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Minivan May be Best for Families, but Not Dogs

Four-legged friends need certain amenities.

by on Sep.02, 2014

The best vehicles for dog all have a large rear lift gate to make it easy for them to get in and out.

When it comes to hauling around your kids, soccer gear, groceries and other family accoutrements, it’s hard to beat the classic minivan. But what if you’re adding a dog into the mix?

That’s a question a lot of folks face with 78.2 million people Americans owning dogs, according to The Humane Society. And for those with canines coming along for the ride, the choice isn’t as simple as it might seem.

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Autotrader.com said 55% of visitors to its website seek out cars and trucks that can accommodate their dogs, and that 75% of its shoppers who have a dog take their pet in the car at least once a month. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiat Shareholders Avoid Scrap with Marchionne

Stock owners decide to ride it out with merged company.

by on Sep.02, 2014

Sergio Marchionne is certainly all smiles after Fiat shareholders gave their stamp of approval for the merger of Fiat and Chrysler.

Clearing what could be the last hurdle, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is preparing move on to the next steps in its evolution.

Those steps include readying to list the newly merged company on the New York Stock Exchange in the middle of October and other details like formally changing the company’s named to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.

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The company survived its first test after garnering enough support among the company’s Italian or European shareholders to complete the merger of the Italian and American companies into one corporate and financial entity. Read the rest of this entry »

Foreign Automakers Feel Under the Gun in China

"Anti-monopoly" crackdown seen as boost for local competitors.

by on Sep.02, 2014

Daimler, which recently announced a joint venture with Chinese maker BYD, is under investigation by anti-monopoly regulators.

It’s the world’s largest automotive market, and manufacturers as diverse as Daimler AG and General Motors already sell more vehicles in China than they do in the U.S. But they and other foreign companies are beginning to wonder “at what price?”

Both GM and Daimler, the parent of Mercedes-Benz — along with Audi, Chrysler and other carmakers — have come under investigation by China’s regulators, who have already levied more than $200 million in fines against a dozen Japanese auto parts suppliers for alleged price fixing.

Global Scope!

And while the country’s President Xi Jinping has promised to open up the Chinese economy to increased foreign competition, a new study reveals there’s growing concern that precisely the opposite is happening.

A full 60% of those who responded to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China said they feel “less welcome” in China. By comparison, only 41% responded that way a year ago.

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Top Nissan Exec Takes CEO Spot at Aston Martin

Andy Palmer was key force behind Nissan EV, autonomous programs.

by on Sep.02, 2014

Former Nissan EVP Andy Palmer introducing a prototype Nissan Leaf autonomous vehicle.

In an unexpected move, top Nissan executive Andy Palmer has left the Japanese maker for a new position as CEO of Aston Martin. The British luxury maker has been without a CEO since 70-year-old Ulrich Bez retired last November.

The move comes at a significant time for Aston which had been hit hard by the global economic recession. The maker recently lined up additional funding intended to help it launch the most aggressive product program in its history.

Fast Track!

But the departure of 51-year-old Palmer comes at something of an awkward time for Nissan which has seen several other high-profile departures recently, including the loss of Infiniti global chief John de Nysschen who last month became the new head of Cadillac.

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Corvette Museum Filling in Car-Swallowing Sinkhole

Phenomenon drove attendance spike.

by on Sep.02, 2014

Attendance at the National Corvette Museum jumped 66% after a sinkhole opened up under the site.

Practicality won out over history as the National Corvette Museum’s board elected to fill in the sinkhole that gobbled up eight vehicles, but also more than doubled attendance at the facility.

The museum contemplated keeping the sinkhole as a permanent display – attendance has risen 66% and revenue 71% since it formed in February – but when the costs for the project soared the board put the project to rest.

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“We really wanted to preserve a portion of the hole so that guests for years to come could see a little bit of what it was like, but after receiving more detailed pricing, the cost outweighs the benefit,” said Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

The Motor City, Motown and Jazz

Annual Detroit Jazz Fest revives links to an early era of musical -- and motoring -- innovation.

by on Aug.29, 2014

McCoy Tyner at the 2013 Detroit Jazz Fest

What has long been known as the Motor City has done more than just put America on wheels. It’s also helped create much of the music Americans have listened to on their car radios.

