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Archive for June, 2016

Missouri Building Solar Panels into Pavement Along Old Route 66

This “could be the first road in history ever to pay for itself.”

by on Jun.30, 2016

The Solar Roadways blocks are also pressure sensitive and could light up to highlight a large animal or pedestrian crossing the road.

One of the most famous roads from America’s past could soon become the highway of the future, at least if a project launched by the Missouri Department of Transportation pans out.

MoDOT, as its locally known, plans to become the first public highway department to test out a new type of pavement that not only replaces conventional concrete and asphalt but which also can generate electricity through built in solar panels. The technology was developed by an Idaho-based start-up called Solar Roadways.

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“If the solar roadway concept proves to be feasible it creates electricity and could be the first road in history to ever pay for itself,” said Tom Blair, the team leader on Missouri’s Road to Tomorrow initiative, which was created two years ago to find ways to increase the state’s investment in its roadway infrastructure without raising taxes.

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Three of Four Drivers Want Autonomous Vehicles

AlixPartners believes autonomous vehicles will save $325 billion.

by on Jun.30, 2016

Google continues to expand its ongoing testing program for self-driving vehicles and its recognition as the leading autonomous vehicle company in the U.S.

As many as 73% of American drivers are willing to slide behind the wheel, or big red button, of an autonomous vehicle, according to a new survey by AlixPartners, marking a significant uptick in the level of acceptance of the self-drivers.

Not only are more U.S. motorists ready, they’re willing to pay for it. In fact, 80% of those surveyed said they’d pay more for one. In fact, 10% claimed they would shell out an additional $5,000 for a self-driving vehicle that they would use in all facets of their lives.

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On the surface, this level of acceptance appears to be a striking shift in attitudes about level of trust drivers are willing to place in autonomous vehicles, despite the fact that 96% of drivers surveyed have no experience with these vehicles. However, Mark Wakefield, head of AlixPartners automotive practice, noted that difference was in the questions. He noted that as part of the process, the respondents were given specifics about autonomous vehicles and then asked questions about that information. (more…)

New Cars Becoming Unaffordable, Study Claims

Living in a major city can make vehicle ownership tough.

by on Jun.30, 2016

A new study says that today's families cannot afford the vehicles designed specifically for them, such as the Chrysler Pacifica.

If you live in one of the top 50 U.S. cities, it’s unlikely you can afford to buy a new vehicle, according to a new research study.

Bankrate.com believes that a median-income household cannot afford the average priced new car or light truck in any of the 50 largest cities in the country. The average price of a new car or light truck in 2016 was $33,865, according to Kelley Blue Book.

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“People are spending far too much money on their cars,” said Steve Pounds, personal finance analyst at Bankrate.com. “There are many safe, affordable and stylish options on the market for people to choose from that won’t cut into more important budget items; such as college funds and retirement savings.” (more…)

Plug-Based Car Sales Set for Rapid Growth, Says New Study

Expansion coming despite low gas prices.

by on Jun.30, 2016

The 2016 Chevy Volt improved its battery-only range from 38 miles to 53 miles. Plug-based car sales are expected to jump this year.

It’s been tough times for makers of battery-based vehicles. With cheap gas, demand for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles took a sharp tumble in 2015, the first significant decline since the beginning of the decade.

But with new, longer-range and more affordable products set to come to market, demand is looking to rebound, even if gas prices don’t climb, according to a new study by Navigant Research. Sales of plug-based models should grow 62% year-over-year, to about 200,000 sales in 2016, said the Navigant study.

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A key to that is the arrival of products like the Chevrolet Bolt, said Scott Shepard, a senior research analyst. “The long-range BEV (or battery-electric vehicle) is a marked achievement in the industry.” (more…)

Mitsubishi Hints at High-End Plug-in with Ground Tourer Concept

New show car could signal big ute above the current Outlander line.

by on Jun.30, 2016

PHEV will debut at Paris Motor Show.

The 2016 auto show circuit has barely wrapped up but we’re already getting a first hint of what’s to come for the start of the 2017 season when Mitsubishi will roll into the Paris Motor Show with a new, high-end SUV concept.

Make that a premium plug-in prototype dubbed the Mitsubishi Ground Tourer, something the automaker calls “the latest expression of (its) design ambitions.”

All in the Concept!

