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Toyota Long-Range EV Could Bring Battery Breakthrough to Market

New solid-state batteries could increase range, radically reduce charging times.

by on Jul.25, 2017

The batteries powering the Prius has been the closest Toyota's been to a pure EV since it retired the RAV4 a few years back.

Long skeptical about lithium-ion technology, Toyota has confirmed it is working on long-range electric vehicles but a new report says the maker could be working on a breakthrough technology that resolves many of the problems associated with today’s batteries.

According to the Chunichi Shimbun daily, Toyota wants to bring to market in 2022 an electric vehicle that would shift to so-called solid-state batteries. That approach has been a Holy Grail for battery researchers because the technology is theoretically capable of both increasing range and reducing charging times, making electric vehicles as easy to use as today’s gasoline-power products.

Insight!

Whether Toyota can commercialize solid-state technology by early in the next decade is far from certain, but it isn’t the only manufacturer working on the concept. Henrik Fisker, founder and CEO of Fisker Automotive, told TheDetroitBureau.com on Monday that his company is also working on solid-state batteries, but cautioned, they are “at least five years out,” or roughly in line with the reported target date for Toyota. Read the rest of this entry »

Former VW Executive To Plead Guilty in Diesel Scam

Oliver Schmidt faced 169 years in prison on 11 felony counts.

by on Jul.25, 2017

Former VW manager Oliver Schmidt is the only official currently in U.S. custody.

Oliver Schmidt, one of nine current and former employees charged in connection with Volkswagen’s diesel emissions cheating scam, has agreed to plead guilty, according to a federal court spokesman in Detroit.

A one-time senior engineer based in Michigan where he ran VW’s U.S. environmental operations, Schmidt was accused of helping to cover up the automaker’s efforts to rig two diesel engines so they would illegally pass emissions tests. Since the ruse was uncovered in late 2015, the German automaker has had to pay out around $30 billion in fines, fees and for a buyback program covering about 500,000 vehicles sold in the U.S.

Clearing the Air!

Schmidt would be the second VW employee to plead guilty to charges related to the diesel scam, 62-year-old James Robert Liang the first to do so last September. Like Liang, Schmidt is expected to get a break by agreeing to aid the ongoing investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. Separate criminal investigations are underway in Germany.

Read the rest of this entry »

Takata’s Faulty Airbags Kill 18th Victim

Australian man dies driving Honda CRV.

by on Jul.25, 2017

Takata's faulty airbags claimed their 18th victim recently, the first fatality in Australia.

The recent death of an Australian man due to faulty Takata airbags brings the global total of deaths attributable to them to 18, although it was the first fatality in Australia.

Investigators told Reuters the man was struck in the neck by a small fragment of an airbag that was subject to recall. Takata’s airbag inflators can degrade over time, spraying metal shards around a vehicle when the airbag is deployed.

Safety News!

Honda officials said the accident was still under investigation and were not able to determine whether the airbag in question was an original model or a replacement. Takata did not respond to a request for comment. Read the rest of this entry »

Fastest-Ever Factory Mustang Coming in 2018

New GT will blast through 60 in under 4 seconds – but still not the fastest Detroit muscle car.

by on Jul.25, 2017

The 2018 Ford Mustang GT is the fastest base V-8 version ever, at under 4-sec 0-60.

The pony car race is heating up, Ford Motor Co. the latest to give its sporty coupe a big performance boost.

Ford says the 2018 Mustang GT will be faster than ever, blasting from 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds, with its big V-8 jumping to 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. The 2018 Ford Mustang will also get a new drag-strip mode to ensure that all its power goes to the pavement when needed.

Performance News!

“Typically, when you shift gears, you give up time,” said Mustang Chief Engineer Carl Widmann. “In Drag Strip mode, the engine torque doesn’t drop when you’re shifting. You get peak engine torque and horsepower straight through thanks to our new Ford-built 10-speed transmission.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Russia Continues to Attract New Auto Investments

BMI report shows Central and Eastern Europe growing.

by on Jul.25, 2017

Daimler and Russian officials show off the model for the new Mercedes-Benz plant just outside Moscow.

A recovery in Russia and the Russian-leaning economies of the Commonwealth of Independent States is attracting a growing share of automotive-related investment across the Emerging Europe region, which includes Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“Companies are being attracted by the prospects of recovery in these markets while in other parts of Emerging Europe investments seem more focused on consolidating SUV production and meeting the demand for more complex new technologies,” according to a new report from BMI Research, a subsidiary of Fitch Group of companies.

Global Auto News!

