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Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

Stop “Crying Wolf,” Over 54.5 mpg Standard, Says “Queen of Cleaner Cars”

by on Apr.27, 2015

Margo Oge retired in 2012 after 32 years with the EPA.

With fuel prices down by as much as 30% from their 2014 peak, millions of Americans have been migrating to pickups and SUVs and abandoning compact passenger cars and alternative fuel vehicles. That’s leading some industry executives to questions whether the federal government should re-think the 54.5 mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard set to take effect in 2025.

Such a move would be a critical mistake, warns Margo Ogo, a former official with the EPA who helped put together the compromise fuel economy rules and who has been dubbed by some “the Queen of Cleaner Cars.” If anything, she says, the tough mandate targeted for a decade from now doesn’t go nearly far enough.

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“2025 is the first down-payment to the planet for the need to get away from fossil fuels,” Oge told TheDetroitBureau.com during a lengthy interview marking the release of her new book, Driving the Future: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars. “We, as a society, need to move to zero-emission vehicles by 2050…if we are to meet goals of reducing carbon emissions.”

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Ford Recalls 390K Vehicles for Door Latch Problem

Latest action puts number at 1.4 million with latch issues.

by on Apr.27, 2015

Ford is recalling 2012-2104 Fiestas for door latch problems. The maker has recalled 1.4 million vehicles due to latch issues.

Ford continues to battle problems with door latches recalling 390,000 late model Fiestas, Fusions and MKZs.

Door latch problems have been a running dilemma for the automaker and the latest action raises the total number of vehicles recalled for them to 1.4 million.

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Ford’s latest recall covers 389,585 2012-14 Ford Fiesta and 2013-14 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars with 337,000 of those vehicles in the U.S., 30,000 in Canada and the remainder in Mexico. (more…)

VW Chairman Piech Unexpectedly Quits After Clash Over Company’s Future

Militant trade unionist named his acting replacement.

by on Apr.27, 2015

Ferdinand Piech, grandson of VW's founder, resigned as chairman due to a dispute over his successor.

Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech unexpectedly tendered his resignation over the weekend, capping a bitter battle over the future of the German automaker.

Piech, who has been credited with crafting the growth and acquisition strategy that transformed VW into the world’s second-largest car company, had clashed with other board members over his eventual successor. The 78-year-old Piech had openly criticized VW’s current CEO, and its likely next chairman, Martin Winterkorn.

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The upheaval at Volkswagen appears to bolster the hand of the German unions in running the company – and could alter the trajectory of the company’s drive to become the world’s largest automaker. VW came a hairsbreadth short of dislodging Japanese rival Toyota last year.

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Automakers Regain Momentum in April – Market Looking at Best in Decade

Power forecast sees industry making up ground after cold winter.

by on Apr.24, 2015

Trucks, like this Ford F-150 shown with CEO Mark Fields, continue to gain momentum in the US market.

Consumer demand for new vehicles during April is the best it’s been in 10 years, according to a new analysis by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

With the warmer, spring weather finally settling in across the U.S., total light-vehicle sales are projected to reach 1,463,700, a 5% increase compared with April 2014 and the highest level for the month since April 2005.  The total seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales, or SAAR, is expected to hit 16.6 million units.

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“The industry continues to outperform prior-year levels with respect to retail sales and transaction prices,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. “The average new-vehicle transaction price so far in April is $30,680, on pace to achieve a new record for the month.” The current record was set in April 2014 when transaction prices averaged $29,948,” he said.

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American Dreaming: Exhibit Looks Back at the Golden Age of the U.S. Auto Industry

Rare finds often were smuggled out of Detroit’s design studios.

by on Apr.24, 2015

Bill Blogh's 1953 Ford concept sketch captured the sci-fi mood of the era.

In the optimistic post-War era, few things better defined the American lifestyle than the cars we drove. The ’57 Chevy and the finned Cadillac Eldorado were far more than mere transportation.

Drawings and sketches by designers who created the cars of the 1950s and 1960s are being honored with a unique display at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan through May 2.

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The exhibit, “American Dreaming: Detroit ’s Golden Age of Automotive Design,” is the first comprehensive exhibition to offer a look at the art work produced inside the design studios of Detroit ’s automakers between 1946 to 1973.

