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Terrorist Group Sets Up Car Dealership Network

Does that new model come with a built-in bomb?

by on May.05, 2016

Terror groups like ISIS have made car bombs one of their favorite weapons.

Terrorist groups, like Al Qaeda and ISIS, have been known to frequently use car bombs to achieve their ends. But now, it seems, the latter group has become just as willing to sell cars – apparently without explosive options.

Struggling to make up for the loss of revenue from oil as the U.S. and allies target its refineries in Iraq and Syria, the self-described Islamic State has been desperate to find new sources of cash. And its taken to two rather novel approaches, at least for a terror organization, according to a report by Iraqi authorities. These include both car dealerships and fish farms.

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“After the armed forces took control of several oil fields Daesh was using to finance its operations, the organization devised non-traditional ways of paying its fighters and financing its activities,” said a report by Iraq’s central court of investigation, quoting Judge Jabbar Abid al-Huchaimi. Daesh is an Arabic term for ISIS. (more…)

Why is Tesla’s Musk Sleeping on the Factory Floor?

Battery-carmaker “hell-bent” on solving quality problems, says CEO.

by on May.05, 2016

CEO Elon Musk trying to get out of the trouble Model 3 through its falcon doors.

He may be worth billions, but Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk apparently likes to rough it. He’s been spending a lot of nights curled up in a sleeping bag at the company’s Fremont, California assembly plant, he revealed during a Wednesday evening teleconference.

It has nothing to do with the fact that Musk is getting divorced again. The South African-born executive is trying to stay as close as possible to the plant as it struggles to resolve embarrassing quality problems while getting set up for next year’s launch of the Model 3 battery-electric vehicle.

Electrifying!

The well-reported quality snags have already cost the bigger Tesla Model S its coveted “Recommended Buy” endorsement from influential Consumer Reports magazine. And industry analysts warn that if the problem carries over to the Model 3, it could short-circuit initially strong demand for the more affordable electric sedan.

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Ford Boosting the (Horsepower and Gear) Numbers for 2017 F-150

New 10-speed gearbox developed in joint venture with GM.

by on May.05, 2016

The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor.

Ford is playing it by the numbers as it gets ready to roll out the updated, 2017 F-150 pickup.

The full-size truck, the most popular version of the comprehensive Ford F-Series line-up, has undergone a number of big changes over the last two years, starting with its switch to a lighter, “aluminum-intensive” body. It’s also gotten an assortment of downsized engines, including a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 that was already one of the F-150’s toughest haulers. But the twin-turbo package will get a 30 pound-feet bump for 2017, even as it delivers better fuel economy.

Keep on Truckin'!

A key to the mileage increase is the launch of an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission. That new gearbox was developed as part of an unusual partnership between Ford and erstwhile rival General Motors. Expect to see it roll out on a variety of Ford and GM products over the next several years.

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Tesla Still in Red, But Loss Narrows

CEO Musk calls solving quality problems "the key thing we have to achieve."

by on May.04, 2016

Tesla CEO Elon Musk in front of an image of the Model X SUV - which has been plagued by quality problems since its launch last year.

Struggling to solve quality problems with its first two models while getting ready to launch the all-new Model 3, Tesla Motors rolled up another deficit for the first quarter of 2016, but the losses narrowed, taking industry analysts by surprise.

The battery-electric automaker said it went $282 million into the red for the first three months of the year, or $2.13 a share. Excluding one-time items and using so-called non-GAAP accounting, the lose shrank to $75 million, or 57 cents a share, which was better than Wall Street had forecast, according to a survey of analysts by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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Finances were all but the secondary topic during a teleconference featuring Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk and other senior executives. Much of the session focused on the upcoming Model 3 launch as well as efforts needed to resolve Tesla’s ongoing quality and reliability issues.

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Takata Ordered to Recall Up to 40 Mil More Airbags

Largest safety recall in history already impacting 24 mil vehicles.

by on May.04, 2016

High school senior Huma Hanif was the 11th person killed as a result of the Takata defect.

The largest safety recall in automotive history is about to get even bigger, federal regulators ordering embattled Japanese supplier Takata to recall as many as 40 million additional airbags linked to a defect already blamed for at least 11 deaths.

The previous recall involved about 24 million vehicles sold in the U.S. over roughly the last decade, with 14 manufacturers impacted. Virtually every other major carmaker will now be pulled into the latest recall.

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“This is the largest recall in American history, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind told reporters on Wednesday.

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Bentley Adding More Models; Likely to Go Electric

"Five models in five years" could equal double the sales.

by on May.04, 2016

With its new SUV, the Bentayga, ready for dealer showrooms, Bentley revealed some of its future product plans, including its EV options.

