remotely and securely digitally sign financial documents with their own computer or mobile device. While digital signatures are common in many industries, many laws and state regulations governing financial documents in vehicle buying have usually required in-person or “wet” signatures.

Volkswagen began planning to roll out this tool two years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic sped up the deployment, and more than 400 Volkswagen dealers now have access in states where laws allow it.

“Customers are asking for flexibility and looking for peace of mind especially during this time, and Sign Anywhere helps provide that.” said Anthony Bandmann, President and CEO of VW Credit, Inc. “Planning to implement this technology began two years ago but since this pandemic took hold, we’ve accelerated our plan to make this a permanent tool for our dealers.”

Mazda, Toyota partner in U.S. manufacturing technologies

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, (MTM), a new joint-venture between Mazda Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation, recently announced an additional $830 million investment to incorporate more cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to its production lines and provide enhanced training to its workforce of up to 4,000 employees.

Total funding contributed to the development of the state-of-the-art facility is now $2.311 billion, up from the $1.6 billion originally announced in 2018. The investment reaffirms Mazda and Toyota’s commitment to produce the highest-quality products at the facility, according to a release. It also accommodates production line enhancements made to improve manufacturing processes supporting the Mazda vehicle and design changes to the yet to be announced Toyota SUV that will both be produced at the plant. The new facility will have the capacity to produce up to 150,000 units of a future Mazda crossover vehicle and up to 150,000 units of the Toyota SUV each year. MTM continues to target up to 4,000 new jobs and has hired approximately 600 employees to date, with plans to resume accepting applications for production positions later in 2020.

“Toyota’s presence in Alabama continues to build excitement about future opportunities that lie ahead, both for our economy and for the residents of our great state,” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said. “Mazda and Toyota’s increased commitment to the development of this manufacturing plant reiterates their belief in the future of manufacturing in America and the potential for the state of Alabama to be an economic leader in the wake of unprecedented economic change.”

“Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is proud to call Alabama home. Through strong support from our state and local partners, we have been able to further incorporate cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, provide world-class training for team members and develop the highest quality production processes,” Mark Brazeal, VP of Administration at MTM said. “As we prepare for the start of production next year, we look forward to developing our future workforce and serving as a hometown company for many years to come.”

Hyundai launches new Elantra N Line sedan

Hyundai Motor Company announced the launch of the new Elantra N Line in August. The new model is designed and engineered to deliver more enhanced driving fun to the bold new Elantra that launched in April. The N Line model, characterized by N specific design and performance-enhancing elements, offers an attractive entry point to the Hyundai’s high-performance N Brand lineup and will expand Elantra’s appeal to a broader range of customers.

Elantra N Line delivers a spirited driving experience, powered by a 1.6-liter GDI turbocharged engine with six-speed manual or seven-speed Double Clutch Transmission (DCT) that produces up to 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft torque. Hyundai engineers implemented several mechanical improvements to Elantra’s suspension to increase stiffness for a gripping performance, aided by 18-inch alloy wheels, multi-link independent rear suspension and larger front brake rotors.

Driver-oriented features, such as paddle shifters and Drive Mode Selector system, enable a racing-inspired experience behind the wheel. Interior design elements, including a leather-wrapped perforated N steering wheel with metallic spokes, N sport seats with leather bolsters, gearshift with metal accents and leather inserts, and alloy pedals, complement Elantra’s sporty exterior styling.