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Fiat Chrysler May be Back in the Big Game After All

But Nissan also planning extended spot for Super Bowl ad fest.

by on Jan.28, 2015

Chrysler is likely to return with more long-form spots like this Emimem "Made in Detroit" ad.

There’s a decided downturn in the number of automakers planning to pitch their wares during the coming weekend’s Super Bowl XLIX. Only five have confirmed a presence, including Nissan, returning for the first time in nearly two decades – while other familiar corporate faces, such as Volkswagen, intend to sit on the sidelines.

But there’s growing speculation about whether Fiat Chrysler will stage a return to the big game’s annual ad fest. Several insiders have suggested a big “surprise” is in store. That would be in keeping with the maker’s past strategy, starting with the unexpected 2:00 minute commercial that ran four years ago featuring rap star Eminem.

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If Chrysler does return for Super Bowl XLIX, it won’t be alone in stretching out its message. Nissan is teasing an extended commercial of its own planned for the game. (more…)

Ram, Nissan, Ford Show Mileage Matters, Even to Pickup Buyers

Who will be the first to top 30 mpg?

by on Jan.19, 2015

The new 2015 Ram 1500 Express equipped with the maker’s EcoDiesel delivers an impressive 29 miles per gallon on the highway.

It wasn’t all that long ago when light duty pickup buyers would have celebrated seeing fuel economy numbers approaching the high teens. Now, however, that’s something even heavy-duty models often deliver.

But can manufacturers crack the mileage ceiling with a truck that would get 30 mpg or better? Several makers are coming tantalizingly close.

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There’s been “a lot of noise around” fuel economy in the light truck segment, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said during an appearance at the Detroit Auto Show. Indeed, his own company has been crowing loudly about an updated version of its own full-size model, the new 2015 Ram 1500 Express. (more…)

NHTSA Opens Two New Investigations

Agency checking Jeep Cherokees and Nissan Rogue problems.

by on Jan.16, 2015

NHTSA is investigating 195,000 2013 Nissan Rogues due to an airbag inflation problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened two probes involving more than 200,000 Chrysler and Nissan vehicles.

The safety agency is examining 195,000 2013 Nissan Rogue models due to airbag problems after receiving two complaints about the deployment times of the devices. In both cases, the airbags inflated slowly, taking as long as a minute to inflate, and did not fully inflate. Additionally, both devices deployed several seconds – more than a minute in one case – after the crash.

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Additionally, NHTSA is looking to 50,000 2015 Jeep Cherokees for fire risks. The report in this case stemmed from an incident in San Diego, which was captured by a local news crew. The vehicle began smoking right after it was parked and within minutes it was fully engulfed in flames – some nearly 20 feet high – and was a total loss. No injuries were reported. (more…)

Infiniti Set to Decide Future of Eau Rouge

New brand chief Kruger will soon decide if it’s go or no-go for performance sub-brand.

by on Jan.16, 2015

The original Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge concept made its debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

Infiniti’s new President Roland Kruger will be facing a tough decision in the coming weeks: whether to pull the plug on the high-performance Eau Rouge project launched by his predecessor.

The 550-horsepower Q50 Eau Rouge was meant to serve as the halo car for a brand desperate to establish a stronger global identity. But the project has been wracked by turmoil following a series of key defections from the automaker and its parent Nissan, notably the departure of former Infiniti President Johan de Nysschen who left to become the head of Cadillac.

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Despite some reports that the Japanese luxury maker has scrubbed Eau Rouge, Michael Bartsch, the head of Infiniti operations in the U.S., stressed that no decision has yet been made. “We still don’t have an answer on whether it’s a go or no-go,” he said during an interview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“We’re waiting for Roland to find out how he feels about (Eau Rouge),” Bartsch added.

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Nissan Working Up 200+ Mile Version of Leaf Battery-Car

“We want to be competitive,” says CEO Ghosn, as GM reveals long-range Chevy Bolt.

by on Jan.12, 2015

The current Nissan Leaf is due for a redesign and new battery pack in two years.

Nissan is planning to launch a new version of its Leaf battery-electric vehicle about two years from now, and it will offer a “high-output” version that should deliver 200 miles or more of range.

That would roughly double the current Leaf’s battery range – and put it up against the Chevrolet Bolt, the new 200-mile pure battery-electric vehicle General Motors announced on Monday during the opening day of media previews at the North American International Auto Show.

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“We want to be competitive,” Ghosn said during a conversation following a media briefing, quickly adding, “It may have even more range.” (more…)

Redesigned Nissan Titan Aims to Crack Detroit’s Hold on Full-Size Pickup Market

Much-delayed Japanese truck gets new high-mileage turbodiesel.

by on Jan.12, 2015

Nissan's all-new Titan full-size pickup truck is taking aim at a market dominated by Detroit's Big Three.

