Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

More Products, More Volume, Bigger Margins: FCA Lays Out Aggressive, 5-Year Growth Plan

Morning presentation outlines plans for Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Ram TRX will be among the new models FCA will bring out over the coming five years.

(This story has been revised to update plans for Jeep’s pickup and a midsize pickup from Ram that, CEO Marchionne now says will come to the U.S. market.)

In a sweeping presentation designed to give analysts, investors, media and potential buyers a good look at its future, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives are spending a day detailing their plans for the company and its various brands.

At the midway mark, as they break for lunch, they’ve already lifted the kimono far enough to show what’s coming for the Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands and, in a nutshell, it can be summed up as more products targeting lots more volume and much bigger margins.

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The new five-year plan will be the last crafted under the guidance of Sergio Marchionne, the 65-year-old executive who helped pull off the pairing of two struggling manufacturers to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. His third five-year plan, Marchionne stressed that “The true finish line is the one always yet to come.”

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Waymo Set to Purchase 62k Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivans for Autonomous Ride-Share Service

Announcement follows news of a major investment in GM Cruise self-driving car program.

by on May.31, 2018

An early version of a Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan roams the streets of Phoenix.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo will radically accelerate their alliance, FCA announcing it will supply as many as 62,000 more Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the autonomous vehicle spin-off of Google.

FCA previously committed to providing several thousand of the plug-in people-movers. Waymo has also committed to purchasing up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace battery-electric SUVs, and CEO John Krafcik has told TheDetroitBureau.com that it expects to add still other models for use in the planned self-driving ride-share service that is currently in pilot testing in Phoenix. Commercial service will launch in that city later this year, Krafcik announced in March, and will eventually expand to “other” cities across the U.S.

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The FCA-Waymo announcement comes just hours after General Motors revealed that Japanese venture capital fund SoftBank is investing $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings, the carmaker’s autonomous vehicle unit. That news quickly sent shares of GM surging by 10% in early Thursday morning trading.

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Acura Launches NextGen 2019 RDX at $37,300

Add $6,200 for reborn A-Spec.

by on May.29, 2018

With the launch of the 2019 RDX, Acura brings back the A-Spec performance design package.

Acura was the first of the Japanese luxury brands but, in recent years, it has lagged behind rivals Lexus and Infiniti. Could the stars finally be coming together for Honda’s high-line marque, however?

While Acura’s passenger car models continue to struggle, the automaker has done far better with its SUV line-up, and it expects to gain even more ground with a complete makeover of the compact RDX. The timing likely couldn’t be better considering the U.S. luxury market’s accelerating shift from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs. Add the fact that Acura is bringing back the A-Spec version of the RDX for 2019.

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The first new model to really deliver on the promises of Acura new Precision Concept design language, the 2019 model offers an array of new and updated features, from its new turbocharged 2.0-liter powerplant to a completely redesigned infotainment system dubbed AcuraLink with True Touch. But what may garner even more interest is the fact that the 2019 Acura RDX starts at the same price as the outgoing, 2018 model: $38,295, which includes $995 in delivery charges. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Recalling Nearly 5m Vehicles Because Cruise Control Could Lock On

Problem could make it more difficult to stop vehicles.

by on May.25, 2018

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of 15 different models covered by the new FCA recall.

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million sedans, utility vehicles and pickups due to a problem that could prevent drivers from shutting off their cruise control, making it difficult, though not impossible, to stop a vehicle.

The problem is the latest in a series of large recalls involving the third-largest of the domestic automotive manufacturers, FCA recalling millions of vehicles over the last several years for issues as varied as transmission problems and fire hazards.

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The latest service action involves a wide range of products produced for the 2014 through 2018 model-years, and even one 2019 model, and is meant to cope with a cruise control circuit that could short out.

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Uber Posts Positive Q1 Earnings After Tough 2017

Shuttering of Arizona ops stings as Waymo, Lyft take off.

by on May.24, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has made an impact on the company in the short time he's been there.

After nearly a year of problems and attempts to rectify them, including the addition of a new CEO, Uber Technologies’ first quarter results reveal some of the positive impact of changes implemented across the ride-sharing company.

Uber reported net income of $2.5 billion on gross bookings of $11.29 billion, an increase of 55% compared with the year-ago period. The company’s net revenue grew 67% to $2.5 billion.

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Much of the company’s positive results can be attributed to the changes implemented by new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and two significant transactions: the sale of GrabTaxi Holdings Pte Ltd. and a joint venture with Yandex N.V. (more…)

Safety Groups Want Tesla Autopilot Name Banned

Groups argue it is “deceptive and misleading.”

by on May.23, 2018

Despite Tesla's claims to the contrary, safety advocates believe the company's use of the name Autopilot is misleading.

It’s called Autopilot but, at least for now, Tesla’s semi-autonomous technology is a not completely reliable co-pilot, it can require rapid human intervention to avert a crash. And that, two consumer groups argue, makes the use of the Autopilot name “deceptive and misleading.”

