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Nissan Hits the Circuit with New GT-R Track Edition

Limited-edition track model debuts in NY; available by order only.

by on Mar.27, 2017

The Nissan GT-R Track Edition will be powered by a 565 hp version of the twin-turbo V-8.

It’s getting more and more difficult to take today’s extreme machines to their limits – which partially explains the surge in members-only tracks, like New York’s Monticello Motor Club and Detroit’s M1 Concours Race Track.

In turn, that may explain the growing availability of circuit-ready vehicles like the new Nissan GT-R Track Edition that will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show in just a couple weeks. The $128,000 limited-edition model won’t be the most powerful version of the Nissan sports car, but it will offer a number of features specifically designed for those who have the right place to put the Track Edition through its paces.

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“The new GT-R Track Edition gives buyers a specialized model, one true to GT-R heritage and available only by special order,” said Michael Bunce, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America Inc. “Building on the major upgrade to every GT-R for 2017, the Track Edition is an amazing package inside, outside and under the skin.”

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CARB Clinging to Clean Car Standards

Group remains committed to ZEV mandates.

by on Mar.27, 2017

The California Air Resources Board reaffirmed its ZEV mandates as a means to avoid returning to the smog-covered haze that used to be Los Angeles.

Officials from the California Air Resources Board stuck to their guns and voted unanimously to reaffirm the state’s clean car standards this afternoon at their hearing in Southern California where the threat of smog has long been a serious health concern.

The board’s vote means that California will maintain existing standards for passenger cars and trucks that will result in lower smog, particulate matter and carbon pollution being emitted from vehicles.

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The impact reaches beyond California because 12 other states also have adopted California’s standards, collectively impacting 113 million U.S. residents and representing over a third of U.S. vehicles. (more…)

Tesla Rooftop Solar Cells Well Be Ready for Your Garage Well Before Model Y

Roof tiles to debut in April; battery crossover still “a few years away.”

by on Mar.27, 2017

CEO Elon Musk with a model house with a Tesla car, battery-backup system and solar tiles.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk now confirms long-standing rumors there will be an SUV companion to the new Model 3 sedan, but don’t expect to place an order anytime soon, he cautioned in a series of tweets.

The battery-ute will come well after Tesla begins taking orders for a new line of solar roof shingles. A product of the recent acquisition of SolarCity, those power-generating tiles will be part of what Musk envisions to be a range of green energy technologies in the Tesla catalog, including solar cells, electric vehicles and home and office battery backup systems.

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“There will be a Model 3 and a Model Y,” Musk told a Twitter follower, adding in a separate tweet that the crossover model will be “a few years away.”

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More Headaches for Uber as Autonomous Vehicle Crashes

Ride-share service suspends program; sexual harassment concerns escalate.

by on Mar.27, 2017

An Uber autonomous prototype rolled on its side following a crash in Tempe, Arizona.

Ride-sharing giant Uber has suspended its autonomous vehicle pilot program in the wake of a crash involving one of its modified Volvo XC90 SUVs.

It comes as the latest setback for Uber, which has begun a search for a new management team to help address a series of embarrassments including numerous claims of sexual harassment, as well as a video showing its founder and CEO Travis Kalanick berating one of the company’s drivers over pay concerns.

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“We are continuing to look into this incident,” an Uber spokesperson said of the Saturday multi-vehicle crash in Tempe, Arizona that resulted in the Uber SUV rolling onto its side. “There were no serious injuries,” according to Uber, though two Uber “safety” operators were in the front seats.

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March Sales Coming in Like a Lion

Analysts predicting sales increase of more than 2%.

by on Mar.27, 2017

Trucks are still paving the way for strong sales in the U.S. these days. March is expected to see a significant jump in new vehicle sales.

Even with concerns about rising interest rates and downward pressure on used car prices, making leases more expensive, auto makers are expected to post a sales increase for March, analysts said.

The auto industry will see its first year-over-year monthly increase of 2017 as March retail sales are expected to rise 2.4%, according to a forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. Total sales are expected to increase 1.6%. J.D. Power and Kelley Blue Book expected that the seasonally adjusted rate of annual sales will reach 17.3 million units to 17.4 million.

