Paul A. Eisenstein | TheDetroitBureau.com - Part 2
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First Drive: 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody

The love child of a Hellcat and a Demon.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Smokin'! The Challenger Hellcat Redeye's Line Lock lets you spin the rear tires before launch.

In barely the time it takes to say its full name, the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody will already be blasting past 60, on its way to a top speed of 203 mph.

Think of the Redeye as “the child that came out of the marriage of the Hellcat and Demon,” suggests Chris Cowland, the otherwise mild-mannered Brit who has overseen powertrain development for some of the fiercest muscle cars ever unleashed on public roadways.

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The new-for-2019 Redeye is the latest in the Dodge performance line-up, offering yet one more variant on the Challenger platform. While not the most powerful version ever – a distinction that belongs to the limited-edition, 2018 Demon – the Redeye has nothing to be ashamed about. As Cowland suggests, it is, indeed, what you’d expect from the lovechild of a Hellcat and Demon, as we found during a day’s driving through the Maine Countryside, wrapped up with lap time on the Club Motorsports track an hour outside Portland.

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16 Miles of Smart, Safe and Sustainable Highway Being Built in Rural Georgia

The Ray envisioned as a testbed for tomorrow’s sustainable roadways.

by on Aug.08, 2018

A car drives over a stretch of solar pavement installed along "The Ray," on Georgia's I-85.

Just north of the Alabama border, a 16-mile stretch of Interstate 85 has become an infrastructural experiment that could transform the way highways across the country are designed, engineered and built in the years ahead.

Known as “The Ray,” and named after Ray C. Anderson, an environmentally minded Georgia industrialist, the experimental roadway introduces a variety of services and features designed to encourage both safer and greener driving. That include solar panels built right into the roadway. The project also uses recycled materials, including ground-up tires, to make the pavement itself more durable.

Innovative!

“On 16 miles of interstate in Georgia, we’re innovating the highway corridor from the ground up, creating a living lab that tests and proves what’s possible for roadway ecosystems across the globe,” organizers said when the project was first dedicated two years ago.

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Musk Tweets Suggests He Could Take Tesla Private

But is his 420 reference a doper joke or a serious price target?

by on Aug.07, 2018

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk told the Twitterverse today he was considering taking the EV maker private.

For those in on doper slang, “420” is a familiar reference to marijuana. And to those in the financial community, it’s a number that has many today asking what Tesla CEO Elon Musk might be smoking.

Musk once again set the Twittersphere on fire Tuesday when he sent out a short tweet declaring “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”

Dig Deeper!

Tesla’s stock has been on fire since the automaker released its second-quarter earnings numbers last week, Musk repeating a pledge to deliver both a profit and positive cashflow for the second half of the year. Shares of TSLA were up by another nearly 8.5% as of midday trading, at around $375 rapidly taking aim at the carmaker’s previous record high of $389.61. (more…)

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Could Cause, Not Prevent Crashes, Warns New IIHS Study

Drivers may expect new systems, like Tesla Autopilot, to completely take over driving duties.

by on Aug.07, 2018

Tesla's own semi-autonomous Autopilot tech came under suspicion after this January crash.

Federal safety investigators raced to the scene of a crash involving a Tesla Model S sedan last January after the vehicle slammed into the back of a firetruck stopped on a California highway, regulators wanting to know why that happened despite the vehicle using the carmaker’s advanced driver assistance system specifically designed to prevent such a crash.

“ADAS” systems are being introduced on a wide range of vehicles and, according to industry experts, could substantially reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on U.S. roads. But a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety raises serious concerns about the technology. After testing five different systems offered by four automakers, IIHS warns that even though ADAS can prevent some accidents, the technology also could miss some potential problems and, in some situations, actually steer into a crash.

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A major concern is that these new, semi-autonomous systems still require drivers to be constantly vigilant, and occasionally intervene, said IIHS chief researcher David Zuby. But that’s often easy to forget. “If the systems seem too capable, then drivers may not give them the attention required to use them safely.” (more…)

Light Trucks Dominating Honda’s Familiar Sedan, Coupe Lines This Year

Pilot shows the real momentum in brand’s line-up.

by on Aug.06, 2018

Strong momentum for the Pilot means Honda's trucks will likely outsell passenger cars, including the all-new Accord, this year.

Its traditionally been known for popular sedans and coupes like the Accord and Civic, but unless there’s a sudden shift in demand, Honda will end the year with its light truck line-up dominating its U.S. sales.

The automaker’s luxury arm, Acura, has largely been dependent on crossovers like the RDX and MDX for a number of years, but Honda had continued to buck the light truck trend – at least until this year. Through the end of July, Honda-branded utility vehicles, minivans and pickups rang up sales of 434,169 vehicles in the U.S., while familiar passenger car models managed only 406,357 sales.

Product News!

