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Ford Dropping Weight – But Raising Price – of New F-150 Pickup

Prices will jump by as much as $3,615 for 2015 “aluminum-intensive” truck.

by on Jul.28, 2014

Ford is making the 2015 F-150 lighter everywhere, including the owner's bank account. The new model is going to be more expensive than its predecessor.

While Ford’s new “aluminum-intensive” 2015 F-150 pickup will be going on a diet, it’s going to be heavier on the wallet, the new truck’s sticker price jumping by as much as $3,615, depending on the specific model.

But the Detroit maker is hoping that potential buyers still see the 2015 Ford F-150 as a bargain because of the anticipated fuel savings that will come with shaving as much as 732 pounds off the big truck’s mass. On average, the new pickups will come in about 625 pounds under the weight of the steel-bodied 2014 F-150 line.

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Ford is also defending the increase by noting it is adding significantly more content to the 2015 remake of America’s best-selling vehicle. There are new LED accent lamps, larger video screens, and other new features on most of the models. And top-line versions, such as the F-150 Platinum and King Ranch edition, get a level of standard equipment more normally associated with luxury cars than work trucks. (more…)

First Dodge Challenger Hellcat Going to Auction

Charities benefit from trend of muscle cars going to highest bidder.

by on Jul.28, 2014

Dodge is auctioning a one-of-one 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat VIN0001, the most powerful and fastest muscle car ever built, at Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas 2014.

In what has become a growing trend among muscle, performance and sports car manufacturers, Fiat Chrysler plans to auction off for charity the first 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

The very first 707-horsepower coupe, vehicle identification number 0001, will roll across the block at the Barrett-Jackson Law Vegas auction to be held in Sin City between the 25th and 27th of September. Proceeds will be donated to Opportunity Village, a service that provides a variety of programs for men and women with various disabilities.

Muscling Up the News!

“The 2015 Challenger Hellcat is already guaranteed to be one of the hottest cars that will roll through the Barrett-Jackson auction lanes in decades to come,” said Tim Kuniskis, CEO of the Dodge and SRT Brands. “The VIN 0001 being auctioned this year is the ultimate one-of-one collectible 2015 Dodge Challenger, as Dodge is ensuring there will never be another one like it.” (more…)

Fiat’s Vans Concept 500 Tapping “Board” Culture

New vehicle latest to try to draw surfing fans.

by on Jul.28, 2014

The Fiat 500L-Vans concept is designed to supplant the traditional "woody" as the vehicle of choice for surfing fans.

Cars and surfing enjoy a special relationship on the beach and in popular culture, especially in Southern California where vehicles such as Woody wagons became embedded local lore. Fiat recently partnered with Vans adding another vehicle to the list of makers looking to capitalize on the “board” culture: the Fiat 500L-Vans concept.

Over the years, makers have sought to capitalize on the connection by customizing vehicles with surfers and their fans in mind. The Honda Element was the most recent stab at it and and Chrysler also brought out a Woody version of the PT Cruiser.

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Fiat’s new concept is making a play for the surfing crowd and it was unveiled over the weekend at the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California. (more…)

Nissan Earnings Surge 37% on Weak Yen, Strong Sales

Net profit significantly beats analysts’ forecasts.

by on Jul.28, 2014

The Nissan Sentra has helped drive strong demand for the maker, especially in the U.S. market.

Nissan saw a big surge in earnings for the latest quarter, with analysts crediting both strong sales in China and the U.S., as well as a boost from favorable exchange rates.

The second-largest Japanese maker reported a net profit of 112 billion yen, or $1.1 billion, a 37% year-over-year increase from 82 billion. The figures far and away exceeded analysts’ consensus forecast of 85 billion yen, or $835 million, according to data gathered by FactSet.

By the Numbers!

“Nissan continued to make progress in the first three months of the fiscal year as encouraging demand for new products, benefits from recent plant investments, and improving market conditions in North America, China and Europe combined to lift both revenues and profits,” said Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

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US Car Market Showing No Signs of Cooling Down

SUVs, crossovers and luxury vehicles drive demand.

by on Jul.28, 2014

Strong demand for products like Altima mean Nissan will deliver a double-digit July sales gain.

It may be an unexpectedly cool summer in much of the country but you wouldn’t know by looking at July’s sales numbers – which have many industry observers expecting the rest of the year to remain hot.

Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co. chief executive officer, noted the general economy appears steady, which should lead to strong sales during the second half of the years. Chuck Stevens, General Motors chief financial officer, also said the second half of the year looks very promising.

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Preliminary data suggest that July new-car sales will be up about 12% over year-earlier numbers, putting the industry on track for its best July since 2006, well before the U.S. economy began to collapse. Overall sales should reach about 1.46 million for the month, according to new forecasts from TrueCar and Kelly Blue Book, and that translates into a seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, of 16.6 million to 16.7 million, roughly a million ahead of total sales in 2013.

