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Dodge Offers “Double-Up” Lease on Charger, Challenger

Customers get a year in a 2014, three in a new 2015.

by on Apr.15, 2014

Dodge comes up with an unusual lease program for its Charger and Challenger models.

The new Dodge “Double-Up” deal is offering Charger and Challenger customers a chance to get two vehicles out of one lease.

The move appears to be meant to give some momentum to the two Detroit muscle cars which have been struggling to gain ground on traditional segment leaders Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. It also helps clear out an inventory backlog as Dodge prepares to roll out updated versions of its twin performance models.

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The Double-Up program lets a buyer lease a 2014 Dodge Charger or Challenger and then come back, a year from now to swap out for a 2015 model. (more…)

Land Rover Launches Partnership with Virgin Galactic

British maker is first “global partner” of manned space company.

by on Apr.15, 2014

A mock-up of the Virgin Galactic Enterprise makes its NY debut alongside the new Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept.

Land Rover has lined up a new partnership that might be described as out-of-this-world, pairing the British SUV manufacturer with fledgling manned space company Virgin Galactic.

Part of British mega-entrepreneur Richard Branson’s empire – which runs from music to airlines – Virgin Galactic plans to launch a test flight of its manned spacecraft, dubbed the Enterprise, later this year and launch commercial flights soon after.  The “long-term” partnership will begin with Land Rover providing vehicles for use at the new Spaceport America in New Mexico.

High Flying!

“This is a huge, momentous occasion,” proclaimed Phil Popham, Land Rover’s Global Operations Director, during a ceremony aboard the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier that is anchored off Manhattan – and where a replica of the Virgin Galactic spacecraft was positioned next to the Discovery Vision Concept vehicle the British maker will officially unveil at the New York Auto Show this week.

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Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept Gets Out-of-this-World Debut

Show car sets the stage for a “family” of Discovery models.

by on Apr.15, 2014

The Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept makes its debut aboard the USS Intrepid.

The Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept made an out-of-this-world debut during a New York Auto Show preview, appearing alongside a mock-up of the Virgin Galactic Enterprise, the world’s first commercial manned spacecraft, aboard the retired aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid.

The Discovery – sold in the U.S. as the Land Rover LR4 — has long been one of the British maker’s most popular models and the Vision Concept hints at what’s to come when an all-new version debuts next year.  Or, more precisely, what’s to come when a whole new “family” of Discovery models begins to roll out in 2015, LR officials revealed.

A Real Discovery!

“This concept represents our vision of a family of Discovery (models), not just one,” said Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s design director, during the evening unveiling.

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Chevy Rolling Out Cruze Refresh at NY Auto Show

New WiFi hot spot for GM's hot-seller.

by on Apr.15, 2014

The 2015 Chevrolet Cruze gets some modest exterior tweaks - and some major new tech.

There seem to be two General Motors these days.  One is scoring an assortment of solid hits with products ranging from the big Chevrolet Silverado pickup to the sporty new Chevy Corvette and lavish Cadillac CTS.  The other GM, well, it is struggling to keep its name from being dragged through the muddy waters surrounding its ongoing ignition switch recall scandal.

Good product is, without doubt, the best way to shore up one’s reputation, and the Detroit maker is hoping that’s what folks will be focusing on this week as the annual New York Auto Show gets underway. One of the most important GM product launches on tap will be the debut of a refreshed 2015 Chevrolet Cruze.

Auto Show News!

Though it lags behind such compact powerhouses as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the Cruze has been doing well for GM as the Detroit maker’s top-seller in 2013.  So, no surprise the maker hopes to do even better with this update that puts an emphasis on new technology.

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More Shake-Ups at GM

Heads of HR, PR exit as stock falls, investor concerns mount.

by on Apr.14, 2014

New GM HR Director John Quattrone.

Several key executives have handed in their resignations at General Motors. Both the maker’s PR and HR chiefs are off to “pursue other interests,” according to a GM statement, but the moves come at a critical time for the maker as it struggles to do damage control in the wake of an ongoing scandal over its handling of an ignition switch recall linked to at least 13 deaths.

The departures come at a time when GM CEO Mary Barra has had to put two veteran engineers on paid leave for their apparent role in handling a safety issue that the company reportedly knew about for at least a decade.

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Facing investigations by both houses of Congress, the Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as a number of lawsuits over the ignition switch recall, some observers question whether there could be further departures, with CEO Mary Barra’s own tenure hinging on how she manages the recall crisis.

