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Hybrid, Battery-Car Sales Slumped in First Half of 2015

Demand shifts from small, efficient, to big and powerful.

by on Jul.02, 2015

Honda Civic Hybrid production ended last month.

At the beginning of 2014, when fuel prices seemed headed for new record highs, U.S. shoppers couldn’t drive off fast enough with small cars and alternative-power vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf.

But with fuel costs down by at least $1 a gallon across the country, manufacturers have been struggling to sell those same, high-mileage vehicles. That’s forced them to stack up new incentives on the hood and, in some cases, slash production.

Stay Plugged In!

That poses a challenge for the industry as it faces new fuel economy mandates for 2016 – with even tougher targets phasing in from now until 2025. Even so, automakers show little sign of retreating from the aggressive plans they’ve put in place to introduce new battery-based vehicles and other clean alternatives.

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Muscle Cars Rule Again

Why advertise a car that’s already sold out?

by on Jul.02, 2015

The Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat models take center stage in the new Predators ad campaign.

At 707 horsepower, the Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat models are the most powerful muscle cars to ever roll off a Detroit assembly line, and the fastest. Just ask any dealer who has watched the two vehicles squeal out of showrooms faster than the factory can build them.

Even though Dodge is heavily promoting the Hellcat models in a series of new 30- and 90-second ads, the Hellcats are sold out for the rest of the 2015 model-year. But parent Fiat Chrysler isn’t the only one struggling to meet demand. Ford Motor Co. saw a roughly 40% jump in sales of its long-popular Mustang last month, and while sales are off a bit for the Camaro, Chevrolet expects a big surge of demand once it launches the all-new 2016 version in the months ahead.

Your High-Performance News Source!

Only a few years ago, skeptics were predicting the demise of the muscle car, with the classic V-8 likely to be relegated to the automotive rust heap. Hybrids and battery-cars were expected to take their place. But as recent sales figures have demonstrated, Americans aren’t about to abandon their long-standing passion for performance. These days, manufacturers are being forced to pile on the incentives to get buyers to consider those alternative-power vehicles.

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Chevy Goes Cruze-ing with New 2016 Sedan

Redesigned Cruze is roomier but lighter, more fuel-efficient; hatchback to follow.

by on Jun.25, 2015

GM CEO Mary Barra shows off the larger but lighter and more fuel-efficient 2016 Chevrolet Cruze.

Chevy hopes to Cruze to the top of the compact sales charts with the all-new sedan it’s launching later this year. The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze will be larger than the outgoing model, yet lighter and more fuel-efficient.

The Detroit automaker also plans to add a new hatchback version of the 2016 Chevy Cruz, reflecting a growing shift in the American market as compact buyers in the U.S. start to fall in line with more global trends.

Cruise in for a Free Subscription!

While it might share its name with Chevrolet’s outgoing compact sedan, not much else remains the same, said styling chief John Cafaro during a Detroit preview. “The Cruze’s approach to proportion and premium details adds to Chevrolet’s elevation of craftsmanship, content, quality and a fresh interpretation on an identity that is unmistakably Chevrolet,” he proclaimed.

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First Official Look: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro

Chevy pony car will allow 1-touch remote convertible operation.

by on Jun.24, 2015

Chevrolet officially took the wraps off its new edition to the 2016 Camaro line-up: the convertible.

With most vehicles it might be almost anticlimactic, but most fans are likely to make an exception here. Just two days after undisguised pics of the ragtop leaked out onto the Web, Chevrolet has now made it official, pulling the covers off the 2016 Camaro Convertible.

No surprise, the cabriolet retains most of the distinctive lines that earned the Camaro Coupe rave reviews when it debuted two months ago. The new softtop is no longer the classic Rube Goldberg affair, meanwhile, but the same sort of slick origami that we find on most modern European convertibles, allowing a motorist to drop the top at speeds up to 30 mph – or operate it remotely from the keyfob.

Power and Performance News!

And, as with the Camaro Coupe, the new convertible is lighter and more aerodynamic, Chevy suggesting it has cut mass by about 200 pounds while still delivering a stiffer body structure. (more…)

Japanese Automakers Slide, Koreans Surge in New J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Japanese brands, as a group, post worst performance in 29 years.

by on Jun.17, 2015

Hyundai has scored major gains in quality with products like the 2015 Tucson, according to Power.

This story contains updated information.

If the latest J.D. Power survey is any indication, you might need to re-think just about everything you thought you knew about automotive quality.

The latest Initial Quality Survey, or IQS, finds that Japanese automakers, on the whole, have suffered a significant slide in the quality charts, with only three brands in the Top 10 this year. But the real shocker might be the surge in Korean quality. Kia, a brand long known for cheap, mediocre products, was second, behind top-ranked Porsche, with Hyundai ranked fourth. Jaguar, also struggling to reverse a reputation for poor quality, was third.

Your Quality News Site!

