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Archive for December, 2014

List of “Safest” Cars Nearly Doubles for 2015

Automakers make big gains despite recall woes, according to IIHS.

by on Dec.23, 2014

The number of vehicles earning one of the top two ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has nearly doubled for 2015.

The number of vehicles earning one of the top two ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has nearly doubled for 2015 despite the industry’s ongoing recall problems.

A total of 71 vehicles have earned either a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, the insurance industry research arm announced Tuesday, up from just 39 models during 2014. And that’s despite making it tougher to earn the top rating.

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“This is the third year in a row that we are giving automakers a tougher challenge to meet,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund, who stressed that the industry is “greatly improving” its crash protection. (more…)

First Drive: 2015 Chrysler 300

Value and performance in the same package.

by on Dec.23, 2014

The 2015 Chrysler 300 can be had with full-speed forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning with lane keep assist.

The Chrysler 300 isn’t exactly a new car.

It’s been around since the middle of the last decade, but the enduring appeal of its exterior design plus the almost constant attention from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles engineers and product planners has turned the 300 into full-sized sedan that can hold its own against more expensive rivals.

What's in a Name!

For one thing, the inside of the 300, initially a wasteland of gray or tan plastic, has been completely rebuilt so the spacious interior with soft-touch materials are presented with artfully selected accents and a variety of textures that serve to create a comfortable ambience throughout the cabin. (more…)

Conventional Gas-Powered Cars Will Be in Minority by 2017

“No single technology will dominate,” says new study.

by on Dec.23, 2014

Even Cadillac may opt for an alternate approach when it launches its Gen-4 CTS-V.

With gas prices down to less than $2.00 at a growing number of pumps around the country, a growing number of American motorists have been flocking back to showrooms for pickups, SUVs and muscle cars. Yet, despite that sudden surge, the days of the classic V-8 and V-6 may be coming to an end.

In fact, a new study suggests that less than half of the vehicles that will be sold around the world by 2017 will be powered by conventional gasoline engines. Alternative fuels, electrified vehicles and more advanced internal combustion systems will make up the majority of the global mix, according to a new report from Navigant Research.

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And the pace of that transition will only accelerate in the years ahead. Even in the U.S., tough new fuel economy standards set to go into effect by 2025 will force major changes under the hood, industry insiders concur.

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BMW’s Move Takes Takata Airbag Recall National

Maker expands recall to include 140,000 vehicles across US.

by on Dec.23, 2014

BMW recalled an additional 140,000 3-Series vehicles due to a potential airbag problem.

Despite Takata’s protests, the recall of vehicles with its potentially deadly airbags is now a national action as BMW expanded its recall from regional to national status. The German maker was the last of five automakers receiving pressure from federal regulators.

BMW agreed on Monday to expand its recall of vehicles with possible defective driver-side air bags by 140,000 3 Series cars from model years 2004-06. The automaker already had recalled about 11,700 cars with driver-side Takata air bags in high-humidity states.

Safety First!

Officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been pressuring Takata and five automakers – Mazda, Honda, Ford, Chrysler and BMW – to expand the scope of the recall for several weeks. Toyota and Honda acted quickly, but Ford, Chrysler and BMW were resistant suggesting they were unsure the move was prudent. (more…)

Google Takes Next Step in Self-Driving Car Development

Company tries out fully functional prototypes

by on Dec.22, 2014

Google's self-driving car took another step toward reality as the company used prototypes to give a focus group a few test drives.

Christmas came a few days early for the folks developing Google’s Self-Driving Car as they rolled out working prototypes of the car for people to test drive…or in this case, test ride.

The company released a photo as well as a video titled “A First Drive” featuring of a variety of folks getting a chance to go for a spin in the cars.

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“It was cool,” said a woman named Thida in the video. “It was kind of a space age experience.” (more…)

New Car Sales Predicted to Top 17 Million in the US in 2015

Next year expected to hit new highs for new and used vehicle sales.

by on Dec.22, 2014

TrueCar expects the luxury vehicle segment to experience the largest sales growth in 2015.

A catalytic combination of an improving economy and lower gas prices will result in record results for the auto industry in 2015.

