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New Backup Technology Takes Safety Several Steps Forward, Says IIHS Study

Rear autobraking can prevent a wide range of crashes.

by on Feb.22, 2018

IIHS said Subaru and Cadillac had the best rear autobraking systems of the versions tested.

Motorists risk getting into crashes anytime they move their vehicle, including backing into or out of a parking spot. While rear crashes are less likely to result in injuries or death, they can still generate significant repair costs.

That’s where an assortment of new rear crash prevention technologies are coming into play. These cover a range of alternatives, including rear-facing cameras, sonar parking sensors, radar-based cross-traffic alert, and rear auto-braking systems that can not only detect a potential obstacle but also prevent the car from hitting it, even if the driver doesn’t react quickly enough.

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“Let’s face it. Some days we all could use help backing up, whether that’s in a garage with pillars that obscure your view, in a crowded mall parking lot or on a busy downtown street,” said David Zuby, the chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety which, for the first time, has evaluated and rated the most advanced of these systems, rear autobraking, on six 2017 models. (more…)

GM’s Proposed $2.8B Investment Could Head Off Showdown or Shutdown in South Korea

Automaker looking at two new models; but union warning of strike.

by on Feb.21, 2018

GM is looking to shut down its underutilized Gunsan plant in South Korea.

General Motors is offering to add two new models to its South Korean line-up as part of a $2.8-billion, 10-year investment plan that could forestall a clash with the government and its union workers.

A week ago, GM announced plans to close its underutilized Gunsan plant, one of four assembly lines in Korea, and it strongly hinted that it was considering pulling out of the country entirely if it couldn’t reverse deep, ongoing losses.

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In return, the Detroit automaker is seeking financial assistance from the South Korean government and is expected to also seek some aid from its traditionally militant unions. But, in turn, workers are warning that if GM doesn’t move quickly to assure a future for those plants they could strike. (more…)

Lexus Downsizing With New UX Crossover

Are those fins we see?

by on Feb.21, 2018

Lexus is filling a hole in its line-up with the UX compact crossover.

The eagerly awaited Lexus UX is finally set to make the transition from concept to production, Toyota’s luxury brand set to pull the wraps off the compact crossover at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

With utility vehicles gaining ground on conventional sedans and coupes in virtually every major market, the Lexus UX will fill another critical niche, the fast-growing compact crossover segment, just below the brand’s current NX model.

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While the teaser image Lexus has released has been designed to keep most details hidden, it does reveal a few interesting things. The production UX, for one thing, apparently carries over the subtle fins shown on the earlier NX concept. Meanwhile, a bit of Photoshop magic uncovers what appeared to be a UX 250h badge, indicating a hybrid version of the new ute is in the plans. (more…)

Kia’s K900 Getting New Look

Reports of its demise are clearly exaggerated.

by on Feb.21, 2018

Rumored to be going away, the K900 is instead coming back with the promise of being better than ever.

With last year’s launch of the well-reviewed Kia Stinger many folks expected the Korean carmaker would abandon its first foray into the luxury market, the much more staid K900.

But as Mark Twain might have said, reports of the big sedan’s demise have been greatly exaggerated – as this newly released image of the next-generation K900 aims to demonstrate. Set to go on sale later this year, it will keep the Stinger company in Kia showrooms around the world.

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“The new model combines sophisticated exterior design, effortless performance and a spacious cabin distinguished by luxurious materials and elegant styling,” Kia said in a statement accompanying this teaser image. “New technologies protect occupants, enhance interior comfort and give the driver greater confidence at the wheel.” (more…)

Waymo Gets the Go to Launch 1st Driverless Ride-Sharing Program

Service set to begin within the year in Phoenix area, then expand to other markets.

by on Feb.19, 2018

Waymo has been testing its ride-sharing program in Phoenix but now has a permit to go fully driverless.

Waymo, the autonomous ride-sharing service spun off by Google, has gotten permission to launch a commercial ride-sharing service that will completely eliminate human drivers.

The company has confirmed receiving a permit from the Arizona Department of Transportation and is now expecting to launch service using a small fleet of modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans in the Phoenix area. It has been operating a pilot program in the Phoenix area for the past year using autonomous vehicles that still had a backup “operator” behind the wheel ready to take control in an emergency.

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“As we continue to test-drive our fleet of vehicles in greater Phoenix, we’re taking all the steps necessary to launch our commercial service this year,” a Waymo spokesman told TheDetroitBureau.com. (more…)

Global Auto Sales Set to Hit Record in 2018

Industry coming tantalizing close to 100 million mark.

by on Feb.16, 2018

Despite sluggish sales in the U.S. and China, global auto sales are expected to set a new record in 2018.

