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Scion Teases New Concept for LA Auto Show

Youth-oriented brand looks to recapture lost audience.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Scion is bringing a new concept to the L.A. Auto Show next month and this is just a small peek at it.

Looking to rebuild its once formidable image among younger buyers, Scion is planning to roll out an assortment of new models over the next few years, and we’ll be getting a sense of what’s to come at next month’s Los Angeles Motor Show.

What exactly it has in store, Scion isn’t saying, but it’s giving a bit of a hint with two closely cropped teaser images of what apparently will be called the new iM Concept car.

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“The iM Concept car reflects the evolution of Scion as the needs and desires of its youthful customers also evolve,” says a terse statement from Scion. (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Opens First Overseas Plant – in China, of Course

China already JLR's biggest market.

by on Oct.22, 2014

A Range Rover Evoq moves down the assembly land at JLR's new assembly plant near Shanghai.

That “veddy” British automaker, Jaguar Land Rover, is looking a little less Anglo-Saxon every day. First, it was acquired by American maker Ford, then sold to Indian upstart Tata Motors. And now, JLR has opened up its first foreign manufacturing plant. In China, of course.

The Asian nation is already the world’s largest automotive market and, by most accounts, is expected to top the global luxury sales charts, as well, by the end of the decade. It is, in fact, already Jaguar Land Rover’s single-largest market.

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And the maker is expecting to see that grow significantly, in part, because localizing production will eliminate the hefty Chinese tariff on automotive imports. (more…)

Double Setback for Tesla

Daimler sells off stake, while Michigan bans direct sales.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Daimler is planning to unplug from Tesla - at least in terms of its 4% equity stake.

Already hammered by a slump in its stock price, Tesla Motors has been hit by two more setbacks.

The maker’s long-time German partner, Daimler AG, has decided to sell off its stake in the California start-up while Michigan has become the latest in a growing list of states to bar Tesla’s plan to sell directly to consumers through company-owned, rather than franchised, showrooms.

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Daimler, the parent of the Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands, had held a 4% stake in the battery-car company, and had been rumored to be considering a full acquisition of Tesla at one point.

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Green Car Finalists Announced

Battery power vies with diesel, CNG and advanced gas options.

by on Oct.21, 2014

The BMW i3 is one of five cars up for the 2015 Green Car of the Year award at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

There’s been plenty of attention paid to electric vehicles over the last several years, but not all green machines have a battery under the hood.

To underscore that point, just check out the five finalists for the 2015 Green Car of the Year. The nominees for the annual award, which will be presented at the Los Angeles Motor Show next month, present a mix of alternatives that include not only the requisite EVs, but also a diesel, a bi-fuel package and a conventional gasoline-powered model. The list is dominated by three European models with one each from Japan and the U.S.

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“These five exceptional vehicles reflect an expanding ‘green’ car field that embraces diverse fuels and technologies as answers to a more efficient and low carbon future,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com. “Each offers a distinctly different approach to driving ‘green’ that appeals to buyers with varying needs and perspectives on how best to lessen environmental impact, while maintaining the joy of driving.” (more…)

Ford Latest to Cut EV Pricing as Battery-Car Market Struggles

Maker trims $6,000 from price tag of Focus Electric.

by on Oct.21, 2014

Ford has so far sold only 1,500 Focus Electric vehicles this year - less than 1% of total Focus sales.

With battery-car sales lagging expectations, automakers have been slashing prices in a bid to spur demand. The latest to announce a big discount is Ford Motor Co., which will trim the MSRP on its Focus Electric model by $6,000.

That’s on top of the $4,000 discount the Detroit maker took on the compact battery-electric vehicle a year ago. Originally introduced in January 2011 at $39,995, buyers now can plug in a Ford Focus Electric for just $29,995 – plus delivery charges and the usual fees and taxes.

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Ford is by no means alone. With rare exception, automakers have been cutting prices of both plug-in and pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, models in a bid to boost sluggish sales. And with gas prices now near or below $3 a gallon in much of the U.S., industry analysts suggest it will be even more difficult to convince buyers to opt for vehicles that plug in rather than tank up.

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Honda HR-V Making U.S. Debut at L.A. Auto Show

Slotting below CR-V as new entry-level crossover.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Honda's new compact CUV, the HR-V, was shown during the Paris Motor Show recently and will hit U.S. shores later this year.

