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Archive for July, 2014

Toyota Maintains Global Sales Lead – Barely

VW closing gap as GM settles into third spot.

by on Jul.30, 2014

Strong demand for new models, such as the redesigned Corolla, helped Toyota retain the sales lead for the first half of 2014.

While its lead has been narrowing, Toyota Motor Co. retained its crown as the world’s best-selling automaker during the first half of 2014.

The maker edged out rivals Volkswagen AG and General Motors in the global sales sweepstakes as demand for its cars, trucks and crossovers surged to 5.097 million between January and June, a 4% increase fueled by growth in markets ranging from U.S. and Europe to China and the Japanese home islands.

Data Driven!

That was not only an all-time record but exceeded forecasts – while positioning Toyota to meet a goal of becoming the first automaker ever to sell 10 million vehicles in a single year. VW is also shooting for the 10 million mark, though preliminary data indicate it only tallied sales of 4.97 million vehicles during the first half, GM following at 4.92 million.

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Cadillac Counting on New Product to Reverse Slump

New Caddy boss expected to accelerate product expansion plans.

by on Jul.30, 2014

The new Cadillac crest - minus the wreath - debuts on the 2015 ATS Coupe.

“New product is the lifeblood of any brand,” said Jim Vurpillat, the marketing director for Cadillac, as he took a break during a media drive of the luxury maker’s new ATS Coupe.  He and the rest of Cadillac’s management team certainly have to hope so after the unexpected slide the General Motors division has taken so far this year.

The ATS Coupe, a new line of performance models, a flagship sedan, a compact crossover and other new products are moving their way through the Caddy pipeline. But the brand could see the pace of that rollout accelerate in the near future under the guidance of a new global brand boss who will officially join the Caddy team later this week.

Your Inside Source!

Johan de Nysschen, most recently the CEO of Nissan’s Infiniti division and before that head of Audi of America, was brought in as part of a plan to give Cadillac more independence from GM. And company insiders suggest that the South African-born executive negotiated a deal that will also give Caddy more of the product it needs to compete against aggressive German rivals Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, as well as Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln and luxury upstart Hyundai.

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All But One of a Dozen Small Cars Fall Short in Crash Test

Mini Countryman nabs a “good” rating from IIHS.

by on Jul.30, 2014

The 2014 Mini Countryman was the only vehicle to earn a "good" rating in the latest IIHS small car crash tests.

For those worried about the safety of today’s small cars, the latest round of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety didn’t provide much good news.

Out of an even dozen vehicles included in the test, only the Mini Countryman earned a “good” rating. And among the plug-based vehicles included in the tests for the first time, only the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid managed to eke out an “acceptable” rating – while also earning a Top Safety Pick+ award.

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“The Mini Cooper Countryman gave a solid performance,” says Joe Nolan, the Institute’s senior vice president for vehicle research. “The Countryman’s safety cage held up reasonably well. The safety belts and airbags worked together to control the test dummy’s movement, and injury measures indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a real-world crash this severe.”

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Copenhagen Wheel Makes Any Bike an EV

New wheel may change daily commute.

by on Jul.29, 2014

The Copenhagen Wheel was developed by researchers at MIT and is being distributed by Superpedestrian. It makes any bicycle an electric bike increasing speeds to 20 mph.

For some, the idea of riding a bike conjures up one of two images: skin-tight biker shorts and shirts and helmets as part of a high-speed march along winding roads a la Lance Armstrong or a leisurely loll on a two-wheeler with a basket and a squeeze horn through a park or neighborhood that involves as much coasting as it does pedaling.

However, if Superpedestrian gets its way, thousands – maybe even millions – of people will completely rethink how they use a bicycle with the company’s new Copenhagen Wheel. The wheel was designed by a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s SENSEable City Laboratory in concert with the city of Copenhagen, which is one of the bike-friendliest cities in the world. The lab then licensed it to Superpedestrian for additional development.

High-Performance!

The wheel can be attached to any bike and increases the speed of the bike. By using an array of sensors, it develops an algorithm based off the rider’s pedaling pattern to seamlessly boost the speed of the bike when the rider is pedaling. (more…)

US Gas Prices Take Big Dive Last Month

Drop comes despite unrest in Middle East.

by on Jul.29, 2014

Not that drivers of the Jetta Hybrid were getting gas often, but now they're paying even less as prices at the pump have dropped.

Despite the tension in the Middle East, gasoline prices have dropped more than 16 cents per gallon in the past month, according to records compiled by AAA.

Gasoline prices vary by region but overall the average price for regular gasoline dropped more than 9 cents per gallon in the two weeks ended July 25 to $3.5795 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc., which surveys about 1,200 gasoline stations around the country.

