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U.S. Auto Industry Generates Record $1.1 Trillion in 2014 Sales

But that number likely to double by decade’s end.

by on Dec.19, 2014

More than 54 million new and used vehicles will be purchase in 2014 accounting fro $1.1 trillion.

When the books are closed on 2014, combined new and used auto sales are likely to reach a record $1.1 trillion in the U.S. And that figure could double by decade’s end, according to various industry studies.

In all, Americans will have purchased 54 million new and “previously owned” cars, trucks and crossovers, reports data service TrueCar. The year appears to be ending with a solid December, according to other industry analysts, with new vehicle sales for the month expected to be up around 11% compared to year-ago numbers.

Informed!

On top of that, automakers have been able to boost prices at a time of strong demand during a period of sustained economic expansion and falling gas prices. So, forecast TrueCar, total revenues for the year will be up about 8.3%. (more…)

Automakers Scramble As Russia’s Economy Melts down

GM, Audi, JLR temporarily abandon market, Nissan limits sales.

by on Dec.19, 2014

GM is one of several makers to cut off shipments to dealers like Moscow's Major, while others are sharply rising prices as the ruble collapses.

What seemed like a dream market just a few years ago has now turned into a nightmare, the Russian economic meltdown sending automakers from around the world into a scramble.

With economic sanctions already taking a serious toll, this past week’s collapse of the ruble has led General Motors, Audi and Jaguar Land Rover to temporarily halt sales in the heart of the former Soviet Union. Nissan, meanwhile, has decided to limit sales of some models and raise prices on others.

Global Insight!

“When the ruble sinks it’s a bloodbath for everybody,” said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance., which is the biggest maker in Russia along with its local partner Avtovaz. “It’s red ink, people are losing money, all car manufacturers are losing money.”

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Airbag Safety Problems Delay Honda Hydrogen Vehicle Launch

But near-production concept set to debut at Detroit Auto Show.

by on Dec.18, 2014

The latest version of the Honda FCV Concept will make its debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Honda’s new fuel-cell vehicle has fallen victim to the maker’s airbag safety problems. With key engineering talent diverted to deal with the exploding Takata airbag issue, Honda won’t launch the production version of the new FCV model until early in 2016, senior company officials revealed.

But a near-production concept version of the new fuel-cell vehicle will still make its debut at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.

The Automotive Journal of Record!

It will show “the styling evolution” that has taken place since Honda first showed off its FCV Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in late 2012, said John Mendel, Honda’s top U.S. executive.

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Spyker Declared Bankrupt

“Not the end,” insists CEO Muller.

by on Dec.18, 2014

Spyker CEO Victor Muller with the B6 Venator.

After failing to line up new funding, Dutch sports car manufacturer Spyker has been declared bankrupt and put into receivership.

It was the final shoe to drop for the company that attempted to revive Sweden’s Saab, only to have that operation also collapse in 2011, its assets sold off the following year to a Chinese consortium.

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“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end,” proclaimed Victor Muller, Spyker Automobielen BV founder and        CEO, quoting Winston Churchill. “I will relentlessly endeavor to resurrect Spyker as soon as practically possible.”

Founded in 2000, reviving a long-gone Dutch auto brand, Spyker attempted to create a line-up of expensive, limited-edition sports cars. But it tried to go mainstream with the 2009 acquisition of Saab, only to have that effort fail catastrophically. A shift back to the original Spyker brand didn’t fare much better.

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Lexus Confirms “Track-Ready” Model Coming to Detroit

Likely to be new 2016 Lexus GS F.

by on Dec.18, 2014

Is this the 2016 Lexus GS F?

Hoping to add still more performance to its traditional mainstream luxury line-up, Lexus has confirmed it will introduce a second, “track-ready” model at the North American International Auto Show next month.

While it isn’t providing any specific details about the new model, there’ve been plenty of sightings of prototype Lexus GS F sedans running around, notably while undergoing testing at Germany’s famed Nurburgring race track.

Gain Traction!

The new model would all but certainly share the basic 5.0-liter V-8 found under the hood of the 2015 Lexus RC F model launched over the summer. But given the bigger size and weight of a mid-range GS, the performance version will but certainly get a bump up from the 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of the smaller RC F model.

