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Archive for December, 2016

Ford Tripling Size of Autonomous Test Fleet

Next-generation test vehicle to debut at CES.

by on Dec.28, 2016

Ford is tripling the size of its autonomous fleet in 2017 as it plans to make an autonomous vehicle ready for the public by 2021.

With a goal of launching its first completely driverless cars by 2021, Ford Motor Co. will triple the size of its test fleet next year, the automaker announced on Wednesday.

The automaker offered a sneak peek at the next-generation Fusion Hybrid sedans it will use in its test fleet. Currently, there are 30 of those vehicles in operation in Arizona, California and Michigan. The fleet will reach 90 vehicles by the end of 2017.

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“The new vehicle uses the current Ford autonomous vehicle platform, but ups the processing power with new computer hardware,” Ford said in a statement. “Electrical controls are closer to production-ready, and adjustments to the sensor technology, including placement, allow the car to better see what’s around it.” (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Offers Hint of CES Plans

But maker also expected to reveal fully electric prototype.

by on Dec.28, 2016

Fiat Chrysler is expected to debut an all-electric vehicle at CES next week, and it's believed to be a Pacifica EV.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will unveil an array of new high-tech infotainment systems during the maker’s first-ever news conference at the big CES event in Las Vegas next week.

FCA issued a statement detailing the new digital systems on Wednesday, technology that includes the latest Uconnect infotainment system, as well as new features developed specifically for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan.

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But the automaker’s biggest announcement remains under wraps. It is widely expected to reveal an all-new, long-range battery-electric vehicle that could compete with the likes of the new Chevrolet Bolt EV and the upcoming Tesla Model 3. (more…)

GM Invests in Wireless Charging Start-Up

Maker testing out wireless charging prototype.

by on Dec.27, 2016

GM has invested in WiTricity and its wireless charging technology for electric vehicles.

General Motors is teaming up with WiTricity, a Boston-based start-up company that has developed a system for wirelessly charging electric vehicles.

GM plans to test WiTricity’s prototype wireless charging system, which allows a driver to simply pull into his or her garage and automatically receive power from a source below the vehicle, GM officials confirmed.

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“Wireless charging is a technology that our customers have told us they are interested in,” said Pamela Fletcher, GM executive chief engineer – Electrified Vehicles. (more…)

Profits Tumbling, Hyundai on Cost-Cutting Binge

Lack of SUVs the bigger challenge.

by on Dec.27, 2016

Hyundai let its U.S. Chief Dave Zuchowski, shown at the launch of the 2015 Sonata, amidst several changes the maker is tackling.

Sales slipping, profits tumbling, Hyundai is taking some drastic steps to shore things up.

Just days before the annual industry break, the Korean carmaker gave Dave Zuchowski, the CEO of its U.S. operations, his walking papers. But it has also been making a series of moves closer to home aimed at reining in spending.

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Hyundai Motor Group CEOs are taking 10% pay cuts, according to a report by the Reuters news service, while the company is scaling back flights for Korean workers stationed abroad who normally head home for the holidays on the company’s expense. (more…)

Best Classic Cars to Buy in 2017

From affordable SUVs to exotic supercars.

by on Dec.27, 2016

Hagerty Insurance warns early '70s Dodge Challengers won't be affordable to collectors much longer.

Have an urge to put something classic in your garage – perhaps something that also might gain a little value in the years ahead?

America has long had a love affair with the automobile, and that’s all the more obvious when you realize how many folks collect cars. It can be an expensive hobby, especially if you’re looking for something truly rare and exotic. On the other hand, maybe you’re just looking for something relatively common that just has a personal meaning.

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Every year, the folks at Hagerty Insurance come up with a list of their picks for the best classic cars to buy in the year ahead. The list for 2017 focuses on cars that, “are poised to be strong investments in terms of value growth and smiles-per-dollar. (more…)

China Hits GM With Fine Some See as Shot at Trump

Detroit maker accused of price-fixing – but other factors could be in play.

by on Dec.23, 2016

An SGM assembly line in Shanghai.

