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Justice Dept., VW Both Want Diesel Suits Heard in Detroit

Judicial panel will consider consolidating over 350 lawsuits.

by on Dec.01, 2015

VW and the DoJ want the cases heard in Detroit.

With more than 350 lawsuits already filed against Volkswagen by consumers, investors and dealers alike, a U.S. judicial panel will have to decide this week if, how and where to consolidate them into a single case.

Lawsuits stemming out of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal have so far been filed in 40 states. Hearing them individually could clog up the courts for years, which is why a U.S. Multi-District Litigation panel will meet in New Orleans on Thursday to determine how to proceed.

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In an unusual situation, both Volkswagen and the U.S. Justice Department would like to see the cases taken on by the federal district court in Detroit. But there’s also strong pressure from many of the lawyers suing VW to have a consolidated suit heard in California.


Formula E to Launch World’s First Roborace

Self-driving race series set to get underway next year.

by on Nov.30, 2015

Roborace will be an hour-long event before each of the Formula E battery car races.

Think motorsports and you’re as likely as not to immediately think of some of the great names associated with racing: Schumacher, Hill, Fangio, Andretti, Petty and Earnhardt. So, what happens when you take the driver out of the car?

You come up with the new Roborace, a series of hour-long track events set to launch next year as a prelude to the Formula E series. About to enter its third season, Formula E is itself a groundbreaking concept, the first major series to rely on battery-electric race cars.

Tech Talk!

“We passionately believe that, in the future, all of the world’s vehicles will be assisted by AI and powered by electricity, explains Denis Sverdlov, Founder of Kinetik and Roborace.  The new series will serve as a “celebration of revolutionary technology and innovation that humanity has achieved in that area so far. It’s a global platform to show that robotic technologies and AI can co-exist with us in real life.”


Bugatti Finally Confirms Geneva Debut of New Chiron Hypercar

Using electric turbos for its W-16, top speed could near 290 mph.

by on Nov.30, 2015

The long-awaited Bugatti Chiron will finally make its debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.

After a seemingly endless wait, Bugatti has finally confirmed plans to debut the replacement for its long-lived Veyron at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

As long-rumored, the “hypercar” will be known as the Bugatti Chiron, a name borrowed both from Greek mythology and one of the more legendary Bugatti factory drivers.

Auto Show News!

While details remain to be seen, expectations are that the new Chiron will regain claim to being the world’s most powerful – and possibly fastest – automobile, with a 16-ylinder engine likely to produce something on the order of 1,500 horsepower.


Mercedes Working Up 1,000 HP Supercar

Two alternate versions reportedly under development.

by on Nov.30, 2015

The Mercedes-McLaren SLR was first unveiled in 2003. It's shown here during a debut drive.

The new Mercedes-AMG GT is an intimidating beast, meant to challenge the likes of the venerable Porsche 911. But it’s not a true replacement for two of the maker’s recent supercars, the SLR and SLS models.

Now, it seems, Mercedes wants to fill that gap and take advantage of the growing demand for vehicles that can deliver as much as 1,000 horsepower or more. According to a report in the well-connected German magazine, Auto Bild, Mercedes is looking at two alternatives that could push the pony count near, and perhaps into the four-figure range.

Firing on All Cylinders!

It would join a select group of so-called ultracars, including the Koenigsegg Agera and Bugatti Veyron. But it would take a very different approach when it comes to delivering all that muscle.


Ford Develops Suit to Simulate Driving While Stoned

Feds blame drugs for 18% of highway deaths.

by on Nov.27, 2015

A motorist tries out a special suit designed to simulate the effects of driving on drugs.

Wonder what it’s like to try to drive while you’re stoned? Working with German scientists, Ford Motor Co. has developed a suit that simulates what it’s like to drive on drugs.

Like a similar suit the automaker came up with last year that helps simulate driving while drunk, the costume is intended to help educate young motorists so they understand the risks they are facing when they get behind the wheel while taking illegal substances.

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“The suit is designed not to produce the sensation of being on drugs, but to reproduce the side effects which may have a dangerous effect on your driving,” explains Paul Fay, Ford’s vehicle safety manager.


