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Teen Drivers Pose a Risk to Everyone on the Road

New study finds 2/3 of fatalities and injuries involve passengers, other drivers.

by on May.27, 2015

Motor vehicle crashes have long been one of the primary causes of death and injuries among teen drivers. But a new study by AAA finds that young motorists are also a danger to everyone else on the road.

In all, nearly 3,000 people were killed in teen crashes in 2013, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, with nearly 400,000 injured. But a new AAA study finds that nearly two-thirds of the people injured or killed during a crash are people other than the teen behind the wheel.

Safety First!

“Teen crash rates are higher than any other age group, and this data confirms that the impact of their crashes extend well beyond the teen who is behind the wheel,” notes Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

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Ford May Cut Production as Chinese Car Market Falters

Domestic Chinese makers gaining ground on foreign rivals.

by on May.26, 2015

Ford recently unveiled its Focus ST in China.

With the economy faltering, the Chinese car market is growing at its slowest rate in 15 years – and Ford Motor Co. says it may respond by trimming production in the once-booming China.

That would be a sudden shift in direction for Ford which, only two months ago, announced the opening of a major new plant in Hangzhou, part of its plan to double production capacity in the populous Asian market to 1.2 million vehicles annually.

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“If there is softness in the market, I won’t let stocks build and we’ll cut production,” said David Schoch, president of Ford Asia Pacific. So far, he added, “We have had some production cuts, but it’s nothing material.”

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GM Death Toll at 107 as Feds Find Criminal Wrongdoing

Hefty fines could follow

by on May.26, 2015

GM CEO Mary Barra testified before congressional subcommittees four times due to GM's recall of 2.6 million vehicles last year.

The official death toll from faulty General Motors ignition switches has jumped again, to 107. At the same time, federal prosecutors have reportedly decided there was criminal wrongdoing in the way the maker handled the defect, taking more than a decade to order a recall.

Whether any individual will be prosecuted for the flawed handling of the ignition switch problem is uncertain, but hefty fines appear likely to follow, with the New York Times reporting that the ongoing investigation could be wrapped up by summer.

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Those fines could run well in excess of the money GM already has laid out to settle claims filed with a victims’ compensation fund. Last year, GM set aside $400 million to cover potential claims. By the time of the filing deadline on January 31, administrator Kenneth Feinberg reported receiving 4,342 separate claims.

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First Drive: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In

Hyundai plugs in with updated HEV and all-new PHEV sedan.

by on May.26, 2015

Hyundai's second-generation Sonata Hybrid.

Initially slow to embrace alternative powertrain technology, Hyundai is determined to catch up with green rivals like Toyota and Honda. It was the first to market with a retail hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and it is about to update its original Sonata Hybrid for 2016 – while also adding its first plug-in hybrid model.

The timing likely isn’t the best. With gasoline prices running about a dollar lower than a year ago, and likely to say depressed for a while, demand for battery-based vehicles has taken a dive. But based on a day’s drive of the two new Korean models, green-minded buyers looking for alternatives would be well advised to check out the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Plug-in Hybrid.

Stay Plugged In!

The plug-based model, in particular, offers the longest range of any midsize PHEV on the U.S. market and its gas-electric driveline provides one of the smoothest, most transparent rides of any plug-in we’ve so far tested.

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Fiat Reveals New 4-Door Aegea Project

A Dart for the rest of the world?

by on May.22, 2015

Fiat unveiled the Fiat Aegea Project concept at the Istanbul Motor Show today. The car uses the Dodge Dart platform.

For those familiar with the pint-sized Fiat 500, the new Aegea concept is likely to seem positively huge.

The new concept vehicle, dubbed the Fiat Aegea Project, was unveiled today at the Istanbul Motor Show – an appropriate reference to the coast of Turkey where Fiat Chrysler Automobiles operates a major assembly plant.

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The dimensions shouldn’t be all that surprising once you realize this is a second take on the Dodge Dart platform – itself an update of an older Fiat chassis, originally used for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Initial reaction suggests FCA may actually have come up with the best design of all with the Aegea. (more…)

Insurers Overcharging Low-Mileage Drivers, Consumer Group Claims

Link between mileage and claims largely ignored.

by on May.22, 2015

Despite being at a lower risk of crashing, study finds low-mileage drivers are over-charged.

