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Chevy Cuts Price While Extending Range of New 2016 Volt

Most owners expected to go as much as 1,500 miles between fill-ups.

by on May.04, 2015

The gen-2 Chevrolet Volt is designed to spend even more time operating in electric mode.

Chevrolet is once again cutting the price of its Volt plug-in hybrid – but this time, the $1,175 discount comes with the launch of an all-new version of the extended-range electric vehicle. The 2016 Chevrolet Volt will cost as little as $26,495 when federal credits are taken into account, and some states offer additional financial incentives.

And, at the same, time, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will be getting a big boost in range, the compact battery car expected to deliver an EPA-rated 50 miles in electric mode alone.

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“The next generation Chevolet Volt delivers more technology, the ability to drive further between gas fill ups and now with even more value to our customers,” said Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet marketing. “We are confident we will continue to attract new customers to Volt with the vehicle’s product improvements and attractive price.”

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Senate Bill Would Bar Rental of Vehicles with Unrepaired Recall Problems

Measure has support of major rental firms - but dealers oppose it.

by on May.01, 2015

The Houck sisters were killed instantly when their vehicle spun out of control and hit a truck head-on.

A new bill facing the Senate would ban car rental companies from offering vehicles to consumers until outstanding recall problems are repaired.

Dubbed the Rachel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015, the measure is named after two sisters killed in the 2004 crash of a Chrysler PT Cruiser they had rented which had a serious defect that hadn’t been fixed.

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“Whether they come from the renter’s lot or a dealership, cars under recall should be not be on the road until their defect is repaired,” said NY Senator Charles Schumer, and one of the lead sponsors, along with California’s Barbara Boxer, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill Florida’s Bill Nelson, all Democrats. A similar piece of legislation is facing the House of Representatives.

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Foreign Automakers Enjoy Strong April Sales

Honda, Kia, VW buck rising sales trend.

by on May.01, 2015

Carmakers from around the world finished April with strong sales in the United States.

The 2016 Mazda6 helped the Japanese automaker to a 7.5% sales jump last month.

Mazda reported its best sales in 20 years, while Subaru, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Maserati all chalked up double-digit gains. However, it wasn’t sunshine and roses for every automaker as Honda, Kia and Volkswagen, reported sales declines and Volvo remained flat.

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“It is often said at Mazda that this business isn’t a sprint, but a marathon, and our sixth-generation vehicles prove that a steady pace will establish growth and build our brand,” said Ron Stettner, vice president of sales, MNAO. “Sixth-generation vehicle sales combine to be up 14% year-over-year and we continue to focus on the quality of our sales.” Overall, Mazda’s April sales were up 7.5%. (more…)

Former VW Boss Piëch Opposes Family for Board Spots

by on May.01, 2015

Wolfgang Porsche (l), and Ferdinand Piech with Piech's wife. Piech voiced opposition to his two nieces replacing him and his wife on VW's supervisory board.

It appears that former Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piëch will not go gently into that good night.

Less than a week after resigning his position from the company his grandfather founded, Piech is making news again by opposing the nomination of two of his nieces to board positions at the company.

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According to the German magazine Bild, he thinks the women – Julia Kuhn-Piëch and Dr. Lousie Kiesling – lack the experience necessary to be effective replacements for he and his wife on the company’s supervisory board. (more…)

April Showers Automakers with Demand for Trucks, Crossovers

Many makers setting new records during the month.

by on May.01, 2015

Ford President Joe Hinrichs is thumbs up with good reason: F-150 sales were up 8% in April, helping Ford to a 5% jump for the month.

April showers resulted in a surge of buyers looking for new trucks and crossovers, which benefitted the bottom lines of nearly every automaker.

Ford finally broke out of something of a sales slump in April as it posted a 5% sales increase and General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Audi all reported gains as sales of new vehicles boomed with the beginning of spring.

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The Dearborn, Michigan-based company said retail sales in April were the best in nine years. (more…)

Aston Martin Gets Funding to Build DBX Crossover

Battery car also in the works.

by on May.01, 2015

Aston Martin surprised everyone with the introduction of its DBX crossover at the Geneva Motor Show.

Aston Martin has lined up a £200 million, or roughly $300 million, cash infusion from its key shareholders, money that it will use to build several new models including a production version of the DBX crossover revealed at the Geneva Motor Show several months ago.

