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Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

First Drive: 2017 Maserati Levante

Italian maker delivers its first SUV. Compatible combination or an automotive oxymoron?

by on May.03, 2016

The 2017 Maserati Levante starts out with the same underlying platform as the Ghibli sedan.

Say the name, Maserati, and you’re likely to picture a sleek sports car like the Ghibli, perhaps, screaming down the Autostrada. But bouncing along a rutted and rock strewn path that was old by the time the Romans packed it in?

That’s where we’ve found ourselves on a drizzly weekday morning, a couple hours outside of Milan, wandering our way through a course set up to train Italian mercenaries and special forces. Not the sort of place you’d traditionally expect to find a Maserati. Then again, the Levante isn’t your typical Maserati. The 2017 model is the maker’s first sport-utility vehicle. And we had come to Italy to find out if that was a compatible combination or an automotive oxymoron.

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Maserati has been toying around with the idea of adding an SUV to its line-up since 2003, when it showed off the original Kubang concept. The notion went nowhere until 2011, when a new prototype made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. After taking a few unexpected detours, the rechristened Maserati Levante is about to start rolling into showrooms around the world.

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US New Vehicle Sales Soar to Near-Record Levels

Makers still blowing trucks and utes out dealership doors.

by on May.03, 2016

Ford's SUV sales in April were red hot with the Explorer up 22% for the month.

Any concerns about a possible weakening for new vehicle sales this year have been set aside by strong demand for trucks and utility vehicles at near record levels last month.

Hungry buyers helped boost sales and transaction prices in April with Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Audi all posting sales increases for the month. Unsurprisingly, Volkswagen sales continued to slide, but General Motors’ drop overall sales was a surprise.

The Journal of Record!

Ford reported its sales increased 4% versus a year ago and retail sales also grew 3%, driving the company’s best April retail results since 2006.  (more…)

Car Crashes No. 1 Killer of Teenagers in US

National Safety Council provides suggestions for new drivers.

by on May.03, 2016

The top cause of teenage deaths in the is U.S. is car crashes. A few tips and some rules can help mitigate some of the causes.

It’s a rite of passage for every teenager: getting a driver’s license, or at least for many teens these days.

Part of that ritual is the inevitable lecture from parents about how driving is a big responsibility and that is not to be taken lightly. That sermon comes from a good place, even if most parents don’t fully understand how very important it may be.

Safety News!

According to a new National Safety Council poll, 76% of parents don’t know that the biggest threat to their child’s safety is that 2,500-pound behemoth sitting in the driveway: car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens in the U.S. (more…)

FCA, Google Could Announce Autonomous Deal Today

First step: self-driving Pacifica minivan.

by on May.03, 2016

Chrysler wants to reposition the Pacifica as more than a minivan; autonomous tech could help.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Google could announce a joint venture as early as today, according to reports out of Milan.

The non-exclusive project would see FCA use the tech firm’s autonomous vehicle technology in several dozen prototypes based off the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan, according to a report by the Bloomberg news service. But several observers caution that a deal might take longer than expected, and note how a reported Ford-Google alliance failed to materialize, as many had expected, last January.

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It would mark the first official alliance for Google, which has said it prefers to find partners to use its autonomous vehicle technology, rather than going into the car business itself. Meanwhile, FCA would suddenly move to the head of the class, rather than lagging at the back of the self-driving pack.

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Has Tesla Been Bending the Numbers for Model 3?

Carmaker claims it has purged speculators from the order banks.

by on May.03, 2016

Only two per household. Tesla insists it has purged multiple reservations for the Model 3.

Tesla’s Model 3 is still about 18 months from production, but the Silicon Valley automaker has already lined up an enviable order book, the ever-ebullient CEO Elon Musk declaring it, “the biggest one-week launch of any product ever.”

But there have been some questions raised about Tesla’s claims. For one thing, potential buyers have been plunking down $1,000 refundable reservations, not orders. They’ve still got plenty of time to decide if they actually will purchase one of the compact battery-electric vehicles once they finally begin rolling off Tesla’s Fremont, California assembly line.

