Archive for June, 2017

Mazda Recalls 307K Cars for Parking Brake Problem

U.S. home to 228K of the affected cars.

by on Jun.30, 2017

Mazda is recalling 228,000 Mazda6 and Mazda3 sedans in the U.S. due to a parking brake issue.

Mazda is recalling more than 307,000 cars — 228,000 in the U.S. — because of problems with the vehicle’s parking brake.

On certain Mazda6 and Mazda3 models, the parking brake may not fully release or, conversely, it may fail to keep the car in position, increasing the risk of a crash, the company notes.

Safety News!

The action covers 2014 and 2015 model year Mazda 6 cars and 2014–16 Mazda 3 models. (more…)

Brown Goes Green – Fleets Push High Tech Envelope

UPS boosting use of alternative powertrains; fleets also explore driverless tech.

by on Jun.30, 2017

UPS has experimented with a variety of powertrain alternatives, and now wants more on the street.

United Parcel Service says it wants more of its big, brown trucks to go green, the company planning to use alternative fuels and other clean, energy-saving technologies in about a quarter of its trucks by 2016.

That is expected to included everything from propane to battery-power, as well as LNG, battery-electric hybrids and even hydraulic hybrid powertrains. UPS isn’t alone, however. A growing number of fleet operators are looking at alternate powertrain technologies, as well as other high-tech systems such as driverless vehicles, which could help reduce costs while also improving the environment.

Stay in the Loop!

“Because of our size and scale, we know our commitments can shape markets, advance technologies and be a catalyst for infrastructure investments,” said UPS Chairman and CEO David Abney.

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Baby, Kia Has a Turbocharged Soul

Newborn hamster helps push third Soul model.

by on Jun.30, 2017

Baby Turbo can't wait to check out the new turbocharged Kia Soul Exclaim in the latest hamster ad.

They’re back. The Kia hamsters have returned in the latest in an ongoing series of promotions for the Kia Soul. And they’ve got a new baby to help celebrate Kia’s new baby: the long-awaited Soul Turbo.

The track-suited rodents probably should have taken the advice of W.C. Fields, who said one should never work with children. In this case, it’s a brand new baby who escapes the maternity ward to check out the new car – all to the sounds of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.”

Product News!

As to the 2018 Kia Soul, it’s the higher-performance model everyone seems to have been asking for since the first version of the ungainly yet appealing crossover first appeared in 2009. It punches out a reasonable, if not exactly tire-squealing 201-horsepower from its turbo four, with buyers offered either a manual or automatic transmission.

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Teamsters Pushing for Role in Shaping Autonomous Truck Laws

Union pushing for local sovereignty for self-driving truck laws.

by on Jun.30, 2017

A pair of autonomous Otto trucks carrying prototype autonomous Volvos being tested by Uber. The Teamsters are watching autonomous laws carefully.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is zeroing in on federal legislation regarding ‘self-driving’ technology.

The union, which represents thousands of truck drivers and package delivery drivers employed by companies such as UPS, says any legislation must take into account public safety and the safety of working Americans employed in transportation and related industries.

Union News!

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have begun discussing 14 pieces of draft legislation on self-driving vehicles that are at center of a technological revolution that would eliminate the need for drivers either behind the wheel or in the front seats of vehicles, ranging from tractor-trailers to small delivery vans. (more…)

Want to Avoid Holiday Traffic Accidents? Head to Kansas

Kansas City boasts lowest accident rates while Boston earns highest.

by on Jun.29, 2017

Allstate data shows that Kansas City, Kansas, is where you're least likely to get in an accident.

As Americans head into the busiest driving weekend of the year, it can’t hurt drivers to know what they’re getting into ahead of time. So if you’re looking to avoid collisions, stick close to Kansas City, Kansas.

Allstate released its 13th annual America’s Best Drivers Report, which revealed that those Kansans really know how to avoid collisions. Conversely, if you’re in the mood to make a claim, head to Boston, where the average driver gets into an accident every 3.6 years — 179.6% likely to crash their vehicle than the national average, Allstate says.

Stay in the Know!

Actually, the Independence Day holiday kicks off the deadliest driving period of the year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. IIHS found July and August average 116 deaths a day on America’s roads. (more…)

Almost 9 in 10 Americans Demand Even Better Mileage

Consumers Union survey could counter any Trump Admin push to curb fuel economy rules.

by on Jun.29, 2017

Fuel prices dropped in time for the July 4 holiday, but motorists still want better mileage.

One of the first moves made by newly inaugurated Pres. Donald Trump was to re-open the “mid-term” review of the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard set to reach 54.5 mpg by 2025.

