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Millennials Interest in New Vehicles Rises with Technology Available

Self-driving cars appealing to younger drivers.

by on Apr.28, 2016

Self-driving vehicles may improve the mobility of baby boomers some day, if they learn to trust the vehicles.

While self-driving cars are expected to increase the mobility of aging baby boomers, but they are still skeptical about the technology that piloting those vehicles. Conversely, younger drivers are seemingly enthralled by the possibilities the cars represent, a new study finds.

Gen Y or “Millennials” between the ages of 21 and 34 and younger Gen Z, which is just getting driver’s licenses, have substantially more interest in automated driving, according to the 2016 edition of the Tech Choice Study that J.D. Power presented to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

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“You often hear that younger people aren’t interested in driving. Maybe it’s just the Millennials don’t have the baggage about driving that Baby Boomers do,” said Kristin Kolodge, director of driver interaction and HMI at J.D. Power who supervised the study. “The just have a fresh perspective,” she said. (more…)

Foes and Friends Offer Opinions at Autonomous Car Hearing

Google exec pushes for federal rules as watchdog tells him to take the wheel.

by on Apr.28, 2016

Consumer Watchdog wants federal rules mandating steering wheels as well as brake and gas pedals for autonomous vehicles.

Friend and foe alike finally got to put in their two cents worth about the future of autonomous driving and the vehicles that will be careening down U.S. roadways at a forum in California today.

Federal officials are holding several of these events as they seek opinions from the public about self-driving vehicles. The event came just a day after Google, Uber and Lyft have joined forces with Volvo and Ford in establishing “The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets,” which has recruited David Strickland, long-time safety watchdog and former head of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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“Self-driving vehicle technology will make America’s roadways safer and less congested,” Strickland said in a statement. “The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards, and the Coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles.” (more…)

GM China President Predicts Growth in Future

Tsien expects popularity of SUVs, EVs to help drive sales higher.

by on Apr.28, 2016

GM China President Matt Tsien told reporters in Detroit today that he expects the Chinese market to continue to grow for the automaker.

China now accounts for roughly 37% of General Motors’ global sales, making it the automaker’s single largest market in the world, Matt Tsien, president of General Motors China, said during a meeting with reporters at GM headquarters in Detroit.

Tsien said it is difficult to predict if that percentage will continue to grow in next several years. “You have to know what the rest of the world is going to do to answer that,” he said.

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But GM expects the Chinese market to expand from the 25 million units sold last year to 30 million units in 2020. “That’s like adding a market the size of Australia every year for the next five years,” he said. (more…)

General Motors Investing $900 Million in Plants

Former Saturn site gets nearly $800 million in upgrades.

by on Apr.28, 2016

GM is investing nearly $800 million into its Spring Hill, Tennessee, plant as part of a larger investment plan.

General Motors plans to spend $788.7 million for an all-new, high-efficiency engine program, as well as projects to modernize the vehicle programs at its Spring Hill (Tennessee) Manufacturing Plant, creating 792 and retaining 16 jobs.

GM also announced a $118 million investment at its Bay City Powertrain facility, creating 29 and retaining 67 jobs.

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The GM announcement re-enforces a pattern of new investments in powertrain elements by domestic carmakers as the pressure mounts to meet increasingly tough standards for better fuel economy and cleaner emissions. GM isn’t alone in spending on its manufacturing operations these days. (more…)

Volkswagen to Spend $8.8 Bil on U.S. Diesel Buy Back and Fix

Maker will shift focus to electric cars, says CEO Mueller.

by on Apr.28, 2016

Volkswagen's Matthias Mueller outlined the automaker's plan to spend $8.8 billion to buy back cars with faulty diesel engines.

Volkswagen expects to spend about 7.8 billion euros, or $8.8 billion, to buy back or fix the diesel cars it had rigged as part of an emissions testing scam.

The maker already has accounted for that charge, however, including it in the $18.2 billion deducted from 2015 earnings, CEO Matthias Mueller said Thursday. While the maker has yet to get formal approval for a U.S. fix, the executive said that dealing with the rigged diesels “will remain our most important task until the very last vehicle has been put in order.”

