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Makers Tracking to Meet 2025 Fuel Economy Standards

EPA notes average fuel economy still dropping.

by on Mar.27, 2015

The Chevy Volt is one reason why automakers are tracking to meet long-term greenhouse gas and fuel economy mandates.

Automakers point to the looming 54.5 mpg fuel economy mandate as one of the primary reason that they’re continuing to pursue alternative fuel vehicles despite the low gas prices currently enjoyed in the U.S.

That dedication is paying off, according to an Environmental Protection Agency study, which shows 2013 vehicles are reducing greenhouse gases and improving mileage on a pace to get them to the tough 2025 standard.

The Last Word!

According to EPA’s most recent Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Fuel Economy Trends Report, model year 2013 vehicles achieved an all-time record average of 24.1 miles per gallon (mpg) – a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. (more…)

Ford Chief Fields Earns More Than $18 Million

CEO’s compensation includes salary of $1.6 million.

by on Mar.27, 2015

Ford CEO Mark Fields received more than $18 million in compensation in 2014.

Strong auto sales often means there’s money to go around for workers. The top “worker” at Ford, Mark Fields, earned $18,596,497 in 2014 as the company earned a pre-tax profit of $6.3 billion.

Fields’ compensation, which is a combination of his base salary and stock awards, options and other awards, was an increase from 2013 when his compensation was $10,170,578 as Ford’s chief operating officer.

Auto Insight!

Fields, who took over as CEO on July 1, earned a base salary of $1,662,500 last year. His total compensation includes a $3,185,000 bonus, long-term stock options and other performance-based equity awards. (more…)

New Ford System Could Spell End to Speeding Tickets

System reads signs, automatically adjusts vehicle speed.

by on Mar.27, 2015

Ford's new system could become a basic part of tomorrow's autonomous vehicles.

“But officer…” If you’ve ever tried to explain your way out of a speeding ticket, claiming you didn’t know how fast you were going, or what the local limit was, you might want to check out the new Intelligent Speed Limiter that Ford is launching this year.

A number of vehicles now display the local speed limit on their navigation screens, some using cameras to ensure that the limit hasn’t changed since the navi database was created. The system being introduced in the next-generation Ford S-Max people-mover goes the next step, and actually controls the speed of the vehicle itself.

Stay in the Know!

“Drivers are not always conscious of speeding and sometimes only becoming aware they were going too fast when they receive a fine in the mail or are pulled over by law enforcement,” notes Stefan Kappes, active safety supervisor, Ford of Europe. “Intelligent Speed Limiter can remove one of the stresses of driving, helping ensure customers remain within the legal speed limit.” (more…)

Marchionne Defends Jeep Safety in Court

CEO deposed in wrongful death trail about 4-year-old.

by on Mar.27, 2015

FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne defended the safety of Jeep vehicles in a deposition in Atlanta.

Sergio Marchionne is defending the safety of Jeep products in a high-profile Georgia lawsuit, involving the death by fire of a 4-year-old boy.

The top executive at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles denied trying to stop top federal regulators from finding a safety defect in older Jeeps with rear-positioned fuel tanks. Instead, he argued that the vehicles are safe, in a recorded deposition that was played for Georgia jurors in a wrongful death trial about a fuel tank fire that killed the boy.

Keep an Eye on Us!

Marchionne and the plaintiff’s attorney clashed over a 2013 meeting with then-U.S. Secretary Ray LaHood in Chicago in June. (more…)

Feds Crack Down on Crooked Auto Dealers

Investigation reveals false ads, fake odometer readings.

by on Mar.26, 2015

The FTC is cracking down on dealers that use deceptive practices to put buyers into bad deals.

A Federal Trade Commission investigation into auto dealers across the U.S. resulted $2.6 million in consumer refunds and other fees and fines for criminal and civil violations.

Civil and criminal charges coming about as a result of “Operation Ruse Control,” included deceptive advertising, automotive loan application fraud, odometer fraud, deceptive add-on fees, and deceptive marketing of car title loans.

A Safe Bet!

The commission, also known as the FTC, instituted 252 enforcement actions – 187 in the U.S. and another 65 in Canada – and it appears that more could be on the horizon. It’s the second time in the agency has discovered problem with auto dealers. It turned up 10 infractions last year related to loans and advertising. (more…)

Kia Gives Full Look at New Optima Sedan Ahead of NY Debut

Sedan continues to put maker at the forefront.

by on Mar.26, 2015

Kia stopped teasing us and decided to show off the 2016 Optima coming to the New York Auto Show.

