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Archive for February, 2013

Average American Can No Longer Afford the Typical New Car

Washington, D.C. the only city with high enough household income.

by on Feb.27, 2013

Can you afford this 2013 Ford Fusion -- or any other typical 2013 model? Maybe not, finds a new study.

Looking to buy a new car, truck or crossover? You may find it more difficult to stretch the household budget than you expected, according to a new study that finds median-income families in only one major U.S. city actually can afford the typical new vehicle.

The typical new vehicle is now more expensive than ever, averaging $30,500 in 2012, according to data, and heading up again as makers curb the incentives that helped make their products more affordable during the recession when they were desperate for sales.

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According to the 2013 Car Affordability Study by, only in Washington, D.C. could the typical household swing the payments, the median income there running $86,680 a year. At the other extreme, Tampa was at the bottom of the 25 large cities included in the study, with a median household income of $43,832.


Deaths Among Young Teen Drivers Rising Sharply

Distracted driving may be major factor.

by on Feb.26, 2013

Distracted driving may play a major role in rising deaths among young teen drivers.

Countering a more than decade-long trend, the fatality rate among young teen drivers rose sharply during the first six months of 2012, something experts fear may be the result of distracted driving.

The increase echoed a disturbing rise in overall highway fatalities but the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that deaths among 16- and 17-year-old drivers surged a combined 19%, significantly faster than for the general population of motorists.

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“We are still at a much better place than we were 10 or even five years earlier,” said Allan Williams, author of the new GHSA report and the former chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “However, the goal is to strive toward zero deaths, so our aim would be that these deaths should go down every year.”


Rolls-Royce Releases Final Teaser of New Wraith

Latest image reveals coupe’s distinctive fastback shape.

by on Feb.26, 2013

The latest Rolls-Royce Wraith teaser reveals the new coupe's distinctive profile.

With the introduction of its most powerful model ever little more than a week away, Rolls-Royce is offering another teaser image of the Wraith that reveals the coupe’s distinctive fastback shape.

Rolls has been, well, rolling out an assortment of images meant to whet our interest in the new model, which starts out sharing the same platform as the more conventional Ghost sedan.  The maker is promising that the Wraith will be “the most dynamic, powerful and beautiful Rolls-Royce in the company’s history.”

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According to styling chief Giles Taylor, the three distinctive lines of this latest teaser reveal the defining elements of the Rolls-Royce Wraith’s design. “Inherent in the graceful line that sweeps from the top of the screen to the very rear edge is the promise of fast, yet effortless touring. Yet, perhaps my favourite aspect is the expressive gesture that comes from the side window graphic, gliding through Wraith’s glamorous coach door.


Other VW Models to Share 261 MPG XL1 Drivetrain

Diesel plug-in will also power version of Volkswagen Up! minicar.

by on Feb.26, 2013

A high-mileage "Lite" concept version of the Volkswagen Up! minicar could wind up sharing the diesel plug-in system going into the VW XL1.

Volkswagen apparently has big plans for the high-mileage diesel plug-in hybrid powertrain that will be used in its little XL1 microcar.

Reports from Europe suggest the drivetrain – which will yield an astonishing 261 miles per gallon under the hood of the XL1 – also will make an appearance as an option for VW’s little Up! minicar. And versions of the powertrain could show up in other models, as well.

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The XL1 is the latest version of VW’s ongoing 1-liter car project, that a reference to its goal of using just 1 liter of gasoline to travel 100 kilometers. In U.S. terms, that works out to about 240 mpg – a target the XL1 reportedly will beat by about 10%.


Battle With Times Cost Tesla $100 Million, Says CEO

“A few 100” orders cancelled, but stock takes big hit.

by on Feb.26, 2013

Tesla CEO Elon Musk shown with the Toyota RAV4-EV that uses his company's powertrain.

While Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk claims the battery-car maker came out on top in its battle with the New York Times over a critical review, he also claims the bitter dispute wound up costing Tesla “a few 100” lost sales and as much as a $100 million hit to its stock valuation.

The February 8th story in the Times claimed the Tesla Model S sedan driven by reporter John Broder ran out of power during a drive from Washington, DC to Boston, forcing Broder to load it on a flatbed to reach a charging station so he could complete the trip.

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In a noisy he-said/she-said dispute, Tesla CEO Musk provided information from the Model S sedan’s onboard data recorder which appeared to suggest the reporter made mistakes along the way that resulted in the battery-car running out of power early. A statement from the Times acknowledged Broder may not have used “especially good judgment,” though it also insisted Tesla made some mistakes, as well.


GM Denies CEO Demanding 20% Pay Hike

Pay request “misrepresented,” says maker.

by on Feb.26, 2013

GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson will seek no pay hike for 2013, the maker insists.

