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First Look: 2017 BMW Alpina B7

Alpina introduces the M7 BMW won't build.

by on Feb.08, 2016

The 2017 BMW Alpina B7 xDrive.

For those who mourn the lack of a BMW M7, there is a stylish and sporty alternative, and it’s getting a complete remake for the 2017 model-year.

Despite the rapid expansion of its “M” line-up, with models like the new M2 and X4 M40i, the Bavarian maker has long resisted calls for an ultimate, performance edition of the big 7-Series sedan. But long-time affiliate Alpina has been filling in the blank, and its back with a third-generation model, this one based on the all-new BMW 7-Series launched last year.

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The 2017 BMW Alpina B7 xDrive gives the new 7-Series not only a performance boost but delivers its 600 horsepower through all four wheels. The sedan gets a number of other power, performance and luxury enhancements, inside and out.

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Prepping for First SUV, Rolls-Royce Begins Testing New Aluminum Spaceframe

All new models, including Cullinan, will adopt new platform after 2018.

by on Jan.07, 2016

A teaser image from Rolls-Royce shows a mule being used to test the maker's new utility vehicle.

There has always been something a bit anachronistic about Rolls-Royce, retro if you prefer. The big grille, classic hood ornament and, oh, so much mass.

But Rolls is ready to go on a diet. Confirming earlier plans, the British maker now says it is already testing an all-new, aluminum spaceframe architecture that will serve as the basis for all new models, starting in 2018. Among the list of upcoming products to get the lightweight touch: the new off-roader that Rolls officials are referring to as Project Cullinan.

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Rolls-Royce has been moving to modernize itself, starting with the all-new factory it built in Goodwood, said Torsten Muller-Otvos, the marque’s CEO. “It is time to take the next step in the luxury journey.”

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BMW Showing Off Next-Gen Gesture Controls at CES

Next-gen system allows for more function.

by on Dec.29, 2015

BMW's next-generation gesture control system, AirTouch, will be on display at CES 2016 next month.

BMW plans to dazzle visitors at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with its “Vision Car” that contains an updated version of its gesture control system available in the current 7-Series that will be called “AirTouch.”

AirTouch allows the display in a vehicle to be operated like a touchscreen without actually having to make contact with the surface, according to BMW.

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Sensors record the hand movements in the area between the central console and the interior mirror, enabling drivers or passengers to change the focus on the surface of the large panorama display. (more…)

NHTSA Slams BMW with $40 Million Fine

Maker failed to report side-impact crash defect.

by on Dec.22, 2015

The 2014 and 2015 Mini Cooper two-door hardtop failed U.S.-mandated side-impact crash tests. BMW failed to fix the problem and failed to inform owners.

Federal safety regulators continue to crack down on automakers that fail to report problems quickly as BMW agreed to a possible $40 million fine for issues related to its Mini brand.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration levied the punishment after the automaker failed tell owners about a recall of the Mini Cooper that failed a side-impact airbag crash test.

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The company agreed to a $10 million penalty and to spend $10 million correcting the problem. BMW could be assessed an additional $20 million if it doesn’t meet certain criteria for fixing the problems long-term, according to NHTSA. (more…)

BMW, Nissan Team Up on National Fast Charger Network

Two battery-car leaders find common ground.

by on Dec.21, 2015

Get used to sights like this as Nissan and BMW are partnering to develop hundreds of new faster charging stations across the U.S.

Two of the leaders in the emerging market for “electrified” vehicles have decided to team up in a bid to make it easier for owners to charge up away from home.

BMW and Nissan are partnering in an effort to set up fast-charging stations at 120 locations across the U.S. The Level III systems are capable of giving a vehicle like the Nissan Leaf or the BMW i3 and 80% charge in as little as 20 to 30 minutes, far less time than a conventional charging system.

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“BMW continues to pursue new ways to support the development of a robust public charging infrastructure that will benefit current and future BMW i3 owners across the country,” said Cliff Fietzek, Manager Connected eMobility, BMW of North America. “Together with Nissan, we are focused on facilitating longer distance travel so that even more drivers will choose to experience the convenience of e-mobility for themselves.” (more…)

UAW Teams Up With Germany’s IG Metall

Push on to organize VW, BMW, Mercedes plants in U.S.

by on Nov.20, 2015

The UAW gets the nod from the NLRB to hold a new election at VW's Tennessee plant.

