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First Look: Mercedes-AMG GT R

Green Hell from Stuttgart.

by on Jun.27, 2016

A bright green bat out of hell, the GT R.

Ever since Mercedes-Benz rolled out the GT sports car a couple years back, we’ve been expecting a few variants, the typical modus operandi for the Schwabian automaker. Now, it seems, we’ll soon be getting a flood of them, including the recently introduced GT S, a “base” model due next year and, shortly after that, the Mercedes-AMG GT R that made its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England over the weekend.

Able to launch from 0 to 60 in a mere 3.5 seconds – about 0.2 seconds faster than the 2016 GT S model – you might be tempted to call it a bat out of hell. So, appropriately enough, Mercedes is introducing the new GT R with a new paint scheme called Green Hell Magno.

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Beyond that blinding hue, you’ll be able to distinguish the new Mercedes-AMG GT R from other versions of the two-seater thanks to new, widebody trim that adds about two inches in width to the more mundane versions of the GT.

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All-New Porsche Panamera Pics Leak out

2017 model gets lighter platform, new, more streamlined body.

by on Jun.24, 2016

A leaked pic of the 2017 Porsche Panamera.

Porsche has been dropping lots of hints as it prepares to formally unveil the newly redesigned Panamera next week. But it turns out you don’t have to wait for that online unveiling or the official public debut of the coup-like sports sedan at the Paris Motor Show later this year.

Along with the teaser images from Porsche, three grainy but quite revealing new pics wound up on Instagram and we’re offering readers a longer look.

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Porsche has never been shy about taking risks, whether introducing its first SUV, the Cayenne, or following with a distinctive, albeit controversial sports car sedan. The original Panamera was a true Porsche in terms of driving dynamics, but generated plenty of controversy over its bubble-back rear end.

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Jeep Electrified – SUV Maker Adding EVs, Plug-Ins

Battery-based Jeeps “under active development.”

by on Jun.24, 2016

The Jeep Renegade could be one of the first models electrified, a plug in the Chinese market.

Today’s battery-based vehicles tend to be small sedans, coupes and hatchbacks. But that’s beginning to change with high-end products like the Tesla Model S and, more recently, the Model X.

Tesla will soon have some challengers in the battery-electric SUV market including Audi, set to debut an all-electric ute in 2018. And Jeep is getting ready to weigh in, as well, according to brand boss Michael Manley.

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While Fiat Chrysler’s SUV division isn’t ready to release specific plans, Manley told TheDetroitBureau.com that new battery-based products are “under active development,” and other company sources indicate they aren’t very far from launch.

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Brexit Vote Results Worries Global Automakers

Results could plunge EU auto industry back into recession.

by on Jun.24, 2016

Rue Brittania? The vote to exit the European Union could have a major impact on automakers.

(This story has been updated regarding Jaguar Land Rover plans for a new plant in Slovakia.)

The much anticipated vote on Brexit, which will now lead to Great Britain’s departure from the European Union, is causing widespread worry in financial and business circles around the world. And among those fearing the impact are key global automakers like Toyota, General Motors and Britain’s own Jaguar Land Rover.

Calling it “the big unknown,” one industry official warned that automakers will have to give serious thought to future trade and investments, among other things. The possibility that the Brexit vote could trigger other independence movements is adding to the worries, according to financial and political analysts.

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“All hell will break loose,” said Joe Eberhardt, the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover’s North American operations. “First of all it will have a short-term impact on the currency. My bigger concern is long term. Right away all the exporting companies in the UK will be facing tariffs because they are not part of the negotiated EU trade agreement. It would not be good for us.”

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Acura NSX EV Prototype Takes Aim at Pikes Peak

All-electric powered racer making historic run.

by on Jun.23, 2016

The Acura NSX EV concept will make the Pikes Peak run using four electric motors: only.

Acura is eyeing a run up Pikes Peak when the annual hill climb commences in the coming weeks. And what better car to do so than the new NSX supercar? How about an Acura NSX prototype that adds a fourth motor and will run entirely on battery power?

In recent years, a number of battery-electric vehicles have plugged into the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, including entries from Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi. The new NSX is seen as a particularly promising entrant because of its advanced battery powertrain which uses its electric motors not only for propulsion but also to enhance steering.

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“We’ve been tuning the car for several weeks at Pikes and have advanced its performance significantly,” said Tetsuya Yamano, who piloted last year’s Honda CR-Z prototype up the 14,114-foot tall mountain and who will now drive the NSX. “We’re honored to be running at Pikes in this historical, anniversary year – an event respected by racing fans all over the world.” (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Sending Out Fix for Faulty eShifters on Recalled Jeep, Sedan

Jeep investigating possible link to death of Star Trek actor Yelchin.

by on Jun.23, 2016

Jeep had been hoping to gain momentum with the Grand Cherokee's appearance in the new film, Independence Day Resurgence.

