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Archive for March, 2014

Tesla Adding Protection to Model S Battery Case

New triple underbody shield installed free-of-charge.

by on Mar.28, 2014

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the company was installing a triple underbody shield to provide additional protection for the Model S battery case.

Just as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was ending its investigation into the Tesla Model S fires, the EV maker announced it is adding a “triple underbody shield” to Model S to eliminate any possibility of the battery compartment being punctured.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based EV maker began adding the shield, which is really a series of three shields, to vehicles manufactured after March 6 and is offering to retrofit existing vehicles upon request of the owner or when the vehicle is brought in for regular maintenance free of charge.

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The new shield is in response to three vehicle fires last year that occurred after Model S drivers struck an object in the road. There were no injuries in any of the incidents, but the cars were completely destroyed. Tesla dismissed the incidents as flukes, but the fires caught the attention of officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (more…)

Toyota Recalling Avalons for Airbag Problems

Devices on 119,000 vehicles could inflate for no reason.

by on Mar.28, 2014

The 2003-2004 Toyota Avalons are being recalled due to an airbag issue.

For the second time in less than a week, a Japanese automaker is recalling vehicles due to an airbag issue; Toyota is recalling 119,000 2003-2004 Avalons.

The maker said the car’s airbags could inflate without warning or cause, frightening the driver and causing a loss of vehicle control resulting in a collision. Toyota said it is unaware of any accidents or injuries related to the problem.

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Toyota reports that certain circuits within the airbag control module may be susceptible to damage if they are exposed to other types electrical components. It’s that contact that could cause the front airbags and/or seat belt pre-tensioners could inadvertently deploy. (more…)

Ford Investing $500 Million in Ohio Engine Plant

Facility adding 300 jobs to build new V6 powerplants.

by on Mar.28, 2014

Ford announced a $500 million investment to add 300 jobs and upgrade the Lima Engine Plant to support production of the all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost® engine for the 2015 F-150.

Ford Motor Co. is preparing to spend $500 million to upgrade its Lima Engine Plant in Ohio and add 300 new jobs to support production of the all-new 2.7-liter V6 that will be used in the 2015 Ford F-150 due out next fall.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas, said the twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine with a standard stop-start system features an entirely new design that delivers power and performance.

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“Our truck customers have spoken, and we continue to meet their evolving needs by providing another V6 option in the all-new 2015 F-150,” Hinrichs said. (more…)

Electric Vehicles Save $100 Million in Gas Costs

Sales of EVs doubled in 2013 to nearly 100,000 units.

by on Mar.27, 2014

American EV owners saved themselves $100 million last year by not buying gas.

More than 160,000 Americans saved themselves $100 million in 2013 by not doing one thing that millions of others had to do: buy gasoline.

According to Union of Concerned Scientists, those drivers saved 45 millions of gasoline last year. Not surprisingly, Californians led the way accounting for nearly half of the savings – $40 million – and reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 140 thousand tons per year.

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The number of plug-in electrics doubled in the U.S. last year to 99,827 vehicles compared with 2012. Again, California led the charge. In fact, 2.5% of the cars sold there in 2013 were plug-ins.


Average Age of Vehicles Creeping Higher in 2015

Strong sales trend won’t hit average age until after next year.

by on Mar.27, 2014

The average age of vehicles in the U.S. is still rising, but the recent run of strong sales will push the numbers down after 2015.

The age of vehicles driven by American has crept up again and is expected to go up again slightly in 2015, according to a new survey by IHS Automotive.

Tom Libby, an IHS consultant, said the average age of vehicles is now the highest has been since R.L. Polk, which was recently acquired by IHS, began calculating the average age of the American vehicle fleet. The average age of vehicles in the U.S. will creep up another notch to 11.5 years in 2015, he predicted.

