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Chevy Cruze Joins New Wave of Hatchbacks

Hatches gain traction – but can be hard to distinguish from CUVs.

by on Jun.17, 2016

Chevrolet will bring the new Cruze Hatchback to dealers this autumn at a base $22,190.

Chevrolet is getting ready to roll out a new, five-door version of its compact Cruze model, a move that might have had industry analysts scratching their heads just a few years ago.

Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, hatchbacks were hot. But due to some poor designs and quality problems – notably leaky hatches – they earned a bad reputation as “penalty-box” cars and all but vanished from the market. Suddenly, however, the market appears to be heating up again, with manufacturers introducing new models and consumers responding enthusiastically.

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“Automakers are responding to consumer demand for additional choice,” said David Sullivan, a senior automotive analyst with AutoPacific, Inc.

Adding new body styles, said Sullivan, can also help prop up passenger car nameplates that have been losing momentum as more and more U.S. buyers shift to sport- and crossover-utility vehicles, as well as other light truck lines.

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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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Chevrolet Re-Ups for Three Years with Major League Baseball

Deal means Chevy remains MLB’s official car.

by on May.13, 2016

Chevrolet has renewed its Major League Baseball sponsorship, a partnership that dates back to 2005.

Looks like it’s going to be Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet for at least another three years as General Motors all-American brand renewed its sponsorship agreement with Major League Baseball.

While the slogan dates back to an immensely popular advertising campaign from 1974, the current deal with MLB goes back to 2005. An interesting note: the new deal is for just three years, which is down from the previous five-year agreement.

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Under the deal, Chevrolet will continue to be the Official Vehicle of Major League Baseball and becomes the Official Automotive Sponsor of USA Baseball’s Play Ball initiative — a collaborative effort to encourage youth participation in baseball and softball. (more…)

Has Tesla Been Bending the Numbers for Model 3?

Carmaker claims it has purged speculators from the order banks.

by on May.03, 2016

Only two per household. Tesla insists it has purged multiple reservations for the Model 3.

Tesla’s Model 3 is still about 18 months from production, but the Silicon Valley automaker has already lined up an enviable order book, the ever-ebullient CEO Elon Musk declaring it, “the biggest one-week launch of any product ever.”

But there have been some questions raised about Tesla’s claims. For one thing, potential buyers have been plunking down $1,000 refundable reservations, not orders. They’ve still got plenty of time to decide if they actually will purchase one of the compact battery-electric vehicles once they finally begin rolling off Tesla’s Fremont, California assembly line.

Keeping Things Honest!

And are consumers really the ones making these reservations? Or are speculators and others who really have no intention of ever taking delivery of a Model 3 inflating the list?

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GM Phasing Out Vehicles Without Airbags

All models worldwide will offer airbags, other safety features by 2019.

by on Apr.15, 2016

The Chinese-made export version of the Chevrolet Sail got zero stars in Latin American crash test.

After flunking a widely reported crash test in Latin America, General Motors will reverse course and add not only airbags but a variety of other safety features in all vehicles it sells worldwide.

The move could prompt other mainstream manufacturers to follow suit, despite the added cost, as government regulators and safety advocates around the world press to lower a global highway death total estimated at 1.25 million last year.

The Last Word!

GM says it now plans to spend about $5 billion to bring its worldwide fleet up to higher safety standards, a move that will target emerging markets such as Africa, Latin America and smaller Asian countries like Vietnam and Indonesia. Chinese regulators have already been ramping up safety requirements in recent years.

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Tesla Costs Likely to Rise as Incentives End

Few, if any Model 3 buyers will qualify for $7,500 tax credit.

by on Apr.06, 2016

Tesla buyers may no longer qualify for federal tax credits by the time the Model 3 reaches showrooms.

When the Tesla Model 3 finally goes into production, in late 2017 or early 2018, buyers might be in for an unpleasantly costly surprise – one that fall particularly hard on customers who were hoping to get that new battery sedan at a relatively affordable price.

