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Archive for March, 2015

Range Rover Pushes the Extremes with New SVAutobiography

Most powerful, most lavishly equipped production model ever.

by on Mar.30, 2015

The new Range Rover SVAutobiography takes the place of last year's Long-Wheelbase Autobiography Black Holland & Holland edition.

Range Rover has been pushing the extremes. Last year’s limited-edition Range Rover Long-Wheelbase Autobiography Black Holland & Holland edition not only had one of the longest names ever to wrap around the entire back end of a vehicle, but also a price tag to match, at $285,000.

The new Range Rover SVAutobiography has a name that’s not only a bit easier to pronounce but is also expected to be a little easier on the wallet. But it nonetheless will be the most powerful production model ever, with its optional supercharged V-8 making a neck-snapping 542 horsepower.

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Set to debut at the New York International Auto Show this week, parent Land Rover claims the new model will offer “unparalleled comfort and refinement.” The new SUV will even offer a new feature called “Event Seating,” with two foldaway seats that can deploy from the luggage compartment for those who want to tailgate in style. (more…)

Volvo Plans to Build $500 Million Plant in US

Chinese maker eschews Mexico for America.

by on Mar.30, 2015

A Volvo XC90 rolls down the assembly line at the maker's plant in Daqing, China. A similar set up is coming to the U.S.

Volvo, the first Chinese automaker to export a vehicle to the U.S., announced it plans to build a $500 million somewhere in the U.S. Officials declined to elaborate on where.

“Volvo Cars cannot claim to be a true global carmaker without an industrial presence in the U.S. Today, we became that,” said Hakan Samuelsson, CEO and president, in a statement.

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“The U.S. is an absolutely crucial part of our global transformation and today’s announcement makes it perfectly clear that Volvo is in the U.S. to stay.” (more…)

Toyota and Lexus to Introduce Low-Cost Auto-Braking System

Wider availability, lower price expected to spur demand.

by on Mar.30, 2015

Toyota Safety Sense is designed to support the driver’s awareness, decision making and vehicle operation over a wide range of speeds.

Toyota has two big SUV debuts planned for this week’s New York International Auto Show – but some folks may be more focused on the Japanese maker’s big safety news.

When the next-generation Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Lexus RX models come to market later this year, they will offer new, low-cost automated braking packages that, the maker hopes, will bring this technology within reach of a mass audience.

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“Pushing these systems across our lineup, as quickly as possible, can help protect people in the event of a crash,” said Jim Lentz, president and CEO, Toyota Motor North America. “More importantly it will help prevent some crashes from ever happening in the first place.” (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Jumping into Pickup Truck Market

Maker looks to capitalize on premium truck segment.

by on Mar.30, 2015

Mercedes-Benz plans to get into the luxury pickup truck segment in the next two years.

After watching the prices for new pickup trucks in the U.S. climb into the luxury stratosphere of more than $50,000 in recent years, Mercedes-Benz is looking to get into the pickup truck market.

Before the end of the decade, Mercedes-Benz will expand its product range into the promising segment by launching the first pickup from a premium manufacturer, the German auto giant announced.

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The announcement by Daimler AG underscores the rising interest in the pickup truck market by Asian and European carmakers. (more…)

Born Again: Lincoln Continental to Make NY Auto Show Return

Concept model to return in production form “sometime in the 2016 calendar-year.”

by on Mar.30, 2015

What you see with the Lincoln Continental Concept is largely what you'll get with the production model.

The Lincoln Continental, once one of the most elegant and widely respected vehicles in the U.S. luxury market, is making its return. And the concept version set to make its first public appearance at the New York International Auto Show will return in production form next year, a senior Lincoln executive has advised

The show car version not only will introduce such luxury features as “laser-assist” high beams, but also will reveal what company officials are calling “the new face of Lincoln.”

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“The concept is a pretty strong hint of what the production vehicle will look like,” Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra said during a Sunday night interview. The road-ready version, he added, will reach U.S. showrooms “sometime in the 2016 calendar-year.”


Makers Tracking to Meet 2025 Fuel Economy Standards

EPA notes average fuel economy still dropping.

by on Mar.27, 2015

The Chevy Volt is one reason why automakers are tracking to meet long-term greenhouse gas and fuel economy mandates.