For the Korean brands, which are caught up in a ferocious battle for market, the survey results represent a measure of vindication.  “We are extremely proud of the results,” said Mike Ofiara, a spokesman for Kia, which finished second in the overall ranking. “We’ve come a very long way. It’s representative of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”

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Apple CarPlay to Get Expanded Features with Upcoming Update

System will allow motorists to track vehicle, check mileage and other functions.

by on Jun.08, 2015

At least 40 upcoming models are expected to integrate the new Apple CarPlay technology.

The big news out of Apple’s annual developer’s conference is the impending release of the next-generation operating system for devices like the iPhone and iPad. But along with the launch of iOS 9, Apple also plans to upgrade its new CarPlay system.

That’s a major step considering the first cars equipped with CarPlay – including 14 models from Chevrolet – won’t even hit the road until summer. But the revised system will soon be able to do more than play Spotify through your car’s audio system.

High-Tech News!

Automakers like Chevy will be able to develop proprietary apps of their own that could be used to operate all manner of vehicle functions, such as tracking fuel economy, unlocking a door or finding a vehicle in a crowded stadium parking lot. The update will permit CarPlay to operate on a wider range of screen sizes, as well.

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Chevy Goes on Cruze Control

Maker offers first tease of next-generation compact sedan.

by on Jun.04, 2015

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is expected to be roomier, lighter, more fuel-efficient and better-equipped.

Chevrolet has released the first of what is likely to be a running series of teaser images and dripped out details for the next-generation Cruze sedan it will formal unveil later this month.

One of the most important products in its global line-up, Chevy is hoping to develop plenty of buzz before General Motors CEO Mary Barra helps pull the wraps off the new model on June 24th. The 2016 Cruze is one of a broad mix of new Chevrolet models coming to market for 2016, along with an all-new version of the Camaro pony car, the second-generation Volt plug-in hybrid and a complete makeover of the midsize Malbu.

Stay in the Loop!

“When we introduced the (current) Cruze it replaced 15 other compact vehicles around the globe,” noted Alan Batey, president, General Motors North America and global Chevrolet brand chief. That included the generally unloved Chevy Cobalt, helping the GM brand regain some much-needed traction in a segment of the U.S. market long dominated by the Japanese.

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Chevy Adding Apple CarPlay, Android Auto to 14 Models

“Smartphones are essential,” says GM CEO Barra.

by on May.27, 2015

A total of 14 Chevrolet models, including the next-gen Volt, Malibu and Camaro, will add Apple CarPlay.

It’s becoming ever harder to walk – or drive — away from your smartphone. A day after Hyundai became the first automaker to formally confirm plans to add the new Android Auto system to its Sonata sedan, Chevrolet says it will go one better, rolling out both the Google-based system and Apple’s new CarPlay on 14 of its models next year.

Both technologies allow a motorist to go beyond basic pairing. It lets them actually operate a variety of different smartphone apps directly through the vehicle’s infotainment system, whether by using a touchscreen or voice commands. Chevy owners will be able to access 10 different audio services, for example, from Spotify to NPR to Major League Baseball – with more apps to follow, the maker hinted.

Tech Savvy!

They’ll also be able to have text messages read out by artificial speech and dictate a reply. And whether using an Apple iOS or Google Android-based phone, motorists will be able to access the smartphone’s built-in navigation, potentially saving $1,000 or more on a factory-installed navi system.

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GM and Disney Take a Trip to Tomorrowland

Film showcases five classic concept vehicles – and a few modern ones.

by on May.22, 2015

The winged Firebird III concept car was one of several GM developed to showcase turbine power.

Is it back to the future…or forward into the past?

The new Disney movie, Tomorrowland, sets actor George Clooney out on a search for a secret location caught between time and space. And among the discoveries they make when they get there are a collection of classic General Motors concept vehicles, including the jet-powered Firebird III and the Space Age Astro II.

Always Looking Ahead!

“Tomorrowland is a place where nothing is impossible, which is something that Chevrolet believes can exist in the here and now,” Tim Mahoney, vice president, Global Chevrolet, said when announcing GM’s participation in the Disney flick – which also showcases several modern vehicles including the next-generation Chevy Volt.

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GM Puts Its Products on a Diet

Efficiency is part of performance, says product czar Reuss.

by on May.19, 2015

The 2016 Chevy Camaro lost 200 pounds.

Pressure to improve fuel economy in the face of tough new federal rules is forcing General Motors to put its future products on a diet – something that will also require a major change in its internal culture, said the maker’s global product development chief.

The new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is an example of this shift in direction, said Executive Vice President Mark Reuss. In years past, each new product was heavier than the model it replaced. But the sixth-generation muscle car is 200 pounds lighter. Cutting mass, Reuss said, not only translates into a more fuel-efficient vehicle but one that is quicker and more nimble.

A Real Heavyweight!

“It still needs to be a wicked fast track car,” he said. But Reuss added that, “I include efficiency in performance.”

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