The Motown sound emerged from a small, run-down studio filled with eager young talents like Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross, many of whom grew up in tough inner-city neighborhoods where opportunity meant getting a job on the assembly line, getting a gig in a band, or struggling for each meal. But long before Berry Gordy launched his record label, Detroit was already a major force on the national music scene. And the sounds of jazz and blues that filled the city’s clubs and dance halls were fueled by the same force, the auto industry.

The Last Word!

The Labor Day weekend brings with it the annual Detroit Jazz Festival which, after three decades, has become the world’s largest free jazz gathering, and event that brings out some of the biggest names of that genre – more than a few with long ties to the Motor City, including the likes of bassist Ron Carter, violinist Regina Carter, and pianist Barry Harris.

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Privately Owned Cars Could Vanish Under Ambitious Helsinki Plan

Proposal emphasizes carsharing, bikes, mass transit.

by on Aug.29, 2014

Helsinki is considering a plan that would severely limit private ownership of cars, but allow greater flexibility in its public transportation in the city limits.

With traffic congestion getting worse by the year, amidst growing concerns about the automobile and the environment, a number of cities around the world are taking steps to reduce, or at least limit the growth in, the number of privately owned vehicles on the road.

Helsinki, Finland, is considering what is being described as a “truly transformative” plan that could all but do away with private car ownership entirely, in favor of carsharing, bikes and public transport. Perhaps the most significant piece of the plan would let residents pay a flat fee that would cover any and all of their urban transportation needs.

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“The major innovation that makes this work will be an integrated payment system,” according to a new study by Navigant Research. “This part of the scheme may prove the most complicated to implement, but it is the final piece of the puzzle that makes this scheme truly transformative.” Read the rest of this entry »

Women Taking to Haggling Over New Car Price

Survey shows women enjoy process more than men.

by on Aug.29, 2014

Women, according to a new survey, enjoy haggling over the price of a new car more than men.

The stereotype of a woman being unwilling to haggle with a dealership salesperson thus relying on her husband or some other man to handle the negotiations is going by the wayside.

The comfort level of women when it comes to rolling up their sleeves and getting the best deal on a new car is rising, according to a recent survey by Swapalease.com. In fact, women are more likely than men to duke it out: 33.3% of women said “it makes it a fun process” compared with just 25.1% of men.

The Last Word!

Morn Cremeens, who recently picked up a 2014 Ram Laramie Longhorn pickup with the RamBox Cargo Management System, said much of her negotiating was done before walking in the door to the dealership via email. That said, once on site, the price came down some more. Read the rest of this entry »

India Fines 14 Carmakers for Overpricing Spare Parts

Follows move by Chinese regulators; US also looking at price fixing.

by on Aug.29, 2014

Indian automaker Tata, which makes the ultra-low-priced Nano, faced the biggest fine.

Regulators in India have levied more than $400 million in fines against 14 local and international automakers accusing them of intentionally overcharging for spare parts.

The move follows similar anti-monopoly actions in China that saw makers such as Mercedes-Benz accused of overpricing as a way to boost profits at the expense of vehicle owners.

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As many as 20 million Indian consumers were impacted by the practice of boosting prices for spare parts and aftermarket accessories, according to the country’s Competition Commission. The practice was made worse by the “denial of market access” to independent repair shares seeking both factory-authorized parts and diagnostic tools.

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Is GM Playing Shell Game with New Production Plans?

Maker moves Cadillac SRX to Spring Hill, but moves Equinox out.

by on Aug.29, 2014

GM is moving Cadillac SRX production to Spring Hill, Tennessee from Mexico. It failed to mention it's shifting Equinox production from Spring Hill to Mexico.

Everyone’s familiar with the shell game, right? It’s a game commonly associated with the streets of New York City and now possibly General Motors.

In the game, a small ball is place under one of three cups which are then quickly shuffled around. For a few bucks, someone is invited to guess what cup the ball is under; however, it seems GM may be playing the same game with vehicle production moving to the U.S.

Auto Insight!

With some fanfare, the Detroit-based maker on Wednesday announced it was moving production of its Cadillac SRX crossover from its plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, to the former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Read the rest of this entry »