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Jaguar-Land Rover Not Ready to Plug In

by on Nov.25, 2015

A Jaguar F-Type with JLR CEO Ralf Speth and Tata Motors founder Ratan Tata.

When it revealed a trio of battery-based prototypes, collectively known as Concept_e, in September, Jaguar Land Rover appeared ready to join key rivals set to electrify their luxury line-ups.

But talk of plug-in and pure battery-electric SUVs and sedans may be a bit premature, according to JLR Chief Executive Ralf Speth. While “it is clear” the British maker will eventually have to go that route to meet tough new global emissions and mileage mandates, “it will take quite a while,” he told during an interview.

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“There is only one way you have to go” because of the new rules, said Speth, but JLR is waiting for improved batteries and an expanded charging infrastructure before it makes a serious push into electrification beyond the diesel hybrid Land Rover model it introduced in Europe.


NHTSA Delays “Quiet Car” EV Ruling

Pushback will delay program until 2018 model-year.

by on Nov.25, 2015

The new rules would cover not only pure EVs but plug-ins and hybrids running in electric mode.

Federal regulators have delayed a proposed rule that would require new battery-based vehicles to emit warning sounds to reduce the likelihood of hitting a pedestrian or bicycle rider, especially those who are sight-impaired.

The rules, which were supposed to be finalized this month, would create a common standard for vehicles operating at low speeds in electric mode. Currently, a handful of models do produce warning sounds, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to come up with a standard alert that can be easily recognized.

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Pedestrian fatalities rose 3.1% last year compared to 2013, according to federal statistics, though there are no clear data to indicate whether the growing number of hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles played a role in that increase.


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.


After Long Decline, Traffic Deaths Again on the Rise

"These numbers are a wake-up call," warns Rosekind.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Government data suggest distracted driving is responsible for at least 10% of fatalities.

Traffic deaths spiked by 8% during the first half of the year, according to a new federal report, reversing a decade-long downward trend.

Officials point to a variety of factors that may be behind the unexpected increase, including both lower fuel prices and the improving economy. That has led to more Americans driving more frequently and for longer distances. A new AAA report, for example, indicates 42 million Americans will drive at least 42 miles over the coming Thanksgiving holiday.

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“These numbers are a wake-up call,” said Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


Thanksgiving Week Wrecks Likely to Spike Up to 34%

Nearly 42 million Americans expected to travel as gas prices plunge.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Crashes tend to spike during the holiday.

Between the holiday feasting and the Black Friday sales, Americans will be spending a lot of time on the road in the coming week, and whether it’s a little much turkey or a lack of sleep making them drowsy and distracted, highway crashes have a tendency to spike sharply around Thanksgiving.

The situation has apparently gotten worse since stores have extended their hours to draw in bigger crowds for the annual, pre-Christmas shopping extravaganza, according to new data from Progressive Insurance.

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This week could see even higher crash numbers as cheap fuel encourages more motorists to drive for the holiday. According to a forecast by AAA, nearly 50 million Americans will drive more than 50 miles this week.


Tesla Model X to Start at $80,000

Electric SUV carries $5,000 premium over Model S sedan.

by on Nov.24, 2015

The new Tesla Model X opens its Falcon Doors.

Tesla’s new Model X battery-electric SUV will carry a starting price of $80,000 – before adding delivery charges and subtracting the $7,500 federal tax credit.

A fully loaded version of the Tesla Model X P90D Signature Edition will come in at $132,000. That will include Tesla’s new Ludicrous Mode, which will allow the big battery ute to launch from 0 to 60 in just 3.2 seconds, making it one of the world’s fastest utility vehicles.

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Tesla has opened up its online configurator to allow buyers to choose options. But they will have to wait for delivery, the first Tesla Model X SUVs not expected to reach U.S. buyers until early in the new year. And the company plans to start deliveries with the top-line Model X P90D. There’ll be an even longer wait for the base car.


Global Survey Finds Strong Interest in Autonomous Vehicles

But serious doubts about safety linger.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Drivers continue to express an increasing interest in autonomous vehicle technology.

As automakers get closer to putting the first autonomous vehicles on the road they’re finding growing interest in the new technology, a new study of potential buyers in the U.S. and nine other major markets revealing that 60% of consumers would be willing to travel in a fully self-driving car.

Consumers expect some significant benefits from the new technology, including easier parking and the ability to multitask, according to the report being released today by the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group.

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But while many proponents of autonomous technology expect the biggest payoff to come in the form of improved safety – some predicting a world where highway fatalities become a rare, rather than routine, occurrence – a majority of those surveyed admit being worried about the safety of driverless vehicles. (more…)

First Drive: 2016 Toyota Prius

New look, new suspension - great mileage and moderate improvements to ride.

by on Nov.23, 2015

The top-line Toyota Prius Four Touring model starts at $30,000 plus delivery fees.

In an era when so many cars have a tendency to look alike, the Toyota Prius has been an unabashed, if somewhat geeky, standout. Of course, it’s what’s below the skin that really makes the difference. The Prius was the world’s first hybrid-electric vehicle when it made its debut in Japan in 1997 and, ever since, it has overwhelmingly dominated that segment worldwide.

But times have changed, and the third-generation Toyota Prius has been losing a lot of sales momentum this year. There are several reasons why, perhaps most notably the sharp slide in fuel prices that has reduced demand for all “green” vehicles. But there are other factors, among other things that geeky design and the less than thrilling ride offered by the old Prius.

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And those are issues Toyota has set out to address with the fourth-generation hybrid. The 2016 Toyota Prius gets a complete, top-to-bottom makeover: new skin, a new platform, a new independent rear suspension — and an updated Hybrid Synergy Drive system that delivers as much as 10% better mileage.


Forget Hybrids and Hydrogen Cars; Some Just Have to Have a V-12

Mercedes shifts line, boosts 12-cylinder production.

by on Nov.23, 2015

Daimler has moved production of its V-12 engines to Mannheim to boost production.

Facing tough new mileage and emissions standards, automakers have been shifting to smaller and more environmentally friendly powertrains. The V-8s that once dominated the American highway have become more and more uncommon as even performance cars switch to downsized turbo and hybrid alternatives.

Yet, some buyers just aren’t ready to switch, and that’s led to a bit of a renaissance for one type of engine environmentalists would clearly love to see vanish in the junkyard. Demand has been so strong, in fact, that Daimler AG has moved its V-12 engine line to a new plant in order to boost production.

Firing on All Cylinders!

“Supplying our customers as fast as possible is highly important to us,” says Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. “We do not have any possibilities for expansion in Affalterbach at present, so we have decided to transfer the assembly of the twelve-cylinder engines to the Daimler site in Mannheim.”


Ford F-150 Named Green Truck of the Year

Ram ProMaster City named Commercial Green Car.

by on Nov.23, 2015

Ford scored by adding a CNG and propane option for the 2016 version of the F-150.

The Ford F-150 pickup has been named the Green Truck of the Year, while the Ram ProMaster City has been declared the Commercial Green Car of the Year.

You might find it difficult to use the words, “green,” and “pickup truck” in the same sentence, but manufacturers have been striving to make even the biggest vehicles on the road more environmentally friendly, as reflected in a pair of new awards.

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“Over the past few decades, new car models have benefitted from design and technology improvements that have brought higher fuel efficiency and greater levels of environmental compatibility,” said Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal, which hands out the annual awards. “We’re witnessing the pickup and light commercial vehicle field enjoying the same attention.”