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Kia Hires Hoopster LeBron James to Pitch K900

NBA star named maker’s “luxury ambassador.”

by on Oct.17, 2014

LeBron James is Kia's latest athlete endorser. He's the face for a new campaign for the maker's new luxury sedan, the K900.

Automakers aren’t just finding ways to outdo one another with their vehicles, the competition for celebrity pitchmen is also heating up: Kia Motor America added hoops superstar LeBron James to its roster.

James is now hawking the maker’s K900 luxury sedan. He joins fellow NBA player Blake Griffin, tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, and U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie on the company’s list of superstar athlete pitchmen.

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His first ad spot titled “Fit for a King” debuts during the upcoming NBA season. The Cleveland Cavalier, who’s nickname is King James, is the latest high-profile celebrity to begin selling cars after actor Matthew McConaughey linked up with Lincoln in a multiyear deal. Read the rest of this entry »

Investors Unplugging from Tesla

Delay in Model X could complicate problems as CEO warns shares are "kinda high."

by on Oct.17, 2014

The high-flying Tesla could be hurt by another delay of the "falcon-winged" Model X SUV.

After running up the stock in a frenzy more familiar to high-tech companies like Apple and Google than those in the automotive world, investors have suddenly grown wary about battery-carmaker Tesla Motors. But whether this is a short-term or long-term problem is unclear.

Traded as TSLA, Tesla’s stock is down sharply from an October high of $260 – and a 52-week peak of $291.42. It closed Thursday at $226.35 and analysts will be watching to see whether it can regain momentum during the week’s final day of trading.

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Tesla is by no means alone. Tech and automotive stocks have all been hammered by what appears to be a significant correction on Wall Street. But there are a number of problems unique to the battery-car company, including concerns that its second product line, the Model X SUV, could yet again be delayed. Even the maker’s CEO and founder has quested whether Tesla shares were “kinda high” before the stock tumbled.

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Chevrolet Previews its SEMA Cars

An emphasis on accessories.

by on Oct.16, 2014

The SS Sport concept gives the V-8-powered sports sedan a makeover that screams high performance.

With the ghosts and goblins and candy displays going up at Costco that obviously means one thing: the annual SEMA Show is just around the corner. And another clear indication is the flood of previews landing in our e-mailboxes in recent days.

One of the lengthiest missives comes from Chevrolet – along with a passel of pics revealing some of the performance-oriented concepts the bowtie brand will squeeze onto its stand at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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“These concepts suggest possibilities of how to amplify Chevrolet’s heritage of performance and fun-to-drive spirit to make them even more personal,” Paul Edwards, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing. Read the rest of this entry »

Beijing Planning to Convert Taxi Fleet to Electric

Public outcry over poor air quality driving change.

by on Oct.16, 2014

Beijing officials are attempting to convert the city's fleet of 46,000 taxis to EVs, like this BYD e6 cab.

Facing public pressure to reduce some of world’s nastiest urban air pollution, the municipal government in Beijing is moving to turn Chinese capitols taxi fleet green.

The objective is to convert Beijing’s 46,000 taxis into electric vehicles over the next three to four years, according to Zhang Xiyong, vice president of China’s Beijing Automotive Industry Group.

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During a discussion at the Global Automotive Form in Wuhan, Zhang said public pressure through social media prompted Beijing’s municipal government to order the overhaul of the city’s taxi fleet. Read the rest of this entry »

Chrysler Recalling Nearly 1 Million Vehicles

Maker still plagued by ongoing fuel pump problem.

by on Oct.16, 2014

Scott Kunselman heads up Chrysler's recently formed Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance office.

Chrysler Group’s announcement today it is recalling 907,000 vehicles in two new campaigns is latest in a steady string of actions during the last six weeks from the Auburn Hills, Michigan-unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The recalls involve faulty alternators and power mirror electrical connectors. There have been no injuries, fatalities or accidents as a result of either problem, according to the automaker.

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Chrysler is recalling 470,000 2011-2014 Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Challenger, Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles with a 3.6-liter engine and a 160 amp alternator because the alternator may suddenly fail and result in vehicle shutdown, shutoff or a fire. Read the rest of this entry »

Tesla May Seek Franchised Dealers After All

Battery-carmaker considers a hybrid retail approach.

by on Oct.16, 2014

Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a recent TV appearance.

