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Millennials Interest in New Vehicles Rises with Technology Available

Self-driving cars appealing to younger drivers.

by on Apr.28, 2016

Self-driving vehicles may improve the mobility of baby boomers some day, if they learn to trust the vehicles.

While self-driving cars are expected to increase the mobility of aging baby boomers, but they are still skeptical about the technology that piloting those vehicles. Conversely, younger drivers are seemingly enthralled by the possibilities the cars represent, a new study finds.

Gen Y or “Millennials” between the ages of 21 and 34 and younger Gen Z, which is just getting driver’s licenses, have substantially more interest in automated driving, according to the 2016 edition of the Tech Choice Study that J.D. Power presented to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

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“You often hear that younger people aren’t interested in driving. Maybe it’s just the Millennials don’t have the baggage about driving that Baby Boomers do,” said Kristin Kolodge, director of driver interaction and HMI at J.D. Power who supervised the study. “The just have a fresh perspective,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »

Foes and Friends Offer Opinions at Autonomous Car Hearing

Google exec pushes for federal rules as watchdog tells him to take the wheel.

by on Apr.28, 2016

Consumer Watchdog wants federal rules mandating steering wheels as well as brake and gas pedals for autonomous vehicles.

Friend and foe alike finally got to put in their two cents worth about the future of autonomous driving and the vehicles that will be careening down U.S. roadways at a forum in California today.

Federal officials are holding several of these events as they seek opinions from the public about self-driving vehicles. The event came just a day after Google, Uber and Lyft have joined forces with Volvo and Ford in establishing “The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets,” which has recruited David Strickland, long-time safety watchdog and former head of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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“Self-driving vehicle technology will make America’s roadways safer and less congested,” Strickland said in a statement. “The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards, and the Coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles.” Read the rest of this entry »

GM China President Predicts Growth in Future

Tsien expects popularity of SUVs, EVs to help drive sales higher.

by on Apr.28, 2016

GM China President Matt Tsien told reporters in Detroit today that he expects the Chinese market to continue to grow for the automaker.

China now accounts for roughly 37% of General Motors’ global sales, making it the automaker’s single largest market in the world, Matt Tsien, president of General Motors China, said during a meeting with reporters at GM headquarters in Detroit.

Tsien said it is difficult to predict if that percentage will continue to grow in next several years. “You have to know what the rest of the world is going to do to answer that,” he said.

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But GM expects the Chinese market to expand from the 25 million units sold last year to 30 million units in 2020. “That’s like adding a market the size of Australia every year for the next five years,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

General Motors Investing $900 Million in Plants

Former Saturn site gets nearly $800 million in upgrades.

by on Apr.28, 2016

GM is investing nearly $800 million into its Spring Hill, Tennessee, plant as part of a larger investment plan.

General Motors plans to spend $788.7 million for an all-new, high-efficiency engine program, as well as projects to modernize the vehicle programs at its Spring Hill (Tennessee) Manufacturing Plant, creating 792 and retaining 16 jobs.

GM also announced a $118 million investment at its Bay City Powertrain facility, creating 29 and retaining 67 jobs.

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The GM announcement re-enforces a pattern of new investments in powertrain elements by domestic carmakers as the pressure mounts to meet increasingly tough standards for better fuel economy and cleaner emissions. GM isn’t alone in spending on its manufacturing operations these days. Read the rest of this entry »

Volkswagen to Spend $8.8 Bil on U.S. Diesel Buy Back and Fix

Maker will shift focus to electric cars, says CEO Mueller.

by on Apr.28, 2016

Volkswagen's Matthias Mueller outlined the automaker's plan to spend $8.8 billion to buy back cars with faulty diesel engines.

Volkswagen expects to spend about 7.8 billion euros, or $8.8 billion, to buy back or fix the diesel cars it had rigged as part of an emissions testing scam.

The maker already has accounted for that charge, however, including it in the $18.2 billion deducted from 2015 earnings, CEO Matthias Mueller said Thursday. While the maker has yet to get formal approval for a U.S. fix, the executive said that dealing with the rigged diesels “will remain our most important task until the very last vehicle has been put in order.”