After a slow tease that might have made a stripper proud, Kia is finally going the full Monty, releasing a picture of the new Optima SX a week ahead of its New York International Auto Show debut.

The outgoing Optima was a breakthrough car for Kia, transforming it from a stodgy, value-focused brand to one pushing the boundaries of design. Preliminary renderings released by Kia earlier this month suggested that the 2016 Optima would maintain its edginess. With its distinctive new grille – that appears to be the case.

Your Source for Auto Show News!

“Instantly recognizable yet thoroughly fresh, Kia will introduce the all-new 2016 Optima at the upcoming New York Auto Show on April 1st at 1:20 p.m.,” the Korean carmaker said in a statement. “Available with multiple engine choices, the all-new Optima features a more spacious interior, class-up premium features and a number of technologies not previously offered on Kia’s best-selling midsize sedan.” (more…)

Toyota Reveals “Architecture” for Global Expansion

Maker plans to build stronger, safer, more efficient vehicles.

by on Mar.26, 2015

Toyota EVP Mitsuhisa Kato outlined the automaker's New Global Architecture to build better vehicles.

After briefly putting growth on hold, Toyota Motor Co. has unveiled the “architecture” of its global growth strategy, a plan that relies on new products, new technologies, and improved quality and reliability.

The strategy, dubbed Toyota New Global Architecture, or TNGA, the announcement marks the end of the “intentional pause” Toyota President Akio Toyoda had ordered as the maker took stock following a series of quality and safety problems several years ago.

The Leader in Global Automotive News!

The goal is to allow Toyota to grow in a “sustainable way,” said Executive Vice President Mitsuhisa Kato during a presentation at the maker’s headquarters in Toyota City, 200 miles southwest of Tokyo. That and other challenges are “making our effort to come out with ever better cars increasingly difficult.” (more…)

US Gasoline Usage Lowest Since 1984

Better fuel economy, less driving helps cut gas prices.

by on Mar.26, 2015

More fuel efficient vehicles, like Ford's C-Max line-up, have helped reduce the amount of gasoline used by Americans in the last three decades.

A new study from the University of Michigan examines one of the important factors that have undermined the price of oil and gasoline: Americans are using less gas.

The price of gasoline and crude oil has plunged since last summer and the role of new discoveries in North American shale formations has been highlighted.

Automotive Insight!

Over the past two years, oil production in the U.S. has reached levels last seen in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Average fuel consumption by American drivers is at its lowest level in at least 30 years, according to a University of Michigan researcher. (more…)

Toyota Confirms Plans for New Hybrid Version of RAV4

New version may opt for through-the-road AWD system.

by on Mar.26, 2015

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid comes to market at a time when demand for gas-electric models has shrunk.

Toyota will roll out the latest in a growing family of hybrid vehicles during the New York International Auto Show next week.

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid won’t adopt the radically distinctive styling of the popular Prius model, with more subtle markings – such as the “Hybrid” badge on the tailgate shown here. The automaker is saving details for the hybrid ute’s launch in the Big Apple next week, but speculation centers around the likelihood it will use a three-motor driveline similar to that in the new Lexus NX crossover.

Plug In!

The April 2 introduction might not be seen as the best timing for a new hybrid. With a few rare exceptions, the market for hybrids has taken a sharp tumble over the last year – even the Prius losing momentum in 2014 – as a result of lower gas prices. (more…)

Pricing Wars: Plug-in Hybrid, EV Prices Dropping

Makers cutting lease payments on vehicles.

by on Mar.26, 2015

BMW recently cut the lease price on its electric i3 model to $239 a month. The maker isn't alone in reducing prices.

Gas prices aren’t the only prices dropping these days. Automakers are cutting prices on their electric vehicles.

Despite strong sales early on, BMW recently announced buyers can lease an i3 for as low as $239 a month. However, just after that, Honda put out a new $199 lease for its Fit EV subcompact. The new lease price is a $60 a month cut from its previous offer of $259 a month.

Electrifying!

It’s not just the leases prices. Heading into this year, Ford announced it was cutting the price of its Focus battery electric vehicle as well: by $6,000. The new starting price is $29,995 before any federal, state or local incentives are applied, which can cut the final price as much as $7,500. It was the second time the automaker cut the price on the Focus. It cut it $4,000 in 2013 hoping to drive sales then. (more…)