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Order Up! Ford, Amazon and Starbucks Team Up, Give Hint of Connected Car’s Future

New service a prelude to array of in-car services to come.

by on Mar.22, 2017

Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Starbucks executive vice president and chief technology officer, announced the new partnership between Ford, Amazon and Starbucks.

For many Americans, the day doesn’t begin without a cup of coffee to go for the morning commute, and a new alliance between Ford, Amazon and Starbucks should make it a little faster and easier to order and pay for that cop of java.

At its annual shareholders meeting in Seattle on Wednesday, Amazon officials confirmed Ford vehicles equipped with the maker’s latest Sync3 infotainment system will be able to order and pay for their coffee by connecting to the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. It’s just the first step in what could come, over the next few years, as automakers expand the capabilities of their increasingly connected cars.

Beyond the Headlines!

“It only takes a little imagination to think about where conversation ordering will show up next,” said Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Starbucks chief technology officer, as she showed off the new technology. (more…)

McLaren Teases New BP23 Model Coming in 2019

New three-seater hybrid supercar is already sold out.

by on Mar.22, 2017

McLaren is teasing its next supercar, currently codenamed the BP23. The Hyper-GT won't see the road until 2019.

McLaren is a company on the move. Just weeks after debuting its new 720S at the Geneva Motor Show, the company is hyping its BP23 model.

Its what?

Product News!

The new Hyper-GT car is the second offering from the McLaren Special Operations team and the name BP23 is simply code for that this is the second vehicle, No. 2, and it has three seats, No. 3. The current name is unlikely to follow it over to production. (more…)

Uber Autonomous Vehicles Running into Big Problems

Human “operators” have to take over at least once per mile.

by on Mar.22, 2017

Uber pulled these autonomous XC90s out of San Francisco in December, but they've since returned.

As if Uber doesn’t have enough trouble with its management shake-ups, sex harassment investigations and financial issues, the ride-sharing giants autonomous vehicle program has been running into a series of serious issues.

After resolving a dispute with California regulators, Uber this month relaunched its self-driving test program in San Francisco. It also has autonomous prototypes operating in Pennsylvania and Arizona. But those vehicles can barely go a mile, it seems, without having to have their human “operators” take over control, according to Uber data.

Technology News!

That’s in sharp contrast to the experience reported by Google’s Waymo autonomous vehicle unit, which recently reported a sharp decline in the number of instances where humans had to snatch control away from the onboard autopilot system.

(more…)

Toyota Bringing Mutt-and-Jeff Intros to NY Auto Show

Pairing updated Sienna, Yaris models.

by on Mar.22, 2017

Toyota updates the Yaris for 2018.

Toyota will be going to extremes at the upcoming New York International Auto Show, unveiling updates to both its smallest entry into the U.S. market, as well as one of its biggest.

The update to the Toyota Sienna comes at a critical time, as the Japanese maker’s people-mover faces tough competition from two key competitors: the well-reviewed Chrysler Pacifica and the popular Honda Odyssey, both of which have undergone complete makeovers in the last year.

Auto Show News!

The Toyota Yaris, meanwhile, is playing in a segment that has lost significant momentum over the last several years as cheap gas has helped shift the U.S. market away from small passenger cars to larger crossovers and SUVs.

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Costs of Tougher Fuel Economy Standards Inflated

Report says tougher standard won't cost as much as expected.

by on Mar.22, 2017

A new report shows that the cost of technology that improves fuel economy and emissions is less than predicted by regulators.

A new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation, which reviewed the history of clean air regulations in the United States, the European Union and China, found that regulators have routinely inflated the costs of automotive technology that would benefit the environment.

Last week, the Trump administration announced that it will reopen the review of national fuel-economy standards for model years 2022-25. The report comes as the California Air Resources Board will make a decision, based on its own technical assessment, whether states representing 113 million people will stick with the current program.

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Automakers and other supporters of delaying the 2022-25 standards express concern about the cost associated with achieving tougher fuel economy and emissions standards and the impact on their bottom lines. (more…)

France Investigating FCA for Diesel Emission Violations

Automaker joins Volkswagen, PSA Group and Renault in group of potential violators.

by on Mar.21, 2017

FCA is under investigation by French prosecutors for diesel emissions violations. The company said its vehicles are compliant.