Targeted to ride above the Mitsubishi Outlander, the Ground Tourer concept also “further expresses” the struggling Japanese automaker’s push into battery-electric propulsion, with a plug-in hybrid driveline meant to deliver “effortless cruising in all driving conditions on and off-road.”

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Toyota Leads Automotive Innovation Pack

Japanese maker earns more patents than any other maker.

by on Jun.30, 2016

Toyota earned more patents in 2015 than any other automaker. It was the second year in a row the company pulled off the feat.

For the second consecutive year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued more patents to Toyota designers and engineers than to any other automaker, according to a new report by the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

Toyota is the only automaker listed among the top 20 on the IPO list. Other key innovators in the top 20 include Apple, Google, IBM and Microsoft. In 2015, Toyota received 1,636 patents and in the last eight years has been awarded more patents than any other automotive company, the report noted.

Tech Talk!

“As companies in the automotive industry transform themselves into broader mobility providers, no auto company better demonstrates innovation and technology for the future than Toyota,” said Jeff Makarewicz, senior vice president, Toyota Technical Center (TTC), Toyota’s North American research & development headquarters. (more…)

The most “American” car on the road? Toyota Camry

Want to buy American and keep it for a while? Go for a Ford.

by on Jun.29, 2016

The 2016 Toyota Camry is the "most American" car in the United States, according to Cars.com's latest American-Made Index.

For the second year in a row the Toyota Camry is the “most American” vehicle on U.S. roadways, according to Cars.com’s annual American-Made Index.

The index determines the most American vehicle based on factors such as American-made parts content, location of the final build and overall sales. In order to get on the list, vehicles must have at least 75% of their parts produced domestically.

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This is the stumbling block for most vehicles. In fact, only eight vehicles made this year’s list, and five of the eight come from foreign nameplates. The last time an American vehicle topped the list was in 2014 when the Ford F-150 was top dog; however, less than 75% of its components are made in the U.S. (more…)

Q&A: When Will VW Start Writing Checks?

Don't expect money to start flowing until Autumn.

by on Jun.29, 2016

VW will offer buybacks on 475,000 diesel cars.

Volkswagen is settling charges that it rigged 475,000 diesel vehicles to cover up the fact that they don’t meet U.S. emissions standards. The $14.7 billion settlement includes about $10 billion that, according to federal regulators, will be used to compensate owners and get the faulty vehicles off the road.

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When will payments begin and who qualifies for compensation and the planned buyback? Can owners keep their vehicles if they prefer? Here’s what you’ll need to know:

What did VW agree to and why?

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All New Lincolns to Get Standard Pickup and Delivery

New service to debut with launch of 2017 Lincoln Continental.

by on Jun.29, 2016

Lincoln will launch the new program with the Continental, then add it to other models.

Ford’s Lincoln brand has been looking for a mix of products and services that can help it to stand out in a crowded field of luxury competitors, and the latest move will make it the first automaker to offer standard pickup and delivery service on all of its 2017 models, from the little MKC crossover to the new Continental sedan coming later this year.

A handful of automakers have added free pickup and delivery for vehicles going in for service, but that’s often done at the local dealer’s discretion, or may only apply to specific models – usually at the upper end of a manufacturer’s price spectrum.

What a Luxury!

“Lincoln Pickup and Delivery service revolves around complementing our luxury vehicles with outstanding luxury experiences,” said Andrew Frick, Lincoln North American director of sales and service. “This kind of Quiet Luxury provides an exclusive and personally crafted service experience that enhances their lifestyle and saves them what is a true luxury item — their time.”

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Toyota Recalling 3.4 Mil Prius Hybrids, Other Models

Worldwide effort targets airbags, faulty emissions systems.

by on Jun.29, 2016

A 2012 Toyota Prius. Some versions of the popular hybrid suffer from both of the defects.

Toyota Motor Co. will recall 3.37 million vehicles due to a series of safety and emissions problems, the world’s largest automaker announced on Wednesday.

The global service action includes 2.87 million vehicles with faulty emissions control units. A faulty airbag inflator was installed in 1.43 million cars. Some of the popular Toyota Prius hybrids suffer from both problems which is why the actual total number of vehicles affected by the recall comes in at 3.37 million.

Safety News!

The airbag problem involves a faulty system that may partially inflate without a crash, creating the risk of injury. Toyota noted that the defective system was provided Autoliv, and not by Takata Corp., the Japanese airbag supplier now responsible for the largest recall in automotive history.

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