Archive for June, 2013

Honda Orders Recall Because of Fire Risk – for a 2nd Time

Same subcompacts improperly repaired in 2010, maker admits.

by on Jun.28, 2013

The 2007-2008 Honda Fit's master power window switch can short and even catch fire if it gets wet.

Honda has become the latest automaker to order a recall due to the risk of potential vehicle fires – a problem linked to a defective power window switch that has led to major recalls at several competitors including Toyota and General Motors. Embarrassingly, it is the second time Honda has had to repair the affected vehicles for the same problem.

In fact, with the recall covering just 143,083 Honda Fit subcompacts sold in the U.S., the latest safety action is relatively modest when compared to the 2.5 million vehicles Toyota had to recall in the States for the problem last October.

Keeping You Safe!

The latest action involves 2007 and 2008 model-year Honda subcompacts and is linked to a defective power window module that is vulnerable to rain or spilled liquids that might over time get in through the driver’s window.

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Ram Throws Down Gauntlet with New Diesel for Light-Duty Pickups

Maker has big expectations for high-torque, high-mileage oil-burner.

by on Jun.28, 2013

Brand CEO Reid Bigland with the full-size Ram 1500 pickup which gets a new diesel for 2014.

Chrysler is throwing down the gauntlet, its Ram truck division planning to become the first maker to offer a high-mileage diesel in its light-duty pickup line.

Ram, which is expected to post its 39th consecutive monthly sales increase next week, is betting that this will give it a critical advantage over competitors both domestic and foreign at a time when fuel prices continue to hover just below $4 a gallon in much of the country.  The question is whether potential buyers will balance the initial, $2,800 price premium against the longer-term savings on fuel.

The Last Word!

“When you look at the psyche of pickup truck owners,” Reid Bigland, the CEO of the Ram division, said  during a preview of the new powertrain, “they’re more aware of the benefits of a diesel engine” than the general U.S. population.

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Peugeot Looks to GM as Potential White Knight

GM plays hard-to-get after past alliances all floundered.

by on Jun.28, 2013

Despite the addition of new products like the 3008 diesel-hybrid, Peugeot continues to stumble as the European slump drags on.

After more than 200 years in control of the company that still bears its name, the Peugeot family appears willing to cede control of PSA Peugeot Citroen in a bid to attract a white knight to rescue the fast-failing French automaker.

And with several potential partners, including Chinese carmaker Dongfeng, showing a notable lack of interest, Peugeot CEO Philippe Varin is now sounding out General Motors, according to several reports from Europe.  GM and Peugeot announced an alliance in early 2012 that the makers claimed would save them billions of dollars over the coming year through common purchasing, parts production and other efforts. But the proposal coming from the French maker would take things a significant step further.

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Like Peugeot, GM has been hard hit by the European economic crisis and recently announced the latest in a series of turnaround plans for its Continental operations – which have lost more than $16 billion in 13 consecutive years of red ink – including $1.8 billion in 2012. But with European car sales now dipping to their lowest levels in two decades, analysts are skeptical about how quickly it will be able to implement that plan.

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Chevy Volt Recall May Set New Record

A handful of GM plug-ins face first-ever recall.

by on Jun.28, 2013

A glitch affecting the stability control system of a handful of 2012 Volts triggers a recall.

There’s been some major recalls during the past year, Chrysler agreeing, just this month to fix about 1.5 million Jeeps due to potential fire risks.  And there’ve been small ones measuring barely into the triple digits, such as the 689 Aston Martins that must be fixed because their brake pedals can, well, break.

But an admittedly incomplete search of the records suggests that this week’s recall of the Chevrolet Volt may set an all-time record.  Marking the first time General Motors’ much-ballyhooed extended-range electric vehicle has been subject to such an action, a grand total of just four vehicles are on the target list for repairs.

Auto News From a Source You Trust!

The problem, it appears, involves an electronic glitch with the electronic stability control system on the four vehicles, all sold during the 2012 model-year. In an emergency braking situation, the issue could lead to a crash – though GM says it is unaware of any incidents involving the vehicles.

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Leasing Regains its Appeal

With increased availability, over one in four American car buyers opt to lease.

by on Jun.28, 2013

Chevy has turned to super-low lease rates to help spur lagging Volt sales.

Looking for a quick way to cut the cost of buying a new car? You’re not alone, and that’s why a growing number of American motorists are opting to lease, rather than buy.

If that sounds a note of déjà vu, no surprise.  Leasing was big news for U.S. auto buyers in the years leading up to the economic crash.  For luxury brands, in particular, leasing accounted for as much as 80% of their sales. Then the bottom fell out and some makers, notably General Motors, pulled out of leasing entirely.

