Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Posts Tagged ‘paul eisenstein’

Tesla Lands a Perfect Score from Consumer Reports

Model S P85D receives highest rating ever, despite occasional complaints.

by on Aug.27, 2015

The Tesla Model S overcame a few concerns to land a perfect score from CR testers.

The Tesla Model S P85D not only received the best score of any vehicle ever tested by Consumer Reports magazine, it somehow managed to earn 103 points on a 100-point scale, the often skeptical non-profit magazine has announced.

The P85D is the longer-range, higher-performance version of the Tesla battery-electric sedan that already was hailed by Consumer Reports in previous tests. The latest glowing review comes despite a warning issued by the magazine in May that a P85D it was using had become “undriveable” because of a series of problems.

News You Can Trust!

“When the Model S P85D was evaluated at Consumer Reports’ test track in East Haddam, Connecticut, it initially earned a raw 103-point score in a system that by definition doesn’t go past 100. Consumer Reports had to make changes to its scoring methodology to account for the car’s exceptionally strong performance,” the magazine said in its new report.

(more…)

Blast From the Past: Detroit Automakers Looking to Revive More Old Nameplates

Barracuda, Bronco, Ranger among models that could return from rust heap.

by on Aug.27, 2015

An original Plymouth Barracuda.

Coming up with an all-new name has become a major headache for automakers around the world. It can be difficult to find a name that hasn’t already been taken, and it then can be extremely costly to build consumer awareness.

So, it seems, a number of carmakers are looking back into their past to see if there are once-popular nameplates that can be revived. And with the successful revival of the Chevrolet Camaro, a few years back, it seems that even more manufacturers are going to take this route.

Subscribe for Free!

Among the once-popular names we may soon see back in showrooms are the Grand Wagoneer, Barracuda, Ranger and Bronco, it seems. And still others may follow – though looking for a blast from the past does carry some risks, industry analysts warn.

As TheDetroitBureau.com reported this week, Ford Motor Co. is expected to bring back the Ranger pickup, a nameplate it abandoned in the U.S. in 2011, though it continued offering an all-new model overseas. The Ranger would fill a gap in Ford’s line-up now that there are signs American motorists are returning to the once-huge midsize truck segment.

(Click Here for more on the return of the Ford Ranger.)

Ford is now expected to offer a U.S. version of the midsize Ranger pickup, a model it dropped in 2010.

The revival of the Ranger would follow the return of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models that briefly went out of production while General Motors worked up a more modern and competitive redesign of the compact trucks.

Ford also is said to be toying with the return of another once-popular model, the Bronco SUV. It was once a leader in the sport-utility segment but was replaced by more car-like models, such as the Ford Explorer. A new Bronco, sources suggest, would be roughly the size of the latest Explorer, but instead of riding on a car-like crossover platform it would share the chassis of the new Ranger pickup.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has brought back a number of model names in recent years, including muscle car mainstays like the Dodge Charger and Challenger. And it may add one more old-is-now offering to that high-powered segment, a revived Barracuda. In its heyday, the ‘Cuda was marketed through the now-abandoned Plymouth brand. Going forward it also would be sold through Dodge.

The sibling Jeep brand is also expected to bring back an old model, this one the big Grand Wagoneer. Though often credited with creating the modern SUV boom, Jeep hasn’t kept up with some key rivals in filling every possible model niche. The revived Grand Wagoneer would be a full-size model to take on the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GL, among others.

(Chevy, GMC hope to expand appeal of Colorado, Canyon twins with new diesel drivetrains. Click Herefor the latest.)

The return of the Chevy Camaro was one of the industry's most successful relaunches.

FCA reportedly is filling in dealers on its future product plans during a meeting in Las Vegas. Ford, meanwhile, has reportedly clued in the United Auto Workers Union on some of its plans as part of its ongoing contract negotiations. Formal public announcements could follow in the weeks or months ahead.

There are several reasons why manufacturers reach into their histories to revive old nameplates. For one thing, it is becoming increasingly difficult to come up with good names that aren’t already in use or at least registered by a competitor. That’s one reason many makers have gone the alphanumeric route. But they also know that it’s hard to get worked up about something called an ABC123.

