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Archive for January, 2016

Toyota May Buy Out Little Daihatsu, Form Alliance with Suzuki

Alliances would help cement maker’s position as global auto sales leader.

by on Jan.28, 2016

Toyota was the world's best-selling automaker in 2015 and is considering two deals that would cement that position for 2016 and beyond.

Fresh on the heels of the announcement it had again sold more than 10 million vehicles in 2015, Toyota may make a series of moves that could cement its position as the world’s best-selling automaker.

The Japanese giant issued a statement confirming it is looking at the possibility of buying out the remaining shares of Daihatsu, a minicar maker it has worked with for nearly 50 years. But Toyota also denied reports that it might form a new partnership with Suzuki Motor Corp.

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“We are constantly considering a number of possibilities relating to Daihatsu, such as partnerships or business restructuring, including making the company a fully owned subsidiary,” Toyota said in a statement, while also stressing no final decision has been made. (more…)

Winter Storm Puts Freeze on January Auto Sales

New vehicle sales expected to be flat.

by on Jan.28, 2016

Winter Storm Jonas acted like a wet blanket on new vehicle sales in January.

The fierce winter storm that kept a third of the U.S. population indoors this past weekend has slowed auto sales, according to analyst and car makers.

As residents of the U.S. East Coast dig out from Winter Storm Jonas, which dumped more than two feet of snow in major urban areas from New York City to the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. appears to have flattened total new vehicle sales, according to estimates prepared by TrueCar, Inc. of Santa Monica, California.

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TrueCar expects total new vehicle sales, including fleet deliveries, will be flat from a year ago, notching a 0.3% decline. (more…)

New, Active Safety Tech Reducing Rear-End Crashes by As Much as 40%

New study finds “significant” benefits from auto-braking and collision warning technology.

by on Jan.28, 2016

An illustration by Mercedes shows how radar-based Emergency Auto Braking works.

New active safety systems, such as forward collision warning and emergency auto-braking, are having a major impact on the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities, according to police reports from the U.S.

According to a deep dive conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, automatic braking systems yield a 40% reduction in rear-end crashes, while collision warning systems alone have cut the collision rate by 23%. The IIHS study estimates that if all vehicles on the road were equipped with these technologies, that would have prevented about 700,000 police-reported rear-end crashes in 2013.

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“The success of front crash prevention represents a big step toward safer roads,” says David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer. “As this technology becomes more widespread, we can expect to see noticeably fewer rear-end crashes. The same goes for the whiplash injuries that often result from these crashes and can cause a lot of pain and lost productivity.”

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Fiat Chrysler Using Jeep to Blaze New Trail to Profitability

Plans call for expansion of Jeep, Ram brands.

by on Jan.27, 2016

FCA chief Sergio Marchionne laid out the maker's plans for the next several years for analysts.

With low oil prices and the slowdown of the Chinese economy, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to put greater emphasis on Jeep, stretch out its ambitious plans for Alfa Romeo and build more trucks from its existing plants without disrupting production of its best-selling models.

Sergio Marchionne, FCA’s chief executive officer, acknowledging that the North American markets is critical to the company, said the company will continue move away from building passenger cars, such as the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, as it finds a way to build a new generation of sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks with new powertrains demanded by regulators around the world.

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“We have decided, from the manufacturing standpoint, to de-focus on passenger car market,” he said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Wednesday. “There are two cars in particular, the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, which will run their course.” (more…)

Toyota Retains Global Sales Lead for 2015

But Japanese maker expects slight slip in sales for 2016.

by on Jan.27, 2016

The new Corolla remained the world's best-selling car in 2015, setting a new record.

Toyota has kept the global sales crown firmly planted on its corporate head – at least for now.

The Japanese giant managed to deliver 10.151 million vehicles in 2015, giving it the lead for the fourth year in a row, ahead of Volkswagen AG which, in turn, narrowly nudged past General Motors. But things might get a little tougher for Toyota in 2016, President Akio Toyoda forecasting a slight decline in sales over the course of this year.

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Perhaps the biggest question is how well Volkswagen will fare as it struggles to recover from a diesel emissions scandal that has seen its sales slip around the world in recent months. The German maker is currently unable to sell the diesel models that make up a quarter of its volume in the U.S. market.

