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Infiniti Captures People’s Choice Award at LA Auto Show

Brand’s Synaptiq design bests teams from around the globe.

by on Nov.24, 2014

Infiniti's Synaptiq won the first-ever People's Choice Award at the Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge.

Infiniti’s take on what the car of the future might look like netted its design team the People’s Choice Award in the 11th annual Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge.

Several design teams created vehicles that sought to answer the question: how will cars interact with us in 2029?

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The luxury brand’s team answered it with the Synaptiq, a race car for a vehicle triathlon called the A.R.C. Race, which includes air, rally and circuit competitions. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiat Chrysler Struggling to Speed Up Jeep Recall

Accused of "woeful" delay, maker insists it is making progress.

by on Nov.24, 2014

Chrysler's Jeep Liberty was recalled to fix a problem with the fuel tank.

Under fire for the allegedly slow pace of a recall affecting 1.6 million potentially fire-prone Jeeps, Fiat Chrysler officials insist they’ve already been stepping up the pace of the safety campaign, despite taking sharp criticism from the nation’s top automotive safety official last week.

Chrysler last year agreed to recall 1.56 million Jeeps that were linked to fiery rear-end collisions. The automaker initially balked, insisting the data did not justify targeting the Jeep models, but reversed course after it came under heavy pressure both from regulators and the media. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also agreed to reduce the number of vehicles that would be impacted by nearly half.

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But more than a year after agreeing to the service action, the acting NHTSA Administrator, David Friedman, declared that the pace of the recall has been “woeful.” The agency – itself under fire for its handling of various safety issues this year – has been pressing Chrysler to pick up the pace. Read the rest of this entry »

Lawmakers May Bar Registration of Vehicles Not Repaired After Recalls

Vehicle owners reticent to get fixes completed.

by on Nov.24, 2014

Despite dominating the headlines, owners of vehicles with Takata airbags are likely to ignore recall notices that could save lives.

Recalls have hit an all-time high this year, so far totaling nearly 54 million vehicles. But even as daily headlines outline the risks of deadly defects like the General Motors ignition switch problem and Takata’s faulty airbags, millions of those vehicles will never get repaired, according to industry analysts.

With the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stymied – even after pressing automakers to increase contact with owners of vehicles impacted by recalls – federal lawmakers may soon step in. One approach under study would bar motorists from registering vehicles that have not undergone repairs.

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Automakers, who have found it difficult to recall compliance rates much beyond 75% to 80% appear to be warming to the idea. Read the rest of this entry »

Volkswagen Investing in Biggest Automaker Goal

German maker putting up nearly 86 billion Euros on plans.

by on Nov.24, 2014

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said the company plans to invest nearly 86 billion Euros during the next five years into the automotive division.

The Volkswagen Group, with its sights set on becoming the world’s largest automaker by volume, has announced an ambitious invest five-year investment plan that competitors will be hard pressed to match

The VW Group plans to invest a total of 85.6 billion Euros on new models, innovative technologies and its global presence in its automotive division during the next five years, VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said. In addition, the VW Group’s Chinese joint ventures will invest an additional 22 billion Euros.

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Winterkorn said two-thirds of the total investment amount will flow into increasingly efficient vehicles, drives and more environmentally friendly production. This is the result of the group’s investment planning for 2015 to 2019 discussed by the VW Board Supervisory Board. Read the rest of this entry »

GM Investing More Than $1 Billion in Plants in Europe, North America

Backing reflects confidence in future products.

by on Nov.24, 2014

General Motors is investing more than $1 billion in to plants in Europe and North America, including $40 million into its plant in Pontiac, Michigan.

General Motors is investing more than $1 billion in plants in Europe and North America to ensure the former achieves its goal of profitability while the latter can handle updates to existing vehicles as well as any new products.

Despite the fact that GM Europe has lost money for 17 years, the automaker plans to invest more than $300 million in Adam Opel’s home base in Rüsselsheim, outside of Frankfurt, Germany.

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Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive officer, said that a new model will be produced at Opel’s plant in Rüsselsheim by the end of the decade.

