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Archive for March, 2016

Ram Boss Says Room for Two in Midsize Truck Line-Up

Jeep Wrangler-based option already in the works.

by on Mar.31, 2016

Are Fiat Chrysler officials considering adding a second midsize pickup to its line-up for the Ram brand?

Fiat Chrysler wouldn’t be the first automaker ever to change course.

After months of denying it has any interest in returning to the midsize truck segment that is expanding like wildfire an FCA official hinted at the possibility of not one offering but two.

Truck News!

“I think there’s opportunity there in the US if you look at what’s happened in the mid-size segment here – significant growth last year,” Jeep and Ram boss Mike Manley told the Detroit News. (more…)

Americans Driving Farther – But Dying Faster – on U.S. Highways

Motorists clock record 3.15 trillion miles in 2015.

by on Mar.31, 2016

Americans set a new record for driving in 2015 with 3.15 trillion miles traveled.

Americans drove more than ever last year, clocking a record 3.148 trillion miles behind the wheel, according to new data from the Federal Highway Administration – but it appears that they’re also dying in larger numbers, with preliminary crash data showing a sharp reversal of a decade-long downward trend in highway fatalities.

The jump in the number of miles Americans are driving comes at a time of increased economic activity, particularly in the auto industry, which sold a record 17.5 million vehicles last year, a 5.7% increase over 2014. And while many observers had expected the numbers to flatten out this year, demand has maintained a torrid pace.

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Exactly why Americans are driving more is unclear, however, Federal Highway Administration spokesman Doug Hecox telling the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “We just know there are more cars out there and they’re going farther.” (more…)

Airbag Recalls Could Cost Takata $24 Bil

Report sends Japanese supplier’s shares crashing.

by on Mar.31, 2016

A new report suggests that it could cost Takata as much as $24 billion to resolve its airbag recall.

With safety regulators considering whether to order the recall of all Takata airbags using ammonium nitrate, a new report suggests the Japanese supplier could be on the hook for as much as $24 billion in repair costs.

That astronomical bill has investors running for the exits and, some observers warn, could finally break Takata financially.

Stay in the Loop!

More than 50 million Takata airbags have already been recalled, the majority of them in the United States, due to a defect that can cause them to explode with too much force when triggered by a crash. At least 10 deaths have so far been linked to the problem. But the number could grow to more than 287 million airbags, according to the Bloomberg news service. (more…)

Canada Pumping More than $100M into EV Infrastructure

Nation looking to expand its "green" efforts.

by on Mar.31, 2016

Canada is investing more than $100 million in its EV infrastructure during the next two years.

Under its new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada is looking for ways to increase the sales of electric vehicles to help with the nation’s commitment to fight global warming.

“We believe that a strong commitment to the development of alternative transportation fuel infrastructure, coupled with electric vehicle (EV) incentives offered on a provincial level, will continue to support the adoption of clean technology vehicles in Canada as widespread charging infrastructure and price-competitive EVs help attract consumers to the market,” BMI Research said in a new report.

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The Canadian government’s 2016 Budget proposes to provide 62.5 million Canadian dollars during the next over the next two years to Natural Resources Canada in order to support the deployment of infrastructure for alternative transportation fuels, including charging infrastructure for EVs and natural gas and hydrogen re-fueling stations.  (more…)

Tesla Set for Biggest Risk Yet as it Reveals New Model 3

Will early interest translate into profitable sales?

by on Mar.31, 2016

A shortage of showrooms could prove a problem taking the new Tesla Model 3 mainstream.

Battery-carmaker Tesla Motors is set to make the biggest bet in its short life Thursday night with the official unveiling of the all-new Model 3.

At an estimated price of $35,000, the new sedan will cost less than half as much as the base version of the current Tesla Model S and, if all goes according to plan, transform the California carmaker into a serious mainstream, rather than niche, manufacturer.

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According to some observers, Tesla could very quickly log more than 100,000 early reservations. But not everyone is convinced, one analyst warning that “fundamental headwinds” could prove more substantial than Tesla’s ever-upbeat founder and CEO Elon Musk has anticipated.