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Chinese Turn Car Clones into High Art

Copycat makers often outsell the originals.

by on Apr.24, 2015

No, that's not a $475,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

That may look, at first glance, like a vanity license plate on a Rolls-Royce Phantom, but take another glance and you might be in for a surprise. You’re actually looking at a Geely GE, a Chinese knock-off that has closely copied the classic Rolls grille and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament – but which goes for a fraction of the original’s $475,000 price.

Automakers from around the world put their latest wares on display at this month’s Shanghai Motor Show. But a walk down the hall revealed that local Chinese automakers already had fresh copies of a number of the hottest products from the U.S., Europe, Japan and Korea.

We're No Clone!

While some picked up subtle styling cues and features, others blended attributes from several different models to create weird Franken-cars, like the Suzhou Eagle EV that was one part Porsche Cayman, with a face lifted from a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and a battery-electric drivetrain to make things even weirder.

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Ford Cuts Shift, 700 Jobs, at Key Michigan Plant

Cutbacks spread as American motorists shift from small cars to SUVs.

by on Apr.24, 2015

The Ford Focus has been losing momentum despite receiving some updates for 2015.

Weak passenger car sales have prompted Ford Motor Co. to eliminate a shift at a Michigan assembly line that builds compact and battery vehicles, including the Focus and Focus EV.

With gasoline prices dropping to their lowest level in years, demand for SUVs has been rising while prompting a sharp slide in sales of smaller and alternative-fuel vehicles, like this built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. The announcement, which will impact 700 Ford workers, comes on top of General Motors’ decision to temporarily idle production of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid at a plant nearby.

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“Ford will be working to redeploy affected hourly employees (affected by the cuts) and they will be considered first for southeast Michigan opportunities as they become available,” the automaker said in a statement.

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April Showers Brings … National Car Care Month!

Time to perform preventative maintenance check on vehicles.

by on Apr.24, 2015

Checking lubricants and fluids are part of the preventative maintenance routine recommended in the spring, according to experts.

Most of the nation has shaken off the yoke of winter and spring is upon us, which means its time to live the famous refrain, April showers bring … potholes and rain mostly.

April not only marks the beginning of spring, but also National Car Care month. It’s the time of the year that motorists need to focus on replacing windshield wiper blades, check the air pressure in tires and to ensure brakes are safe and working properly, according to the Car Care Council.

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The council says that cars inspected between April and October 2014 revealed that 84% of vehicles need service or parts, up 5% from the previous year. (more…)

SAE Panel Lays Out Framework for Arrival of Autonomous Vehicles

Executives cite connectivity, more players as key to growth.

by on Apr.23, 2015

Tesla's Model S will be one of the first examples of vehicles using autonomous vehicle technology on the road this summer.

Pandora’s Box is now officially open.

The emergence of self-driving vehicles as a major force in the automotive industry was underscored this week during the Society of Automotive Engineers conference in Detroit, where the topic of self-driving easily eclipsed fuel-efficiency as the major topic of discussion.

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Seval Oz, chief executive officer of Intelligent Transportation Systems at Continental AG, said two of the factors that are driving the autonomous car revolution are exponential growth of wireless connectivity in cars and the demand by other companies for the attention of drivers and passengers, who spend upwards of two hours in a vehicle during the daily commute. (more…)

Flush With Cash, Aston Martin May Add 3 New Models – and Build SUV in the US

New Lagonda, new battery-powered Rapide may also be on the way.

by on Apr.23, 2015

Aston Martin surprised everyone with the introduction of its DBX crossover at the Geneva Motor Show.

After a few tough years, things are starting to look up for Aston Martin – and for Aston fans.

With a new CEO and funds to let Andy Palmer’s team fire up the product development process, Aston says it is ready to not only replace all of its current product lines but add “up to three new models” to its line-up. It has confirmed one of those, a production version of the striking, if controversial, DBX crossover first shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.

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But now comes word that Aston might not use its factory in Gaydon, several hours outside London, to produce the DBX. Sources suggest that it is looking at several alternative that could include producing the new model in the United States.

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