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Audi Adds 850,000 Vehicles to Growing Airbag Recall List

But problem is not linked to Takata problems.

by on Oct.24, 2014

The Audi Allroad is one of the models listed in the new recall, along with the A4 and S4.

Audi is the latest automaker to warn consumers about potentially defective airbags, though the maker says the defect it has discovered on some of its smaller A4 models is not linked to the problem that this week led to an unprecedented recall warning by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The German luxury brand is recalling a total of 850,000 vehicles worldwide, including 101,900 sold in the U.S. and another 15,100 purchased in Canada during the 2013 to 2015 model-years. The service action involves the A4, sportier S4 and wagon-based Allroad models.

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The Audi airbags were not produced by Takata Corp., the Japanese mega-supplier now linked to the recall of 16 million vehicles worldwide – including 7.8 million covered by a NHTSA advisory sent out this week.

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New Ford Crash System “May” Spare Pedestrians

Pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise in recent years.

by on Oct.23, 2014

Ford workers prepare a mannequin for testing the maker's new pedestrian alert system.

Ford Motor Co. will launch a new collision warning system that it says “may” prevent the pedestrian crashes that have become a growing problem on U.S. roads.

While overall highway fatalities have been on a sharp decline in recent years, the number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes actually has been on the increase over the last half decade, reaching more than 4,700 annual fatalities, according to federal data — and about one death every two minutes worldwide.

The Automotive Journal of Record!

Ford’s new pedestrian alert technology is part of an upgrade to the collision avoidance system it first introduced in 2009, and will be renamed “pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection.” It will first debut on the 2015 Ford Mondeo about to go on sale in Europe, but Ford plans to expand its use to other models, including those sold in the States – where a version of the Mondeo is sold as the midsize Fusion sedan.

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GM Earnings Beat Expectations

Recall crisis shows little impact.

by on Oct.23, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra is offering a positive assessment of the maker's third-quarter earnings.

Battered by recalls and facing challenges in markets as diverse as China, Russia and South America, General Motors nonetheless managed to beat expectations with its third-quarter earnings report, though revenues fell short.

The maker delivered net income of $1.4 billion, or 81 cents a share after factoring in one-time special items that had a $300 million, or 16-cent per share, impact on the bottom line. Factoring in those one-time costs, GM would have earned 97 cents a share, up slightly from 96 cents a year earlier – and two cents above the consensus estimate of industry analysts, according to Thomson Reuters.

Keeping Them Accountable!

“Strong global sales and growing margins in North America and China helped GM deliver very solid third quarter results,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a prepared statement accompanying the July to September earnings results. “Despite industry challenges in Russia and South America, our earnings were on plan as we continue to execute our customer-focused strategy.”

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Mini Latest to Admit Mislabeling MPG

EPA to revise testing procedures, make numbers more accurate.

by on Oct.23, 2014

The Mini Cooper's mileage numbers have gotten a downgrade from the EPA.

Mini has become the latest in a line of automakers who have had to admit they were overstating their fuel economy numbers.

The British marque’s 2014 Mini Cooper actually gets anywhere from one to four miles per gallon less than originally claimed. The BMW subsidiary’s error follows in the tire tracks of Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Hyundai and Kia, all of which also have had to roll back their mileage claims.

Keeping it Accurate!

Meanwhile, many consumers groups continue to complain that they’re routinely seeing real world numbers that lag what manufacturers post on their Munroney window stickers and use in their advertising. That’s leading to stricter enforcement and likely changes to testing procedures by the Environmental Protection Agency which oversees fuel economy regulations.

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NHTSA Increases Takata Airbag Warning to Cover 7.8 Million Vehicles

Agency failed to account for Ford, Subaru in first alert.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Three Subaru models, including this 2003 Outback, were added to the recall warning list.

Federal safety regulators bungled their first attempt to warn owners of 7.8 million recalled vehicles equipped with airbags produced by Takata Corp. that they should bring their vehicles to dealers for immediate repair.

In an unprecedented move, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an alert to vehicle owners that the airbags could explode causing injury and even death to vehicle occupants, particularly in areas with high humidity. Several phone calls to Takata by TheDetroitBureau were not returned.

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“Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman in a statement. “However, we’re leaving no stone unturned in our aggressive pursuit to track down the full geographic scope of this issue.”