BMI’s latest investment round-up of countries in the Emerging Europe region highlighted 21 new investment projects that were either announced or inaugurated in the second quarter of 2017. Reversing trends that saw investment flows into Russia slow dramatically after the 2008–09 financial crisis and hit again by the start of conflict in the eastern Ukraine in 2014.  Read the rest of this entry »

GM Earnings Tumble on Weakening U.S. Demand, Sale of European Ops

But numbers manage to beat Wall Street expectations.

by on Jul.25, 2017

GM CEO Mary Barra: "discipline" pays off.

General Motors reported second-quarter net income of $2.4 billion, down about 15% year-over-year, reflecting a variety of headwinds, including weakening U.S. sales, as well as the sale of the maker’s European Opel Vauxhall unit to France’s PSA Group.

On a per-share basis, GM came in at $1.60, though that rose to $1.89 by excluding  one-time charges, well ahead of the $1.68 consensus forecast by automotive analysts polled by FactSet. As a result, the maker’s shares began trading up slightly in early morning trading.

Breaking News!

GM’s declining net earnings came as no surprise, especially considering the ongoing slump in U.S. new vehicle demand. It reported an overall 5% decline in June, continuing this year’s overall downward trend. In recent months, the automaker has voluntarily cut back on low-profit fleet sales, but June’s retail numbers were also down 3% for June.

Read the rest of this entry »

American Motorists Overwhelmingly Favor Stricter Mileage Rules, Finds New Study

Fuel savings far greater than cost of more efficient technology, says Consumer Federation.

by on Jul.24, 2017

Gas may be cheap, but American motorists are still demanding better fuel economy, says new survey.

Nearly eight of 10 Americans – including 68% of Republicans – favor the strict Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards set to phase in between now and 2025, according to a new study by the Consumer Federation of America.

The non-profit group published the results of its findings as the Trump Administration prepares to reopen a review of the mileage regulations enacted under President Barack Obama. CFA officials also countered auto industry claims that the CAFE rules are too expensive, arguing that motorists would save more than $900 on fuel over a five-year period, or nearly three times more than high-mileage technology would add to the price of the typical vehicle.

News You Can Trust!

During a teleconference, CFA Public Affairs Director Jack Gillis said he believes the odds for a rollback are growing “weaker and weaker,” and warned such a move would likely trigger an intense legal battle.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tesla Cutting from the Bottom: Kills Model S 75

EV maker looking for more separation between Model S, Model 3

by on Jul.24, 2017

Tesla announced it was ending sales of the Model S 75. The maker is looking to put some distance between the Model S and Model 3.

As Tesla’s new addition to its line-up, the Model 3 is now hustling down the assembly line, the company made another change to its portfolio, cutting the Model S 75, which was the least expensive model the EV maker offered prior to the Model 3.

The rear-wheel drive Model S 75 started at $69,500, but now the least expensive Model S is the 75D, an all-wheel-drive version of the 75 that starts at $74,500.

EV News!

In addition to creating a bigger price gap between the two vehicles, it also means that the Model S family is only available in AWD. Read the rest of this entry »

Six GM Models May Join Growing Line-Up of Passenger Cars Heading for Scrapyard in 2018

More and more passenger car models flop as SUVs take over market.

by on Jul.24, 2017

A little more than a year after introducing the Cadillac CT6 as its new flagship model, GM is considering cutting it from the line-up.

At least six General Motors passenger cars could be sent to the scrapyard, according to a report by Reuters, a reflection of the ongoing shift from sedans, coupes and sports cars to SUVs, CUVs and pickups.

But GM isn’t alone. An array of nameplates vanished during the 2017 model-year, with manufacturers expected to pull even more of their slow-selling products from market in 2018. At the same time, expect to see a number of new light trucks fill in those empty spaces.

News You Can Trust!

While GM officials declined to discuss the Reuters report – which included such familiar names as the Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac XTS and even the Chevrolet Volt – officials with the United Auto Workers union met with the carmaker to find out what such a move would mean for thousands of hourly workers. Read the rest of this entry »

BMW Goes Outside Auto Industry for Marketing Boss

New leader replaces Ian Robertson next year.

by on Jul.24, 2017

BMW is adding Pieter Nota to its Board of Management to oversee its marketing and sales functions on Jan. 1.

Facing any number of challenges, BMW has elected to turnover responsibility for the company’s image to an executive from outside the automobile industry.

Pieter Nota will join the Board of Management of BMW AG as the head the division responsible for sales and brand BMW as well as aftersales for the BMW Group on Jan. 1, 2018. Nota’s background is in marketing across a variety of non-automotive industries.

Global Auto News!

The changeover comes at a time when BMW is facing slowing sales in the U.S., aggressive competition in China, crimped sales of electric vehicles and a global shift away from passenger cars where it has always been strong to sport utility vehicles and crossover. Read the rest of this entry »