Archive for January, 2017

Daimler Drives Deeper into Car-, Ride-Sharing

German maker’s Mercedes brand ties up with Uber, Car2Go.

by on Jan.31, 2017

A subscriber orders a car through the Uber app.

Use the ride-sharing app on your smartphone and you’re likely to have a driver pull up in some basic econobox. Sign up for one of the car-sharing services and you’ll usually find a similarly no-frills model waiting as you rent by the hour.

But Mercedes-Benz wants to take things a bit upscale as it announces new deals with Uber, the largest American ride-sharing service, and short-term rental company Car2Go.

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Automakers from around the world have been rushing to find new ways to expand into new mobility services ventures. General Motors, for one, went so far as to invest $500 million into Uber’s prime competitor, Lyft, last year. But the new Mercedes-Benz deals could give reason for upscale motorists to try out ride and car-sharing alternatives.

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Ford Unveils Super Bowl Ad, Long-Term Commitment to Mobility

New FordHub reflects maker's efforts to broaden transportation.

by on Jan.31, 2017

Ford putting down a pretty penny to promote the "mobility" side of the company.

Ford is earnestly trying to reshape its image as an automotive AND a mobility company and it’s taking to arguably the world’s biggest stage to keep up the image makeover momentum: the Super Bowl LI.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker is using its part of its 90-second commercial during the match up between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots to hype its mobility products.

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Considering that 30-second spots go for more than $5 million, it’s hefty price to pay for something that still in the larval stage. It’s the company’s first Super Bowl ad since 2014 features a string of humorous footage of people getting stuck in life circumstances. (more…)

Snowbound: Dodge Challenger GT Weathers the Storm

Testing out the new 2017 AWD muscle coupe.

by on Jan.31, 2017

Dashing through the snow...a 2017 Dodge Challenger GT takes a run.

There’s nothing unusual about lining up a Dodge Challenger at the start of a quarter-mile drag strip; the muscle coupe was born to race. Nothing unusual, that is, unless there’s a half-foot of snow on the ground.

But that’s where we found ourselves recently, getting ready to put pedal to metal to see how the 2017 Challenger would handle. Of course, we had one thing working in our favor: this was the new, all-wheel-drive edition of the Dodge muscle car, the 2017 Dodge Challenger GT.

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Dodge has already put its AWD system in the Challenger’s sibling, the Charger, so we had a sense of what to expect, but the 2017 Challenger GT proved itself with aplomb during a couple days up in the snow and ice of Maine and New Hampshire, with plenty of time on public roads, as well as on a track normally closed for the season.

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Millennial Car Buyers Favor Practical, Rather Than Luxury

Used cars dominate their buying decisions.

by on Jan.31, 2017

Millennial buyers are largely focused on affordable, practical used vehicles.

Young Americans continue to put off learning to drive and then buying a car, according to a raft of recent surveys, though some of the research indicates Millennials are simply delaying, rather than abandoning, the traditionally American goal of getting wheels.

Once they do, they seem to be opting for practicality, according to one of those new studies, research by marketing platform Crowdtap suggesting that budget-minded Millennials are putting a low priority on luxury and status vehicles.

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Not surprisingly, the Crowdtap study also finds that these Gen-Y buyers are more likely than American auto buyers, on the whole, to purchase previously-owned vehicles, rather than new. About 86% of those included in the survey went for something used.

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After Steady December Climb, Gasoline Prices Retreat in January

U.S. production levels continuing to increase.

by on Jan.31, 2017

Gas prices fell for the first part of January as U.S. production levels increased.

After climbing during the last month of 2016, the price of gasoline has retreated for the past three weeks, dropping to $2.27 per gallon, which is down four cents per gallon from a week earlier, according to the survey by AAA.

AAA said the growth in the number of U.S. oil rigs and the increased drilling it implies are raising expectations for a climb in domestic oil production.

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Meanwhile, increased U.S. crude oil production and reduced demand has exerted pressure on the national average price at the pump, which has fallen for 21 consecutive days, AAA said. (more…)

Leasing Levels Hit New High-Water Mark in 2016

Some analysts believe leasing will level off in 2017.

by on Jan.30, 2017

Large SUVs are gaining in popularity and one of the ways they become more "affordable" is to lease them.

It was a record sales year for U.S. automakers last year, a new high-water mark reached, in some measure because automotive lease volumes also hit a new benchmark of 4.3 million vehicles, according to a new study, which translates to more than 30% of all new vehicle sales.