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Double Setback for Tesla

Daimler sells off stake, while Michigan bans direct sales.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Daimler is planning to unplug from Tesla - at least in terms of its 4% equity stake.

Already hammered by a slump in its stock price, Tesla Motors has been hit by two more setbacks.

The maker’s long-time German partner, Daimler AG, has decided to sell off its stake in the California start-up while Michigan has become the latest in a growing list of states to bar Tesla’s plan to sell directly to consumers through company-owned, rather than franchised, showrooms.

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Daimler, the parent of the Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands, had held a 4% stake in the battery-car company, and had been rumored to be considering a full acquisition of Tesla at one point.

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Ford Latest to Cut EV Pricing as Battery-Car Market Struggles

Maker trims $6,000 from price tag of Focus Electric.

by on Oct.21, 2014

Ford has so far sold only 1,500 Focus Electric vehicles this year - less than 1% of total Focus sales.

With battery-car sales lagging expectations, automakers have been slashing prices in a bid to spur demand. The latest to announce a big discount is Ford Motor Co., which will trim the MSRP on its Focus Electric model by $6,000.

That’s on top of the $4,000 discount the Detroit maker took on the compact battery-electric vehicle a year ago. Originally introduced in January 2011 at $39,995, buyers now can plug in a Ford Focus Electric for just $29,995 – plus delivery charges and the usual fees and taxes.

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Ford is by no means alone. With rare exception, automakers have been cutting prices of both plug-in and pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, models in a bid to boost sluggish sales. And with gas prices now near or below $3 a gallon in much of the U.S., industry analysts suggest it will be even more difficult to convince buyers to opt for vehicles that plug in rather than tank up.

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Acura Prepping “Substantially New” ILX for 2016

Remake to debut at LA Auto Show next month.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Acura tosses out a teaser of the 2016 ILX.

Hoping to salvage its sluggish-selling entry-level model, the ILX, Acura is promising to reveal a “substantially new” version of the compact sedan at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.

Launched for the 2013 model-year, the ILX got off to a slow start amidst mixed reviews, though it has been bringing in some of the Gen-X and Gen-Y buyers that Acura has been desperate to win over. But playing in one of the market’s hottest – and most competitive – market segments, “good enough” clearly isn’t enough to put Acura back on the map.

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“The new 2016 ILX stands to solidify and broaden its appeal with a comprehensive update that includes a potent new powertrain, more forceful, sporty exterior styling, and substantially upgraded interior design,” declared a statement from the Honda luxury brand.

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Nissan Readying Replacement for Titan Pickup

High-mileage diesel expected to enhance truck’s appeal.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Nissan's Titan replacement will reach market about four years later than originally planned.

Better late than never? Nissan is certainly hoping so – as are those who’ve long been hoping for an update to the maker’s slow-selling full-size pickup.

It’s been a long 11 years since the original Titan made its debut – and four years since the Japanese maker originally planned to offer a replacement. But plans for the update fell apart, forcing Nissan to return to the drawing board.

A Real Winner!

What it’s come up with will make a debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January, and several inside sources have confirmed to TheDetroitBureau.com that the plans call for that preview to put the spotlight on a new diesel developed specifically for the 2016 Nissan Titan.

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Audi Set to Track Test New Autonomous Race Car

Piloted RS7 Concept set to take on the Hockenheim circuit on Sunday.

by on Oct.17, 2014

Audi hopes to lap the Hockenheim circuit in just 2:10 with the autonomous RS7 race car.

“Gentlemen, start your engines!”

Might that classic announcement no longer be necessary? Then again, would NASCAR or Formula One fans be willing to pay for tickets to see a line of unmanned vehicles lapping tracks like the Indianapolis Brickyard or even the streets of Monte Carlo?

We may get a better sense this weekend, when Audi unleashes its Piloted RS7 Concept on the Hockenheimring race circuit prior to the finale of the DTM race series. Despite what the name might seem to suggest, the prototype will run laps without anyone onboard.

Fueling Up the News!

Autonomous vehicle technology has been gaining plenty of attention in recent months. Nissan has promised to put its first self-driving vehicle into production by 2020. Cadillac’s SuperDrive will allow autonomous highway driving when it reaches showrooms in 2017. And Google is already rolling out the first of its new autonomous vehicle prototypes.

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