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Consumers are keeping vehicles longer and the vehicles last longer, Libby said. But the age of the U.S. fleet will begin to drop beyond 2015 because the number of vehicles purchased during the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 is relatively small compared to the number of vehicles sold in the years following the recession. The size of the vehicle fleet in the U.S. could shrink as more vehicles are scrapped. (more…)

Simple Ticket Can Double Insurance Rates

Even minor infractions can result in major hikes.

by on Mar.27, 2014

A simple speeding ticket can raise insurance rates as much as 30% annually.

If you think that speeding ticket you got for going “just five over” isn’t going to have an impact on your insurance premiums, think again. Drivers ticketed for a “minor” speeding violation, such as 1 to 15 mph over, pay an average of 21% more for car insurance.

A report from shows that drivers who commit major infractions, such as driving under the influence (DUI), see a major hike in their premiums, minor transgressions can raise rates for as long as three years.

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According to Mike Barry, spokesman for the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute, the study shows how insurers use various driving infractions to assess different levels of risk for individual drivers. (more…)

First Drive: 2015 Chevy Suburban Remains the Benchmark

Improved ride, mileage and safety features keep it on top.

by on Mar.27, 2014

The 2015 Chevrolet Suburban with more contemporary styling, improved fuel economy and a slew of safety and convenience features is likely to remain the dominant vehicle in the segment.

The new 2015 Chevrolet Suburban has a lot of history behind it.

First introduced in 1930s to carry passengers from suburban railway stations – hence the name – to local destinations, the Suburban has been in production for 80 years and the latest iteration represents the 12th generation of what has always been one of GM’s most profitable vehicles.

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GM also dominates the market for big, body-on-frame sport utility vehicles and isn’t about to give up that position with the 2015 model. The Suburban and Chevrolet Tahoe, with its shorter wheelbase, account for 50% of the sales in the segment. (more…)

Pressure Mounting on GM to Establish Victims Fund

Analyst says maker may pay up to $3 billion in settlements.

by on Mar.26, 2014

General Motors could spend $3 billion to settle lawsuits and fines related to its faulty ignition switch recall.

The idea that General Motors might establish a fund to handle settlement payouts related to its ignition switch recall took on new life today when an auto analyst suggested the maker could set up a fund with as much as $3 billion.

Barclays Analyst Brian Johnson said in a research note today that the automaker may establish a settlement fund with as much as $1.5 billion in it to deal with the lawsuits filed against it related to the recall of 1.6 million cars with faulty ignition switches.

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The problem has been blamed for 31 accidents and 12 deaths, although critics suggest that the numbers could be much higher due to lax reporting standards for fatal crashes. (more…)

Nissan Recalls 1 Million Vehicles for Airbag Issue

Maker plans software update to solve sensor problem.

by on Mar.26, 2014

Nissan's extremely popular Altima is being recalled for a problem with airbags. The airbags may not deploy on the passenger side.

Nissan just issued a second recall for more than 1 million cars, SUVs and vans to fix a problem with the airbags in those vehicles.

Due to a faulty sensor, passenger-side airbags on the vehicles may not inflate. The sensor does not detect an adult sitting in the passenger seat, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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The recall affects the Altima, Leaf, Sentra, Pathfinder models from the 2013 and 2014 model years. Also impacted are the NV200 Taxi van and Infiniti JX35 SUV from 2013 as well as the Infiniti QX60 and Q50 SUVs from 2014. (more…)

New Explorer? Everest Concept Has Tongues Wagging

Seven-passenger SUV designed for global markets.

by on Mar.26, 2014

The Ford Everest Concept has people wondering if it could be a replacement for the Explorer in the U.S.

Is change in the wind for the Ford Explorer? Many are wondering after getting a look at its latest concept, the Everest.

On display at the 35th annual Bangkok International Motor Show, the Everest concept is a large, truck-based, seven-passenger SUV. Adding fuel to the “is it the next Explorer” fire is that it’s been cleared for production outside the U.S. It will be built in Thailand and sold in the maker’s Asian markets as well as Australia.

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“The Everest concept represents out vision of a global Ford vehicle with regional heritage that will allow customers to take on the world,” the maker said in a statement. “(It is a) bold new direction that we envision for a midsize, seven-seat SUV.” (more…)