With a Congressional oversight committee set to review pay policies for companies covered by federal bailout funds, General Motors says it will not ask for an increase in the compensation package for Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson.

It had been widely reported that the maker would seek a 20% boost in the executive’s pay for 2013, which would bring it to a total of $11.1 million, according to documents quoted by the Detroit News. In fact, GM said in a statement issued this morning, “Reports that General Motors has requested an increase in Dan Akerson’s 2013 compensation are false.”

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The maker says the CEO will again receive a package totaling $9 million, matching his 2013 pay which included both bonuses and $1.7 million in base salary.

“Unfortunately, someone who obviously did not understand the compensation request leaked the information in a way that misrepresented the truth in order to score political points on the eve of a congressional hearing,” the automaker said in a statement this morning.


GM CEO Akerson Could Get $11Mil Paycheck with Fed Approval

Payout would mark a 20% increase for 2013.

by on Feb.26, 2013

GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson testifying before Congress last year.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson could see a 20% increase in his paycheck for 2013, total compensation jumping to $11.1 million – if he can get the numbers approved by the U.S. Treasury Department.

As one of the top executives at GM, Akerson’s pay must be approved by Washington under terms of the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy bailout – another reason why insiders say GM management is anxious to shed federal oversight as the Obama Administration moves ahead with plans to sell off its remaining stake in the maker by early 2014.

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Akerson’s proposed paycheck compares with a $9 million package in 2012 that included bonuses and $1.7 million in salary. The one-time telecomm industry executive is currently the lowest paid of Detroit’s Big Three CEOs, with both Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne taking home more than $20 million each – though Marchionne’s package includes money he earned as CEO of Chrysler’s Italian partner Fiat SpA.


Cadillac Launches Production in China

XTS to anchor luxury brand’s goal of tripling sales.

by on Feb.26, 2013

The launch of the Cadillac XTS in Shanghai.

General Motors has begun assembling the new full-size Cadillac XTS at a sprawling production complex in Shanghai, a key step in the maker’s goal of tripling sales of the luxury brand across China over the next three years.

Cadillac sold 30,000 vehicles in the booming Chinese market in 2012 and has set sites on topping 100,000 sales annually by 2015 as it adds new models, including the Cadillac ATS and the Cadillac ELR, a high-line extended-range electric vehicle that will share its drivetrain with the Chevrolet Volt, GM officials said this week.

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“We are reaching the next level of Cadillac growth in China,” said Bob Ferguson, vice president of global marketing for Cadillac. “This expansion in localized assembly for our brand in China coincides with the strong momentum of our new product portfolio and significant growth in the dealer network.”


Nissan Confirms New NISMO GT-R, Plans to Open New NISMO HQ and Plant

Performance brand will anchor Japanese maker’s return to Le Mans in 2014.

by on Feb.25, 2013

The 2014 GT-R will provide the foundation for Nissan's next NISMO model.

Nissan plans to rapidly ramp up its line-up of high-performance models under the NISMO brand, with a new version of the GT-R sports car to join the Juke and 370Z NISMO models the maker unveiled earlier this month at the Chicago Auto Show.

Originally intended to serve as the Japanese maker’s racing arm, NISMO will now get its own headquarters and a plant specifically earmarked to produce its performance street products.

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During a news conference in Japan on Tuesday morning, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn also outlined an expanded role for NISMO in the maker’s global motorsports program, with Nissan planning to field a car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014 that will be based on the revolutionary DeltaWing project it sponsored during the 2012 running of the grueling endurance race. While details have yet to be released, the new Le Mans car will make extensive use of electric propulsion, as well as advanced aerodynamic design.


Mahoney Named New Chevy Global Marketing Chief

Mahoney defied gravity – and recession – at VW and Subaru.

by on Feb.25, 2013

Chevy's new global marketing chief Tim Mahoney.

General Motors is reaching outside its ranks to bring in an outside fireman to help shore up marketing at the big Chevrolet brand – which suffered an unexpected decline in U.S. and global market share last year. Tim Mahoney, who helped both Subaru and Volkswagen defy gravity during the most recession recession, will become Chief Marketing Officer Global Chevrolet and Global GM Marketing Operations Leader, effective April 1.

Mahoney, who gave no sign he was preparing to leave Volkswagen of America, Inc. during appearances at the Chicago Auto Show earlier this month, has had something of a hot hand in the past five years during a recession-ridden era when car sales have been hurt by weak consumer confidence.

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For the past two years, Mahoney served as VWoA’s executive vice president and chief product and marketing officer, overseeing a wave of clever and creative advertising that finally helped the German automaker overcome years of inertia to chalk up the healthiest sales growth it has experienced in the U.S. market in four decades.