General Motors has been slapped with a $29 million fine for what the Chinese government is describing as monopolistic pricing – but which some observers believe has much to do with growing friction between China and the incoming Trump Administration.

According to government-linked China Central Television, General Motors joint venture with local maker SAIC, SGM, had been illegally setting a floor on prices for a number of Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac models.

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The investigation had been underway before the recent U.S. election, but a number of observers have suggested that the decision to levy a fine against the largest American automaker was meant to be seen as a warning shot at a time when the incoming administration is suggesting it may shift the country’s position on Chinese trade and political issues.

(more…)

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Wind Up in Arizona

"Arizona welcomes Uber...with open arms and wide open roads.”

by on Dec.23, 2016

Uber moved its autonomous vehicle fleet from San Francisco to Arizona.

Wondering what’s happened to the 16 autonomous Volvo XC90s Uber pulled off the streets of San Francisco this week? Rather than park the prototypes, the ride-sharing giant has decided to take them to Arizona.

Uber kicked off a storm when, on Dec. 14, it began testing the vehicles in the City by the Bay without the necessary permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The agency quickly pulled the registrations on the autonomous vehicles, forcing them off the road. Uber also took heat when reports surfaced revealing the vehicles had violated numerous traffic laws, among other things running red lights.

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While Uber admitted it had to fix a “problem” with its software, it made it clear it wasn’t abandoning its effort to develop autonomous technology. An initial statement from the company suggested it might move to another part of California, but Uber now says it will head to another state that does not require permits for testing. (more…)

VW Reaches Diesel Deal as Judge Warns Owners Not to Strip Cars Before Buyback

$2 Bil settlement covers 80,000 vehicles; includes 20,000 buybacks.

by on Dec.23, 2016

Volkswagen's plan for its 3.0-liter diesels includes buying back some 20,000 units.

Volkswagen has locked down a $2 billion deal covering 80,000 vehicles equipped with its rigged 3.0-liter turbodiesel, a federal judge in San Francisco has confirmed.

The settlement, accepted by plaintiffs representing VW, Porsche and Audi owners, will include the buyback of as many as 20,000 of those vehicles. But U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer issued a stern warning to those owners not to strip those cars and crossovers before attempting to qualify for the buyback.

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According to a report on Jalopnik, a Cincinnati man “completely stripped” his 2010 VW Golf diesel – which was covered by an earlier settlement involving 475,000 vehicles with 2.0-liter engines. The man reportedly removed even the hood, bumpers and seats, along with “a big portion of the interior.” VW rejected his car which could have gotten as much as $15,557 under the buyback. (more…)

US New Car Sales for 2016 Expected to Set Another Record

Analyst predicting a 5K-vehicle bump over 2015.

by on Dec.23, 2016

Analysts are predicting 2016 will be a record-setting year for new vehicle sales in the U.S.

With a strong finish, the total new light vehicle sales in 2016 are expected to reach a 17.5 million units, setting a new record and eclipsing the mark set only a year earlier, analysts predict.

Light-vehicle sales in 2016 are expected to reach a record 17.5 million vehicles, surpassing the previous high set in 2015 by 5,000 units, according to a forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

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Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note this week that U.S. auto sales are tracking at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17.6 million units in December, up 2.4% year-over-year in absolute units, adjusted for one fewer selling day. (more…)

Kia Ready to Spice Up Hot Hatch Market with New Picanto

Maker replacing Rio with updated model.

by on Dec.22, 2016

Kia is offering up an artist's take on its new subcompact hatchback, the Picanto. It plans to reveal the new model early next year.

Kia is looking to make a little noise above and beyond its new sports car, the Stinger, it plans to show off at the Detroit Auto Show — with the new Picanto.

The South Korean automaker released some artist renderings of the new A-segment city car it plans to reveal sometime early next year. No word if that reveal will come at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit or perhaps in Chicago, Geneva or even New York.

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It could be after the Detroit auto show, which would allow the maker’s new Stinger to enjoy the spotlight alone. (more…)