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Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

Pumped Up Mustangs Roaring into SEMA

Ford stand featuring a dozen tweaked pony cars.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Galpin Auto Sports is celebrating 50 years of the Mustang by putting a 5.0-liter V8 developing 725 horsepower into its SEMA show car.

The 50th anniversary of the debut of the Ford Mustang is in full swing and perhaps no where will be more evident at this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas as the maker will have a dozen pony cars on display.

While the show is home to best and sometimes most insane custom cars, an event like this is a license to thrill and Ford is certainly trying to give visitors something, or things, to gawk over. Among the 12 ‘Stangs, two custom builders are going all out: Pettys Garage and Galpin Auto Sports.

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Petty’s Garage races into the show with a Roush supercharged V8 model wearing Richard Petty’s famous blue paint and a discrete No. 43, Petty’s car number in his NASCAR days. Not only will evoke some NASCAR memories, it’ll also do some good as the car will be auctioned by Barrett-Jackson with proceeds benefiting Victory Junction, which is dedicated to helping chronically ill children attend summer camp. (more…)

GM Goes Solar

Installing major solar array at Lordstown plant.

by on Oct.22, 2014

GM continues adding solar arrays at plants around the world. The maker announced it's adding an array at its Lordstown, Ohio, facility.

General Motors is aiming to bolster its green credentials by installing a huge solar array that will be visible from the well-traveled Ohio Turnpike outside the company’s big assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

GM’s new 2.2 megawatt, ground-mounted solar array will be complete by the end of the year. When the last of more than 8,500 solar panels are in place, it will be GM’s largest solar installation in the Western Hemisphere, the maker claims – but not necessarily the largest sun-power system, producing just a fraction of the output of the solar park in use at Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant.

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GM has been adding solar arrays and waste-burning power generators at its assembly plants in the U.S. as part of a concerted effort to reduce costs and clean up the environment by eliminating waste and limiting the use of carbon-based fuel such as oil and coal. (more…)

Scion Teases New Concept for LA Auto Show

Youth-oriented brand looks to recapture lost audience.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Scion is bringing a new concept to the L.A. Auto Show next month and this is just a small peek at it.

Looking to rebuild its once formidable image among younger buyers, Scion is planning to roll out an assortment of new models over the next few years, and we’ll be getting a sense of what’s to come at next month’s Los Angeles Motor Show.

What exactly it has in store, Scion isn’t saying, but it’s giving a bit of a hint with two closely cropped teaser images of what apparently will be called the new iM Concept car.

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“The iM Concept car reflects the evolution of Scion as the needs and desires of its youthful customers also evolve,” says a terse statement from Scion. (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Opens First Overseas Plant – in China, of Course

China already JLR's biggest market.

by on Oct.22, 2014

A Range Rover Evoq moves down the assembly land at JLR's new assembly plant near Shanghai.

That “veddy” British automaker, Jaguar Land Rover, is looking a little less Anglo-Saxon every day. First, it was acquired by American maker Ford, then sold to Indian upstart Tata Motors. And now, JLR has opened up its first foreign manufacturing plant. In China, of course.

The Asian nation is already the world’s largest automotive market and, by most accounts, is expected to top the global luxury sales charts, as well, by the end of the decade. It is, in fact, already Jaguar Land Rover’s single-largest market.

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And the maker is expecting to see that grow significantly, in part, because localizing production will eliminate the hefty Chinese tariff on automotive imports. (more…)

NHTSA Increases Takata Airbag Warning to Cover 7.8 Million Vehicles

Agency failed to account for Ford, Subaru in first alert.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Three Subaru models, including this 2003 Outback, were added to the recall warning list.

Federal safety regulators bungled their first attempt to warn owners of 7.8 million recalled vehicles equipped with airbags produced by Takata Corp. that they should bring their vehicles to dealers for immediate repair.

In an unprecedented move, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an alert to vehicle owners that the airbags could explode causing injury and even death to vehicle occupants, particularly in areas with high humidity. Several phone calls to Takata by TheDetroitBureau were not returned.

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“Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman in a statement. “However, we’re leaving no stone unturned in our aggressive pursuit to track down the full geographic scope of this issue.”

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Double Setback for Tesla

Daimler sells off stake, while Michigan bans direct sales.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Daimler is planning to unplug from Tesla - at least in terms of its 4% equity stake.

