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Bicycle Deaths on the Rise

Problem shifts to adults on urban roads.

by on Oct.30, 2014

A CitiBike bicycle sharing station in New York City. Urban ridership is up - but so are fatalities.

Whether traveling on rural roads or inner-city streets, you’re likely to see a lot more bicyclists pedaling their way alongside four-wheeled traffic. Bikes have become hip again, it seems, especially with Generations X and Y. And a growing list of cities – including Chicago, San Francisco and New York – even make it possible to bike share, an encouraged alternative for commuters and tourists alike.

Unfortunately, new research reveals that with the increase in bicycle usage, there’s a concurrent increase in crashes, the annual cycle death rate rising from 621 to 722 between 2010 to 2012, reports the Governors Highway Safety Association, or GHSA. That’s an alarming 16% jump even as overall highway deaths – including automobiles, motorcycles, pedestrians and bicycles – has been declining.

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Notes a statement from the GHSA, “Bicycle fatalities are increasingly an urban phenomenon, accounting for 69 percent of all bicycle fatalities in 2012, compared with 50 percent in 1975. These changes correlate with an increase in bicycling commuters — a 62 percent jump since 2000, according to 2013 Census Bureau data.”

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Chrysler, Ford Recalling 700,000 More Vehicles

Latest actions push 2014 total to nearly 42 million.

by on Oct.30, 2014

Chrysler is recalling more than 184,000 Ram heavy duty trucks with 6.7-liter Cummins diesels for a fuel-heater housing problem.

U.S. automakers continued their march to 42 million-plus vehicles recalled this year with actions by Chrysler and Ford adding nearly 700,000 vehicles to the rolls.

Chrysler Group announced a global recall of more than 566,000 Jeep and Dodge SUVs because their stability controls might not work while in heavy-duty and commercial Ram pickups because their diesel-fuel heaters might get too hot.

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The stability control recall is for 184,186 of the 2014 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs: 132,223 are in the U.S., 8,871 are in Canada, 4,742 are in Mexico and 38,350 are outside the North America. Read the rest of this entry »

First Look: 2015 BMW X5 M and X6 M

Debut set for LA Auto Show next month.

by on Oct.29, 2014

BMW offers a first look at the two big performance crossovers, the X5 M and X6 M, coming to LA.

The world got its first look at the new BMW X5 eDrive hybrid during the Paris Motor Show a few weeks back, and now the Bavarian maker is steering in a very different direction as it offers up details on its all-new  high-performance crossovers, the 2015 BMW X5 M and X6 M. Both models will officially debut at the L.A. Auto Show next month.

As with the latest versions of the more mainstream X5 and X6 Sport-Activity Vehicles, the revised M models opt for evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, design changes. That means new front and rear fascia and body lines.

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But what matters most is what lies barely hidden beneath the sheet metal, and the new M crossovers will be adopting the same 4.4-liter, TwinPower Turbo V-8 already offered in the M5 and M6 lines – BMW boasting that it’s the most powerful engine it has ever developed for an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

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Ford Introducing 2016 Explorer at L.A. Auto Show

Maker teasing “#ExploreMore” campaign on social media.

by on Oct.29, 2014

Ford Explorer sales are up 8.7% for the year. The maker is going to debut the 2016 model at the L.A. Auto Show.

Ford is ready to celebrate another special anniversary with a new vehicle. The maker is marking the 25th anniversary of the Ford Explorer with a new 2016 model it will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.

As part of the launch, Ford will debut an “#ExploreMore” digital teaser campaign on social media. The Explorer wasn’t the first midsize sport-utility vehicle in the U.S., however, it is the best-selling one. Since its introduction, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has sold nearly 7 million Explorers.

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Sales this year are up as Ford has sold more than 158,000 Explorers through the first nine months of 2014, up 8.7%. Read the rest of this entry »

Dodge Restarting Viper Production in November

Big price cut drives surge in orders for 2015 model.

by on Oct.29, 2014

Dodge is restarting Viper production next month with the 200 preorders for the 2015 model.

Viper fans take heart! Chrysler Group announced plans to begin production of the company’s halo sports beast next month with full production coming mid-November.

The automaker stopped production of the 2014 Dodge Viper SRT due to sluggish sales. However, after a $15,000 price cut that reduced the entry point to just under $85,000, sales took off. Not only did the maker lower the price, they allowed all Dodge dealers to sell the car.