TrueCar, the online car-selling and data service, is predicting that new vehicle sales will exceed 17 million units next year and total sales will be more than 55.7 million units.

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“We see a convergence of favorable economic circumstances pushing auto demand up to pre-recession levels, including continued gains in the job market, the best consumer sentiment in eight years and low fuel prices,” said John Krafcik, president of TrueCar. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Stakes Claim in Van Market with ProMaster

Maker using Euro-based design to carve out place growing segment.

by on Dec.22, 2014

The Ram ProMaster City is smaller than the traditional body-on-frame vans employed by variety of users in the U.S., but easier to maneuver.

Until recently, the commercial van business was a quiet, dusty corner of the automobile world where old-school vehicles managed to help keep the wheels of the economy moving on their aging springs and axles.

However, the segment is undergoing something of a revolution as American businesses, large and small, turn to smaller, Euro-style vans ranging from the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to Ford’s Transit Connect to carry tools and cargo through increasingly crowded urban centers around the United States.

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles won’t be left out of the growing market as it is bringing the ProMaster City, which is based on the successful Fiat Doblò, a two-time International Van of the Year winner, winner with more than 1.3 million units sold, to the U.S. market. (more…)

Nissan’s Taxi of Tomorrow Gets Go for Big Apple Debut

First NV200 hacks will hit the street in April.

by on Dec.22, 2014

Nissan has been fleet-testing its NV200 cabs at both its Arizona proving grounds - and in New York.

If you can make it there you can make it anywhere, or so Nissan is hoping as it gets ready to put the first of its NV200-based cabs out onto the sometimes mean streets of New York.

After a long and contentious debate, that included a series of legal challenges, the Big Apple’s Taxi & Limousine Commission has set April 20, 2015 as the start date for its Taxi of Tomorrow program. With only rare exception, most of the current New York cab fleet will have to be replaced when they retire with specially modified Nissan NV200 vans.

Come Along for the Ride!

The Japanese maker won a three-way shoot-out three years ago to replace the long-familiar Ford Crown Victoria as the taxi of choice for New York’s big yellow fleet. Proponents claim the new NV200 cab conversion offers a number of advantages, including more room and better visibility for passengers, and improved fuel economy for fleet operators.

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Falling Gas Prices Putting Money in Consumers Pockets

Five-year lows threatening Texas jobs.

by on Dec.22, 2014

Gas prices continue to tumble, dropping 25 cents in the last two weeks to an average of $2.47 a gallon.

The influential Lundberg Letter estimated that the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has dropped 25 cents in the past two weeks, tumbling to its lowest level in more than five-and-a-half years, according to the Lundberg survey released Sunday, while AAA said the drop in prices is expected to continue.

Prices for regular-grade gasoline fell to $2.47 a gallon in the survey dated Dec. 19, down 25 cents since the previous survey on Dec. 5, according to Lundberg, and the recent drop has taken prices down more than $1.25 a gallon since a peak in May.

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“This is mostly driven by the big drop in crude oil prices and absent a sudden spike we very well may see a drop of a few pennies more,” said the survey’s publisher, Trilby Lundberg. “That said, demand is up at these low prices.” (more…)

First Look: 2016 Cadillac CTS-V

Corvette Performance from a midsize luxury sedan.

by on Dec.22, 2014

The new Cadillac CTS-V is the luxury brand's first production model to break the 200 mph wall.

When General Motors flagship brand launched its then-new ATS sedan several years ago, it sounded a warning shot to competitors with an audacious ad campaign dubbed “Cadillac v the World.” In hindsight, it might have wanted to wait a bit, because the all-new Caddy CTS-V promises to be the true world-beater.

Set to debut at next month’s Detroit Auto Show, the third-generation, 2016 Cadillac CTS-V will not only be larger and more lavishly equipped, but it will also deliver an awesome upgrade in performance. The new supercharged 6.2-liter LT-1 V-8 will punch out a neck-snapping 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque.

Muscle Up!

To put that into perspective, that’s 84-hp more than the Gen-2 CTS-V and a mere 10 ponies less than the new Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

The most powerful production model ever to bear the Cadillac crest, the new V sedan will launch from 0 to 60 in a mere 3.7 seconds. It also becomes the first Caddy road car to ever break the 200 mph top speed barrier.

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