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New College Grads Looking for New Sets of Wheels – Used Wheels

Newly minted alumni expect to spend less than $15K.

by on May.25, 2016

The 2010 Toyota Prius was rated as one of the top choices for new college grads looking for a used car for less than $15,000.

As the calendar hits late May, many new college graduates will be looking forward to kicking off their careers by getting out of their old set of wheels and into another, better vehicle.

A recent survey shows that most college graduates plan to spend $15,000 or less for a vehicle and more likely than not, it’ll be used. In fact, of the 67% of those expecting to get a car, 57% plan to pay for the vehicle without any assistance from their parents.

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“We are pleasantly surprised to learn that today’s college students have relatively rational and moderate expectations toward the cars they’ll buy after graduating and how much they plan to spend,” said CarGurus Editor Steve Halloran. Read the rest of this entry »

Tesla, Smart, Jaguar, Land Rover Among Brands Bedeviled by Software Glitches

Auto industry, in general, struggling to deal with high-tech problems.

by on May.25, 2016

A number of owners have reported problems with the Model S, including doors that won't open, bad chargers and faulty motors.

(This story has been updated to reflect new comments and questions by Volvo, one of the makers cited by J.D. Power.)

The good news is that automakers are loading up today’s vehicles with more and more high-tech safety, performance and infotainment technology. The bad news is that these systems are generating more and more complaints from consumers frustrated by balky and poorly written software.

Smart, Tesla, Jaguar and Land Rover are three of the brands that are generating some of the highest number of complaints, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates. According to the research firm, the number of complaints about vehicle software filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been growing rapidly in recent years, jumping 22% in 2015 alone.

Tech Talk!

“Consumer complaints are the canaries in the coal mine for automobile manufacturers when it comes to anticipating future recalls and longer-term customer satisfaction,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power, in a statement. “Software-related problems have become much more prevalent and, if not addressed, could begin to erode consumer trust in new automotive technology.” Read the rest of this entry »

Hyundai Aiming for #2 in Green Vehicle Market

Korean maker and partner Kia will launch 26 “eco” models by 2020.

by on May.25, 2016

The Hyundai Ioniq will be offered with hybrid, plug-in and EV versions.

Hyundai has big plans for the “eco” market, with the maker planning to introduce 26 new hybrid, plug-in, battery-electric and fuel-cell  vehicles between now and 2020, a blitz that begins with this year’s launch of the new Ioniq model.

The challenge, said the head of the Korean carmaker’s green car program, will be winning over motorists who’ve so far shown a reluctance to buy battery and hydrogen cars in large numbers. But, facing increasingly stringent emissions and mileage mandates, Hyundai – and its rivals – have no choice but to bring cleaner, more energy-efficient products to market, said executive Byung Ki Ahn.

Plug In!

“We’re making a serious effort to be the number two producer of EVs and fuel-cell vehicles,” said Ahn, the director of the Eco-Vehicle Performance Development Group for Hyundai and partner Kia. “I don’t think we can beat Toyota right away.”

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Shortages Cause Latest Jump in Gas Prices

Canadian forest fires cutting crude oil exports to U.S.

by on May.25, 2016

Canadian forest fires have cut exports of crude oil to the U.S., causing gas prices to rise to their highest average this year.

Gas prices are at their highest point for the year with the biggest jump in prices coming in the upper Midwest where the forest fires in the Canadian Tar Sand Region have crippled exports of crude oil to Midwestern refineries.

AAA noted in its weekly report on fuel prices that with the approach the Memorial Day holiday, the national average has increased for 12 days in a row an average of $2.28 per gallon is up six cents per gallon on the week and 15 cents per gallon on the month.

Your Auto Insider!

The nation’s top five most expensive markets are: California at $2.80 per gallon, Hawaii at $2.66 per gallon, Washington at $2.59 per gallon, Alaska at $2.58 and Nevada at $2.49. In addition, for the first time since August 2015, drivers in every state and Washington, D.C. are paying averages above $2 per gallon, according to AAA. Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota, VW Announce Major Ride-Sharing Partnerships

Japanese maker teaming up with Uber; German carmaker pumps $300 mil into Gett.

by on May.25, 2016

Toyota and Volkswagen are the latest makers to announce deals with ride-sharing companies. Toyota is teaming with Uber.

The number of major automakers entering the ride-sharing realm continues to grow, Toyota and Volkswagen just the two latest.

The Japanese maker has announced a broad alliance with Uber, the world’s largest ride-sharing service, with a $1 billion investment. Volkswagen, meanwhile, is investing $300 million in Gett, a global ride-hailing service. The two announcements come just months after General Motors said it would launch car-sharing service Maven and invest $500 million in Uber’s largest competitor, Lyft.