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As a result, in September dealers sold more than two times as many as they did during the year-ago period: 108 compared with 45. It was also the first time the maker reached (and surpassed) the century mark in one month. Reports suggest that October results will be similarly impressive. Read the rest of this entry »

October Sales Expected to Defy Economic Uncertainty

Incentives rise, and pose risks, analyst warns.

by on Oct.29, 2014

The Jeep Cherokee is selling well and is responsible of much of Chrysler Group's stellar year.

Recent big swings in the stock market and dire headlines about an economic downturn haven’t put any kind of dent in U.S. auto sales, industry analysts are predicting demand for October will be up between 5.4 and 6.0% when sales numbers are totaled up next week.

Total demand, including retail and fleet sales, is expected to reach 1.27 million vehicles, according to various forecasts. On an annualized basis, known in industry terms as the SAAR, that would work out to 16.3 million vehicles, nearly a million about the rate for all of 2013.

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“The industry continues to demonstrate strong sales growth and robust transaction prices, resulting in another record-breaking month for industry consumer spending,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power and Associates. Read the rest of this entry »

FCA Set to Spin Off Ferrari

Investors applaud, but questions and challenges loom.

by on Oct.29, 2014

The 458 Speciale A made its debut at the Paris Motor Show earlier this month.

Only months after Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne ruled out the possibility of spinning off the maker’s high-profile Ferrari brand, that’s precisely what the maker now says it will do – a move that has fired up investors while raising questions about the long-term strategy for the supercar maker.

In an announcement accompany Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s third-quarter earnings report, the maker said it will sell 10% of Ferrari’s shares while the remaining 90% will go the only recently merged FCA’s own shareholders.

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The move comes at a significant moment for Ferrari which just last month revealed that long-time chief executive Luca di Montezemolo would step down, apparently as a result of a dispute with Marchionne over the sports carmaker’s direction. It didn’t help that Ferrari also had one of its worst years on the trying Formula One race circuit in decades.

What happens now is something that both loyal “Ferraristas” and investors alike will be watching closely.

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Automakers Still Focus on Cost Over Quality, Suppliers Claim

Quality dropping to gain savings despite assertions about quality and safety.

by on Oct.29, 2014

GM's CEO Mary Barra says quality is the company's top consideration, but suppliers are saying GM and other automakers are focused more on cost.

During a widely attended speech this week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the automaker is intent on “raising the bar” on safety and quality – but is that aggressive push by GM and its competitors really having the desired affect on their corporate cultures? Automotive suppliers are saying it isn’t.

A recent survey of suppliers says that cost is beginning to be the biggest driver in its dealing with makers – at the expense of quality and potentially safety.

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IHS Automotive’s SuRe Index suggests that the relationships between automakers and their suppliers are worsening, in some measure because they don’t see eye-to-eye on how to improve the quality of cars and trucks, which has been a recurrent theme in the history of the parties. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiat Chrysler Earnings Hold Steady as Maker Prepares to Spin Off Ferrari

Investors quickly warm to news.

by on Oct.29, 2014

Sergio Marchionne may have reason to smile as investors finally begin bidding up FCA stock.

Now officially merged, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said its third-quarter earnings were roughly in line with last year’s numbers.

Though that was essentially what analysts had anticipated, the automaker delivered a surprise by announcing it will spin off its iconic Ferrari brand – just months after CEO Sergio Marchionne appeared to indicate such a move wasn’t in the works.

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The decision “will preserve the cherished Italian heritage” of Ferrari, said a statement from FCA Chairman John Elkann. Ferrari has been facing a fair bit of turmoil lately after the ouster of its long-time chief executive and its unexpectedly poor performance in the popular Formula One racing series.

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Rearview Cameras Saving Lives, Says AAA

But some systems are better than others.

by on Oct.29, 2014

Backup cameras are already common - even before the new government mandate takes effect.

Advancing autumn darkness increases concerns about pedestrian safety and one innovation that does help reduce accidents is the back-up camera, according to studies by AAA.

On average, these rear-view systems improved visibility an average of 46%, the travel and safety organization found. That’s a significant improvement, and something that can save 100s of lives a year, which is why federal regulators will beginning mandating the technology a year from now.

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“Rear-view cameras are a great supplement for drivers,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering.

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