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Archive for August, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Hammers Auto Industry, Motorists Across U.S.

Gas prices surge as refineries close; up to 500,000 vehicles destroyed.

by on Aug.30, 2017

Experts believe Harvey will have destroyed twice as many vehicles as Superstorm Sandy.

After turning back out to sea and regaining strength, what’s left of Hurricane Harvey slammed back into the Gulf Coast early Wednesday, promising to further the devastation it has also wreaked on large portions of coastal Texas.

What is now a tropical storm ran ashore near the Louisiana-Texas border, an area where a major share of U.S. petroleum refineries operate. The country’s largest, the Motiva facility in Port Arthur, Texas, began shutting down “in response to increasing local flood conditions,” the refinery announced. It isn’t expected to reopen until flood waters recede – which could take time considering “the whole city is underwater right now,” Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman said in an overnight post on Facebook.

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The second coming of Harvey is likely to mean further devastation from an automotive standpoint. Already, authorities estimate that as many as 500,000 vehicles have been destroyed by the storm, some by wind damage but most due to flooding. That is expected to start driving up used car prices across the country though it could also help boost demand for new vehicles at a time when the U.S. new car market had been falling into a slump. (more…)

Mini Set to Unveil New EV in Frankfurt

British maker adds Electric Concept to long list of debuts.

by on Aug.30, 2017

Mini's new Electric Concept will make its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.

The number of electric vehicles ready to make their debut next month at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show continues to grow as Mini announced it preparing to show its Electric Concept at the event.

Given Mini’s history, the introduction of the electric Mini represents something of a third act for the company. In its first iteration, the Mini was an affordable staple of the British automobile era; however, it disappeared after the British companies were broken up and sold off in the 1980s.

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The second act was its re-emergence in the late 1990s with coaching from its new owner, BMW, the German premium brand. (more…)

Nissan Floats New Armada, Adds “Intelligent” Mirror

System helps driver see around interior obstacles.

by on Aug.30, 2017

Nissan will become the first to offer a camera-based mirror as standard gear on the Armada.

All hands on deck. Nissan is offering some notable options for the 2018 Armada SUV, including he brand’s first “Intelligent Rear View Mirror.”

The technology uses a remote camera to allow a motorist to see around obstacles inside the three-row, eight-passenger cabin, images displayed on an LCD monitor built into the conventional rearview mirror. While Cadillac already offers a similar system on several of its own models, Nissan is the first to make a smart mirror standard equipment on any vehicle.

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“Not since a magic mirror of children’s fables has a mirror seemed to have such special powers as the new I-RVM,” said Michael Bunce, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc. “It provides a clear, expanded field of view under a wide range of conditions – giving the driver the best possible view of the rear flanks no matter how tall the passengers in the back seat or how many balloons you have to take to that party.”

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New Vehicle Buyers Less Satisfied With Their Cars

Toyota and Lexus take top spot in index.

by on Aug.29, 2017

Toyota is making customers happy with its new products as it took the top spot in the new ACSI.

Americans are buying nearly as many new vehicles as ever, but a new study shows they less satisfied with what they’re getting.

According to the latest results of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, driver satisfaction is down 1.2% to a score of 81 on the ACSI’s scale of 0 to 100. Domestic brands led the decline in scores.

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Despite General Motors’ improvement — its score rose to 82 — U.S.-based brands fell below the average with Ford down to 81, followed by Fiat Chrysler at 77. Toyota and Lexus tied for top honors with an 86 — slight increases over last year’s results. (more…)

Volvo’s Top Executives Swapping Jobs

Move is designed to help company's long-term planning.

by on Aug.29, 2017

Lex Kerssemakers is taking over the leadership of the company's EMEA car business.

With the company heading for record sales again this year, Volvo Cars is switching up its senior management team with a move with implications for the automaker’s succession planning.

Volvo said the Senior Vice Presidents for the Americas region and for Europe, the Middle East and Africa will switch jobs.

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Effective Sept. 15, Lex Kerssemakers will be responsible for the EMEA region. He was previously Senior Vice President for Volvo Americas and President and CEO of Volvo Cars USA. Kerssemakers will be replaced in the Americas by Anders Gustafsson, who was Head of EMEA. (more…)

Renault-Nissan Join Growing List of Automakers Setting Up Chinese EV Operations

Euro-Japanese Alliance partnering with China’s Dongfeng.

by on Aug.29, 2017

The next-generation Nissan Leaf was recently spotted, sans camouflage, in Spain.

