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Toyota Recalls 1.6 Mil Vehicles With Takata Airbags a Second Time

Affected vehicles may still be unsafe.

by on Nov.25, 2015

The latest recall covers, among its 22 models, an older version of the Toyota Corolla.

Concluding the vehicles may still be unsafe, Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 1.6 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbags that had been involved in an earlier recall.

The move echoes what happened at Nissan Motor Co. where a passenger was injured when a Takata airbag deployed improperly in a crash. That vehicle had also been involved in an earlier recall. There have been no reports of injuries involving the Toyota vehicles.

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The new Toyota recall covers 22 different models, including the popular Corolla, sold in Japan, as well as several European markets. No vehicles in the U.S. are involved in the new service action, though Takata airbags have so far led to the recall of nearly 20 million vehicles sold in the States.


New Consortium Aims to Help EV Owners ROEV More Freely

Taking down the barriers to battery-car ownership.

by on Nov.20, 2015

"This is the future of EV charging in the U.S.," says BMW's Rob Healey.

There are three key factors limiting broader consumer acceptance of battery-electric vehicles, according to most analysts: their high price, limited range and the lack of a readily available charging network.

A new consortium, announced at this week’s L.A. Auto Show, could help resolve the latter issue. Dubbed ROEV, short for Roaming for Electric Vehicle charging, the new venture aims to make it easier for owners of battery-based vehicles to plug in wherever they go. It will let them access the vast majority of public charge stations without having to sign up with a variety of different service providers.

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The goal is to “make sure every station is capable of serving every vehicle out there,” explained Brendan Jones, a vice president of NRG EVgo, one of the partners in the new charging consortium. “ROEV is reducing the barrier (to EVs by letting) people know they can charge anywhere.”


2016 Nissan Sentra Gets Heavy Mid-Cycle Redesign

Refresh meant to give the sedan a more upscale appearance.

by on Nov.18, 2015

The 2016 Nissan Sentra's redesign is meant to give it a sleeker, more up-market appearance.

It’s long been the “other” Nissan sedan, the midsize Sentra often ignored in favor of the more upscale and better-selling Altima.

But the once vanilla sedan has earned some new fans in recent years for its mix of features and an affordable price tag, and the Japanese automaker is hoping to gain a bit more traction as it launches the updated 2016 Nissan Sentra.

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While this is, in many ways, the year of the SUV, the second-largest Japanese maker has made a major push to build its presence in the American sedan market, updating both the Altima, the bigger Maxima and now the Sentra.


Autonomous Cars Will Soon Rule the Road, Predicts Tesla’s Musk

Owning a conventional car “will be like owning a horse.”

by on Nov.05, 2015

Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicts an autonomous car is in almost everyone's future.

Autonomous cars are coming fast, predicts Tesla Motors’ founder, CEO and resident visionary. And they will dominate the roads well before we reach the midpoint of the 21st Century, he predicts.

Tesla is taking a first step in that direction with the ongoing roll-out of its semi-autonomous Autopilot program, which will allow the owner of a Model S sedan or Model X sport-utility vehicle to cruise along hands-free on a well-marked, limited-access highway.

We'll do the Work for You!

Within 15 to 20 years, Musk said during a conference call, it will become “quite unusual to see cars that don’t have full autonomy.” It’s a position some, but by no means all, of Tesla’s competitors share.


Strong Nissan Profits Could Signal Good Numbers for Toyota, Honda

Nissan earnings up 38%, as maker raises full-year forecast.

by on Nov.03, 2015

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Nissan Motor Co.’s strong quarterly earnings – and upgraded forecast for the full year – signal that its two chief Japanese rivals, Toyota and Honda, will also deliver solid numbers, industry analysts are forecasting.

Nissan delivered a 172.8 billion yen, or $1.4 billion, profits for the July-September quarter, the second in its fiscal year. That was up from 124.9 billion yen during the same period a year ago. And the maker said it expects to see a 17% increase in net income, to 535 billion yen, or $4.4 billion, for the full fiscal year ending next March.

Go Figure!

“We are increasing our financial forecast for the full year as our product offensive, our continued financial discipline and the ongoing benefits of our Alliance strategy is delivering better than expected results,” said CEO Carlos Ghosn.


