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Truck Carrying Takata Airbags Explodes, Killing One, Injuring Four

Supplier’s inflators already blamed for 14 deaths.

by on Aug.29, 2016

A drone image shows the scene of a Takata truck explosion. Photo courtesy Jalopnik.com.

A 69-year-old woman was killed as the result of a crash and subsequent explosion involving a truck carrying airbag inflators and the explosive ammonium nitrate used in those devices that was bound for a Takata Corp. warehouse in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Takata is the Japanese airbag supplier whose faulty inflators have so far been blamed for at least 14 deaths worldwide. That has triggered the recall of about 50 million inflators in the U.S. and more than 100 million worldwide.

Breaking News!

The incident occurred last week on U.S. Highway 277 not far from the Southern Texas Takata plant when the truck, operated by a contractor, was involved in a crash. The driver, 20-year-old Mario Alberto Rodriguez, and a passenger were able to escape before the vehicle caught fire and exploded. But the inferno that touched off damaged or destroyed a number of nearby homes, including one in which victim Lucila Robles was living.

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Canadian Auto Workers OK Strike at Detroit’s Big Three

Union demanding new investments but automakers want cost cuts.

by on Aug.29, 2016

GM has cut thousands of jobs in Canada, most recently by moving Camaro production to Michigan.

Union workers in Canada have overwhelmingly authorized union leaders to call a strike next month as contract talks with Detroit’s Big Three automakers race towards their deadline.

Negotiations have turned contentious in recent weeks as the two sides struggle to find common ground amidst conflicting demands. Unifor, the union representing thousands of Canadian auto line workers, wants General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler to commit to new investments that would keep the country’s auto plants open. But the Detroit makers are, in turn, demanding cost cuts they claim are necessary to remain competitive.

News Now!

Workers voted almost unanimously to approve strikes, and “With this clear mandate our members have demonstrated they are in full support of their bargaining committees and our direction in this set of negotiations,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias.

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Bigger Isn’t Better When it Comes to Uber Profits

Report estimates leading ride-share service lost $1.3 billion.

by on Aug.26, 2016

A subscriber orders a car through the Uber app.

It may be the nation’s leading ride-sharing service, but that hasn’t helped Uber deliver a profit.

The Silicon Valley start-up lost a hefty $1.3 billion during the first half of the year, according to a report by the Bloomberg news service which cited sources with access to a conference call the company had with its investors.

Come Along for the Ride!

According to the report, Uber finance chief revealed that the ride-sharing service went $520 million into the red during the first quarter of the year, with another $750 million loss racked up during the April-June quarter.

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Dealers Latest to Settle With VW Over Diesel Scandal

Funds to be paid out over 18 months.

by on Aug.25, 2016

Livingston VW, of Woodland Hills, CA, is one of the maker's 650 American franchisees.

(This story has been updated to reflect the cost of the new settlement.)

Two months after agreeing to a $14.7 billion deal with federal regulators over its cheating on diesel emissions tests, Volkswagen has reached another settlement covering its 650 U.S. dealers.

The maker will pay about $1.2 billion over the next 18 months to cover the losses dealers claim to have run up as a result of the scandal, in large part due to a sharp drop in the maker’s sales. Along with cash payments, VW will provide “additional benefits” to those dealers. The announcement moves Volkswagen closer to resolving its ongoing legal problems, though it still faces a number of additional challenges, including lawsuits by shareholders.

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Breaking News!

“We believe this agreement in principle with Volkswagen dealers is a very important step in our commitment to making things right for all our stakeholders in the United States,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North American Region, Volkswagen. “This agreement, when finalized, will strengthen the foundation for our future together and further emphasize our commitment both to our partners and the U.S. market.”

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Expansive Cadillac Product Plan Getting Squeezed

Product portfolio delayed, some models could be cut.

by on Aug.25, 2016

Cadillac smooths out the edges of its Art & Design design language with the Escala concept.

(This story has been updated to include additional insight into Cadillac plans, including the brand halo product frequently referred to as the CT8.)

Cadillac offered a hint of its future design direction last week, in the form of the Escala concept car unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. But plans to launch a large luxury sedan that might share that design theme have been delayed and could even be cut, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

With General Motors’ flagship luxury brand struggling to boost U.S. sales, despite the addition of several new models, Caddy is facing the prospect that the aggressive product growth strategy outlined by brand boss Johan de Nysschen will be sharply paired back, according to various company sources and industry observers. Among the projects being delayed are the full-size sedan, which was expected to be called either the CT8 or CT9, but also the twin-turbo V-8 that would be used to power it.

What a Concept!

While the South African-born de Nysschen declined to discuss specific changes to the Cadillac product program, he did indicate there could be some slowdowns during a conversation following the reveal of the Escala show car. The twin-turbo V-8, for example, might not make it into production until “the next-generation CT6.” Since biggest sedan in Caddy’s current fleet just came to market, that might mean the high-performance engine wouldn’t be available until around the 2023 or 2024 model-year.

