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Cadillac Confirms New ATS-V Debut in LA

First V-Series model to go V-6.

by on Oct.31, 2014

Cadillac will up the performance quotient of the ATS sedan and coupe models with a new V-Series.

True, it might be lifting another maker’s tagline, but Cadillac will be going “vroom, vroom,” when it rolls into the Los Angeles Auto Show a couple weeks from now.

General Motors’ once-dominant luxury brand is planning a massive expansion of its product line-up over the next few years, and it will start bottom to top with the roll-out of the all-new ATS-V, the maker has confirmed. It’s the first high-performance version of the compact sedan and coupe models, and the first V-Series addition in some years.

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The debut will be equally significant if, as expected, the top-secret powertrain that will be used in the new ATS-V proves to be a twin-turbo V-6. That would mark the first time Caddy’s V-Series line shifts away from the classic V-8s that it has traditionally relied on.

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Porsche Pushes Into Bentley Territory with Panamera Exclusive Series

Limited-edition sedan lands above “base” Continental GT.

by on Oct.31, 2014

The Porsche Panamera Exclusive Series is creating a little sibling rivalry with the Bentley Continental GT.

When it comes to the upper reaches of the luxury car market, it’s getting hard to tell the players without a scorecard. And that means some sibling brands are suddenly turning into rivals.

The latest example comes with the unveiling of the new Porsche Panamera Exclusive Series. While it’s not the most expensive model the German maker has ever offered – at barely a third the price of the 918 Spyder ultracar – the limited-edition sedan lands well above the “base” Bentley Continental GT and not much below the British maker’s top-line Mulsanne model.

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Then again, Bentley is getting ready to roll out an all-new luxury SUV, which could start siphoning sales away from Porsche, its Volkswagen Group partner. Read the rest of this entry »

Nissan Leaf Breaks EV Sales Record for U.S. – Again

Maker tracking to hit 30,000 units.

by on Oct.30, 2014

The Nissan Leaf broke it's on single-year sales record, which it set last year, with two months left this year.

And the winner is…the Nissan Leaf! Again.

The best-selling electric vehicle in the world set a new annual sales record in the U.S. with two months to spare. Through September, the company sold 21,822 Leafs and was on pace to beat the previous high of 22,610 in 2013.

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The Leaf set that record too. For the record, Leaf sales are up 36% this year and are on track to approach 30,000 units. Read the rest of this entry »

Michigan, Israel Join Forces in Advancement of Autos

New alliance may speed progress of EVs, safety technology.

by on Oct.30, 2014

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Roey Gilad signed an agreement to promote joint industrial research and development projects.

Aside from having reputations for being tough, resolute and gritty, the State of Michigan and Israel are adding a new entry to their list of descriptors: technology leaders.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Israeli Ministry of Economy are partnering to form the Michigan-Israel Technology Connect program to spawn new ideas for electric vehicles and driver protection.

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Using their respective networks and databases, the MEDC and MATIMOP, the Israeli Center for R&D, will help companies identify potential partners for this program. In addition, it is anticipated that companies will be seeking their own partners independently. Each project will require one partner based in Michigan and another based in Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

Sao Paulo Show Spotlights Some Hot Concepts

Nissan, Fiat and Chevy roll out some edgy possibilities.

by on Oct.30, 2014

The new Nissan Kicks concept takes the Nissan Extrem from pure fantasy to a market position that is a little closer to reality.

While we media scribes tend to focus on a handful of big car shows in Europe, North America and Asia, we risk missing some promising prospects that show up in other locales, this year notably the car show in Brazilian capital Sao Paulo.

Among the makers rolling out concepts for the occasion are Fiat, Chevy and Nissan. Each appears focused on finding distinct new white space between conventional product segments. That’s a tradition in Brazil, but according to several industry sources, don’t be surprised to see some of these show cars wind up in production – possibly even making it to the American market.

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That’s a particularly solid possibility, we’re being told, for the Nissan Kicks, a second take on the Japanese maker’s 2012 Extrem concept. Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Regulators Turning up Heat on Takata

NHTSA pushes supplier to speed up replacement part production.

by on Oct.30, 2014

NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman is pushing Takata to speed up production of replacement airbag components.

Takata is feeling the heat from federal safety regulators who are pushing the Japanese supplier to speed up the production of components necessary to repair the 7.8 million vehicles recalled due to their faulty airbags.

