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Safety Titan Claybrook Wants to Rein in Autonomous Vehicles

Former NHTSA leader says self-driving cars have too many shortcomings.

by on Jan.17, 2018

Joan Claybrook (left) during a panel discussion in Detroit said she doesn't trust autonomous vehicles and they should be tightly regulated.

Self-driving cars are not yet roadworthy and could pose a lethal threat to motorists unless they are carefully regulated said Joan Claybrook, the former chief of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and longtime critic of the auto industry’s safety record.

“The excitement around autonomous cars is very interesting, we have had massive problems with failures in the auto industry with airbags and with the GM ignition switch and they have killed people,” Claybrook said during a panel discussion on Autonomous Vehicles and regulation held as part of Automobili-D sponsored by Politico and held in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show.

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In addition, for a long time to come what NHTSA has deemed as Level 3 autonomous vehicles that can cruise on auto pilot under certain circumstances but require driver intervention in an emergency situation, will mix with conventional vehicles on streets and highways. (more…)

Debugging Volkswagen: SUVs Supplant Sedans, Hatches

But no more tongue-twisting model names.

by on Jan.17, 2018

One of the first jobs for VW Group of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken was revealing the new Atlas.

Things didn’t look very good when Hinrich Woebcken landed in the U.S. two years ago as the new CEO and President of the Volkswagen Group of America. The automaker had just acknowledged cheating on diesel emissions tests and was not only facing the prospect of paying billions of dollars in fines and settlements but a collapse in its U.S. sales as it was forced to pull off the market all of its popular diesel models.

“The only reason dealers didn’t kill me was that I was the new guy,” the German-born executive said, only half joking, during a presentation at the Automotive News World Congress on Tuesday afternoon.

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These days, dealers are a lot more sanguine about Woebcken, and VW in general, though the VWoA chief cautioned that the automaker has a long way to go before he can claim success rebuilding its U.S. operations. (more…)

Marchionne Confirms Plan for Ferrari SUV, Hints at Battery Supercar

“Ferrari Utility Vehicle” will be world’s fastest, promises CEO.

by on Jan.17, 2018

Sergio Marchionne said Ferrari will produce a sport-utility vehicle, like competitors Lamborghini, Porsche and others.

There are SUVs, CUVs and, soon, there will be an FUV. And before you try to guess what that means, Sergio Marchionne calls it the Ferrari Utility Vehicle – though considering the disdain some of the brand’s gold chained owners often display, you might come up with a different interpretation.

Rumors of a Ferrari sport-utility vehicle have been circulating for some time, and after dropping some earlier hints, Marchionne made it absolutely official during a series of appearances and conversations at the North American International Auto Show this week.

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The executive, who heads both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the Ferrari brand it spun off two years ago, suggested that we could see the new hyper-ute by sometime next year or into 2020, emphasizing his intent for it to be the world’s fastest utility vehicle. (more…)

Cadillac Takes Aim at New Record

Division chief says there is still work to be done.

by on Jan.16, 2018

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen said the luxury division is enjoying strong sales, but still has work to do.

Cadillac expects to set another global sales record in 2018 thanks to the strength of strong sales in China where the brands sales of surpassed more than 200,000 units in just four years.

Johan de Nysschen, General Motors executive vice president and Cadillac Global president, spread that bit of good news during an appearance at the Automotive News World Congress today; however, he added that Cadillac’s transformation is still very much a work in progress.

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U.S. sales dropped last year and Cadillac is still grappling with cultural issues, particularly with its dealer organization in the United States, which has long depended on deals to help move the metal, he acknowledged. Cadillac will continue to face challenges in the U.S. again this year. (more…)

No Sale: FCA Not Negotiating with Chinese Nor Willing to Sell Off Jeep, Says Marchionne

Exec plans to release his final 5-year plan this quarter and then name his successor.

by on Jan.15, 2018

Marchionne plans to reveal his successor a few months from now but confides no women are in the running.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn’t open to selling off its Jeep brand nor has it fielded any offers for a complete takeover by a Chinese company, FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said during a media roundtable at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday.

Marchionne said he wanted to clear up reports that have, in recent months, suggested Fiat Chrysler was up for sale – or that it was willing to let go of some key assets, such as the Jeep or Ram brands. But the executive did not rule out a closer relations with GAC, the Guangzhou-based automaker that serves as its partner in the Chinese market.

