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Daimler Reports Mercedes Expected to Hit Sales Record

Company turns profits despite sluggish global economy.

by on Oct.23, 2014

Dieter Zetsche said Daimler's Q3 profits were due in large measure to strong sales by Mercedes-Benz.

Daimler AG used a surge in sales of new Mercedes-Benz models to boost its revenue by 10% in the third quarter despite the soft global economy, which the company expects to slow further by the end of the year.

Daimler Group AG net earnings also increased significantly to 2.82 billion euros compared with 1.89 billion euros in the third quarter of last year and Mercedes-Benz cars is on its way to record sales this year.

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The group’s third-quarter revenue of 33.1 billion euros was 10% above the prior-year level; adjusted for exchange-rate effects, revenue increased by 11%. (more…)

NHTSA’s Friedman Apologizes for Takata Snafu

Deputy chief acknowledges errors in Monday warning.

by on Oct.23, 2014

David Friedman, NHTSA's deputy administrator, apologized for underreporting the number of vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags by 3.1 million cars.

The nation’s top automotive safety official issued an apology late yesterday regarding the issuance of incorrect information about the number of vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags.

David Friedman, deputy administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, offered up the apology in a statement after the agency shorted the total number of vehicles with the airbags by 3.1 million vehicles.

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NHTSA also forgot to include two automakers – Ford and Subaru – in the tally, used incorrect figures for others, including counting vehicles from General Motors that didn’t actually use the airbags. (more…)

Pumped Up Mustangs Roaring into SEMA

Ford stand featuring a dozen tweaked pony cars.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Galpin Auto Sports is celebrating 50 years of the Mustang by putting a 5.0-liter V8 developing 725 horsepower into its SEMA show car.

The 50th anniversary of the debut of the Ford Mustang is in full swing and perhaps no where will be more evident at this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas as the maker will have a dozen pony cars on display.

While the show is home to best and sometimes most insane custom cars, an event like this is a license to thrill and Ford is certainly trying to give visitors something, or things, to gawk over. Among the 12 ‘Stangs, two custom builders are going all out: Pettys Garage and Galpin Auto Sports.

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Petty’s Garage races into the show with a Roush supercharged V8 model wearing Richard Petty’s famous blue paint and a discrete No. 43, Petty’s car number in his NASCAR days. Not only will evoke some NASCAR memories, it’ll also do some good as the car will be auctioned by Barrett-Jackson with proceeds benefiting Victory Junction, which is dedicated to helping chronically ill children attend summer camp. (more…)

GM Goes Solar

Installing major solar array at Lordstown plant.

by on Oct.22, 2014

GM continues adding solar arrays at plants around the world. The maker announced it's adding an array at its Lordstown, Ohio, facility.

General Motors is aiming to bolster its green credentials by installing a huge solar array that will be visible from the well-traveled Ohio Turnpike outside the company’s big assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

GM’s new 2.2 megawatt, ground-mounted solar array will be complete by the end of the year. When the last of more than 8,500 solar panels are in place, it will be GM’s largest solar installation in the Western Hemisphere, the maker claims – but not necessarily the largest sun-power system, producing just a fraction of the output of the solar park in use at Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant.

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GM has been adding solar arrays and waste-burning power generators at its assembly plants in the U.S. as part of a concerted effort to reduce costs and clean up the environment by eliminating waste and limiting the use of carbon-based fuel such as oil and coal. (more…)

Scion Teases New Concept for LA Auto Show

Youth-oriented brand looks to recapture lost audience.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Scion is bringing a new concept to the L.A. Auto Show next month and this is just a small peek at it.

Looking to rebuild its once formidable image among younger buyers, Scion is planning to roll out an assortment of new models over the next few years, and we’ll be getting a sense of what’s to come at next month’s Los Angeles Motor Show.

What exactly it has in store, Scion isn’t saying, but it’s giving a bit of a hint with two closely cropped teaser images of what apparently will be called the new iM Concept car.

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“The iM Concept car reflects the evolution of Scion as the needs and desires of its youthful customers also evolve,” says a terse statement from Scion. (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Opens First Overseas Plant – in China, of Course

China already JLR's biggest market.

by on Oct.22, 2014

A Range Rover Evoq moves down the assembly land at JLR's new assembly plant near Shanghai.

