Archive for December, 2018

GM Cutting 50 Jobs at Detroit-Area Battery Plant

Company eliminating another 700 in February.

by on Dec.18, 2018

GM is cutting 50 employees at its Brownstown Battery Assembly plant just south of Detroit.

General Motors is eliminating 50 jobs at its battery assembly plant just south of Detroit which provides batteries for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid sedan. GM will end Volt production in 2019.

The company plans to cut nearly half of its workers — 37 hourly and 13 salaried employees, according to a notice filed with the State of Michigan. In addition to the batteries for the soon-to-be-defunct Volt, the plant produced batteries for the Buick LaCrosse hybrid electric.

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The cuts are part of the recently announced plans by the automaker shut down five plants and eliminate 15,000 workers. The company has been excoriated for the plan, despite noting that as many as 2,800 active hourly workers who work at the plants ending production in Michigan, Ohio and Maryland will be offered jobs in other places.  (more…)

NHTSA Moves to Accelerate Autonomous Vehicle Petitions

Agency also seeks comment on vehicle communications technology.

by on Dec.18, 2018

GM plans to introduce a fully driverless version of the Bolt EV in 2019 for ride-sharing fleets.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will no longer need to determine if a petition complete to issue summary for public comment, hoping to accelerate the process for getting autonomous vehicles on the road.

The agency cut the requirement wanting to improve “the efficiency and transparency of the process to focus on the safety review,” according to Reuters. Now the agency can zero in on the safety of a vehicle without a driver or steering wheel and brakes.

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Automakers currently meet nearly dozens of auto safety standards, often based on the assumption that a licensed driver would be able to control the vehicle using traditional human controls, Reuters noted. (more…)

Ghosn Scandal Threatens to Fracture Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance

Japanese want Renault to examine evidence against jailed executive.

by on Dec.18, 2018

Carlos Ghosn has been ousted at Nissan and Mitsubishi, but Renault has only replaced him temporarily pending the outcome of his legal proceedings.

Tensions are mounting between the French and Japanese sides of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, according to various insiders and news reports, in the wake of the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, the man who put the alliance together two decades ago.

While the Brazilian-born executive has been ousted from top management roles by both Nissan and Mitsubishi, Renault has refused to follow suit while Ghosn awaits trial on allegations of financial corruption. He was charged by Japanese prosecutors earlier this month with concealing income and misusing corporate funds, but some sources believe the case really centers around growing concerns by Nissan about its relationship with Renault.

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The second-largest of the Japanese automakers is pressing its French partner to take a closer look at the evidence it claims to have gathered as part of an investigation triggered earlier this year by a whistleblower. The Reuters news service is reporting that Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa hopes to meet with his Renault counterpart, Thierry Bollore, in Amsterdam next week. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Ford Ranger

Reborn midsize picking aims to make a big splash.

by on Dec.18, 2018

Making a splash: the 2019 Ford Ranger FX4 wraps up an off-road run with a mud bath.

(Midsize truck wars heat up with arrival of Ranger, Jeep Gladiator. Click Here for more.)

It’s been more than six years since the last truck rolled out of Ford’s ancient assembly line near Minneapolis, bringing to a seeming end production of the automaker’s archaic Ranger pickup. While Ford was getting ready to launch a new model for international markets, however, it decided to let the venerable Ranger name die in the U.S.

It apparently seemed a good idea at the time. The midsize market was all but dead and even Detroit rivals General Motors and Fiat Chrysler were quitting the segment. Ford execs, all the way up to then-CEO Mark Fields, insisted they could move Ranger buyers up to the larger – and far more profitable – F-150. But a funny thing happened that threw Ford’s strategy into disarray. For the 2015 model-year, GM launched two all-new trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, triggering a rapid rebound to the seemingly moribund midsize pickup segment.

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After hemming and hawing, Ford finally acknowledged its error and raced to bring the Ranger back to life, heavily modifying the model already on sale in markets as diverse as Abu Dhabi and Thailand. Finally, the 2019 Ranger is getting ready to roll into U.S. showrooms and we had a chance to test its mettle during an extensive on- and off-road drive event in and around San Diego last week.

(more…)

Gasoline Prices Fall in US as Holidays Approach

Numbers are at lowest point since 2016.

by on Dec.18, 2018

Gas prices are at their lowest since 2016 for the holiday season.

With the long Christmas season getting under way this week travelers across the U.S. are finding cheaper gasoline for the holiday journeys.

At $2.37, the average price of gasoline has dropped pump prices to the lowest level for the month of December since 2016.