With the Chinese government pressing the auto industry to shift to electrified vehicles, a growing number of automakers are launching new ventures specifically to produce battery-electric models. To that list you can now add the Renault-Nissan Alliance and its Chinese partner, Dongfeng Motor Corp.

They plan to create a new joint venture, eGT New Energy Automotive Co., Ltd., that will develop an entirely new battery-electric vehicle which, according to a statement by the partners, will feature “intelligent interconnectivity.” Production is set to begin at the Dongfeng plant in Shiyan in 2019.

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“The establishment of the new joint venture with Dongfeng confirms our common commitment to develop competitive electric vehicles for the Chinese market,” said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

(more…)

Skip the Tip: Domino’s, Ford Team Up to Test Driverless Pizza Delivery

Will customers be willing to walk the "last 50 feet"?

by on Aug.29, 2017

Ford and Domino's are partnering in a test program to deliver pizzas using autonomous vehicles.

Ford and Domino’s are teaming up to test out the idea of using autonomous vehicles for home delivery of the fast food chain’s pizzas. The project, which will be run in Domino’s hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is aimed at gaining insight into how hungry customers will react when a delivery truck shows up without a driver behind the wheel.

On the plus side, there’ll be no tipping. And customers will learn when their pizza’s delivered by text, rather than a ring of the doorbell. But that means they’ll have to go outside and punch a code into keypad to retrieve their hot pies.

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“The majority of our questions” that Domino’s has been fielding about the service “are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience,” said Domino’s President Russell Weiner. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT

A sporty hatchback in a sea of crossovers.

by on Aug.29, 2017

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT is a new hatchback that gives the maker a chance against popular crossovers and sport-utes.

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport is something of a segment buster in a world where the automotive fleet is broken up into categories like passenger cars, pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles and crossovers.

But as a hatchback, the Elantra GT isn’t all that easy to define. It doesn’t have the lifted seating position of a SUV and overall design reduces vehicles overall height, leaving it with the low-slung profile of a passenger car. The cabin is also surprisingly quiet, making it easier to hold conversations on a longer drive.

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With its scaled down proportions, the Elantra GT Sport is bound to remind some older motorists of a small station wagon or the Euro-style hatchbacks popular during the 1970s and 1980s. However, Hyundai’s designers have given the car’s exterior sheet metal character and a contemporary appearance. (more…)

Automakers Moving to Help Hard-Hit Houston

Companies offering donations, payment flexibility.

by on Aug.29, 2017

Texas dealerships are being devastated by Hurricane Harvey and automakers are rallying to help.

Automakers are mobilizing to provide assistance to customers and dealers in Texas caught in the devastating rain and flooding from Hurricane Harvey by offering payment relief as well as cash for the recovery efforts going forward.

“On behalf of Ford Motor Co., our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted by this devastating storm. We know for certain that many dealers in the area have sustained significant damage. We are gathering information from local authorities and dealers so we can offer our assistance in the most effective way possible,” Ford said in a statement.

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The Ford Motor Company Fund is contributing $100,000 to disaster relief efforts in Texas, as well as matching up to $50,000 in contributions to the American Red Cross, raising potential assistance from Ford to $200,000. (more…)

BMW Offers Sportier Take with Gen-2 i3 City Car

Sportier i3s version added for 2018.

by on Aug.28, 2017

The mid-cycle update of the BMW i3 will be paired with a more sporty i3s version for 2018.

The coming year could be a big one for the battery-car market. Manufacturers are starting to roll out what promises to be a flood of new choices by the end of the decade. And while the spotlight seems to be centered on the new Tesla Model 3, buyers will have a number of options to choose from for 2018, including an all-new version of the BMW i3 city car.

Make that versions – plural – as the Bavarian maker is not only rolling out the second-generation i3 but adding a sportier version that it has dubbed the i3s. While primarily designed for urban living, both variants will offer the option of adding a range-extending two-cylinder gasoline engine for the occasional, longer trip out into the suburbs.

Electrifying!

First introduced in the 2014 model-year, the BMW i3 has won a range of awards, most notably being named World Urban Car of the Year at the New York International Auto Show last spring. But it’s going to be facing a lot more competition in the near future, notably from products like the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt EV, both of which offer more than twice the range of the i3 in pure electric mode.

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