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China’s Lack of Brand Loyalty Helping German Automakers

Study shows buyers looking to upgrade plan to buy German cars.

by on Sep.18, 2014

Buyers in China looking for a luxury brand lean toward German makers, such as BMW.

Chinese consumers are proving as fickle as their counterparts in the United States, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group, and that may be good news for German car brands there.

Roughly 40% of the owners of cars from Chinese makers planning to trade their vehicle for a global or “foreign” brand said they intend to buy a Volkswagen model. Nearly 90% of foreign volume-brand owners who are trading up said they are likely to buy an Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz, according to the group, known as BCG.

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China remains the world’s largest automobile market with sales expected to top 21 million units this year, dwarfing sales in the U.S., Western Europe and Japan, the industry’s traditional key markets. Read the rest of this entry »

Nissan’s Need Sparks One-of-a-Kind “Hybrid” Truck

Customized Leaf creates team camaraderie, meets team’s needs.

by on Sep.18, 2014

Nissan engineers in Arizona needed a truck to use at their tech center so they built one... out of a Leaf.

Auto shops all over the country typically need a reliable “shop truck” to pick up parts and run other errands, and the engineers at Nissan’s technical center in Arizona are no different. Many of these trucks are original creations and Nissan’s truck is no different.

Well, it’s a little different: it’s a Leaf… sort of.

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The 30-plus member durability and reliability team created Sparky: it’s part Frontier, part Titan and mostly Leaf. Read the rest of this entry »

Renault Eolab Concept Delivers 235 mpg in Style

Prototype opts for lightweight materials, advanced aero and new hybrid technologies.

by on Sep.18, 2014

The Renault Eolab sips barely 1 liter of fuel every 100 km, and gets 37 miles per charge.

When Volkswagen announced plans to go into production with its 261 mile per gallon XL1 it seemed unlikely any manufacturer would be able to top it. Perhaps, but Renault is ready to come close with the new three-door Eolab concept vehicle it plans to unveil at the Paris Motor Show next month.

The French hatchback will only be able to manage a mere 235 mpg, according to Renault – but it also should deliver nearly twice the power of the anemic German mileage champ.

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For now, the real difference is that Volkswagen is rolling out 250 copies of the XL1 where Renault plans to use the Eolab as a test bed for technologies it says it might bring to market in the near future.

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Hong Kong Tycoon Places Record Rolls-Royce Order

Buys 30 Phantoms for guests at new resort.

by on Sep.17, 2014

Stephen Hung, left, is all smiles after ordering 30 Rolls-Royce Phantoms at a cost of $20 million.

Considering their cost, only a select handful of motorists might ever dream of purchasing a Rolls-Royce, but Hong Kong tycoon Stephen Kung is purchasing 30 of them – the largest order the venerable British brand has ever received.

The deal valued at $20 million, Hung plans to use the 30 Phantom sedans to chauffeur guests at the new luxury resort he is building in China’s gambling mecca, Macau.

A Legend!

“Macau is rapidly evolving into the luxury capital of the world and we are honored to have the opportunity to add to Macau’s many distinctions, the world’s largest fleet of Rolls-Royce Phantoms, including the two most luxurious vehicles Rolls-Royce has ever built,” Hung, the chairman of Louis XIII Holdings Ltd., said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

Easy Rider Motorcycle Going up for Auction

“Captain America” bike became symbol of ‘60s counterculture.

by on Sep.17, 2014

Captain America and his friend, Billy, set out to discover America in the '60s cult film, "Easy Rider."

Want to own one of the most familiar symbols of the ’60s counterculture? You’ll soon be able to place your bid for the customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by Peter Fonda in the cult film “Easy Rider.”

With its stars-and-stripes paint theme, the Captain America chopper is expected to generate as much as $1.2 million when it’s sold by the Profiles in History auction house on Oct. 18, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The Automotive Journal of Record!

