Archive for August, 2017

Honda Bringing CR-V Hybrid, Urban EV Concept to Frankfurt

Automaker moving forward on plans to electrify its line-up.

by on Aug.31, 2017

Honda heads into the Frankfurt Motor Show teasing two new EV concepts, including the CR-V Hybrid teased above.

Honda is charging into Frankfurt next month, bringing with it two electrified concept models — though at least one seems certain to go into production.

The Japanese automaker was one of the first to bring hybrids to market but has been slow to embrace more advanced battery-based technology. But that’s about to change, CEO Takahiro Hachigo pronouncing that his goal is to generate fully two-thirds of Honda’s sales from battery and hydrogen-powered models by 2030.

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Both of the models coming to the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show are, for now, targeted specifically at the European market, Honda says, but they should give us some hints about the company’s broader electrification strategy. (more…)

U.S. House to Vote on Broad Autonomous Vehicle Bill

Measure would make it easier for industry to test self-driving vehicles on public roads – but critics want more oversight.

by on Aug.31, 2017

Waymo recently launched a pilot ride-sharing program in Phoenix using autonomous Chrysler minivans.

Federal lawmakers could take a big step closer to enabling widespread testing of autonomous and even fully driverless vehicles when the U.S. House of Representatives votes next week on a bill that would greatly expand the auto industry’s ability to test such vehicles on public roads.

The measure, which was approved unanimously by a House panel in July would essential usurp the patchwork of state regulations that has slowly begun falling into place, and it would allow prototype vehicles to sidestep some of the current federal safety regulations that apply to conventional cars, trucks and crossovers.

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“Self-driving vehicles stand to make our transportation system safer and more efficient,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, said in a statement. “Advancing this technology to road-ready requires government policy that encourages continued testing and development.”


Tesla Cuts Prices for Second Time in Two Months

Company lops money off top models this time.

by on Aug.31, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk cut prices on vehicles for the second time in the last two months.

Is Tesla feeling pinched by ever-growing competition? For the second time in the last two months, Elon Musk has gone all “Crazy Eddie,” cutting prices this time on the EV maker’s highest-priced models.

While “Crazy Eddie” is an exaggeration, the company cut the prices on the Model S and Model X 100D by $3,500. The performance versions of each, the P100D, saw a $5,000 price drop. So is this a proactive move to head off competitors?

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Nah. Tesla says production costs for the 100-kilowatt battery packs have falling, and the company is simply passing along the savings to potential customers. The new price tag is similar to the prices seen before a price increase on the same models back in April of this year, but the current models offer more features than before. (more…)

Another Former UAW Official Pleads Guilty in Bribery Scheme

King follows Durden's lead and pleads guilty.

by on Aug.31, 2017

Former UAW official Virdell King pleaded guilty to illegally accepting money and gifts from Fiat Chrysler.

The former assistant director of the United Auto Workers’ Chrysler Department, Virdell King, pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy charges stemming from her role in the massive bribery scheme that has engulfed Fiat Chrysler and the UAW.

King served as the chief lieutenant for UAW vice president General Holiefield. She was implicated to a scheme that centered on Holiefield and siphoned off millions of dollars in training funds into the pockets of select union and company officials. Holiefield died in 2015 and King is the most senior union official for far indicted in the federal probe.

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She faces potential jail time ranging from 16 month five years. Her sentence will be handed down in early January. (more…)

Who Said Station Wagons Are Dead? Here Are A Baker’s Dozen for 2018

Call them what you will, Sportbrake, TourX or Alltrack, they’re still wagons.

by on Aug.31, 2017

The 2018 Buick Regal TourX looks like a wagon, but is marketed like a crossover. Wagons are making a comeback.

It was the vehicle of choice for parents raising their young Baby Boomers, station wagons once nearly as popular sedans in America’s fast-growing suburbs. But as Boomers grew old enough to drive on their own they headed off into different directions.

In biblical terms, the wagon begat the minivan which, by the early 1990s, was generating sales of more than 2 million a year. Since the turn of the millennium, however, the lowly people mover has had to make way for the SUV and car-like crossover-utility vehicles.