Global auto sales are expected to hit an all-time record in 2018 of 97.3 million vehicles, according to a new forecast by LMC Automotive.

That 2.1% jump over 2017 would come despite a weak market in North America, as well as softening growth in what is now the world’s largest automotive market, China, LMC researchers said during a media conference call.

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The U.S., in particular, posted its first annual decline in vehicle sales since the market hit bottom in 2010, and it remains unclear what will happen in 2018, LMC Managing Director Pete Kelly cautioning that it “could go either way.” (more…)

Another Transmission Recall at Fiat Chrysler

Move targets over 200,000 Pickups that could roll away.

by on Feb.16, 2018

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 229,000 Ram pickups due to a problem with the the trucks unexpectedly shifting out of park.

Fiat Chrysler will recall 229,000 Ram pickups due to a defect that cause them to unexpectedly roll away.

Because a pin can become dislodged inadvertently if a driver keeps a foot on the brake when it is shifted into park, the normal shift interlock mechanism can be deactivated, allowing the vehicle to unexpectedly shift out of park without a key in the ignition or a foot on the brake.

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It is the latest in a series of transmission problems for the Detroit automaker, though most of the recent issues have involved new electronic shifters that don’t have a direct mechanical linkage to the gearbox. One issue was linked to the death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, who was crushed by his Jeep two years ago. (more…)

Mercedes-AMG GT Four-Door Caught Blowing in the Wind (Tunnel)

Debut coming at Geneva Motor Show.

by on Feb.15, 2018

The new Mercedes-AMG GT four-door is among the slipperiest sedans money can buy.

Think of them as tattoos, rather than camouflage, for there’s little left to the imagination in these shots of the new Mercedes-AMG GT four-door as it goes through wind tunnel testing ahead of its formal debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

The current GT is one of the more wind-slick models on the market, but stretching its length and wheelbase and then adding two more doors threatened to change aero equation massively, so it’s no surprise the German automaker designers have been spending so much time in the tunnel.

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“Final tests will be carried out in the wind tunnel before the new member of the AMG GT family has its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show,” the automaker said in a statement accompanying these images, adding that, “It is already clear that the new family member is also a fine aerodynamic performer.” (more…)

Nissan Set to Reveal All-New Altima at NY Auto Show

Nissan hopes to hang onto midsize buyers in an SUV market.

by on Feb.14, 2018

Nissan is looking to ensure that its Altima midsize sedan continues to attract buyers in the competitive segment.

Midsize sedans. Remember them? In reality, while SUVs and CUVs have been gaining lots of momentum in the U.S. marketplace, the classic family four-door is still a seriously popular alternative, ringing up millions of sales each year.

It helps to have new sheet metal in the market, and last year saw two critical offerings, the completely remade Toyota Camry and Honda Accord – the latter being named North American Car of the Year, with Camry a runner-up. Now, it’s Nissan’s turn to weigh in, and the Japanese automaker has confirmed we’ll get our first look at the 2019 Altima at the New York Auto Show in a little more than a month.

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Spy shots have been popping up in recent months and they suggest we won’t see any radical shift away from Nissan’s current formula. A brief statement from the second-largest Japanese car manufacturer says that, “New Yorkers have always loved the Altima, making the Northeast region the most popular market for Nissan’s best-selling sedan and NYIAS the ideal place to reveal the next generation.” (more…)

New Mercedes-Benz C-Class Getting More Power, More Smarts

Semi-autonomous tech moves over from the S-Class.

by on Feb.14, 2018

The most important of the introductions by Mercedes-Benz at the Geneva Motor Show may be the midcycle refresh of the C-Class.

It’s going to be a busy Geneva Motor Show for Mercedes-Benz, the automaker rolling out an assortment of new models for global or European debuts, including the new four-door AMG GT, the updated S- and G-Class models, the all-new A-Class, and an updated C-Class.

While that compact sedan may only be getting a midcycle refresh it could prove to be the most significant of the introductions considering that the C-Class remains Mercedes’ global best-seller, generating more than 400,000 sales in 2017. Freshening it up will be critical at a time when more and more buyers are shifting from passenger cars to SUVs and CUVs.

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Both the C-Class sedan and wagon models will be updated for 2019, and while exterior and interior changes will be modest, buyers will be tempted with an increase in power, as well as the addition of new semi-autonomous technology lifted from the lofty S-Class and able to handle a limited amount of hands-free driving. (more…)