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Opel Takes Over GM Europe Operations

New change brings focus on entry-level small cars.

by on Jul.22, 2014

GM folded its European operations in the newly branded Opel Group as part of its plans to return to profitability.

General Motors plans to make its European operations profitable are taking shape as the automaker has rebranded its European unit as the Opel Group and a renewed its focus on small, profitable cars.

The re-branding took effect July 1. The new organization is based in Rüsselsheim, Germany, and will also oversee Chevrolet’s operations in Russia and Cadillac in Europe.

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“Today, we are more than just Opel/Vauxhall,” Karl-Thomas Neumann, CEO of the management board of Opel Group, said in a statement. “With the Opel Group, we align our organizational and legal entity structure in Europe with the business operations. Read the rest of this entry »

Convertible Owners are More Educated, Affluent, Finds New Study

Over half have bachelor’s degree.

by on Jul.22, 2014

The Beetle Convertible was last year's most popular ragtop - but only #48 on the U.S. sales chart.

Don’t let it go to your head, but if you drive a convertible, chances are you’re both more educated and more affluent than the typical American motorist, or so shows a new study from Experian Automotive.

You’re also  lot more likely to live in one of the sunshine states, especially California, Texas or Florida – though ragtops also have plenty of fans in more northern climes, including coastal communities in New York, as well as that heartland state, Illinois.

A Breath of Fresh Air!

While convertible sales have been shrinking in recent decades, most manufacturers offer at least a couple ragtops, and though luxury makers typically have more models in their line-ups, some of the most popular models are mainstream offerings, such as the Ford Mustang convertible and Mazda Miata roadster, noted Experian.

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Team Sets Cross-Country EV Driving Record

California to NY in just over 67 hours.

by on Jul.22, 2014

The Edmunds team takes a break from their cross-country excursion in that Model S sedan.

A team of drivers has gone a long way – 3,331.9 miles, in fact – to disprove negative perceptions about electric vehicles, setting an all-time record along the way.

Driving a Tesla Model S from Redondo Beach, California to New York City in just 67 hours 21 minutes, they showed that battery cars aren’t necessarily slow, nor limited in range, and they demonstrated the potential for new quick charging technology, as well.

Stay Plugged In!

Dan Edmunds, the director of vehicle testing for website Edmunds.com, led expedition, paired up with the auto tracking service’s photo editor Kurt Niebuhr. Significantly, they made the trip on their own, without the sort of backup often used in record runs – including an earlier trip sponsored by Tesla itself meant to prove that a Model S really could drive coast-to-coast in reasonable time.

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The 14 Worst Cars of the Decade

Vehicles that make us scratch our heads and ask: Why?

by on Jul.22, 2014

About to sink without a trace: the Coda battery sedan didn't last much longer than the media test drive.

There’s a lot to like when it comes to the latest cars, trucks and crossovers. Today’s vehicles are, to the large degree, better than ever.  Intense competition translates into more striking and creative designs, improved fuel economy, better performance and far more features.

That said, a few stinkers still slip through, models that have you wondering who was on vacation when they came up for approval. We have our own list of lemons. And by that we don’t necessarily mean they had reliability issues, but that they were plagued by bad designs, poor performance, minimal utility, unjustifiable price tags or, yes, quality problems.

Fuel for Thought!

We raised the question with a number of our colleagues to see what products landed on their list and found that a few, like the Pontiac Aztek and Acura ZDX, came up time and time again. Others were surprising. Indeed, some of our favorite products were listed at losers by media colleagues – and vice versa. So, we expect some of our readers will also question our judgment, perhaps our sanity. But here’s our list of the 14 worst cars of the past decade. Read the rest of this entry »

Tesla Puts Stop to Production Line for Upgrades

EV maker invests $100 million to tool up for new model.

by on Jul.21, 2014

Tesla shut down its assembly line today to begin $100 million in tooling and other upgrades to improve plant efficiency and get it ready for the Model X.

The sounds of robots and humans making new Teslas at the company’s plant in Fremont, California, has been silenced, and been replaced by the sounds of humans installing in $100 million in tooling and making other upgrades at the facility.

The EV maker has shut its line down to improve the efficiency of the current set up for the Model S as well as readying it to manufacture the all-new Model X crossover. The line will be back up at full production on Aug. 4, according to reports.

News You Can Trust!

