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Hyundai Aiming for #2 in Green Vehicle Market

Korean maker and partner Kia will launch 26 “eco” models by 2020.

by on May.25, 2016

The Hyundai Ioniq will be offered with hybrid, plug-in and EV versions.

Hyundai has big plans for the “eco” market, with the maker planning to introduce 26 new hybrid, plug-in, battery-electric and fuel-cell  vehicles between now and 2020, a blitz that begins with this year’s launch of the new Ioniq model.

The challenge, said the head of the Korean carmaker’s green car program, will be winning over motorists who’ve so far shown a reluctance to buy battery and hydrogen cars in large numbers. But, facing increasingly stringent emissions and mileage mandates, Hyundai – and its rivals – have no choice but to bring cleaner, more energy-efficient products to market, said executive Byung Ki Ahn.

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“We’re making a serious effort to be the number two producer of EVs and fuel-cell vehicles,” said Ahn, the director of the Eco-Vehicle Performance Development Group for Hyundai and partner Kia. “I don’t think we can beat Toyota right away.”

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Who Wants to Be a Doctor? Israel Breeding Generation of Entrepreneurs

From traffic apps to refillable batteries.

by on May.24, 2016

Waze, a traffic app developed by an Israeli start-up, was purchased by Google for $1 billion.

Working out of a nondescript office building in a suburb of Tel Aviv, a small Israeli start-up has reinvented the wheel. No, the softwheel isn’t square or triangular, but replaces traditional spokes or hubs with three shock absorbers.

“It started as an accident,” says Daniel Barel, the CEO of Softwheel, admitting the original plan was to come up with a better wheelchair capable of going up and down stairs. Threatened with the likelihood of having its funding pulled and the company shut down, Softwheel’s engineers came up with the breakthrough that could also be used for bicycles, motorcycles and possibly even automobiles.

Mazel Tov!

It might have been an accident, but it wasn’t dumb luck, but rather the sort of innovation that has been coming out of Israel with ever-increasing frequency in recent years as the country shifts from a traditional, agricultural economy to one based more and more on high technology. It’s something the consumer electronics industry has come to depend on, and now the global auto industry is turning to Israel’s entrepreneurs and engineers, as well. (more…)

Detroit Muscle Cars Fall Short in New Crash Tests

Ford Mustang outperforms Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger.

by on May.24, 2016

They perform well on the street, but the IIHS wanted to see how the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro perform in a crash.

The Ford Mustang outperformed its domestic muscle car rivals in the latest series of crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but none of the three managed to earn top ratings in the closely watched tests.

This marks the first time the insurance industry-funded safety group tested and compared all three of the domestic “pony cars,” a move that reflects the fact that muscle cars collectively suffer some of the highest loss rates of any vehicle category, according to government statistics.

Safety News!

“Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it’s especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund.

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Most American Motorists Wary of Self-Driving Cars

Concerns grow even as autonomous vehicles come closer to production.

by on May.23, 2016

An autonomous Ford Fusion prototype recently began testing on public roads in California.

Every week brings a flurry of new reports about the coming wave of autonomous vehicles, but a new study finds that only a small minority of American motorists actually want to buy a self-driving vehicle.

Motorists are a bit more open to semi-autonomous technologies that still require a driver to keep their hands on the wheel, but nearly half said they wanted no self-driving technologies at all, according to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI. And more than a third said they would be “very concerned about riding in a completely self-driving vehicle.”

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The results of the UMTRI could raise some serious concerns among industry planners. Global automakers are spending billions of dollars to develop self-driving vehicles, with the first semi-autonomous products just starting to come to market. Several makers have announced plans to have fully autonomous models on the road by 2020.

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Reinventing the Wheel?

Israeli start-up claims its design is lighter, offers better handling, comfort, energy-efficiency.

by on May.20, 2016

Softwheel CEO Daniel Barel with one of the company's wheels, complete with 3 shock absorbers.

Daniel Barel wants to reinvent the wheel. Actually, he’s quick to tell you he already has.

The young Israeli entrepreneur is CEO of a Tel Aviv-based start-up called Softwheel that has come up with a new concept that could, Barel boasts, improve the comfort, handling and even the fuel economy of virtually any wheeled vehicle. And it happened largely by accident.

Tech Talk!

“We didn’t intend to reinvent the wheel,” says Barel, whose company is one of dozens of start-ups participating in an Israeli automotive tech fair called EcoMotion on a warm and blindingly sunny afternoon along the Mediterranean coast. “It started as an accident.”