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“Without them we could not have gone as far as we have in China,” said Marchionne, who stressed “We are not going to break up (the company and) we are having no discussions with anyone in China interested in acquiring us.”

(more…)

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Are Sedans a Dying Breed?

by on Jan.15, 2018

The 2018 North American International Auto Show is making big news this week and revealing some of the significant trends reshaping the auto industry.

Of course, TheDetroitBureau.com is still combing the show floor to bring stories and analysis so keeping checking the site often for additional must-know news and the latest updates. (more…)

Toyota’s Flagship Avalon Gets Makeover for 2019

Exterior update matched by interior improvements.

by on Jan.15, 2018

Toyota's flagship, Avalon, gets a refresh for the 2019 model year and comes in a hybrid model as well.

The North American International Auto Show is being dominated by trucks this year with some notable exceptions, such as the fifth generation Toyota Avalon.

The 2019 Avalon unveiled in Detroit, with its 113-inch wheel base, sits on Toyota’s New Global Architecture platform, and is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 or Toyota Hybrid System powertrain, which is coming to market right along with the V6 to give consumers more choices when it arrives in showrooms.

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The new Avalon also has several new features, such as standard Apple CarPlay and Dynamic Auxiliary Turn Signals, available authentic Yamaha wood and aluminum cabin accents, and Engine Sound Enhancement that are used in a Toyota product for the first time. (more…)

Henrik Fisker Officially Reveals Autonomous EMotion EV

Danish designer reveals plans for a “menu of mobility” that will later include affordable electrics and driverless shuttles.

by on Jan.12, 2018

The gull-winged Fisker EMotion makes its official debut at the Consumer Electronics Show.

After months of teasers, Henrik has finally pulled the wraps off his latest project, the autonomous EMotion battery-eletric vehicle making its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The second attempt by the Danish designer to launch his own battery-car company, the EMotion is a stunning, gull-winged sports sedan that reportedly will offer a range of up to 400 miles, even while delivering blistering performance – top speed 161 mph – thanks to a new generation of solid-state batteries.

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The EMotion isn’t due to market until sometime late in 2019. But in an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com, Fisker revealed that he is already working on future products as part of a “menu of mobility” that will include a much more affordable Tesla Model 3 fighter and even a driverless shuttle along the lines of the Toyota e-Palette concept that also debuted at CES.

(more…)

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance Creates $1 Bil Venture Fund

“We can’t everything ourselves,” says Ghosn.

by on Jan.10, 2018

The new fund is expected to invest about $200 million annually in new technology and services.

The Renault-Nissan- Mitsubishi Alliance will invest around $1 billion over the next five years to help it fund start-ups and other small tech companies that can help it bring to market electrified, connected and autonomous vehicle technologies, Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn announced Tuesday.

The corporate venture capital, or CVC, fund is intended not only to give the Franco-Japanese alliance access to potentially breakthrough technology but to help it make decisions more quickly than is normally the case for a big corporation, Ghosn said during a news conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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“We can do everything ourselves,” explained the Brazilian-born executive. “We have to get access to people who think about things in different ways.”

(more…)

Mexican Auto Imports on Increase Despite Trump’s Pushback

Sales of models produced “South of the Border” hit all-time high in 2017.

by on Jan.09, 2018

Mexico exported 2.33 million vehicles to the U.S. in 2017, a 9.4% increase over 2016.

Despite a campaign promise by Pres. Donald Trump to curb their import, sales of Mexican-made cars, trucks and crossovers surged to an all-time high in 2017.

In all, 2.33 million vehicles were shipped to the U.S. from assembly lines “South of the border,” a 9.4% increase over 2016, according to Mexican auto industry data. That reflects a variety of factors, including the opening of new Mexican assembly plants, including an Audi factory that last year became the sole global source of the carmaker’s popular Q5 crossover-utility vehicle.

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The surge could create some political headaches for Mexico, however. During his 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump sharply criticized carmakers like Ford for importing cars from Mexico and warned he would impose “a big border tax.” While Trump hasn’t followed up on that threat his administration’s chief trade representative is engaged in a high-stakes bid to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement that helped boost the Mexican auto industry. (more…)