The improvements are expected to raise production levels by 25%. The company reports it will make 35,000 cars in 2014, which is up from just over 20,000 last year. The new Model X, a smaller, less-expensive vehicle than the Model S, hits showrooms sometime next year. The two models will be built on the same line. Read the rest of this entry »

Feds Push for New Laws to Speed Recalls, Raise Fines

by on Jul.21, 2014

GM's failure to recall a faulty ignition switch sooner is generating a wave of effort to change the rules about automotive safety.

A record-setting year for recalls and high-profile problems with General Motors and Toyota are mixing together to create a cauldron of proposed laws aimed at making automakers be accountable or pay up in a significant way.

In fact, some members of Congress and the Obama administration are pushing for changes that would force automakers to move more quickly to report potential problems and dramatically stiffen the penalties for attempting to skirt those rules.

Your Auto Safety News Source!

When General Motors admitted to wrongdoing in the handling of its faulty ignition switch, it received a record fine of $35 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The previous high was $17.5 million paid by Toyota related to its unintended acceleration problems. That figure was doubled to the current level in 2012. Read the rest of this entry »

US Motorists Expected to Use Less Fuel in Coming Years

Transportation energy needs declining overall, but automobiles show sharpest fall-off.

by on Jul.21, 2014

Americans are now expected to trim their energy consumption notably over the next quarter century.

A combination of changing demographics, greater fuel efficiency and wider use of alternative energy sources is expected to reduce the amount of energy Americans consume for transportation over the next quarter century.

A new survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates the long-term fuel needs for cars, trucks, airplanes, boats, and rail will steadily decline through 2040.

Be Empowered!

Transportation energy, including energy demand from light-duty vehicles, heavy-duty vehicles, aircraft, marine vessels, rail and other sources, reached 13.8 million barrels per day in 2012 or 28% of all energy consumption in the United States. But that was down from a peak of 14.6 million barrels per day in 2007.

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GM Issues Stop Sale on Used Cadillac Models

Unusual move reflects slow pace of recall repairs.

by on Jul.21, 2014

The announcement covers Cadillac CTS sedans using key, rather than keyless, ignition systems.

It’s become something of a regular occurrence for manufacturers to issue so-called “stop sales” when they suspect a new model might have a problem that could lead to a recall. Volkswagen recently ordered one for its new Golf and GTI models, and General Motors has issued several this year, including one covering its popular Chevrolet Cruze sedan.

But GM has now issued another, more unusual stop sale, this one telling its dealers to park and sit on some older Cadillac models because of potential ignition switch problems. The order covers Caddy CTS models sold during the 2003 to 2013 model-years, as well as 2004 to 2006 Cadillac SRX sport-utility vehicles. A handful of 2014 Cadillac CTS models were also included.

Breaking News!

The move, however, does not affect vehicles sold by non-GM dealers, whether franchised or independents, so shoppers need be aware that the vehicles have not yet been repaired and could be subject to problems until GM comes up with the appropriate fix.

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Subaru Facing Lawsuit Over Oil Use Problem

Vehicles using too much oil, causing costly repairs.

by on Jul.21, 2014

The 2014 Subaru Forester is one a few Subaru vehicles with oil usage problem, alleges a lawsuit.

Subaru of America is facing a lawsuit – that may become a class action – because of the amount of oil the company’s vehicles use.

The problem stems from the fact that in the opinion of some owners, the company’s vehicles use a lot of engine oil…and quickly. The result in some instances has been some pricey repairs due to the problem: repairs in the thousands of dollars.

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The suit claims the vehicles “prematurely burn off and/or consume abnormal and excessive amounts of engine oil” and claims Subaru is unwilling to fix the problem. Subaru doesn’t believe there is a problem. Read the rest of this entry »

The Reluctant COO: Nick Scheele Dies at 70

Obit: former Ford COO was knighted in 2002.

by on Jul.21, 2014

Former Ford COO Nick Scheele.

He was dapper, affable and erudite. He was also a bit reluctant when asked to take on the mounting disaster that was Ford Motor Co. at the beginning of the new Millennium. But Nick Scheele was nothing if not loyal, and despite worsening health problems and a desire to simply fade away into the gentle bliss of retirement, in 2001 the British executive agreed to serve as the Detroit maker’s chief operating officer.

Scheele helped guide Ford through some of the worst times in its more than 100-year history, setting the stage for its unexpected recovery. He also propped up the long-troubled British maker Jaguar, helping restore its once glamorous image as one of the automotive world’s design leaders.

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Ultimately, the man described by London’s Telegraph as having “a backbone of steel” did get his chance to retire, more or less. But even after leaving Ford in 2005, Nick Scheele continued to find other ways to serve until his death last week at the age of 70.

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