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Ford Bringing Back GT Racer for Detroit Auto Show

Automaker expected to race new vehicle at LeMans in 2016.

by on Dec.19, 2014

This GT40 Le Mans winner could get a stablemate as Ford is expected to debut a new version at the Detroit Auto Show next month.

Ford GT fans may be getting a post-holiday Christmas gift in January, as the automaker appears to be ready to unveil a GT-inspired supercar during the Detroit Auto Show next month.

The car will be more than just a showpiece, according to AutoWeek, Ford plans to race it at LeMans in 2016. Chip Ganassi will oversee Ford’s new GT supercar’s entry in the GTE class at Le Mans. Additionally, Ganassi will run two cars in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship.

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The details about the car are sketchy, but various reports suggest the powerplant will be a mid-engine V8 from the new Shelby GT350 with some tweaks, while others think an EcoBoost V6 will find its way into the new beast. (more…)

U.S. Auto Industry Generates Record $1.1 Trillion in 2014 Sales

But that number likely to double by decade’s end.

by on Dec.19, 2014

More than 54 million new and used vehicles will be purchase in 2014 accounting fro $1.1 trillion.

When the books are closed on 2014, combined new and used auto sales are likely to reach a record $1.1 trillion in the U.S. And that figure could double by decade’s end, according to various industry studies.

In all, Americans will have purchased 54 million new and “previously owned” cars, trucks and crossovers, reports data service TrueCar. The year appears to be ending with a solid December, according to other industry analysts, with new vehicle sales for the month expected to be up around 11% compared to year-ago numbers.

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On top of that, automakers have been able to boost prices at a time of strong demand during a period of sustained economic expansion and falling gas prices. So, forecast TrueCar, total revenues for the year will be up about 8.3%. (more…)

FCA Recalls 280,000 Dodge Rams for Axle Problem

Rear axle can seize due to loose nut.

by on Dec.19, 2014

The 2005 Dodge Ram is being recalled for a problem with the rear axle.

Fiat Chrysler is recalling about 280,000 Dodge Ram pickups around the world due to a rear axle problem. Of the affected trucks, about 257,000 are in the U.S.

The problem with the truck stems from a loose nut that could cause the rear axle to seize on 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 pickups built from January 2004 through August 2005. Chrysler dealers will install a retention feature to the pinion nut. The recall will begin Feb. 13.

Power!

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the problem in June after receiving 15 complaints. The agency said the pinion nut may loosen, causing the rear axle to seize. The driveshaft also may detach, which could cause a crash. (more…)

New Car Sales Looking Strong in December

Heavy incentives, advertising drawing buyers to showrooms.

by on Dec.19, 2014

Low gas prices are helping to drive sales of full-size pickups like the Ford F-150, which is helping the year end on a high note.

With manufacturers pouring money into advertising, marketing and incentives this month, new car sales are expected to finish the year on a high note when the final numbers are totaled up in early January.

TrueCar, Inc., the negotiation-free car buying and selling platform, now expects December 2014 auto sales will show healthy year-over-year growth with a volume increase of as much as 11% and a 16.6 million SAAR, a pace not seen since before the great recession.

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Low fuel prices, sustained economic growth and U.S. consumers’ appetite for pickups, utility vehicles and luxury models have buoyed sales this year, up an estimated 5.8% to 16.5 million cars and trucks from last year’s 15.6 million. That demand has also resulted in higher transaction prices and revenue gains for automakers, according to True Car analysts. (more…)

Automakers Scramble As Russia’s Economy Melts down

GM, Audi, JLR temporarily abandon market, Nissan limits sales.

by on Dec.19, 2014

GM is one of several makers to cut off shipments to dealers like Moscow's Major, while others are sharply rising prices as the ruble collapses.

What seemed like a dream market just a few years ago has now turned into a nightmare, the Russian economic meltdown sending automakers from around the world into a scramble.

With economic sanctions already taking a serious toll, this past week’s collapse of the ruble has led General Motors, Audi and Jaguar Land Rover to temporarily halt sales in the heart of the former Soviet Union. Nissan, meanwhile, has decided to limit sales of some models and raise prices on others.

