Archive for October, 2016

Falling Used Car Prices May Provide Good Value, But Suspect Safety

Check out the top 12 most dangerous vehicles.

by on Oct.31, 2016

Used car prices continue falling, but a good deal on a bad car is a potentially dangerous combination.

New vehicles are still selling a rapid pace, and used car sales are taking a hit as a result. The upside is that savvy buyers can find a really good deal on a used car these days.

Prices on older model vehicles are being particularly hit hard these days. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association says wholesale prices of vehicles up to eight years old fell by 3.6% in September, which is the largest drop this year.

Sales and Safety News!

The organization’s used car guide says used vehicle prices at the consumer level fell by 1%, pushing its used car price index to the lowest since March 2011. (more…)

As Voters Consider Pot Laws, Safety Experts Urge Caution

"I urge caution," says governor of Colorado, first state to legalize.

by on Oct.31, 2016

Image Courtesy CBS 60 Minutes

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper advises states exercise caution in the months after the legalization of marijuana. Photo credit: CBS News

These states would join four others and the District of Columbia where pot is already legal for recreational use, along with a number of others where it can be used for medical purposes.

Proponents say the change is long overdue and would, among other things, unburden an overtaxed justice system while no longer turning casual users into potential criminals. But critics, as well as some automotive safety advocates, are raising caution flags, warning that legalization could translate into trouble on the nation’s highways.

Legal News!

“I urge caution,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, whose state was, along with Washington, the first in the country to vote for decriminalization. (more…)

Chevrolet Screams into SEMA with COPO Camaro Concept

Camaro SS Drag Race Program “exploring” 10-second quarter mile options.

by on Oct.31, 2016

Chevrolet is bringing the thunder to SEMA once again with its new 2017 COPO Camaro: Only 69 will be built.

Forget Halloween. If you’re looking for something scary, take a trip out to the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas this week to see the latest in high-performance parts and accessories – and a few complete car projects.

Chevrolet is a perennial presence at the Las Vegas Convention Center and it’s back again this year with several Camaro projects designed to put some fear into the competition. That includes a new track-ready concept version of the COPO Camaro that could soon be dominating the drag strip. Chevy is also showing off a variety of concept parts designed to help get weekend racers down the quarter mile in 10 seconds through the Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program.

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“From sportsman classes to the pro ranks, Camaro has been one of the most popular cars ever to launch down the drag strip,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “For 50 years Chevrolet has supported Camaro drag racers and these new SEMA vehicles demonstrate our commitment to the sport, with parts development and the advancement of the historic COPO Camaro program.” (more…)

Toyota Gets Piece of Car-Sharing Startup

Maker adds Getaround investment to deal with Uber.

by on Oct.31, 2016

Toyota has invested in car-sharing startup Getaround, expanding its reach into the mobility marketplace.

Toyota Motors Corp. is making an investment in a West Coast start-up company that allows car owners to lend their vehicle to others for a fee.

The Japanese financial press reports that Toyota has invested in U.S. car-sharing company Getaround, which launched its app-enabled, “peer-to-peer” car sharing service in 2013. The move follows upsurge in investment by carmakers in sharing services around the world.

Global Auto News!

Toyota also has a stake in Uber. Unlike Uber, which acts much like a taxi service with part-time drivers who use their own vehicles, Getaround’s users actually borrow and drive a vehicle from a specific vehicle owner who has agreed to make a vehicle they own available for lease. Getaround insures the leased vehicle and takes a cut of the fee charged for the transaction. (more…)

Honda Earnings Surge on Strong SUV Sales

Japanese maker beats its own estimate.

by on Oct.31, 2016

Honda sales have been surving with the addition of new versions of the latest Civic generation.

Growing worldwide demand for sport- and crossover-utility vehicles helped Honda Motor Co. beat its own earnings forecast for the July to September quarter.

The third-largest Japanese automaker delivered a 177 billion yen, or $1.7 billion, profit, while Honda also upgraded its forecast for the full year by about 4%, to 415 billion yen, or nearly $4.

By the Numbers!

The upturn during the second quarter of the Japanese fiscal year was a welcome turnaround. During the April-June quarter Honda profits tumbled 6%, largely the result of the ongoing Takata airbag recalls. Honda is one of the largest customers of Takata, whose defective airbags have now been linked to at least 15 deaths worldwide.

