Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Author Archive

Toyota, FCA Recall About 2 Mil Vehicles for Faulty Airbags

Takata defect not the only problem.

by on May.24, 2016

The 2010 Lexus GX is part of the most recent airbag-related recall for Toyota.

Nearly 2 million more vehicles are being recalled by Toyota and Fiat Chrysler due to a series of airbag problems, the vast majority of them involving defective Takata airbag inflators.

Designed to enhance crash safety, airbags have become a major headache for automakers around the world due to design and manufacturing issues. The Takata problem alone has already become the largest recall in U.S. automotive history, impacting as many as 20 different automakers.

Get a Free Subscription!

The largest of the two new recalls involves 1.6 million Toyota vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. The service action affects both the driver and passenger front airbags on vehicles as much as a decade old and sold through the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands. (more…)

Who Wants to Be a Doctor? Israel Breeding Generation of Entrepreneurs

From traffic apps to refillable batteries.

by on May.24, 2016

Waze, a traffic app developed by an Israeli start-up, was purchased by Google for $1 billion.

Working out of a nondescript office building in a suburb of Tel Aviv, a small Israeli start-up has reinvented the wheel. No, the softwheel isn’t square or triangular, but replaces traditional spokes or hubs with three shock absorbers.

“It started as an accident,” says Daniel Barel, the CEO of Softwheel, admitting the original plan was to come up with a better wheelchair capable of going up and down stairs. Threatened with the likelihood of having its funding pulled and the company shut down, Softwheel’s engineers came up with the breakthrough that could also be used for bicycles, motorcycles and possibly even automobiles.

Mazel Tov!

It might have been an accident, but it wasn’t dumb luck, but rather the sort of innovation that has been coming out of Israel with ever-increasing frequency in recent years as the country shifts from a traditional, agricultural economy to one based more and more on high technology. It’s something the consumer electronics industry has come to depend on, and now the global auto industry is turning to Israel’s entrepreneurs and engineers, as well. (more…)

Detroit Muscle Cars Fall Short in New Crash Tests

Ford Mustang outperforms Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger.

by on May.24, 2016

They perform well on the street, but the IIHS wanted to see how the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro perform in a crash.

The Ford Mustang outperformed its domestic muscle car rivals in the latest series of crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but none of the three managed to earn top ratings in the closely watched tests.

This marks the first time the insurance industry-funded safety group tested and compared all three of the domestic “pony cars,” a move that reflects the fact that muscle cars collectively suffer some of the highest loss rates of any vehicle category, according to government statistics.

Safety News!

“Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it’s especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund.


New Bus Tech Could Save Pedestrian Lives

New technology could cut down rising number of pedestrian-bus crashes.

by on May.23, 2016

The Mobileye Shield Plus helps eliminate the blind spots on city buses, which can lead to accidents.

More than 2,000 new buses will be rolling out across New York City in the months ahead. Designed to be more reliable and fuel-efficient, they’ll also offer a number of new amenities for passengers, including free WiFi.

But they won’t come with some of the safety features increasingly common on today’s passenger cars, such as blind-spot detection. That’s a big problem, safety advocates warn, considering bus crashes are one of the reasons why the U.S. saw a roughly 15% increase in pedestrian fatalities last year.

Safety News!

The good news is that the city’s mass transit authority, the MTA, will soon begin testing several new technologies that could reduce all sorts of bus crashes, including impacts with pedestrians who often cannot be seen by drivers as they turn corners because of the vehicles’ large blind spots. (more…)

Toyota Teams Up to Develop iBot Motorized Wheelchair

iBot capable of rising up on two wheels and climbing stairs.

by on May.23, 2016

iBot inventor Dean Kamen shows off the wheelchair's ability to ride on just two wheels.

Toyota is lending its support to DEKA Research to complete the development of the iBot motorized wheelchair.

The brainchild of Dean Kamen, the inventor of the two-wheeled Segway PT, the iBot is designed to overcome the traditional limits of the wheelchair. Among other things, it can climb up and down stairs, and even rise from a standard, seating position to about six feet in height.

In the Know!

“Toyota and DEKA share the same vision of making mobility available to people of every kind of ability,” said DEKA founder Dean Kamen. “We are excited about this new relationship and excited about what it means for making that dream a reality.”


Most American Motorists Wary of Self-Driving Cars

Concerns grow even as autonomous vehicles come closer to production.

by on May.23, 2016

An autonomous Ford Fusion prototype recently began testing on public roads in California.