That “veddy” British automaker, Jaguar Land Rover, is looking a little less Anglo-Saxon every day. First, it was acquired by American maker Ford, then sold to Indian upstart Tata Motors. And now, JLR has opened up its first foreign manufacturing plant. In China, of course.

The Asian nation is already the world’s largest automotive market and, by most accounts, is expected to top the global luxury sales charts, as well, by the end of the decade. It is, in fact, already Jaguar Land Rover’s single-largest market.

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And the maker is expecting to see that grow significantly, in part, because localizing production will eliminate the hefty Chinese tariff on automotive imports. (more…)

Green Car Finalists Announced

Battery power vies with diesel, CNG and advanced gas options.

by on Oct.21, 2014

The BMW i3 is one of five cars up for the 2015 Green Car of the Year award at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

There’s been plenty of attention paid to electric vehicles over the last several years, but not all green machines have a battery under the hood.

To underscore that point, just check out the five finalists for the 2015 Green Car of the Year. The nominees for the annual award, which will be presented at the Los Angeles Motor Show next month, present a mix of alternatives that include not only the requisite EVs, but also a diesel, a bi-fuel package and a conventional gasoline-powered model. The list is dominated by three European models with one each from Japan and the U.S.

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“These five exceptional vehicles reflect an expanding ‘green’ car field that embraces diverse fuels and technologies as answers to a more efficient and low carbon future,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com. “Each offers a distinctly different approach to driving ‘green’ that appeals to buyers with varying needs and perspectives on how best to lessen environmental impact, while maintaining the joy of driving.” (more…)

NHTSA Set to Expand Unprecedented Airbag Recall Alert Covering Nearly 5 Mil Vehicles

Faulty Takata airbags linked to numerous accidents, fatalities.

by on Oct.21, 2014

More than 2.8 million Hondas, including the 2003-2011 model year Element, are part of a recall involving Takata airbags.

Federal regulators are set to expand on an already unprecedented recall alert issued Monday to owners of nearly 5 million vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags.

With evidence showing those safety devices could unexpectedly fail, especially in high-humidity regions of the country, regulators want to make sure owners don’t ignore recall warnings already issued by manufacturers including BMW, General Motors, Honda and Toyota, among others. Only about 70% of motorists typically fix vehicles that have been recalled, and that rate falls off on older models, such as those covered by the NHTSA announcement. The number of companies affected is expected to increase as well.

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NHTSA is engaged in an active investigation of the company’s airbags and Takata is cooperating, according to officials. (more…)

Chinese Officials Express Concern over Indigenous Brands

Government pushing companies to develop technologies.

by on Oct.21, 2014

China's indigenous automakers are struggling to keep up with companies like Volkswagen, General Motors and others in its own market.

China is the world’s largest and fastest growing automotive market in the world, but the focus of the biggest Chinese policy makers, pundits and executives now is the well-being or fate of the country’s indigenous brands.

Some companies, such as Geely, are doing fine and governmental agencies, particularly local governments with a stake in the so-called state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, are doing what they can to assist the homegrown, according to information presented during the course of the two-day Global Automotive Forum, which was held last week in Wuhan, China.

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China is clearly willing to use subsidies for energy-efficient vehicles, rationed parking stickers and anti-trust enforcement to help bolster the indigenous brands, which have have steadily lost marketshare during the past 18 months. In addition, a new study by the Boston Consulting Group found the more than 80% of the Chinese consumers who expect to buy a car soon prefer foreign brands. (more…)

Despite Downturn China’s Economy Still Strong

Current growth rate near sweet spot of expansion.

by on Oct.21, 2014

Fan Gang, director, National Economic Research Institute, suggested China's economy will be strong for several years.

Despite the fact that China’s economy isn’t living up to predictions this year, the overall picture for the country is bright even as it faces significant challenges to its growth, one of China’s leading economists posited yesterday at the Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, China.

Fan Gang, director, National Economic Research Institute, suggested China’s economy will grow at a slightly slower pace, 7.3% rather than the 7.5% rate projected by the central government at the beginning of the year. However, a growth rate of between 7% and 8% is more manageable and more sustainable for what is now the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States’.

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In fact, a hotter rate of growth would be problematic, Fan said. If the economy grew faster than 9%, inflation would become a problem for the country as a whole, while a growth rate of better than 10% could create an “asset bubble” either in real estate or elsewhere in the economy. (more…)