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Insurance Institute Recommends Safest Cars for Teens

List includes more than 50 sedans, minivans and SUVs – puts emphasis on safety features.

by on Jul.16, 2014

The Chevrolet Malibu is one of a dozen GM models included on the IIHS list of safest cars for teens.

With teen drivers the group at risk for serious crashes, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has issued its first-ever list of the used vehicles it most recommends for young motorists.

The list puts a premium on such safety features as airbags, electronic stability control and anti-rollover systems, though teens might not like the fact that most of the recommended offerings are low on power. The IIHS recommendations also offer something for almost every pocketbook, the picks ranging in price from around $4,000 to $20,000.

The Journal of Record!

“A teenager’s first car is more than just a financial decision,” stresses IIHS President Adrian Lund. “These lists of recommended used vehicles can help consumers factor in safety, in addition to affordability.”

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Despite Skeptics, Fuel-Cell Vehicles Hit the Market

“Fool cells” or “fuel of the future”?

by on Jul.15, 2014

Toyota Executive Vice President Mitsuhisa Kato reveals the company's new FCV fuel cell vehicle in Japan.

Hyundai’s first fuel-cell vehicle, a zero-emissions version of its Tucson sport-ute, has just gone on sale in Southern California, and hydrogen-powered Honda and Toyota models will follow in the months ahead.  Mercedes-Benz is fleet testing its own F-Cell model, and other makers, such as General Motors, may soon enter the fuel-cell market, as well.

To proponents, hydrogen is the ultimate form of clean energy, and one that overcomes many of the drawbacks of battery power such as limited range and long charging cycles. Yet reaction to the technology remains sharply divided.

Fuel for Thought!

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of TeslaMotors, the California-based battery-carmaker, has repeatedly asserted that hydrogen vehicles will never pay off commercially, deriding them as “fool cells.”

But after years on the back burner as money and resources were shifted to battery technology, hydrogen has been regaining momentum in the U.S. and abroad.

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Acura Going All-In with New TLX

New sport sedan sees largest launch ever for struggling luxury brand.

by on Jul.14, 2014

The new 2015 Acura TLX targets the performance sport sedan market once a stronghold for the old Legend model.

Acura is playing its new TLX sports sedan like a winning poker hand, going all-in on the mid-range model it is launching for 2014.

It may not have any other choice. Despite the strong reception given the Honda subsidiary’s redesigned MDX sport-utility vehicle this year, Acura has continued to struggle with the rest of its line-up, its sedans, in particular, posting double-digit sales declines. But it’s confident that it finally has the right cards in place to ante up with the biggest launch campaign in its 30-year history.

Beyond the Headlines!

“We’re very excited about what the TLX will bring us,” said Mike Accavitti, the executive recently appointed to head Acura, which is gaining more independence from its parent brand in a bid to reverse years of weak sales.  Replacing the old TL model, Accavitti promised that the new TLX “is positioned in the sweet spot of the sedan market. It has the right stuff to put us back in the performance sedan game.”

Acura better hope so.

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Acura MDX Sales Set Record – But Passenger Cars Remain a Problem

Japanese luxury brand bills MDX as best-selling 3-row ute ever.

by on Jul.11, 2014

The 2014 Acura MDX has readily outsold all its competitors in the three-row luxury SUV category.

With sales up more than 68% so far this year, Acura is billing its MDX as the best-selling three-row luxury SUV ever. The redesign has clearly clicked with consumers, but the MDX has been a hot-seller ever since its introduction 15 years ago, topping all other three-row competitors every year since 2002.

That’s the good news for Acura, but there’s also plenty of bad. Despite introducing several new passenger cars in recent years, including its entry-level ILX and flagship RDX, Acura’s passenger cars simply aren’t cutting it with consumers.

Your Global News Source!

So, despite the surge in sales of the brand’s big SUV, Acura’s overall volume slumped 18.6% in June, making it one of the few brands to report a decline as the U.S. car market continues its recovery.

“MDX is the clear benchmark in its class,” crowed the Acura Division’s General Manager Mike Accavitti, proclaiming that “Luxury car buyers have spoken.”

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Honda Adds Another 1 Mil Vehicle to Airbag Recall

Subaru also impacted by faulty Takata airbag problem.

by on Jul.09, 2014

Honda will recall as many as 1 million more vehicles due to airbag problems, including '03 Accords.

One of the largest safety-related problems in automotive history has become even bigger, faulty Takata-made airbags forcing Honda to recall as many as 1 million more vehicles, while Subaru has become the eighth automaker impacted by the problem.

More than 10 million vehicles have been affected by the defect which could cause airbags to improperly inflate in a crash, potentially sending shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment.

The Journal of Record!