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Fiat Chrysler Earnings Slide 40%

Major product realignment set to take place.

by on Jan.27, 2016

Jeep was one of the few real bright spots for Fiat Chrysler last year, especially in the US.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles fourth quarter earnings tumbled by 40%, to $2.2 billion, during the fourth quarter, and for the full-year – a decline would have been even more severe without the contribution of exotic sports carmaker Ferrari, which FCA recently spun off.

The automaker’s results were hammered by slowing global sales, especially in both Latin America, though it did finally get its Jeep brand back into contention with the opening of a new assembly plant in China. And Jeep again scored well in the U.S. where plunging oil prices have spurred a surge in demand for utility vehicles.

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The earnings report was released just hours before FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne was set to reveal a product shake-up designed to adjust to changing global market conditions, including the slowdown in the long-booming Chinese market. Among other things, that is likely to mean a slower ramp-up for the long-struggling Alfa Romeo brand, with more emphasis on Jeep and other truck and utility vehicle lines.

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Gas Prices Remain Low Despite Storms

West Coast only area over $2 per gallon pricing.

by on Jan.27, 2016

Gas prices are below $2 a gallon across the country due to low crude prices with only the West Coast still above $2.

Even as intense winter storms system swept through the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, the price of gasoline continued to drop across the United States, according to new survey from AAA.

Average gas prices have spent 25 consecutive days below $2 per gallon and could head lower still as reduced seasonal demand and falling crude oil costs combine to send pump prices to the lowest mark in six years.

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Today’s average price of $1.83 per gallon is the cheapest price since January 2009, and retail averages have fallen for 69 of the past 80 days for a total savings of 40 cents per gallon over this span, AAA reported. (more…)

200 MPH Jaguar F-Type SVR to Make Geneva Debut

New model looks to do 0 to 60 in less than four seconds.

by on Jan.27, 2016

The new Jaguar F-Type SVR is expected to make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show.

Jaguar is set to crack the 200 mph barrier with the debut of the new F-Type SVR at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The British maker has acknowledged the upcoming debut of the sports car’s latest iteration. What it’s not quite ready to confirm is that the Jaguar F-Type SVR will match the 0 to 60 times of the limited-edition Project 7 hypercar. That would mean something on the order of 3.6 seconds, according to reports out of the UK.

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“The new F-Type SVR is the first series production Jaguar car to be developed by Special Vehicle Operations and benefits from everything we know about precision engineering, performance and design,” said John Edwards, managing director, Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations. (more…)

Elio Motors Launches National Ad Campaign

But production still many months away – if funding can be found.

by on Jan.27, 2016

Elio Motors takes another step toward reality with an ad campaign featuring two television commercials.

Expect to start seeing a flurry of ads from start-up automaker Elio Motors pitching the company’s unusual, three-wheeled model it plans to start selling for a base price of $6,800.

That is, of course, subject to a few caveats. For one thing, the Elio two-seater won’t go on sale until “late 2016,” the company says. And even that target date is a big if, company founder Paul Elio acknowledged during an interview at the L.A. Auto Show last November, noting that he has yet to come close to raising the capital needed to put the 84-mpg vehicle into production.

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It appears one of the goals of the new national ad campaign is to not just get more folks to place reservations on the Elio website, but also to use any new burst of interest to help convince potential lenders and investors to come onboard. (more…)

GMC Says X Marks the Spot with New Sierra All Terrain X

Truck makers keep wondering how high is up for upscale buyers.

by on Jan.27, 2016

The 2016 GMC Sierra All Terrain X adds even more luxury to the off-road ready pickup truck segment.

First shown as a 2011 concept, the GMC Sierra All Terrain was designed to show that serious off-road-ready pickups didn’t have to be stripped to the bone.

The production version, which debuted in mid-2015, stayed true to form, offering such niceties as leather-trimmed seats with accent stitching, an onboard WiFi hotspot and, of course, standard four-wheel-drive.

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Apparently that wasn’t enough for some potential buyers in a truck market that has absolutely caught fire, and General Motors’ truck brand is coming back with an even more premium version, the GMC Sierra All Terrain X, making its debut at the Houston Auto Show today. (more…)