Already hammered by a slump in its stock price, Tesla Motors has been hit by two more setbacks.

The maker’s long-time German partner, Daimler AG, has decided to sell off its stake in the California start-up while Michigan has become the latest in a growing list of states to bar Tesla’s plan to sell directly to consumers through company-owned, rather than franchised, showrooms.

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Daimler, the parent of the Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands, had held a 4% stake in the battery-car company, and had been rumored to be considering a full acquisition of Tesla at one point.

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Green Car Finalists Announced

Battery power vies with diesel, CNG and advanced gas options.

by on Oct.21, 2014

The BMW i3 is one of five cars up for the 2015 Green Car of the Year award at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

There’s been plenty of attention paid to electric vehicles over the last several years, but not all green machines have a battery under the hood.

To underscore that point, just check out the five finalists for the 2015 Green Car of the Year. The nominees for the annual award, which will be presented at the Los Angeles Motor Show next month, present a mix of alternatives that include not only the requisite EVs, but also a diesel, a bi-fuel package and a conventional gasoline-powered model. The list is dominated by three European models with one each from Japan and the U.S.

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“These five exceptional vehicles reflect an expanding ‘green’ car field that embraces diverse fuels and technologies as answers to a more efficient and low carbon future,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com. “Each offers a distinctly different approach to driving ‘green’ that appeals to buyers with varying needs and perspectives on how best to lessen environmental impact, while maintaining the joy of driving.” (more…)

NHTSA Set to Expand Unprecedented Airbag Recall Alert Covering Nearly 5 Mil Vehicles

Faulty Takata airbags linked to numerous accidents, fatalities.

by on Oct.21, 2014

More than 2.8 million Hondas, including the 2003-2011 model year Element, are part of a recall involving Takata airbags.

Federal regulators are set to expand on an already unprecedented recall alert issued Monday to owners of nearly 5 million vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags.

With evidence showing those safety devices could unexpectedly fail, especially in high-humidity regions of the country, regulators want to make sure owners don’t ignore recall warnings already issued by manufacturers including BMW, General Motors, Honda and Toyota, among others. Only about 70% of motorists typically fix vehicles that have been recalled, and that rate falls off on older models, such as those covered by the NHTSA announcement. The number of companies affected is expected to increase as well.

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NHTSA is engaged in an active investigation of the company’s airbags and Takata is cooperating, according to officials. (more…)

Chinese Officials Express Concern over Indigenous Brands

Government pushing companies to develop technologies.

by on Oct.21, 2014

China's indigenous automakers are struggling to keep up with companies like Volkswagen, General Motors and others in its own market.

China is the world’s largest and fastest growing automotive market in the world, but the focus of the biggest Chinese policy makers, pundits and executives now is the well-being or fate of the country’s indigenous brands.

Some companies, such as Geely, are doing fine and governmental agencies, particularly local governments with a stake in the so-called state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, are doing what they can to assist the homegrown, according to information presented during the course of the two-day Global Automotive Forum, which was held last week in Wuhan, China.

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China is clearly willing to use subsidies for energy-efficient vehicles, rationed parking stickers and anti-trust enforcement to help bolster the indigenous brands, which have have steadily lost marketshare during the past 18 months. In addition, a new study by the Boston Consulting Group found the more than 80% of the Chinese consumers who expect to buy a car soon prefer foreign brands. (more…)

Ford Latest to Cut EV Pricing as Battery-Car Market Struggles

Maker trims $6,000 from price tag of Focus Electric.

by on Oct.21, 2014

Ford has so far sold only 1,500 Focus Electric vehicles this year - less than 1% of total Focus sales.

With battery-car sales lagging expectations, automakers have been slashing prices in a bid to spur demand. The latest to announce a big discount is Ford Motor Co., which will trim the MSRP on its Focus Electric model by $6,000.

That’s on top of the $4,000 discount the Detroit maker took on the compact battery-electric vehicle a year ago. Originally introduced in January 2011 at $39,995, buyers now can plug in a Ford Focus Electric for just $29,995 – plus delivery charges and the usual fees and taxes.

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Ford is by no means alone. With rare exception, automakers have been cutting prices of both plug-in and pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, models in a bid to boost sluggish sales. And with gas prices now near or below $3 a gallon in much of the U.S., industry analysts suggest it will be even more difficult to convince buyers to opt for vehicles that plug in rather than tank up.

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