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November Auto Sales Expected to Set Record Pace

Automakers embracing "Black Friday" sales concept to move steel.

by on Nov.25, 2015

November auto sales are expected to be the best November results ever thanks, in part, to Black Friday sales promotions.

With car sales heading for a big “Friday Finish,” November’s numbers look as if they could shatter any number of records, according to analysts.

TrueCar, Inc. projects total new vehicle sales, including fleet deliveries, will reach 1.352 million units in November, a 3.9 % increase from a year ago and the highest ever for the month.

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The expected growth will push the seasonally adjusted annualized rate or SAAR for total light vehicle sales to 18.6 million units, the strongest pace of any month so far this year and up from a 17.1 million-unit SAAR year ago. Solid consumer demand coupled with Black Friday campaigns may boost retail sales by 3% to 1,157,800 units. (more…)

Half of US Drivers Enjoying Sub-$2 a Gallon Gas

Indiana, Ohio seeing country's lowest prices.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Gas prices are below $2 a gallon in more than half the country due to low crude prices.

The price of crude oil remains under pressure, tamping down the price of gasoline on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday to the lowest level since 2008 when the U.S. economy was still reeling from the financial crisis.

With some 42 million Americans are expected to take a road trip this Thanksgiving, the retail price of gasoline has fallen steadily through November for a total savings of 15 cents per gallon and the national average remains poised to fall below the $2 per gallon benchmark by the Christmas holiday, according to AAA.

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More than half of U.S. stations are selling gas for less than $2 per gallon. The national average price of $2.07 per gallon represents a savings of nine cents per gallon versus one week ago, and 14 cents per gallon on the month. Significant yearly savings persist and pump prices are down 75 cents per gallon compared to this same date last year. (more…)

Tesla Recalls Every Single Model S for Seat Belt Issue

EV maker says move shows unwavering commitment to owner safety.

by on Nov.23, 2015

Tesla is recalling all 90,000 Model S sedans for a seat belt issue.

Tesla Motors Inc. plans to use the recall of every Model S that it has ever built to highlight its commitment to safety.

The EV maker announced it is recalling all of the 90,000 Model S vehicles that the electric-car company has made after a driver in Europe discovered that her front seat belt became disconnected from the pretensioner.

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“Tesla recently found a Model S in Europe with a front seat belt that was not properly connected to the outboard lap pretensioner,” the company wrote in an e-mail to customers Friday. “This vehicle was not involved in a crash and there were no injuries. However, in the event of a crash, a seat belt in this condition would not provide full protection.” (more…)

Forecast Calls for Record Auto Sales in 2016

Ongoing economic recovery pushing auto sales.

by on Nov.23, 2015

A new University of Michigan forecast predicts record auto sales for the next two years.

A new forecast on the sales of sales of light vehicles predicts new car sales will continue to boom during the next couple of years, according to the study from the University of Michigan.

Vehicles will stabilize at their September-October pace, averaging 17.4 million sold this year and climb to 18 million in 2016 and 18.1 million units in 2017, said Matthew Hall of the Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics in the U-M Department of Economics.

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“There have been only 10 months in which the recorded pace of light vehicle sales exceeded 18 million units. Eight of the 10 months occurred 10 or more years ago, and the other two were September and October 2015,” Hall said. (more…)

Hydrogen Cars Just a Dodge, Argues Tesla Exec

Fuel-cell vehicles being used as props to dodge fuel-economy rules, says O’Connell.

by on Nov.20, 2015

Tesla recently launched its second product line, the Model X battery-electric SUV.

Fuel-cell cars are little more than expensive props used by automakers to dodge increasingly tough fuel-economy regulations and emission standards, declared a senior executive from the Tesla Motor Co.

Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s Vice President of Corporate and Business Development, told the Automotive Press Association Friday, that fuel cell technology simply is not practical because it will require a huge investment in an entirely new infrastructure to provide the hydrogen gas those vehicles needed.