Autonomous Vehicles Involved in High Number of Crashes

Human drivers may have trouble sharing the road with self-driving vehicles, warns study.

by on Nov.02, 2015

A Google car in traffic. A new study suggests autonomous vehicles are experiencing five times the rate of accidents as regular cars.

Proponents have promised a world in which crashes, injuries and fatalities are virtually absent, but a new study warns that, at least for now, autonomous vehicles aren’t coming close to meeting those expectations.

The limited number of test vehicles now on the road have been involved in crashes at five times the rate of conventional vehicles, according to an analysis by the University of Michigan’s Transportations Research Institute, or UMTRI. But the news wasn’t entirely bad.

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“Self-driving vehicles were not at fault in any crashes they were involved in,” wrote researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak. And, they added, “the overall severity of crash-related injuries
involving self-driving vehicles has been lower than for conventional vehicles.


Back from the Dead, Datsun Looking for Global Opportunities

Aiming at the 70% of the world’s population not yet mobile.

by on Oct.30, 2015

The new Datsun Go-Cross Concept.

With its tall roof, high seating position, rugged-looking skid plate and sunset-orange paint, the new Go-Cross looks like a stylish take on the crossover utility vehicles that have become increasingly popular in placed like the U.S., Europe and Japan.

But when it comes to market a couple years from now, it will take aim at a select group of emerging markets including India, Indonesia, South Africa and Russia. And it will likely carry a price tag of under US$10,000, a fraction of what a similar model might go for in established markets.

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While officially a concept car, for now, the Go-Cross is all but certain to become one of the next models offered by Nissan Motor Co. through its recently revived Datsun division.


Nissan Teatro for Dayz – a Car for People Who Don’t Like Cars?

“A multimedia device for share natives.”

by on Oct.29, 2015

Nissan's Teatro for Dayz concept is a multimedia device designed for share natives, according to CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Were it ever to go into production, we assume Nissan would have to think long and hard how and where to sell it: a traditional new car showroom or an Apple Store.

True, it has four wheels and four doors, but beyond that, the Nissan Teatro for Dayz concept doesn’t have all that much in common with a conventional automobile – perhaps because it seems aimed primarily at a young generation that is ambivalent, at best, about owning a car.

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Think of the Teatro for Dayz as “a multimedia device designed for share natives,” suggested Carlos Ghosn, the Japanese maker’s CEO, during a news conference at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. (more…)

Renault-Nissan Partnership Set to Overcome Latest Crisis, Says Ghosn

Expect a lot more consolidation in the auto industry, says Renault-Nissan CEO.

by on Oct.28, 2015

While consolidation is essential to the auto industry, it won't be easy to make work, warns Ghosn.

The 16-year-old alliance between Japan’s Nissan and France’s Renault isn’t about to break down, Carlos Ghosn, who serves as CEO of both companies, said during an appearance at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Widely considered the most successful relationship of its kind in the auto industry, questions have been raised by reports that the French government wants to raise its stake in Renault, something that could shift the power balance of the alliance. Some observers now expect Nissan – which holds no voting rights in its ally – to step in and purchase a stake in Renault.

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While Ghosn declined to address specifics, he stressed that he doesn’t see the Renault-Nissan Alliance breaking down. “From time to time you are going to have crisis, problems, divergence,” he said during his news conference, but the two companies are “aligned on the fact that the alliance has been a tremendous success.” (more…)

Navigating Tokyo in Nissan’s Autonomous Leaf

Self-driving system evolving fast, but can it make Nissan's 2020 target?

by on Oct.27, 2015

Just in case: Chief Engineer Tetsuo Ijima is always ready to take control in an emergency.

It takes a moment for Ijama-san to squeeze out into the heavy Tokyo traffic. To be more precise, it takes a moment for the Nissan Leaf to sense a good opening a pull out. Tetsuya Ijima, the senior engineer overseeing the company’s autonomous vehicle program is, like the rest of us in the little battery-car, just along for the ride.

Two years after announcing plans to put a fully self-driving vehicle into production by the beginning of the next decade, Nissan is holding to that timetable, offering a small group of journalists a chance to see how far its program has progressed.

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While Ijima cautioned that there is plenty more to do before a vehicle like the Nissan Leaf really will be ready for consumers, the nearly hour-long drive on some of the world’s busiest streets showed just how fast the project is moving – while also revealing some of the many challenges yet to be resolved.