The panhead chopper with chromed hardtail frame is currently owned by Michael Eisenberg, a businessman who once owned a motorcycle-themed Los Angeles restaurant, partnering with “Easy Rider” stars Fonda and Dennis Hopper. He purchased the bike only a year ago from actor Dan Haggerty who was given it after working on the iconic movie. Read the rest of this entry »

Apple Watch Declared a Highway Safety Threat

Brits enact penalties of up to two years in prison.

by on Sep.17, 2014

Apple's new Watch is expected to kick-start the wearable technology market.

It is meant to be hip and convenient, but is the new Apple Watch also a threat to safety?

You may keep it on your wrist, but safety experts are questioning whether the new wearable device will be just as much of a driver distraction as handheld cellphones and tablet computers. And British authorities have indicated that someone using an Apple Watch when involved in a fatal crash could be subject to up to two years in prison.

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The UK’s Institute for Advanced Motorists is leading the charge, declaring that the Watch “could significantly impair driving performance – being a major cause for distraction and road accidents.”

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Auto Industry Players Supporting U-M Research Center

Companies give $1 million to aid connected car programs.

by on Sep.17, 2014

Testing and developing connected and automated vehicles like these will be the focus of the Mobility Transformation Center at the University of Michigan.

More than a dozen companies are throwing their support – and dollars – behind the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center and its plans to research and develop connected and automated vehicles.

A mix of automakers, suppliers, communications and technology companies – called the Leadership Circle – have pledged more than $1 million during the next three years to help the center, also known as the MTC, expand research program. Additional companies, known as affiliates, are also participating.

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“We are on the threshold of a transformation in mobility that the world hasn’t seen since the introduction of the automobile a century ago,” said Dr. Peter Sweatman, director of the MTC. Read the rest of this entry »

Senators Excoriate NHTSA Leader During Hearing

Friedman defends agency, declines to apologize to families.

by on Sep.17, 2014

David Friedman, NHTSA's acting administrator, testifies during a Senate subcommittee hearing.

U.S. Senators took turns lambasting the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during a subcommittee hearing for failing to discover sooner the problem with General Motors faulty ignition switch that is cause of 19 deaths and the recall of 2.6 million vehicles.

Senator Claire McCaskill, who chaired Tuesday’s hearing, blasted the agency for not doing more to get to the bottom of the problem by exercising its powers, including subpoenas, to do so.

A Smart Move!

“That reflects obviously on an agency that is perhaps more interested in singing kumbaya with the manufacturers than being a cop on the beat,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Out Ferrari – Here Comes the Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Flagship sedan will churn out 811 lb-ft of torque.

by on Sep.16, 2014

Bentley's new Mulsanne Speed model boasts torque numbers even Ferrari can respect.

For those who have the taste – and the budget – for high-performance imports, brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, or perhaps Aston Martin, are likely to come immediately to mind. But there’s another exotic getting ready to give them a run for the money.

Bentley has been drawing from its history of motorsports to fuel its decade-long revival, and it clearly showed it wasn’t going to get left behind at the stoplight when it launched the latest, 616-horsepower version of its Continental GT Speed.

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From a pony count, the even newer Bentley Mulsanne Speed delivers a mere 530-hp — 25 more than a stock Mulsanne. But it’s the torque number that should put a smile on affluent performance fans, while sending a shiver down the spine at competitive brands. The maker’s flagship model, in Speed trim, will deliver an astounding 811 pound-feet of tire-spinning torque. That’s nearly 300 lb-ft more than the La Ferrari.

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Audi Secures First Driverless Car Permit in California

The Golden State rolls out new regs for autonomous vehicles.

by on Sep.16, 2014

Audi is the first company to receive an autonomous driving permit issued by California

California’s fabled automotive culture passed another milestone today as the state’s new law governing autonomous driving went into effect, leaving the road open to pilotless cars though they aren’t expected to turn up on the 405, the Pacific Coast Highway or the Golden Gate Bridge anytime soon.

Audi, the ever-eager German carmaker, is the first company to receive an autonomous driving permit issued by California. The maker has conducted research over tens of thousands of miles in Europe and various U.S. states, where such testing is permitted.

Auto Insight!

The research is aimed at preparing a highly automated piloted driving system for freeway traffic conditions. Audi envisions this technology could be ready for consumer introduction within five years. Read the rest of this entry »