The announcement comes a day after Honda announced a separate recall due to a separate problem involving the headlights on some of the vehicles sold by its Acura luxury brand. Ford, meanwhile, announced six separate recalls on Tuesday covering over 100,000 vehicles. All told, more than 41 million cars, trucks and crossovers have been recalled since January 1, already a record well ahead of the 34.1 million vehicles recalled in 2004.

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3D System Helps Honda Accurately Simulate Crash Tests

Virtual crashes can be run “at the push of a button.”

by on Jun.25, 2014

A life-like, 3D Honda crash simulation.

There was a time when an automaker might have to build dozens of costly prototypes just to crash them in an effort to meet federal safety standards. These days, most of the work is done by computer simulation. But the challenge is to ensure that what goes on in the virtual world accurately reflects what would happen not only in a physical crash test but in the real world.

Honda has turned to a new 3D software system that promises to make crash simulations more realistic while saving both time and money in the process of developing new vehicles.

Virtual Reality!

“With this technology, we have gained the potential to improve the quality of decision making and reduce the time required for finalizing a vehicle design by greatly increasing the ease of communicating and understanding the results of a crash test simulation,” explained Eric DeHoff, the technical leader for computer aided engineering, in the Crash Safety Group of Honda R&D Americas, Inc.

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Honda Moves from Making Cars to Making Music

Automaker’s new YouTube channel aimed at young buyers.

by on Jun.12, 2014

Honda is hoping its foray into music content, called Honda Stage, will lure young buyers.

Automakers often seek different ways to connect with customers and Honda has decided to take a stab at reaching out to its younger buyers with Honda Stage, a YouTube music channel.

The Japanese maker is partnering with Live Nation, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Revolt and Vevo to develop the channel.

On Top of the News!

“Breaking through the clutter and reaching younger buyers through traditional advertising is proving more and more difficult in this always-on, digital generation,” said Tom Peyton, assistant vice president of Advertising and Marketing for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (more…)

Toyota Launching Hydrogen Car by Year-End

But new fuel-cell vehicles could carry steep price tag.

by on Jun.09, 2014

Toyota unveiled its FCV hydrogen concept vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show last autumn.

Toyota will launch production of its first commercially available hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle before the end of the year, according to a report from Japan. That would appear to be months ahead of its original plans.

Toyota, which hasn’t changed its stance of “2015 or sooner” for the release of the car, first revealed plans to get into the hydrogen car market last autumn, at the biennial Tokyo Motor Show. It has produced a number of prototypes in years past, but the Japanese giant has been suggesting that it might go the fuel-cell route as an alternative to depending on battery-electric vehicles to meet tough new Zero-Emission Vehicle, or ZEV standards.

Green Car News!

The first Toyota battery cars would come in at around 8 million yen, according to the Japan Times, which would work out to a hefty $78,000, though the English-language publication noted that by the beginning of the next decade, Toyota would like to trim that to somewhere between 3 million to 5 million yen, or between $30,000 and $50,000 at current exchange rates.

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Consumer Reports Blasts Honda Accord Hybrid MPG Claim

Latest hybrid to be faulted for overly optimistic mileage ratings.

by on May.29, 2014

The Honda Accord Hybrid was redesigned for 2014.

The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is the latest among a growing list of gas-electric models to take hits for what critics contend are overly optimistic and misleading mileage claims.

It’s not the first time Honda has been faulted for its hybrid mileage ratings – an estimated 47 mpg on the 2014 Accord version – but it’s far from alone, Ford last year lowering its own numbers for the Fusion C-Max that initially also had a 47 mpg rating.

By the Numbers!

But most manufacturers have been sticking by their fuel economy numbers, which are based on testing by the Environmental Protection Agency, despite concerns that the industry has been “gaming” the system by tuning vehicles to maximize results in those tests while delivering lower results in real-world driving.

“We’ve found that the EPA tests often exaggerate the fuel economy of hybrids,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports.

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Hyundai-Kia Topples Honda as Greenest Carmaker

Korean maker credited for hybrids, downsized turbos, other moves.

by on May.27, 2014

Hyundai is just bringing its Tucson-based hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to market in Southern California.

While Japanese automakers have long worked hard to burnish their images as environmentally friendly manufacturers, Korean carmaker Hyundai-Kia has been named the greenest carmaker by an influential scientific research group.

The Korean partners displaced Tokyo-based Honda, which had been the top-ranked automaker during the previous five years, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The UCS credited Hyundai’s belated push into hybrids, as well as its new, downsized turbo engines and other pollution control technologies, such as the hydrogen-powered Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle just going on sale in California.

Beyond the Headlines!

Honda slipped to second in the study, followed by Toyota, Nissan and Volkswagen. Detroit’s Big three automakers lagged in the study which looked at a variety of variables, including the production of traditional, smog-causing pollutants, as well as CO2 and other gases linked to climate change.

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