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Lincoln Nabs Top Spot in Customer Satisfaction Survey

Detroit automakers gaining ground on Japanese, Korean counterparts.

by on Aug.24, 2016

Lincoln is tops on the latest ACSI survey of new vehicle buyers in 2016.

New car buyers are happier with their purchases this year than they were last year and Lincoln is the leader of the pack, according to a new survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

The annual survey shows Lincoln’s approval rating this year – 87 out of 100 – is a 5% improvement over last year’s result. Honda was second with an 86, marking an 8% jump, while Toyota and BMW tied for third at 85. It was a 4% increase for both brands.

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Often in these types of surveys, luxury brands, such as Lincoln and BMW, sweep the top spots, but this wasn’t the case this year. Claes Fornell, ACSI chairman and founder, said the figures show the gap in consumer perception may be closing between mass-market and luxury brands. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Recalling 91,000 Vehicles

Fuel pump problems at the center of two of the actions.

by on Aug.24, 2016

Ford recalled 91,000 vehicles, including 2013-2015 Ford Flex models, for fuel pump problems.

Ford issued recalls for about 91,000 vehicles worldwide to replace faulty fuel-pump parts that could potentially cause a car to stall without warning.

The automaker will replace fuel-pump control modules in 88,151 vehicles, including certain of its 2013-15 model year Ford Taurus sedans, Ford Flex crossover utility vehicles, Lincoln MKS sedans, Lincoln MKT SUVs and Ford Police Interceptor sedans.

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In the affected vehicles, the fuel pump control module could fail, which may cause an engine to not start or stall. In some cases, the engine could stall without warning while driving and without the ability to restart, increasing the risk of a crash. Read the rest of this entry »

Forget Sports Cars, SUVs Set to Dominate Super-Premium Luxury Market

Utility vehicles likely to be best-sellers for brands like Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, even Rolls-Royce.

by on Aug.24, 2016

Lamborghini first revealed the Urus SUV concept at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show.

They’re both known for their high-performance sports cars, but when Aston Martin and Lamborghini launch two of their most critical models ever, both in 2019, the focus of the two brands will shift to sport-utility vehicles.

If all goes according to plan, those two models, the Aston Martin DBX and the production version of the Lamborghini Urus concept, will generate at least 50% or more of their sales. But that’s far from precedent setting. Best known for sports cars like the 911 and the Boxster, it’s the Cayenne and Macan SUVs that already generate the biggest sales numbers for Porsche.

Insight!

Super-premium utility vehicles are “going to be the hottest segment in the luxury market,” said Simon Sproule, the chief marketing officer for Aston. “As with the mainstream market, that’s what people want to drive.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Battle Lines Drawn in Fuel-Economy Showdown

Feds cut off public comment on new CAFE standards over automaker protests.

by on Aug.24, 2016

Automakers are unhappy that federal regulators declined to extend the public comment period about tougher fuel economy standards.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration have decided to cut off public comment on the federal fuel-efficiency regulations and denied a request by automakers to extend the comment period.

The decision sets up a showdown between federal regulators and automakers that argue the current regulations are too stringent given the prevailing drop in fuel prices and the shift in consumer demand towards larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles, such as trucks and sport utility vehicles.

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In a report released last month, EPA and NHTSA said that automakers have the technology to meet aggressive mandates to hike fuel efficiency, but fleet-wide improvement will not be as great as the Obama administration once forecast because buyers are switching to pickup trucks and SUVs. Read the rest of this entry »

Tesla Cracks Through 300-Mile Range Barrier With New Models

Models S, X P100D push to eliminate range anxiety.

by on Aug.24, 2016

The new Tesla Model S 100D gets 315 miles on a single charge and will do 0 to 60 in just 2.5 seconds.

Tesla is determined to prove that everything you thought you knew about electric vehicles is wrong, the maker delivering Ferrari-like performance and more than 300 miles of range with a pair of new battery-cars.

The new Tesla Model S P100D will not only launch from 0 to 60 in about 2.5 seconds using the maker’s optional Ludicrous mode, but will also deliver up to 315 miles per charge. The Model X P100D will also deliver sub-3-second launches, but won’t quite crack 300 miles of range.

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The two new models counter conventional wisdom that battery-electric vehicles are slow and can’t travel nearly as far as a conventional, gas-powered vehicle. While Tesla hasn’t released specific details, early versions of the two battery-cars could get up to an 80% charge in less than 30 minutes using the maker’s high-voltage Supercharge network. Read the rest of this entry »

Zagato Volante Just a First Step for Aston Martin

British marque planning ambitious mix of sports cars, crossovers, EVs and more.

by on Aug.23, 2016

The $745,000 Aston Martin Zagato Volante will be one of a steady stream of specialty models.

