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Green Car Finalists Announced

Battery power vies with diesel, CNG and advanced gas options.

by on Oct.21, 2014

The BMW i3 is one of five cars up for the 2015 Green Car of the Year award at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

There’s been plenty of attention paid to electric vehicles over the last several years, but not all green machines have a battery under the hood.

To underscore that point, just check out the five finalists for the 2015 Green Car of the Year. The nominees for the annual award, which will be presented at the Los Angeles Motor Show next month, present a mix of alternatives that include not only the requisite EVs, but also a diesel, a bi-fuel package and a conventional gasoline-powered model. The list is dominated by three European models with one each from Japan and the U.S.

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“These five exceptional vehicles reflect an expanding ‘green’ car field that embraces diverse fuels and technologies as answers to a more efficient and low carbon future,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com. “Each offers a distinctly different approach to driving ‘green’ that appeals to buyers with varying needs and perspectives on how best to lessen environmental impact, while maintaining the joy of driving.” (more…)

NHTSA Set to Expand Unprecedented Airbag Recall Alert Covering Nearly 5 Mil Vehicles

Faulty Takata airbags linked to numerous accidents, fatalities.

by on Oct.21, 2014

More than 2.8 million Hondas, including the 2003-2011 model year Element, are part of a recall involving Takata airbags.

Federal regulators are set to expand on an already unprecedented recall alert issued Monday to owners of nearly 5 million vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags.

With evidence showing those safety devices could unexpectedly fail, especially in high-humidity regions of the country, regulators want to make sure owners don’t ignore recall warnings already issued by manufacturers including BMW, General Motors, Honda and Toyota, among others. Only about 70% of motorists typically fix vehicles that have been recalled, and that rate falls off on older models, such as those covered by the NHTSA announcement. The number of companies affected is expected to increase as well.

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NHTSA is engaged in an active investigation of the company’s airbags and Takata is cooperating, according to officials. (more…)

Chinese Officials Express Concern over Indigenous Brands

Government pushing companies to develop technologies.

by on Oct.21, 2014

China's indigenous automakers are struggling to keep up with companies like Volkswagen, General Motors and others in its own market.

China is the world’s largest and fastest growing automotive market in the world, but the focus of the biggest Chinese policy makers, pundits and executives now is the well-being or fate of the country’s indigenous brands.

Some companies, such as Geely, are doing fine and governmental agencies, particularly local governments with a stake in the so-called state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, are doing what they can to assist the homegrown, according to information presented during the course of the two-day Global Automotive Forum, which was held last week in Wuhan, China.

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China is clearly willing to use subsidies for energy-efficient vehicles, rationed parking stickers and anti-trust enforcement to help bolster the indigenous brands, which have have steadily lost marketshare during the past 18 months. In addition, a new study by the Boston Consulting Group found the more than 80% of the Chinese consumers who expect to buy a car soon prefer foreign brands. (more…)

Ford Latest to Cut EV Pricing as Battery-Car Market Struggles

Maker trims $6,000 from price tag of Focus Electric.

by on Oct.21, 2014

Ford has so far sold only 1,500 Focus Electric vehicles this year - less than 1% of total Focus sales.

With battery-car sales lagging expectations, automakers have been slashing prices in a bid to spur demand. The latest to announce a big discount is Ford Motor Co., which will trim the MSRP on its Focus Electric model by $6,000.

That’s on top of the $4,000 discount the Detroit maker took on the compact battery-electric vehicle a year ago. Originally introduced in January 2011 at $39,995, buyers now can plug in a Ford Focus Electric for just $29,995 – plus delivery charges and the usual fees and taxes.

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Ford is by no means alone. With rare exception, automakers have been cutting prices of both plug-in and pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, models in a bid to boost sluggish sales. And with gas prices now near or below $3 a gallon in much of the U.S., industry analysts suggest it will be even more difficult to convince buyers to opt for vehicles that plug in rather than tank up.

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Despite Downturn China’s Economy Still Strong

Current growth rate near sweet spot of expansion.

by on Oct.21, 2014

Fan Gang, director, National Economic Research Institute, suggested China's economy will be strong for several years.

Despite the fact that China’s economy isn’t living up to predictions this year, the overall picture for the country is bright even as it faces significant challenges to its growth, one of China’s leading economists posited yesterday at the Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, China.

Fan Gang, director, National Economic Research Institute, suggested China’s economy will grow at a slightly slower pace, 7.3% rather than the 7.5% rate projected by the central government at the beginning of the year. However, a growth rate of between 7% and 8% is more manageable and more sustainable for what is now the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States’.

