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June Auto Sales Hit Record Levels

Crossovers, trucks, sport-utes continue leading charge.

by on Jul.01, 2015

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator sales boomed in June, rising 39% and helping Ford to an overall sales increase of 2% last month.

New vehicle sales continued their torrid pace for in the U.S. in June, helping the auto industry finished up the best six months in a decade with a slew of automakers posting sales increases or logging manufacturers sales records.

General Motors, FCA US, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, Audi, Volkswagen and Mazda all reported sales increases in the buoyant market lifted by strong demand for trucks and utility vehicles.

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FCA US LLC posted an 8% increase compared with sales in June 2014 and the group’s best June sales since 2006 and recorded its 63rd-monthly sales increase in a row. Read the rest of this entry »

Potentially Faulty Truck Hitch Could Be Cause of Deadly Crash

Did federal safety investigators miss defect?

by on Jul.01, 2015

One of two pickup trucks struck by a runaway trailer in Batavia, OH, in January 2014.

Already under fire for failing to catch a series of deadly defects – including the flawed General Motors ignition switch blamed for over 100 deaths – federal regulators may have missed yet another fatal flaw.

This one involves a potentially defective hitch used on as many as 6,000 semi-trucks plying U.S. highways. Produced by an Alabama supplier, the part has been linked to a case involving a runaway trailer that killed two people on a snowy highway in Batavia, Ohio early last year.

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Though the manufacturer had issued several service bulletins, and users had filed several complaints – at least one involving a crash – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declined to open a formal investigation until last month.

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Toyota PR Chief Resigns Following Drug Arrest

Julie Hamp, Toyota’s top female exec, still in jail.

by on Jul.01, 2015

Julie Hamp was named head of global communications at Toyota in April.

Two weeks after being arrested for allegedly importing prescription drugs into Japan, Toyota Motor Co.’s global public relations director – and its top female executive – has resigned.

Julie Hamp remains in jail, according to reports from Japan where the law allows police to detain a suspect for up to 23 days without bringing charges.

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In a statement, the world’s largest automaker said that it has “accepted her resignation after considering the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders.”

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Mirai Sets Fuel Economy Benchmark of 67 eMPG

Toyota’s new fuel cell vehicle meets daily needs.

by on Jun.30, 2015

The 2016 Toyota Mirai will debut with plenty of incentives to buy one, including three years of free fuel and app to help find fueling stations.

Much of the hubbub surrounding fuel cell vehicles focuses on, well, the “fuel.” How will you get it and how far can you go with it? The Toyota Mirai answered both of those today.

The Japanese maker said today the new fuel cell vehicle will average 67 miles per equivalent gallon and 312 miles on a full tank. The Mirai is expected to go on sale this fall in California with additional markets added later.

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“Toyota realized in the early 90’s that electrification was key to the future of the automobile,” said Jim Lentz, Toyota North America CEO, in a statement. “Just as the Prius introduced hybrid-electric vehicles to millions of customers nearly twenty years ago, the Mirai is now poised to usher in a new era of efficient, hydrogen transportation.” Read the rest of this entry »

Return of the Lexus SC?

Based on LF-LC concept, new supercar could nudge above 600-hp.

by on Jun.30, 2015

The Lexus LF-LC concept shown in Australia.

The Lexus SC nameplate has gone through a number of major iterations over the years, from the original sporty coupe to a quirky hardtop convertible and, if new reports prove accurate, it’s about to change again, this time becoming the production version of the LF-LC supercar concept.

Expected to reach showrooms sometime late next year, the next-generation Lexus SC would also serve as a long-awaited replacement for the brand’s first, limited-volume halo car, the Lexus LFA. Some sources suggest the new model will be offered in several different versions, including one that would push somewhere north of 600 horsepower.

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The revival of the SC as a new, high-performance flagship would fit in with the mandate of Toyota Motor Co. President Akio Toyoda, who has commanded that there be more “passion” in the luxury brand. How much you’d have to pay is a question generating plenty of debate, with some guesstimating it will nudge into $150,000 territory.

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To Hell and Back in the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

The most powerful factory muscle car ever also shows a practical side.

by on Jun.30, 2015

To Hell and back - Hell, Michigan, that is.

