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Fiat and Mitsubishi Teaming Up on New Midsize Pickup

Is a new alliance between Mitsubishi and Chrysler in the cards?

by on Sep.19, 2014

Fiat and Mitsubishi entered into an agreement for the Japanese maker to provide Fiat with midsize trucks in Europe and Latin America.

The Fiat side of newly merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has signed a tentative agreement to purchase a midsize pickup truck plant from Mitsubishi for re-sale by its commercial vehicle unit in Europe and Latin America.

The project raises new questions about whether the U.S. side of the company might get back into the midsize segment it abandoned several years ago. If so, it could signal a rebirth of the long-running relationship between Chrysler and Mitsubishi

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As part of the Memoradum of Understanding, or MOU, Fiat and Mitsubishi will study “the possibility to develop and manufacture a midsize pick-up truck,” the two companies said in a joint statement, based on the Japanese maker’s L200 model. Read the rest of this entry »

House Democrats Introduce New Auto Safety Bill

Law increases NHTSA powers, requires maker transparency.

by on Sep.19, 2014

Rep. Henry Waxman and other Democrats introduced a new vehicle safety bill.

Just days after U.S. Senators laid into auto safety regulators during a committee hearing, a group of House Democrats introduced an auto safety reform bill mandating automakers make information about potential safety problems more easily accessible.

Introduced yesterday, the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act requires makers to make public technical service bulletins, ban recalls that apply to only certain parts of the country, and require car companies to keep records about possible defects for 20 years.

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Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., submitted the bill that would also eliminate the $35 million cap on maximum fines, which is likely to rise to the $300 million recommended by the Obama administration. Read the rest of this entry »

FCA, Hyundai Movin’ on Up with New HQs

Automakers pick pricey digs to call home.

by on Sep.19, 2014

Fiat Chrysler's headquarters in London has an impressive neighbor: the Queen of England. Photo Credit:

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Hyundai Motor suddenly have one thing in common: a willingness to spend big money for their new headquarters buildings in Great Britain and South Korea.

The two companies recently plunked down cash on for locations that raised eyebrows. Fiat Chrysler (FCA) is putting its international home in the most expensive office district in the world in London’s West End.

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FCA agreed to lease three floors in The Economist Plaza, a building on St James’s Street that also houses The Economist magazine and is a 10-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, according to Bloomberg. The area is home to some of London’s priciest shopping. Read the rest of this entry »

Nissan Charged Up about Battery Rumors

Maker denies any changes to powerplant program.

by on Sep.19, 2014

Nissan denied reports that it is considering cutting back on its EV-related production that has been a key component of CEO Carlos Ghosn's tenure.

Nissan officials dismissed speculation that it was preparing to scale back production at its battery plan in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Nissan spokesman Travis Parman said in an e-mail the company have no plans to make any changes in its ambitious electric vehicle program. The program has been a signature initiative of Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive at both Renault and Nissan.

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“The Renault-Nissan Alliance remains 100% committed to its industry-leading EV program. This global commitment continues for the foreseeable future, and we have not taken any decision whatsoever to modify battery sourcing allocation,” Parman wrote. Read the rest of this entry »

Citroen Show Car to Deliver 141 MPG

Nothing prickly about the Citroen C4 Cactus Airflow 2L.

by on Sep.19, 2014

The Citroen C4 Cactus Airflow 2L is as large as a Ford Focus but lighter than a Mazda Miata.

It’s as big as a Ford Focus, lighter than a Mazda Miata, and can cut through the air nearly as efficiently as a jet. But what’s likely to stand out most about the new Citroen C4 Cactus Airflow concept is its fuel economy, an estimated 141 miles per gallon.

While that’s not quite up there with the 261 mpg Volkswagen XL1, or even the new 235 mpg Renault Eolab prototype, the new Citroen appears to be perhaps the most practical of the three models – though it remains to be seen if the French maker can actually bring the Cactus Airflow to production.

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Set to debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show, the full name of the new concept vehicle is the Citroen C4 Cactus Airflow 2L – the little fillip at the end is arguably the most significant detail, as it positions the latest Cactus concept as a so-called two-liter car. In other words, it burns that much fuel to go 100 kilometers. For metrically challenged Americans, think of going more than 70 miles on barely a half gallon of gas.

To get there isn’t easy, of course – at least not for Citroen designers and engineers.

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Cadillac to Launch New Flagship in Late 2015

by on Sep.19, 2014

The new flagship is expected to show the strong influence of the Cadillac Elmiraj concept coupe.

Cadillac will fill a long-open gap in its line-up when it launches production of an all-new flagship sedan late next year, the as-yet unnamed “high-technology” car set to be produced at General Motors’ “Poletown” plant in Detroit.