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Volvo Unveils New XC40 and S40 Concepts

Underlying CMA platform will be shared with Chinese parent Geely.

by on May.19, 2016

This concept will reappear next year as the completely redesigned Volvo XC40.

Volvo is in the midst of a complete brand makeover, and the automaker is giving us a hint of its next move in an aggressive, top-to-bottom product rollout with the unveiling of the new S40 and XC40 concepts.

Both models will mark a significant step forward, but not only for the Swedish automaker. In production, the next-gen Volvo XC40 and Volvo S40 models will ride on the maker’s all-new Compact Modular Architecture which is designed to be shared with Chinese parent Geely. It is, in fact, a key to Geely’s long-term goal to transform itself into a truly global automaker.

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“CMA has helped us to capture something special, something youthful in our new concept cars. They have an energy, a disruptive and engaging urban character that makes them stand out,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Volvo’s senior vice president of design.

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Cadillac Unplugs the ELR Plug-In

Caddy shifts focus to upcoming CT6 plug-in.

by on May.18, 2016

Driving off into the sunset: Cadillac has given up on trying to salvage the ELR plug-in hybrid.

If you’re determined to drive something green that has plenty of luxury touches but a price tag significantly less than that of a Tesla, you might want to head over to your local Cadillac dealer.

The luxury maker quietly pulled the plug on the ELR, a high-line version of the Chevrolet Volt, due a decidedly weak response by American motorists. Though the Caddy plug-in hybrid has been out of production since March, “a very small quantity…remains available at dealers,” Cadillac spokesman Dave Caldwell told TheDetroitBureau.com.

Your Auto Insider!

Launched with high expectations just two years ago, the Cadillac ELR never seemed to charge up the market. Originally priced at $76,000, or nearly double that of a Volt, Caddy tried a number of tricks to build momentum including about $11,000 in price cuts.

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2017 BMW 2-Series Gets Twin-Power Engines

More power, better mileage.

by on May.17, 2016

The 2017 BMW M240i Convertible.

BMW is pumping things up for 2017, offering a pair of new and more powerful TwinPower Turbo engines for the 2-Series coupe and convertible lines.

The old M235i model will be replaced for the coming model-year by the 2017 BMW M240i, the new 3.0-liter six-cylinder package churning out 335 horsepower, a 15 hp increase over its predecessor. That puts it within striking distance of the top-line BMW M2. The other option for 2017 is the new 2.0-liter BMW 230i, which will be making 248 hp.

New Car News!

BMW claims that both of the new engine packages develop smoother and more instantaneous power than classic turbo options, eliminating the classic turbo lag at low RPMs. The 240i, for example, hits peak torque of 369 pound-feet at just 1,520 revs.

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Nissan Confirms Plan to Buy 34% of Scandal-Plagued Mitsubishi

Fire sale will give it control over smaller maker.

by on May.12, 2016

A "win-win," says Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn - who also promises Mitsubishi "will change."

Nissan Motor Co. will take a controlling 34% stake in troubled Mitsubishi Motors for $2.2 billion, the two automakers confirmed on Thursday morning, something Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn described as a “win-win” for both companies.

The announcement came on the same day the larger of the two makers announced that its earnings for the January-March period, the final quarter in its fiscal year, had dropped by 40%, largely due to weak sales and a strong yen.

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The decision to acquire a stake in Mitsubishi comes as the smaller maker continues to reveal damaging information about a secret effort to inflate its fuel economy numbers for as much as a quarter century. That scandal — ironically, triggered by concerns at Nissan over the mileage of cars it sells that are produced by Mitsubishi – have hammered the small maker’s sales and led to a more than 40% dip in its share price over the past month.

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Hyundai Elantra Goes Eco

Turbo model delivers up to 40 mpg on highway.

by on May.12, 2016

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco.

Traditionally one of the least environmentally focused brands, Hyundai has been making a major shift towards more eco-friendly products over the last few years, and the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco is the latest example.

The all-new trim level takes the fuel economy of the Korean carmaker’s compact model up a big notch, boosting fuel economy to as much as 40 miles per gallon on the highway, with an EPA-certified city rating of 32 mpg and a combined 35 mpg.

Green Machines!

Like other recent products, Hyundai has been putting more emphasis on things like performance, ride quality and refinement, but with the Elantra Eco, said product planning director Mike Evanoff, Hyundai “committed (itself) to delivering a compelling value proposition.”

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