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Ford Transforming Old Detroit Neighborhood Into Heart of Its Mobility Push

“The Factory” will become headquarters of its autonomous and electric drive programs.

by on Dec.15, 2017

Ford is moving its autonomous vehicle and EV business and strategy teams to "The Factory" in Detroit's Historic Corktown neighborhood.

A long-abandoned building, long known as “The Factory” to residents of Detroit’s old Corktown neighborhood, is getting not only a complete makeover, but also the chance to play a role in the dramatic makeover of both the Motor City and the Ford Motor Co.

Ford is renovating the facility to become the headquarters of its aggressive push into autonomous technology and electrified vehicles. About 220 employees will move to the site, 20 minutes from its main corporate campus in the western suburb of Dearborn.

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One of the advantages of the new location, which is in one of the hottest neighborhoods in a fast-reviving city, is the appeal it will have to the young programmers and other employees Ford hopes to hire, says Sherif Marakby, the director of the autonomous and electrified unit, which has been dubbed Team Edison. (more…)

Audi Not Selling Off Ducati After All

But still looking to shave nearly $12 billion in costs.

by on Dec.14, 2017

A Ducati sport bike sits alongside an Audi, which contemplated selling the Italian motorcycle maker to offset diesel gate costs.

German automaker Audi has scrubbed plans to sell off Ducati, its Italian motorcycle brand, a move initially triggered by its need to cut costs in the wake of parent company Volkswagen’s diesel emissions crisis.

Audi acquired the widely respected motorcycle brand in 2012 through another Italian subsidiary, Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., the high-performance supercar manufacturer. Ferdinand Piech, the long-time boss at Audi parent Volkswagen AG, had long coveted Ducati, though analysts have routinely questioned what the brand brings to Audi or VW.

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So, there was little resistance when Audi said it would sell off Ducati as part of a plan to trim its costs by 10 billion euros, or $11.8 billion. But Audi CEO Rupert Stadler this week said that is no longer necessary. “I can assure you that Ducati belongs to the Audi family,” said Stadler. “Ducati is the perfect implementation of our premium philosophy in the world of motorbikes.” (more…)

Ford Denies Plan to Move Next-Gen Fusion to China

Wire report claims midsize model will follow Focus as Ford cuts costs.

by on Dec.14, 2017

The Fusion has lost momentum in a U.S. market increasingly focused on SUVs and CUVs.

Ford Motor Co. says it has no plan to consolidate production of its next-generation Fusion and Mondeo models in China for shipment to markets around the world, countering a report by Reuters.

On Wednesday, the news service referenced automotive suppliers and other sources to indicate the midsize sedans would move out of their current plants in Europe and Mexico with a facility in China taking over as Ford’s single production source. Ford earlier this year announced a similar strategy for the smaller Focus model.

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“We have no plans to export the next-generation Fusion/Mondeo from China to North America and Europe,” Ford said in a statement responding to the wire report. “Fusion/Mondeo are an important part of the Ford car lineup. We will have more information to share about the next Fusion/Mondeo at a later date.”

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The 15 Hottest New Cars, Trucks and Crossovers for 2018

Great designs, hot performers, breakthrough safety, unexpected features define the best of the 2018 class.

by on Dec.13, 2017

The Stelvio is the first SUV ever from Alfa Romeo - though more are in the works.

The 2018 model-year is bringing with it an array of new cars, trucks and crossover — with an emphasis on SUVs that matches up with the broad shift in the U.S. market away from traditional sedans and coupes.

All told, buyers can choose from close to 100 different completely new and updated 2018 models, a daunting challenge to those who might not know where to start. So, TheDetroitBureau.com is weighing in with 15 of our favorite picks for the new model-year. These are vehicles that offer stand-out styling, impressive performance, unexpected levels of standard features and the latest in high-tech infotainment and safety gear.

The Best of the Best!

The list includes an assortment of domestic, European and Asian models. And after you read through you’ll understand why we think these 15 are the hottest new cars, trucks and crossovers for 2018.

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Toyota Expects Electrified Vehicles Will Make Up Half of Its Global Sales

Automaker planning partnership with Panasonic.

by on Dec.13, 2017

Toyota Pres. Akio Toyoda at the launch of the Lexus LC coupe - which is offered with a hybrid option.

Toyota Motor Co. President Akio Toyoda said Wednesday that he expects half of the company’s sales to come from electrified vehicles – including hybrids and plug-based models – by 2030.

Toyoda spoke during a news conference called to announce a partnership with Panasonic to develop new battery technology that would be used for future Toyota products. The emphasis on electrified vehicles underscores a major shift in strategy by Japan’s largest automaker which, until recently, focused on hybrids but steered clear of more advanced plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

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“The auto industry is now facing a major change of the kind that comes once in a hundred years,” said the 61-year-old grandson of Toyota’s founder.

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First Drive: 2018 Nissan Leaf

Nissan balances range and price while upping the fun factor.

by on Dec.12, 2017

Nissan's second-generation Leaf features a significant upgrade in range and technology.

