Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Toyota Confirms Plans for New Hybrid Version of RAV4

New version may opt for through-the-road AWD system.

by on Mar.26, 2015

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid comes to market at a time when demand for gas-electric models has shrunk.

Toyota will roll out the latest in a growing family of hybrid vehicles during the New York International Auto Show next week.

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid won’t adopt the radically distinctive styling of the popular Prius model, with more subtle markings – such as the “Hybrid” badge on the tailgate shown here. The automaker is saving details for the hybrid ute’s launch in the Big Apple next week, but speculation centers around the likelihood it will use a three-motor driveline similar to that in the new Lexus NX crossover.

Plug In!

The April 2 introduction might not be seen as the best timing for a new hybrid. With a few rare exceptions, the market for hybrids has taken a sharp tumble over the last year – even the Prius losing momentum in 2014 – as a result of lower gas prices. Read the rest of this entry »

Pricing Wars: Plug-in Hybrid, EV Prices Dropping

Makers cutting lease payments on vehicles.

by on Mar.26, 2015

BMW recently cut the lease price on its electric i3 model to $239 a month. The maker isn't alone in reducing prices.

Gas prices aren’t the only prices dropping these days. Automakers are cutting prices on their electric vehicles.

Despite strong sales early on, BMW recently announced buyers can lease an i3 for as low as $239 a month. However, just after that, Honda put out a new $199 lease for its Fit EV subcompact. The new lease price is a $60 a month cut from its previous offer of $259 a month.

Electrifying!

It’s not just the leases prices. Heading into this year, Ford announced it was cutting the price of its Focus battery electric vehicle as well: by $6,000. The new starting price is $29,995 before any federal, state or local incentives are applied, which can cut the final price as much as $7,500. It was the second time the automaker cut the price on the Focus. It cut it $4,000 in 2013 hoping to drive sales then. Read the rest of this entry »

First Look: 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE

New name, new look, new features – and new plug-in hybrid -- for midsize SUV.

by on Mar.26, 2015

A new name marks the launch of a new version of the midsize Mercedes SUV now called the GLE.

The name is new, as is the styling, and there’s even a new plug-in hybrid. But if you pick up something familiar in the form of the new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE you’re not just having a sense of déjà vu.

The GLE is the new name for the old Mercedes ML. Well, not that old.  An all-new version of the popular midsize sport-utility vehicle will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show next week – but the German maker decided to lift the covers a little bit ahead of schedule.

Auto Show News!

“Often copied, rarely equaled – the M-Class established the segment of premium SUVs in 1997 and since then has been one of the most successful models in the world,” boasts Ola Källenius, the Daimler AG board member overseeing Mercedes-Benz cars.

Read the rest of this entry »

Drone Delivery? Car Shoppers Look to the Future

Survey finds most buyers won’t want to share cars.

by on Mar.25, 2015

New car buyers are looking for more flexibility in the buying process.

Why bother to drive to the showroom when you can have your next car delivered by drone. At least, that’s what some shoppers had in mind when asked how they’d like to buy a car in the future.

The survey found that a sizable number of shoppers would prefer never to have to step foot in a showroom. But it also suggests that Americans still would prefer to own vehicles rather than sharing them as a way to hold down costs.

Automotive Insight!

“The automotive industry continues to evolve before our eyes, especially when it comes to the types of cars manufacturers are producing,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Swapalease.com, which commissioned the survey of 2,500 drivers and shoppers. But the industry also needs to rethink the way it sells and finances vehicles, Hall added. Read the rest of this entry »

McLaren Set to Launch Sports Series with NY Debut of 570S

New sports car expected to target Porsche 911 Turbo.

by on Mar.25, 2015

The 570S Coupe will anchor the "base" of McLaren's new three-tier model strategy.

Wondering what an “entry-level” car from McLaren might look like? Well, you’ll have to settle for this teaser image until next week, when the British maker pulls the wraps completely off of the new 570S Coupe at the annual New York International Auto Show.

