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Toyota Reveals “Architecture” for Global Expansion

Maker plans to build stronger, safer, more efficient vehicles.

by on Mar.26, 2015

Toyota EVP Mitsuhisa Kato outlined the automaker's New Global Architecture to build better vehicles.

After briefly putting growth on hold, Toyota Motor Co. has unveiled the “architecture” of its global growth strategy, a plan that relies on new products, new technologies, and improved quality and reliability.

The strategy, dubbed Toyota New Global Architecture, or TNGA, the announcement marks the end of the “intentional pause” Toyota President Akio Toyoda had ordered as the maker took stock following a series of quality and safety problems several years ago.

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The goal is to allow Toyota to grow in a “sustainable way,” said Executive Vice President Mitsuhisa Kato during a presentation at the maker’s headquarters in Toyota City, 200 miles southwest of Tokyo. That and other challenges are “making our effort to come out with ever better cars increasingly difficult.” (more…)

US Gasoline Usage Lowest Since 1984

Better fuel economy, less driving helps cut gas prices.

by on Mar.26, 2015

More fuel efficient vehicles, like Ford's C-Max line-up, have helped reduce the amount of gasoline used by Americans in the last three decades.

A new study from the University of Michigan examines one of the important factors that have undermined the price of oil and gasoline: Americans are using less gas.

The price of gasoline and crude oil has plunged since last summer and the role of new discoveries in North American shale formations has been highlighted.

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Over the past two years, oil production in the U.S. has reached levels last seen in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Average fuel consumption by American drivers is at its lowest level in at least 30 years, according to a University of Michigan researcher. (more…)

Toyota Confirms Plans for New Hybrid Version of RAV4

New version may opt for through-the-road AWD system.

by on Mar.26, 2015

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid comes to market at a time when demand for gas-electric models has shrunk.

Toyota will roll out the latest in a growing family of hybrid vehicles during the New York International Auto Show next week.

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid won’t adopt the radically distinctive styling of the popular Prius model, with more subtle markings – such as the “Hybrid” badge on the tailgate shown here. The automaker is saving details for the hybrid ute’s launch in the Big Apple next week, but speculation centers around the likelihood it will use a three-motor driveline similar to that in the new Lexus NX crossover.

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The April 2 introduction might not be seen as the best timing for a new hybrid. With a few rare exceptions, the market for hybrids has taken a sharp tumble over the last year – even the Prius losing momentum in 2014 – as a result of lower gas prices. (more…)

Pricing Wars: Plug-in Hybrid, EV Prices Dropping

Makers cutting lease payments on vehicles.

by on Mar.26, 2015

BMW recently cut the lease price on its electric i3 model to $239 a month. The maker isn't alone in reducing prices.

Gas prices aren’t the only prices dropping these days. Automakers are cutting prices on their electric vehicles.

Despite strong sales early on, BMW recently announced buyers can lease an i3 for as low as $239 a month. However, just after that, Honda put out a new $199 lease for its Fit EV subcompact. The new lease price is a $60 a month cut from its previous offer of $259 a month.

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It’s not just the leases prices. Heading into this year, Ford announced it was cutting the price of its Focus battery electric vehicle as well: by $6,000. The new starting price is $29,995 before any federal, state or local incentives are applied, which can cut the final price as much as $7,500. It was the second time the automaker cut the price on the Focus. It cut it $4,000 in 2013 hoping to drive sales then. (more…)

First Look: 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE

New name, new look, new features – and new plug-in hybrid -- for midsize SUV.

by on Mar.26, 2015

A new name marks the launch of a new version of the midsize Mercedes SUV now called the GLE.

The name is new, as is the styling, and there’s even a new plug-in hybrid. But if you pick up something familiar in the form of the new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE you’re not just having a sense of déjà vu.

The GLE is the new name for the old Mercedes ML. Well, not that old.  An all-new version of the popular midsize sport-utility vehicle will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show next week – but the German maker decided to lift the covers a little bit ahead of schedule.

