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Feds Plan to Punish Fiat Chrysler for Safety Lapses

Maker could face $100s of millions in fines.

by on Jul.03, 2015

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind has been critical of Fiat Chrysler's handling of a series of recalls.

Already under fire for its slow response to various safety problems, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles now faces hefty fines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which accused the maker of misleading federal safety regulators.

FCA officials came in for sharp criticism during a hearing in Washington on Thursday, NHTSA officials accusing the maker of repeatedly keeping it “in the dark” about safety problems.  The unprecedented session was called to examine Fiat Chrysler’s handling of 23 separate recalls covering 11 million vehicles.

The Last Word!

“What you heard here is there’s a pattern that’s been going on for some time, frankly,” said Mark Rosekind, the new Administrator for NHTSA. The agency has taken heat for some of its own lapses in recent weeks, and Rosekind has promised to both fix those problems and crack down on the industry.

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Ford Recalling 432,000 Cars that Might Not Shut Off

Ford Focus, Escape and C-Max models targeted.

by on Jul.02, 2015

Ford is recalling Escape - again.

Ford Motor Co. is recalling about 432,000 cars, crossovers and “people-movers” because of a software glitch that might make it difficult to shut the vehicles off.

Ford says the problem is a flaw in the body control module used on three of its key product lines, the compact Focus sedan, the Escape utility vehicle, and the C-Max microvan. It can impact both vehicles with keyed ignitions as well as those with start/stop buttons.

Stay Informed!

If the system fails, the vehicles may keep running even if the ignition button is pressed or the key is turned to the “off” position and removed, Ford said.

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With New Plant in India, Jeep Set to Build SUVs on Four Continents

All-new model planned for $280 million plant in Ranjangaon.

by on Jul.02, 2015

The new Renegade marked a turning point for Jeep which is producing it in Italy, rather than the US.

Little more than a domestic American brand just a few years ago, Jeep is going global, expanding both its distribution network to markets as far flung as Berlin, Beijing and Mumbai. It will soon have production facilities, meanwhile, on four continents.

The subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles confirmed this week that it will invest $280 million as part of a joint manufacturing venture with India’s Tata Motors. The factory will produce several vehicles, including both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and an all-new model, company officials indicated.

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News You Can Trust!

That project is an “important step as we continue to expand the availability of Jeep products around the world,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said.

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Motorists Catching an Independence Day Break

Fuel costs stabilize well below last year’s holiday price.

by on Jul.02, 2015

No big jump in gas prices this holiday.

Despite recent jumps in the cost of gas, drivers are poised to pay the lowest prices at the pump over the Fourth of July holiday weekend in at least five years.

AAA estimates the average price of $2.77 per gallon is down two cents compared to a week ago and down three cents from the peak price to date for 2015, set on June 15.

News You Can Trust!

Going forward, the price of gasoline is still under pressure from the falling price of crude oil. Oil futures, a key indicator of prices to come over the next few months, dropped $1.54 per barrel, to $59.60 yesterday. That reflects both the relative value of the dollar and a steady excess of crude oil on global markets, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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Hybrid, Battery-Car Sales Slumped in First Half of 2015

Demand shifts from small, efficient, to big and powerful.

by on Jul.02, 2015

Honda Civic Hybrid production ended last month.

At the beginning of 2014, when fuel prices seemed headed for new record highs, U.S. shoppers couldn’t drive off fast enough with small cars and alternative-power vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf.

But with fuel costs down by at least $1 a gallon across the country, manufacturers have been struggling to sell those same, high-mileage vehicles. That’s forced them to stack up new incentives on the hood and, in some cases, slash production.

Stay Plugged In!

That poses a challenge for the industry as it faces new fuel economy mandates for 2016 – with even tougher targets phasing in from now until 2025. Even so, automakers show little sign of retreating from the aggressive plans they’ve put in place to introduce new battery-based vehicles and other clean alternatives.

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Muscle Cars Rule Again

Why advertise a car that’s already sold out?

by on Jul.02, 2015

The Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat models take center stage in the new Predators ad campaign.

At 707 horsepower, the Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat models are the most powerful muscle cars to ever roll off a Detroit assembly line, and the fastest. Just ask any dealer who has watched the two vehicles squeal out of showrooms faster than the factory can build them.