Less than a week after clearing Opel of wrongdoing in diesel emissions testing, French prosecutors are investigating Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over similar allegations, according to Reuters.

“I can confirm that a judicial investigation has been opened into aggravated cheating,” the source told Reuters.

Global Auto News!

Recently, four automakers were referred to authorities for further investigation – and possible prosecution – after testing by French authorities revealed higher than allowable diesel emission elvels. The four were Volkswagen, Renault, FCA and PSA Group. (more…)

Buying the Right New Car Could Net Big Profits Later

Own a '71 Plymouth 'Cuda convertible? You may be a millionaire.

by on Mar.21, 2017

This 1971 Plymouth Barracuda convertible appreciated more than 55,000% — yes, the comma is in the right spot. Photo credit: Barrett-Jackson.com

There’s nothing that beats that “new car” smell — except if you accurately predict that your new car will smell like money in 40 years.

In the vast majority of cases, new vehicles are money losers, or a depreciating asset if you want a fancier term, for the buyer. However, there are a few vehicles that beat the odds and increase in value over time.

Product News!

Case in point: the 1971 Plymouth Barracuda convertible. The ‘Cuda featured a drop top and a 426 Hemi all for $4,296 when it debuted more than 45 years ago. Now it’s valued at $2.5 million, a 58,000% increase in value over time, according to Black Book, which provides up-to-date pricing information for classic cars. (more…)

BMW Planning Biggest New Product Blitz in its History

CEO: battery-car sales to nearly double in 2017.

by on Mar.21, 2017

The BMW 740e is one of an assortment of new, electrified models in the pipeline.

BMW plans to roll out about 40 new and significantly updated models during the next two years, the most significant burst in its history. And with a significant number of those vehicles offering battery-based options, CEO Harald Krueger said he expects to nearly double sales of electrified products this year.

BMW needs the product blitz, industry analysts have suggested, if it hopes to catch up with arch-rival Mercedes-Benz, which snatched the global luxury sales crown in 2016 – while also holding at bay aggressive also-ran Audi, which has its own major product offensive in the works.

Electrifying!

While BMW’s new models will include plenty of big SUVs and high-performance M models, there will be an expanded array of so-called “new energy vehicles,” or NEV models, Krueger telling journalists at BMW’s annual earnings conference, “our goal is sustainable mobility. There’s no turning back.”

(more…)

Despite Ongoing Quality Issues, Tesla Owners Bond with Their Cars

“Owners see themselves as pioneers.”

by on Mar.21, 2017

Despite endemic quality problems, Power finds strong emotional attachment to Tesla products.

Tesla owners could be accused of having a love/hate relationship with their vehicles. The maker’s Models S and X have repeatedly been slammed for serious quality issues, yet owners retain a strong emotional bond to those battery-electric vehicles, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

But the question is whether those buying the next generation of Tesla products, starting with the Model 3 sedan set to go into production in July, will be nearly as forgiving. Moving into the mainstream carries significant risks, according to various analysts.

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“Tesla owners see themselves as pioneers who enjoy being early adopters of new technology,” said Kathleen Rizk, director of global automotive consulting at J.D. Power. “Spending $100,000 or more on a vehicle that has so many problems usually would have a dramatically negative effect on sales and brand perception. Right now, though, Tesla seems immune from such disenchanted customers.”

(more…)

China Epicenter of New Development in Car Industry

Zetsche says push for EVs, size of market make country crucial.

by on Mar.21, 2017

Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said the company plans to build and sell the newly unveiled EQ brand of electric vehicles in China.

China will likely serve as the stage where the auto industry’s future plays out in the years to come, two key executives from Daimler AG told a Beijing Forum organized to discuss the future of the Chinese economy.

“The automotive industry is experiencing fundamental change: connectivity, autonomous driving, sharing and electric mobility. Each of these has the power to turn our entire industry upside down. And I truly believe: China can be ‘the turbo’ of this transformation,” Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche told the forum as he outlined some of the key trends re-shaping the auto industry.

Global Auto News!

“Electric mobility, for instance, is developing quickly here. And we are aiming to further contribute to this development by planning to produce our new generation of electric Mercedes-Benz models also in China. We are committed to delivering innovation and believe to have a common target with our partners: a both sustainable and highly fascinating auto industry in China,” Zetsche noted. (more…)