We were offered a sneak peek at the Honda HR-V earlier this year, and got a first look at it in Paris, a few weeks back. But if it strikes your fancy and you live in the U.S., you’ll have to wait another month for a look at the actual sheet metal. The good news is that Honda is providing a teaser image of the compact crossover that will become the new entry point into its growing CUV line-up.

Original hinted at with the 2013 Urban SUV Concept, Honda plans to put the new HR-V on sale shortly after its official debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

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The new crossover utility vehicle will be positioned below the CR-V both in price and overall size, but if the Fit is any indication, the new crossover may deliver nearly as much cargo and passenger space. (more…)

Acura Prepping “Substantially New” ILX for 2016

Remake to debut at LA Auto Show next month.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Acura tosses out a teaser of the 2016 ILX.

Hoping to salvage its sluggish-selling entry-level model, the ILX, Acura is promising to reveal a “substantially new” version of the compact sedan at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.

Launched for the 2013 model-year, the ILX got off to a slow start amidst mixed reviews, though it has been bringing in some of the Gen-X and Gen-Y buyers that Acura has been desperate to win over. But playing in one of the market’s hottest – and most competitive – market segments, “good enough” clearly isn’t enough to put Acura back on the map.

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“The new 2016 ILX stands to solidify and broaden its appeal with a comprehensive update that includes a potent new powertrain, more forceful, sporty exterior styling, and substantially upgraded interior design,” declared a statement from the Honda luxury brand.

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Nissan Readying Replacement for Titan Pickup

High-mileage diesel expected to enhance truck’s appeal.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Nissan's Titan replacement will reach market about four years later than originally planned.

Better late than never? Nissan is certainly hoping so – as are those who’ve long been hoping for an update to the maker’s slow-selling full-size pickup.

It’s been a long 11 years since the original Titan made its debut – and four years since the Japanese maker originally planned to offer a replacement. But plans for the update fell apart, forcing Nissan to return to the drawing board.

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What it’s come up with will make a debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January, and several inside sources have confirmed to TheDetroitBureau.com that the plans call for that preview to put the spotlight on a new diesel developed specifically for the 2016 Nissan Titan.

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Embattled GM Chief Counsel Millikin Retires Early

Whether a man of “impeccable integrity” or “gross incompetence” is a matter of debate.

by on Oct.17, 2014

Millikin became GM General Counsel in 2009.

Embattled General Motors General Counsel Michael Millikin will retire early, the automaker has announced, a move that comes shortly after the maker was hit with a $10 billion class action lawsuit alleging it long concealed a series of safety problems.

While GM CEO Mary Barra issued a statement praising the 66-year-old attorney for his “tremendous career,” it is likely that Millikin’s departure comes as something of a relief considering the way he has been portrayed as a pivotal figure in the mishandling of a long-delayed ignition switch recall now linked to 27 deaths.

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Just three months ago, Millikin came under direct fire during a series of Capitol Hill hearings looking into the GM recall brouhaha. At one point, Senator Claire McCaskill, a Maryland Democrat, directly accused Millikin of “incompetence,” asking CEO Barra why he hadn’t been fired.

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Audi Set to Track Test New Autonomous Race Car

Piloted RS7 Concept set to take on the Hockenheim circuit on Sunday.

by on Oct.17, 2014

Audi hopes to lap the Hockenheim circuit in just 2:10 with the autonomous RS7 race car.

“Gentlemen, start your engines!”

Might that classic announcement no longer be necessary? Then again, would NASCAR or Formula One fans be willing to pay for tickets to see a line of unmanned vehicles lapping tracks like the Indianapolis Brickyard or even the streets of Monte Carlo?

We may get a better sense this weekend, when Audi unleashes its Piloted RS7 Concept on the Hockenheimring race circuit prior to the finale of the DTM race series. Despite what the name might seem to suggest, the prototype will run laps without anyone onboard.

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Autonomous vehicle technology has been gaining plenty of attention in recent months. Nissan has promised to put its first self-driving vehicle into production by 2020. Cadillac’s SuperDrive will allow autonomous highway driving when it reaches showrooms in 2017. And Google is already rolling out the first of its new autonomous vehicle prototypes.

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