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Has the Era of Flying Cars and Cabs Finally Arrived?

A fantasy since Henry Ford’s Flying Flivver.

by on Apr.24, 2017

The Aeromobil Flying Car is shown here with its wings open and ready for take-off.

It’s long been the stuff of science fiction, a fantasy that confounded even automotive pioneer Henry Ford, but a Slovakian start-up company says it is now taking orders for what could become the world’s first flying car – if it meets its delivery target of 2020.

Another European start-up, meanwhile, is pitching its own new craft as the world’s first flying taxi, a five-seater that can hover like a drone and fly like a jet.

Flight of Fancy!

Slovakia’s AeroMobil and Germany’s Lilium are just two of the many companies now working up ways to combine the best aspects of the automobile and the airplane. They include a number of start-ups as well as more traditional manufacturers like Airbus which is hoping to start testing a prototype of its own, single-seat flying car sometime this year.

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Judge Approves $2.8 bil VW Criminal Penalty

Largest criminal fine in U.S. history.

by on Apr.21, 2017

"A very serious and troubling case involving an iconic automobile company," said Judge Sean Cox.

A federal judge in Detroit Friday signed off on what could be one of the last big developments in the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, ordering the German maker to pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty negotiated as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department last January.

The ruling now brings to around $30 billion the costs VW will incur after being caught rigging two of its diesel engines to illegal pass U.S. emissions tests – a figure that includes the price of buying back almost 500,000 vehicles sold in the country. Meanwhile, seven current and former Volkswagen employees have been charged with crimes connected to the scandal, while an investigation continues in Germany.

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“I just can’t believe that VW is in this situation that it finds itself in today,” said Judge Sean Cox, calling it a “very serious and troubling case involving an iconic automobile company.”

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Volvo to Build its 1st EV in China

Will share same CMA architecture as next-gen XC50.

by on Apr.20, 2017

A platform to built upon: the electrified CMA architecture that will be used for Volvo's 1st EV.

While electric drive systems are powering a significant share of the new models on display at this year’s Shanghai Motor Show, Volvo is showing off a new platform – the one it use for the Swedish-based brand’s first fully electric vehicle which, officials revealed, will go on sale in 2019.

Volvo has been an aggressive proponent of clean powertrain technology – the most powerful drivetrain it currently offers is the plug-in T8 found on models like the big XC90 SUV and S90 sedan. But it is getting ready to market a battery-electric model that will meet tough new emissions and mileages standards in the U.S., China, Europe and Japan.

Global Auto News!

And it will be produced in China, at least initially, the automaker said during the Shanghai Motor Show press preview – though other models using electric propulsion are expected to be built in Europe and, most likely, at the new assembly plant Volvo is setting up near Charleston, South Carolina.

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Venezuelan Government Seizes GM Plant as Economy Melts Down

“Illegal seizure” comes amidst growing protests over political, consumer morass.

by on Apr.20, 2017

The GM plant in Valencia employs 2,678.

General Motors has accused the Venezuelan government of an “illegal judicial seizure of its assets” and vowed to “take all legal actions” to regain control of its plant in the city of Valencia.

The unexpected move by the embattled government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is the latest in a series of moves meant to nationalize foreign-owned assets first started by former President Hugo Chavez. It comes as hundreds of thousands of citizens have been taking to the streets to protest what opposition leaders have described as an increasingly “dictatorial” situation.

Global News!

“Yesterday, GMV’s (General Motors Venezolana) plant was unexpectedly taken by the public authorities, preventing normal operations. In addition, other assets of the company, such as vehicles, have been illegally taken from its facilities,” GM said in a statement.

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Audi Electrifies Shanghai with E-Tron Sportback

Debut underscores China’s growing push for electrification.

by on Apr.19, 2017

Nearly productionr ready? The Audi e-Tron Sportback Concept rolls into Shanghai.

As the Shanghai Motor Show gets underway, two trends dominate: growing consumer demand for SUVs and the government’s push for electrification.

Audi hopes to score on both counts with today’s debut of the eagerly awaited e-Tron Sportback concept. It’s the latest in a series of battery-electric show cars the German luxury maker has revealed over the last several years – and the closest yet to the production model now in the final stages of development.

What a Conceptt!

“Following close on its heels, in 2019, comes the production version of the Audi E-Tron Sportback – an emotional coupé version that is thrillingly identifiable as an electric car at the very first glance,” said brand Chairman Rupert Stadler, during the Sportback concept’s Shanghai unveiling.