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FBI Raids Home of Former Ford Engineer

Agents seize listening devices, email accounts.

by on Jul.25, 2014

Ford is the latest automaker subject to industrial espionage. FBI agents raided the home of a former employee seizing listening equipment and her email accounts.

Until recently, the biggest concerns U.S. automakers had about industrial espionage came from China counterfeiting their vehicles; however, a recent spate of U.S.-based employees caught using a variety of means to secure information has automakers on high alert.

The most recent incident involves a former Ford engineer, who’s home was recently raided by the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation. The agents also seized her personal email account and removed secret listening devices she planted in various places in Ford’s World Headquarters, according to a Detroit News report.

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A search warrant filed Friday in federal court shows the FBI seized Sharon Leach’s Gmail account, including all emails, drafts, photos, phone numbers, contacts and bank accounts tied to the account. Google provided the information Wednesday, the News reported. (more…)

Power to the People

Quality guru J.David Power inducted into Automotive Hall of Fame.

by on Jul.25, 2014

Dave Power, founder of J.D. Power and Associates, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

He isn’t your typical car guy, fixated on fast cars and powerful engines. But while his game is all about numbers, he isn’t exactly a bean-counter, either. J. David Power III has carved out a unique and, appropriately, powerful position in the automotive industry. And that’s something car buyers around the world should be grateful for.

The 83-year-old former newsboy is the founder of J.D. Power and Associates (JDPA), the California-based arbiter of quality in the automotive industry – and, increasingly, a variety of other industries from airlines to telecomm. With its public studies and private research, JDPA has become a critical link between consumers and manufacturers and, according to many in the car business, can claim a major share of the credit for the dramatic improvement in automotive quality and reliability over the past four decades.

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“He gives people their voice in the marketplace,” said Bud Liebler, a former Chrysler marketing vice president, who was on hand to honor Dave Power during his induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame on Thursday night. (more…)

A Dozen Ways to Keep Your Car from Being Stolen

Don’t become a statistic during National Vehicle Theft Protection Month.

by on Jul.25, 2014

A car is stolen every 44 seconds in the U.S., but there steps owners to can take to lower the odds.

Despite a nationwide crackdown, car theft remains a major problem, and according to government statistics, a vehicle is stolen in the U.S. about every 44 seconds. As the title of a recent movie suggested, a thief may need as little as 60 seconds to break in and then drive off with your car.

But you don’t have to become an unhappy part of those statistics. Driver error is responsible for as much as 50% of vehicle theft, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some common sense steps can reduce the odds of having your vehicle stolen – while you can also improve the odds of recovering your car, truck or crossover if it is snatched.

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The simplest step is to always remember to lock your car – and then take the key. Even with today’s remote keyless entry systems, a surprising number of motorists still don’t bother to close their windows and lock their vehicles up. Many people will even leave their keys in a cupholder or even in the ignition. You might as well put a sign on the windshield, “Steal Me.” (more…)

Chinese Newspaper Lauds GM for Social Responsibility

GM China’s efforts to cut pollution, helping people nets honor.

by on Jul.25, 2014

General Motors China was recognized today as the fourth-best Fortune 500 company in the area of corporate social responsibility at the 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Conference in Beijing.

For the second consecutive year, Southern Weekly, an influential Chinese newspaper, honored General Motors China as one of the top companies in the area of corporate social responsibility for its civic spirit and sensitivity to the environment.

The Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Conference, which is sponsored by Southern Weekly, helps increase awareness of CSR among companies while honoring their significant achievements.

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Southern Weekly is described by western journalists as one of China’s most outspoken and independent news organizations; however, it is part of provincial newspaper group supervised by Guangdong Provincial Party Committee of China’s ruling Communist Party in Southern China in a province that has been leader in modernizing and expanding the Chinese economy. (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Downsizes with New AMG Engine

Set to debut in maker’s upcoming AMG GT sports car.

by on Jul.25, 2014

The new, 510-hp Mercedes-Benz engine will debut under the hood of the upcoming AMG GT.

With the unveiling of its all-new 4.0-liter V-8, Mercedes-Benz joins a growing trend in the automotive performance market. Smaller, it seems, is better as performance and mileage requirements collide.

Due to make its debut under the hood of the planned Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, the new twin-turbo V-8 will deliver the sort of numbers that would traditionally require a far bigger engine – along with the fuel economy traditionally not possible in a high-performance sports car.

High-Performance!

A growing number of makers are opting for features like turbocharging, and even hybridization, to generate more power out of smaller engines. And as ever-tougher fuel economy and emissions standards go into place around the world, the trend is only likely to accelerate, according to industry planners and engineers.

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