With the new Bentayga SUV ready to hit showrooms, British maker Bentley is starting to plan its next product offensive, and that not only will bring updates of existing models like the Mulsanne and Continental GT, but as many as two new ultra-premium luxury models.

Facing ever-stricter global emissions and mileage standards – as well as pressure to add new zero-emissions models  – Bentley is also giving serious thought to adding a fully electric drivetrain package. That would be on top of the plug-in hybrid version of the Bentayga set to launch late in 2017 or early 2018, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

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It wasn’t all that long ago that Bentley was the proverbial one-trick pony. But it has scored huge sales growth in recent years with the addition of the Continental line-up. And with plans to have “five model (lines) in five years,” said Michael Winkler, CEO of Bentley’s U.S. sales arm, the British marque expects to do substantially better. (more…)

Takata May Recall Another 35 Million Airbags

Japanese supplier facing growing pressure to replace most or all of its airbag inflators.

by on May.04, 2016

A new report suggests that Takata may be forced to recall millions more airbags. The company's already recalled 24 million units.

The embattled Japanese supplier Takata may soon order the recall of tens of millions more vehicles due to potentially defective airbag inflators, according to a new report.

The move comes as pressure mounts on Takata to recall all of its airbag systems using ammonium nitrate inflators. A recent study warned that the explosive chemical may grow unstable over time, one of the apparent reasons why hundreds of Takata airbags have misfired, a problem now linked to at least 11 deaths.

Safety News!

But whether such a move by Takata would satisfy the company’s critics is unclear. Some have called on the supplier to recall nearly 80 million airbag systems. Takata has already recalled more than 24 million cars, making it the largest safety-related recall in automotive history. (more…)

Google, Fiat Chrysler Confirm Autonomous Vehicle Alliance

Deal will focus on new Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

by on May.03, 2016

A self-driving Pacifica is one step closer to reality with today's announcement from FCA and Google.

Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are about to put things on autopilot, the two companies teaming up on a program aimed at bringing self-driving vehicles to market in the near future.

The two have confirmed an alliance, rumored for more than a week, that will see Google acquire 100 of FCA’s new Chrysler Pacifica minivans. They will help the tech giant more than double its current fleet of autonomous vehicle prototypes, the two firms announced late Tuesday. That could eventually see Google technology used in FCA’s production vehicles, though no formal plans for that move have yet been locked down.

Breaking News!

“This announcement is a recognition of the fact we found a sharing of the minds with Google,” said FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, his counterpart at Google, autonomous vehicle chief John Krafcik saying the Silicon Valley firm saw the Detroit maker as “nimble and experienced.” (more…)

First Drive: 2017 Maserati Levante

Italian maker delivers its first SUV. Compatible combination or an automotive oxymoron?

by on May.03, 2016

The 2017 Maserati Levante starts out with the same underlying platform as the Ghibli sedan.

Say the name, Maserati, and you’re likely to picture a sleek sports car like the Ghibli, perhaps, screaming down the Autostrada. But bouncing along a rutted and rock strewn path that was old by the time the Romans packed it in?

That’s where we’ve found ourselves on a drizzly weekday morning, a couple hours outside of Milan, wandering our way through a course set up to train Italian mercenaries and special forces. Not the sort of place you’d traditionally expect to find a Maserati. Then again, the Levante isn’t your typical Maserati. The 2017 model is the maker’s first sport-utility vehicle. And we had come to Italy to find out if that was a compatible combination or an automotive oxymoron.

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Maserati has been toying around with the idea of adding an SUV to its line-up since 2003, when it showed off the original Kubang concept. The notion went nowhere until 2011, when a new prototype made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. After taking a few unexpected detours, the rechristened Maserati Levante is about to start rolling into showrooms around the world.

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FCA, Google Could Announce Autonomous Deal Today

First step: self-driving Pacifica minivan.

by on May.03, 2016

Chrysler wants to reposition the Pacifica as more than a minivan; autonomous tech could help.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Google could announce a joint venture as early as today, according to reports out of Milan.

The non-exclusive project would see FCA use the tech firm’s autonomous vehicle technology in several dozen prototypes based off the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan, according to a report by the Bloomberg news service. But several observers caution that a deal might take longer than expected, and note how a reported Ford-Google alliance failed to materialize, as many had expected, last January.

News Now!

It would mark the first official alliance for Google, which has said it prefers to find partners to use its autonomous vehicle technology, rather than going into the car business itself. Meanwhile, FCA would suddenly move to the head of the class, rather than lagging at the back of the self-driving pack.

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