The goal is to create “the strongest and most portfolio in our history,” proclaimed Andy Palmer, the former Nissan senior executive who joined Aston Martin Lagonda as its new CEO last year.

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“This additional long-term funding, will enable us to add extra model lines and broaden our presence in the luxury market segment by the end of the decade,” said Palmer in a statement. He made it clear that the primary focus is on the DBX.

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GM Hints of Switch to Aluminum Bodies

Nearly $800M investment focuses on work with aluminum and steel.

by on May.01, 2015

GM invested nearly $800 million in three Michigan facilities, in part, to allow them to use more aluminum in production.

General Motors has dropped a big hint about its future vehicle plans this week – and that could mean a major shift from classic steel to aluminum bodies in the coming years.

The move would follow the lead set by rivals such as Ford Motor Co. – which launched an all-new, “aluminum-intensive” version of its F-150 for 2015 – Audi and Jaguar, the latter two adopting the lightweight material for a number of new luxury models. So-called “lightweighting” has become a critical goal for the auto industry as it struggles to meet tough new emissions and fuel economy standards.

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A possible switch to aluminum by GM was hinted at during a news conference revealing the maker’s plan to invest $5.4 billion in new plants and equipment. That includes a revamp of the prototype plant in Warren, Michigan where GM builds the first iteration of new vehicles under development before they are transferred to the assembly plant where the finished product is assembled. (more…)

Tesla Reveals Powerwall Energy Storage System

Base home system to start at $3,500.

by on May.01, 2015

A Powerwall system alongside a Tesla Model S.

Already providing a shock to the auto industry, entrepreneur Elon Musk is now hoping to transform the electric utility world. The billionaire founder of Tesla Motors added a new line of business Thursday night, confirming widespread rumors that the electric carmaker would add a line of residential and business battery backup systems.

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In typical fashion, Musk declared the Powerwall system more than just the sort of technology that could keep a computer or TV running in the event of a power outage. Rather, he insisted during an evening news conference, that the system was another step in the goal of saving the environment by moving away from fossil fuels.

“This is within the power of humanity to do,” Musk proclaimed during a media briefing at Tesla’s design center in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne. “We have done things like this before. It is not impossible.”

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Bugatti Looking to Remain King of Speed

Chiron producing unprecedented 0-62 mph time: 2 seconds.

by on Apr.30, 2015

Bugatti is replacing its Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse with a hybrid named the Chiron.

There are plenty of cars that post zero-to-100 km times in the four second range. Real speed comes in the low-three to high-two second span and now Bugatti’s looking to take that a notch lower: two seconds flat.

The Chiron, which is the replacement for the Veyron, is said to be putting out 1,500 horsepower and 1,100 ft-lb of torque. That would be 0.4 seconds faster than the Vitesse version. It also puts some distance between it and the Ferrari LaFerrari (0.5 seconds faster), the McLaren P1 (0.6 faster) and the Porsch 918 Wessach (0.9 seconds faster).

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The new model is nearly completely new from the ground up: 92% of the components are new or updated. The result may be a lighter vehicle with better handling even though it looks very much like its predecessor. (more…)

Tesla Expected to Add New Product Line Tonight

Maker plans big announcement; expected to get into stationary battery business.

by on Apr.30, 2015

Getting into stationary power would provide a major new business opportunity for the Tesla Gigafactory shown in this rendering.

While it isn’t walking away from the electric vehicle market, California’s Tesla Motors is expected to announce a new line of business this evening during a splashy news conference starring its media-savvy CEO Elon Musk.

Tesla reportedly will reveal it is entering the market for stationary batteries that can provide backup power for home, office and industrial applications. The anticipated announcement has been tempting analysts and investors, the maker’s stock price on a sharp rise in recent weeks. The move could help ensure the viability of the $5 billion Gigafactory battery plant Tesla is setting up in Nevada, even if its electric vehicle sales don’t meet growth expectations.

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Less than coincidentally, Musk also serves as chairman of Solar City, another start-up that provides stationary battery units to back up its solar power systems.

The topic of tonight’s news conference hasn’t been a particularly close-kept secret. On March 30, Musk tweeted that the carmaker would have news of a “major new Tesla product line – not a car.”

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