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Single Claim Can Bump Up Yours Insurance Costs By 76%

Two claims, finds new study, could double annual insurance bill.

by on Jan.27, 2015

It may be cheaper to pay out of pocket than to file a claim, in some instances, warns a new study.

That fender-bender could be more costly than you expected, according to a new study. Putting in a claim with your insurance company could lead to as much as a 76% increase in your annual premium, depending upon where you live, with the average motorist’s insurance bill climbing by 41%.

How much you’re dunned will depend upon the type of claim, but a second collision could nearly double your bill, according to a new report by insuranceQuotes.com.

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“Many consumers underestimate the consequences of making claims because they can affect your rate for years,” said Laura Adams, a senior analyst for the website.

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Former Takata Exec Indicted in Seatbelt Price-Fixing Scam

Honda using new airbag supplier for next-gen Accord in the US

by on Jan.26, 2015

More turmoil at Takata.

Takata Corp. just received two belts of bad news: one of its former executives will face criminal charges in the U.S. and its biggest customer is cutting back on its business with the supplier.

Federal prosecutors obtained one-count indictment against Hiromu Usuda, charging him with conspiring to rig bids and fix the prices of seatbelts that Takata sold to Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Mazda Motor Corp., the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.

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The indictment is a result of a four-year probe conducted by the U.S. and Japanese governments as well as the European Union. Takata executives have also pled guilty to other charges and paid hefty fines in connection with the price fixing investigation, which has also involved several other suppler companies that feed part to American and Japanese auto parts manufacturers operating in the U.S. (more…)

Low- and Moderate-Income Drivers Penalized by Unfairly High Insurance Rates

New study claims most insurers discriminate based on income, education levels.

by on Jan.26, 2015

The Honda Civic may cost more, unfairly so, to insure if you live in the inner city, according to the CFA.

This story has been updated to include a response to the CFA study by an insurance industry trade group.

Millions of low- and moderate-income American motorists, especially those with lower education levels and living in inner cities, are being unfairly penalized with high insurance rates, even if they have steady jobs and clean driving records, contends the Consumer Federation of America.

In a survey of 15 cities and surrounding suburbs, these motorists routinely were required to pay at least $900 for collision and comprehensive coverage, with 50% being hit with bills of more $1,500, according to a new CFA study that checked rates for a 30-year-old female bank teller with 10 years driving experience and no collisions or tickets on her record, owning a 2004 Honda Civic.

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“The price can easily double or triple” for a person of moderate means and lower education, said J. Robert Hunter, the consumer group’s Director of Insurance and a former Texas Insurance Commissioner. (more…)

Toyota Could Lose Sales Lead to VW This Year

Japanese giant plagued by problems in China.

by on Jan.26, 2015

A Toyota dealership in China was burned in 2012. Weak demand there could let VW pass the Japanese giant.

Toyota’s worldwide sales surged 3% last year, once again positioning the Japanese giant as the world’s top-selling automotive manufacturer. But with Toyota officials glumly anticipating a modest decline in 2015, the Japanese maker could cede leadership to its ambitious German rival Volkswagen AG.

Assign credit – or blame, if you prefer – to China. VW continues to dominate the world’s largest automotive market even while Toyota struggles to gain traction there. Japanese makers, in general, have had serious problems making headway in China, especially after tempers flared due a dispute between the two Asian nations over ownership of a chain of strategically placed islands.

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At one point, rioters burned a Toyota dealership and damaged 100s of Japanese vehicles. Sales have only slowly begun to recover, but Toyota’s sales in China are still barely a third of those of the market’s top two manufacturers, Volkswagen and General Motors.

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Millennials Wants Wheels After All

MTV study finds Gen-Y would give up texting before their cars.

by on Jan.26, 2015

Millennials may be more interested in buying cars than the auto industry has realized.

It’s become conventional wisdom that Millennials would rather text their friends than drive over to visit, but a new study by youth-oriented MTV suggests that, as is often the case, conventional wisdom has things upside down.

A survey of 3,600 Millennials reveals that three out of four would give up their social media for a day, and texting for a week, rather than hand over the keys to their cars. One reason more teens aren’t rushing out to drive, the study suggests, is that new licensing rules make it harder for them to get behind the wheel.

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“Millennials, like other generations, see car ownership as a way to establish independence,” Berj Kazanjian, Senior Vice President of MTV’s Ad Sales Research, said at a presentation of the new finding during the annual National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco. “Millennials,” he added, “also see car ownership as a way to craft their unique adult identity.”

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Automakers Sitting out Super Bowl XLIX

Just five car companies confirmed for ads this year.

by on Jan.26, 2015

Despite the strong response to its Little Darth Vader ads, VW plans to sit out Super Bowl XLIX.