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In fact, a hotter rate of growth would be problematic, Fan said. If the economy grew faster than 9%, inflation would become a problem for the country as a whole, while a growth rate of better than 10% could create an “asset bubble” either in real estate or elsewhere in the economy. (more…)

Ford Seeking Fifth Truck Crown at SEMA

Two designs give maker shot at another victory.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Ford Racing’s Brian Deegan built the Deegan 38 F-150 with the 3.5-liter, twin-turbo EcoBoost engine for the SEMA show in Las Vegas.

Ford is attempting to stake its claim for the “Hottest Truck” award at this year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas next month with two entries. If Ford takes the honor, it’ll be the fifth year in a row.

Ford Racing’s Brian Deegan created the Deegan 30 F-150 that uses the 3.5-liter, twin-turbo EcoBoost engine. He partnered with several top-flight suppliers to produce what he believes to be the “world’s most capable truck,” according to the maker.

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“This F-150 should inspire the vast off-road, extreme-lifestyle-loving fan base to push the possibilities of the kick-ass new 2015 F-150 and the awesome 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine,” said Deegan. (more…)

Honda HR-V Making U.S. Debut at L.A. Auto Show

Slotting below CR-V as new entry-level crossover.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Honda's new compact CUV, the HR-V, was shown during the Paris Motor Show recently and will hit U.S. shores later this year.

We were offered a sneak peek at the Honda HR-V earlier this year, and got a first look at it in Paris, a few weeks back. But if it strikes your fancy and you live in the U.S., you’ll have to wait another month for a look at the actual sheet metal. The good news is that Honda is providing a teaser image of the compact crossover that will become the new entry point into its growing CUV line-up.

Original hinted at with the 2013 Urban SUV Concept, Honda plans to put the new HR-V on sale shortly after its official debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

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The new crossover utility vehicle will be positioned below the CR-V both in price and overall size, but if the Fit is any indication, the new crossover may deliver nearly as much cargo and passenger space. (more…)

Takata Airbag Problem Engulfs Toyota

Latest recall pushes maker’s total over 2 million vehicles.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Toyota recalled the 2003-2005 Sequoia as part of an action involving 247,000 vehicles using Takata airbags.

Takata’s defective airbags forced another automaker to recall additional vehicles today as Toyota announced it is recalling 247,000 vehicles with airbags that may rupture. The Japanese maker has already recalled more than 2.2 million vehicles for faulty Takata inflators.

This action follows a series of recalls by several automakers that used Takata’s airbags in their vehicles, including Chrysler, General Motors, Ford, Honda, BMW and others. In all, more than 16.5 million vehicles have been recalled since 2008 due to the faulty airbags, according to Bloomberg News.

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Toyota is recalling the 2002-05 Lexus SC, 2002-05 Toyota Sequoia, 2003-05 Toyota Tundra and 2003-05 Corolla and Corolla Matrix. (more…)

Acura Prepping “Substantially New” ILX for 2016

Remake to debut at LA Auto Show next month.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Acura tosses out a teaser of the 2016 ILX.

Hoping to salvage its sluggish-selling entry-level model, the ILX, Acura is promising to reveal a “substantially new” version of the compact sedan at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.

Launched for the 2013 model-year, the ILX got off to a slow start amidst mixed reviews, though it has been bringing in some of the Gen-X and Gen-Y buyers that Acura has been desperate to win over. But playing in one of the market’s hottest – and most competitive – market segments, “good enough” clearly isn’t enough to put Acura back on the map.

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“The new 2016 ILX stands to solidify and broaden its appeal with a comprehensive update that includes a potent new powertrain, more forceful, sporty exterior styling, and substantially upgraded interior design,” declared a statement from the Honda luxury brand.

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Nissan Readying Replacement for Titan Pickup

High-mileage diesel expected to enhance truck’s appeal.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Nissan's Titan replacement will reach market about four years later than originally planned.

Better late than never? Nissan is certainly hoping so – as are those who’ve long been hoping for an update to the maker’s slow-selling full-size pickup.

It’s been a long 11 years since the original Titan made its debut – and four years since the Japanese maker originally planned to offer a replacement. But plans for the update fell apart, forcing Nissan to return to the drawing board.

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What it’s come up with will make a debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January, and several inside sources have confirmed to TheDetroitBureau.com that the plans call for that preview to put the spotlight on a new diesel developed specifically for the 2016 Nissan Titan.

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