The shift in demand is leading Japan’s second-largest automaker to not only shift production at its North American assembly lines, but also look at its product mix. During the last several years, Honda has added the entry-level HR-V crossover to its line-up and brought back the Ridgeline pickup. Few observers would be surprised to see it follow the path of crosstown rivals Toyota and Honda and add even more light trucks to its portfolio in the years ahead. (more…)

Former Worker Countersues Tesla Over Sabotage Claim

Martin Tripp alleges automaker tried to cover up quality problems.

by on Aug.06, 2018

Former employee Martin Tripp claims he was fired after trying to report problems at Tesla's Gigafactory.

A former employee at the Gigafactory battery plant has sued Tesla after it claimed he committed sabotage and stole intellectual property.

Martin Tripp was fired by the battery-carmaker in June and subsequently sued by Tesla for allegedly sabotaging the company’s manufacturing system and also stealing its intellectual property. In turn, Tripp has filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, while also filing a lawsuit against Tesla.

News Now!

In the lawsuit, the former employee said the carmaker took action after he “raised his concerns about the seemingly exorbitant amounts of scrap” being produced at the Gigafactory, though “no action was taken.” Tripp even sent an email to Tesla CEO on May 16, 2018 expressing his concerns and backing them up with “graphical charts.”

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New Mustang Hits – With a Bullitt

We follow the tracks of the legendary Steve McQueen chase in the 2019 Mustang Bullitt.

by on Aug.06, 2018

Two icons: the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt emerges from the fog by the Golden Gate Bridge.

(ED: We’ve corrected a few typos and added more on the Bullitt’s six-speed gearbox.)

The streets of San Francisco are eerily quiet on this early morning with the heavy fog that’s rolled in off the Pacific making it possible to imagine traveling back to another time, 50 years ago, when police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt burned rubber going after the bad guys in one of cinema’s most famous chase scenes.

It helps, of course, that we’re riding in the latest iteration of the Ford Mustang Bullitt, the limited-edition pony car meant to celebrate that iconic film and the car driven by star Steve McQueen. Like the original, our coupe is finished in Dark Highland Green, and it’s got a few other touches lifted from the original Bullitt Mustang, including the cue ball shifter knob. But Lt. Bullitt could have only dreamed about having the latest, 475 horsepower version of Ford’s 5.0-liter V-8 under the hood, as well as the magnetic ride control suspension that would make those legendary hilltop jumps a wee bit less jarring.

Reviews You Can Trust!

Temptation is there, but we’ve been asked to take things a little easy this grey morning. No jumps, no drifting, high-speed turns. After all, there’s no film crew on hand, nor the necessary permits and police escort holding back the crowds. No big deal, we’ve already pushed the limits driving through some of the back roads carving through redwood country south of Fog City.

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FCA Aims to Ban India’s Mahindra Over Jeep Look-Alike

Case going before International Trade Commission.

by on Aug.03, 2018

Mahindra is ramping up U.S. production of its Roxor SUV, which Fiat Chrysler is attempting to block.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles wants the International Trade Commission to block Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. from selling its Roxor model through the new U.S. dealership its setting up because the SUV looks too much like a Jeep.

It’s the latest in a series of battles Detroit automakers have faced, many of them in China, as they try to prevent emerging competitors from marketing knock-offs and, in some cases, even using nearly identical model and brand names.

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In the case of the Roxor, FCA’s complaint to the Trade Commissions alleges the Indian SUV is “a nearly identical copy of the iconic Jeep design,” as was ‘modeled after the original Willys Jeep.” (more…)

Automakers Caught “In Limbo” As New CAFE Rules Face Major Legal Hurdles

Anticipated court battle could delay changes for years.

by on Aug.03, 2018

Automakers are caught in the middle over the CAFE debate and could face even more challenges if the proposed Trump rollback drags on in court.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the Trump Administration’s plan to roll back the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, automakers are finding themselves in what one long-time industry analyst calls “limbo,” and it could be a year or more before they’ll actually be able to incorporate the CAFE update into their plans due to anticipated legal challenges.

As a result, it could be well into the upcoming decade before the White House revisions actually have any significant impact, according to numerous industry executives who spoke to TheDetroitBureau.com, if any changes ever actually occur.

Insight!

There is the very real possibility that the courts could rule against the proposed changes or that the legal battle drags on long enough for a new administration to come into office and revert back to the guidelines established under the Obama White House. As a result, automakers and suppliers face a major conundrum when it comes to planning for products set to come out through the middle of the coming decade.

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19 States, DC Launch Legal Move to Block CAFE Cuts

“We are prepared to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”

by on Aug.02, 2018

Massachusetts Attorney-General Maura Healey is taking the lead in opposing the CAFE cuts.

It didn’t take long for the backlash to begin as critics took aim at the White House effort to roll back the federal mileage mandate, 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, announcing plans to sue the Trump Administration.

The plan revealed Thursday would freeze the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard at 37 miles per gallon, the target automakers had been expected to achieve by 2020, on the way to an official target of 54.5 mpg by 2025 – though the original, real-world number would be in the low to mid-40 range. The administration said the move would not only save new vehicle buyers an average of $2,340 but also save 1,000 lives annually. Critics, however, contend the move will increase demand for imported oil, boost household energy costs and worsen global warming.

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Breaking News!

“We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan,” the coalition of states attorneys-general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, said in a news release.

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