It’s been win-some-lose-some for Tesla as it pushes to reshape the automotive landscape with a marketing strategy based on factory-owned showrooms. But it now appears that the California-based battery-carmaker might be considering a revised strategy that would include at least some franchised dealers in its distribution mix.

That could permit Tesla to crack into states, such as Michigan and Texas, which have firmly ruled against Tesla’s current approach. It might also permit the maker to expand its coverage even in states, such as New Jersey and Nevada, which have okayed the factory-owned approach.

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“We may need a hybrid system, with a combination of our own stores and some dealer franchises,” Tesla Founder and CEO Elon Musk acknowledged during an interview with John McElroy on Autoline Daily.

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Three Chinese Automakers Expect to be Global Players

Industry official predicts exports to emerging markets.

by on Oct.16, 2014

The Geely Gleagle is one of the products that makes Chinese government officials believe three Chinese automakers will be globally influential.

China’s fast-growing automobile industry should be able to create at three strong globally competitive carmakers in the years to come, according to a Chinese government official this week.

Wang Xia, a senior official with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Automotive sub-council, acknowledged during a press conference prior to the opening of the Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, China, that China’s homegrown auto industry has been rocked over the last several months by a steady loss of marketshare.

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Up until about two years ago, Chinese brands held about 46% of the domestic sales across China. Since then, the Chinese domestic brands have lost about 10 points of marketshare to foreign brands. The big winners have been European brands as well as General Motors and Ford. Read the rest of this entry »

GM Slides to 3rd as VW Nabs 2nd Spot in Global Sales

Toyota firmly in the lead.

by on Oct.16, 2014

Vehicles like the new Golf "family" have helped Volkswagen grow sales worldwide.

For three-quarters of a century the world’s best-selling carmaker, General Motors has slipped another notch down the automotive ladder, Volkswagen AG pushing past to become number two in the industry pecking order.

With the first nine months of the year behind it, the German maker sold 7.4 million passenger vehicles compared to 7.37 million for GM. Though it hasn’t reported its numbers for the first three quarters yet, Japanese giant Toyota Motor Co. is expected to maintain its hold on the industry’s number one spot.

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Industry analysts say the real race, going forward, is likely to be between Toyota and VW, the German automaker laying out an aggressive expansion program it hopes will let it become king-of-the-automotive-hill before the end of the decade.

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Honda CR-V Nabs SUV of the Year Honor

Motor Trend picks small SUV over Macan, X4 and others.

by on Oct.15, 2014

Honda's CR-V captured its second award of the year: Motor Trend's SUV of the Year. It was also named Compact Crossover of the Year by Texas autowriters.

As the leaves on the trees change color it means the new season is upon us: automotive vehicle award season, that is, and Motor Trend kicked it off by declaring the 2015 Honda CR-V is SUV of the Year.

The choice is somewhat surprising given the competition included: the Porsche Macan, Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, Lincoln MKC, Nissan Rogue, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Volvo XC60 Subaru Outback and BMW X4 and X5.

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“Some years, a vehicle wins our calipers almost unanimously,” wrote Frank Markus, Motor Trend’s technical editor, in the story about the winning CR-V. “This year our jury entered the final discussion split almost down the middle.” Read the rest of this entry »

First Drive: 2015 Toyota Camry

The midsize market’s 800-lb gorilla gets an unexpected thorough makeover.

by on Oct.15, 2014

The 2015 Toyota Camry is full of surprises, including the fact that it got a top-down makeover just three short years after the last generation's introduction.

We live in an era of individuality. Whether it’s cellphones or sedans, Americans want products that reflect their individual tastes and needs. That’s especially true in the auto industry where buyers can choose from hundreds of different offerings and even a luxury brand like Mercedes-Benz has promised to deliver 30 new models by the end of the decade.

Yet a few key products routinely defy this trend, none more effectively than the venerable Toyota Camry which in 2013 generated about 408,000 sales in the U.S. alone, with the Japanese maker expecting that to reach 415,000 this year. When you’re clear and away the industry’s best-seller, why change your formula?

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And for the past three decades, Camry has, indeed, changed relatively little – which is why Toyota delivered such a shock when it unveiled the updated 2015 Camry earlier this year. Introduced barely three years after the last full model update, we might have expected only the most modest revisions, perhaps a new fascia and some tweaks to the interior. Instead, Toyota has changed nearly every single body panel and heavily reworked the cabin. Read the rest of this entry »