Edmunds latest Lease Market Report noted that leasing accounted for 31% of all new vehicle sales in 2016, which is up from 29% in 2015 — the previous high. Overall, leasing has been on the rise for some time now – growing 91% in the last five years – as buyers look to get more bang for their buck.

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That’s never been more true when it comes to a public hungry for all of the new sport-utilities, trucks and crossovers it can get its hands on. However, these vehicles often come with a heftier price tag than smaller sedans and coupe. (more…)

Ford Joins Increasing Chorus Condemning Trump Immigration Order

“We do not support this policy.”

by on Jan.30, 2017

Ford Chairman Bill Ford is one of the latest to criticize Trump's immigration plan.

With protests continuing around the country in response to Pres. Donald Trump’s Executive Order on immigration and travel, the U.S. business community is being drawn into the fray, Ford Motor Co. among the latest companies to take a stand.

The second-largest domestic automaker issued a statement Monday morning cosigned by Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Mark Fields declaring, “Respect for all people is a core value of Ford Motor Company, and we are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world. That is why we do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company.”

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Demonstrations were underway at more than 30 U.S. airports over the weekend to protest restrictions placed largely on Mideasterners of the Islamic faith. But while it is typically rare for the business community to be brought into such political turmoil, the latest fracas touched off by the inauguration of Trump has left fewer and fewer on the sidelines.

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GM and Honda Teaming Up on U.S.-based Fuel Cell Manufacturing

Plant will provide hydrogen tech for new products from both companies.

by on Jan.30, 2017

GM Global Product Development Director Mark Reuss and Honda North America CEO Toshiaki Nikishiba celebrate the debut of their new fuel-cell stack.

This story has been updated to reflect additional details and comments by both companies. New pics also have been added.

General Motors and Honda will set up a new plant in Michigan to mass produce next-generation fuel-cell technology that both companies plan to use in upcoming products, the automakers jointly announced Monday.

Honda is currently one of three automakers selling hydrogen-powered vehicles in the U.S., though GM was an early pioneer of the emissions-free technology and had been signaling plans to bring a fuel-cell vehicle, or FCV, of its own to market in the near future.

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The two companies established a research joint venture three years ago,” with each company providing know-how from its unique expertise to create a compact and low-cost next-generation fuel cell system,” said Toshiaki Mikoshiba, chief operating officer of the North American Region for Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and president of Honda North America, Inc. “This foundation of outstanding teamwork will now take us to the stage of joint mass production.” (more…)

Toyota Cedes Global Sales Crown to VW

VW sold 10.31 mil vehicles in 2016, a 3.8% gain.

by on Jan.30, 2017

Despite the sales hit it took due to the diesel scandal, Volkswagen overtook Toyota for the global sales crown.

It’s official: Volkswagen Group became the world’s best-selling automaker in 2016, toppling king-of-the-hill Toyota by more than 150,000 vehicles worldwide.

If anything, analysts suggested, the German maker’s lead would have been even larger were it not for VW ongoing diesel emissions scandal. Demand in the key U.S. market took a double-digit dip last year, but the “people’s car” company still managed to deliver a 3.8% global increase, buyers around the world taking delivery of 10.31 million products sold under a range of marques, from entry-level Seat to ultra-luxurious Bentley, as well as the flagship Volkswagen brand.

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By comparison, Toyota delivered 10.18 million vehicles last year, a more modest 0.2% year-over-year increase. The Japanese giant had snatched the sales crown from long-time leader General Motors in 2009, ceding the title only once during the past eight years. (more…)

Even Ride-Sharing Battle Takes Unexpected Political Turn

Lyft donates $1 mil to ACLU; Uber takes heat on several fronts.

by on Jan.30, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick may be in hot water with Trump supporters and opponents after this weekend.

In a surprisingly contentious week in the United States, capped by nationwide protests over the U.S. immigration and travel ban, even business has taken on an unexpectedly political tone. That includes the fast-emerging ride-sharing business.

Uber and its and CEO Travis Kalanick took criticism from some Trump opponents after the ride-sharing company’s founder agreed to serve on the new president’s economic advisory council. But the heat was turned up after some accused the San Francisco company of trying to take advantage of a boycott of New York’s JFK Airport by competing taxi drivers. Chief rival Lyft, meanwhile, is stirring things up among Pres. Trump’s supporters for its weekend donation of $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union.

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The line between the two companies is not as distinct as it might seem, however. But, if anything, Uber could find itself in hot water with both the president’s critics, as well as his supporters. (more…)