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BMW Expands 3-Series Recall for Airbag Problem

Maker bringing back 574,000 cars sold in the U.S. to replace front passenger bags.

by on Jul.16, 2014

BMW is recalling 574,000 3-Series vehicles in the U.S. produced between 1999 and 2006 due to a potential airbag problem.

BMW is extending a recall of its 3-Series vehicles to replace the passenger-side front airbag in 1.6 million cars produced between 1999 and 2006, 574,000 of them sold in the U.S..

This action puts the grand total of vehicles recalled in the U.S. at more than 40 million vehicles through mid-July, further separating this year from the previous record high of 33.01 million 2004. But it also adds to a growing list of problems involving faulty airbags, including a series of recalls linked to defective systems supplied by Japan’s Takata that has become one of the five biggest safety-related issues in automotive history.

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The recall is due to “potential problems with the airbag inflator which may rupture in vehicles produced by other manufacturers using similar systems from the same supplier have become evident in rare cases,” the company said. (more…)

BMW Jumps on Luxury Bandwagon Going to Mexico

Bavarian maker investing $1 billion in new plant in San Luis Potosi.

by on Jul.04, 2014

Harald Krueger, BMW board member for production, and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, after the announcement of BMW's new plant.

When it comes to making vehicles in North America, BMW is moving south, not to South Carolina, but south of the Rio Grande. The automaker plans to build a $1 billion plant in Mexico that would begin producing an unknown vehicle by 2019.

BMW’s facility in San Luis Potosi, a city in central Mexico, is expected to employ 1,500 workers and build 150,000 vehicles annually. The company did not announce what vehicle it will build there, but a government official there suggested the 3-Series. General Motors also has a plant in San Luis Potosi.

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While some suggest the move to Mexico helps BMW escape the higher wages of building the vehicles in Germany, officials suggest a simpler reason. (more…)

BMW Buckling Down, Looks to Cut $5.5 Billion

German maker wants to keep margins between 8% and 10%.

by on Jun.19, 2014

BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer says he wants to cut as much as $5.4 billion in costs between now and 2020.

Rising costs and the subsequent squeeze on profit margins has BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer declaring war on costs: a nearly $5.5 billion war.

The Bavarian Motors boss wants to cut between $4 billion and $5.4 billion in costs to keep the German maker’s profit margins between 8% and 10% in the coming years. In 2013, BMW reported a margin of 9.4%.

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One area of bloat is the Mini brand as well as the development of the 1-Series, which should see costs come down some as it’s in production now, according to multiple media reports. BMW said in a released statement would seek to lower annual expenses “by several hundred million euros a year.” (more…)

BMW Drivers Will Get the Chance to GoPro

Portable video system will link with maker’s updated in-car app system.

by on Jun.12, 2014

While you might not drive like a pro, the new BMW GoPro app will let you take videos like one.

BMW drivers will soon gain the ability to share their adventures with the world as the Bavarian maker launches a new partnership with GoPro, the maker of the popular Hero cameras that have become wildly popular with athletes and other sporting enthusiasts.

While anyone can attach a GoPro camera to a vehicle and turn it on, BMW is launching what it describes as the “first-ever, mass-produced integration of a GoPro camera with an automobile’s onboard infotainment system.”

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What that translates into is the ability to operate one of the Hero cameras by remote control through the BMW iDrive system and a smartphone. Mini vehicles will also get the new functionality.

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BMW Studies Options for an M Hybrid

But near-term focus is on downsized, turbocharged engines.

by on Jun.10, 2014

The 2015 BMW M3 gets a smaller, turbo engine.

Among the many products offered by a marque that bills itself “the ultimate driving machine,” it’s those branded with the vaunted “M” badge that best live up to that boast.

In recent years, BMW has significantly expanded its line-up of M offerings, including the new M3 and M4 models that go on sale this month. But those two high performance products reveal an ongoing shift in strategy for the M brand-within-a-brand, a move away from big-block naturally aspirated engines, to more technically sophisticated powertrains that are downsized and turbocharged.

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BMW is by no means alone. There have been reports that General Motors may take a similar route with the next-generation Corvette. But in an exclusive interview with TheDetroitBureau.com, the chief engineer for BMW’s M line revealed the subsidiary is giving serious consideration to going a step further with hybrids and other battery-based powertrains.

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Quirky BMW X6 Gets a Remake

Love it or loathe it, the quirky Sport Activity Coupe gets an update.

by on Jun.06, 2014

The BMW X6 has been one of the most controversial models in the maker's line-up.

