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Nissan Holding Course on Autonomous, Electric Vehicles, Says CEO Ghosn

Chief exec warns of “disruptors” that could transform the auto industry.

by on Sep.15, 2015

Autonomous vehicle technology will reach the market in "waves," says Nissan CEO Ghosn.

Japanese automaker Nissan has no intention of backing down on either its plans to sell electric vehicles or its push to be one of, if not the, first automaker to have a fully autonomous vehicle on the market, CEO Carlos Ghosn said during a Frankfurt Motor Show meeting with reporters.

Nissan was the first automaker to go mainstream with a pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, the Leaf. And it is pushing to have a fully autonomous vehicle in production by 2020, with a series of less advanced technologies coming out in “waves,” said Ghosn, over the next five years.

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Autonomous technology “won’t come all of a sudden,” stressed the Brazilian-born executive. “We will have waves” of more and more capable systems starting next year.

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Ford Trims C-Max Mileage by 10%, Offers “Goodwill” Cash to Owners

EPA expected to tweak its fuel economy rating process.

by on Aug.15, 2013

Ford cut the mpg rating of the C-Max Hybrid while also giving up to $550 to owners as a "goodwill" gesture.

Ford Motor Co. will reduce the fuel economy rating of its popular C-Max Hybrid by about 10% to better reflect what often-frustrated buyers have been experiencing in the real world, and it will offer owners as much as $550 as a “goodwill payment” to cover higher-than-expected fuel costs.

The hybrid version of the C-Max has been the center of controversy since Ford started advertising a 47 mpg rating for the “people mover.” That has triggered significant criticism – and several lawsuits from those who claim the numbers don’t reflect real-world experience. But the C-Max Hybrid is by no means alone.

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The Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged with overseeing federal fuel economy regulations, is expected to announce revisions to its testing and labeling procedures to acknowledge the mileage gap many of the latest vehicles – especially those using hybrid and other advance powertrain technologies – suffer from.

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It’s Spring Car Maintenance Season – But Expect to Pay More This Year

Service, repair costs fast on rise, according to new survey.

by on Apr.10, 2013

Your mechanic may be smiling because he's charging more after a six-year decline in maintenance and repair costs.

If your calendar app hasn’t reminded you, it’s National Car Care Month. Now, Americans have a day, week or month to celebrate just about everything from artichokes to kazoos, but after a long winter’s abuse, this is probably something most motorists should take seriously.

A bit of preventative care can head off some much more serious repair bills later on. And the bad news is that after benefiting from an unusual, six-year reduction in automotive parts and labor costs, a new study suggests that your service and repair bills are fast on the rise again.

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They rose an average of about 10% last year, reports auto service website CarMD.com. But the study does have a bright side – at least for the small cadre of hybrid vehicle owners. It found that the cost for fixing those vehicles actually dipped a bit as they became more commonplace.

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What Gas Crisis? Auto Sales Still Gain Momentum

Buyers spending on fuel-efficient offerings at record pace.

by on Apr.03, 2012

Nissan scores an all-time sales record.

Undeterred by rising fuel price, new vehicles sped out of showroom during March at a rate the industry hasn’t seen since the start of the Great Recession.

Nissan North America sales hit an all-time high, while Audi had its 15th consecutive record month.  Toyota reported its highest March sales since 2008.  On a seasonally-adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, sales shot to 14.7 million for March, well in excess of the roughly 14 million most industry analysts are expecting for all of 2012.

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The question is whether the pace will continue. “I don’t expect it to,” cautions David Sullivan, of the consulting firm, AutoPacific, Inc. He fears the sharp rise in fuel prices will “choke things off” when potential buyers have to divert money from their new car budget to fuel.

But other analysts counter that, if anything, motorists may see that as reason to trade in.  Significantly, General Motors said it sold more high-mileage offerings than at any time in its history – vehicles getting at least 30 mpg on the highway accounting for 40% of its overall mix last month.  Small car sales, in particular, accounted for 29% of Ford Motor Co.’s overall sales – even though demand for the subcompact Fusion actually declined while sales of the compact Focus model were up by a third.

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Magna Co-CEO Russia-Bound

Siegfried Wolf lands job with metals oligarch.

by on Sep.13, 2010

A senior manager heads for Russia.

Magna International Co-CEO Siegfried Wolf is leaving the Canadian automotive supply giant in November to take a job with Russian metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska.

The move comes less than a year after a bid by Magna and a Russian partner to take control of General Motors’ struggling European Opel subsidiary collapsed.

Wolf, who is also head of Magna’s Austrian-based vehicle building unit, Magna-Steyr, will take an executive position with Deripaska’s Basic Element and its machinery division OJSC Russian Machines, the parent company of Russian automotive OEM, GAZ Group.

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Donald Walker, who shared chief executive duties with Wolf, was confirmed as Magna’s single CEO, following Wolf’s resignation.

“When Oleg Deripaska recently approached us for permission for Basic Element to make an offer to Sigi, we made it clear that the decision should ultimately rest with Sigi,” Magna Chairman Frank Stronach said in a statement.

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Delphi Opens Up With New Infotainment System

Open architecture strategy lifts limits on upgrades.

by on Sep.10, 2010

Delphi makes a big score with the new Audi A1.

Auto industry officials often talk about adopting Silicon Valley’s rapid pace of innovation, and nowhere is that more critical than in the growing world of onboard electronics.

Consumer electronics companies measure product lifecycles in months, not years, and open architecture software is a key reason this is possible.  Traditionally, automakers have stuck with proprietary technologies which may have to be completely rewritten or redesigned from one model to the next.

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But Delphi Corp., the big supplier that has largely shifted from old-style parts to high-tech electronics, is racking up a big score as it begins to supply a new open-source infotainment system to Audi for the German maker’s new luxury minicar, the A1.

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