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Your Smartphone Could Soon Replace Your Car Keys

Digital keys could be shared – and could make car-sharing even easier.

by on Dec.17, 2014

The Keyfree digital key system in use.

A small Toronto technology start-up could unlock some major changes in tomorrow’s cars, trucks and crossovers.

Keyfree Technologies plans to introduce what it is billing as the “world’s first digital car key solution” during a preview at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show. Unlike traditional, metal car keys, or more modern wireless keyfobs, the company’s system would use a digital smartphone app to control a vehicle’s doors and ignition.

Stay Keyed In!

“This is the first technology that allows car owners to leave their keys at home,” explained Shane Wright, CEO of Keyfree.  “The key is in your phone, just like your camera, your maps and your calendar.  Users can share digital keys with their family and never have to hunt for misplaced keys again.  And with military-grade encryption, Keyfree is far more secure than current key fob technology.”

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Car Thefts Plunge By More than Half

Better technology, increased enforcement keep thieves at bay.

by on Dec.17, 2014

Car thefts surged in the 1970s and '80s, but the numbers have been falling since 1991's peak.

There may be far more cars on the road, but car theft has plunged 58% since 1991’s all-time high, according to newly released FBI data.

Increased law enforcement and enhanced automotive technology have combined to make it tougher on car thieves, though nearly 700,000 vehicles were still snatched in the U.S. last year.

By the Numbers!

Nonetheless, “It means that if you own a vehicle, your chances of having it stolen today are statistically and significantly less than at any other time since 1960,” according to a new analysis of the FBI data by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, or NICB.

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Reborn Acura NSX Set for Detroit Debut

Redefining the supercar – again.

by on Dec.17, 2014

Expect a six-figure price tag for 2016 NSX.

When it made its debut in 1990, the original Acura NSX changed the way supercars were supposed to look and feel. And now, with an all-new version of the Japanese rocket set to make its formal debut at the Detroit Auto Show next month, Acura hopes to pull off the same magic.

Set to reach showrooms late next year, likely as a 2016 model, the reborn Acura NSX aims to show that hybrid power isn’t just about boosting mileage. The sports car’s unusual drivetrain will pair three electric motors with a turbocharged six-cylinder internal combustion engine to deliver the sort of performance typically associated with exotic European brands, promised a senior company official.

Your Auto Show Source!

“The performance is spectacular…an other-worldly experience,” suggested John Mendel, the top U.S. executive for Acura’s parent Honda Motor Co. “It not only puts a smile on your face but helps you pucker in the right place.”

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Alphabet Soup as Chrysler Becomes FCA US LLC

Familiar name to remain only on Chrysler brand products.

by on Dec.16, 2014

More changes for the newly merged Fiat Chrysler.

After nearly 90 years, it’s the end of the road for the familiar Chrysler corporate name.

Just two months after the maker completed its merger with Italy’s Fiat, the U.S. side of the company will abandon the familiar Chrysler Group LLC to become FCA US LLC.

What's in a Name!

The name is meant to better reflect that of the new parent company, the global Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.

“FCA US continues to build upon the solid foundations first established by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925 as well as a rich Fiat heritage that dates from 1899,” the company said in a prepared statement.

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Tap the Watch to Call Your Car

BMW shows off auto-park valet and 360-degree collision avoidance.

by on Dec.16, 2014

With BMW's Auto Park Valet, tap your smartwatch and the little i3 quickly comes to pick you up.

You’ve finished dinner on the town and are ready to head home for the night. But instead of handing the valet your ticket you tap the screen of your smartwatch and a couple moments later your new BMW i3 automatically pulls up to the restaurant door, the cabin already warm and cozy.

That’s the idea behind the maker’s Remote Valet Parking Assistant concept, one of several new technologies the Bavarian maker is developing that it will preview at the Consumer Electronics Show early next month.

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The new 360-degree collision avoidance system, meanwhile, uses a variety of scanners to prevent all sorts of collisions – making BMW the latest in a growing line of automakers to explore “the possibility of entirely collision-free driving.”

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