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U-M Predicts US Auto Sales Topping 17 Million in 2016

Forecast shows “meaningful” growth for economy next year.

by on Nov.21, 2014

University of Michigan economists predict U.S. new vehicle sales will hit 17 million units in 2016. As the economy recovers, sales of trucks are going to grow.

The expansion U.S. economy next will boost sales of new vehicles and set the stage for industry-wide sales, reaching 17 million units in 2016, according to a new forecast the economists at the University of Michigan.

The economy will grow by more than 3% next year — its highest rate in 10 years, they added. The university auto sales numbers of 16.6 million in 2015 and 17 million the following year add to the chorus of predictions for a sustained stretch of prosperity for the industry.

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By and large, automakers appear comfortable with the predictions of strong, steady sales over the next couple of years. (more…)

Security Experts Warn Today’s Autos Easily Hacked

Automakers need to shore up weak points in connected vehicles.

by on Nov.20, 2014

The ever-expanding connectivity of cars makes them convenient targets for hackers, according to cyber security experts.

With cars loading up on computing power, wi-fi and other pieces of 21st century connected technology, automakers have been reluctant to speak about the hack attacks similar to those that have cribbed credit card information of millions of Americans that happened to go through the check-out lines at Target and Home Depot.

But a panel on cyber security organized by the Connected Car Expo, which was held this week prior to the press days of the Los Angeles Auto Show, emphasized the threat is genuine.

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In the era of the connected car, hacking a vehicle can take place any number of ways from penetrating the “Cloud” where data is stored, to the connection between the car and the cloud and through the vehicle itself, panelists noted. (more…)

Ford F-150, BMW i8 Capture Innovation Vehicle Awards

Motor Press Guild chooses vehicles from 13 finalists.

by on Nov.20, 2014

BMW's new i8 captured the Innovation Vehicle of the Year award for the over $30,000 category from the Motor Press Guild.

The Motor Press Guild stretched the parameters a bit, but the new 2015 Ford F-150 and BMW i8 walked off with its 2014 Innovation Vehicle of the Year (IVY) Awards in Los Angeles yesterday.

The F-150 captured the title for vehicles in the under $30,000 class – even though its average transaction price is expected to be closer to $40,000 – while the 2014 BMW i8 claimed the award for the $30,000 and over category.

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The two winners were from selected a group of 13 finalists assembled by a panel of judges. (more…)

Scion Moving iM Hatchback from Concept to Production

Brand kicking off sustained run of new products with new hatch.

by on Nov.20, 2014

Scion Vice President Doug Murtha confirmed the iM Concept will move quickly into reality as the production version hits showrooms next year.

After the reveal of the Scion iM Concept car in Los Angeles, executives confirmed a production version of the five-door compact will be coming to dealerships in 2015.

The iM “concept,” compact hatchback unveiled during the here will morph, with very few changes, into a new production at the New York Auto Show next spring. Nancy Hubbel, Scion spokeswoman, said the decision was made to go ahead and confirm the concept car is intended for production rather than duck the question.

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“The two models we’re debuting in New York next spring are just the beginning for Scion,” said Scion Vice President Doug Murtha. “We plan to bring three new products in three years to our showrooms, offering a variety of exciting options for current and new Scion customers.” (more…)

BMW Puts M-Class Power in Sport-Activity Vehicles

New X-Class entries combine utility and speed.

by on Nov.20, 2014

The new 2015 BMW X5 M delivers 567 horsepower and 553 foot pound of torque.

BMW plans to use a new turbocharged V8 engine in the new M-Class versions of the X5 and X6, the head of the BMW brand said during previews for the Los Angeles Auto Show at which both of the new sport-activity vehicles made their global debut.

Ian Robertson, head of the BMW brand, said that the X5 M and X6 M will deliver a new level of performance and luxury with a package that includes a new suspension, all-wheel-drive and a new powertrain based around a V8 engine that produces even more power for the M-Series “Twin Turbo” technology that delivers 567 horsepower and 553 foot pound of torque that leaves drivers and passengers pushed well back into their seats.