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“AAA expects 102 million Americans to drive to their holiday destination this year, which is a 4% increase year-over-year,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “No doubt cheaper gas prices are fueling their decision to hit the road.” (more…)

Hyundai Lifts Page from Smartphone Tech With Fingerprint Key

The car key may soon become a thing of the past.

by on Dec.17, 2018

A driver starts up the new Hyundai Santa Fe simply by using her fingerprint.

If you own a relatively recent smartphone odds are you no longer have to bother remembering a passcode, instead relying on fingerprint or facial recognition. Now, it seems, automakers are starting to move in the same direction.

Hyundai has pulled the wraps off the new Chinese version of the 2019 Santa Fe and, buyers in that market will be offered the ability to equip the SUV with a fingerprint recognition system that can lock or unlock the vehicle while also starting the vehicle. Depending on which of multiple users the vehicle recognizes, it will even set up automatically such things as seat position and sideview mirrors.

In the Right Key!

But Hyundai isn’t alone. A number of other automakers are looking at other ways to replace the traditional vehicle key or wireless keyfob with things like wearable bracelets and smartphone apps that an owner can share with friends and family.

(more…)

Hyundai, Kia Owners File Suit About Engine Fires

Safety regulators investigating problems with vehicles.

by on Dec.17, 2018

The 2014 Sonata is part of an NHTSA investigation about engine fires.

U.S. owners of select Hyundai and Kia models filed suit against the automakers in the U.S. trying to resolve a possible defected that may cause some engines to catch fire. The affected vehicles are already part of an ongoing investigation by U.S. regulators.

The more than 350 complaints filed by vehicle owners with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration constitutes “concealment of the defect,” according to the class action suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District Court of California by law firm Hagens Berman.

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The fires have been occurring for some time, but have been difficult to separate from fires that occurred as a result of a crash and those that happened before or after a crash. In Florida, more than 400 fires were reported, but just 120 of those fit the description for the lawsuit. (more…)

Tesla’s Newest Easter Egg is a Gas … or Gaseous Anyway

Company includes new fart sound in latest update.

by on Dec.17, 2018

Looks like the new Tesla Easter egg is a lot hot air, or at least is sounds like it.

If you’ve ever been in a car on a trip when a smell invades the cabin of your vehicle, then good news: Elon Musk and Tesla have the audio to pair with your olfactory experience: a fart app.

Musk confirmed the company was working on it in a tweet: “Tesla (fart emoji) app almost done. Important to get every note right!” The fart app can be found in the Easter egg drawer of Tesla models that have received the most recent software update.

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To be clear, it’s not a euphemism for something else, instead, yes, it sounds like someone in the car – or the car itself – is passing gas.  (more…)

“Coming Soon” – Mercedes Teases Next-Gen CLA

But market has changed radically since coupe-like model first appeared.

by on Dec.17, 2018

Mercedes has offered a tease of the second-generation CLA ahead of its debut at CES.

The original Mercedes-Benz CLA, in baseball terms, knocked it out of the park, the compact, coupe-like sedan not only generating a massive sales surge but drawing in the sort of hip young buyers that the German brand long had trouble reaching.

Americans are expected to buy about 22,000 CLA sedans this year, a sharp decline from the model’s 2015 peak, when Mercedes delivered about 30,000 of them. That said, considering the rapid shift from passenger cars to light trucks – including the similarly sized Mercedes GLA crossover – the CLA remains an essential part of the brand’s line-up.

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“We’re still bullish on sedans,” Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, told TheDetroitBureau.com during a Los Angeles Auto Show interview, and the German brand aims to prove that with the upcoming launch of the second-generation CLA.

(more…)

Lincoln Unveils Glamorous New Limited Edition Continental

Run of 80 cars features center-opening doors.

by on Dec.17, 2018

Lincoln is producing a limited run of 80 sedans marking the Continental's 80th anniversary.

Lincoln is marking the 80th anniversary of the Continental luxury sedan with a very limited-run special edition of the iconic model that harkens back to its glamorous beginnings.

Ford Motor Co. plans to build 80 of the Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition, with center-opening doors – commonly known as suicide doors – Lincoln used back in the 1960s as well as six inches of additional leg room in its h “Black Label” interior. The entire production run is expected to sell out quickly, Lincoln officials said.

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The Coach Door Edition originates at Ford’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, and then is shipped to an outfitter that modifies the vehicle for the doors, according to Ford’s precise specifications, noted Tim Sterling, chief program engineer. (more…)