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Archive for November, 2015

Toyota Recalls 1.6 Mil Vehicles With Takata Airbags a Second Time

Affected vehicles may still be unsafe.

by on Nov.25, 2015

The latest recall covers, among its 22 models, an older version of the Toyota Corolla.

Concluding the vehicles may still be unsafe, Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 1.6 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbags that had been involved in an earlier recall.

The move echoes what happened at Nissan Motor Co. where a passenger was injured when a Takata airbag deployed improperly in a crash. That vehicle had also been involved in an earlier recall. There have been no reports of injuries involving the Toyota vehicles.

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The new Toyota recall covers 22 different models, including the popular Corolla, sold in Japan, as well as several European markets. No vehicles in the U.S. are involved in the new service action, though Takata airbags have so far led to the recall of nearly 20 million vehicles sold in the States.

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November Auto Sales Expected to Set Record Pace

Automakers embracing "Black Friday" sales concept to move steel.

by on Nov.25, 2015

November auto sales are expected to be the best November results ever thanks, in part, to Black Friday sales promotions.

With car sales heading for a big “Friday Finish,” November’s numbers look as if they could shatter any number of records, according to analysts.

TrueCar, Inc. projects total new vehicle sales, including fleet deliveries, will reach 1.352 million units in November, a 3.9 % increase from a year ago and the highest ever for the month.

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The expected growth will push the seasonally adjusted annualized rate or SAAR for total light vehicle sales to 18.6 million units, the strongest pace of any month so far this year and up from a 17.1 million-unit SAAR year ago. Solid consumer demand coupled with Black Friday campaigns may boost retail sales by 3% to 1,157,800 units. (more…)

After Long Decline, Traffic Deaths Again on the Rise

"These numbers are a wake-up call," warns Rosekind.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Government data suggest distracted driving is responsible for at least 10% of fatalities.

Traffic deaths spiked by 8% during the first half of the year, according to a new federal report, reversing a decade-long downward trend.

Officials point to a variety of factors that may be behind the unexpected increase, including both lower fuel prices and the improving economy. That has led to more Americans driving more frequently and for longer distances. A new AAA report, for example, indicates 42 million Americans will drive at least 42 miles over the coming Thanksgiving holiday.

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“These numbers are a wake-up call,” said Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Thanksgiving Week Wrecks Likely to Spike Up to 34%

Nearly 42 million Americans expected to travel as gas prices plunge.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Crashes tend to spike during the holiday.

Between the holiday feasting and the Black Friday sales, Americans will be spending a lot of time on the road in the coming week, and whether it’s a little much turkey or a lack of sleep making them drowsy and distracted, highway crashes have a tendency to spike sharply around Thanksgiving.

The situation has apparently gotten worse since stores have extended their hours to draw in bigger crowds for the annual, pre-Christmas shopping extravaganza, according to new data from Progressive Insurance.

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This week could see even higher crash numbers as cheap fuel encourages more motorists to drive for the holiday. According to a forecast by AAA, nearly 50 million Americans will drive more than 50 miles this week.

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Tesla Model X to Start at $80,000

Electric SUV carries $5,000 premium over Model S sedan.

by on Nov.24, 2015

The new Tesla Model X opens its Falcon Doors.

Tesla’s new Model X battery-electric SUV will carry a starting price of $80,000 – before adding delivery charges and subtracting the $7,500 federal tax credit.

A fully loaded version of the Tesla Model X P90D Signature Edition will come in at $132,000. That will include Tesla’s new Ludicrous Mode, which will allow the big battery ute to launch from 0 to 60 in just 3.2 seconds, making it one of the world’s fastest utility vehicles.

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Tesla has opened up its online configurator to allow buyers to choose options. But they will have to wait for delivery, the first Tesla Model X SUVs not expected to reach U.S. buyers until early in the new year. And the company plans to start deliveries with the top-line Model X P90D. There’ll be an even longer wait for the base car.