Even though they tend to file significantly fewer claims, a new study says auto insurers typically fail to give discounts to motorists who clock low mileage.

Only State Farm, among all the major auto insurance companies, routinely provided a discount for those who put on about 5,000 miles a year – roughly a third of the national norm – according to the study by the Consumer Federation of America.

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“The failure of most large insurers to adequately reward low mileage especially harms lower income and older drivers because they drive the least,” said Stephen Brobeck, CFA’s executive director.

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GM and Disney Take a Trip to Tomorrowland

Film showcases five classic concept vehicles – and a few modern ones.

by on May.22, 2015

The winged Firebird III concept car was one of several GM developed to showcase turbine power.

Is it back to the future…or forward into the past?

The new Disney movie, Tomorrowland, sets actor George Clooney out on a search for a secret location caught between time and space. And among the discoveries they make when they get there are a collection of classic General Motors concept vehicles, including the jet-powered Firebird III and the Space Age Astro II.

Always Looking Ahead!

“Tomorrowland is a place where nothing is impossible, which is something that Chevrolet believes can exist in the here and now,” Tim Mahoney, vice president, Global Chevrolet, said when announcing GM’s participation in the Disney flick – which also showcases several modern vehicles including the next-generation Chevy Volt.

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Twist of a Knob to Make Towing a Trailer Easier with 2016 Ford F-150

New technology modeled on parking assist system.

by on May.21, 2015

Ford is introducing its ProTrailer Assist technology that makes it easier for drivers to back up with a trailer hitched to the truck.

With Memorial Day ushering in the official start of the summer season, expect to see more and more people towing boats and trailers – and to hear more motorists cussing as they struggle to hitch up and move those trailers.

The process can be a frustrating chore, especially for novices, but Ford Motor Co. promises to make it a bit easier with the addition of its new “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” system which will make its debut on the 2016 version of the full-size F-150 pickup. And all it will take is the twist of a knob.

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“Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a smart solution to save time and increase productivity for our customers,” said Doug Scott, marketing manager, Ford Truck Group. “Instead of struggling to back up their trailer, they can spend more time on the job or enjoying the lake.” (more…)

Honda Shifting from Cars to Trucks

Maker searching for more “white space” opportunities.

by on May.21, 2015

Honda's 2016 Pilot begins rolling off the company's assembly line in Lincoln, Alabama, today.

Things will be getting busy at the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama plant today – make that busier – as the first of the maker’s new 2016 Pilot SUVs begins rolling down the line.

It’s the third-generation version of the three-row ute that has become not just one of the most popular vehicles in its segment but a symbol of some major changes at the Japanese brand. Long focused on sedans and coupes like the Accord and Civic, Honda is steadily shifting emphasis from passenger cars to sport- and crossover-utility vehicles.

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Already, truck models make up 49% of total U.S. production, noted John Mendel, Honda’s top U.S. executive, “and we could flex that even further,” he said during a teleconference with reporters marking the launch of Pilot production. “That depends on the car market and how much the truck market grows.” (more…)

Autonomous Vehicles Could Lead to Sharp Slump in Car Sales

Levels could drop below Great Recession numbers, analyst predicts.

by on May.20, 2015

If sales of autonomous vehicles, like Google's, take off, it could have a significant impact on new vehicle sales.

Sometime next year, General Motors will introduce the SuperDrive system on the new Cadillac CT6 sedan. Capable of hands-free freeway motoring, it will help usher in an era of autonomous driving that proponents – including GM – believe will revolutionize the transportation industry.

But a new study warns that not all the changes to come will be good for GM and other automakers. Titled “Disruptive Mobility,” and produced by Brian Johnson, a Barclays automotive analyst, it warns that self-driving vehicles could lead to a sharp drop in U.S. car sales in the years ahead.

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Over the next 25 years, as autonomous vehicles become the norm, rather than the exception, the study predicts U.S. car sales will drop from nearly 17 million this year to perhaps 9.5 million. That’s even lower than what the industry experienced during the depths of the Great Recession. (more…)