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Mercedes Expanding Car-Sharing Options

Maker expands program after successful trial period.

by on Apr.25, 2017

Perhaps the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C230 is available in the maker's new car-sharing platform, Croove.

Mercedes-Benz is expanding the trial of a new platform for sharing private cars, following the success of a pilot program in Munich that was launched four months ago.

The Croove platform allows subscribers to use a smart phone app or the Croove website to find a private vehicle that meets their specifications and price expectations.

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The service is not tied to rental stations in fixed locations and can be certain of being given the exact model of car requested. It is also separate and distinct from the fleets of shared vehicles belonging to Car2Go service operated by Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz parent company. (more…)

Waymo Levels New Charges Against Uber

Google subsidiary suggesting Uber autonomous system will be identical to Waymo's.

by on Apr.24, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's company has been hit with a new set of allegations by Waymo.

Uber faces additional charges by Waymo, Google’s autonomous car subsidiary, which has accused the San Francisco-based ride hailing of stealing intellectual property.

In new court filings last week, Waymo claimed that Uber has been developing a secret, secondary self-driving technology that copies digit-for-digit Waymo’s autonomous driving designs.

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In addition, the new complaint from Waymo also claims Uber intentionally concealed this project from the U.S. District Court judge assigned to the case after the Google subsidiary filed its original suit back in February. (more…)

Ford Continues Tinkering With Bamboo in Vehicles

Super strong, light weight and quickly renewable among advantages.

by on Apr.21, 2017

Janet Yin, a materials engineering supervisor at Ford’s Nanjing Research & Engineering Center, shows the strength of bamboo.

Facing constant pressure to make vehicles of any kind lighter and more efficient, carmakers are constantly experimenting with a variety of natural materials that help reduce a vehicle’s overall weight or even just to dress up its interior.

Thus, Ford Motor Co. engineers in China have been experimenting with using bamboo, a fast-growing natural material that’s been used for everything from furniture, flooring, storage containers and housing as well ships, carts and weapons, in the construction of new vehicles. Bamboo is also plentiful in the heart of the world’s largest new vehicle market – China.

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“Bamboo is amazing,” said Janet Yin, a materials engineering supervisor at Ford’s Nanjing Research & Engineering Center. “It’s strong, flexible, totally renewable, and plentiful in China and many other parts of Asia.” (more…)

Volvo Autonomous Driving Software Venture With Autoliv Comes to Life

Zenuity will license software to customers.

by on Apr.21, 2017

Jan Carlson, chairman, CEO of Autoliv with Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson.

Zenuity, a 50/50 joint venture between Volvo Cars and Autoliv Inc., has begun operations, developing leading advanced driver assist systems and autonomous driving technologies.

“Volvo Cars combined its know-how with Autoliv’s to create a world leader in autonomous driving safety systems. With Zenuity starting operations we move a step closer to delivering this exciting technology,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive officer of Volvo Cars.

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Autoliv is perhaps best known as an airbag supplier, and in recent times, for being the company jumping into help Takata produce replacement kits to replace the Japanese suppliers faulty airbags that have killed nearly a dozen people in the U.S. (more…)

Chevy Aims for Top Spot in Brand Sales

Equinox expected to flourish in market’s sweet spot.

by on Apr.20, 2017

General Motors posted a sales increase in March, led by a 26% jump in Chevy Equinox sales.

General Motors believes the introduction of the new Equinox will help Chevrolet move closer to its goal of surpassing Ford and Toyota to become the top-selling automotive brand in the U.S, said one of Chevy’s top marketing executives.

Chevrolet has generated a great deal of positive momentum during the past two years and GM plans to build on the strength of a growing reputation for delivering quality vehicles that are also represent a good value with the introduction of 2018 Chevrolet Equinox this spring, said Steve Majoros, Chervolet, director of car and crossover marketing, told reporters during an update of the company’s business plans.

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Moreover, Chevrolet’s introduction of the new Equinox, which features a fresh design as well as new technology, couldn’t have come at a better time given the rising popularity of compact crossovers, he added. (more…)

GM, Ford Stay on Offense in China

Ford sales down big, but maker on product offensive.

by on Apr.19, 2017

Matt Tsien, who heads up GM China, said the steady stream of new product is a big driver behind the automaker's March sales increase.

General Motors reported its sales climbed 16% to a record level in March, while Ford Motor Co.’s sales dropped 21%.

The sales increase left GM China executives in an upbeat mood as the critical Shanghai Auto Show officially opened this week. Overall GM delivered 345,448 vehicles in March for the company’s year-over-year growth since last August as the Buick, Cadillac and Baojun brands all reached new sales highs for March.

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“SUVs, MPVs and luxury vehicles will help us further tap into the market’s growth potential,” said GM Executive Vice President and GM China President Matt Tsien. (more…)

First Drive: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

New entry poised to take on Toyota Prius.

by on Apr.18, 2017

The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is giving the Toyota Prius a serious challenger atop the hybrid mountain.

The automobile industry hybrid segment has been dominated by Toyota for many years and up until now other automakers have mounted what can be best described as half-hearted attempts to challenge the Japanese auto giant’s grip on the category.

However, with the introduction of the Ioniq, Hyundai, the ambitious South Korean automaker, is making a serious bid to gain share in the segment, which promises to grow in the future.

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The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid also can claim to be the most efficient vehicle on the road even as its new drivetrain also delivers ample power in an all new vehicle with a comfortable interior that also handles nicely, even in a heavy downpour. (more…)

Honda Frees Up Silicon Valley Unit to Lead Innovation

New group will consider a broader spectrum of technologies.

by on Apr.17, 2017

Honda's Silicon Valley R&D facility is the home of Honda R&D Innovation Inc.

Honda has turned its Silicon Valley Lab in Mountain View, California, into a new company officially called Honda R&D Innovations Inc., tasked with pursuing research and product development beyond just cars.

It will also look partnerships with other companies and start-up companies on future projects.

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“We’re witnessing a convergence of technologies that will transform mobility, create new business opportunities, and change the way we manufacture products,” said Honda Innovations CEO Nick Sugimoto, who previously served as the senior program director of Honda Silicon Valley Lab. (more…)

GM Investing $14M in New Autonomous Tech Site for Cruise Automation

Maker planning to add 1,100 new jobs.

by on Apr.17, 2017

The race to bring the first fully autonomous vehicle to market is heating up. GM spent $1 billion to acquire Cruise Automation as part of their effort.

General Motors is preparing add more than 1,100 jobs and invest $14 million in a new research and development facility for Cruise Automation in San Francisco.

The investments, which are part of the $600 million GM has set aside this year to fund automated vehicles, will allow Cruise Automation to expand development of self-driving technologies.

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“Expanding our team at Cruise Automation and linking them with our global engineering talent is another important step in our work to redefine the future of personal mobility,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. (more…)

U.S. Auto Dealer Revenue, Employment Rose in 2016

Despite increases, profits remained flat.

by on Apr.14, 2017

NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly noted in the newly released NADA Data report U.S. dealers hired more people in 2016.

In 2016, new-car dealerships directly employed a record 1,131,900 workers, a 2.4% increase from the previous year, according to NADA Data 2016, the annual financial profile of new-car dealerships.

The economic impact of auto dealers was detailed in the new report from the National Automobile Dealers Association, which indicated employment, wages at U.S. new-car dealerships all continued to rise in 2016.

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“Total dealership employment has consistently risen every year since the Great Recession,” said NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly. “In addition, hundreds of thousands of other local jobs are dependent on dealerships,” he said.  (more…)