Automakers point to the looming 54.5 mpg fuel economy mandate as one of the primary reason that they’re continuing to pursue alternative fuel vehicles despite the low gas prices currently enjoyed in the U.S.

That dedication is paying off, according to an Environmental Protection Agency study, which shows 2013 vehicles are reducing greenhouse gases and improving mileage on a pace to get them to the tough 2025 standard.

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According to EPA’s most recent Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Fuel Economy Trends Report, model year 2013 vehicles achieved an all-time record average of 24.1 miles per gallon (mpg) – a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. (more…)

Ford Chief Fields Earns More Than $18 Million

CEO’s compensation includes salary of $1.6 million.

by on Mar.27, 2015

Ford CEO Mark Fields received more than $18 million in compensation in 2014.

Strong auto sales often means there’s money to go around for workers. The top “worker” at Ford, Mark Fields, earned $18,596,497 in 2014 as the company earned a pre-tax profit of $6.3 billion.

Fields’ compensation, which is a combination of his base salary and stock awards, options and other awards, was an increase from 2013 when his compensation was $10,170,578 as Ford’s chief operating officer.

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Fields, who took over as CEO on July 1, earned a base salary of $1,662,500 last year. His total compensation includes a $3,185,000 bonus, long-term stock options and other performance-based equity awards. (more…)

New Ford System Could Spell End to Speeding Tickets

System reads signs, automatically adjusts vehicle speed.

by on Mar.27, 2015

Ford's new system could become a basic part of tomorrow's autonomous vehicles.

“But officer…” If you’ve ever tried to explain your way out of a speeding ticket, claiming you didn’t know how fast you were going, or what the local limit was, you might want to check out the new Intelligent Speed Limiter that Ford is launching this year.

A number of vehicles now display the local speed limit on their navigation screens, some using cameras to ensure that the limit hasn’t changed since the navi database was created. The system being introduced in the next-generation Ford S-Max people-mover goes the next step, and actually controls the speed of the vehicle itself.

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“Drivers are not always conscious of speeding and sometimes only becoming aware they were going too fast when they receive a fine in the mail or are pulled over by law enforcement,” notes Stefan Kappes, active safety supervisor, Ford of Europe. “Intelligent Speed Limiter can remove one of the stresses of driving, helping ensure customers remain within the legal speed limit.” (more…)

Marchionne Defends Jeep Safety in Court

CEO deposed in wrongful death trail about 4-year-old.

by on Mar.27, 2015

FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne defended the safety of Jeep vehicles in a deposition in Atlanta.

Sergio Marchionne is defending the safety of Jeep products in a high-profile Georgia lawsuit, involving the death by fire of a 4-year-old boy.

The top executive at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles denied trying to stop top federal regulators from finding a safety defect in older Jeeps with rear-positioned fuel tanks. Instead, he argued that the vehicles are safe, in a recorded deposition that was played for Georgia jurors in a wrongful death trial about a fuel tank fire that killed the boy.

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Marchionne and the plaintiff’s attorney clashed over a 2013 meeting with then-U.S. Secretary Ray LaHood in Chicago in June. (more…)

GM CEO Mary Barra Named One of World’s 10 Most Influential Leaders

One of three women named by Fortune, Barra lags behind Taylor Swift.

by on Mar.27, 2015

GM CEO Barra, pictured here on the cover of Time which last year chose her as one of its top 100 leaders.

Barely 15 months in as the first woman to head a major automaker, General Motors CEO Mary Barra has been named one of the 10 most influential leaders in the world by Fortune magazine.

In the ninth position, Barra is the only auto exec in the top tier, and ranks well ahead of Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, who was 23rd on Fortune’s list of 50 top global leaders. But Barra was just one of three women in the top 10 and actually was listed behind singer Taylor Swift, in Fortune’s sixth spot.

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“Immersed in GM’s ignition-switch megacrisis almost since day one as CEO, Barra has deftly juggled the demands of investors, regulators, customers, plaintiffs, and employees on one of the business world’s most visible stages,” explained Fortune.