Archive for the ‘U.S./North America’ Category

Americans Driving with Insufficient Headlights, Study Says

AAA says older headlights are a real safety concern.

by on Dec.12, 2018

Millions of American vehicles have headlights that provide dangerously low levels of illumination.

We’ve all said it at one time or another: “Are my lights on?” According to a new AAA study, aging and sun-damaged headlights are a major safety issue in the United States.

Yellow or clouded headlights generate about 20% of the amount of light that new headlights do, according to the AAA study. Obviously, this can create some hazardous conditions when driving at night. With half of all accidents occurring at night, AAA encourages drivers to check the condition of their headlights regularly and change them when necessary.

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“Walk through any parking lot and it is evident that deteriorated headlights are a problem for most vehicle owners,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Headlights on the road in the U.S., even when new, don’t produce a sufficient amount of lighting, so any reduction in performance is a real safety issue.” (more…)

Sales Sliding, Toyota Rethinking Plans for Prius

As sales slip, “We need to find a new direction,” says senior Prius exec.

by on Dec.12, 2018

For 2019, Toyota is launching the first AWD version of the familiar Prius hatchback.

Say the word, “hybrid,” and one name is almost certainly going to pop into your mind: Toyota Prius. First launched in Japan in 1997 and brought to the U.S. three years later, it has been the world’s best-selling hybrid-electric vehicle, or HEV, ever since. For several years, earlier this decade, it was the best-selling vehicle in the huge California market and number one in Japan, as well.

But, as the cliché goes, times have changed. Whether due to increased competition, cheap gasoline, or other issues, sales of the original Prius hatchback have been tumbling. Though still the best-selling hybrid in the U.S., the first 11 months of this year saw demand dip 23.2%. And, at just 3,180 vehicles in November, sales are now running barely a quarter of their peak pace earlier in the decade.

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Toyota is trying to address some of the issues that came up with the launch of the fourth-generation Prius hatchback for the 2016 model-year, among other things tweaking its design and introducing a new electric all-wheel-drive system that could enhance the car’s appeal in Snowbelt regions. But during a series of interviews at a media drive of the 2019 Prius, Toyota officials acknowledged they are looking at even more radical options for the fifth-generation hybrid hatchback due out early in the coming decade.

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Daimler Investing More Than $20B in Battery Cells

Company furthers commitment to EVs.

by on Dec.12, 2018

Daimler AG's Dieter Zetsche announced the company's commitment to buy more than $22 billion in battery cells.

Daimler AG is prepared to put up $22 billion to purchase battery cells over the next dozen years.

Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said the commitment is expected to help insure that the batteries are available to move ahead with the development of electric vehicles.

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“Our electric offensive continues to gain momentum. After investing billions of euros in the development of the electric fleet and the expansion of our global battery network, we are now taking the next step,” Zetsche said. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 BMW 3-Series

Rediscovering the art of “the ultimate driving machine.”

by on Dec.11, 2018

BMW's taking the covers off the next-gen 3-Series. The 330i is certainly a step above its predecessors.

There are advantages to being the best in breed – but there are some disadvantages, as well, as BMW is well aware. Since the very first version rolled out in May 1975, the BMW 3-Series has been the benchmark of the compact sports sedan market, delivering a mix of performance, handling and luxury that other brands have struggled to match.

Now, however, as the seventh-generation 3-Series gets ready to roll into showrooms, the Bavarian automaker faces a level of competition never seen before. Traditional rivals like Mercedes-Benz and Audi have been zeroing in on the BMW formula, as have new competitors such as Genesis, which recently won high-profile kudos like the Motor Trend Car of the Year.

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And Tesla is aiming to redefine the rules with its all-electric Model 3. BMW is even competing with itself. In an SUV-crazed world, more and more traditional 3-Series buyers have been migrating to the brand’s own X3 crossover. (more…)

White House Tells Automakers China Tariffs Coming Down

Automotive levies coming down to 15%.

by on Dec.11, 2018

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer appears to be making progress in talks with the Chinese.

After the first few days of talks, White House officials once again believe China is ready to cut tariffs on U.S. cars, trucks and utility vehicles from 40% to 15%.

Trump administration officials told automakers following a U.S.-China trade call they believe China will cut tariffs on U.S. autos to 15% from the current 40%, an auto executive told Reuters after being briefed on the call.

