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Ford to Test Online Sales in China

Expected to announce partnership with Chinese online giant Alibaba on Thursday.

by on Dec.06, 2017

Up til now, Ford and its Lincoln brand have relied on a relatively conventional dealer model in China.

The vast majority of car buyers around the world now rely on the Internet during at least some part of the shopping process, according to industry data, but Ford Motor Co. is expected to take the next big step this week as it announces a new partnership with Chinese online retail giant Alibaba.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett and Chairman Bill Ford are expected to attend a ceremony in Hangzhou on Thursday where they will be joined by representatives of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to announce new venture that could include the use of a new “auto vending machine” store concept, reports the Reuters news service.

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The tie-up, which is also expected to involve at least some of Ford’s existing Chinese dealers, will come just days after the Detroit-based automaker announced plans to launch 50 new vehicles in the booming Asian nation, 15 of them to rely on electrified propulsion technology. Ford is making an aggressive push to expand its presence in China where it lags well behind rivals General Motors and Volkswagen. (more…)

Forget Those Smokestacks; Transportation Now the #1 U.S. Source of Greenhouse Gas

Gap is widening as power plant operators shift to renewables and natural gas.

by on Dec.05, 2017

Even though automakers have been reducing emissions, transportation sources haven't kept up with gains by power plant generation.

They were once the symbol of American manufacturing might, though in recent decades industrial smokestacks – and power plants, in particular – have come to represent a major problem as the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

But that has seen a radical shift. For the first time in 40 years, power plants are no longer the single-largest source of global warming gases. That dubious honor now goes to the transportation sector, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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That includes a broad mix of different sources within the transport sector, reports Bloomberg News, which analyzed the EIA data, including automobiles and trucks, as well as aircraft, trains and boats.

(more…)

Ford Adding 50 New Vehicles in China, 15 of Them “Electrified”

Detroit automaker hopes to regain momentum in world's largest auto market.

by on Dec.05, 2017

Ford's Peter Fleet faces a tough challenge gaining share in a slowing Chinese market.

Ford, a latecomer to the booming Chinese automotive market, said Tuesday it will launch 50 new models there by 2025, 15 of them “electrified.”

The announcement, made in Shanghai on Tuesday, is meant to shore up the company’s presence in the world’s largest automotive market — Ford’s Chinese sales sagging in recent months. It also indicates the Detroit-based carmaker will fall in line as Chinese regulators push the industry to introduce more low and zero-emissions vehicles in an effort to deal with endemic pollution problems.

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“Between now and 2025, we will launch 50 new vehicles in China, and of those 50 new vehicles, 15 of them will be all-new electrified vehicles,” said Peter Fleet, Ford’s head of Asia Pacific operations.

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GM Marketplace Will Let You Order Coffee, Donuts, Even Make Reservations While Driving

Automakers look for new revenue sources; see big opportunities when driverless vehicles come to market.

by on Dec.05, 2017

A customer places an order for coffee to go using the new GM Marketplace service.

Every morning, millions of American commuters stop for fuel or coffee on the way to work, and the new GM Marketplace is designed to make that process even quicker and easier.

Now, with the tap of a button on their vehicle’s touchscreen, motorists driving late-model General Motors vehicles will be able to order coffee or food from several popular fast food chains, such as Starbucks, locate a nearby gas station, even make dinner or hotel reservations using the Priceline service. It’s part of a push by GM and other automakers to provide new, in-vehicle features that could become major sources of revenues as autonomous and fully driverless vehicles come to market in the near future.

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“The average American spends 46 minutes per day on the road driving,” said Santiago Chamorro, vice president for global connected customer experience at GM. “We have an opportunity to make every trip more productive and give our customers time back.”

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Lamborghini Officially Enters Super-SUV Market With Debut of 2019 Urus

Italian exotic maker expects first ute to double its sales.

by on Dec.04, 2017

Lamborghini will deliver the first Urus models to showrooms by spring of next year.

We can expect the new Lamborghini Urus to be quick – and that’s not only on the track. The Italian exotic automaker is looking to more than double its size with the launch of the long-awaited SUV.

Lambo joins a growing list of ultra-premium and supercar manufacturers that have bowed to the seemingly inevitable dominance of the sport-utility vehicle, joining such brands as Bentley and Porsche, while Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and even Ferrari have now confirmed plans to add ute models. For the moment, only McLaren remains a hold-out.

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“The Lamborghini Urus is a visionary approach based on the infusion of Lamborghini DNA into the most versatile vehicle, the SUV,” proclaimed Stefano Domenicali, Automobili Lamborghini Chairman and Chief Executive Officer during a preview at the company’s headquarters in suburban Modena, Italy. “It is the culmination of intensive development and passionate skill to create a new breed of bull (that) opens the door to new possibilities, for both our brand and our customers.”

