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Archive for the ‘Fuel Economy’ Category

No-Shows, But Tesla and Musk Still Have Strong Presence at NAIAS

But can California carmaker survive the new onslaught of competition.

by on Jan.17, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed off a prototype Model S in 2010, the last time he attended the NAIAS.

Battery-electric vehicles may still account for less than 1% of the U.S. new vehicle market, but they have had a notable presence at this year’s North American International Auto Show – something that many credit to a manufacturer that was notably absent from Detroit’s Cobo Hall convention center: Tesla.

Cadillac made a major splash during the first media preview of this year’s show, when it not only revealed the new XT6 utility vehicle but announced that it will be the first General Motors brand to use the automaker’s new all-electric platform for another SUV debuting in 2021.

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Electrifying!

Throughout the show, automaker’s either revealed new battery cars and concepts or outlined their plans for an electrified future. Volkswagen, for one, announced plans to invest $800 million to add production of two new all-electric models at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Nissan Boosts Range, Performance With New Leaf Plus

World’s best-selling battery-electric vehicle breaks 200-mile barrier.

by on Jan.09, 2019

The 2020 Nissan Leaf Plus.

It’s been the world’s best-selling battery-vehicle since its introduction nearly a decade ago, but the Nissan Leaf had been losing ground as competitors like Tesla have rolled out an array of new competitors.

Now, the Japanese automaker is aiming to regain momentum with the introduction of a critical update to the battery-electric vehicle, the new Nissan Leaf Plus set to increase both range and performance by about 50 percent. That will position the five-door model, to be sold as the Leaf e+ in most other markets, as the latest BEV to top the 200-mile mark.

Stay Charged Up!

“This is a big psychological barrier,” said Denis LeVot, the CEO of Nissan North America, during the debut of the Leaf Plus at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Along with the improvement to Leaf’s traditionally anemic performance, he added, that should prove to potential buyers that “these are more than real cars.”

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Polestar’s First All-Electric Model Breaks Cover

by on Jan.03, 2019

Polestar hints that its first all-electric model will adopt a "fastback" shape.

Volvo’s electric performance division is finally charging forward, the plug-in hybrid Polestar 1 getting ready for production, while the sub-brand’s first all-electric model is set to be “fully revealed in the coming weeks,” it confirmed today.

According to a statement, “The car will go into production shortly after the long-range hybrid Polestar 1, which will enter production later this year.” The automaker also emphasized that Polestar 2 will take direct aim at Tesla’s Model 3.

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Breaking Product News!

The teaser shows an overhead view of the Polestar 2’s rounded back end, so not much to go on beyond the fact that it features very aggressively raked rear glass flowing into a rather short trunk lid. That would suggest either a hatchback or an edgy crossover design, Polestar calling it a “fastback.”

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GM Product Czar Mark Reuss Adds “President” to His List of Titles

Following in his father’s footsteps.

by on Jan.03, 2019

GM's Mark Reuss may be happiest behind the wheel of one of these, his impact will now reach beyond product development.

General Motors has a new president, global product czar Mark Reuss stepping in to fill a role left vacant late last year when former president Dan Ammann was reassigned to run GM’s autonomous vehicle development subsidiary, Cruise Automation.

The 55-year-old veteran, who trained as an automotive engineer, likes to say he has “gasoline in his blood.” He also has long ties to GM itself, his father Lloyd Reuss serving as the carmaker’s president during the turbulent era from 1990 to 1992.

Global News!

“Mark’s global operational experience, deep product knowledge and strong leadership will serve us well as we continue to strengthen our current business, take advantage of growth opportunities and further define the future of personal mobility,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Mark has played a critical role in leading the development of the company’s award-winning vehicles while transitioning his team to prepare for growing electrification and autonomous technologies.” (more…)

Oil-Rich Norway is the Land of the Battery-Electric Vehicle

BEVs generated a third of country’s new car sales, a record, in 2018.

by on Jan.02, 2019

Picture courtesy Norwegian Electric Vehicle Assoc.

Norwegians have roundly embraced EVs.

It has massive offshore oil reserves that have helped fuel its economy, but as far as millions of Norwegian motorists are concerned, they’d rather spend their money on an electric vehicles.

Battery-cars accounted for a record 31.2% of all new vehicles sold in the Scandinavian nation last year, according to the Norwegian Road Federation, up from 20.8% in 2017. And the shift away from gas and diesel is only expected to accelerate as Norway has set a goal of eliminating sales of vehicles using internal combustion engines by the middle of the decade.

Stay Plugged In!

Last year’s surge “was a small step closer to the 2025 goal,” Oeyvind Solberg Thorsen, head of the NRF, told a news conference in Oslo on Wednesday.

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First Drive: 2018 Ford Ranger

Reborn midsize picking aims to make a big splash.

by on Dec.18, 2018

Making a splash: the 2019 Ford Ranger FX4 wraps up an off-road run with a mud bath.

(Midsize truck wars heat up with arrival of Ranger, Jeep Gladiator. Click Here for more.)