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Before excitement begins to bubble, this has been heard before. President Donald Trump tweeted a few weeks ago that China was cutting the levies, only to have to backtrack on those assertions. Additinally, there is no actual documentation to support the idea. (more…)

GM Presses to Extend EV Tax Credits

But automaker’s planned plant closings make it a hard sell.

by on Dec.11, 2018

General Motors is lobbying politicians to extend EV tax credits just a week after CEO Mary Barra was flogged for plans to close five plants and layoff thousands.

General Motors lobbyists are making a push on Capitol Hill to extend the tax credits the automaker’s customers can receive after purchasing one of its battery-electric vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

The automaker is rapidly approaching the sales threshold set by Congress – 200,000 battery models – after which the incentives would be phased out. That would make vehicles like the Bolt as much as $7,500 more expensive and potentially short-circuit demand.

All Charged Up!

GM is by no means alone. Tesla has already crossed the sales threshold and will begin to have its tax credits phase out, starting January 1. They will be eliminated entirely at the end of 2019. Nissan and Ford aren’t far behind. Newer entries into the electric car field, such as Volkswagen and Hyundai, would effectively gain an edge by continuing to offer the credits. (more…)

Sales of Electric Vehicles Growing Steadily in California

Year-over-year increase in triple digits.

by on Dec.11, 2018

Electric vehicle sales are up 300% year-to-date in California.

Electric cars accounted for 7.1% of California car sales in the first three quarters of 2019 with fully electric, zero-emission car sales outrunning the plug-in hybrid sales.

EVs accounted for 4.1% of the vehicles sold in California while plug-in hybrids accounted for 3%, according to Veloz, which tracks the development of EV sales in the state.

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“It’s no longer a matter of whether electric vehicles will take off, but how soon,” said Josh Boone, executive director of Veloz, public-private coalition of major electric car industry stakeholders, told bingdb.info. California hit the 500,000 electric-car sales milestone in November. (more…)

Tesla’s Musk Expresses Interest in Closing GM Plants

Exec expresses disdain for SEC, approvals.

by on Dec.10, 2018

Elon Musk expressed interest in buying one of the plants General Motors plans to close in the near future.

Tesla co-founder Elon Musk is ready to play “Let’s Make a Deal” with General Motors — again.

Not, Musk doesn’t want to challenge GM CEO Mary Barra to appear on the television game show, but he did tell reporter Lesley Stahl on the CBS news show 60 Minutes he would be willing to buy one of the plants GM plans to shut down in the near future.

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“It’s possible that we would be interested. If they were going to sell a plant or not use it that we would take it over,” he said during the interview. (more…)

Detroit Auto Show Not Ready to Wave Goodbye to Winter

Final January run to see over 30 new models debut.

by on Dec.10, 2018

Toyota showed us a well-camouflaged Supra with chief engineer Tetsuya Tada at the Goodwood Festival.

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association has inked a seven-year deal with the City of Detroit that will ensure that the North American International Auto Show keeps running through at least the latter part of the next decade.

The deal also locks down the move from January to June that DADA, the sponsor of the show, announced earlier this year. That is expected to prove critical if the Detroit Auto Show is to regain its former glory or, at the very least, keep from slipping into second-tier status, something that seemed all too likely in the wake of a painfully quiet 2018 event that saw a single official media day wrap up the new car debuts shortly after noon.

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The 2019 North American International Auto Show will clearly not have the luster of years past. Virtually the entire European contingent – including brands like Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Meredes-Benz – plan to sit it out. But there will still be enough on the calendar to keep the spotlight lit. Among the products set to make their official debut at the Cobo Hall convention center are the long-awaited Toyota Supra and the Lexus RC F which is being hailed as the brand’s fastest and most powerful model ever, save for its limited-edition LFA supercar.

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Toyota Staying in Car Market for the Long Haul

Cars account for 4 million unit sales.

by on Dec.10, 2018

Toyota EVP Bob Carter noted that despite the popularity of trucks and SUVs, cars still about for 4 million sales.

Toyota officials recently reiterated the company has no intention of leaving the passenger car business.

Speaking at an event in Detroit last week, Bob Carter, executive vice president – sales for Toyota Motor North America, said the Japanese automaker has every intention of remaining in the passenger car business.

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Carter noted even as trucks and utility vehicles grow in popularity, consumers in the U.S. are expected to buy 4 million passenger cars this year. “At 4 million units, the passenger car market is bigger than the market in most countries,” said Carter. “Cars are very important.” (more…)