David Friedman, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sent a letter to the supplier telling it to expedite the production of replacement inflators as well as informing Takata that it is insisting automakers that used the airbags make every effort to get the repairs done as quickly as possible, including extending service hours at its dealerships.

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Letters were sent to Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, BMW and Chrysler Group. Additionally, the agency wants to meet weekly with Takata executives weekly, according to a separate letter, Bloomberg reported. Read the rest of this entry »

Bicycle Deaths on the Rise

Problem shifts to adults on urban roads.

by on Oct.30, 2014

A CitiBike bicycle sharing station in New York City. Urban ridership is up - but so are fatalities.

Whether traveling on rural roads or inner-city streets, you’re likely to see a lot more bicyclists pedaling their way alongside four-wheeled traffic. Bikes have become hip again, it seems, especially with Generations X and Y. And a growing list of cities – including Chicago, San Francisco and New York – even make it possible to bike share, an encouraged alternative for commuters and tourists alike.

Unfortunately, new research reveals that with the increase in bicycle usage, there’s a concurrent increase in crashes, the annual cycle death rate rising from 621 to 722 between 2010 to 2012, reports the Governors Highway Safety Association, or GHSA. That’s an alarming 16% jump even as overall highway deaths – including automobiles, motorcycles, pedestrians and bicycles – has been declining.

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Notes a statement from the GHSA, “Bicycle fatalities are increasingly an urban phenomenon, accounting for 69 percent of all bicycle fatalities in 2012, compared with 50 percent in 1975. These changes correlate with an increase in bicycling commuters — a 62 percent jump since 2000, according to 2013 Census Bureau data.”

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Chrysler, Ford Recalling 700,000 More Vehicles

Latest actions push 2014 total to nearly 42 million.

by on Oct.30, 2014

Chrysler is recalling more than 184,000 Ram heavy duty trucks with 6.7-liter Cummins diesels for a fuel-heater housing problem.

U.S. automakers continued their march to 42 million-plus vehicles recalled this year with actions by Chrysler and Ford adding nearly 700,000 vehicles to the rolls.

Chrysler Group announced a global recall of more than 566,000 Jeep and Dodge SUVs because their stability controls might not work while in heavy-duty and commercial Ram pickups because their diesel-fuel heaters might get too hot.

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The stability control recall is for 184,186 of the 2014 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs: 132,223 are in the U.S., 8,871 are in Canada, 4,742 are in Mexico and 38,350 are outside the North America. Read the rest of this entry »

First Look: 2015 BMW X5 M and X6 M

Debut set for LA Auto Show next month.

by on Oct.29, 2014

BMW offers a first look at the two big performance crossovers, the X5 M and X6 M, coming to LA.

The world got its first look at the new BMW X5 eDrive hybrid during the Paris Motor Show a few weeks back, and now the Bavarian maker is steering in a very different direction as it offers up details on its all-new  high-performance crossovers, the 2015 BMW X5 M and X6 M. Both models will officially debut at the L.A. Auto Show next month.

As with the latest versions of the more mainstream X5 and X6 Sport-Activity Vehicles, the revised M models opt for evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, design changes. That means new front and rear fascia and body lines.

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But what matters most is what lies barely hidden beneath the sheet metal, and the new M crossovers will be adopting the same 4.4-liter, TwinPower Turbo V-8 already offered in the M5 and M6 lines – BMW boasting that it’s the most powerful engine it has ever developed for an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

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Ford Introducing 2016 Explorer at L.A. Auto Show

Maker teasing “#ExploreMore” campaign on social media.

by on Oct.29, 2014

Ford Explorer sales are up 8.7% for the year. The maker is going to debut the 2016 model at the L.A. Auto Show.

Ford is ready to celebrate another special anniversary with a new vehicle. The maker is marking the 25th anniversary of the Ford Explorer with a new 2016 model it will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.

As part of the launch, Ford will debut an “#ExploreMore” digital teaser campaign on social media. The Explorer wasn’t the first midsize sport-utility vehicle in the U.S., however, it is the best-selling one. Since its introduction, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has sold nearly 7 million Explorers.

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Sales this year are up as Ford has sold more than 158,000 Explorers through the first nine months of 2014, up 8.7%. Read the rest of this entry »