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Dodge Doubling Down on 2016 Hellcat Production

Demand drives division to increase build output.

by on Jul.27, 2015

Dodge Hellcats are flying out of dealerships faster than the brand can make them, forcing Dodge to "significantly increase" production for 2016.

Apparently the folks at Dodge have a tiger by the tail, or more specifically: a Hellcat. The new 707-horsepower models are proving to be so popular, the company is doubling the production output for 2016.

The brand announced today it would fulfill all scheduled orders of the 2015 Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat models; however, anything that had not been scheduled is officially cancelled and buyers will receive discounts on a 2016 Hellcat model if they re-order.

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“We could not have asked for a more enthusiastic response to the Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats – it was absolutely unprecedented, but then again, these 707-horsepower muscle cars are unprecedented,” said Tim Kuniskis, president and CEO, Dodge and SRT brands, FCA US. Read the rest of this entry »

Insurance Cos Unfairly Using Marital Status to Penalize Motorists, CFA Claims

“Inhumane” penalty for newly widowed women.

by on Jul.27, 2015

Some auto insurance companies rates on widow as much as 226%, according to a new study.

(This story has been updated with comments from an insurance industry trade group.)

Losing a spouse is never easy, either emotionally or financially, and a new study finds that many major auto insurance companies are adding to the grief by raising rates for new widows by as much as 226%.

In general, auto insurers levy penalties, in the form of higher premiums, on those who aren’t married, according to new research by the Consumer Federation of America. The higher rates are not backed up by data showing increased risk, the consumer group claimed.

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“It seems inhumane for insurers to raise rates on women who have become widows,” declared CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck. Read the rest of this entry »

Daimler to Begin Testing Autonomous Trucks in Germany

Project debuted in Nevada earlier this year.

by on Jul.27, 2015

Daimler expects to begin testing its self-driving Freightliner truck in Germany shortly.

Daimler AG expects to begin rolling out its semi-autonomous heavy truck on German highways “within the next few weeks,” according to a senior executive.

The maker first began testing its Freightliner Inspiration truck in Nevada earlier this year, and hopes to put the technology into production around the end of the decade. But where it would go on sale first has been a question even the automaker says it can’t yet answer as most countries still don’t have in place the laws that would allow the use of hands-free vehicles.

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“We are positive that we will get approval for tests on German motorways within the next weeks,” Daimler board member Wolfgang Bernhard, head of the maker’s truck operations, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Once approval is granted, Bernhard said, “Then we will start immediately.” Read the rest of this entry »

Chrysler Will Buy Back – Then Resell — Vehicles Under Consent Order

Agreement actually could drive increased FCA sales.

by on Jul.27, 2015

About 193,000 of the Dodge, Chrysler and Ram trucks may be eligible for buyback.

As part of the consent order Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has reached with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the maker will pay a record $105 million in fines and penalties – while also taking hundreds of thousands of recalled vehicles off the road.

In some cases, however, that may only be temporary. TheDetroitBureau.com has learned that the trans-Atlantic automaker intends to repair some of those vehicles and then resell them to the public. That could affect as many as 193,000 pickup trucks and SUVs, according to documents FCA has filed with NHTSA.

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“If we repurchase them we will resell them after performing the necessary service,” spokesman Eric Mayne told TheDetroitBureau.com, noting that was a step approved by federal regulators as part of the extensive consent order.

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Hot Summer Auto Sales Continue Sizzling in July

Buyers keep industry on track for best year in a decade.

by on Jul.27, 2015

Despite some difficult times recently, Fiat Chrysler is expected to continue its streak of consecutive months with a sales increase to 64 in July.

New-vehicle sales remain robust during July as the auto industry continues to track towards its best year in a decade despite the uncertainty created by the slow-growing U.S. economy.

Sales are expected to increase 2.6% year-over-year in July 2015, resulting in an estimated 17.1 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, according to estimates from Kelley Blue Book and J.D. Power.

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“As the industry settles into the summer selling season, new-car sales are expected to remain consistent with last month’s numbers, representing modest and slowing growth versus last year,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book.  Read the rest of this entry »

Automakers Struggle to Keep Hackers Out of Increasingly Automated Vehicles

Chrysler recall not likely to end the problem.

by on Jul.27, 2015

A Wired journalist winds up in a ditch after hackers took control of this 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

Sometime next month, if all goes well, California battery carmaker Tesla Motors plans to ask a select group of owners to begin testing its latest vehicle operating system. Dubbed version 7.0, it will include a beta version of Tesla’s new Pilot system which will offer the ability to drive on the highway hands-free.

