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Fiat Reveals New 4-Door Aegea Project

A Dart for the rest of the world?

by on May.22, 2015

Fiat unveiled the Fiat Aegea Project concept at the Istanbul Motor Show today. The car uses the Dodge Dart platform.

For those familiar with the pint-sized Fiat 500, the new Aegea concept is likely to seem positively huge.

The new concept vehicle, dubbed the Fiat Aegea Project, was unveiled today at the Istanbul Motor Show – an appropriate reference to the coast of Turkey where Fiat Chrysler Automobiles operates a major assembly plant.

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The dimensions shouldn’t be all that surprising once you realize this is a second take on the Dodge Dart platform – itself an update of an older Fiat chassis, originally used for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Initial reaction suggests FCA may actually have come up with the best design of all with the Aegea. (more…)

Insurers Overcharging Low-Mileage Drivers, Consumer Group Claims

Link between mileage and claims largely ignored.

by on May.22, 2015

Despite being at a lower risk of crashing, study finds low-mileage drivers are over-charged.

Even though they tend to file significantly fewer claims, a new study says auto insurers typically fail to give discounts to motorists who clock low mileage.

Only State Farm, among all the major auto insurance companies, routinely provided a discount for those who put on about 5,000 miles a year – roughly a third of the national norm – according to the study by the Consumer Federation of America.

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“The failure of most large insurers to adequately reward low mileage especially harms lower income and older drivers because they drive the least,” said Stephen Brobeck, CFA’s executive director.

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GM and Disney Take a Trip to Tomorrowland

Film showcases five classic concept vehicles – and a few modern ones.

by on May.22, 2015

The winged Firebird III concept car was one of several GM developed to showcase turbine power.

Is it back to the future…or forward into the past?

The new Disney movie, Tomorrowland, sets actor George Clooney out on a search for a secret location caught between time and space. And among the discoveries they make when they get there are a collection of classic General Motors concept vehicles, including the jet-powered Firebird III and the Space Age Astro II.

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“Tomorrowland is a place where nothing is impossible, which is something that Chevrolet believes can exist in the here and now,” Tim Mahoney, vice president, Global Chevrolet, said when announcing GM’s participation in the Disney flick – which also showcases several modern vehicles including the next-generation Chevy Volt.

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Twist of a Knob to Make Towing a Trailer Easier with 2016 Ford F-150

New technology modeled on parking assist system.

by on May.21, 2015

Ford is introducing its ProTrailer Assist technology that makes it easier for drivers to back up with a trailer hitched to the truck.

With Memorial Day ushering in the official start of the summer season, expect to see more and more people towing boats and trailers – and to hear more motorists cussing as they struggle to hitch up and move those trailers.

The process can be a frustrating chore, especially for novices, but Ford Motor Co. promises to make it a bit easier with the addition of its new “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” system which will make its debut on the 2016 version of the full-size F-150 pickup. And all it will take is the twist of a knob.

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“Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a smart solution to save time and increase productivity for our customers,” said Doug Scott, marketing manager, Ford Truck Group. “Instead of struggling to back up their trailer, they can spend more time on the job or enjoying the lake.” (more…)

Honda Shifting from Cars to Trucks

Maker searching for more “white space” opportunities.

by on May.21, 2015

Honda's 2016 Pilot begins rolling off the company's assembly line in Lincoln, Alabama, today.

Things will be getting busy at the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama plant today – make that busier – as the first of the maker’s new 2016 Pilot SUVs begins rolling down the line.

It’s the third-generation version of the three-row ute that has become not just one of the most popular vehicles in its segment but a symbol of some major changes at the Japanese brand. Long focused on sedans and coupes like the Accord and Civic, Honda is steadily shifting emphasis from passenger cars to sport- and crossover-utility vehicles.

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Already, truck models make up 49% of total U.S. production, noted John Mendel, Honda’s top U.S. executive, “and we could flex that even further,” he said during a teleconference with reporters marking the launch of Pilot production. “That depends on the car market and how much the truck market grows.” (more…)

Autonomous Vehicles Could Lead to Sharp Slump in Car Sales

Levels could drop below Great Recession numbers, analyst predicts.

by on May.20, 2015

If sales of autonomous vehicles, like Google's, take off, it could have a significant impact on new vehicle sales.

