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Lawmakers May Bar Registration of Vehicles Not Repaired After Recalls

Vehicle owners reticent to get fixes completed.

by on Nov.24, 2014

Despite dominating the headlines, owners of vehicles with Takata airbags are likely to ignore recall notices that could save lives.

Recalls have hit an all-time high this year, so far totaling nearly 54 million vehicles. But even as daily headlines outline the risks of deadly defects like the General Motors ignition switch problem and Takata’s faulty airbags, millions of those vehicles will never get repaired, according to industry analysts.

With the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stymied – even after pressing automakers to increase contact with owners of vehicles impacted by recalls – federal lawmakers may soon step in. One approach under study would bar motorists from registering vehicles that have not undergone repairs.

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Automakers, who have found it difficult to recall compliance rates much beyond 75% to 80% appear to be warming to the idea. (more…)

Volkswagen Investing in Biggest Automaker Goal

German maker putting up nearly 86 billion Euros on plans.

by on Nov.24, 2014

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said the company plans to invest nearly 86 billion Euros during the next five years into the automotive division.

The Volkswagen Group, with its sights set on becoming the world’s largest automaker by volume, has announced an ambitious invest five-year investment plan that competitors will be hard pressed to match

The VW Group plans to invest a total of 85.6 billion Euros on new models, innovative technologies and its global presence in its automotive division during the next five years, VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said. In addition, the VW Group’s Chinese joint ventures will invest an additional 22 billion Euros.

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Winterkorn said two-thirds of the total investment amount will flow into increasingly efficient vehicles, drives and more environmentally friendly production. This is the result of the group’s investment planning for 2015 to 2019 discussed by the VW Board Supervisory Board. (more…)

GM Investing More Than $1 Billion in Plants in Europe, North America

Backing reflects confidence in future products.

by on Nov.24, 2014

General Motors is investing more than $1 billion in to plants in Europe and North America, including $40 million into its plant in Pontiac, Michigan.

General Motors is investing more than $1 billion in plants in Europe and North America to ensure the former achieves its goal of profitability while the latter can handle updates to existing vehicles as well as any new products.

Despite the fact that GM Europe has lost money for 17 years, the automaker plans to invest more than $300 million in Adam Opel’s home base in Rüsselsheim, outside of Frankfurt, Germany.

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Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive officer, said that a new model will be produced at Opel’s plant in Rüsselsheim by the end of the decade.

“This SUV will be the brand’s second flagship alongside the Insignia,” Barra said. As announced in March, $300 million will be invested in Opel’s Rüsselsheim plant to meet future requirements,” Barra said. (more…)

Acura Hopes Revised ILX Can Gain Momentum in Booming Compact Luxury Market

Update delivers more power, technology and improved appearance.

by on Nov.21, 2014

Acura's Mike Accavitti introduces the 2016 version of the Acura ILX this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

In the high-tech world, companies like Apple often go for what’s known as “first-mover advantage.” By that logic, Acura should be dominating the booming compact luxury sedan segment with its once-groundbreaking ILX model. But things haven’t worked out as the maker hoped.

The ILX has been struggling to simply hold its momentum as newer entries like the Audi A3 and segment-leading Mercedes-Benz CLA race to market. Sales of the Acura offering tumbled 19.3% last month and are off 16.2% for the full calendar-year.

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So, the luxury arm of Honda Motor Co. has a lot riding on the 2016 version of the Acura ILX that was unveiled this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The updated model comes as an unusually early mid-cycle refresh, and aims to address the shortfalls of the original by tweaking its appearance, boosting its power and adding plenty of new technology. (more…)

Three Minivans Flunk Latest Offset Crash Tests

Toyota Sienna only family hauler to get passing grade.

by on Nov.21, 2014

The 2015 Toyota Sienna was the only one of four current model minivans sold in the U.S. that passed the IIHS front offset crash test.

Each day thousands of parents hit the button on their key fob that opens the power sliding door on their family minivan and watch their kids to amble into their seats, knowing that vehicle is among the safest on the road. They are wrong, according to recent crash test results.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently completed small overlap front crashes on four minivans sold in the U.S. – Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest, Chrysler Town & Country and its twin, Dodge Grand Caravan – and three of the four earned “poor” ratings.