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Forget Sports Cars, SUVs Set to Dominate Super-Premium Luxury Market

Utility vehicles likely to be best-sellers for brands like Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, even Rolls-Royce.

by on Aug.24, 2016

Lamborghini first revealed the Urus SUV concept at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show.

They’re both known for their high-performance sports cars, but when Aston Martin and Lamborghini launch two of their most critical models ever, both in 2019, the focus of the two brands will shift to sport-utility vehicles.

If all goes according to plan, those two models, the Aston Martin DBX and the production version of the Lamborghini Urus concept, will generate at least 50% or more of their sales. But that’s far from precedent setting. Best known for sports cars like the 911 and the Boxster, it’s the Cayenne and Macan SUVs that already generate the biggest sales numbers for Porsche.

Insight!

Super-premium utility vehicles are “going to be the hottest segment in the luxury market,” said Simon Sproule, the chief marketing officer for Aston. “As with the mainstream market, that’s what people want to drive.”

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Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Looks Back at the Future

Massive coupe offers hint of new life for ultra-premium brand.

by on Aug.19, 2016

That hood seems to stretch to the horizon - which is surprising for an electric vehicle.

Mercedes is going forward into the past with the retro-futuristic concept it has unveiled ahead of the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

At a full 18.5 feet, and painted in a vibrant, eye-catching red, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 is almost certain to be one of the stand-outs among a collection of show cars assembled for the classic car show. And while there are no plans to put the boast-tailed coupe into production, Mercedes officials hint it could influence models as the maker presses further into the ultra-luxury market.

Show Cars!

While the maker bridles at the term, “retro,” there is no question the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 delves into the brand’s past for its inspiration, said Davis Lee, the senior designer who gets credit for the concept. “Fundamental beauty never changes,” he told TheDetroitBureau.com, adding that, “This is very true” to Mercedes’ history.

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Cadillac Shifts Design Direction with Escala Concept

A more buttoned-down take on Art & Science.

by on Aug.19, 2016

Cadillac smooths out the edges of its Art & Design design language with the Escala concept.

It’s been more than a decade since Cadillac set out to rebuild its once trend-setting credentials with the introduction of the edgy Art & Science design language. Since the debut of the first generation CTS sedan, it’s been tweaking the theme but as General Motors’ luxury brand gets set for what it’s calling an “unprecedented” product blitz, it seems we’re in for another major design makeover.

But if anyone was expecting an equally radical new look, it seems that Caddy is going in a different, more buttoned-down direction. The new Cadillac Escala Concept making its debut ahead of this weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance won’t get lost in the crowd, but it’s certainly not the bold showstoppers of other recent Caddy concepts, like the Elmiraj Coupe Concept that was unveiled in Pebble Beach three years ago.

What a Concept!

The concept “marks an inflection point” for Cadillac, said its President Johan de Nysschen, who declared the Escala, “the next design chapter” for the brand, and promised key elements of the show car “will be incorporated in every one of our new products over the next five years.”

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Mazda Plans Limited Edition Miata RF Launch Edition

“Loyal” MX-5 owners to get first crack.

by on Aug.18, 2016

The Mazda MX-5 Miata FR made its formal debut at the 2016 New York Auto Show.

Mazda will mark the New Year with the launch of the new MX-5 Miata RF, and it says  its “most loyal customers” will have reason to celebrate because they will get first crack at ordering the distinctive retractable fastback model that made its debut at the New York International Auto Show last March.

A special MX-5 RF Launch Edition model will be available and will feature just one option: the choice of a SkyActive-MT six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission.

Product News!

“Rarely does any automaker have a vehicle that garners the sort of loyalty and enthusiasm MX-5 generates,” said Robert Davis, senior vice president with Mazda North American Operations, “something we don’t take lightly. MX-5 RF is the next chapter of this storied model line, and we can’t think of a better way to give back than to first offer this bespoke Launch Edition to those who have stuck with us.”

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As Waters Dry, Beware of Buying Flood-Damaged Cars

Storms may have ruined 1,000s of vehicles.

by on Aug.17, 2016

A car sits in flood waters in Louisiana this past week. Photos courtesy NBCNews.

Devastating floods have hammered several parts of the country in recent weeks, leading to a number of deaths and injuries and heavily damaging many communities in Louisiana, West Virginia and several other states.

But as the waters begin to recede, the storms have also left behind thousands of flood-damaged vehicles, according to industry experts, and they worry that many of those could wind up back on the U.S. car market, their titles “washed” so that unsuspecting buyers don’t realize the risks they face.

Be a Smart Shopper!

It’s not illegal to sell a flood-damaged vehicle. You can find auctions that specialize in them with a quick online search. But while those vehicles are supposed to be clearly identified, that’s not always the case with less scrupulous resellers. And if you’re not careful, you could wind up finding yourself underwater considering the costly repairs such vehicles may need.

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