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Mercedes Reveals Track-Ready AMG GT3

"Credible proof of our ambition to lead."

by on Feb.26, 2015

The Mercedes-AMG GT3 will start racing in 2016.

Expect to see some serious track-ready sheet metal make an appearance at the Geneva Motor Show next week, including a track-only offering from Aston Martin, and a dual street and track Cayman GT4 from Porsche.

So, how could Mercedes-Benz be left out of that high-performance pack? It can’t…or won’t, it turns out. Look for the Teutonic maker to bring its own track model to Geneva’s PALExpo convention center in the form of the AMG GT3.

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“We are entering a hard-fought and hotly competitive environment with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3,” declares Tobias Moers, the performance brand’s chairman. “You can only give credible proof of your ambition to lead if you’re beating the very best in the game.

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GM Shuts Down Spin Production in Indonesia

Poor sales, low profits spell end for 500 jobs at plant.

by on Feb.26, 2015

GM will stop building the Chevrolet Spin in Indonesia this summer and close the plant just outside of Jakarta eliminating 500 jobs.

Weeks after announcing a new partnership with its Chinese partner, SAIC Motor Corp., to build small SUVs in Indonesia, General Motors is shuttering its car-making operations in the world’s fourth-most populous country.

The move means the loss of 500 jobs in the country as GM recalibrates its efforts to be successful in Asia. Right now, it means a move toward making more sport-utility vehicles and getting out of building cars on it’s own. The automaker was getting beaten up by Japanese makers.

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“GM Indonesia is undergoing a market-driven transformation,” said Stefan Jacoby, GM executive vice president and president, GM International, in a release. “This transformation will strengthen the business and dealer network by focusing on building the Chevrolet brand and delivering a competitive, high-quality portfolio to meet the needs of customers in Indonesia.” Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota Putting its Quirky i-Road into Tokyo Carsharing Program

Users can rent it for 2.5 hours at a time.

by on Feb.26, 2015

Toyota is using its i-Road EV as part of a carsharing project in Japan and France.

It looks like the illegitimate offspring of a motorcycle and a Smart microcar, and was initially laughed off as one of the endless stream of quirky concept vehicles Japanese makers have historically rolled out.

But the Toyota i-Road didn’t disappear like most of those concept cars after making its debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The pint-sized three-wheeler is about to be offered for public use as part of a carsharing program in Tokyo. It’s also part of a public transport plan being developed by the French city of Grenoble.

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The i-Road makes the Smart Fortwo looks positively huge. The diminutive vehicle can squeeze in two – just barely – seated tandem style. And it’s not designed to replace a conventional automobile. Toyota says it I meant to be used for “the last mile,” in conjunction with a mass transit system. Read the rest of this entry »

MIT Names V2V Communication Top 10 Breakthrough Technology

Ability to ease congestion, cut traffic deaths cited.

by on Feb.26, 2015

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems that make driving safer were named as a breakthrough technology by MIT.

MIT Technology Review named Vehicle-to-vehicle communication, a much-discussed idea in the auto industry, one of the 10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2015.

Each year, MIT and Technology identify technologies from the past year that solve difficult problems or create powerful new ways of using technology to make the world better.

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The V2V communications technology allows vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and is considered by advocates as a solution to reducing the slow traffic on increasingly crowded roads and freeways and to cutting traffic injuries and fatalities. Read the rest of this entry »

Car Sales Down, Auto Jobs Shift to Trucks

Ford adds jobs at Edge plant, GM trims back on car line.

by on Feb.26, 2015

Low gas prices are helping to drive sales of full-size pickups like the Ford F-150, which is forcing makers to add jobs.

The sharp slump in fuel prices has generally been good news for auto buyers and automakers alike. A growing number of buyers have been shifting from high-mileage cars to bigger pickups and utility vehicles in recent months.

For manufacturers, that has swelled the bottom line since those vehicles tend to deliver some of the industry’s largest profits. But not everyone is celebrating. While companies, like Ford and GM, have been responding by increasing production of their best-sellers, they’re also trimming back at under-utilized car plants.

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And that trend could continue going forward. Industry analysts anticipate that utility vehicles will outsell sedans for the first time ever in 2015, while pickups will report their best year since the economic slump began. Read the rest of this entry »

Porsche Pulling Covers Off Two New Models in Geneva

Cayman GT4 shows its stuff with blistering lap of Nurburgring.

by on Feb.26, 2015

The new Cayman GT4 seen lapping the Nurburgring.

