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First Drive: 2019 Honda Accord Hybrid

Plenty of power, polish make it a keeper.

by on Nov.02, 2018

The 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid won the North American Car of the Year for this year.

Honda has taken its share of quality lumps lately, but its also shown it makes terrific cars such as the Civic and Accord, which was named North American Car of the Year back in January.

Now Honda has rolled out the hybrid version of the Accord and it is also just as impressive in its own ways the Accord that runs only on gasoline.

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But the 2019 Accord Hybrid’s blend of gasoline and electric motors make the car even more versatile particularly in urban driving where the EV mode and extra low-end torque from the combined powertrain give the Accord an added dimension that is both practical and pleasing to drive in heavy traffic.  (more…)

FCA, Honda and VW Lead October Auto Sales

Ford, Toyota and Nissan struggle in first month of new quarter.

by on Nov.01, 2018

The Jeep Wrangler led Fiat Chrysler to a 16% sales jump in October. The vehicle is setting new sales records.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., Honda and Volkswagen of America set the mark for industry sales in October, reporting sales increases, while rivals such as Ford Motor Co, Toyota and Nissan struggled as sales of new vehicles slowed in October.

FCA’s 15% jump in sales was paced by Jeep, particularly the new Jeep Wrangler, which is setting sales records, and the Ram brand.

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Honda, meanwhile, said its sales increase by 6.4% thanks not only to strong sales of its trucks and sport-utility vehicles, but also of its electrified vehicles, which set a record for the second consecutive month, according to the company’s sales release.  (more…)

Honda Aligns With GM on Fuel Economy Rules

Japanese automaker pushes Trump administration to compromise.

by on Nov.01, 2018

Honda is aligning with General Motors in calling for tougher, but unified fuel economy standards in the U.S.

Honda has joined General Motors on calling the EPA to abandon its proposed fuel-economy rollback and is asking federal officials to negotiate with states like California to offer a single, comprehensive update to federal fuel-economy standards.

“Despite continued development of exciting new automotive technologies, the long-term achievements of this industry will depend as much on policies as on powertrains,” Honda noted in its response to the Trump administration.

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“The regulatory framework and policy levers will define the landscape in which our industry operates and competes. Managing this transition thoughtfully is of paramount importance to industry and society alike,” Honda continued regarding the administration’s proposal to freeze the fuel economy standards at 2021 levels and end California’s ability to set its own rules on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions. (more…)

Siemens Jumps into Autonomous Vehicle Race

Supplier converts Munich campus to real-world AV test facility.

by on Oct.31, 2018

Siemens has jumped into the autonomous vehicle business, converting its Munich campus into a testing facility.

Siemens Mobility, along with five partners, is launching a test of connected and autonomous driving at the company’s Munich research campus to test and refine intelligent infrastructure, cloud-based software service and automated electric vehicles.

“Our research project is another milestone to serving the so-called first and last mile in a multimodal mobility mix that includes autonomous vehicles,” said Michael Peter, CEO of Siemens Mobility.

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“Our infrastructure is a critically important component for providing secure and efficient on-demand transportation in urban and rural areas,” he said. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler’s Q3 Profits Dinged Due to Diesel Emission Charges

Record earnings before diesel issue may mean dividend payment.

by on Oct.30, 2018

Fiat Chrysler's third quarter earnings were hurt by charges tied to possible diesel emissions violations.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles net income dropped 38% during the third quarter despite record adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of 2 billion euros, or $2.27 billion, opening the door for the company to pay its first dividend since it was re-organized in 2014.

However, net profit decline 38% to 600 million euros, or $681.16 million, including a 700 million charge related to U.S. diesel emissions matters. FCA is now under investigation by U.S. Department of Justice for the company’s failure to disclose software on about 104,000 diesel-powered pickups and SUVs that regulators said could be similar to the “defeat devices” Volkswagen AG used to cheat emissions-testing on millions of its diesel-powered vehicles.