Keeping Things Honest!

And are consumers really the ones making these reservations? Or are speculators and others who really have no intention of ever taking delivery of a Model 3 inflating the list?

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Marchionne Adds Ferrari CEO to His Resume

26-year veteran Amedeo Felisa retires.

by on May.02, 2016

Sergio Marchionne (l); Amedeo Felisa (cl), and FCA Chairman John Elkann (r) mark Ferrari's IPO.

As if he doesn’t have enough to keep himself busy, Sergio Marchionne is adding another title to his CV. With the unexpected retirement of Amedeo Felisa, Marchionne will now become chief executive officer at Ferrari.

The Canadian-raised executive also serves as chairman of the sports car company – as well as CEP of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which spun Ferrari off this past year. Marchionne also runs the North American region for FCA and serves as chairman of CNH Industrial, the heavy duty unit that was created by the merger of Fiat Industry and Case New Holland.

Step on the Gas!

The latest role comes just after Ferrari posted its best earnings ever. But the supercar maker is also has to deal with a variety of challenges, from its aggressive growth target to its ongoing struggles on the Formula One circuit it long dominated.

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Tesla Develops Bioweapon Defense Mode

New HEPA-based filtration system cleans air inside and out.

by on May.02, 2016

Tesla's Bioweapon Defense Mode may make its cars the best weapons yet against a terrorist attack.

It’s often joked that when the world ends, the only thing that will survive will cockroaches.

Apparently we can add Tesla owners to that list too!

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The Model S and Model X, which are known for superior performance, including Ludicrous Mode, now have something new: Bioweapon Defense Mode. (more…)

Volkswagen Agrees to Meet with UAW

Automaker, union discussing fate of Tennessee plant.

by on May.02, 2016

Gary Casteel, the UAW's Secretary Treasurer and leader of the union's organizing effort in Chattanooga, is meeting with VW to discuss the future of the plant.

Volkswagen AG is preparing to open discussions with United Auto Workers on the sensitive issue of whether it will accept the presence of the UAW at its plant in Chattanooga.

The pair have said that they will now meet to try to resolve their differences, reopening a process that could lead to talks over union representation of the workforce at the German car maker’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant.

Union News!

If the VW accepts the UAW as a bargaining agent for maintenance workers at the Chattanooga plant, it would mark the first time the a European or Asian automaker with a plant in the Southeastern U.S. has agreed to bargain with the UAW. (more…)

Nissan Recalling 3.5 Million Vehicles to Fix Faulty Airbag Sensors

Most models sold in the US.

by on May.02, 2016

The Nissan Leaf is among the vehicles affected by the new airbag recall.

Nissan plans to recall 3.5 million vehicles sold around the world to fix sensors that could cause a car’s airbags to fail to deploy in the event of a crash.

The recall covers a number of Nissan and Infiniti cars, trucks and crossover vehicles, including the Altima sedan, Leaf battery car and NV200 commercial van.

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The recall is the fourth to attempt to address the problem with so-called “smart” airbag sensors. It is separate from recalls triggered by faulty Takata airbag inflators, an issue that has so far plagued 14 different automotive manufacturers.

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BMW Updates i3, Adds More Range

But is 114 miles per charge enough?

by on May.02, 2016

BMW has bumped the range of the 2017 i3 up to as much as 114 miles thanks to a larger battery pack.

BMW is the latest automaker hoping to charge up the sluggish battery-car market by boosting the range of its little electric city car, the i3.

While the 2017 model won’t match the range of the new Chevrolet Bolt or upcoming Tesla Model 3, BMW claims it will still deliver up to 114 miles per charge, or 58% more driving distance thanks to a larger lithium-ion battery. That jumps to more than 200 miles if you order a 2017 BMW i3 equipped with the optional, range-extending two-cylinder gas engine – the update model also getting a larger fuel tank.

Stay Plugged In!

Though performance numbers won’t change for the upcoming model-year, the BMW i3 will remain one of the market’s quicker battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, launching from 0 to 60 in just 7.2 seconds.

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