But if that review were to curtail the fuel economy target it could face strong resistance from the American motoring public, according to a new study by Consumers Union. According to the non-profit group, nearly nine in 10 Americans believe the auto industry should continue to drive towards more fuel efficient vehicles.

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Beyond the Headlines!

“Consumers see the value in fuel efficiency, and the technology more than pays for itself through fuel savings,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, the policy counsel for Consumers Union. “As automakers increase vehicle efficiency, consumers benefit from greater savings.”

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Why Is Apple Checking Out Fisker’s Emotion?

Battery-car prototype spotted during visit to Cupertino HQ.

by on Jun.29, 2017

A Fisker Emotion was spotted at Apple HQ in Silicon Valley. Could the tech firm be interested in using the EV as a platform for its autonomous system?

Is Henrik Fisker hoping to take a bit out of the Apple? Or, more accurately, is Apple interested in getting a taste of the Danish designer’s new Emotion battery-electric vehicle?

After long refusing to comment about its rumored plans to develop an autonomous vehicle, Apple is finally lifting the kimono, CEO Tim Cook recently describing that effort as “the mother of all AI projects.” But Apple reportedly shut down its own vehicle development program last year and apparently is looking for partners to work with on the hardware side.

Breaking News!

It is teaming up with Hertz to lease a handful of Lexus RX utility vehicles, media reports revealed this week. But longer-term? Apple was apparently looking at building its own battery-car before pulling the plug on that side of the project, so it eventually will need a partner to put its autonomous technology onto the road.

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BMW Expected to Reveal All-Electric 3-Series at Frankfurt Motor Show

Bavarian automaker trimming engine options, other costs to fund intensive R&D efforts.

by on Jun.29, 2017

BMW already has a plug-in hybrid version of the 3-Series, the 330e.

It’s been one of the Bavarian maker’s worst-kept secrets. The real question about the all-electric BMW 3-Series has been when and where it will roll out the battery version of its most popular model line.

The answer appears to be September, at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, at least if Germany’s Handelsblatt is on target. The well-respected publication also is reporting that the Electric-3 will boast a range of 400 km, or 250 miles for the metrically challenged. That would seem to position it as a direct competitor to the upcoming Tesla Model 3, especially if BMW can somehow bring the price tag down into the $35,000 to $40,000 range before any government incentives.

Product News!

Like its German rivals, BMW has launched an aggressive effort to electrify, while also spending heavily on other new technologies such as autonomous driving. To offset those R&D costs, the carmaker’s CFO Nicolas Peter said BMW will have to cut costs elsewhere, among other things, by improving manufacturing efficiency and by reducing traditional internal combustion engine options.

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Used Car Sales to Keep Dealers Afloat During New Vehicle Sales Slide

Off-lease vehicles becoming affordable alternative to new.

by on Jun.29, 2017

New data shows that U.S. auto dealers are expected to handle the downturn in new car sales just fine by selling more used cars.

Despite a drop in the sales of new vehicles during the first half of 2017, American car dealerships are still expected to sell more cars and trucks this year thanks to robust demand for used vehicles, which indicates the auto industry is nowhere near slipping into a recession.

Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive, which manages online publications such as Kelley Blue Book and Auto Trader as well as used-auction centers, said data already indicates that the shift is well underway. “Dealers are selling more vehicles, but the mix is changing and shifting from new to used.”

Business News!

Thanks to strong sales since the recession, the supply of appealing used vehicles has increased substantially helping dealers build their inventories of used vehicles, said Smoke, who added dealers are also willing to pay more for used vehicles to insure they have an adequate supply of used vehicles. (more…)

For Ram, Tungsten is the New Gold (or Platinum, For That Matter)

Booming demand for high-line trucks buoys bottom line for Detroit automakers.

by on Jun.28, 2017

Fiat Chrysler is hunting affluent truck buyers with its new Ram Tungsten Limited Edition truck.

Consider it a bright idea: the folks at Ram hope to light up their sales numbers – and bottom line – by adding a new Tungsten Edition to their pickup truck line-up.

The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles truck brand is the latest to try to target extremely affluent motorists who keep demanding more and more upscale features on their SUVs and pickups. The new version of the Ram 1500 will start at $55,120.

2018 Product News!

It’s no surprise that Ram is offering what brand boss Mike Manley notes is “the highest trim level” the brand has ever offered. A quick check of the U.S. sales stats reveals that Detroit’s Big Three actually outsell more traditional brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus when pushing into luxury pricing territory. It just happens that most of those high-line domestic products are trucks. (more…)

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