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Yet, there is still a small but loyal following for station wagons and even some new ones coming to market for 2018. They’re certainly not the same as the ones Boomers might recall piling into as parents raced them home from school in time to watch Howdy Doody. Forget wood paneling. They’re sleek and, yes, even sexy, and some offer many of the features you’ll find on today’s utes, including all-wheel-drive. (more…)

Houston Area Auto Dealers Reeling in Wake of Hurricane Harvey

Storms and flooding will provide short-term economic boost.

by on Aug.31, 2017

AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson said 17 company dealerships are shut down due to Harvey and he's unsure when they'll reopen. Photo credit: CNBC.

Houston is the fourth-largest city in the U.S. and one of the largest markets for new vehicles so when it’s shut down by a massive hurricane and record rainfall it’s a big deal for the car business.

Fiat Chrysler, General Motors and Hyundai are already offering modest discounts on new vehicles purchased as replacements for cars, trucks and utility vehicles wrecked by the storm or floods.

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The discounts range from $500 to $750 but it’s not clear that that dealers around Houston are ready to handle the post-hurricane traffic just yet. (more…)

Holiday Traffic Fatalities Expected to be Highest in Decade

NSC forecasting 421 deaths, highest since 2008.

by on Aug.30, 2017

The National Safety Council is predicting 421 will die in traffic accidents during the long Labor Day weekend.

With the Labor Day holiday coming up, Americans are expected to take to the roads in record numbers, and the National Safety Council expects that will mean the highest number of traffic fatalities in a decade during the long weekend.

The weekend begins Sept. 1 and ends Sept. 4, according to the safety group.

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The NSC estimates 421 people will be killed and another 48,400 injured seriously enough to require medical attention in car crashes during the weekend — its highest forecast since 2008. It’s also 11% higher than the average number of deaths for the holiday weekend. (more…)

Porsche Rolls Out Gen-3 Cayenne Ahead of Frankfurt Motor Show

Flagship SUV grows longer, faster, lighter.

by on Aug.30, 2017

The third-generation 2018 Porsche Cayenne.

It might seem hard to believe but there was a time, not all that long ago, when skeptics predicted Porsche’s imminent demise. How, they asked, could a company known for sleek sports cars like the 911 ever imagine selling a sport-utility vehicle?

Well, we all know how that turned out. The Porsche Cayenne has been the German maker’s best-selling product almost since the day it debuted, encouraging it to add a second SUV, the Macan, to its line-up a couple years back. Indeed, the success of the Cayenne ushered in a dramatic shift in the high-line luxury market, just about every exotic brand now offering at least one SUV. And those, like Aston Martin, who don’t have any are rushing to join the crowd.

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So, no surprise, Porsche is working hard to keep Cayenne fresh and a step ahead of the competition. The third-generation ute makes it official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, but we’ve gotten an advanced look at what’s coming.


General Motors Expanding U.S. Design Center

Company readying for mobility design needs.

by on Aug.30, 2017

General Motors is adding 360,000 square feet of new space to its design center in metro Detroit.

General Motors plans to alter the character of its iconic design center by adding a 360,000-square-foot studio expansion on the campus of the GM Technical Center in suburban Detroit.

The expansion is part of $1 billion investment in GM’s Global Technical Center, a National Historic Landmark site, in Warren, Michigan, GM officials said. The expansion will basically encircle the Design Dome designed by Eero Saarinen in the early 1950s and its hidden courtyard with new studios and offices, GM said.

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The new design digs will focus on GM’s future mobility efforts, the company noted. (more…)

Smart Plugs In With Vision EQ Fortwo Concept

Electric prototype to debut at Frankfurt Motor Show.

by on Aug.30, 2017

The Smart Vision EQ Fortwo is the company's view of the future of urban transportation.

Earlier this year, Daimler’s Smart city car brand announced it would go all-electric in the U.S. market, abandoning the gas-powered remake of the two-seat Fortwo model it had launched here barely a year before.

Few would be surprised to see Smart abandon the internal combustion engine entirely in the not-too-distant future. But that might be just one of the many changes Daimler appears to be envisioning for the city car brand. The new Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept due to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month gives us a hint of what else might be in store.

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“The Smart Vision EQ Fortwo is our vision of future urban mobility; it is the most radical car sharing concept car of all: fully autonomous, with maximum communication capabilities, friendly, comprehensively personalisable and, of course, electric,” said Smart CEO Annette Winkler. (more…)