The United Auto Workers Union and the powerful German trade union IG Metall are forming a joint project to explore new models of employee representation in the United States.

The UAW also announced the National Labor Relations Board has scheduled a representation election for December 3 among skilled trades workers at the Volkswagen of America plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Roughly 200 workers will be eligible to vote.  The union lost a representation election in February, 2014, but that ballot included both production workers and skilled trades.

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New Consortium Aims to Help EV Owners ROEV More Freely

Taking down the barriers to battery-car ownership.

by on Nov.20, 2015

"This is the future of EV charging in the U.S.," says BMW's Rob Healey.

There are three key factors limiting broader consumer acceptance of battery-electric vehicles, according to most analysts: their high price, limited range and the lack of a readily available charging network.

A new consortium, announced at this week’s L.A. Auto Show, could help resolve the latter issue. Dubbed ROEV, short for Roaming for Electric Vehicle charging, the new venture aims to make it easier for owners of battery-based vehicles to plug in wherever they go. It will let them access the vast majority of public charge stations without having to sign up with a variety of different service providers.

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The goal is to “make sure every station is capable of serving every vehicle out there,” explained Brendan Jones, a vice president of NRG EVgo, one of the partners in the new charging consortium. “ROEV is reducing the barrier (to EVs by letting) people know they can charge anywhere.”

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Reborn Karma Will Get Power from BMW

Former Fisker plug-in to abandon unpopular GM powertrain.

by on Nov.13, 2015

The original Fisker Karma relied on a 2.0-liter I-4 range extender from GM.

The newly reborn and now Chinese-owned Karma Automotive has signed a major powertrain deal with BMW, the German automaker set to provide key components for the plug-in hybrid soon set to go back into production.

Karma is the new name for what was originally known as Fisker Automotive, the California-based start-up that collapsed into bankruptcy in 2013. The deal with BMW allows it to replace the old 2.0-liter engine provided by General Motors for the original version of the Fisker Karma plug-in.

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The deal “is giving Karma Automotive the opportunity to bring a stunning car back to the market, and the partnership with BMW and their outstanding track record is a great fit for the future,” said Karma CEO Tom Corcoran. “We will continue to develop beautiful cars with the latest cutting edge hybrid and EV technology.”

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BMW Earnings Accelerate – But Maker Warns China Could Put on the Brakes

by on Nov.03, 2015

On track: BMW expects models like the new 7-Series to continue boosting its sales.

BMW delivered a 20% surge in third-quarter earnings, but the maker cautioned that a slowdown in the Chinese market could put the brakes on its bottom line in the months ahead.

The Bavarian maker has enjoyed a global surge in demand for its luxury products – while also benefiting from the addition of a number of new models, analyst said.  Demand has benefitted from both the U.S. automotive rebound as well as growing sales in China, which is generally expected to become the world’s largest luxury car market. But how soon is now uncertain.

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“We continue to chart a course of profitable growth, with reported figures continuing their upward trend in the first nine months of the year”, said BMW Chairman Harald Krüger, in a prepared statement

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Mini Uncovers New Convertible

Bigger is better?

by on Oct.22, 2015

The new Mini Convertible grows by more than four inches and gains plenty of interior space.

The Mini makeover, it seems, is in full swing, and the latest addition to the British maker’s line-up comes with a makeover of the Mini Convertible.

As with other recent remakes, the 2017 Mini Convertible grows a little larger than the outgoing ragtop, with a bit more emphasis on practicality this time around. But the fun factor isn’t being played down, and like the new Mini Hardtop launched last year, the Convertible now shares its underlying architecture, as well as its powertrain options, with Mini’s sibling BMW brand.

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“The new MINI Convertible has a great balance of playful personalization and sophistication. It’s open-top driving without compromise,” says David Duncan, vice president MINI of the Americas, adding that, “The front wheel drive BMW architecture and engines make it fun-to-drive and practical in any driving conditions.”

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