Viewers tuning into this year’s Super Bowl won’t get to see a pint-sized Darth Varder use “the force” start another Volkswagen as the German automaker isn’t part of the commercial roster for this year’s game, along with Jaguar, General Motors, Ford and several others.

The number of automakers with ads on this year’s broadcast is down significantly: the lowest level in five years. Last year, 11 brands were featured, whereas this year just five are confirmed. It’s the lowest level since 2010, which is when automakers were just beginning to see a dramatic sales turnaround.

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However, the five that are advertising are running different types of ads. Mercedes-Benz plans to air some humorous ads. While Toyota plans to tug at viewers’ heart strings with ads about what it means to be a dad. Kia is using Pierce Brosnan, formerly James Bond, for a 60-second spot on the new Sorento crossover. BMW will hype its new i3 EV in a commercial and Nissan returns to the game for the first time since 1997. (more…)

VW, BMW Team Up to Create “Express Charging Corridors”

Project should improve mobility along East, West Coasts.

by on Jan.23, 2015

VW and BMW are teaming with ChargePoint to install 100 fast-charging stations on the East and West coasts.

Barring some explosion in demand – unlikely at a time when gasoline prices are plunging – sales of plug-based vehicles are expected to fall far short of the 1 million target set by President Barack Obama by the end of this year.

Industry analysts blame a variety of factors for the shortfall, including both the limited range of current battery-based vehicles and a shortage of quick charging systems. In an unusual alliance between erstwhile rivals, Volkswagen and BMW have teamed up with ChargePoint to install 100 fast-charging stations along both the East and West Coasts this year.

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“A robust network of conveniently located DC Fast charging stations will go a long way toward increasing electric vehicle adoption and making electric vehicle ownership even more enjoyable,” said Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure at BMW of North America. (more…)

Scion Aims to Regain Youthful Allure

Flood of new products promised.

by on Jan.23, 2015

The Scion tC Release Series 9.

Scion is turning to an old idea in its bid for young drivers, giving its tC Coupe a two-tone paint job based on a popular custom car show concept.

Originally aimed at youthful “influencers” who would draw buyers into showrooms for parent Toyota’s products, Scion has lost a lot of its early momentum in recent years, recent models like the micro-sized iQ and second-generation xB falling flat in the marketplace. Despite speculation Toyota might give up on the Scion brand-within-a-brand, the Japanese maker has no intention of pulling the plug and is, instead, promising to roll out an assortment of edgy new models that it hopes will recapture Scion’s original energy.

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“We’re committed to Scion,” declared Bob Carter, head of Toyota’s U.S. auto operations, during a speech at an industry confab in San Francisco this week. The sub-brand remains “a test bed for Millennials,” and a significant part of Toyota’s broader strategy.

It sees Scion as a critical bridge to help it gain new buyers for the Toyota brand which has long been dependent on now-aging Baby Boomers.

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Volvo Names Kerssemakers to Top Spot in Americas

Long-time company veteran charged with invigorating U.S. sales.

by on Jan.23, 2015

Volvo appointed Lex Kerssemakers to head up North American operations.

Just a week after it debuted its first China-built vehicle to be sold in the U.S., the S60, Volvo put Lex Kerssemakers in charge of the automaker’s North and South American operations with a specific task: get U.S. sales back up.

Kerssemakers is now as Senior Vice President Americas and his appointment is, according to the automaker, a symbol of “the company’s commitment to the core American market.” The newly appointed chief was previously Senior Vice President of Product Strategy and Vehicle Line Management. He’s been with the automaker for 16 years.

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In his new role, Kerssemakers reports to Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo Cars’ president and chief executive. He will also assume the role of President and chief executive of Volvo Cars of North America. (more…)

Ford Opens Silicon Valley Research Center

The lines blur between tech and auto worlds.

by on Jan.23, 2015

Ford expects to employ 125 at its new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto.

As modern cars become increasingly dependent on digital technology, whether for safety, emissions or infotainment systems, the lines have been blurring between the rust belt and Silicon Valley. The latest example is a dun-colored office building in Palo Alto not far from such high-tech giants as Apple and Google. But this one will soon be staffed by 125 employees reporting to Ford Motor Co.

Ford was an early pioneer in the world of telematics with its Sync infotainment system. But as the maker – like its competitors – has come to learn, the pace of development in the electronics world operates far faster than in the auto industry. So, Ford’s new Research and Innovation Center will act as an outpost, tapping into the talent and technologies that have made Silicon Valley one of the world’s most important high-tech centers.

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“The valley here is a marketplace of ideas,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields, who was on hand for this week’s dedication of the Research and Innovation Center. “It’s about being in the right neighborhood because of all the collection of companies. Our folks going to the coffee shops will run into folks from other companies and strike up conversation.”

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