The much-watched debut will mark the completion of McLaren’s three-tier supercar strategy, with the Sports Series at the base, the Ultimate Series at the peak, and the Super Series in-between.

Your Source for Auto Show News!

McLaren is being tight with details, hoping to build interest in its April Fool’s Day debut, but it does reveal that the name of the 570S is shorthand for the fact that it will make 570PS, the German power measurement that translates into 562 horsepower. Read the rest of this entry »

Redesigned Chevy Malibu Will Add 45 MPG Hybrid

“Building on the Volt,” says chief engineer.

by on Mar.25, 2015

Cutaway shows the Malibu Hybrid's layout.

When Chevrolet launches a completely redesigned version of its midsize Malibu later this year, it will add a new hybrid option expected to be one of the segment’s most fuel-efficient models.

Initial estimates suggest the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid will come in at “better than” 45 miles per gallon, which would put it ahead of hybrid versions of the midsize Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry models, and within shot of the segment-leading Honda Accord Hybrid, which is rated at 47 mpg.

Plug In!

“We’re bringing a hybrid to the midsize segment to compete,” Jesse Ortega, the chief engineer on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu project, said during a background briefing, adding his belief that Chevy is “very well-armed” to take on key domestic and import competitors.

Read the rest of this entry »

BBC Stigs it to Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson

Company won’t renew contract after fight with producer.

by on Mar.25, 2015

The BBC fired Top Gear Host Jeremy Clarkson, left, after he punched a producer. The future of hosts James May and Richard Hammond, right, will return.

The world’s most famous, or infamous may be more appropriate now, automotive journalist, Jeremy Clarkson, the host of the BBC’s influential Top Gear has been given the boot.

Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General, said in a statement,  “It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts.

Your Reliable Source!

“I know how popular the program is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion,” he added. “The main facts are not disputed by those involved. Read the rest of this entry »

The 10 Most Annoying Car Features

Touchscreens top the list.

by on Mar.25, 2015

Lincoln has been hammered in recent studies because of problems with its touchscreens.

Love that new car? Plenty of storage space, good performance, great mileage? You’re still likely to find something about it that will make you grind your teeth, perhaps the lack of useful cupholders, a glovebox that invariably bangs your knees or a touchscreen audio system that makes it a chore to simply change radio stations.

A poorly designed interior is one of the things most likely to send you running when you go looking for a new car, truck or crossover. But other things, like car alarms that randomly go off in the middle of the night, can add to your frustration.

Your Reliable Source!

The editors at online shopping service Cars.com have set out their own list of the 10 most annoying car features. We’ll add a few of our own and invite readers to weigh in with their own.

Read the rest of this entry »

Six in 10 Teen Crashes Involve Distracted Driving

Texting only part of the problem, finds AAA study.

by on Mar.25, 2015

Night time is the wrong time for teenage drivers.

Nighttime sees deadly crashes among teen drivers double, according to a separate AAA study.

Federal research indicates roughly 11% of all highway deaths are the result of distracted driving. But a new study confirms what has long been feared, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluding that nearly six out of 10 moderate to severe teen crashes are the result of driver distraction.

The figure is significantly higher than had been estimated previously, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluding distraction played a role in only 14% of teen crashes.

A Safe Bet!

“The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized,” said Peter Kissinger, the president and CEO of the AAA safety arm.

Read the rest of this entry »

EV Battery Costs Dropping Faster than Predicted

China bus maker inks $1 billion deal with Michigan battery maker.

by on Mar.25, 2015

The HK Group is taking advantage of falling EV battery prices for its city buses.

Don’t look now but the price of batteries packs are coming down.

Battery cell costs will fall about 8% a year, according to a Stockholm Environment Institute study that found battery costs have been overestimated. Cells for electric vehicles fell about 14% a year from 2007 to 2014, according to the study.

Stay Informed!

Battery electric vehicles (EVs) are one of the key alternatives to gas- and diesel-driven vehicles. The costs of battery cells has always been one of biggest obstacles to the development of EVs, forcing manufacturers to trade off between a model’s price and the range it can travel on a single charge, the institute reported. Read the rest of this entry »