A top official at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said the carmaker wants to investigate the weekend accident that took the life of actor Anton Yelchin, best known for his role in the Star Trek movie series. He was killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee unexpectedly pinned him against a gate at his home, apparently leading to asphyxia.

The 2015 sport-utility vehicle was one of 1.1 million FCA vehicles recalled earlier this year to fix an electronic shifter system that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration System called “unintuitive,” citing numerous complaints from owners who said they could not figure out what gear they were in. The automaker had issued a warning to owners but had not begun repairs at the time Yelchin was killed.

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“We’re waiting to be able to start our own investigation,” said Michael Manley, the president and chief executive of the Jeep brand, during a media roundtable at FCA’s proving grounds an hour outside Detroit on Thursday. “Obviously, we would like our own people to go over the vehicle.”

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GM’s Fuel-Cell Tech May Soon Power Advanced Navy Project

Hydrogen power seen as key to long-range unmanned underwater vehicles.

by on Jun.23, 2016

A prototype Navy unmanned underwater vehicle could soon use a GM fuel-cell system.

Technology some see as the key to the future for the auto industry could also play a significant role for the U.S. military.

General Motors is teaming up with the U.S. Navy in the effort to develop a new generation of unmanned undersea vehicles that would rely on hydrogen fuel-cell technology to operate independently for as long as 70 days at a time. The technology would replace the more limited battery-drive systems currently in use in so-called UUVs, according to Navy officials.

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“If you want long endurance you really need fuel cells,” said Karen Swider-Lyons, head of the Alternative Energy Section at the Naval Research Laboratory.

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Mitsubishi Expecting Major Profit Hit from Mileage Scandal

Damage could worsen.

by on Jun.23, 2016

Mitsubishi could post a $1.4 billion loss as a result of the lost sales and payouts due to the fuel mileage scandal.

Slammed over false fuel economy numbers, Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors is anticipating a sharp financial hit for the current fiscal year.

Mitsubishi now says it could report a loss of as much as $1.4 billion when it closes the books next March, a major swing from the $694 million profit, at current exchange rates, it originally forecast.

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That reflects not only the slump in the maker’s sales since the scandal broke in April but also the cost of reimbursing owners of various models who had their mileage inflated in a bid to make the vehicles more competitive. But an ongoing investigation could force Mitsubishi to pay out still more if it confirms cheating on other vehicles. (more…)

Wonky Tech, Balky Transmissions: New Power Study Reveals Industry’s Biggest Quality Problems

Navigation and voice control generate the largest number of complaints, finds 2016 IQS.

by on Jun.22, 2016

Customers may be demanding the latest tech but it's also the biggest source of complaints.

You tap a button on the steering wheel, wait for the beep and read out the address you’re looking for in a suburb of Detroit. After a seemingly interminable wait, the car’s voice-controlled navigation system responds – directing you to a location in Delaware.

Wonky navigation systems, especially those using voice control, are the single biggest complaint motorists have about their 2016 cars, according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, with problems involving high-tech systems, in general, accounting for a full 24% of the “problems” reported in the new study.

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But while traditional complaints such as faulty engines and loose exterior trim, have declined sharply in recent years, mechanical defects haven’t vanished entirely. If anything, consumers are growing frustrated by the latest generation of 8- and 9-speed transmissions, according to Renee Stephens, the chief automotive analyst with J.D. Power and Associates.

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Big Surprises as New Car Quality Makes Big Improvement

Kia takes top spot as non-luxury brands outperform high-line marques.

by on Jun.22, 2016

The Kia Forte was No. 1 compact car in the 2016 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Kia was also the top brand.

The quality of the typical new vehicle being sold in the U.S. this year is better than ever, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates, the pace of improvement increasing at a near-record pace. But that is only one of the surprises found in the 30th annual Initial Quality Study.

Traditionally, Japanese and European luxury brands have dominated the IQS, but not this year. The Power study, which is based on responses from 80,000 U.S. new vehicle owners, found mainstream brands in the lead. In fact, the overall winner of the 2016 Initial Quality Study was Korea’s Kia, with sibling Hyundai nabbing the third spot behind Porsche.

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On the whole, the auto industry is “making some of the highest quality products we’ve ever seen,” said Renee Stephens, Power’s vice president of U.S. automotive quality. “What was really fascinating,” she added, was that the score of the typical manufacturer improved by 6%, “double what we saw last year.” (more…)