As with previous updates for the Model S sedan, Tesla will upload the software wirelessly, rather than requiring owners to visit its showrooms. It’s an approach many other automakers are expected to adopt in the coming years. But it also raises some serious concerns among industry observers who question whether such an approach might make it easy for hackers to shift their focus from computers to cars.

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The risk was highlighted this past week when a pair of professional hackers gained access to a 2014 Jeep Cherokee driven by a reporter working for Wired magazine. They turned on the Jeep’s windshield wipers, shut the engine down while it was being driven down the highway, took control of the steering wheel and then disabled its brakes, sending it into a ditch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fiat Chrysler Hit with Record $105 Mil Fine Over Mishandled Recalls

Maker also will offer buybacks and trade-in discounts.

by on Jul.27, 2015

A fire involving a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The consent order calls for FCA to speed up the recall of over 1.5 million Jeeps.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has agreed to pay a record $105 million in fines due to a series of mishandled recalls, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Sunday evening. The largest fine ever levied again an automaker, the consent order will also see FCA buy back more 500,000 vehicles due to suspension defects.

The settlement follows what has been described as an “unprecedented” hearing by federal regulators examining allegations that FCA failed to follow federal safety guidelines in 23 separate recalls. In an appearance in Detroit last Monday, NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind warned that the agency may yet examine how FCA handled other safety problems.

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“Today’s action holds Fiat Chrysler accountable for its past failures, pushes them to get unsafe vehicles repaired or off the roads and takes concrete steps to keep Americans safer going forward,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

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GM Launches New Active Safety Test Center

Crash-avoidance tech becoming better, cheaper, more common.

by on Jul.24, 2015

A Chevrolet Malibu with a pedestrian braking system stops short of hitting a "child" during a test.

As the big Chevrolet sedan races down the asphalt the driver seemingly misses the young boy who steps out on to the pavement. But his car doesn’t. An artificial vision system not only spots the pedestrian but slams on the brakes, stopping just a few feet before what might have been a deadly impact.

In fact, the demonstration run out at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan used a pint-sized dummy rather than risking an actual child, but it provided a clear look at a new technology that the maker plans to begin offering in 2016 on several models, including the new Chevy Malibu.

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Front Pedestrian Braking is, in fact, one of 22 different crash-avoidance technologies GM says it will offer through its four North American brands next year. And It promises more will follow, some already under development at a 52-acre Active Safety Test Area carved out of the suburban Detroit engineering complex.

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Mitsubishi Abandoning Illinois Assembly Plant, Cutting More than 900 Jobs

Long-troubled Japanese maker says it remains committed to American market.

by on Jul.24, 2015

Mitsubishi announced it will close is manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois, eliminating 900 jobs.

A day after the first reports surfaced on Japanese media, Mitsubishi Motors has confirmed it will shutter its aging and underutilized assembly plant in Normal, Illinois, a move that will cost more than 900 jobs.

That follows a failed effort to find effort to find a partner to share production at the facility that originally opened as part of a joint venture with Chrysler. But Mitsubishi officials stressed they plan to continue selling vehicles in the U.S. and point to a recent upturn in demand.

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“Following a review of Mitsubishi Motor Corp.’s global supply chain, we have been informed it is necessary to end production and seek a strategic buyer for the Normal plant,” announced the maker’s U.S. subsidiary, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, in a prepared statement. Read the rest of this entry »

Cherokee Hack Forces Fiat Chrysler to Recall 1.4 Million Vehicles

Maker volunteers to safeguard against future incursions.

by on Jul.24, 2015

Odds are if you have Fiat Chrysler model with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, that vehicle is subject to the maker's latest recall.

Just days after hackers were able to take control of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee and run it into a ditch, Fiat Chrysler is recalling 1.4 million vehicles to upgrade vulnerable software to reduce the risk of it happening again.

The maker will send owners a USB device that will automatically download the necessary updates to protect the vehicles.

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“Further, FCA US has applied network-level security measures to prevent the type of remote manipulation demonstrated in a recent media report,” the company said in a statement. “These measures – which required no customer or dealer actions – block remote access to certain vehicle systems and were fully tested and implemented within the cellular network on July 23, 2015.” Read the rest of this entry »