(more…)

Comma One Maker Pulls Semi-Autonomous Add On Device

Company founder claims he'd rather invent things than deal with government.

by on Oct.28, 2016

Comma.ai's George Hotz at the introduction of the Comma One: an aftermarket device giving cars semi-autonomous capability for $999.

The promise of an aftermarket system to make your car semi-autonomous … as quickly as it was here, it was gone.

Comma.ai introduced the new aftermarket add-on at a trade show in San Francisco last month that allows anyone with $999 and who is willing to pay the $24 a month subscription fee to turn their vehicle into a nearly self-driving beast.

The Last Word!

As is usually the case with new technology, wiring up your car with a device made from off-the-shelf parts and turning it loose on the freeway isn’t as simple as it seems. Federal regulators, namely the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, had a few questions about the new device. (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Taps Bremen Facility for EQ Project

Company picks location, but not date for EQ production.

by on Oct.28, 2016

Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche announced that the Generation EQ will be built at the maker's plant in Bremen, Germany.

Daimler AG rolled out is new electric car brand, EQ, last month in Paris and it was assumed the idea would gestate for a bit.

However, Daimler and its Mercedes-Benz Group are moving ahead with the plans by announcing the implementation of the next step in its EV strategy by announcing the first production version of EQ will be built at its plant in Bremen, Germany.

Product News!

The announcement did leave Mercedes-Benz, which operates the Bremen complex, some wiggle room as the maker said only that the first EQ will roll off the assembly line by the “end of this decade.” (more…)

AutoNation Embarks on Major Brand Expansion

Dealer chain will add used car-only shops, parts business, push online car sales and more.

by on Oct.28, 2016

AutoNation plans to invest $500 million in a brand expansion that will see it challenge used car leader CarMax.

It may already be the nation’s largest new car dealer chain, but Florida-based AutoNation is setting out on a major brand expansion that will see it challenge used car specialist CarMax, start selling its own line of automotive parts and accessories and push further into online car shopping.

The project is expected to cost AutoNation about $500 million and take several years to put in place. But it could firm up the publicly traded dealer network’s grip at a time when many industry experts forecast dramatic changes to come in the automotive world. Whether the project is enough remains to be seen, as some experts believe car sales could decline during the coming decade in favor of new car- and ride-sharing alternatives, such as Car2Go and Uber.

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AutoNation was at the forefront of an earlier transition, as thousands of traditional ma-and-pa dealerships were taken over by mega-chains. “Now we’re ready to see how we can extend this brand we created to new business opportunities,” said AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson. (more…)

Hyundai and Kia Pay $41 Mil to Settle Mileage Case

Korean makers overstated mileage by up to 6 mpg.

by on Oct.28, 2016

Kia overstated the mileage of its Soul by 6 mpg, according to the EPA.

Four years after the two automakers admitted overstating the fuel economy of many of their models by up to 6 mpg, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motor Corp. will pay $41.2 million to resolve an investigation by 33 state attorneys general.

That’s on top of $350 million the two Korean carmakers paid as part of a settlement with federal regulators two years ago, and millions more in compensation and settlements paid to vehicle owners.

Financial News!

While the maker made no admission of violating any laws, the latest settlement “recognizes that fuel economy is a consideration in many car-buying decisions, and (Hyundai) remains committed to being responsive to customer concerns about our revised fuel economy ratings,” said David Zuchowski of the company’s U.S. operations. (more…)

Heavy Lifter: Much Riding on New Volkswagen Atlas

New ute will be the largest VW model sold in the U.S.

by on Oct.28, 2016

The VW Atlas makes its debut.

In Greek mythology, Atlas carried the world on his back. The new Volkswagen Atlas won’t have quite as big a load to shoulder, but it will still be the troubled brand’s heavy lifter.

The long-awaited sport-utility vehicle made its debut during a preview on the Santa Monica Pier Thursday night, and it will soon start rolling out of the expanded Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Atlas will join VW’s two other SUVs and, if all goes according to plan, help the automaker gain some much-needed momentum in a fast-growing market that has largely passed it by.

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“This is the beginning of a new future for Volkswagen in America,” declared Hinrich Woebcken, the long-time BMW executive who was named CEO of Volkswagen Group of America early this year. The launch of the Atlas, he continued, means that “We are here to stay in North America.”

(more…)

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