“This SUV will be the brand’s second flagship alongside the Insignia,” Barra said. As announced in March, $300 million will be invested in Opel’s Rüsselsheim plant to meet future requirements,” Barra said. Read the rest of this entry »

Tesla May Collaborate with BMW

Makers could share batteries, carbon-fiber components.

by on Nov.24, 2014

Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a recent TV appearance.

(This story has been revised to reflect comments by BMW.)

Battery-carmaker Tesla Motors has begun discussing a possible collaboration with Germany’s BMW AG, according to the U.S. company’s CEO Elon Musk.

The two makers are discussing the use of sharing batteries and the lightweight components that can help improve vehicle range. The news comes a month after Germany’s Daimler AG sold off its 4% stake in Tesla.

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“We are talking about whether we can collaborate in battery technology or charging stations,” Musk said in an interview with the German news weekly Der Spiegel.

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Acura Hopes Revised ILX Can Gain Momentum in Booming Compact Luxury Market

Update delivers more power, technology and improved appearance.

by on Nov.21, 2014

Acura's Mike Accavitti introduces the 2016 version of the Acura ILX this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

In the high-tech world, companies like Apple often go for what’s known as “first-mover advantage.” By that logic, Acura should be dominating the booming compact luxury sedan segment with its once-groundbreaking ILX model. But things haven’t worked out as the maker hoped.

The ILX has been struggling to simply hold its momentum as newer entries like the Audi A3 and segment-leading Mercedes-Benz CLA race to market. Sales of the Acura offering tumbled 19.3% last month and are off 16.2% for the full calendar-year.

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So, the luxury arm of Honda Motor Co. has a lot riding on the 2016 version of the Acura ILX that was unveiled this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The updated model comes as an unusually early mid-cycle refresh, and aims to address the shortfalls of the original by tweaking its appearance, boosting its power and adding plenty of new technology. Read the rest of this entry »

Three Minivans Flunk Latest Offset Crash Tests

Toyota Sienna only family hauler to get passing grade.

by on Nov.21, 2014

The 2015 Toyota Sienna was the only one of four current model minivans sold in the U.S. that passed the IIHS front offset crash test.

Each day thousands of parents hit the button on their key fob that opens the power sliding door on their family minivan and watch their kids to amble into their seats, knowing that vehicle is among the safest on the road. They are wrong, according to recent crash test results.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently completed small overlap front crashes on four minivans sold in the U.S. – Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest, Chrysler Town & Country and its twin, Dodge Grand Caravan – and three of the four earned “poor” ratings.

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“Minivans are popular among parents, a group that tends to be safety conscious, but we’ve only seen two so far that offer decent protection in small overlap crashes,” says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford F-150 Is Highest-Mileage Gas-Powered Full-Size Truck

Legs Ram EcoDiesel mpg – but high cost of diesel offsets advantage, Ford claims.

by on Nov.21, 2014

Ford's 2015 F-150 4x2 with Ford’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine has EPA-estimated ratings of 19 mpg City, 26 mpg Highway and 22 mpg Combined.

With newly released EPA test numbers in hand, Ford Motor Co. has declared its 2015 F-150 the nation’s most fuel-efficient gas-powered full-size pickup truck.

Based on EPA numbers and what Ford billed as apples-to-apples comparisons, the new aluminum-bodies F-150 will get anywhere from 5% to 29% better mileage – in some cases as much as 7 mpg – over the prior model.

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That’s “a significant achievement,” declared Ford’s global product development director Raj Nair, especially when taking into account the fact that the average new 2015 F-150 will also see an increase in both towing and cargo capacity. Read the rest of this entry »

U-M Predicts US Auto Sales Topping 17 Million in 2016

Forecast shows “meaningful” growth for economy next year.

by on Nov.21, 2014

University of Michigan economists predict U.S. new vehicle sales will hit 17 million units in 2016. As the economy recovers, sales of trucks are going to grow.

The expansion U.S. economy next will boost sales of new vehicles and set the stage for industry-wide sales, reaching 17 million units in 2016, according to a new forecast the economists at the University of Michigan.

The economy will grow by more than 3% next year — its highest rate in 10 years, they added. The university auto sales numbers of 16.6 million in 2015 and 17 million the following year add to the chorus of predictions for a sustained stretch of prosperity for the industry.

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By and large, automakers appear comfortable with the predictions of strong, steady sales over the next couple of years. Read the rest of this entry »