If at first you don’t succeed…? Well, Nissan is ready to try again with the launch of the newly redesigned Titan full-size pickup. The long-delayed truck will take aim at the last segment of the U.S. market overwhelmingly dominated by Detroit’s Big Three.

The maker hopes to create what it is describing as a “new class,” within the huge pickup segment, targeting those, it says, who want “the capability of a heavy-duty hauler with the drivability and affordability of a light-duty pickup.”

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Two versions of the 2016 Titan will be offered, a base model, and the heavier-duty XD line that is the focus of Nissan’s push at this year’s North American International Auto Show. And the emphasis, at launch, will be on a new Cummins turbodiesel engine that the maker promises will deliver the best of both worlds: plenty of stump-pulling torque and great fuel economy. (more…)

Nissan, NASA Partnering to Develop Self-Driving Vehicle Technology

Pairing could produce vehicles for Earth and space.

by on Jan.09, 2015

The all-electric Nissan Leaf fitted with autonomous drive equipment allowed to park at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

The names of vehicles used by NASA in its research efforts roll off the tongue: Columbia, Discovery, Endeavour…Leaf? Maybe not, but the space agency and Nissan Motor Co. are partnering up to develop autonomous vehicle systems that could have applications on the ground and in space.

“The work of NASA and Nissan – with one directed to space and the other directed to earth, is connected by similar challenges,” said Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co. “The partnership will accelerate Nissan’s development of safe, secure and reliable autonomous drive technology that we will progressively introduce to consumers beginning in 2016 up to 2020.”

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The five-year partnership will team researchers from Nissan’s U.S. Silicon Valley Research Center and NASA’s Ames Research Center in California who will test a fleet of zero-emission vehicles used to transport a variety of materials, goods, payloads and people. The tests are similar to the way NASA currently operates its planetary rovers remotely from a mission control center. (more…)

Nissan’s Taxi of Tomorrow Gets Go for Big Apple Debut

First NV200 hacks will hit the street in April.

by on Dec.22, 2014

Nissan has been fleet-testing its NV200 cabs at both its Arizona proving grounds - and in New York.

If you can make it there you can make it anywhere, or so Nissan is hoping as it gets ready to put the first of its NV200-based cabs out onto the sometimes mean streets of New York.

After a long and contentious debate, that included a series of legal challenges, the Big Apple’s Taxi & Limousine Commission has set April 20, 2015 as the start date for its Taxi of Tomorrow program. With only rare exception, most of the current New York cab fleet will have to be replaced when they retire with specially modified Nissan NV200 vans.

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The Japanese maker won a three-way shoot-out three years ago to replace the long-familiar Ford Crown Victoria as the taxi of choice for New York’s big yellow fleet. Proponents claim the new NV200 cab conversion offers a number of advantages, including more room and better visibility for passengers, and improved fuel economy for fleet operators.

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Automakers Scramble As Russia’s Economy Melts down

GM, Audi, JLR temporarily abandon market, Nissan limits sales.

by on Dec.19, 2014

GM is one of several makers to cut off shipments to dealers like Moscow's Major, while others are sharply rising prices as the ruble collapses.

What seemed like a dream market just a few years ago has now turned into a nightmare, the Russian economic meltdown sending automakers from around the world into a scramble.

With economic sanctions already taking a serious toll, this past week’s collapse of the ruble has led General Motors, Audi and Jaguar Land Rover to temporarily halt sales in the heart of the former Soviet Union. Nissan, meanwhile, has decided to limit sales of some models and raise prices on others.

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“When the ruble sinks it’s a bloodbath for everybody,” said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance., which is the biggest maker in Russia along with its local partner Avtovaz. “It’s red ink, people are losing money, all car manufacturers are losing money.”

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The Car Key is Becoming an Endangered Species

Keyless systems quickly taking over.

by on Dec.09, 2014

The red key fob unleashes all 707 horsepower in the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. The black key limits a driver to "just" 500-hp.

Officially, it isn’t a recall, just a technical service bulletin, but whatever General Motors is calling the announcement, dealers have been advised to replace the keys on 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models, as well as several other large pickups and SUVs.

Some owners have complained that when they shift gears they can knock the ignition switch out of position – bringing to mind this year’s earlier recall of GM vehicles equipped with defective ignition switches now linked to 38 deaths and 100s of injuries.

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While that has put the spotlight on GM, the maker is just one of several to order recalls in recent years due to key and ignition switch problems – which is adding more momentum to a broad industry shift away from conventional ignition switches to push-button starters.

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