American motorists buying the carmaker’s two current products, the Models S and X, stand to receive federal tax credits of $7,500. Industry analysts say that incentive has helped draw many buyers into the battery-car market. But under federal guidelines, those givebacks might be gone before the first Tesla Model 3 hits the road.

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When Congress passed the measure aimed at spurring demand for battery-based vehicles – including both plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles, or PHEVs and BEVs – lawmakers set a cap on those incentives, limiting them to just the first 200,000 vehicles sold by a particular automaker.

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Tesla Set for Biggest Risk Yet as it Reveals New Model 3

Will early interest translate into profitable sales?

by on Mar.31, 2016

A shortage of showrooms could prove a problem taking the new Tesla Model 3 mainstream.

Battery-carmaker Tesla Motors is set to make the biggest bet in its short life Thursday night with the official unveiling of the all-new Model 3.

At an estimated price of $35,000, the new sedan will cost less than half as much as the base version of the current Tesla Model S and, if all goes according to plan, transform the California carmaker into a serious mainstream, rather than niche, manufacturer.

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According to some observers, Tesla could very quickly log more than 100,000 early reservations. But not everyone is convinced, one analyst warning that “fundamental headwinds” could prove more substantial than Tesla’s ever-upbeat founder and CEO Elon Musk has anticipated.

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Muscle Car Wars Heat Up as Chevy Reveals New 2017 Camaro ZL1

Gen-6 model adds another 200 hp to the equation.

by on Mar.16, 2016

The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 bumps the pony count up to 640 with its LT4 V-8.

If you think the battle for the White House has gotten nasty, just check out the fight for supremacy in the pony car market. Ford and General Motors are lobbing everything but hand grenades at one another, and GM is firing the latest shot with the announcement that it will bring out an all-new version of the Camaro ZL1 next year.

Chevy gave a handful of automotive journalists a look at the new model – and a brief ride — during a sneak preview at the Spring Mountain race track an hour outside Las Vegas. And, if seeing is believing, it only takes a lap inside the 640-horsepower monster to know that the bowtie brand is playing for keeps.

We perform!

“We’re delivering world-beating levels of performance, on the track and off,” proclaimed GM President Dan Ammann, before strapping on his element and heading out onto the track.

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Chevy Speeds into Geneva with Corvette Grand Sport

Latest ‘Vette variant blends best of Stingray and Z06.

by on Mar.02, 2016

The new Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport.

For the most part, American automakers have been keeping a painfully low profile at this year’s Geneva Auto Show, leaving it to overseas competitors. But even though the brand has largely abandoned the European market, Chevrolet did have something to show off during a show with a heavy emphasis on power and performance.

Think of the new Corvette Grand Sport as a hybrid of the “base” Stingray and the steroid-laden Z06. Picking up on some classic design cues and adding better brakes and wider wheels, among other things, the Grand Sport promises to fill a nice gap between the two current models.

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“We didn’t hold back with the new Grand Sport,” Tadge Juechter, the chief engineer on the Corvette program, said ahead of the new model’s debut at Geneva’s PALExpo convention center.

The Grand Sport retains the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 found in the Corvette Stingray. And like that model, it will turn out 460 horsepower.

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Reliability Woes Worsen, Warns New J.D. Power Study

Tech issues now make up 20% of reported problems.

by on Feb.24, 2016

Lexus topped the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, the 2013 GS also a segment winner.

Two things seem to be true about the newest cars coming to market these days: they’re likely to have lots more high-tech features than the vehicles they replace. But they’re also likely to have more reliability issues, largely as a result of problems with those new tech features, according to J.D. Power’s 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study.

The VDS queried owners of 2013 model-year vehicles and found that, on average, dependability dropped 3% year-over-year. It found that one in five of the problems owners reported involved audio, communication, entertainment and navigation technology. Collectively known by the acronym ACEN, these systems are, collectively, the single largest source of trouble owners reported.

Power Up!

“The increase in technology-related problems has two sources,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive research at J.D. Power. “Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration of these features has increased year over year.”

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