Sometime next year, General Motors will introduce the SuperDrive system on the new Cadillac CT6 sedan. Capable of hands-free freeway motoring, it will help usher in an era of autonomous driving that proponents – including GM – believe will revolutionize the transportation industry.

But a new study warns that not all the changes to come will be good for GM and other automakers. Titled “Disruptive Mobility,” and produced by Brian Johnson, a Barclays automotive analyst, it warns that self-driving vehicles could lead to a sharp drop in U.S. car sales in the years ahead.

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Over the next 25 years, as autonomous vehicles become the norm, rather than the exception, the study predicts U.S. car sales will drop from nearly 17 million this year to perhaps 9.5 million. That’s even lower than what the industry experienced during the depths of the Great Recession. (more…)

How Do You Get to Work?

Commuting patterns vary widely among America’s 30 largest cities.

by on May.20, 2015

Are you stuck in traffic ever morning? That might depend upon where you live, finds new study.

If you’re like most Americans, you likely fire up your car when you head to work each morning. Then again, maybe not. A new study shows there are some substantial differences in how Americans commute, much of that depending upon where they live.

In New York, more than half of commuters hop on mass transit compared to less than 1% in Oklahoma City. Walking is gaining popularity in big cities, as is riding a bike. Telecommuting also is gaining ground, especially in tech-savvy communities like Portland and Austin.

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When commuters head to work also can vary widely. Detroiters can be found flooding the freeways long before the crack of dawn, according to a study of commuting habits in the 30 largest American cities, conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

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Lack of Fuel Limits Hyundai Hydrogen Car Sales

Sales could grow as refueling network expands across California.

by on May.20, 2015

The Hyundai fuel cell stack shown in front of the Tucson. The entire package fits under the hood where a gas engine would normally go.

A lack of a hydrogen fueling network is taking its toll on Hyundai’s fuel cell-powered Tucson model, according to the maker’s top U.S. executive.

That has forced the maker to turn away potential buyers who simply don’t live close enough to the handful of hydrogen pumps currently open to the public in Southern California. But Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America said the situation should improve over the next few years as a state-funded effort opens more hydrogen fueling stations.

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Hyundai has sold “under 100” of the Tucson FCV models since the fuel-cell vehicle was introduced last summer, said Zuchowski, during a chat with reporters following a drive of two of the maker’s other alternative-power vehicles, the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models.

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First Drive: 2016 Honda Pilot

A minivan by any other name…

by on May.20, 2015

The 2016 Honda Pilot can push up above $40,000 in high-trim models.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare famously asked. He was, of course, referring to a rose. But we might ask the same about the word, minivan. Once one of the most popular body styles on U.S. roads, sales have slumped sharply in recent years as style-conscious buyers have migrated to SUVs and crossovers.

Honda, however, has come up with an interesting solution. Give buyers a minivan and just call it something else. Officially, the 2016 Honda Pilot is a utility vehicle. But for all intents and purposes, it’s a minivan minus the sliding doors.

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First introduced in 2003 and redesigned six years later, the third-generation Honda Pilot is more than just an update. It adopts a much more stylish exterior, an even more lavish interior, and plenty of new safety and creature comfort technologies. What stays the same is Pilot’s focus on providing the sort of comfort, functionality and flexibility that, in years past, would have drawn buyers to conventional minivans, including Honda’s own Odyssey model.

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Toyota, Honda Have Best Relationship With Suppliers

Relationship with Detroit makers continues to deteriorate, finds study.

by on May.19, 2015

Honda's relationship with its suppliers is the best in the auto industry, according to a recent survey. Toyota tied for the top spot.

When Henry Ford built his massive rouge assembly complex near Detroit, he’d ship in sand and iron ore at one end, then truck out fully assembled vehicles at the other. But that era is long gone, and these days, manufacturers are highly dependent on suppliers who provide a major share of the parts and components that go into a modern vehicle.

But how well suppliers and automakers work together varies widely, and a new study finds that Toyota and Honda have the strongest relationship with U.S. parts suppliers while the situation has actually deteriorated when it comes to Detroit’s Big Three.

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Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. topped the list, according to the 15th annual Automotive OEM Supplier Working Relations Index, a study produced by Planning Perspectives, Inc., in Birmingham, Michigan. It was the fifth year in a row the two Japanese makers led the industry. (more…)