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US Highway Fatalities Surge 9%

Like two jumbo jets crashing each week.

by on Feb.05, 2016

After years of declines, highway fatalities were up through the first nine months of 2015 leaving officials scrambling to figure how to solve the problem.

After decades of relatively constant decline, U.S. highway deaths rose by a worrying 9% during the first nine months of 2015, according to federal safety regulators.

The increase comes at a time when auto recalls are running at record levels and as Americans spend more time on the road due to a recovering economy and plunging fuel prices. If the upward trend continued during the final quarter it would mark only the second time highway deaths were up for a full year during the last decade. At the current rate, Americans are dying on the road at the rate of two loaded 747s crashing every week.

The Last Word!

“For decades, U.S. DOT has been driving safety improvements on our roads, and those efforts have resulted in a steady decline in highway deaths,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “But the apparent increase in 2015 is a signal that we need to do more.” (more…)

Ford to Run Four GTs at LeMans

Half-century later, aiming to repeat historic victory.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Ford's two GTs were strong -- when running -- but had mechanical problems at Daytona.

Despite a disappointing debut at Daytona, Ford still has big hopes for its new GT race car – buoyed by word that organizers have approved a four-car entry for the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.

But the four Ford GTs will have a lot to live up to. They’ll take the field exactly 50 years after Ford’s 1-2-3 podium finish at the 1966 Le Mans classic. Ford got off to a weak start in this year’s endurance series, its Daytona entries suffering from a series of mechanical problems.

The Last Word!

“It was great to see all four Ford GTs up there on the Le Mans entry list today,” said Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance, during a press conference in Paris. “Newcomers are by no means guaranteed an entry, whatever their history or ambitions, so we thank the (organizers) for giving Ford the opportunity for a four-car assault in June.”

(more…)

VW Delays 2015 Earnings Results, Annual Shareholders’ Meeting

Labor boss will “hold management responsible” for making needed changes.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Audi has submitted a plan to US officials for fixing the diesel engines in models like the Q7.

With management still trying to get a full grip on the diesel emissions cheating scandal that has rocked the world’s second-largest automaker, Volkswagen says it will delay the release of its 2015 earnings, as well as its annual shareholders meeting.

It is also unclear when VW will now publish the results of an internal investigation into the ongoing crisis. The report was to have been released in time for the company’s annual meeting. Leaked details have hinted that the subterfuge was an “open secret,” resulting from a corporate culture in which failure to meet even the most difficult goals was not an option.

Global News!

The annual shareholders meeting was scheduled for April 21, but VW said it will announce new dates for the gathering and the release of its earnings, explaining that it first must deal with “remaining open questions and the resulting valuation calculations relating to the diesel emissions issue.”

(more…)

Toyota Quarterly Earnings Top $5.4 Billion

Net income jumps 5% despite flat sales.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda unveils the new Lexus LC 500 at last month's Detroit Auto Show.

Toyota managed to pull together a 5% jump in net profits for the third quarter of its fiscal year, despite a tepid global economy and relatively flat sales.

The automaker announced it made 627.9 billion yen, or $5.4 billion, during the October-December period, up from 600 billion yen the year before. Quarterly sales and revenues were up a more modest 2.4%, to $62.7 billion. A weak yen played in Toyota’s favor.

By the Numbers!

The news came two days after rival General Motors reported record earnings of $9.7 billion – for the full fiscal year. Meanwhile, he world’s second-largest automaker, Volkswagen AG, said on Friday it would delay issuing its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings as it struggles to account for the impact of its ongoing diesel emissions cheating scandal.

(more…)

KBB Delivers List of Top Family Vehicles

Top 16 list features just three minivans.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Longer, lower, roomier. Honda's 2016 Civic made KBB.com's list of Top 16 vehicles for families.

It happens to so many people around the country each year, the realization that the number kids added to the amount of stuff you need for them equals the ultimate family vehicle: the minivan.

However, not everyone decides that the “station wagon of the ’90s” is the vehicle that best suits their needs and there are plenty of options depending upon how big your family is, where you live, what you do and other variables.

News You Can Trust!

Kelley Blue Book tested dozens of vehicles with a keen focus on safety, comfort, convenience, spaciousness for both passengers and cargo, and fit of various rear-facing and forward-facing child safety seats, the KBB.com expert editors recommend their choices for a diverse group of vehicles that best meet the needs of today’s modern families. (more…)

New Vehicle Fuel Economy Average Rises in January

Improvement reverses recent trend.

by on Feb.05, 2016

The new vehicle fuel economy average improved in January despite 58% of those vehicles sold being trucks and SUVs.

