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Archive for February, 2016

Risky Behavior Behind the Wheel Running Rampant, Survey Says

AAA poll shows 87% of drivers engaged high-risk behavior in last month.

by on Feb.25, 2016

A new survey shows 87% of drivers engage in risky behavior, including talking on the phone while driving.

Almost no one behind the wheel is above the law these days, according to a new survey that shows 87% of drivers engaged in “risky behavior” behind the wheel in the last 30 days.

With all of the reports about texting while driving, eating during a commute and other distractions, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report isn’t all that surprising; however, it’s not limited to distracted driving. It includes impaired or drowsy driving, speeding, running red lights and not wearing seat belts.

Safety News!

As is often the case, the cause of an auto accident – and subsequent injuries or deaths – is often avoidable if the driver focuses on the task at hand. (more…)

Farewell to the Phantom, as Rolls-Royce Readies a New Flagship

All future models to be based on lightweight aluminum.

by on Feb.25, 2016

It's the end of the road for the Rolls-Royce Phantom, with a new flagship planned for 2018.

If you’ve been saving your pennies and now have enough to buy a Rolls-Royce Phantom, you better move fast. One of the world’s most luxurious automobiles — and, at a base price of $386,000, one of the most expensiveis about to go out of production.

The current version, anyway. But the Rolls Phantom isn’t going to vanish entirely. A new version of the sedan will make its debut in 2018, and it will mark some major changes at the British-based automaker. Helped by German parent BMW, Rolls-Royce intends to switch all future models, starting with the eighth-generation Phantom, from steel to lighter aluminum frames.

Product News!

The goal is to come up with a “contemporary and beautiful Phantom enhanced with cutting-edge technologies and design innovations,” explained Rolls CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes.

(more…)

Nissan Disables Leaf App to Lock Out Hackers

Researchers warn of vulnerability in remote control app.

by on Feb.25, 2016

Nissan increased the range of the 2016 Leaf.

Nissan has temporarily disabled a smartphone app designed to allow owners of the Leaf battery-electric vehicle to remotely operate various functions, such as the vehicle’s charging and climate control system.

The problem is that the app, known as NissanConnect EV, could enable hackers to access the vehicle, as well, simply by getting hold of a Leaf’s vehicle identification number, or VIN.

Security!

In a blog post, Nissan said the move allows the estimated 200,000 Leaf owners worldwide to “continue to use their cars safely and with total confidence. The only functions that are affected are those controlled via the mobile phone – all of which are still available to be used manually, as with any standard vehicle.”

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From Insight to NSX and Beyond: Green Cars to Dominate at Honda

Two-thirds of all models to use hydrogen, battery power by 2030.

by on Feb.25, 2016

Honda Chief Executive Officer Takahiro Hachigo helping introduce the Honda Clarity.

Two cars couldn’t seem more unlike one another. Yet the Honda Insight and Acura NSX have a lot in common – and they’re trailblazing the path being laid out by Honda’s new CEO Takahiro Hachigo.

Though one car focuses on fuel economy, the other on performance, both rely on gas-electric hybrid powertrains, Insight and NSX underscoring Honda Motor Co.’s plan to have hydrogen and battery-powered vehicles account for two-thirds of its line-up by 2030. Today, so-called “new-energy” vehicles make up just 5% of the Japanese automaker’s model mix.

Electrifying!

“We want to focus our development resources for electrification,” Hachigo said during a Tokyo news conference that marks the start of his second year at the helm of Japan’s third-largest automaker.

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BMW, Toyota Most Admired Auto Companies, Forbes Says

Apple, Alphabet take top overall spots in survey.

by on Feb.25, 2016

The jointly developed charging stations by BMW and Nissan are part of the reason the German maker was one of the 100 most admired companies.

Unless you are now counting Apple and Alphabet, the parent company of Google’s automotive unit, as car companies now that they have begun investing in the motor industry, Toyota and BMW were the only automakers on Fortune Magazine new list of the 100 “Most Admired” companies in the world.

Apple and Alphabet/Google, two of the world’s leading technology companies, ranked one and two on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Admired companies.

The Journal of Record!

