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Archive for February, 2018

Rise in Pedestrian Deaths May be Due to Legal Marijuana, Study Says

"Weed legal" states see rise in fatalities.

by on Feb.28, 2018

A new study shows that pedestrian deaths are up in states where marijuana has been legalized.

With the number states allowing the recreational use of marijuana the rise, a new study out shows a rise in pedestrian deaths where weed is now legal.

Pedestrian deaths have shot up in states where recreational weed is legal, according to a report released by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

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During the first half of 2017, fatalities spiked 16.4% in the seven states that legalized weed between 2012 and 2016, plus Washington, DC. Meanwhile, fatalities dropped 5.8% across the rest of the country. There are now nine states where recreational marijuana is legal. (more…)

VEBA Stock Sale May Cost UAW Seat on GM’s Board

If union sells 40 million shares, it falls below threshold for board seat.

by on Feb.28, 2018

Former UAW VPsJoe Ashton resigned from the GM's Board after investigators questioned him about the FCA/UAW training funds scam.

General Motors Co. announced the United Auto Workers Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, aka the VEBA Trust, intends sell 40 million shares, or about 29% of the trust, of GM common stock in an underwritten secondary offering.

The VEBA will receive all of the proceeds from this offering, which could raise as much as $1.6 billion. No shares are being sold by GM; however, the automaker plans to buy $100 million worth of the available shares. With a stock price hovering just above $40 a share that equates to about 2.5 million shares.

Union News!

But the sale, which is covered by rules set down following GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, could end the union’s presence on the company’s board of directors. The union must retain 50% of the shares it received as part of the bankruptcy plan. (more…)

Nissan’s Fred Diaz to Run U.S. Operations for Mitsubishi

Move comes as Nissan consolidates control of smaller Japanese automaker.

by on Feb.28, 2018

Mitsubishi's got a new U.S. chief Fred Diaz, who comes over from Nissan.

In something of a surprise move, Nissan is shifting senior marketing executive Fred Diaz to Mitsubishi where he will become the troubled Japanese automaker’s U.S. chief executive.

The announcement comes at a time when the bigger Japanese automaker is consolidating its control of Mitsubishi, in which it took a controlling stake in 2016 following a series of scandals that nearly pushed Mitsubishi into bankruptcy.

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“With his in-depth background and experience in North America, Fred has a strong ability to proactively engage with Mitsubishi Motors’ dealers and customers as we aim to expand our dealership network, enhance our brand and drive sales growth,” Mitsubishi’s U.S. COO Trevor Mann said in a statement. (more…)

Porsche Planning Network of High-Speed Chargers for New Mission E Sports Car

Parent VW will add support with funding for nationwide charger network.

by on Feb.28, 2018

The Porsche Mission E is set to hit U.S. dealer showrooms next year, just as new Level 4 chargers are available.

With its first battery-electric sports car, the Mission E, soon to roll into U.S. showrooms, Porsche said today it will add ultra-fast Level 4 chargers at all 189 of its American dealerships.

That’s on top of the nationwide charging network that parent Volkswagen AG is funding as part of its settlement for cheating on diesel emissions test. VW intends to install 2,800 electric chargers nationwide, though with a heavy emphasis on the EV-friendly California market, its Electrify America project backed by $2 billion in funding.

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“Charging infrastructure is an extremely important part of the EV experience as a whole,” said Porsche Cars North America CEO Klaus Zellmer, in a blog post that first was released to USA Today. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Volvo XC40

Small, less formal-looking package still offers plenty of comfort, sophistication.

by on Feb.28, 2018

The new Volvo XC40 gives the brand an entry in the growing compact crossover segment.

Utility vehicles such as the XC90 and XC60 have led Volvo’s revival around the world.

Now Volvo is adding a new smallish – if you can call a vehicle that weighs two tons small – utility vehicle to its engaging product portfolio.

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The XC40 is what the carmakers have started calling an “an urban crossover” and it offers a comfortable, luxurious experience in a modest way, with ample if not overwhelming power, the latest safety and connected technology as well as well-modulated ride and handling in a nicely designed package. (more…)

Porsche Exec Walks Back “No More Diesel” Declaration

Future diesel offering likely to be Europe only.

by on Feb.27, 2018

The third-generation 2018 Porsche Cayenne will be getting a diesel engine after all ... in Europe only.