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As credit has loosened, auto buyers and automakers alike have rediscovered leasing’s advantages and the numbers are once again climbing – but so is the number of lease customers who find themselves wanting to get out of their vehicles sooner than expected, industry observers note.

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Ford Slings Mud – and Rocks – at Ram With New F-150 Tremor

New sport-truck opts for higher-mileage Ford EcoBoost V-6.

by on Jun.27, 2013

Ford targets younger, hipper sport-truck buyers with the 2014 F-150 Tremor.

Just because you want to tear things up doesn’t mean you have to swizzle a lot of gas – not with Ford’s new F-150 Tremor.

The new sport-truck due into showrooms this autumn will opt for Ford’s EcoBoost which the maker claims can deliver V-8 power but V -6 fuel economy.

“The new Tremor gives F-150 customers yet another option to drive a highly capable, distinctive performance truck with features typically found only in the aftermarket,” said Brian Bell, F-150 product marketing manager, during the new truck’s unveiling on Thursday.

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The debut of the regular cab, short-bed Tremor took many by surprise.  Ford has fed the market for pickups with all manner of variants in recent years, but it wasn’t expected to come up with another spin-off until after an all-new version of the F-Series was scheduled for launch in late 2014.

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First Drive: 2014 Nissan Versa Note

Handsome, roomy and attractively priced.

by on Jun.27, 2013

The 2014 Nissan Versa Note gives subcompact buyers a new hatchback option.

Small cars are going through something of renaissance that is capturing the attention of more and more American motorists tired of forking over a small fortune at the pump for gasoline.

Thus, the all-new 2014 Versa Note seems to be arriving in show rooms at just the right time.  Nissan introduced a sedan version of the Versa two years ago that hasn’t exactly set the world afire, yielding the segment lead to Asian competitors like the Honda Fit and Hyundai Accent, as well as domestic models like the Ford Fiesta.

Reviews You Can Trust!

The 2014 Versa Note – Nissan’s way of distinguishing its new subcompact hatchback – offers a more stylish exterior design than the sedan, an upgraded platform that improves interior packaging, and new technology to help set it apart from competitors.

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Drayson Tops 204 MPH – Sets EV Record

Old record stood for 29 years.

by on Jun.27, 2013

Members of the Drayson Racing team celebrate their land speed record.

With all the emphasis on electric propulsion these days, it might seem hard to believe that it’s been 39 years since General Electric – yes, GE – set the FIA World Electric Land Speed Record. But that achievement has finally been bested by a sleek, green Le Mans Prototype dubbed “Lola.”

On an RAF airbase in Yorkshire, England, an 850-horsepower battery-electric vehicle built by Drayson Racing hit a top speed of 204.185 miles per hour during a pair of runs down a 3-kilometer (nearly 2-mile) track.  That was a full 29 mph faster than the 175 mph record set way back in 1974 by the Battery Box General Electric.

Plug-In for News!

“I’m delighted we’ve beaten the record tonight and can show the world EVs can be fast and reliable,” said Lord Paul Drayson, whose firm built the 2,200 battery car, and who personally piloted it during the record run. “It is not the outright speed of 204.185 mph that is most impressive about this record, but the engineering challenge of accelerating a 1000 kilogram electric vehicle on a short runway over a measured mile.”

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First Look: 2014 Mazda3

Some big news out of a small package.

by on Jun.26, 2013

The 2014 Mazda3 is the maker's newest model to use Skyactive technology and the Kodo design language.

It might not come as a complete surprise considering the number of recent leaks emerging from inside Mazda, but the first official images of the new Mazda3 nonetheless live up to expectations as the maker rolls out its latest Skyacti model.

The 2014 Mazda3 also becomes the latest in the Japanese maker’s line-up to adopt the new Kodo, or Soul of Motion, design language, following such recent entries as the Mazda6 sedan and CX-5 crossover. That includes the oversized grille – which conceals wind-cheating grille shutters — headlamps that flow back over the front fenders, and subtle sculpting of the side panels. The profile gives the hatchback an almost coupe-like curvaceousness.

Maintain Your Love Affair with the Automobile!

The 2014 Mazda3 adopts a 2.4-inch longer wheelbase than the outgoing model but it’s actually two inches shorter, nose-to-tail.  Meanwhile, those active grille shutters help deliver a claimed best-in-class drag coefficient of just 0.255.

The new hatchback reportedly weighs in about 200 pounds lighter than the old model, in part due to a focus on so-called lightweighting – one of the key elements in the maker’s Skyactiv strategy.  Nonetheless, by switching to high- and ultra-high-strength steel in key locations the new model also is 30% stiffer, Mazda notes.

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