BMW finished 18th and Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, ranked number 28 out of all companies surveyed and was in the top 10 in both talent and running a global business in the survey. (more…)

First Look: 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe

Expanding the reach for AMG wannabes.

by on Feb.24, 2016

The new Mercedes-AMG C43 coupe boasts a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 punching out 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque.

Daimler AG is yet again expanding its performance car line-up, and with the addition of the 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 coupe, it is also bringing the sub-brand into a more affordable niche than the current AMG C63 model.

Though not as radically upgraded, the new C43 coupe nonetheless boasts some impressive numbers, its 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 punching out 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque – enough to get you from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Product News!

As with any model wearing the AMG badge, of course, the 2017 C43 boasts a number of body, suspension and chassis revisions designed to improve handling and ride, as well as straight-line acceleration. The C43 also gets one thing missing from its more powerful sibling. Unlike the C63, it also gets the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. (more…)

Takata Lied to Conceal Airbag Problems, Senate Panel Finds

“Unsupportable” claims; “misrepresentation” of facts.

by on Feb.24, 2016

A new Senate committee report claims Takata has known about the problems with its airbags and falsified record to hide the problem from investigators.

Even as researchers finally zeroed in on the cause of deadly Takata airbag failures, a Senate committee laid out some explosive charges against the Japanese auto supplier.

Citing internal documents, the report published by the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation shows Takata engaged in a pattern of falsifying test data and incorrectly reporting on the scope of the airbag defect, something that likely reduced the number of vehicles targeted for recall.

Safety News!

The results of the year-long research study and other evidence provided to the Senate and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could lead to yet another ramp-up of that recall effort. As many as 50 million more vehicles could be targeted. To date, about 25 million have been recalled, making this the largest service action in U.S. automotive history. (more…)

Reliability Woes Worsen, Warns New J.D. Power Study

Tech issues now make up 20% of reported problems.

by on Feb.24, 2016

Lexus topped the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, the 2013 GS also a segment winner.

Two things seem to be true about the newest cars coming to market these days: they’re likely to have lots more high-tech features than the vehicles they replace. But they’re also likely to have more reliability issues, largely as a result of problems with those new tech features, according to J.D. Power’s 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study.

The VDS queried owners of 2013 model-year vehicles and found that, on average, dependability dropped 3% year-over-year. It found that one in five of the problems owners reported involved audio, communication, entertainment and navigation technology. Collectively known by the acronym ACEN, these systems are, collectively, the single largest source of trouble owners reported.

Power Up!

“The increase in technology-related problems has two sources,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive research at J.D. Power. “Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration of these features has increased year over year.”

(more…)

Acura Set to Debut 2017 MDX at NY Auto Show

New design language debuts; new powertrain option may be in the works.

by on Feb.24, 2016

A rendering of the 2017 Acura MDX.

After giving us a tease of its new styling direction with the Precision Concept at the Detroit Auto Show last month, Acura is about to show us what that actually will translate into. The first new model to pick up on the new design language will be the 2017 Acura MDX making its debut at the New York International Auto Show next month.

The MDX isn’t due for a complete makeover until around 2020, but the ute scheduled for a Big Apple unveiling appears to be more than the typical, mid-cycle makeover, picking up a number of design details first seen on the Acura show car.

Product News!

“We are sharpening our focus on the Precision Crafted Performance DNA of the Acura brand and the 2017 MDX will integrate new styling elements and powertrain technology that takes us another step in that direction,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

(more…)

Unions Ratcheting Up Pressure on Volkswagen

Union looking to use current emission crisis for leverage.

by on Feb.24, 2016

The UAW has enlisted the help of the AFL-CIO to pressure Volkswagen to recognize the auto union at its plant in Tennessee.

The executive council of the AFL-CIO, at the request of the United Auto Workers, has challenged Volkswagen AG’s management to live up to its stated corporate principles.

“The diesel emissions scandal at Volkswagen has called into question the principles the company has touted: environmental protection, sustainability and social responsibility. The damage done by the deception perpetrated on its customers will take a long time to heal,” the AFL-CIO noted in a statement.

Union News!

“To regain the trust of its stakeholders,” the statement continued. “Volkswagen must make corporate social responsibility more than just a slogan and a public relations strategy. (more…)