Not so fast.

Not words usually applied to Porsche, but in the case of the company’s recent proclamation that it was getting out of the diesel business, the phrase fits as one of Porsche’s senior executives walked back the idea.

Product News!

Apparently, the company plans to launch a new Cayenne this year with a diesel and the Macan getting one is still a possibility. (more…)

Lexus Releases First Official Look at UX “Urban Crossover”

Luxury brand getting into rapidly growing segment.

by on Feb.27, 2018

Lexus eliminated all of the mystery heading into Geneva by offering up a full view of the new UX.

Little more than a week ahead of its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show, Lexus is offering up its first view of the new UX “urban crossover.”

It’s a slightly toned-down version of the UX unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in autumn 2016, Lexus at the time insisting it was only a concept, though it was immediately apparent the automaker wanted to dive into one of the world’s fastest-growing product segments.

Auto Show News!

“These first visuals reveal the UX’s bold and stylish design that blends expressive bodywork with a compact size,” the Japanese automaker said in a release accompanying these images. “Its crossover credentials are signaled by its muscular haunches and high beltline, yet underneath the skin there’s an all-new platform that gives the UX exceptional body rigidity and a low center of gravity for exceptional handling.” (more…)

California Okays Testing of Completely Driverless Vehicles

“Lives will be at stake,” warns consumer group.

by on Feb.27, 2018

Waymo is already testing autonomous ride-sharing vehicles and will soon add fully driverless ones.

Barely a week after Arizona regulators authorized Waymo to begin a drive-sharing service that will depend on completely driverless vehicles, California has given the green light to companies like the Google spinoff to begin operating driverless vehicles on its roads, as well.

But, for the moment at least, the Golden State is only authorizing companies like Google, Uber and General Motors to simply test vehicles that have no backup drivers onboard. It is not clear if or when it will allow them to begin commercial operation.

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Proponents say such tests are critical to prove the technology can operate safely and seamlessly on the same roads as human drivers, but not everyone is convinced the time is right. “It will be just like playing a video game, except lives will be at stake, said John Simpson, director of California-based non-profit group Consumer Watchdog. (more…)

Jeep’s Cult-Like Following Officially Rewarded

Brand honored for ability inspired loyalty.

by on Feb.27, 2018

The Jeep Wrangler's history and loyal fans helped the brand secure the 2017 Cult Brand honor.

Jeep has long had some of the most devoted fans in the auto business and their loyalty and attachment to the brand have earned the brand a designation that places it in unique company.

It has been recognized as a 2017 “Cult Brand” Honoree at the annual “The Gathering” by the Society of Cult Brands. Jeep is the first and only automotive brand ever recognized by the association.

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Besides Jeep, the other honorees include Beats by Dr. Dre, Gatorade, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Snickers, PlayStation, Vans and charity water.  (more…)

German Court Ruling Could Mark Beginning of the End for Diesels

Major cities may immediately impact 12 million vehicles.

by on Feb.27, 2018

A new German court ruling legalizing bans on diesel-powered vehicles in city centers isn't likely to affect newer vehicles.

A German court issued a landmark ruling that gives several major cities permission to ban diesel vehicles from their urban centers, a move that could soon be copied by other communities across Europe.

The controversial decision is considered significant at several levels, even though it initially applies only to bans proposed by the heavily polluted cities of Dusseldorf and Stuttgart. The latter community is home to Daimler AG whose Mercedes-Benz subsidiary is heavily reliant on diesel technology for its vehicle line-up. The ruling also comes as an embarrassment for German Chancellor Angele Merkel, who had opposed such a ban.

Diesel News!

For now, the cities only plan to restrict older, more heavily polluting diesel models, but critics of the ban fear it could place a sudden strain on the mass transit systems in the two cities while also impacting the value of as many as 12 million diesel vehicles now in operation in Europe’s largest automotive market. (more…)