It didn’t take long for Aston Martin to sell out the limited edited Vanquish coupe it revealed earlier this year, and despite – or perhaps because of – its $745,000 price tag, the British maker is hoping for a similar response to the Vanquish Zagato Volante that made its debut over the weekend.

The 592-horsepower convertible is the latest in a string of new models and variants from the long-struggling British maker best known for its long, supporting role in the 007 film series. Flush with new cash, its new management team has outlined an aggressive strategy that calls for a major expansion of the Aston Martin product portfolio which, by decade’s end, will include an all-new mix of sports cars, limited-edition exotics, and even a crossover and a battery-electric vehicle.

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“The plan is to replace all our existing cars moving onto a line-up that is all-new,” said Simon Sproule, Aston Martin’s chief marketing officer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Chevy Gives More Owners a Chance to Track Teen Drivers

New package also limits top speed and radio volume.

by on Aug.23, 2016

Chevy's Teen Driver Technology gives parents a slew of information about how they're young driver handles their time behind the wheel.

No one is more aware of how bad a driver a teenager is than the parent of that teenage driver. The first months and years are often fraught with worry as they back out of the driveway to head to school or meet with friends.

Automakers have been trying to soothe the frazzled nerves of parents for years with a variety of in-car technologies aimed at limiting the parameters of teenage tomfoolery behind the wheel. Last year, Chevy introduced its Teen Driver Report Card option on the 2016 Malibu.

What a Concept!

The report card tells parents how far their young drivers traveled, what their top speed was and, perhaps most importantly, what safety features, if any, were activated during the trip. The idea was to give parents some hard data to use in discussing how to become a better driver. Read the rest of this entry »

Death Toll on US Roads Rising Again

Smarter, safer cars not making a difference.

by on Aug.23, 2016

Motor vehicle deaths are expected to rise 9% for the first six months of 2016: A nearly three-year trend.

The death toll on American roads and highways continues to rise as new estimates show a 9% jump in motor vehicle deaths through the first six months of 2016, according the National Safety Council.

An estimated 19,100 people have been killed and 2.2 million seriously injured compared with the same period in 2015. The figure is 18% higher than 2014 results. The deaths not only extract a toll on the impacted families, but the estimated financial cost is $205 billion.

Safety News!

“Our complacency is killing us,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us. Americans should demand change to prioritize safety actions and protect ourselves from one of the leading causes of preventable death.” Read the rest of this entry »

Delphi, Mobileye Partner on Driverless Vehicle Tech

Partners want to have both fully autonomous and driverless vehicles on the road by 2019.

by on Aug.23, 2016

The first of the Delphi autonomous prototypes will be a modified Audi SQ5. Delphi and Mobileye will show off their new system at CES.

In the latest in a burst of announcements aimed at bringing fully autonomous, and even driverless, vehicles to market, automotive mega-supplier Delphi is teaming up with the high-tech Israeli firm Mobileye.

The two tech firms plan to show off their system during a preview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next January, and expect to have it ready for production as early as 2019. The news comes a week after Ford Motor Co. said it would begin building a fully driverless vehicle for use by car-sharing and delivery services in 2021.

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“Our partnership with Delphi will accelerate the time to market and enable customers to adopt Level 4/5 automation without the need for huge capital investments, thereby creating a formidable advantage for them,” said Amnon Shashua, chairman and chief technology officer at Mobileye. Read the rest of this entry »

GM Pushes for Dismissal of Texas Ignition Case

Automaker accuses plaintiffs, lawyers of fabricating evidence.

by on Aug.23, 2016

GM asked a Texas judge to dismiss a lawsuit involving its faulty ignition due to fabricated evidence.

General Motors Co. asked a Texas judge to dismiss a lawsuit about a fatal 2011 crash, which has been linked to the faulty ignition switch that already has cost the company more than $2 billion, because of fabricated evidence.

In its motion asking for a dismissal, GM accused the plaintiffs and their lawyers of fabricating evidence about the vehicle’s key during the ongoing trial. Plaintiffs Zachary Stevens, his parents and their lawyers showed jurors in Harris County court a key attached to a chain containing several other items, claiming it was the one used to drive the 2007 Saturn Sky involved in the crash.

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GM, however, said the key displayed in the courtroom did not in fact belong to that vehicle. The carmaker, which recalled 2.6 million vehicles in 2014 for defective ignition switches, has warned owners that added weight to key chains can cause the switches to slip out of position. Read the rest of this entry »