The new model, expected to go up against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Audi A8, is expected to introduce the new Super Drive system GM CEO Mary Barra announced earlier this month which will allow autonomous driving on highways. The broader goal is to reposition Cadillac as a serious contender in the premium luxury market it once dominated, especially as the brand expands its global roll-out.

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“The objective for this upcoming model is to lift the Cadillac range by entering the elite class of top-level luxury cars,” said Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen. “Currently in development, this new rear wheel drive-oriented sedan uses completely new, custom-designed materials on a unique vehicle architecture.

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First Drive: 2015 Ford Mustang

Re-imagining an icon.

by on Sep.18, 2014

The new 2015 Ford Mustang GT maintains its basic design cues without looking retro.

“When you’re redoing an icon,” says Ford’s new CEO Mark Fields, you find yourself gripped by “a combination of a great honor and a great fear.” Just ask Dave Pericak, who was given the daunting job of redesigning one of those icons as the chief engineer for the 2015 Ford Mustang program.

It wasn’t just a new version of the classic pony car Pericak had to shepherd into production, but the creation of a vehicle worthy of being the 50th anniversary Mustang.  It had to be, as he is fond of saying, “the best Mustang ever.” No idle boast, but, after spending a few days watching a procession of automotive journalists get their first rides in the pony car, Pericak looked more than a bit relieved. As well he should.

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There are a few nits to pick, but they’re largely cosmetic, a few places Ford might have stretched a little further. But there’s little doubt that the coupe and convertible muscle cars Ford will be shipping to dealers around the world in the months ahead can far and away lay claim to being the best Mustang ever.

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Lotus Mulls Cutting a Quarter of its Workforce

Maker enters 45-day consultation period to develop a plan.

by on Sep.18, 2014

The Lotus Evora 4414 plug-in got the nod of approval from the auto engineering world, but that wasn't enough to keep it from financial issues.

Just four years ago, the future for Lotus appeared bright with plans for a burgeoning product portfolio bolstered by enthusiastic management; however, those efforts appear to have failed as the company plans to cut as much as a quarter of its workforce.

The company announced plans today to reorganize the company and terminate as many as 325 of its 1,215 employees worldwide. Part of the restructuring will see the company trying to do more with less as a result of the job losses.

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“We understand the concerns that this proposal will create,” said Jean-Marc Gales, chief executive officer of Group Lotus, in a statement. “We deeply regret the potential impact any reshaping of the business may have on our employees and their families. Read the rest of this entry »

Dodge Challenger Hellcat Gets 22 MPG Highway Rating

New muscle cars delivering once unheard-of fuel economy.

by on Sep.18, 2014

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and its 707 horsepower posted a stunning highway mileage figure of 22 mpg.

In the “golden age” of muscle cars, models like the Dodge Challenger were lucky to come close to delivering double-digit fuel economy. So, the EPA’s official mileage numbers for the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat could come as a shock.

Equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, the 707-horsepower coupe – the most powerful muscle car ever to emerge from a Detroit factory – will delivers 21 mpg on the highway, the EPA giving it a less surprising 13 mpg city rating, with the combined figure at 16 miles per gallon. Surprisingly, the automatic gets 22 mpg on the highway, which is due to the highly efficient eight-speed transmission.

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The numbers underscore the pressure automakers are under as U.S. and overseas fuel economy numbers are ratcheted ever higher, but also show how new technologies, such as direct injection and supercharging can yield significant benefits in both performance and mileage. Read the rest of this entry »

Tomorrow’s Mustang Will Likely Adopt Radical New Powertrain Options

Downsized engines, e-turbos, hybrids and other options all under study.

by on Sep.18, 2014

The 2015 Ford Mustang now gets an EcoBoost engine option that balances performance and mileage.

When Ford Motor Co. unveiled its 50th anniversary Mustang late last year, it delivered a shock to the market by adding a new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine to its powertrain line-up alongside the pony car’s classic V-8 and V-6 packages.

The EcoBoost engine is expected to have significant appeal to fuel economy-minded buyers, especially those overseas, where Ford will aggressively market the Mustang for the first time. The inline-four also will help Ford prepare to meet increasingly stringent mileage and emissions standards in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

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But it is likely to be just a first step in what could become a radical transformation in the powertrain options Mustang buyers will be offered in the not-too-distant future. Various Ford officials tell that the range of alternatives that could be required to keep the pony car in the fleet range from even higher-tech turbo and supercharged engines to gas-electric hybrids that can deliver both improved mileage and serious performance simultaneously.

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