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Toyota Project Portal Would Replace LA Port Diesels with Clean Hydrogen Trucks

Fuel-cell system would replace diesels at busy, smoggy L.A. ports.

by on Apr.19, 2017

Toyota will begin a study this summer that could see hydrogen-powered trucks go into operation at two key Los Angeles ports.

While Tinseltown’s air quality has improved dramatically over the last few decades, there are still some problem spots, especially near the bustling Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach where long lines of diesel trucks queue up to drop off or pick up their loads of cargo.

State and local regulators have struggled to clear the air along the 710 freeway that links the ports but, so far, with only limited success. Now, Toyota hopes to offer an even more dramatic solution through what it is calling “Project Portal.”

Enviro News!

The maker late last year hinted that it had begun working on a project that would use its fuel-cell technology in a heavy-duty truck. On Wednesday, it revealed that the first possible application could see hydrogen-powered semis replace diesel models at the two Los Angeles-area ports. A proof-of-concept study will begin over the summer.

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Lynk & Co. Makes Shanghai Debut – Sound Familiar?

New brand could be U.S. bound - with major innovations in sales, warranty, connectivity.

by on Apr.19, 2017

The Lynk & Co. 03 Concept sedan makes its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show.

Lynk & Co. Not exactly a household name – unless you sound it out phoenetically, and it suddenly sounds like a familiar Detroit luxury brand.

For now, it’s the new, mid-range marque that Szechuan-based Geely is slotting in under its Volvo Brand. And, yes, much of what Lynk & Co. will be bringing to market have been directly designed and engineered by, or at least with the help of, Geely’s Swedish subsidiary.

Global News!

For the moment, the new brand is focusing on the booming Chinese market, but watch this space. The new models being introduced at the Shanghai Motor Show this week just might wind up rolling into the U.S. market in the not-too-distant future. In fact, we could see the Lynk & Co. 01 SUV here as early as 2019 – though, so far, Chinese automakers have failed to meet self-targeted deadlines for entering the U.S. market.

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Lexus Reveals Updated NX in Shanghai

Design tweaks and a more responsive adaptive suspension.

by on Apr.19, 2017

Lexus updates its NX crossover for the first time since its 2014 debut.

Continuing its campaign to pump more “passion” into the line-up, Lexus has rolled out a newly updated version of the NX crossover at the Shanghai Motor Show.

Already one of the most angular and aggressive models in the brand’s growing SUV and CUV line-up, the 2018 Lexus NX reveals a number of modest but notable visual revisions, front and back. It also adds some welcome new technology and, the luxury arm of Toyota claims it has also taken steps to improve the handling of the compact crossover.

Get Shanghai'd!

We’ll let Shin Kamiura, a member of the Lexus Design Division, describe some of the salient exterior updates: “Starting at the spindle grille, the way the front edges connect to the front fenders results in a much bolder expression than before, clearly highlighting the NX’s style design architecture.”

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Concept A Sedan Debuts in Shanghai: a Hint of New Small Cars to Come?

“The time of the crease is over,” says design chief Wagener.

by on Apr.18, 2017

The Concept A Sedan reveals what is expected to be a new Mercedes-Benz design language.

Small is big at Mercedes-Benz, the German automaker planning to add three more compact models to its line-up in the “near future,” and the Concept A sedan making its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show this week offers some hints of what’s to come.

The concept sedan is a far cry from the ungainly, microvan-like A-Class model that first rolled off the assembly line in 1997. The overall shape has far more in common with the coupe-like Mercedes-Benz CLS and CLA models, though the aggressive nose picks up some of its cues from the Mercedes-AMG GT.

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The Shanghai show car introduces what Mercedes is calling its “Aesthetics A” design language, something that expresses more of a “sensual purity” than existing models. And that suggests that what we’re seeing here will begin to influence not just the next generation of Mercedes small cars, but larger, higher-end models, as well.

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Most American Consumers Remain Wary of Autonomous Vehicles

But motorists welcome new advanced driver assistance features.

by on Apr.18, 2017

More and more autonomous prototypes are on the road, but consumers remain skeptical.

If you listen to the experts, the coming age of the autonomous automobile will all but eliminate crashes and fatalities on U.S. roadways. But American consumers aren’t quite so confident. According to the new J.D. Power Tech Choice Study, motorists are wary of hands-free driving.

At the same time, they have become increasingly receptive to the flood of new, semi-autonomous advanced driver assistance system, or ADAS, technologies – such as forward collision warning and blind-spot detection – that are showing up on more and more of the latest vehicles.

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“In most cases, as technology concepts get closer to becoming reality, consumer curiousity and acceptance increase,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and HMI research at J.D. Power and Associates. “With autonomous vehicles, we see a pattern where trust…in the technology…is declining.”

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