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FCA, BMW, Intel and Mobileye Team Up to Develop Autonomous Vehicles

Tomorrow’s driverless cars bringing together some strange bedfellows.

by on Aug.16, 2017

Fiat Chrysler's Sergio Marchionne said the partnership with Waymo that produced the autonomous Chrysler Pacifica wouldn't be monogamous.

When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles linked up with Google spinoff Waymo last year, CEO Sergio Marchionne hinted it wasn’t going to be a monogamous relationship – and he wasn’t kidding. FCA today announced it will also pair up with erstwhile rival BMW, as well as tech firms Intel and Mobileye to work together on the development of autonomous vehicles.

The announcement is the latest in a series of high-tech tie-ups linking traditionally competing carmakers, as well as a mix of tech giants and ambitious start-ups. Just last week, for example, Intel entered a new alliance with Toyota, dubbed the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium, which is aimed at driving more data into and out of tomorrow’s smart and autonomous vehicles.

Technology News!

“In order to advance autonomous driving technology, it is vital to form partnerships among automakers, technology providers and suppliers,” said FCA Chief Marchionne. “Joining this cooperation will enable FCA to directly benefit from the synergies and economies of scale that are possible when companies come together with a common vision and objective.” (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Chevrolet Traverse

Room and refinement help second-generation midsize SUV stand out.

by on Aug.16, 2017

The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse will hit showrooms later this year with a slew of upgrades and a new transmission.

We’ve all used the term, “dog years,” to talk about how fast some things age. Nowhere does that better apply than an automobile. And these days, new vehicles seem to age faster and faster because there’s more and more competition. So, it’s a surprise that General Motors let its Chevrolet Traverse grow so old.

First introduced in late 2009 as a 2010 model, it’s as old as anything in the midsize SUV segment, not exactly a plus these days. But if we had to wait, it’s good to see what Chevy is finally bringing to market for 2018. The second-generation Traverse is bigger and roomier, yet lighter and more fuel-efficient, quick and reasonable nimble, and it offers a lot of appealing new features and a level of overall refinement missing from the original version.

Product News!

Or so we found out during a family getaway earlier this month making the five-hour run to Michigan’s favorite summer resort, the lakeside Traverse City, and back. The drive wasn’t perfect. We did experience one annoying problem – a rattle – in our late prototype along the way, though one that Chevy engineers already knew about and promise to have fixed before the ’18 models roll into showrooms. (more…)

BMW Teases Z4 Concept Ahead of Pebble Beach Unveiling

Bavarian marque teases one of two new reveals for Concours.

by on Aug.15, 2017

The new BMW Z4 Concept teases a roadster developed as part of a partnership with Toyota.

There were more than a few tears shed when BMW announced that its long-in-the-tooth Z4 Roadster was going away. And what might follow was clouded in some confusion considering all the upcoming changes to the maker’s line-up.

But was got a hint that an all-new version of the Z4 was in the works last month and now, the Bavarian maker says it will give us more details later this week during the unveiling of the new BMW Z4 Concept at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance over the weekend.

Future Product!

A new teaser image gives us a good look at both the front end and side of the roadster show car, the concept expected to hew closely to what the production model will look like when revealed in the near future. Among the details we’re hoping to confirm is speculation that the new model will share the same platform as the next-generation Toyota Supra.

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Germany, Home of the Autobahn, Could Be Next to Begin Phase-Out of Internal Combustion Engine

“The approach is the right one,” says Chancellor Angela Merkel.

by on Aug.15, 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, with several former Opel executives.

It’s the home of the Autobahn, super-smooth highways where German motorists can generally drive as fast as their gas and diesel-powered cars will allow. But Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled that Germany’s drivers may soon have to switch to battery-electric and other zero-emissions vehicles.

In an interview with the country’s Super Illu weekly, Merkel expressed support for new plans to phase out the internal combustion engine in countries including Norway and the United Kingdom.

Global News!

“The approach is the right one,” she said, though the Chancellor hesitated about offering a precise timetable for such a move in Germany, saying, “I can’t give you a precise year yet.”

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Pushing the Limits in the 2018 Ford F-150 Limited

Review: We put Ford's work and luxury truck through its paces.

by on Aug.14, 2017

It can be a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

It’s confession time: few things scare me more than having to back up a trailer – like the one carrying the big boat I was to drive down the ramp and load into Portage Lake last Friday.

It takes confidence, patience and skill to avoid doing some serious damage, or at least embarrassingly yourself in front of the folks watching as you slip into reverse. Alternatively, it helps to have a Ford F-150 pickup equipped with the maker’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist system, something that makes the process about as simple as playing a videogame.

Reviews You Can Trust!

Pro Trailer Assist was one of a handful of features I got to try this past week while checking out the newly updated 2018 Ford F-150. My mule for the day: a fully loaded 4×4 version of the 3.5-liter Limited Crew Cab edition, at $64,440 – plus $1,295 in destination fees – one of the most lavishly equipped and expensive half-ton pickups on the market.