Trucks and sport utility vehicles accounted for more than 58% of the new vehicles sold in the U.S. during January, but the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold actually improved, according to the monthly survey by the University of Michigan.

Despite some of the lowest gasoline prices in a decade, the average fuel economy or window-sticker value of new vehicles sold last month increased to 25.1 mpg from 24.9 mpg in December—the first time it had fallen below 25 mpg in nearly two years, U-M reported.

News Now!

“This increase likely reflects the month-to-month seasonal decrease in sales of pickup trucks and SUVs,” said Michael Sivak, a research professor at UMTRI. (more…)

Airbag Control Module Defect Forcing Seven Makers to Recall 5 Mil Vehicles

Problem could prevent airbag deployment in crash – or trigger inflation accidentally.

by on Feb.04, 2016

The 2008 Honda Accord is one of the vehicles affected by a recall due to faulty airbag controllers.

A total of 5 million vehicles will be recalled due to a defective airbag control module that could accidentally trigger one of the devices – or prevent an airbag from deploying in the event of a crash.

The announcement by German supplier Continental comes less than a day after one of its customers, Honda Motor Co., issued a recall covering 341,000 Accord sedans. Separately, the Japanese maker also announced it was recalling 2.23 million Honda and Acura vehicles due to faulty Takata airbags.

Safety News!

Widely hailed as one of the most significant safety devices since the introduction of the seatbelt, airbags have become the source of some of the biggest recalls in recent years. The Takata problem alone is now affecting more than 20 million vehicles in the U.S.

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Mercedes Sales Lift Daimler AG 2015 Profits

Demand for SUVs, C-Class adds to bottom line.

by on Feb.04, 2016

Daimler's Dieter Zetsche says that Mercedes-Benz sales helped to carry the company to strong 2015.

Daimler AG reported its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings were up over the previous year due in large measure to strong sales from its Mercedes-Benz luxury car division.

“2015 was a good year for Daimler,” CEO Dieter Zetsche said in the statement. “Getting to the top is hard, but staying at the top is even harder. That’s our ambition.”

Your Insider!

The company’s fourth-quarter earnings before interest and tax rose 22% to $3.8 billion and its revenue jumped 13% to $45.3 billion. For the full year, EBIT increased  to $15.5 billion: a jump of 36%. (more…)

Honda Expanding Takata Recall, Reveals Separate Airbag Problem

Nearly 2.6 mil Honda, Acura models now facing recall.

by on Feb.04, 2016

The Honda CR-V from model years 2007 to 2011 is now part of the Takata airbag recall.

Honda now says it will recall more than 2.2 million vehicles due to faulty Takata airbags, about 500,000 more than was originally reported on Wednesday. And the maker says a separate airbag defect will force it to recall 341,000 more vehicles.

All told, the problem with Takata airbag inflators forced Honda and its Acura luxury brand to recall 8.51 million vehicles, more than any other manufacturer. But the defect – which can cause airbags to overinflate and spew shrapnel into the passenger compartment – has now forced the recall of more than 20 million vehicles by at least 10 manufacturers in the U.S. alone.

News You Can Trust!

The second recall involves the popular Honda Accord sedan. Older models can experience a failure of their airbag control units, which means the supplemental restraint system, or SRS, may not deploy in a crash. A number of other manufacturers are affected by this problem, as well. (more…)

Toyota’s U2 Concept Picks Up on Urban Lifestyle Trends

Inspired by invention-focused Maker Faire.

by on Feb.04, 2016

With the success of commercial van offerings from Ford and Nissan, Toyota may be following suit with the U2 Concept coming to the Chicago Auto Show.

Toyota could be the next automaker to target the resurgent market for compact commercial vans.

The maker gave a hint that was something it had in mind when it revealed images of its Urban Utility Concept in late 2014. Now, the Toyota U2 is finally set to make its public debut during the upcoming Chicago Auto Show.

What a Concept!

“Toyota saw an opportunity for a new approach to an urban vehicle based on increasing re-urbanization of our cities and urban drivers’ desire for flexibility, fun and maneuverability,” said Kevin Hunter president of Calty, Toyota’s North American design studio, where the concept van was developed. (more…)