It’s been more than six years since the last truck rolled out of Ford’s ancient assembly line near Minneapolis, bringing to a seeming end production of the automaker’s archaic Ranger pickup. While Ford was getting ready to launch a new model for international markets, however, it decided to let the venerable Ranger name die in the U.S.

It apparently seemed a good idea at the time. The midsize market was all but dead and even Detroit rivals General Motors and Fiat Chrysler were quitting the segment. Ford execs, all the way up to then-CEO Mark Fields, insisted they could move Ranger buyers up to the larger – and far more profitable – F-150. But a funny thing happened that threw Ford’s strategy into disarray. For the 2015 model-year, GM launched two all-new trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, triggering a rapid rebound to the seemingly moribund midsize pickup segment.

Reviews You Can Trust!

After hemming and hawing, Ford finally acknowledged its error and raced to bring the Ranger back to life, heavily modifying the model already on sale in markets as diverse as Abu Dhabi and Thailand. Finally, the 2019 Ranger is getting ready to roll into U.S. showrooms and we had a chance to test its mettle during an extensive on- and off-road drive event in and around San Diego last week.

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Gasoline Prices Fall in US as Holidays Approach

Numbers are at lowest point since 2016.

by on Dec.18, 2018

Gas prices are at their lowest since 2016 for the holiday season.

With the long Christmas season getting under way this week travelers across the U.S. are finding cheaper gasoline for the holiday journeys.

At $2.37, the average price of gasoline has dropped pump prices to the lowest level for the month of December since 2016.

News You Can Trust!

“AAA expects 102 million Americans to drive to their holiday destination this year, which is a 4% increase year-over-year,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “No doubt cheaper gas prices are fueling their decision to hit the road.” (more…)

Sales Sliding, Toyota Rethinking Plans for Prius

As sales slip, “We need to find a new direction,” says senior Prius exec.

by on Dec.12, 2018

For 2019, Toyota is launching the first AWD version of the familiar Prius hatchback.

Say the word, “hybrid,” and one name is almost certainly going to pop into your mind: Toyota Prius. First launched in Japan in 1997 and brought to the U.S. three years later, it has been the world’s best-selling hybrid-electric vehicle, or HEV, ever since. For several years, earlier this decade, it was the best-selling vehicle in the huge California market and number one in Japan, as well.

But, as the cliché goes, times have changed. Whether due to increased competition, cheap gasoline, or other issues, sales of the original Prius hatchback have been tumbling. Though still the best-selling hybrid in the U.S., the first 11 months of this year saw demand dip 23.2%. And, at just 3,180 vehicles in November, sales are now running barely a quarter of their peak pace earlier in the decade.

Beyond the Headlines!

Toyota is trying to address some of the issues that came up with the launch of the fourth-generation Prius hatchback for the 2016 model-year, among other things tweaking its design and introducing a new electric all-wheel-drive system that could enhance the car’s appeal in Snowbelt regions. But during a series of interviews at a media drive of the 2019 Prius, Toyota officials acknowledged they are looking at even more radical options for the fifth-generation hybrid hatchback due out early in the coming decade.

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Trump Administration Still Fighting to Roll Back Fuel Economy Rules

Critics say mistakes made in calculations nullify Trump-propsed gains.

by on Dec.07, 2018

The Trump administration is proposing revoking California's ability to make it's own emissions and fuel economy rules.

While the industry is focused now on issues such as trade, manufacturing capacity and employment, the fight over fuel economy and emissions hasn’t gone away and could roar back to life any time.

The Trump administration proposed rolling back the fuel-economy rules imposed in the waning days of Obama administration. It also has proposed eliminating California’s hold on the auto industry.

Beyond the Headlines!

California, powered by an overwhelming political victory by Democrats opposed to Trump in last month’s midterm elections and bolstered by new reports both from the Trump administration’s Environment Protection Agency and the United Nations Independent Panel on Climate Change, have vowed a long and expensive court fight to protect the Obama standards and its authority. (more…)

10 Best of the LA Auto Show

Cars, trucks, crossover and concepts worth a second look.

by on Dec.03, 2018

The long-awaited Jeep Gladiator pickup made for one of the splashiest debuts at the LA Auto Show.

We’ve been to some dud auto shows over the last year. The Paris Motor Show, which kicked off the 2019 model-year, couldn’t even fill up a half day on the media calendar, and the Detroit Auto Show didn’t stretch much further. But this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show delivered some sweet surprises with its mix of cars, trucks, crossovers and concepts.

As we’ve come to expect from the Tinseltown extravaganza, there were plenty of green machines making their first appearance at the Los Angeles Convention Center, but these weren’t the sort of slow and stodgy sedans and quirky hatchbacks of years past, covering a broad swath of territory including electrified SUVs, pickups and sports cars. And there were plenty of promising products that fell into more conventional categories.

Auto Show News!

Here’s an alphabetical look at 10 of our favorite debuts at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show:

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