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BMW also has upgraded the brakes on the two vehicles that are expected to travel from zero to 60 miles per hour in four seconds. The new entries combine the agility and everyday versatility of the BMW X-line with the high performance promise of the M-Class vehicles that the German automaker has carefully nurtured over the years, Robertson said. (more…)

Lexus LF-C2 Concept Offers Strong Hint of Future Design Direction

Brand may hit 300,000 in sales for 2014.

by on Nov.20, 2014

The Lexus LF-C2 concept is likely to influence the design of several of the brand's vehicles in the future.

With the 25th anniversary of its debut, Lexus rolled out a new concept car, the LF-C2 Coupe, with lines and design language that will figure prominently in the Japanese luxury brand’s future vehicles.

“The LF-C2 concept shows what’s in store for our brand’s future design direction,” said Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “This concept shows consumers around the world Lexus’ devotion to emotional designs.”

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Consumers have been fond of the current Lexus designs as well. Bracken added that Lexus continuing success has helped push its sales beyond its original target of 290,000 units. The brand’s sales were at 244,038 units through October, which is up 14.3% for the year. (more…)

Makers Counting on Tech Sector to Help Make Safer, More Interactive Cars

Connected car technology continues improvement.

by on Nov.19, 2014

Wolfgang Epple, director of Research and Technology at Jaguar Land Rover, shows how the company's new technology displays and implements apps.

New technology that is being refined continuously now has the potential to make driving safer and more fun, while bringing the automobile business closer to the ever-blooming consumer electronics industry, executives from Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover and Audi said during the “Connected Car” expo that opened ahead of the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.

As evidence of that growing relationship, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is opening its $3 million Open Software Technology Center. The facility will focus on the development and application of advanced connected technologies and help lead the development of future Jaguar and Land Rover infotainment systems, according to Wolfgang Epple, director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover

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The new technical center, the only JLR research center outside Great Britain, was located on the West Coast to development infotainment systems for all Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. (more…)

Jaguar Adding Manual Transmission, AWD to F-Type

British nameplate creates a F-Type for every taste.

by on Nov.19, 2014

Jaguar's Russ Varney discusses the new F-Type R at the L.A. Auto Show.

While other carmakers, such as rivals Lexus and Porsche, are moving away manual transmissions, Jaguar is moving in the opposite direction. In fact, the sports luxury brand appears to be creating a Jag for type of driver.

Executives from Jaguar Land Rover used the Los Angeles Auto Show’s press preview to announce that the planned to introduce a Jaguar F-Type equipped with a V6 engine and a six-speed manual gear box built by ZF as part of the company’s overall effort to broaden the F-Type line-up, according to Russ Varney, chief program engineer, Jaguar Sports Cars.

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However, not only did the venerable British marque add a little gear-shifting fun to its line-up, it’s also making sure that if you want all four wheels to do the work of just two, that’s available now as well: the F-Type R Coupe can be gotten with all-wheel drive and, in the U.S., a 550 horsepower V8 engine. (more…)

Colombian Activists File Complaint against GM

Group charges maker violated Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

by on Nov.18, 2014

The labor strife at GM's Colombian plant has, in the past, triggered a hunger strike by workers, and now a complaint filed with the U.S. DOJ and SEC.

Labor activists filed a complaint with the U.S. Dept. of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission, charging General Motors with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes to government officials in Colombia.

The bribery and corruption charges are the latest twist in long-running dispute between GM and Colombian workers, who argue they were injured while working at a GM assembly plant in Bogota, Colombia, and never received anything near adequate compensation.

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In their new complaint, the workers claim their efforts to be compensated properly for their injuries was systematically subverted by Colombian officials, who were bribed by GM employees in Colombia, according to the complaint filed with the DOJ and SEC. (more…)

Luxury, Premium Car Sales Predicted to Slow in China

IHS Automotive claims segments will slow to single-digit growth.

by on Nov.17, 2014

The growth of sales of luxury vehicles in China, like the Rolls-Royce Ghost, is expected to drop to single digits by 2020.

China remains a tantalizing and promising market for western carmakers, particularly for German makers of premium brands such as Audi, Mercedes and BMW. All of them have major stakes there and expect to see double-digit growth rates again in 2015, according to IHS Automotive.

But advisory group’s forecast also contains a cautionary note as it expects the growth rates will “take a significant hit” in the years to come.

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“In 2014, we forecast the premium segment to achieve combined sales of 1.8 million units, up 21% year over year, while in 2015 we forecast this segment to hit 2.07 million units, up 14.61% year over year,” IHS said in its updated forecast. (more…)