Every week brings a flurry of new reports about the coming wave of autonomous vehicles, but a new study finds that only a small minority of American motorists actually want to buy a self-driving vehicle.

Motorists are a bit more open to semi-autonomous technologies that still require a driver to keep their hands on the wheel, but nearly half said they wanted no self-driving technologies at all, according to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI. And more than a third said they would be “very concerned about riding in a completely self-driving vehicle.”

Stay on Top!

The results of the UMTRI could raise some serious concerns among industry planners. Global automakers are spending billions of dollars to develop self-driving vehicles, with the first semi-autonomous products just starting to come to market. Several makers have announced plans to have fully autonomous models on the road by 2020.


Aston Martin Turns to Zagato for New Vanquish Concept Coupe

The shape of things to come?

by on May.20, 2016

The new Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Concept coupe is the marque's latest cutting-edge concept.

Britain’s luxury carmaker Aston Martin is just coming out of a long sleep, with a pocketful of new capital helping it set in motion the most aggressive product roll-out in its 103-year history.

And we’re getting a peak at what’s coming with a first look at the new Vanquish Zagato concept coupe. As the name suggests, Aston has turned to Italian design house Zagato for the show car making its official debut this weekend at the exclusive Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como this weekend.

Concept News!

“We pride ourselves on our strong partnership and the creation of the Vanquish Zagato Concept was a true shared experience,” Zagato’s CEO, Andrea Zagato, said in a statment. “It represents the essence of an important design relationship that dates back over 50 years.” (more…)

Uber Latest Ride-Sharing Co. to Start Autonomous Vehicle Program

Ultimate goal: eliminate drivers entirely.

by on May.20, 2016

Uber has already started testing autonomous vehicles with an eye toward using them in their regular ride-sharing fleet someday.

Just weeks after Lyft announced plans to begin testing self-driving vehicle technology with partner General Motors, the ride-sharing giant Uber says it has launched its own autonomous vehicle test fleet.

A prototype Ford Fusion Hybrid, complete with cameras, lasers and radar, is already working the streets of Pittsburgh, where Uber is basing its new Advanced Technology Center. But the company’s autonomous vehicle program got underway in earnest a year ago when Uber turned to the old steel town’s Carnegie Mellon University, a pioneer in self-driving technology.

Tech Talk!

The prototype, Uber said, “looks like it should be driven by a superhero. But this is no movie prop.” Indeed, the company is just the latest in a growing list of firms convinced that autonomous vehicles will become the norm, rather than the exception, in the not-too-distant future. (more…)

Reinventing the Wheel?

Israeli start-up claims its design is lighter, offers better handling, comfort, energy-efficiency.

by on May.20, 2016

Softwheel CEO Daniel Barel with one of the company's wheels, complete with 3 shock absorbers.

Daniel Barel wants to reinvent the wheel. Actually, he’s quick to tell you he already has.

The young Israeli entrepreneur is CEO of a Tel Aviv-based start-up called Softwheel that has come up with a new concept that could, Barel boasts, improve the comfort, handling and even the fuel economy of virtually any wheeled vehicle. And it happened largely by accident.

Tech Talk!

“We didn’t intend to reinvent the wheel,” says Barel, whose company is one of dozens of start-ups participating in an Israeli automotive tech fair called EcoMotion on a warm and blindingly sunny afternoon along the Mediterranean coast. “It started as an accident.”


Tesla May Need Up to Nearly $2 Bil to Get Model 3 into Production

Jump in share price could make additional stock offering easier sell.

by on May.19, 2016

The Model 3 is slated to come to market in 2017; however, the launch comes with a hefty price tag of nearly $2 billion.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has laid out an ambitious launch plan for the upcoming Model 3 that would transform it into a mainstream automaker by 2018 – but the California battery-carmaker will need anywhere from $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion to fund the new model’s rollout and production plans, Tesla said.

It would mark the second big stock offering in barely a year for the money-losing Tesla, and word of the move sent the maker’s shares tumbling, though the stock, traded on the New York Stock Exchange as TSLA, is still well ahead of where it was prior to the March 31 unveiling of the Model 3.


In a public filing, Tesla said it needs cash to complete the development of the new battery sedan, its first to target a mainstream market segment. It also noted that it “may also use a portion of the net proceeds (for) working capital and other general corporate purposes.” (more…)