(more…)

GM Wins Second Ignition Switch Lawsuit

Verdict could give automaker upper hand in settling remains suits.

by on Mar.30, 2016

General Motors won a second lawsuit in as many months over the role its faulty ignition switches played in an accident.

A jury has ruled that a defective General Motors ignition switch was not to blame for the 2014 crash of a vehicle in New Orleans. The second verdict to favor the automaker in a series of cases being heard in a federal courtroom in New York City, it could improve GM’s position as it looks to settle hundreds of other ignition switch cases.

The first trial was unexpectedly halted when evidence was presented showing the plaintiff lied about his crash and subsequent medical injuries. But four other so-called bellwether cases are yet to be heard by the court.

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“The jurors studied the merits of the case and saw the truth: This was a very minor accident that had absolutely nothing to do with the car’s ignition switch,” said GM, in a statement referring to the 2014 crash of a 2007 Saturn Sky. (more…)

Consumer Reports Offers Up 2016 ‘Bottom Picks’

Low-rated vehicles may have the best incentives, mag warns.

by on Mar.30, 2016

The 2016 Mitsubishi Mirage made the list of Consumer Reports "Bottom Picks." It's lowest-rated subcompact.

Recent sales figures show that U.S. buyers don’t seem to be having any real problem getting out to dealer lots and plunking down big cash on new rides.

Sales figures for the first quarter of the year have the auto industry tracking for another record year, although some softness in March may temper that prediction a bit.

Car Talk!

With gas prices low, large vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs, are still appealing to buyers. However, not everyone is in the market or has the budget for a fully loaded, $45k behemoth. Many buyers are searching for value for their hard-earned dollars. (more…)

Feds Set to Issue Autonomous Vehicle Guidelines

Move seen as critical step in bringing self-driving cars to US market.

by on Mar.30, 2016

U.S. Transportation Foxx, shown here during an appearance at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.

The technology is rapidly falling into place but the biggest challenge could be getting regulators and lawmakers to put into place the rules and laws needed to bring autonomous vehicles to market.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to begin laying out guidelines for self-driving vehicles in the next few months, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced.

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Federal regulators have said that autonomous vehicles could lead to a sharp drop in the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on American highways, and have already taken initial steps to encourage automakers to expand their research into self-driving and advanced safety technologies.

“Technology can help us,” said Foxx, during a meeting in Washington.

(more…)

New Study Finds Big Gaps in Headlights

“Most need improvement,” warns IIHS.

by on Mar.30, 2016

A BMW 3-Series is put through the IIHS headlight test process. The car ranked "poor."

They’re among the most basic safety devices found on every vehicle on the market, yet nearly 120 years after the invention of the electric headlight, most still fall short of effectively lighting the way, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In its first-ever test of headlights, the insurance trade group found only one of the 31 midsize vehicles it tested – the Toyota Prius V, earned a “good” rating, with another 11 rated “acceptable.” The rest of the group were in need of serious improvement, according to the IIHS.

Illuminating!

“If you’re having trouble seeing behind the wheel at night, it could very well be your headlights and not your eyes that are to blame,” said IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer David Zuby.

(more…)

BYD Looks to Triple EV Sales in 2016

China's push for EVs aids maker's quest.

by on Mar.30, 2016

China's BYD is looking to triple it sales to 150,000 units in 2016 compared with last year's results.

BYD Auto, the Chinese electric car company, which counts Warren Buffett among its investors, expects to triple its sales of EV this year with the help of incentives offered by the Chinese government, according to a statement from the company.

The Chinese automaker is already one of the largest builders of electric vehicles in the world and last year built more electric vehicles than rivals Tesla, Ford and General Motors. Only Nissan with its Leaf sold more electric-powered vehicles. In all, BYD delivered 58,000 vehicles in 2015, and expects to sell up to 150,000 vehicles this year.

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Global demand for battery-electric vehicles is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 59.42%, according to a report available from Research and Markets of Dublin, Ireland. But this impressive growth could be even higher if BYD’s sales predictions are correct, the Irish firm suggested. (more…)