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Mueller also said that Volkswagen plans to increasingly shift focus away from the high-mileage diesels that have been a major plank in its product portfolio. It will now make battery-based vehicles – including hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric models – “one of Volkswagen’s new hallmarks.” Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Posts Profit, Operating Margin Records

“Essentially everything has improved,” says CFO Shanks.

by on Apr.28, 2016

Ford CEO Mark Fields has been trying to shift Ford to focus on broader "mobility" opportunities.

Ford handily outperformed expectations as it delivered record net profits and operating income for the first quarter of the year on Thursday.

Net income jumped 113% to $2.45 billion for the January-to-March quarter, or 61 cents a diluted share. A year ago, Ford’s net totaled $1.3 billion, or 29 cents a share. Excluding one-time items, Ford earned 68 cents a share compared to a Wall Street forecast averaging 48 cents.

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“Essentially everything has improved,” said Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks, who also said Ford expects 2016 overall to meet or exceed the company’s strong performance last year.

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Mitsubishi Claims US Mileage Numbers Accurate

Maker's stock rebounds slightly, but still down nearly half since mileage scandal erupted.

by on Apr.28, 2016

Mitsubishi recently launched a new version of the Mirage in the U.S., emphasizing price and mileage.

Even as an internal investigation into fuel economy ratings fraud gets underway, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. claims the mileage numbers used for vehicles sold in the United States have been accurate.

That word comes just a day after the embattled Japanese automaker acknowledged it had inflated the figures for vehicles sold in its home market since at least 1991. Sales of Mitsubishi vehicles have plunged since the scandal broke earlier this month, while the maker’s stock price has fallen by nearly half.

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Mitsubishi is a relatively minor player in the American market, but coming in the wake of a series of industry ethics lapses – including the Volkswagen diesel emissions fraud and General Motors’ cover-up of a deadly ignition switch defect – the Japanese maker could face major fines and legal costs if it were found to be cheating in the U.S., as well.

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Ford Recalling 285,000 Vehicles

Automaker issues action for transmission, suspension and airbag problems.

by on Apr.27, 2016

Ford's Police Interceptor Utility is part of a recall of SUVs due to suspension issues.

Ford is recalling more than 280,000 sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks due to suspension and transmission issues.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker will recall 201,900 pickups due to a flaw in the transmission. A faulty speed sensor can cause it to downshift into first gear at the wrong time, potentially causing the driver to lose control or affect the vehicles around it.

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Thus far, the automaker is aware of three accidents that have occurred due to the sensor on transmission model6R80. It is found on 2011-12 Ford F-150, 2012 Expedition and Mustangs built in Michigan from Aug. 19, 2011 through Feb. 12, 2012. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Wants to Go Green in China

US maker says 25% of Chinese vehicles will be battery-based by 2020.

by on Apr.27, 2016

Ford plans to launch the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid in China sometime in 2017.

One in four of the vehicles Ford Motor Co. hope to sell in China by the end of the decade will use some form of battery-based powertrain, company officials said during the Beijing Motor Show.

Ford has already announced plans to invest $4.5 billion in its electrification program, CEO Mark Fields saying the goal is to have 13 hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles in the Blue Oval and Lincoln line-ups by 2020.

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But China could become the maker’s largest market for these green vehicles, a shift that reflects government pressure at least as much as consumer demand in the world’s largest automotive market. Hoping to deal with endemic smog problems, Beijing regulators are using both carrot and stick – incentives and new mandates – to get the auto industry to ramp up production of battery-based vehicles.

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Top Mitsubishi Execs Likely to Fall in Fuel Economy Scandal

Domestic sales tumble by half, raising concerns about maker’s viability.

by on Apr.27, 2016

It remains to be seen if the maker falsified data for other models, such as the 2017 Mirage.

The top two executives at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. are expected to resign in the wake of revelations that the sixth-largest Japanese automaker has been falsifying fuel economy data for as much as 25 years.

The company has acknowledged the scam, which was designed to make its microcar models more competitive in the mileage-minded Japanese market. But a new panel empowered to investigate the matter could reveal even more widespread cheating affecting vehicles sold beyond Japan’s borders.

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The impact of the scandal is quickly being felt by Mitsubishi, the carmaker reporting its domestic sales have tumbled by half since the cheating was first reported. That is raising concerns for the survival of the maker which, only a few years ago, was pulled out of a financial tailspin by a consortium of Japanese banks. Read the rest of this entry »