These 10 States Have America’s Worst Drivers

Separate study ID’s country’s worst highway bottlenecks.

by on Nov.27, 2015

Highway fatalities have been rising fast, especially in some of the states on this list.

If you’re one of the 43 million American motorists expected to drive at least 50 miles this holiday weekend – indeed if you’re expecting to travel at all anytime soon – you might want to keep the results of a new study in mind.

It ranks the 10 states with the nation’s worst drivers, and based on federal highway statistics, and in the dubious lead is Montana which “finished among the top 20 in every category, ranging from 20th in Speeding to 1st in Fatality Rate,” noted Tyler Spraul, who oversaw the study for CarInsurance

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A separate study, also released in time for the Thanksgiving Highway looked at America’s 50 worst highway bottlenecks, and found a few surprises. While Los Angeles is, as expected, one of the worst places for drivers hoping to make time, Chicago had the single-worst bottleneck in the country, according to the American Highway Users Alliance.


Jaguar-Land Rover Not Ready to Plug In

by on Nov.25, 2015

A Jaguar F-Type with JLR CEO Ralf Speth and Tata Motors founder Ratan Tata.

When it revealed a trio of battery-based prototypes, collectively known as Concept_e, in September, Jaguar Land Rover appeared ready to join key rivals set to electrify their luxury line-ups.

But talk of plug-in and pure battery-electric SUVs and sedans may be a bit premature, according to JLR Chief Executive Ralf Speth. While “it is clear” the British maker will eventually have to go that route to meet tough new global emissions and mileage mandates, “it will take quite a while,” he told during an interview.

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“There is only one way you have to go” because of the new rules, said Speth, but JLR is waiting for improved batteries and an expanded charging infrastructure before it makes a serious push into electrification beyond the diesel hybrid Land Rover model it introduced in Europe.


NHTSA Delays “Quiet Car” EV Ruling

Pushback will delay program until 2018 model-year.

by on Nov.25, 2015

The new rules would cover not only pure EVs but plug-ins and hybrids running in electric mode.

Federal regulators have delayed a proposed rule that would require new battery-based vehicles to emit warning sounds to reduce the likelihood of hitting a pedestrian or bicycle rider, especially those who are sight-impaired.

The rules, which were supposed to be finalized this month, would create a common standard for vehicles operating at low speeds in electric mode. Currently, a handful of models do produce warning sounds, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to come up with a standard alert that can be easily recognized.

Safety News

Pedestrian fatalities rose 3.1% last year compared to 2013, according to federal statistics, though there are no clear data to indicate whether the growing number of hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles played a role in that increase.


Toyota Recalls 1.6 Mil Vehicles With Takata Airbags a Second Time

Affected vehicles may still be unsafe.

by on Nov.25, 2015

The latest recall covers, among its 22 models, an older version of the Toyota Corolla.

Concluding the vehicles may still be unsafe, Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 1.6 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbags that had been involved in an earlier recall.

The move echoes what happened at Nissan Motor Co. where a passenger was injured when a Takata airbag deployed improperly in a crash. That vehicle had also been involved in an earlier recall. There have been no reports of injuries involving the Toyota vehicles.

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The new Toyota recall covers 22 different models, including the popular Corolla, sold in Japan, as well as several European markets. No vehicles in the U.S. are involved in the new service action, though Takata airbags have so far led to the recall of nearly 20 million vehicles sold in the States.


After Long Decline, Traffic Deaths Again on the Rise

"These numbers are a wake-up call," warns Rosekind.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Government data suggest distracted driving is responsible for at least 10% of fatalities.

Traffic deaths spiked by 8% during the first half of the year, according to a new federal report, reversing a decade-long downward trend.

Officials point to a variety of factors that may be behind the unexpected increase, including both lower fuel prices and the improving economy. That has led to more Americans driving more frequently and for longer distances. A new AAA report, for example, indicates 42 million Americans will drive at least 42 miles over the coming Thanksgiving holiday.

Required Reading!

“These numbers are a wake-up call,” said Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.