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Mueller also said that Volkswagen plans to increasingly shift focus away from the high-mileage diesels that have been a major plank in its product portfolio. It will now make battery-based vehicles – including hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric models – “one of Volkswagen’s new hallmarks.” (more…)

Ford Recalling 285,000 Vehicles

Automaker issues action for transmission, suspension and airbag problems.

by on Apr.27, 2016

Ford's Police Interceptor Utility is part of a recall of SUVs due to suspension issues.

Ford is recalling more than 280,000 sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks due to suspension and transmission issues.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker will recall 201,900 pickups due to a flaw in the transmission. A faulty speed sensor can cause it to downshift into first gear at the wrong time, potentially causing the driver to lose control or affect the vehicles around it.

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Thus far, the automaker is aware of three accidents that have occurred due to the sensor on transmission model6R80. It is found on 2011-12 Ford F-150, 2012 Expedition and Mustangs built in Michigan from Aug. 19, 2011 through Feb. 12, 2012. (more…)

Top Mitsubishi Execs Likely to Fall in Fuel Economy Scandal

Domestic sales tumble by half, raising concerns about maker’s viability.

by on Apr.27, 2016

It remains to be seen if the maker falsified data for other models, such as the 2017 Mirage.

The top two executives at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. are expected to resign in the wake of revelations that the sixth-largest Japanese automaker has been falsifying fuel economy data for as much as 25 years.

The company has acknowledged the scam, which was designed to make its microcar models more competitive in the mileage-minded Japanese market. But a new panel empowered to investigate the matter could reveal even more widespread cheating affecting vehicles sold beyond Japan’s borders.

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The impact of the scandal is quickly being felt by Mitsubishi, the carmaker reporting its domestic sales have tumbled by half since the cheating was first reported. That is raising concerns for the survival of the maker which, only a few years ago, was pulled out of a financial tailspin by a consortium of Japanese banks. (more…)

Carmakers, Tech Companies Form Self-Driving Auto Alliance

Group pushing for uniform testing regulations – quickly.

by on Apr.27, 2016

NHTSA has already declared Google's autonomous tech is the equivalent of a human driver.

Companies from Silicon Valley and the auto industry are teaming up to create a coalition to influence lawmakers and regulators, who are destined to play a huge role in shaping the deployment of autonomous vehicles.

Google, Uber and Lyft have joined forces with Volvo and Ford in establishing “The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets,” which has recruited David Strickland, long-time safety watchdog and former head of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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In 2014, the most recent available numbers from the NHTSA, there were 6.1 million reported crashes on U.S. roads, resulting in 2.3 million injuries and 32,675 fatalities. Advocates of self-driving cars suggest an influx of these accident-averse vehicles on to America’s roadways would greatly virtually eliminate fatal accidents. (more…)

Ford Plowing $1.6B into Michigan, Ohio Plants

Investment focuses on profitable trucks and components.

by on Apr.26, 2016

Ford moved production of its F-650 and F-750 from Mexico to Ohio. It's spending nearly $200 million on the plant for the trucks.

Ford Motor Co. announced plans to spend $1.6 billion to upgrade factories in Michigan and Ohio, saying the new investment will create as many as 650 new jobs.

The announcement comes as Donald Trump, who has used Ford as a punching bag during his campaign, moves closer to the Republican nomination for President. Trump has repeatedly attacked Ford over its plans to invest in a new plant in Mexico and in several speeches has said it wouldn’t happen if he were president.

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Ford CEO Mark Fields said last month in New York Ford is a global company that invests in markets around the world. However, overall Ford’s efforts to correct the record have been relatively ineffective in the face of attacks from Trump. (more…)

Volkswagen Appealing Recent NLRB Ruling

Maker still believes entire plant must be represented.

by on Apr.26, 2016

Volkswagen plans to appeal the National Labor Relations Board's most recent ruling about union representation in its Tennessee plant.

Volkswagen of America plans appeal a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that would have cleared a path for the United Auto Workers to negotiate a labor contract for 160 maintenance workers at VW plant in the state of Tennessee for the first time.

A three-member NLRB panel earlier this month had denied Volkswagen’s request for the agency to review a December 2015 election in which skilled-trades employees in Chattanooga voted overwhelmingly to designate UAW Local 42 as their collective bargaining representative, upholding results of an election supervised by the NLRB.

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Volkswagen spokesman Scott Neal Wilson said the German automaker had not yet filed the actual appeal, but has decided to challenge the ruling. “We didn’t state that an appeal was filed, only the decision to do so,” he said.  (more…)