Launching an all-new nameplate, meanwhile, is extremely expensive, a mainstream model often requiring a marketing investment of $100 million or more to establish in the market, notes analyst Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting.

But when it comes to these blasts from the past, some of those old model names still carry a lot of positive heritage that automatically tell a story in the collective public mind. That was the case when General Motors brought back the Chevrolet Camaro in 2009. The muscle car went on to dominate the so-called pony car segment for the next five years.

The retro-styled Ford Thunderbird didn't deliver on the maker's high hopes.

On the other hand, GM’s effort to bring back the once-revered Pontiac GTO name flopped a decade ago. Unlike the retro-styled Camaro, the new “Goat” had a bland and largely forgettable design that failed to connect with consumers.

The same was the case with the Thunderbird, the two-seat roadster Ford tried to launch a decade ago. Over the decades, the T’bird went through a variety of incarnations, from the original 2-seater to a bloated coupe and then into a quirky but less-than-compelling 2-seater again. A variety of product weaknesses resulted in mixed reviews and weak sales, and the Thunderbird was again pulled from the market.

So, while a grand old name can give a new product a head start, it’s not enough to fix a bad vehicle design.

(New Jeeps, including next Grand Cherokee, Grand Wagoneer, delayed. Click Here for more.)

Ten Automakers Sued Over Deadly Keyless Ignition Risks

Suit claims 13 deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

by on Aug.27, 2015

The Ford Flex is one of a growing number of vehicles to use keyless ignition systems.

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court in Los Angeles naming 10 of the world’s largest automakers as defendants in a suit alleging 13 deaths were caused by faulty keyless ignition systems.

The complaint claims that the systems allow motorists to walk away thinking the vehicles have been shut off but actually can continue running, producing deadly carbon monoxide gas. The suit alleges that the 10 automakers have known about the problem but hid it from consumers and continued to market the keyless ignition systems.

Turn on to TDB!

“The automakers had actual knowledge of the dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning consequences of vehicles with keyless fobs that lack an automatic shut-off,” the lawsuit stated.

The federal lawsuit names as defendants General Motors, Ford Motor Co. Fiat Chrysler, Mercedes Benz, Honda, BMW, Hyundai Kia, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen, as well as some of their subsidiary brands.

(more…)

Automakers Rapidly Expand Availability of Forward Crash Prevention Systems

Technology boosts safety ratings, says Insurance Institute.

by on Aug.26, 2015

Ford workers prepare a mannequin for testing the maker's new pedestrian alert system.

Once available only on a handful of the most expensive luxury models, a growing number of vehicles, including mainstream and even economy models, now offer forward crash warning systems. That means better protection for passengers and improved safety ratings for manufacturers.

For the first time ever, more than half of all new cars, trucks and crossovers offer standard or optional forward crash warning systems, according to a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. And a quarter of all new vehicles take things a step further with warning systems that can automatically apply the brakes, if necessary.

Your Technology News Source!

There’s growing evidence the technology is helping reduce highway crashes, injuries, and possibly fatalities.

As part of its ongoing series of tests, the IIHS is awarding 19 new models its superior or advanced ratings due to the addition of forward crash warning technology.

(more…)

Jaguar Offers First Full Look at New F-Pace Utility Vehicle

by on Aug.26, 2015

The development of the Jaguar F-Pace was influenced by the XE sedan and F-Type sports car.

With its first-ever utility vehicle set to make its formal debut in Frankfurt next month, we’re getting a clear look at the new Jaguar F-Pace for the first time.

And the maker is trying to make clear that the new crossover-utility vehicle won’t be a brand misfit. Even while noting the functional attributes of the new Jaguar F-Pace, the British maker is emphasizing its more emotional side, dubbing it “the ultimate practical Jaguar sports car.”

Pushing the Boundaries!

“We haven’t made any compromises or exceptions,” said chief engineer Mike Cross, in a statement accompany this image. “The new F-PACE had to be a true Jaguar and had to deliver the dynamics DNA. We’ve tested ride and handling to the limit, and the result is that the new F-PACE is as engaging and rewarding to drive as it is comfortable and quiet. As soon as you get into the vehicle you know immediately that it’s a good place to be.”

(more…)

Automakers Adding High-Tech Features Consumers Often Do Not Want

Millennials prove surprisingly tech-resistant.

by on Aug.26, 2015

Even Millennials seem to find little appeal in such high-tech features such as the new Apple CarPlay.

Virtually every Chevy that will roll off the assembly line next year will feature a built-in 4G LTE connectivity that can provide anyone in the car access to a mobile WiFi hotspot. General Motors’ OnStar unit, meanwhile, offers many of its customers access to a mobile concierge service – as do a number of competitors.

But a surprising number of owners don’t bother to use either of those features – which are among the most underutilized among a raft of high technology features and services automakers are building into their latest vehicles, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

Be in the Know!

The 2015 Drive Report finds that 20% of recent new car buyers have not yet used half of the high-tech additions to their vehicles during the first three months of ownership.

But what may be the biggest surprise in the Drive Report is that supposedly tech-centric Millennials are proving particularly slow to embrace all the new features supposedly designed to attract them to today’s newest, highest-tech vehicles.

(more…)

Little Smart Has Big Ambitions for New ForTwo

But is there a market for microcars in truck-happy U.S.?

by on Aug.25, 2015

Two extremes of the Daimler AG family, the 2016 Smart ForTwo with a row of Western Star trucks.

Size matters. That’s long been a guiding principle in the U.S. auto industry, and with fuel prices down sharply this year, it seems truer than ever as American motorists once again shift from fuel-efficient small cars to larger SUVs, CUVs and pickups.

And that raises a serious question about this year’s launch of what will be the smallest car on the U.S. market, the 2016 Smart ForTwo. After a seemingly endless delay, parent Daimler AG has launched an all-new version of the microcar just as potential competitors, such as the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 struggle to reverse double-digit sales declines.

A Smart Source of News!

Nonetheless, “We hope there is much more potential” for a brand that has so far failed to live up to its initial promise, says Annette Winkler, the head of the Smart brand during a first U.S. media drive of the new ForTwo model.

(more…)

Driverless Truck Aims to Keep Workers, Motorists Safe in Construction Zones

Autonomous attenuator truck to roll out in Florida later this year.

by on Aug.25, 2015

A scene from a YouTube video shows the autonomous attenuator truck following a lead vehicle.

The first fully driverless vehicle to hit U.S. highways is going to be a truck, not a car. And it will likely be found slowly rolling around near construction sites in Florida.

Developed by Royal Truck & Equipment, a specialty vehicle manufacturer based near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the trucks will be fitted with special devices, called attenuators, designed to protect workers as well as motorists trying to navigate through temporary work zones.

Keep on Truckin'!

Attenuators are designed to provide a rolling crash barrier, but while that can save construction workers, as well as motorists, they put at risk the people that drive the trucks. So, Royal Truck has developed a system that can be operated autonomously.

(more…)

Consumers Increasingly Frustrated, Dissatisfied by Recalls

Satisfaction levels falls to lowest level in over a decade.

by on Aug.25, 2015

More and more Americans are finding automotive recall notices in their mailboxes.

Have you received a recall for your car, truck or crossover? Maybe several? If so, chances are you’re growing frustrated and dissatisfied as a result.

A new study finds that, despite an overall increase in quality, the epidemic of recalls that reached an all-time record of 64 million vehicles last year has left Americans less happy with the cars and trucks they drive than at any time in more than a decade. And with the spate of new recalls showing little sign of slowing, the situation isn’t likely to improve anytime soon.

Your Inside Source!

“While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems,” said Claes Fornell, chairman and found of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.

(more…)

More Airbag Trouble for Honda

Feds launch investigation on reports of Accord airbag failures.

by on Aug.24, 2015

The 2008 Honda Accord is subject to a preliminary investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for faulty airbags.

Already struggling to fix millions of vehicles recalled due to defective Takata airbag inflators, Honda has run into still more airbag problems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation covering 384,000 Honda Accords after receiving reports of 19 incidents in which the vehicles’ aribags failed to deploy during a crash. The investigation could eventually lead to a recall that could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to some reports.

Safety News!

The problem, it appears, may be the result of a faulty Supplemental Restraint System, or SRS, control module, notes NHTSA, a statement by the agency noting that, “For vehicles with a failed SRS module, some or all of the airbags may be unavailable in a crash warranting deployment.”

(more…)