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More Power, Better Mileage, More Features – Ford Wants to Expand F-Series’ Lead

Add some subtle design tweaks for 2018.

by on Aug.14, 2017

The 2018 Ford F-150 gets a slew up updates under the hood and on the outside.

If you’re a fan of Ford’s F-150 you’ll quickly spot some changes for 2018, starting with the new “C-Clamp” headlights and updated grille and taillamps.

But that’s just where things start for the upcoming model-year, according to the Detroit automaker. The new F-Series line-up will get a big boost in power on two of its five powertrain options, while increasing fuel economy across the board. There are also an array of new and updated features that, Ford is betting, will help keep momentum building as it gains market share at the expense of key competitors Chevrolet and Ram.

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“The 2018 F-Series is even tougher, even smart, even more capable,” boasted Todd Eckert, Ford’s truck marketing manager, during a background media briefing on the updates to what has been, for four decades, the best-selling pickup on the U.S. market. (more…)

Infiniti Goes Forward into the Past with Retro-Futuristic Prototype 9.

Modern take on old racer integrates future electric drivetrain.

by on Aug.14, 2017

The Infiniti Prototype 9.

Grand prix racer or classic Indy 500 entry? You might get to wondering when you get your first look at the Infiniti Prototype 9, especially if that happens out at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance next weekend.

But despite going to the world’s most famous classic car event to reveal one-seat racer, this is not a competitor to one of the original Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows. What Infiniti is calling “a journey back in time,” is actually a completely modern take, down to its fully electric drivetrain.

Classic News!

“Prototype 9 celebrates the tradition of ingenuity, craftsmanship and passion of our forebears at Nissan Motor Corporation, on whose shoulders we stand today,” says Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti’s Senior Vice President, Global Design.

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Bid Rejected, but Will Another Chinese Offer Soon Follow

Chinese may be only ones left to fill CEO Marchionne’s search for partner or buyer.

by on Aug.14, 2017

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne is looking for an alliance, but hasn't ruled out selling the company outright.

Though Fiat Chrysler Automobiles appears to have rejected an acquisition bid from an unnamed Chinese automaker, many analysts and observers are now betting the Detroit carmaker will eventually partner up with, and possibly sell out to, a deep-pocketed Chinese manufacturer with global aspirations.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has made no secret of his desire to find a partner, and possibly a buyer. But after being rejected by a range of major manufacturers, including General Motors, PSA and Volkswagen, the Chinese may present his best, and possibly his only remaining, opportunity, several sources told TheDetroitBureau.com.

Global Auto News!

“We could see a mad scramble among the top three of four players in China to tie up with an American partner and FCA is the one most open,” said Joe Phillippi, head of AutoTrends Consulting. (more…)

Roadkill Nights Comes on Strong

Fan crowd Woodward Avenue to catch event.

by on Aug.14, 2017

Thousands of Dodge and muscle car fans flocked to Pontiac, Michigan, for Roadkill Nights.

Despite some rain showers that left a quarter mile of Woodward Avenue’s asphalt too wet for the final heats, “Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge” again drew a large crowd of car buffs, young and old to Pontiac, a suburb north of Detroit.

“I’m a gear head,” said Cameron Milavec, 18, of New Baltimore, Michigan, who drove in with a group of friends as evening settled over Pontiac’s M1-Concourse, the 87-acre “playground for automobiles,” which has become the venue of choice for the event with its noise and smoking tires and fast cars.

News You Can Trust!

“We’re into diesels,” said Milavec, who explained both he and his pal, River Lamb, 18, also of New Baltimore, own diesel-powered heavy-duty pickups as they watched the last-ditch effort to dry off the track under bright floodlights for what would have been the final heats of the day. (more…)

Toyota, Intel, Others Form “Big Data” Consortium

Move aimed to support era of smart, autonomous vehicles.

by on Aug.11, 2017

The Toyota FCV Plus cconcept is the sort of futuristic vehicle that will consumer lots of data.

More and more American homes are being wired up for super-high-speed Internet service to handle the demands for gaming, streaming video and home automation devices. But with the age of connected and autonomous vehicles soon expected to become a reality, one of the big challenges will be to create a mobile “big data” ecosystem.

Tomorrow’s cars will need to not only talk to one another but access incredibly detailed, real-time 3D maps constantly updated to show both traffic and disruptions like road work. That could require a flow of information rivaling what goes in and out of a high-tech home, but without the wired data pipeline.

Tech News!

To address the challenges this will create, Toyota is setting up a new consortium with tech giants Intel and Ericsson, Japanese telecomm firm NTT DoCoMo, and auto parts firm Denso. Toyota also says it will leave the new Automotive Edge Computing Consortium open for other “relevant” tech and automotive companies to join.

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