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“Often copied, rarely equaled – the M-Class established the segment of premium SUVs in 1997 and since then has been one of the most successful models in the world,” boasts Ola Källenius, the Daimler AG board member overseeing Mercedes-Benz cars.

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Drone Delivery? Car Shoppers Look to the Future

Survey finds most buyers won’t want to share cars.

by on Mar.25, 2015

New car buyers are looking for more flexibility in the buying process.

Why bother to drive to the showroom when you can have your next car delivered by drone. At least, that’s what some shoppers had in mind when asked how they’d like to buy a car in the future.

The survey found that a sizable number of shoppers would prefer never to have to step foot in a showroom. But it also suggests that Americans still would prefer to own vehicles rather than sharing them as a way to hold down costs.

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“The automotive industry continues to evolve before our eyes, especially when it comes to the types of cars manufacturers are producing,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Swapalease.com, which commissioned the survey of 2,500 drivers and shoppers. But the industry also needs to rethink the way it sells and finances vehicles, Hall added. (more…)

McLaren Set to Launch Sports Series with NY Debut of 570S

New sports car expected to target Porsche 911 Turbo.

by on Mar.25, 2015

The 570S Coupe will anchor the "base" of McLaren's new three-tier model strategy.

Wondering what an “entry-level” car from McLaren might look like? Well, you’ll have to settle for this teaser image until next week, when the British maker pulls the wraps completely off of the new 570S Coupe at the annual New York International Auto Show.

The much-watched debut will mark the completion of McLaren’s three-tier supercar strategy, with the Sports Series at the base, the Ultimate Series at the peak, and the Super Series in-between.

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McLaren is being tight with details, hoping to build interest in its April Fool’s Day debut, but it does reveal that the name of the 570S is shorthand for the fact that it will make 570PS, the German power measurement that translates into 562 horsepower. (more…)

Redesigned Chevy Malibu Will Add 45 MPG Hybrid

“Building on the Volt,” says chief engineer.

by on Mar.25, 2015

Cutaway shows the Malibu Hybrid's layout.

When Chevrolet launches a completely redesigned version of its midsize Malibu later this year, it will add a new hybrid option expected to be one of the segment’s most fuel-efficient models.

Initial estimates suggest the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid will come in at “better than” 45 miles per gallon, which would put it ahead of hybrid versions of the midsize Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry models, and within shot of the segment-leading Honda Accord Hybrid, which is rated at 47 mpg.

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“We’re bringing a hybrid to the midsize segment to compete,” Jesse Ortega, the chief engineer on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu project, said during a background briefing, adding his belief that Chevy is “very well-armed” to take on key domestic and import competitors.

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BBC Stigs it to Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson

Company won’t renew contract after fight with producer.

by on Mar.25, 2015

The BBC fired Top Gear Host Jeremy Clarkson, left, after he punched a producer. The future of hosts James May and Richard Hammond, right, will return.

The world’s most famous, or infamous may be more appropriate now, automotive journalist, Jeremy Clarkson, the host of the BBC’s influential Top Gear has been given the boot.

Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General, said in a statement,  “It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts.

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“I know how popular the program is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion,” he added. “The main facts are not disputed by those involved. (more…)

The 10 Most Annoying Car Features

Touchscreens top the list.

by on Mar.25, 2015

Lincoln has been hammered in recent studies because of problems with its touchscreens.

Love that new car? Plenty of storage space, good performance, great mileage? You’re still likely to find something about it that will make you grind your teeth, perhaps the lack of useful cupholders, a glovebox that invariably bangs your knees or a touchscreen audio system that makes it a chore to simply change radio stations.

A poorly designed interior is one of the things most likely to send you running when you go looking for a new car, truck or crossover. But other things, like car alarms that randomly go off in the middle of the night, can add to your frustration.

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The editors at online shopping service Cars.com have set out their own list of the 10 most annoying car features. We’ll add a few of our own and invite readers to weigh in with their own.

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