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“Minivans are popular among parents, a group that tends to be safety conscious, but we’ve only seen two so far that offer decent protection in small overlap crashes,” says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer. (more…)

Ford F-150 Is Highest-Mileage Gas-Powered Full-Size Truck

Legs Ram EcoDiesel mpg – but high cost of diesel offsets advantage, Ford claims.

by on Nov.21, 2014

Ford's 2015 F-150 4x2 with Ford’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine has EPA-estimated ratings of 19 mpg City, 26 mpg Highway and 22 mpg Combined.

With newly released EPA test numbers in hand, Ford Motor Co. has declared its 2015 F-150 the nation’s most fuel-efficient gas-powered full-size pickup truck.

Based on EPA numbers and what Ford billed as apples-to-apples comparisons, the new aluminum-bodies F-150 will get anywhere from 5% to 29% better mileage – in some cases as much as 7 mpg – over the prior model.

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That’s “a significant achievement,” declared Ford’s global product development director Raj Nair, especially when taking into account the fact that the average new 2015 F-150 will also see an increase in both towing and cargo capacity. (more…)

U-M Predicts US Auto Sales Topping 17 Million in 2016

Forecast shows “meaningful” growth for economy next year.

by on Nov.21, 2014

University of Michigan economists predict U.S. new vehicle sales will hit 17 million units in 2016. As the economy recovers, sales of trucks are going to grow.

The expansion U.S. economy next will boost sales of new vehicles and set the stage for industry-wide sales, reaching 17 million units in 2016, according to a new forecast the economists at the University of Michigan.

The economy will grow by more than 3% next year — its highest rate in 10 years, they added. The university auto sales numbers of 16.6 million in 2015 and 17 million the following year add to the chorus of predictions for a sustained stretch of prosperity for the industry.

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By and large, automakers appear comfortable with the predictions of strong, steady sales over the next couple of years. (more…)

Volvo V60 Cross Country Aiming for Its Own Unique Niche

New Cross Country model strikes a balance between wagon and CUV.

by on Nov.21, 2014

The Volvo V60 Cross Country is officially a wagon, but with its taller, almost coupe-like proportions, it could have been re-designated a crossover.

Few manufacturers have had their image more closely tied to the station wagon, even though Volvo went awhile without offering one in the U.S. market – and probably for good reason considering the limited demand for that seemingly out-of-date body style.

Significantly, when the Swedish maker’s turn in the spotlight came at this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, it put the focus on the new XC90 sport-utility vehicle it will launch next year. But there was another model sharing the stage, and it harkens more closely to Volvo’s roots.

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The Volvo V60 Cross Country is officially being called a wagon, but with its taller, almost coupe-like proportions, it could just as easily have been re-designated a crossover. It certainly has a silhouette similar to other European CUVs, such as the BMW X1. (more…)

Mitsubishi Pushes into Battery-Power with XR-PHEV

Plug-in hybrid concept hints at “changes that will affect our future.”

by on Nov.21, 2014

Mitsubishi continued its push into the EV segment at the Los Angeles Auto Show with its new XR-PHEV plug-in hybrid crossover.

It’s likely best known for SUVs and sports cars like the Outlander and the EVO pocket rocket, but Mitsubishi has been shifting emphasis with battery models like the little i-MiEV and the battery-powered race car that set a new record at this year’s Pike’s Peak Hill Climb.

So there’s reason to take seriously the new XR-PHEV, the angular plug-in hybrid crossover vehicle the maker is showing at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

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“We’re looking at changes that will affect our future,” suggested Mitsubishi Executive Vice President Don Swearingen. (more…)

Takata Claims No Need for National Recall Despite Rising Death Toll

Supplier ducks responsibility during Congressional hearing.

by on Nov.20, 2014

Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata's senior vice president of quality assurance, said the company doesn't think a national recall of its airbag inflators is needed despite evidence to the contrary.

Takata Corp. executives during a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing today said there is no need to expand its recall of 7.8 million vehicles with faulty airbag inflators from a regional action to a national effort, despite a rising number of deaths and injuries due to the airbags.

Prior to the hearing, two senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), offered evidence that the airbag explosions can happen outside the regional recall area, suggesting that a woman was killed by the airbag in 2004 in Arizona while driving one of the affected vehicles. Arizona is not one of the states in the regional recall.

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After being roundly criticized by politicians and safety groups for its past handling of recalls as well as mounting evidence – including an investigative piece by TheDetroitBureau.com – that regional recalls are ineffective due to the transient nature of vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) acquiesced and recommended Takata and the 10 automakers involved expand the recall to national status. (more…)