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“When the ruble sinks it’s a bloodbath for everybody,” said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance., which is the biggest maker in Russia along with its local partner Avtovaz. “It’s red ink, people are losing money, all car manufacturers are losing money.”

(more…)

Takata Runs Full-Page Ad Claiming It Will Do More

Supplier declines to join Ford to expand recall nationally.

by on Dec.18, 2014

Ford is the latest automaker to expand its recall of Takata airbags from a regional action to a national one.

Beleaguered auto supplier Takata took out full-page ads in several newspapers today saying more must be done to resolve the problem with its airbags, but a national recall of the faulty devices was not the answer.

And then Ford expanded its recall of the airbags to a national action.

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The ad, which was an open letter from Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada, was published in The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and three German papers. In the letter, Takada, who is the grandson of the company’s founder, outlined what the company was doing to try and rectify the situation, such as increasing the number of replacement parts being manufactured from 300,000 a month to 450,000, asking other airbag suppliers to produce parts and tripling the amount of testing it’s conducting on airbags. (more…)

Cadillac Set to Debut World’s First Streaming Video Rearview Mirror

Like “driving a convertible with the top down.”

by on Dec.18, 2014

Cadillac will introduce a new streaming video alternative to the traditional rearview mirror late next year on the planned CT6 premium luxury sedan.

Cadillac will introduce a new streaming video alternative to the traditional rearview mirror late next year, a move the luxury maker says will result in significantly improved visibility on the planned CT6 premium luxury sedan.

The move lifts a page out of what was once science fiction technology. The new technology could signal the demise of conventional mirrors, in general, with automakers hoping to replace outside mirrors with video cameras, as well.

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Cadillac clams the new streaming video mirror will improve a driver’s field of vision by as much as 300%, CT6 Chief Engineer Travis Hester suggesting, “The closest comparison to this kind of rear vision would be driving a convertible with the top down.” (more…)

Toyota Plowing $126 Million in Michigan Facilities

New effort increases decision-making impact of campus.

by on Dec.18, 2014

Toyota plans to invest $126 million into its Ann Arbor, Michigan-based technical center and, by extension, giving the it more decision-making responsibilities.

The definition of “Made in America” is getting rewritten again by Toyota as it announced it plans to invest $126 million into its Ann Arbor, Michigan-based technical center and, by extension, giving the center more decision-making responsibilities.

Toyota is expanding its powertrain operations in Ann Arbor as well as consolidating its vehicle development operations a new facility in nearby York Township, Michigan. The moves will cause the relocation of 85 jobs from California to Michigan.

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“The Technical Center continues to be a vital part of our growing North American operations that enables Toyota to package greater value for our customers,” said Ed Mantey, senior vice president at the Toyota Technical Center. (more…)

Airbag Safety Problems Delay Honda Hydrogen Vehicle Launch

But near-production concept set to debut at Detroit Auto Show.

by on Dec.18, 2014

The latest version of the Honda FCV Concept will make its debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Honda’s new fuel-cell vehicle has fallen victim to the maker’s airbag safety problems. With key engineering talent diverted to deal with the exploding Takata airbag issue, Honda won’t launch the production version of the new FCV model until early in 2016, senior company officials revealed.

But a near-production concept version of the new fuel-cell vehicle will still make its debut at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.

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It will show “the styling evolution” that has taken place since Honda first showed off its FCV Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in late 2012, said John Mendel, Honda’s top U.S. executive.

(more…)

First Drive: 2016 Kia Sorento

Maker’s new SUV aims to compete with Grand Cherokee, MDX.

by on Dec.18, 2014

Kia is debuting a revised and refined version of the Sorento, which will reach showrooms in January as a 2016 model.

In recent years, Kia has proven adept at reading consumer trends.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2008-2009 recessions, the Korean automaker introduced the Kia Soul, a versatile, small vehicle designed to fit into tight urban spaces and appeal to the nascent “back-to-the-city” vibe among the rising millennial generation.

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As the demand for fuel efficiency has ebbed, Kia has deftly introduced its own version of practical luxury, the K900 earlier this year to catch the move towards expensive vehicle. Now with gas prices sinking and Americans clamoring for sport-utility vehicles, Kia is ready to bring on the revised and refined version of the Sorento, which will reach showrooms in January as a 2016 model. (more…)