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However, the sales increase will come at a price as incentives were running at a record level of $3,768 per unit, the highest level since the recession of 2009. Incentives as a percentage of manufacturers suggested retail prices reached 10.4% in March, which is also the highest level since 2009 when the topped 11% of MSRP, Power noted. (more…)

Nissan Says “No” to UAW

Union wants talks to discuss organizing drive at Canton plant.

by on Mar.24, 2017

The UAW and Nissan are butting heads again over the maker's Canton, Mississippi, plant.

Nissan has rebuffed new efforts by the United Auto Workers Union to begin organizing the maker’s big assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi.

The factory has landed at the center of the UAW’s attention as it struggles to kick-start long-stalled efforts to represent workers at the many foreign-assembly plants that have sprung up across the South in recent years. Following a March 4 rally outside the plant headlined by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the union demanded to meet with company officials to discuss worker concerns.

The Last Word!

But Nissan executive Scott Becker responded by rejecting the proposed meeting, telling the UAW, “It would be inappropriate to have discussions with your union regarding employees at Nissan’s manufacturing plant in Canton, Miss., without your union first having obtained the support of a majority of employees at that plant.” (more…)

Ferrari Finds the Time to Celebrate 70th Anniversary

High-performance time piece requires a high price tag: $127K to start.

by on Mar.24, 2017

Ferrari celebrates the introduction of its new watch line commemorating the company's 70th anniversary.

Long considered one of the world’s premier automakers, Ferrari is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Of course, any auto aficionado worth his or her salt is desperately searching for a way to take part in this milestone.

Naturally, the first impulse is to simply got out and buy a new Ferrari. Of course, there is that issue of what one to get: LaFerrari? California? 488 Spider? All fine choices, but even with the production increases pushed through by Sergio Marchionne, it’s unlikely you’ll get behind the wheel of a new model this year.

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The used market is always a possibility, but who wants to scour Craigslist or Autotrader for a used Ferrari. The cheapest one currently on Ebay Motors – a 1994 348 in red, of course – has a “Buy It Now” price of $64,995. (more…)

New Legislation Attacks Cyber Security

Democratic senators looking to bolster security measures.

by on Mar.24, 2017

Sen. Ed Markey, above, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal introduced new legislation aimed at eliminating cyber attacks on vehicles.

Republicans controlling Congress and the White House have called for a broad reduction in federal regulations, however, two Democratic senators from New England, Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), have introduced bills bolstering cyber security of motor vehicles and aircraft.

“Whether in their cars on the road or in aircraft in the sky, Americans should be protected from cyber attack and violations of their privacy,” said Markey in a joint press release announcing the legislation this week.

Security News!

“If hackers access the critical systems of a car or plane, disaster could ensue and our public safety could be compromised.” (more…)

Ally Raises Caution Flag About 2017 Auto Sales

Increase in leasing hurting finance companies.

by on Mar.24, 2017

Ally Financial executives are sounding a warning, suggesting the current sales boom is fading.

As warnings go it wasn’t exactly a call to abandon ship, but it was a reminder that the auto sales boom of recent years is losing steam.

But Ally Financial Inc., which once upon a time was the financial arm of General Motors known as GMAC, has warned investors that its profit might not grow as quickly as it once thought because the demand for new cars is shifting.

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After two consecutive years of record sales, analysts are predicting another big year for auto sales in 2017. But the price that carmakers are paying to maintain that pace is climbing. (more…)

Will the Tesla Model 3 Be the Safest Car Ever?

New battery-sedan could prevent 90% of accidents, says analyst.

by on Mar.24, 2017

Tesla promises to launch Model 3 production in July, with retail sales following later in 2017,

Tesla has promised that its upcoming Model 3 will be loaded with a variety of high-tech features, including the latest version of the maker’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system. And now, automotive analysts from Morgan Stanley are predicting the sedan will be the safest car ever made.

With “a supercomputer in every car,” they estimate in a new report that the new Model 3 will be 10 times safer than existing vehicles – or 90% less likely to be the cause of either vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-pedestrian fatal crashes. But that actually could disrupt both the conventional new and used car markets, Morgan Stanley is forecasting.

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“Look for an acceleration of the market’s awareness of the obsolescence of used cars and an acceleration of insurance company awareness to reprice premiums,” the report suggests.

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