One of the few things most folks can agree on is that the BMW X6 has been one of the most controversial products the Bavarian maker has ever produced.

With its aggressive nose and steeply raked roofline, it boasted many of the basic visual hallmarks of a classic BMW sports coupe. But it also had the high-riding heft of an SUV. For its part, BMW dubbed the X6 a Sport Activity Coupe when it made its debut in 2009. And love it or loathe it, the quirky hatchback has inspired a flood of similar designs from BMW and its competitors.

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Whether you want more – or wish it would go away, the BMW X6 is back for 2015 in a second-generation update that will see the maker take several steps that it hopes will expand the model’s appeal. That includes the addition of a new rear-drive version, as well as a more powerful V-8 option.

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Autobrake Systems Earn 8 Models Top Safety Ratings

Collision warning technology showing marked improvement.

by on May.29, 2014

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is one of four GM models on the IIHS list, and the only mainstream vehicle.

While autonomous vehicles may still be years away from production, one of the key technologies that will allow vehicles to drive on their own already has begun to find their way into today’s production vehicles, helping eight 2014 models earn top ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The group includes seven luxury vehicles and one large mainstream model. Notably, a full half of the vehicles that earned the IIHS Superior rating are built by General Motors, a company that has been struggling to salvage its reputation in the wake of an ignition switch scandal and the recall of nearly 14 million vehicles since January, more than in any single year in its history.

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All eight of the top-rated models share at least one critical technology: forward collision warning with auto-braking. That is a step up from earlier models that could detect a potential crash and warn the driver. The newer systems also can apply the brakes if a driver doesn’t respond quickly enough.

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VW Reveals Extreme GTI Concept – But Only Gran Turismo Fans Will Get to Drive It

Maker joins long list racing fantasy supercars.

by on May.23, 2014

A rendering of the VW Roadster Vision Gran Turismo Concept that will be racing in the latest version of the popular PlayStation game.

There’s something to be said for living a fantasy life – especially if you’ve got the latest version of the videogame Gran Turismo 6.

Volkswagen is joining the growing list of manufacturers developing special models solely for the popular Sony PlayStation game. It will show off a real world concept version of the GTI Roadster, Vision Gran Turismo at the annual Woerthersee Festival in Austria next week.

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A few makers, including Mercedes-Benz, have actually lifted a few lines and curves from their Gran Turismo concepts. So, while VW’s new extreme machine isn’t likely to roll into showrooms, it just might influence some of the maker’s future products – or so game fans can only hope.

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BMW and Partner Will Triple Production of Carbon Fiber

Big plans for lightweight material.

by on May.09, 2014

BMW's i8 plug-in hybrid sports car is one of several models making extensive use of carbon fiber.

BMW and its partner SGL Automotive plan to triple their production of carbon fiber, a lightweight, but traditional expensive, material that many believe could be crucial to meeting future emissions and mileage mandates – and to making battery-electric vehicles, such as the BMW i3 and i8, more acceptable to consumers.

A number of automakers, including Toyota and General Motors, have been looking for ways to both lower the cost of, while also expanding production of, carbon fiber.

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But BMW has one of the most ambitious programs underway with SGL’s assistance, the partners operating plants in both Moses Lake, Washington and in Germany. The U.S. plant will now benefit from an additional investment of $200 million and is expected to become the world’s larger producer of carbon fiber reinforced plastics, or CFRP.

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No Escape: California Family Sues BMW After Teen Dies in Locked Car

by on May.09, 2014

14-year-old Graciela Martinez died after being locked inside a car on a hot day.

The family of a 14-year-old Central California girl is suing BMW North America and a local school district over the teenager’s heat stroke death inside a locked vehicle from which there was allegedly no escape.

While an average of 38 children left alone in cars die from heat each year in the U.S., deaths of older children or teenagers are exceedingly rare. A database assembled by the nonprofit Kids and Cars revealed only one other case – more than a decade ago – in which a teenager 14 or older died of heat in a locked vehicle.

According to the lawsuit filed this week in Madera County Superior Court, which seeks unspecified damages, Graciela Martinez was driven to school, on Sept. 11, 2013, in the family’s 1997 BMW 328i four-door sedan by her older brother, Oscar.

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After arriving at the Madera High School in Madera, about 20 miles northwest of Fresno, and parking in the rear of the parking lot at about 6:40 a.m., Oscar and his twin sister, Patricia, exited the car, leaving Graciela inside so she could get some extra sleep before her first class at 7:40 a.m., it said.

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