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Watchdog Fights Accelerating Autonomous Vehicle Testing Pace

Google pushing for ability to accelerate development.

by on Nov.24, 2015

A Mountain View, CA police officer gives a warning to a Google Car for driving too slow. Photo courtesy Google autonomous vehicle blog.

The idea of being able to turn over all of the driving responsibilities to an autonomous fleet of vehicles gets major endorsements from federal safety officials, at least half of drivers, automakers and last, but certainly not least, Google.

In fact, recently Google officials complained they felt like they were being held back in the development of their vehicle. Despite a dozen accidents – none of which were deemed Google’s fault – and most recently, a situation where a policeman pulled over the autonomous vehicle for driving too … wait for it … slowly, the tech giant wants to speed up development.

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Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is a staunch ally in the move toward autonomous vehicles, believing they could virtually eliminate traffic accidents and, by extension, the thousands of fatalities that occur on U.S. highways and byways annually. (more…)

Half of US Drivers Enjoying Sub-$2 a Gallon Gas

Indiana, Ohio seeing country's lowest prices.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Gas prices are below $2 a gallon in more than half the country due to low crude prices.

The price of crude oil remains under pressure, tamping down the price of gasoline on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday to the lowest level since 2008 when the U.S. economy was still reeling from the financial crisis.

With some 42 million Americans are expected to take a road trip this Thanksgiving, the retail price of gasoline has fallen steadily through November for a total savings of 15 cents per gallon and the national average remains poised to fall below the $2 per gallon benchmark by the Christmas holiday, according to AAA.

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More than half of U.S. stations are selling gas for less than $2 per gallon. The national average price of $2.07 per gallon represents a savings of nine cents per gallon versus one week ago, and 14 cents per gallon on the month. Significant yearly savings persist and pump prices are down 75 cents per gallon compared to this same date last year. (more…)

Global Survey Finds Strong Interest in Autonomous Vehicles

But serious doubts about safety linger.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Drivers continue to express an increasing interest in autonomous vehicle technology.

As automakers get closer to putting the first autonomous vehicles on the road they’re finding growing interest in the new technology, a new study of potential buyers in the U.S. and nine other major markets revealing that 60% of consumers would be willing to travel in a fully self-driving car.

Consumers expect some significant benefits from the new technology, including easier parking and the ability to multitask, according to the report being released today by the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group.

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But while many proponents of autonomous technology expect the biggest payoff to come in the form of improved safety – some predicting a world where highway fatalities become a rare, rather than routine, occurrence – a majority of those surveyed admit being worried about the safety of driverless vehicles. (more…)

Tesla Recalls Every Single Model S for Seat Belt Issue

EV maker says move shows unwavering commitment to owner safety.

by on Nov.23, 2015

Tesla is recalling all 90,000 Model S sedans for a seat belt issue.

Tesla Motors Inc. plans to use the recall of every Model S that it has ever built to highlight its commitment to safety.

The EV maker announced it is recalling all of the 90,000 Model S vehicles that the electric-car company has made after a driver in Europe discovered that her front seat belt became disconnected from the pretensioner.

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“Tesla recently found a Model S in Europe with a front seat belt that was not properly connected to the outboard lap pretensioner,” the company wrote in an e-mail to customers Friday. “This vehicle was not involved in a crash and there were no injuries. However, in the event of a crash, a seat belt in this condition would not provide full protection.” (more…)

Ford Makes Moves to Improve Safety: Recalls 425K, Cuts Takata

Japanese supplier suffers another blow with maker's departure.

by on Nov.23, 2015

Ford is recalling 425,000 Ford Fusions and Mercury Milans from 2010 and 2011 due to a fuel tank issue.

Ford is facing two safety issues and dealing with one by fixing the problem and the other by eliminating the source: Takata.

The automaker is recalling about 450,000 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan from the 2010 and 2011 model years due to a fuel tank issue.

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Some of the vehicles may have a canister purge valve that does not work correctly. The problem can lead to internal pressure changes that could lead to a crack, leaked fuel and a possibly a fire if that fuel meets an ignition source. Thus far, the maker is unaware of any accidents, injuries or fires due to the problem. (more…)