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Toyota Taking Advanced Crash-Avoidance Tech Mainstream

Maker sets target of zero deaths in its new vehicles.

by on Sep.05, 2014

An advanced safety research vehicle using one of Toyota's upscale Lexus models.

With a new industry study set to be released this month showing how the latest high-tech automotive safety features are saving thousands of lives, Toyota Motor Co. plans to become the first automaker to offer key crash-avoidance technologies on all its models by 2017.

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Electronic stability control is already showing tremendous results, according to a study that will be released by the Insurance Institute for Highway safety. The technology is already mandated by the government for all new vehicles sold in the U.S. But even more advanced systems using radar to detect a potential crash and, in some cases, actually stop a vehicle without driver intervention, could save thousands more.

Toyota indicated it will offer some version of pre-collision technology across the board, Seigo Kuzumaki, its chief safety technology officer, declaring, “We are entering an entirely new era of mobility,” during a seminar in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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VW Finally Packs it Up for the Aging Camper Van

The longest-running model in automotive history.

by on Sep.16, 2013

A well-restored British camper van.

After more than 60 years in production. Volkswagen is finally preparing to retire the classic VW Camper finally and for good.

Originally designed in the late 1940s in post-World War II Germany, the Camper has been in production since 1950 and the vehicle’s storied history makes it the longest produced model in automotive history, according to Volkswagen. It has gone by several different names over the years, i

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It became an icon of flower power in the U.S. in the 1960s when it – and the original Beetle became two of the hippie movement’s favorite forms of motorized transport. Sales of new Campers basically ended in the U.S. in 1979 when VW stopped building them at plants in Germany. However, the vans, with their distinctive shape and windows, are still prized by collectors and live on especially in Southern California where well-preserved Campers routinely can be seen roaming the region’s freeways.

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Daimler Q1 Earnings Fall by Over Half

German maker slashes full-year forecast.

by on Apr.24, 2013

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is under increasing pressure to deliver a turnaround.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is under increasing pressure to deliver a turnaround - fast.

Daimler AG suffered through another disappointing quarter as both earnings and revenues tumbled more than analysts expected during the January to March period, putting more pressure on the company’s top executive, Chairman Dieter Zetsche, to produce a turnaround.

The German parent of the Mercedes-Benz and Smart car brands scrapped its 2013 forecast after reporting first quarter earnings before interest and taxes, or EBIT, collapsed by more than half, to 917 million euros from 2.1 billion during the same period a year ago.

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“The company’s margins have collapsed,” observed one analyst during a conference call in which the company’s top executives discussed the quarterly report.

It was an observation senior management struggled to downplay during the call.

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Kia Brings New Carens People Mover to Geneva

Koreans take another stab at minivan segments.

by on Mar.04, 2013

Kia hopes a more stylish entry like the Carens will help it gain traction in the global "people-mover" category.

Kia is bringing its penchant for stylish design to the people-mover segment at this year’s Geneva Motor Show with a new model that will eventually be sold around the world.

The all-new Kia Carens is a compact MPV designed and engineered from the ground-up to meet the needs of modern families, the maker claims, with a cab-forward design, choice of four powertrains, up to seven seats and a broad range of convenience and safety features.

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“I wanted to give the new Carens a sleeker look and feel, to create a design that envelops its functionality and versatility in something altogether more athletic and dynamic,” says Peter Schreyer, president of Kia and Hyundai design. “This new-found visual dynamism is important – this car needs to look appealing and attractive – but during its design and development stages, we never lost sight of the fact that its packaging flexibility and adaptability are why people buy these cars.”

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Magna’s Opel Offer Not Exactly Magnanimous

Critics say missing job guarantees must be included.

by on May.05, 2009

The Canadians versus the Italians in a bid for German Opel?

The Canadians versus the Italians in a bid for German Opel?

“There is no assurance that any transaction will result from Magna’s current involvement,” Magna noted in a statement that confirmed it was bidding for up to 25% share of Opel.

Magna’s interest has come under attack in Germany because it does not offer any specific job guarantees or offer any assurance the Opel name will actually live on.

Fiat Spa also wants to buy German-based Opel, although CEO, Sergio Marchionne, is looking for the German Government to help finance a complete takeover of the company by Fiat, which would then create a new publicly-held corporation consisting of the loss-making automotive arms of both entities that would be sold to shareholders.

If that sounds like financial engineering of the kind that brought you sub-prime loans as AAA -rated paper by Standard and Poors, well, it sure seems similar. German government officials are apparently considering this proposition, with one senior minister calling it “intriguing.”  (more…)

Daimler Cashes in its Remaining Chrysler Chips

The once called "merger of equals" comes to an unequal end.

by on Apr.28, 2009

The settlement ends the threat of an expensive lawsuit against Daimler by Cerberus and Chrysler.

The settlement ends the threat of an expensive lawsuit against Daimler by Cerberus and Chrysler.

Daimler AG has agreed to put a total of $600 million into Chrysler LLC’s pension fund during the next three years, under an agreement reached yesterday with Cerberus, the company that bought Chrysler from it, and the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. It also is giving its remaining 19.9% stake in Chrysler back to Cerebus. Cerberus has previously agreed to give its shares in Chrysler to the U.S.  government as part of the proposed restructuring.

The settlement apparently ends the threat of large and expensive lawsuit against Daimler by Cerberus and Chrysler, and eliminates another obstacle in the restructuring of Chrysler that must be completed this week under a U.S. Treasury Department deadline. Bondholders remain the last major roadblock to finishing a restructuring of Chrysler.

The term sheet signed Monday covers any and all issues still pending between the parties in connection with Chrysler, Daimler officials said in a terse statement issued from the company’s headquarters in Stuttgart.

Daimler will also forgive repayment of the more than $2 billion in loans extended to Chrysler, which were already written off in the 2008 financial statements. Daimler has agreed to pay $200 million into Chrysler’s pension plans on the date of the execution of definitive agreements and in each of the next two years. (more…)