The upcoming Geneva Motor Show is going to be one of the busiest ever, with automakers lining up to debut their latest products. And Porsche plans to use its time in the spotlight at Geneva’s PALExpo convention center to reveal two new high-performance models.

The pair includes the anticipated Porsche Cayman GT4, the maker’s first GT model based on a mid-engine coupe. The German sports carmaker has released some details about the new GT4, as well as a pair of shots grabbed while lapping the grueling Nurburgring track. But it’s keeping its second new offering a surprise to be revealed in Geneva.

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The new Cayman GT4 is enough to catch one’s attention. Porsche says it turned an extremely impressive seven minute 40 second lap on the ‘Ring’s North Loop. That’s in line with what the previous generation Porsche 911 GT3 was able to accomplish.

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Expect Recall Numbers to Remain High, Study Says

NHTSA looks to increase investigation numbers, leading to more actions.

by on Feb.25, 2015

Mark Rosekind, NHTSA's new administrator, is pushing for a tripling of the agency's budget to ensure it can be an "enforcer" of safety rules.

The steady stream of automotive recalls that made 2014 the Year of the Recall is unlikely to occur again this year, but volumes are likely to be higher than normal, according to a recently released study.

Stout, Risius and Ross, a financial advisory firm, released its second annual automotive industry warranty and recall study suggesting that the federal government is getting better at determining when there is a problem and getting automakers to take action, which will mean more recalls than normal this year. The firm discussed its findings at the Society of Automotive Analysts second annual Automotive Warranty and Recall Symposium.

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In short, another year with with 63.9 million vehicles recalled shouldn’t happen nor should a replay of last year’s type of recalls where two large events dominate the recalls. According to the firm, Takata’s faulty airbags accounted for 30% of last year’s recalls and General Motors was good for 20% with its action related to its ignition switches. GM, Toyota, Ford and Chrysler led the year in recalls. Read the rest of this entry »

Latest Audi Prologue Concept Hints at New Avant Model to Come

Show car also features a new virtual concept, and an all-knowing “butler.”

by on Feb.25, 2015

The Audi Prologue Avant concept debuting at the Geneva Motor Show is not quite a wagon or is it really a coupe.

When Audi revealed its show-stopping Prologue concept vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, styling chief Marc Lichte suggested it was “a teaser for our next generation A6, A7 and A8” models.

Audi will be dropping still more hints of its future design direction next week when it pulls the wraps of the Prologue Avant concept during a news conference at the Geneva Motor Show. Not quite a wagon, clearly not a sedan, the distinctive five-door is intended to create a unique and dynamic new design form all its own.

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“The Audi prologue Avant is progressive, emotion-filled and versatile,” said Audi tech chief Ulrich Hackenberg, in a statement. “With our show car for Geneva, we now translate the design language of the Audi prologue into a new, dynamic and stretched form. We are merging it with a concept of high variability.” Read the rest of this entry »

VW Sketches Hint at New 4-Door Coupe

Concept version set to debut in Geneva; production model could follow by 2017.

by on Feb.25, 2015

Could this sketch be the updated Volkwagen CC? That's what some think after VW released this drawing.

With the Geneva Motor Show barely a week away, automakers are jockeying for position, offering up teasers of the products they plan to unveil in what’s expected to be a record number of debuts.

Volkswagen is saving the big news for a lavish event scheduled for the night before the official Geneva media preview, but the German maker is whetting our appetite with a pair of sketches showing a four-door coupe concept design that some are speculating will be the next-generation VW CC, the sportiest version of the big Passat sedan.

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With the current CC model approaching the end of its lifecycle, that could mean we’ll be seeing a production version reaching showrooms as early as 2017. How much different the street model might be remains to be seen. Read the rest of this entry »

Lexus Leads Industry In Vehicle Dependability, Finds New JD Power Study

But automakers, overall, face problems with balky, high-tech infotainment systems.

by on Feb.25, 2015

Lexus was the top-ranked brand, while the Lexus GX was tops in its Midsize Premium segment.

For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus leads the industry in terms of longer-term vehicle reliability, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

But Detroit brands, notably General Motors’ Buick, also managed to crack the industry’s Top 10 in Power’s 2015 Vehicle Dependability Study, or VDS. The downside is that automakers, on the whole, are facing increased problems with their Bluetooth, navigation and other high-tech systems – often because of designed-in issues.

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Manufacturers can win over buyers with the latest technology, but lose them when those systems don’t work, said Renee Stephens, Powers’ vice president of U.S. automotive research. “Owners,” she added, “view in-vehicle technology issues as significant problems, and they typically don’t go away after the ownership honeymoon period is over.”

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