The Center for Auto Safety, or CAS, and Consumer Watchdog aren’t the first to raise concerns about the Tesla technology. German regulators briefly considered banning the name, Autopilot. But the American non-profit safety groups have taken their concerns to the Federal Trade Commission, asking it to initiate an investigation of how Tesla not only has named, but also how it promotes its semi-autonomous system.

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In a letter to the federal agency, they claim Tesla has taken steps to “mislead and deceive customers into believing that Autopilot is safer and more capable than it is known to be.” (more…)

Three Quarters of Americans “Too Afraid to Ride” in Self-Driving Vehicles

As more problems reported, acceptance declines, finds new AAA study.

by on May.23, 2018

A fatal March crash involving a Tesla Model S in Mountain View, California. Pic courtesy KTVU.

They’re expected to flood our roads by the millions over the next decade, and Congress is currently working on legislation that would expand testing on public roads – but a new AAA study reveals that the American public is, if anything, growing more concerned about the safety of autonomous and fully driverless vehicles.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. drivers would be “afraid” to ride in one today, up from 63% when the AAA last polled American motorists in late 2017. The decline in confidence appears to follow an array of incidents involving prototype autonomous vehicles, including the first-known fatal crash near Phoenix when a hands-free SUV being tested by Uber slammed into a pedestrian.

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“Despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Our results show that any incident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to shake consumer trust, which is a critical component to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles.”

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First Drive: 2019 Subaru Ascent…Proving Bigger is Better

The Japanese automaker learns its lesson with all-new three-row SUV.

by on May.23, 2018

The Subaru Ascent's X Mode is able to handle a wide variety of conditions, including wet sand.

An hour-some outside of Portland, as you head for the rugged Oregon coast, you’ll pass through the quaint old town of McMinnville. It’s known, it seems, for three things: walnuts, the annual Alien Festival – which celebrates a local farmer’s alleged encounter with a UFO – and the Evergreen Air and Space Museum. Dwarfing an indoor football stadium, the star of the collection is the legendary Spruce Goose, among the biggest aircraft ever built.

With eight radial engines mounted across its 321-foot wingspan, the 220 foot-long “Flying Lumberyard” was designed as a troop transport able to squeeze in nearly 800 soldiers on a trans-Atlantic flight. There are times when having plenty of passenger space, it seems comes in handy – something we had in mind before heading to McMinnville for a couple days to drive the all-new Subaru Ascent.

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While dwarfed by what was officially known as the H-4 flying boat, the 2019 Ascent is the Japanese automaker’s biggest offering yet, capable of seating up to eight passengers in a good bit more comfort than soldiers would have experienced had the Spruce Goose ever gone into service. Equally important, it has the styling and features that were sorely lacking when Subaru launched its first three-row model, the ungainly B4 Tribeca back in 2005.

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Porsche Recalls 60K Utes in Europe for Diesel Fix

Latest round of diesel problems for VW family.

by on May.21, 2018

Porsche is recalling nearly 60,000 Cayenne and Macan diesel-powered sport-utility vehicles to fix a emissions control issue.

German authorities ordered Porsche to recall almost 60,000 diesel-powered sport utility vehicles in Europe after it was discovered thy found software that manipulates emissions controls to help defeat tests.

The German transport ministry found the software, which could reduce emissions controls for nitrogen oxide, during inspections of Macan and Cayenne SUVs. Parent company Volkswagen has had thousands of vehicles recalled for similar issues with VW and Audi diesels since 2015.

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The recall covers 52,831 Macan 3.0-liter V6 and 6,755 Cayenne 4.2-liter V8 vehicles. Porsche’s not the only VW brand with a diesel problem right now as Audi recently suspended deliveries of the current A6 and A7 models. (more…)

Tesla Model S Was in Autopilot at Time of Crash

Driver repeatedly took hands off the wheel.

by on May.17, 2018

The NTSB is investigating a third crash involving a Tesla vehicle using Autopilot at the time of the collision.

A Tesla Model S sedan that crashed into the back of a fire truck in Utah last week was operating in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode, the battery-electric automaker has confirmed, though the company has also tried to shift blame to the 28-year-old driver by noting that she repeatedly took her hands off the wheel and admitted being distracted immediately before the crash occurred.

The incident is the latest in a series of accidents involving Tesla vehicles in the U.S. and abroad and could raise new concerns about the safety of the automaker’s products – especially those using Autopilot which Tesla CEO Elon Musk has hailed as a potentially life-saving feature.

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The latest crash occurred when a Model S slammed into a parked fire truck at around 60 mph. The female driver suffered a broken foot. She subsequently told authorities that she was driving in Autopilot mode. Tesla engineers on Wednesday accessed the vehicle’s black box and confirmed that statement, though they also revealed that the driver had taken her hands off the wheel for as much as 80 seconds immediately prior to the crash. (more…)