Eight years after Nissan lifted the covers on what would become the world’s first mass-market battery-electric vehicle, the Japanese automaker has just launched production of the all-new, second-generation Nissan Leaf.

Plenty has changed since the original model came to market. Batteries are growing more powerful, even as their price has fallen more than six-fold since the beginning of the decade, translating into longer range at lower costs. And while “BEVs” still make up little more than a rounding error when it comes to overall U.S. sales, demand is clearly growing. But so is the list of competitors Leaf has to stare down, including both the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3.

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With the Gen-2 Leaf, Nissan chose to walk a tightrope. It doesn’t offer quite as much range as the Chevy and Tesla battery-cars, but it’s thousands of dollars cheaper. The 2018 Leaf is also less wonky in appearance and a lot more fun to drive than the model it replaced, TheDetroitBureau.com discovered, during a long day of driving through fire-scarred Napa Valley earlier this month. (more…)

Mercedes Taking New “User Experience” to CES

Automakers struggle to add more high-tech content – and make it easier to use.

by on Dec.12, 2017

The interior of the next Mercedes-Benz A-Class shows off its expansive display technology.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has become a showcase for the auto industry, as much as it traditional was for computer, TV and smartphone manufacturers. A number of intriguing products, such as the Volkswagen BUDD-e van and Chevrolet Bolt EV have debuted there in recent years, but Mercedes-Benz is taking a different tack next month, using CES to reveal a completely new infotainment system.

Dubbed the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, it is designed to replace the German marque’s now-familiar COMAND system. Using artificial intelligence and what Mercedes calls “an intuitive operating system,” the goal appears to be finding a way to add even more technology into tomorrow’s luxury products without confounding owners.

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That’s a major challenge. Today’s cars are loaded with as many as 100 different microprocessors operating such things as a vehicle’s engine and safety gear. But manufacturers are also loading up with lots of new infotainment technologies and in many cases, they can turn out to be “nightmares” to operate, Renee Stephens, vice president at J.D. Power and Associates noted when unveiling the research firm’s latest APEAL study earlier this year.

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GM “Absolutely” Could Re-Enter or Europe, Says CEO Barra – or Quit Even More Markets

Addressing workplace harassment a high priority for industry's first female CEO.

by on Dec.11, 2017

GM CEO Mary Barra covered a variety of topics with reporters during a Q&A with the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

Just months after closing the sale of its long-troubled Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said she would “absolutely” consider the option of returning to the European market if the right opportunity came along – especially with new, “transformative” technologies, such as autonomous and electrified vehicles.

Barra, who was named the first female CEO of a major automaker four years ago this week, took on a wide range of topics, including autonomous and electrified vehicles, tax reform, NAFTA and sexual harassment, during a Q&A session with reporters at a meeting of the Detroit Automotive Press Association on Monday.

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The 56-year-old Barra has been credited with ushering in widespread change at the largest of the Detroit automakers, a company that emerged from Chapter 11 protection in 2010 only with the help of a massive federal bailout. That has required her to balance the traditional, metal-bending side of the business with next-generation technologies, including electrified powertrains and autonomous driving. She has shown a willingness to break with a tradition that had, for 100 years, translated into bigger is better. (more…)

From Track to Street, New Senna is McLaren’s Most Extreme Machine Ever

$1 mil apiece – but they’re already all spoken for.

by on Dec.11, 2017

McLaren's new Senna is a $1 million hypercar with a 500-unit production run that is already sold out.

At first glance, it seems more than appropriate that the “ultimate” McLaren would be named the Senna; after all, Ayrton Senna is readily ranked among the best drivers to ever dominate the Formula One circuit.

The new entry into the British marque’s Ultimate Series, and the successor to the older P1, the new McLaren Senna is meant to dominate both track and street, thanks to a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that punches 789 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels.

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“The McLaren Senna is a car like no other: the personification of McLaren’s motorsport DNA, legalized for road use but designed and developed from the outset to excel on a circuit,” declares Mike Flewitt, chief executive officer, McLaren Automotive. (more…)

Nissan to Test Robocabs Ahead of 2022 Launch of First Fully Autonomous Vehicles

Japanese maker plans to bring increasingly sophisticated self-driving tech to market each year.

by on Dec.11, 2017

A prototype, 1st-gen Nissan Leaf is shown during testing in Tokyo traffic.

One of the first automakers to commit to developing autonomous vehicle technology, Nissan plans to begin field-testing its first robocabs in Japan next year, part of an expanding development program aimed at putting fully autonomous vehicles into production by 2022.

The pilot program, pairing Nissan with technology development firm DeNA, will operate near the Japanese automaker’s headquarters in Yokohama. It will be the latest in a fast-growing series of self-driving ride-share programs, including one started by Google spin-off Waymo this year. Lyft is launching its own field test in Boston. And Nissan’s alliance partner, Renault has been testing similar technology in France.

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Nissan last week revealed it intends to have its first fully autonomous vehicle in production sometime during the 2022 calendar year. But the carmaker plans to introduce a series of increasingly sophisticated, semi-autonomous technologies before then, starting with the ProPilot system debuting on the 2018 Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle.

(more…)

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