Ride-Share News!

“Ridesharing has huge potential in terms of shaping the future of mobility,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of Toyota and president of its new subsidiary, the Connected Company. “Through this collaboration with Uber, we would like to explore new ways of delivering secure, convenient and attractive mobility services to customers.” Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota, FCA Recall About 2 Mil Vehicles for Faulty Airbags

Takata defect not the only problem.

by on May.24, 2016

The 2010 Lexus GX is part of the most recent airbag-related recall for Toyota.

Nearly 2 million more vehicles are being recalled by Toyota and Fiat Chrysler due to a series of airbag problems, the vast majority of them involving defective Takata airbag inflators.

Designed to enhance crash safety, airbags have become a major headache for automakers around the world due to design and manufacturing issues. The Takata problem alone has already become the largest recall in U.S. automotive history, impacting as many as 20 different automakers.

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The largest of the two new recalls involves 1.6 million Toyota vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. The service action affects both the driver and passenger front airbags on vehicles as much as a decade old and sold through the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands. Read the rest of this entry »

Who Wants to Be a Doctor? Israel Breeding Generation of Entrepreneurs

From traffic apps to refillable batteries.

by on May.24, 2016

Waze, a traffic app developed by an Israeli start-up, was purchased by Google for $1 billion.

Working out of a nondescript office building in a suburb of Tel Aviv, a small Israeli start-up has reinvented the wheel. No, the softwheel isn’t square or triangular, but replaces traditional spokes or hubs with three shock absorbers.

“It started as an accident,” says Daniel Barel, the CEO of Softwheel, admitting the original plan was to come up with a better wheelchair capable of going up and down stairs. Threatened with the likelihood of having its funding pulled and the company shut down, Softwheel’s engineers came up with the breakthrough that could also be used for bicycles, motorcycles and possibly even automobiles.

Mazel Tov!

It might have been an accident, but it wasn’t dumb luck, but rather the sort of innovation that has been coming out of Israel with ever-increasing frequency in recent years as the country shifts from a traditional, agricultural economy to one based more and more on high technology. It’s something the consumer electronics industry has come to depend on, and now the global auto industry is turning to Israel’s entrepreneurs and engineers, as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Detroit Muscle Cars Fall Short in New Crash Tests

Ford Mustang outperforms Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger.

by on May.24, 2016

They perform well on the street, but the IIHS wanted to see how the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro perform in a crash.

The Ford Mustang outperformed its domestic muscle car rivals in the latest series of crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but none of the three managed to earn top ratings in the closely watched tests.

This marks the first time the insurance industry-funded safety group tested and compared all three of the domestic “pony cars,” a move that reflects the fact that muscle cars collectively suffer some of the highest loss rates of any vehicle category, according to government statistics.

Safety News!

“Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it’s especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund.

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New Zealand Spending $4M to Foster EV Use

Government hopes to double EV purchases annually.

by on May.24, 2016

The Nissan Leaf is currently the world's best-selling battery-electric vehicle and there may be more going to New Zealand.

The government of New Zealand has announced plans to double the number of electric vehicles in the country every year in an ambitious and wide-ranging package of measures to increase the uptake of EVs, according to an article in the International Transport Society International newsletter.

The ITS report said the package includes extending the road user charges exemption on light electric vehicles until they make up 2% of the light vehicle fleet and a new road user charges exemption for heavy electric vehicles until they make up two percent of the heavy vehicle fleet.

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The population of New Zealand is 4.4 million people, or roughly equal to the population of the Detroit metropolitan area, and the market for new vehicles is tiny by global standards. Slightly more than 71,000 vehicles were sold in 2015, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Transport, and the market is divided among more than 40 brands, ranging from Alfa Romeo to Subaru.  Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Weekend May be Deadliest in Seven Years

Cheap gas, better economy means more miles driven.

by on May.24, 2016

After years of declines, highway fatalities were up through the first nine months of 2015.

Commercials for great deals on new cars are filling the airwaves and gas prices are rising on every corner, and those things can mean only one thing: Memorial Day is right around the corner.

For many that will mean traveling to picnics, soccer tournaments and trips to weekend vacation homes, but the National Safety Council is predicting it will be the deadliest holiday weekend in seven years. The advocacy group believes 439 people will die in auto accidents this weekend.

Auto Safety News!

If true, it will be the highest numbers since 2009 when 462 people died. NSC officials estimate an additional 50,000 injuries during the extended holiday weekend. Read the rest of this entry »