Fueling Up on News for Less!

A recent U.S. Energy Information Association report indicated the average price of crude oil dropped by $1.04 per barrel and estimated average price of regular gasoline fell by 6 cents per gallon across the United States in the past week and is now 10.7 cents per gallon cheaper from a year ago before the turmoil began.

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American Motorists Want Self-Driving Cars, Says New Study

Desire to give up control drops when kids involved.

by on Jul.29, 2014

CEO Carlos Ghosn outlines Nissan autonomous vehicle plans during a Tokyo news conference.

Americans haven’t necessarily fallen out of love with the automobile. They just don’t enjoy the art of driving as much anymore, and a growing number of Americans seem ready to hand over command to autonomous vehicles.

A new study finds that fully three-quarters of licensed U.S. motorists would be very likely to consider, if not buy, self-driving vehicles. And if offered lower insurance rates, the figure jumps to a whopping 86%, found website Insurance.com.

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“People are aware that they already drive cars controlled partly by computers,” said Insurance.com Managing Editor Des Toups. “Now they see features like collision avoidance on new models and hear about Google cars hitting the roads in a couple of years. An autonomous car is not science fiction anymore.” (more…)

Honda Rides Strong Asian Sales to $1.94 Billion Profit

US sales drop 6% during most recent quarter.

by on Jul.29, 2014

Honda's North American sales were down 6% in the most recent quarter due, in part, to a sluggish start to Fit production in Mexico.

Despite a sales decline in its largest market, North America, Honda posted a $1.94 billion (198 billion yen) operating profit last quarter by cutting costs and expanding sales in other markets, particularly Asia.

The company’s net income jumped 20% while its sales rose just 5%, the company reported. Honda benefitted from the final push of vehicles on back order due to a rush of sales that came before a sales tax hike on April 1.

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Sales in North America, which accounts for about half of Honda’s revenue, fell nearly 1% through the first six months of the year and 6% for the second quarter of the calendar year, which is the maker’s first quarter. (more…)

Shake-Up at Scion

Toyota’s youth brand making major changes to product line-up.

by on Jul.29, 2014

Soon to be gone? The Scion xB.

Scion has always tried to think out of the box, and now it likely will abandon its boxy xB model as part of a product line shake-up designed to reinvigorate Toyota Motor Co.’s youth-oriented brand.

The xB is one of several models that reportedly will go away, according to various reports, while the Japanese brand will get several new models, including a version of the Auris hatchback sold in Europe and other parts of the world under the Toyota badge.

Product News!

Gone is the strategy of limiting Scion to just a handful of products designed to bring first-time buyers into showrooms, the brand’s top executive recently confirmed to TheDetroitBureau.com.

Scion could use the shake-up. Only a few years back considered among the hottest brands in the market, Scion has lost significant momentum in recent years and was one of only a handful of brands to see sales slide during the first half of 2014.

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Jaguar XE to Go With “Aluminum-Intensive” Design

Focus on using recycled metal.

by on Jul.29, 2014

Jaguar will give the world its first full look at the new XE compact sport sedan in September.

Jaguar is offering a bit more insight into its plans for its new compact model, confirming the upcoming XE sedan will opt for a lightweight “aluminum-intensive” unibody design that will make heavy use of recycled metal.

The lightweight metal will account for 75% of its structure, and the new Jaguar XE will be assembled at a special facility at the Solihull plant in Britain’s West Midlands designed specifically to handle the production of the luxury sedan.

Your Heavyweight Auto News Source!

Jaguar was one of the first makers to begin migrating from traditional steel to aluminum, along with its UK sibling Land Rover. Among others is Ford Motor Co., its former parent company, which says it learned enough about aluminum manufacturing from Jaguar to help it design the new, lightweight F-150 pickup coming to market later this year.

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Akerson Claims Didn’t Know about GM’s Cultural Issues

Former CEO lauds Barra’s handling of crisis.

by on Jul.28, 2014

Former GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said he was unaware of how deep the company's cultural issues ran.

Former General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson now knows what he didn’t know then: the automaker’s cultural problems ran deeper than he realized when signed on in 2009.

Appointed by the Obama Administration to the automaker’s board and later taking over as CEO in 2010, Akerson told the Detroit News that recent recall crisis shows him that the problems with the company’s culture were worse than he imagined.

News You Can Trust!

“I think we all — including the new and the old part of the management team — didn’t fully realize how deep some of the problems ran,” said Akerson. “I think we built a good foundation. I think the company needed a lot of change, and I said a lot of that culture wasn’t where we wanted it to be.” (more…)