(more…)

Aria FXE has American Supercar Fans Singing a New Tune

California-based maker uses gas/electric combo to hit 1,150 horsepower.

by on Dec.01, 2017

Aria's new FXE uses a gasoline engine and two electric motors to produce 1,150 horsepower.

Aria is singing a tune it hopes some American performance car fans will like, the California-based start-up revealing an 1,150 horsepower, U.S.-made supercar that it says will be able to hit a top speed of 220 mph.

The Aria FXE concept should enter production within two years, the company said during its news conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It’s the second prototype the Irvine-based company has brought to the show, following the debut of the Aria FE a year ago.

Fueling Up on News!

Aria is one of a growing array of start-ups in the U.S. and abroad hoping to get into the supercar market – though a number of others, including Lucid and Faraday Future, have been turning to purely electric propulsion. (more…)

Volvo Subscription Plan for XC40 to Start at $600 a Month

Program will cover everything from car to insurance for set rate.

by on Dec.01, 2017

Volvo CEO Anders Gustafsson and Heith Rogers talk as Rogers signed up for an XC40 through the Care by Volvo plan at the L.A. Auto Show.

This story contains updated information.

Volvo buyers who want to skip the hassle of negotiating a deal on the 2018 XC40 will be able to sign up for the new Care by Volvo subscription plan and, for a flat $600 a month, get not only the compact SUV but also their insurance, title and other fees, as well as repairs and maintenance thrown in, as well.

Volvo is betting that, in an era when consumers are shifting more and more to monthly subscription models, some car buyers will also look forward to having a set price covering all their transportation expenses but for gasoline.

Auto Show News!

The automaker had announced the Care program several months ago but only revealed pricing this week during a news conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It demonstrated the ease of the process by having buyer Heith Rogers sign up for a new Volvo XC40 subscription on stage. It took the Los Angeles resident less than 10 minutes to lock things down. (more…)

BMW’s Concept X7 Joining Wave of Big, Bigger, Biggest Luxury SUVs

Lexus, others expected to push utes further up-market.

by on Dec.01, 2017

Expect to see a production version of the BMW Concept X7 sometime next year.

Few automakers had a bigger presence at the L.A. Auto Show’s media preview this week than BMW, its stand filled with an array of new production vehicles, concepts and even a battery-electric motorcycle.

The biggest of those products was the Concept X7, a massive sport-utility vehicle making its North American debut. Though a prototype for now, BMW officials made it clear that a production model is already in the works.

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BMW isn’t alone. While Lexus used the Los Angeles show to preview a stretched version of its midsize RX utility vehicle, expect a much more lavish, full-size crossover model to follow. Where sedans like the BMW 7-Series long served as brand flagships, large utes are rapidly taking over, even Rolls-Royce developing one for its own line-up. (more…)

Toyota Setting up LA Plant to Convert Animal Waste to Clean Hydrogen

California pilot program could keep thousands of zero-emissions cars, trucks fueled up.

by on Nov.30, 2017

Toyota's Doug Murtha talks about the automaker's hydrogen plant during the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Animal waste from the farms of California’s fertile Central Valley will soon be used to fuel up a new generation of ultra-clean cars and trucks, Toyota announced Thursday during a news conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

One of the industry’s biggest proponents of fuel-cell vehicles, or FCVs, Toyota hopes the Tri-Gen Project it is setting up at the Port of Long Beach, in suburban Los Angeles, will help overcome the chicken-and-egg problem that has so far limited acceptance of hydrogen power: the lack of a production and distribution network.

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“We believe hydrogen technology has the potential to become the powertrain of the future,” said Doug Murtha, a group vice president for strategic planning with Toyota’s North American operations. Adding the project, which will generate 1.2 tons of hydrogen a day, will be “a key milestone in Toyota’s larger commitment to clean mobility.” (more…)

Nissan Rolls Out Seven Star Wars-Themed Vehicles at L.A. Auto Show

Use the Force, Nissan.

by on Nov.30, 2017

Nissan continues unveiling new Star Wars-themed vehicles, including the Titan ATM-6 at the LA Auto Show.

Nissan is clearly hoping the Force is with it. The Japanese automaker launched a tie-up with that galactic powerhouse, the Star Wars empire, last year, going so far as to build a full-size Tie Fighter for use at several of its auto show stands. Now, it’s upping the ante.

For the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show Nissan has created a full seven custom vehicles based on Star Wars lore, including one revealed to a crowd of journalists Thursday morning that blends a heavy duty laser cannon with one of its Titan pickups.

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There’s a new series of television and Internet commercials that show Nissan owners fantasizing about dodging dogfights and Storm Troopers. And beloved ‘droid characters like R2D2 and BB8 are helping sell Nissan products through the use of a new augmented reality system being installed at Nissan’s U.S. showrooms. (more…)