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FCA’s worldwide shipments increased by 3% and net revenue grew by 9% to 28.8 billion euros during the quarter. Despite cost of the diesel penalties, FCA’s adjusted EBIT in the North America region grew by 51% with margin at 10.2%, according to the financial information released by the company. (more…)

GM Asks for Relief on Fuel Rules While Betting Big on EVs

CEO Barra talks about GM's battery-based future.

by on Oct.30, 2018

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra talked about the company's future batter-electric vehicles at CityLab Detroit 2018.

General Motors has proposed downshifting the federal fuel-economy standards it signed off when it went bankrupt a decade ago, but its top executive said she hopes the automaker can help hasten the switch to electric vehicles.

GM said in a document released this week it favors annual increase in fuel-efficiency standards based on “historic rates” rather than the Obama era rules or a proposal from Trump administration proposal that would basically loosen the current standards.

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Mary Barra, GM chairman and chief executive officer, noted in remarks in Detroit that GM has taken a leading role in the development of electric vehicles and is now developing its fourth generation of EVs.   (more…)

GM Setting its Own Course for Emissions Standards

Call for California-like plan different from other automakers.

by on Oct.29, 2018

General Motors is breaking from the automotive pack with its call for an national emissions policy similar to California's.

General Motors call to use California’s Zero Emission Standard in all 50 states is setting up a potential conflict with the other carmakers.

GM is asking the Environmental Protection Agency for a new fuel-economy standard that would take the California’s Zero Emission Standard for EVs the rule for all 50 states and steer millions of new consumers into electric vehicles — a position very different that of the Trump administration, which has made no secret of its desire to obliterate the California ZEV mandate.

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Meanwhile, the Auto Alliance, in a statement issued the same day as GM’s surprise announcement, praised the Trump administration for offering to modify the fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards. (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Dedicates New European Plant

New site offers flexibility and workforce diversity.

by on Oct.26, 2018

Jaguar Land Rover put the finishing touches on tis new $1.59 billion assembly plant in Nitra, Slovakia.

Jaguar Land Rover has opened its state-of-the-art $1.59 billion manufacturing facility in Nitra, Slovakia.

While the core of its business is in the United Kingdom, Jaguar Land Rover’s investment in Nitra marks the latest step in the company’s global expansion strategy following the opening of its Chinese joint venture in 2014 and Brazilian plant in 2016, JLR officials said.

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The creation of new international factories allows Jaguar Land Rover to offer its customers even more exciting new models, protect against currency fluctuations and support a globally competitive business. (more…)

New Vehicle Sales Expected to Cool in October

Despite slide, market is historically strong.

by on Oct.26, 2018

Jeep is expected to help Fiat Chrysler to another sales increase in October.

Sales of new vehicles are expected to cool slightly in October with an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17.1 million units.

The forecast reflects a 6.7% decrease in sales from September 2018 and a 2.1% decrease from October 2017 as Edmunds predicts that 1.322 million cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S.

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The anticipated decline in sales comes on the heels of a volatile month in the stock market, which has been one of the major backstops for car sales for months now, according to the carmakers themselves. (more…)

Daimler AG Stumbles as Third Quarter Earnings Drop

CEO Zetsche expresses optimism about fourth quarter.

by on Oct.25, 2018

Daimler AG's Dieter Zetsche expressed optimism about the fourth quarter.

Daimler Group earnings declined by 26% during the third quarter as earnings before interest and taxes dropped to 2.5 billion euros from the 3.4 billion posted in the third quarter of 2017.

Daimler’s net earnings of 1.76 billion euros were significantly below the prior-year figure of 2.23 billion euros but Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said the outlook for the balance of the year was encouraging.

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“The automotive industry and thus also Daimler are still in a very challenging environment. The continued high demand from our customers makes us confident for the fourth quarter,” Zetsche said. (more…)