I’ve been to Hell and back. And with 707 horsepower under the hood it didn’t take me long to get there.

Hell, Michigan seemed like the appropriate place to take a spin in the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat – not just because of the kindred name but because the little town is gateway to some of the best driving roads within a couple 100 miles of Detroit. While there are plenty of flat, wide roads in the Motor City to test the Hellcat’s 0 to 60 prowess, we wanted to see how it handled something a lot more demanding.

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For those who’ve somehow missed the headlines, the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat – and its sibling, the Challenger SRT Hellcat – are the most powerful factory-built muscle cars ever to roll out of a Big Three assembly plant. They share a massive, 6.2-liter supercharged version of the familiar Hemi V-8 that makes a jaw-dropping 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.

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Consumer Report Calls Out Oil Burners

Magazine notes Audi, BMW and Subaru biggest offenders.

by on Jun.30, 2015

The BMW 5 Series is 27 times more likely to need oil between service intervals than other vehicles.

If you’re adding oil to your car’s engine between oil changes, something may be askew, according to Consumer Reports.

The advocacy magazine found that some cars built between 2010 and 2014 are not just needing a little top off between service intervals, but burning through as much as a quart a month.

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Taking Audi, BMW and Subaru to task for the issue, it notes that Audi’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder and 3.0-liter V6; BMW’s 4.8-liter V8 and 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8; and Subaru’s 3.6-liter six-cylinder and 2.0- and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines all burned oil at a higher than normal rate, although the Subarus burned less oil than the others. Read the rest of this entry »

Muscle Car Sales Charging Up in America

Buyers pony up cash despite challenges of ownership.

by on Jun.30, 2015

Muscle car sales, including those of the Dodge Challenger, are on the rise in the U.S.

If it appears that there are more Mustangs, Camaros, Challengers on the roads around town, it’s not a figment of your imagination: American muscle cars are big sellers these days.

According to Experian Automotive, muscle car sales are up more than 35% in the last nine years with the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro leading the charge. Through May Ford sold 56,571 Mustangs; Chevy sold 33,982 Camaros, according to Autodata Corp. The Dodge Challenger is in third place, with 30,166 sold.

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“The love of the Mustang combined with the reintroduction of the Camaro, Challenger and Charger has sparked a resurgence of the muscle car,” said Brad Smith, Experian’s director of automotive statistics. Read the rest of this entry »

GM Taking $600 Mil Charge Due to South America

Devaluation of Venezuelan bolivar forces maker’s move.

by on Jun.30, 2015

GM will take a $600 million charge due to Venezuela's move to devalue its currency.

In a move that signals another round of trouble for automakers operating in the Venezuela, General Motors expects to record a pre-tax charge of approximately $600 million due to the company’s devaluation of its currency.

The “re-measurement” charge is for the Automotive cost of sales in the South American country for the second quarter of 2015, GM said in a new filing with the Securities Exchange Commission. GM will report its second-quarter financial results July 23.

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It will be treated as a special charge for EBIT-adjusted reporting purposes. GM does not expect this decision to impact its South American or Venezuelan operating results, nor does it believe it will affect 2015 adjusted free cash flows, according to GM’s filing with the SEC. Read the rest of this entry »

Hyundai Replaces GM as Top NFL Sponsor

Korean maker paying $50 million annually for new deal.

by on Jun.29, 2015

Hyundai's profile is going to get quite a bit higher with its new four-year sponsorship deal with the NFL.

For hours on end every Sunday this fall, American football fans are going to see something new on their television screens: the Hyundai logo. The South Korean automaker is taking over for General Motors as the league’s top sponsor in a new four-year agreement.

No figures were released on the deal, but ESPN reported that Hyundai will pay $50 million annually: double GM’s $25 million payout. Unlike the GM deal, the NFL can still sell the truck category and the rights to give away that vehicle to the Super Bowl MVP. GM’s three-year deal was exclusive, but was tied specifically to GMC.

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“We value our relationship with the NFL and its fans, but have decided to focus our sponsorship resources in other areas in the future,” GM said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »