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VW to Give U.S. Diesels Owners Generous Compensation

But program is on hold until EPA officials approve vehicle repair plans.

by on Feb.08, 2016

VW compensation fund czar Kenneth Feinberg says that for the moment his "hands are tied."

The check is in the mail. Well, not quite. But Kenneth Feinberg, the specialist whom Volkswagen has hired to put together a compensation package for U.S. owners of about 600,000 diesel-powered vehicles, says he expects to be eventually making some very generous payments.

But the timing is up in the air, Feinberg tells the German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine, until VW can first come to an agreement to move forward with repairs for those vehicles – which were equipped with so-called “defeat devices” meant to cheat on diesel emissions tests.

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“My hands are tied as long as VW and the authorities have not overcome their differences,” Feinberg says.

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First Look: 2017 BMW Alpina B7

Alpina introduces the M7 BMW won't build.

by on Feb.08, 2016

The 2017 BMW Alpina B7 xDrive.

For those who mourn the lack of a BMW M7, there is a stylish and sporty alternative, and it’s getting a complete remake for the 2017 model-year.

Despite the rapid expansion of its “M” line-up, with models like the new M2 and X4 M40i, the Bavarian maker has long resisted calls for an ultimate, performance edition of the big 7-Series sedan. But long-time affiliate Alpina has been filling in the blank, and its back with a third-generation model, this one based on the all-new BMW 7-Series launched last year.

Product News!

The 2017 BMW Alpina B7 xDrive gives the new 7-Series not only a performance boost but delivers its 600 horsepower through all four wheels. The sedan gets a number of other power, performance and luxury enhancements, inside and out.

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Ford Set to Double Mexican Production

New plant could handle planned “Prius-fighter.”

by on Feb.08, 2016

Ford CEO Mark Fields is trying to find ways to reduce production costs of small cars and upcoming battery-electric models.

Ford Motor Co. will more than double production in Mexico, according to several reports, by both adding a new plant and increasing production in the Latin American nation.

The maker reportedly expects to put the focus on hybrids and smaller cars that are hard to economically justify building in the U.S. market. That includes the Ford Focus and C-Max models currently being produced at a suburban Detroit plant. But could also include a planned “Prius-fighter” meant to take on the popular Toyota hybrid.

Insider News!

Ford had earlier indicated plans to shift production of the Focus and C-Max but declined to comment on the latest reports about Mexico.

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Ford to Run Four GTs at LeMans

Half-century later, aiming to repeat historic victory.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Ford's two GTs were strong -- when running -- but had mechanical problems at Daytona.

Despite a disappointing debut at Daytona, Ford still has big hopes for its new GT race car – buoyed by word that organizers have approved a four-car entry for the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.

But the four Ford GTs will have a lot to live up to. They’ll take the field exactly 50 years after Ford’s 1-2-3 podium finish at the 1966 Le Mans classic. Ford got off to a weak start in this year’s endurance series, its Daytona entries suffering from a series of mechanical problems.

The Last Word!

“It was great to see all four Ford GTs up there on the Le Mans entry list today,” said Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance, during a press conference in Paris. “Newcomers are by no means guaranteed an entry, whatever their history or ambitions, so we thank the (organizers) for giving Ford the opportunity for a four-car assault in June.”

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VW Delays 2015 Earnings Results, Annual Shareholders’ Meeting

Labor boss will “hold management responsible” for making needed changes.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Audi has submitted a plan to US officials for fixing the diesel engines in models like the Q7.

With management still trying to get a full grip on the diesel emissions cheating scandal that has rocked the world’s second-largest automaker, Volkswagen says it will delay the release of its 2015 earnings, as well as its annual shareholders meeting.

It is also unclear when VW will now publish the results of an internal investigation into the ongoing crisis. The report was to have been released in time for the company’s annual meeting. Leaked details have hinted that the subterfuge was an “open secret,” resulting from a corporate culture in which failure to meet even the most difficult goals was not an option.

Global News!

The annual shareholders meeting was scheduled for April 21, but VW said it will announce new dates for the gathering and the release of its earnings, explaining that it first must deal with “remaining open questions and the resulting valuation calculations relating to the diesel emissions issue.”

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Toyota Quarterly Earnings Top $5.4 Billion

Net income jumps 5% despite flat sales.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda unveils the new Lexus LC 500 at last month's Detroit Auto Show.

Toyota managed to pull together a 5% jump in net profits for the third quarter of its fiscal year, despite a tepid global economy and relatively flat sales.

The automaker announced it made 627.9 billion yen, or $5.4 billion, during the October-December period, up from 600 billion yen the year before. Quarterly sales and revenues were up a more modest 2.4%, to $62.7 billion. A weak yen played in Toyota’s favor.

By the Numbers!

The news came two days after rival General Motors reported record earnings of $9.7 billion – for the full fiscal year. Meanwhile, he world’s second-largest automaker, Volkswagen AG, said on Friday it would delay issuing its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings as it struggles to account for the impact of its ongoing diesel emissions cheating scandal.

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Airbag Control Module Defect Forcing Seven Makers to Recall 5 Mil Vehicles

Problem could prevent airbag deployment in crash – or trigger inflation accidentally.

by on Feb.04, 2016

The 2008 Honda Accord is one of the vehicles affected by a recall due to faulty airbag controllers.

A total of 5 million vehicles will be recalled due to a defective airbag control module that could accidentally trigger one of the devices – or prevent an airbag from deploying in the event of a crash.

The announcement by German supplier Continental comes less than a day after one of its customers, Honda Motor Co., issued a recall covering 341,000 Accord sedans. Separately, the Japanese maker also announced it was recalling 2.23 million Honda and Acura vehicles due to faulty Takata airbags.

Safety News!

Widely hailed as one of the most significant safety devices since the introduction of the seatbelt, airbags have become the source of some of the biggest recalls in recent years. The Takata problem alone is now affecting more than 20 million vehicles in the U.S.

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Ford’s New Raptor Goes Off-Road Racing

Performance truck entering new Desert series.

by on Feb.03, 2016

Ford's Raptor off-road racer.

Only weeks after revealing its new Raptor SuperCrew, Ford says it will send the performance truck out racing as part of the 2016 Best in the Desert off-road series’ new factory stock class.

Based in Las Vegas, Best in the Desert will stage nine races this year, including the Vegas to Reno run, the longest off-road race in the United States. The second event in the series, the Bluewater Resort, gets underway in Arizona on Thursday, February 4th, and marks the official race debut of the 217 Ford Raptor.

Motor Sports News!

“The all-new Raptor has the DNA of a Baja race truck, with a purpose-built engine, chassis and suspension that enables it to travel fast over challenging desert landscapes or crawl over rocky terrain,” boasted Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer of Ford Performance, in a prepared release.

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Toyota Abandoning Scion Brand

Once-strong youth division lost focus, sales.

by on Feb.03, 2016

The 2016 Scion iA was the youth-oriented brand's first-ever sedan and one of two products parent Toyota hoped would save the brand.

It was intended to attract the sort of hip young buyers who were largely steering clear of Toyota stores, and, for at least a few years, it worked. But with sales steadily dropping despite an infusion of new product, Toyota is pulling the plug on its Scion brand.

Products like the new Scion iM and iA won’t be abandoned, however. The plan is to rebadge them as Toyota products for the 2017 model-year, though it’s unclear what will happen to the edgy C-HR crossover vehicle that Scion was developing, as it could come to close to existing Toyota products.

Insight!

“This isn’t a step backward for Scion; it’s a leap forward for Toyota,” said Jim Lentz, the CEO of Toyota North America, is a statement. “Scion has allowed us to fast track ideas that would have been challenging to test through the Toyota network.”

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Global Auto Sales Set New Record for 2015

Makers move nearly 90 million cars, trucks, crossovers.

by on Feb.02, 2016

China helped push the industry to a new record in 2015, but ddemand could slow sharply in 2016.

The auto industry set a new sales record in 2015, motorists around the world buying 89.4 million cars, trucks and crossovers, a year-over-year increase of 2.3%.

It was the sixth year in a row that manufacturers set new highs, the industry buoyed by records in a number of key regions, including the United States, India and China, as well as smaller markets like Australia, Turkey, Korea and Mexico.

Global news!

But the celebration is sobered by forecasts that global auto sales have leveled off and could even dip a bit in 2016 due to weakness in several markets, notably China. And demand remains in freefall in Russia and Brazil where economic woes have taken a serious toll on consumer spending.

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