Even though Dodge is heavily promoting the Hellcat models in a series of new 30- and 90-second ads, the Hellcats are sold out for the rest of the 2015 model-year. But parent Fiat Chrysler isn’t the only one struggling to meet demand. Ford Motor Co. saw a roughly 40% jump in sales of its long-popular Mustang last month, and while sales are off a bit for the Camaro, Chevrolet expects a big surge of demand once it launches the all-new 2016 version in the months ahead.

Your High-Performance News Source!

Only a few years ago, skeptics were predicting the demise of the muscle car, with the classic V-8 likely to be relegated to the automotive rust heap. Hybrids and battery-cars were expected to take their place. But as recent sales figures have demonstrated, Americans aren’t about to abandon their long-standing passion for performance. These days, manufacturers are being forced to pile on the incentives to get buyers to consider those alternative-power vehicles.

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BMW Speeds Up the Roll-out of its New Plug-In Line-up

Getting a first drive of the new 2-Series Active Tourer eDrive.

by on Jul.01, 2015

This PHEV version of the new 2-Series Active Tourer will be one of four BMW plug-ins coming to market in the months ahead.

For BMW, 2016 is going to be the year of the PHEV. Forget low fuel prices the Bavarians are convinced plug-ins are here to stay, and they’re rolling out and assortment of new models that pick up on the technology first introduced with the exotic BMW i8.

In a matter of months, we’ll see four plug-based models, including versions of the X5, 2 Series Active Tourer, 3 Series and 7 Series.

Your Global News Source!

Why now? There are all sorts of reasons. For one thing, few expect today’s low fuel prices to last, even in the United States. And tough new emissions and mileage standards will be phasing in over the next decade, making it difficult for luxury manufacturers to remain on the market without adopting cleaner and more efficient powertrain technologies.

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Luxury Brands Cruise to Strong Sales in June

SUVs, crossovers push makers to big results.

by on Jul.01, 2015

BMW's SAVs posted a 75.3% increase in June offsetting a 12.9% drop in car sales.

Improvements in consumer sentiment, low interest rates and the steady growth in the sales of truck and utility vehicles, including those sold by luxury brands, helped set the torrid pace for sales in June, which boosted the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales or SAAR past 17 million units.

Luxury brands performed well last month, led by BMW reporting a 6.5% increase, including a 75.3% increase in sales in utility vehicles that helped offset a 12.9% drop in sales of BMW’s vaunted passenger cars.

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The same pattern prevailed at Mercedes-Benz, which posted record sales in the first half of the year after a 5.8% increase in June with strong sales of the C- and E-Class models. As a whole, first-half sales of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars totaled 101,212, increasing 3.5% from the same period in 2014. (more…)

Makers Moved Metal by Offering Money

Incentives rose in June keeping the good times rolling.

by on Jul.01, 2015

Slow sales means big incentives on some vehicles, such as the Kia K900 which had $8,000 slapped on the hood to lure in buyers.

Automakers in the U.S. enjoyed a monumental month in June with double-digit sales increases seeming to be the norm as they reported the results.

The results were so positive at least one organization – the National Automobile Dealers Association – revised its expected sales number for 2015 upward to 17.2 million vehicles: a 200,000-unit jump.

Inside the Sales News!

In order to keep that smoking hot sales pace, some automakers sweetened the pot for certain buyers. Hyundai was the leader of the pack on increased incentive spending with a 34.5% jump over last June and 5.6% spike from May. (more…)

Toyota, Nissan and Honda Team up to Create “Hydrogen Society”

Makers pool funds to set up hydrogen fueling stations.

by on Jul.01, 2015

One of the first Japanese hydrogen stations.

In an unusual move, Japan’s three largest automakers have agreed to work tougher to help create what they’re calling a “hydrogen society.”

Toyota Motor Corp. has just launched its new Mirai fuel-cell vehicle, with Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. working up similar products. While proponents point out that these vehicles produce no harmful emissions, skeptics note that there are few places for potential buyers to fill their tanks with the lightweight fuel, so the three companies are promising to invest as much as 6 billion yen, or $50 million, to build and support a network of hydrogen filling stations in Japan.

Fill Up!

They have also been supporting plans to create a similar infrastructure in the United States where the only ready supply of hydrogen currently is located in Southern California.

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