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Electric vehicles are more practical because they do not require anywhere as much of a new investment in public infrastructure, argued O’Connell, noting that Tesla has supported an expansion of high-speed EV-charging capabilities off its own balance sheet.


Daimler Invests $475 Million into Detroit Diesel Plant

Upgrades allow company to offer automatic transmissions for heavy-duty trucks.

by on Nov.20, 2015

Daimler's Wolfgang Bernhard discusses the $475 million the company invested in its Detroit Diesel plant on the outskirts of the city.

Daimler AG said Friday it has invested $475 million and created 330 new jobs at the company’s factory on the edge of Detroit to launch production of a new line of automatic transmissions specifically designed for heavy-duty trucks and a new engine for smaller, medium-duty commercial vehicles.

Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Daimler Trucks, said the project at the Detroit Diesel factory in the city gives Daimler the ability to extend its leadership in the North American market and lower the costs for its customers at the same time.

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Traditionally, buyers of heavy-duty trucks in the U.S. have ordered the cab and chassis from one manufacturer, the engine from another maker, the transmission from a third and the axle from a fourth company. With the expansion in Detroit, which already builds truck engines and axles, Daimler will have the opportunity to offer customers a complete unit. (more…)

Autonomous Driving May Help Save Fuel

U-M teaming with two labs to conduct study.

by on Nov.19, 2015

By 2017, the Cadillac CTS will be equipped with V2V technology. Might that technology not only improve safety, but also save fuel?

Adding autonomous driving and vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability is expected to make driving safer and shorten commuting times.

But now the University of Michigan and the Argonne National Laboratories outside of Chicago and Idaho National Laboratory are teaming up to see if the V2V technology also can help motorists save fuel.

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The university and two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories plan to collaborate on a study to determine if connected and automated vehicles could help people drive more efficiently. (more…)

First Drive: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

New addition rounds out compact ute line-up.

by on Nov.18, 2015

Toyota continues to grow its hybrid line-up with the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid. The new sport-ute arrives at dealers early next year.

Over the years, Toyota has invested an enormous amount of resources in developing its diverse line-up of hybrid vehicles, which continues to expand in new directions.

One of the newest additions to the hybrid line-up is the 2016 RAV4 hybrid, which Toyota expects will be able to be the most fuel-efficient compact sport-utility vehicle in the hyper-competitive segment, which has drawn a flock of technically sophisticated competitors, such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Nissan Rogue in the past couple of years.

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The RAV4 is already a formidable competitor in the growing segment. (more…)

GM Settling Ignition Switch Class-Action Lawsuit

Pensioners lead effort toward $300 million plan.

by on Nov.17, 2015

General Motors is moving toward a $300 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit about its faulty ignition switches.

General Motors is moving towards a $300 million deal that will end a class-action lawsuit that charges the automaker with concealing the deadly ignition-switch defects, which drove down the value of GM stock.

The New York State Teachers’ Retirement System filed papers in the federal court for the Eastern District of Michigan asking for approval of the $300 million deal, which will end a consolidated class action claiming General Motors Co.’s stock price was inflated during a period when the company concealed ignition-switch defects that the plaintiffs say killed more than 124 motorists.

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The $108.2 billion pension fund was approved as lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit last year in which the plaintiffs claimed GM committed fraud by failing to disclose the scope of the problem of faulty ignition switches. Costs of the ignition switch scandal has now topped more than $5 billion and continue to grow. (more…)

UAW Reopens Contract Talks with General Motors

Skilled trades vote against deal causes new talks.

by on Nov.16, 2015

The UAW reopened contract talks with GM after its skilled trades employees voted the deal down.

After a week of consultation with union members throughout General Motors manufacturing system, the United Auto Workers executive board has elected to re-open negotiations with the automaker on issues of concern to skilled trades.

UAW members classified as skilled trades at GM decisively rejected the union’s tentative contract with the auto giant by a decisive margin of more than 59% even though the contract included an $8,000 signing bonus and 3% pay increase for workers hired before 2007.

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The agreement was ratified by production workers, but the UAW executive board has held off on declaring the contract ratified. (more…)