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Nissan Moves Up-Market with 2015 Murano Redesign

Midsize CUV moves up-market.

by on Apr.14, 2014

Nissan remakes Murano for 2015.

Nissan delivered real game-changer when it introduced the original Murano back in late 2002, the midsize crossover breaking with the styling trends of the day that made most CUVs look like traditional, truck-based sport-utility vehicles.

The Japanese maker is back with an all-new Murano which will reach showrooms later this year, and the challenge was to come up with something that pushed the envelope even further.  The maker will get a sense of how well it succeeded when the third-generation CUV makes its official debut at the New York Auto Show this week.

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As with a number of other recent Nissan products, the 2015 Murano began life in show car form – the design signaled through the recent Nissan Resonance show car.

“At Nissan, we create concept vehicles with an eye toward production, rather than just for entertaining auto show audiences,” said Andy Palmer, chief planning officer and executive vice president at Nissan Motor Co. “Likely few people who saw Resonance in its North American International Auto Show debut imagined that we could build such a futuristic design. But here it is, ready to hit Nissan showrooms less than 24 months later.”

Nissan promises best-in-segment cargo space.

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VW Updating, Renaming its Small Wagon

SportWagen gets upgrades, but no AWD for US.

by on Apr.14, 2014

The new 2015 VW Golf SportWagen will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show.

Volkswagen’s compact two-box model is getting both an update and a new name, the old Jetta wagon set to reappear as the 2015 Golf SportWagen.

It’s a fitting decision considering the new model will share the same modular underpinnings as the all-new VW Golf and Golf GTI we’ll finally be seeing later in 2014 – a full year after those models debuted in Europe.

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Like the basic Golf, the SportWagen will be produced at the VW assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico, assembly plant. It will be lighter, stiffer and more well-equipped than the old Jetta wagon. (more…)

VW Revealing Updated 2015 Jetta in NY

Subtle visual revisions conceal other updates.

by on Apr.14, 2014

The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta is set to make its debut at the New York International Auto Show.

Volkswagen must have a thing for the Big Apple as the maker plans an assortment of product announcements during this week’s New York Auto Show. That includes an updated version of the Jetta.

The 2015 VW Jetta won’t deliver any major visual surprises, though, with most of the key changes coming under the skin in the form new technologies, such as blind spot detection, and a new Clean Diesel expected to deliver up to 45 mpg on the highway.

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VW can use a little boost. The maker took a tumble last year and has been struggling to regain momentum so far this year, and it’s betting on the tweaks to Jetta – its best-selling U.S. model – and the newly renamed Golf SportWagen that New York showgoers will get a first look at this coming week. (more…)

New Technologies Allow Motorists to “See” In New Ways

Land Rover unveils “Transparent Hood,” Nissan demonstrates a “smart rearview mirror.”

by on Apr.14, 2014

A diagram of the new Nissan smart mirror system.

It’s always a challenge for a motorist to be sure they can see everything going on around their vehicle, whether backing out of a parking spot or changing lanes.  But new technologies have begun to make that challenge a little easier and safer, with two intriguing new features making their debut at the New York Auto Show later that week.

That includes a new “smart rearview mirror” developed by Nissan, as well as a feature Land Rover is dubbing the “Transparent Hood.”

 

Tech News!

“Smart Rearview Mirror will give our customers the best possible view no matter how tall the passengers in the back seat or how bad the road conditions,” said Andy Palmer, Chief Planning Officer and Executive Vice President of Nissan.

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Congressional Committee Faults “Failures Within (GM) System”

Documents raise questions about who knew what and when.

by on Apr.11, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra testifies before the House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.

The Congressional committee investigating the long-delayed the recall of millions of vehicles equipped with a faulty ignition switch, released a flurry of internal General Motors documents today showing what it described as “failures within the system” that allowed critical safety issues to go unaddressed.

Exactly why the ignition switch problem went unresolved for as much as a decade has spurred a series of investigations by the Department of Justice, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and both houses of Congress.  During two Capitol Hill hearings last week, GM CEO Mary Barra was repeatedly criticized for failing to offer clear answers about the ignition switch problem.

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One of the documents released today showed that while in her previous job as GM’s global product development chief, Barra was kept clearly in the loop about a separate recall issue involving steering problems on the Saturn Ion and other GM products. 

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