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Apple Watch Delay Means Auto Apps Idling

BMW, Porsche owners can start cars with flick of wrist.

by on Apr.27, 2015

Porsche's Apple Watch app will let users open and close doors and windows, start the car and even help you find your way back to the car.

The delay in the delivery of the Apple Watch may have disappointed more than just devotees of the Cupertino, California-based tech giant: BMW and Porsche owners could be impacted as well.

BMW and Porsche both developed Internet apps for the Apple Watch and, well, no watch, no app. The apps allow owners of the premium German brands to do everything from check the battery life on their i8 to flash the lights and honk the horn to help Cayenne owners find their SUVs in a crowded parking lot.

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BMW’s i Remote app is only available for use with the i3 and i8 electric vehicles. In addition to letting you know how much juice is left in your battery, the app displays the plug-in’s charge status, navigates you back to where you parked, and remotely operates the door locks and climate control system. Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota Mirai Paces NASCAR Race

Alternative fuel pace cars making mark on track.

by on Apr.27, 2015

The Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is the first hydrogen-powered pace car in NASCAR history.

Part of the thrill of attending a NASCAR race is the roar of the cars as they pass by led by the pace car at the start of the race. However, the Toyota Owners 400 on Saturday night had a little different feel as the cars were led by Toyota’s Mirai hydrogen fuel cell pace car.

While it didn’t exactly sound like the car from the Jetsons as it cruised the through the banked oval turns in Richmond, Virginia, it was definitely a different sound. Despite the lack of thunder from the Mirai, the fuel-cell-powered EV did make some noise as the first car of its kind to pace a NASCAR race.

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“Having a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle pace the Toyota Owners 400 is an historic moment for both Toyota and NASCAR and we’re proud it’s the Toyota Mirai,” said Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. “Bringing the Mirai to Richmond to pace this important race is another way for Toyota to showcase our innovation and environmental leadership.” Read the rest of this entry »

Stop “Crying Wolf,” Over 54.5 mpg Standard, Says “Queen of Cleaner Cars”

by on Apr.27, 2015

Margo Oge retired in 2012 after 32 years with the EPA.

With fuel prices down by as much as 30% from their 2014 peak, millions of Americans have been migrating to pickups and SUVs and abandoning compact passenger cars and alternative fuel vehicles. That’s leading some industry executives to questions whether the federal government should re-think the 54.5 mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard set to take effect in 2025.

Such a move would be a critical mistake, warns Margo Ogo, a former official with the EPA who helped put together the compromise fuel economy rules and who has been dubbed by some “the Queen of Cleaner Cars.” If anything, she says, the tough mandate targeted for a decade from now doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Balanced Debate!

“2025 is the first down-payment to the planet for the need to get away from fossil fuels,” Oge told TheDetroitBureau.com during a lengthy interview marking the release of her new book, Driving the Future: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars. “We, as a society, need to move to zero-emission vehicles by 2050…if we are to meet goals of reducing carbon emissions.”

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Ford Recalls 390K Vehicles for Door Latch Problem

Latest action puts number at 1.4 million with latch issues.

by on Apr.27, 2015

Ford is recalling 2012-2104 Fiestas for door latch problems. The maker has recalled 1.4 million vehicles due to latch issues.

Ford continues to battle problems with door latches recalling 390,000 late model Fiestas, Fusions and MKZs.

Door latch problems have been a running dilemma for the automaker and the latest action raises the total number of vehicles recalled for them to 1.4 million.

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Ford’s latest recall covers 389,585 2012-14 Ford Fiesta and 2013-14 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars with 337,000 of those vehicles in the U.S., 30,000 in Canada and the remainder in Mexico. Read the rest of this entry »

VW Chairman Piech Unexpectedly Quits After Clash Over Company’s Future

Militant trade unionist named his acting replacement.

by on Apr.27, 2015

Ferdinand Piech, grandson of VW's founder, resigned as chairman due to a dispute over his successor.

Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech unexpectedly tendered his resignation over the weekend, capping a bitter battle over the future of the German automaker.

Piech, who has been credited with crafting the growth and acquisition strategy that transformed VW into the world’s second-largest car company, had clashed with other board members over his eventual successor. The 78-year-old Piech had openly criticized VW’s current CEO, and its likely next chairman, Martin Winterkorn.

Global Insight!

The upheaval at Volkswagen appears to bolster the hand of the German unions in running the company – and could alter the trajectory of the company’s drive to become the world’s largest automaker. VW came a hairsbreadth short of dislodging Japanese rival Toyota last year.

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Automakers Regain Momentum in April – Market Looking at Best in Decade

Power forecast sees industry making up ground after cold winter.

by on Apr.24, 2015

Trucks, like this Ford F-150 shown with CEO Mark Fields, continue to gain momentum in the US market.

Consumer demand for new vehicles during April is the best it’s been in 10 years, according to a new analysis by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

With the warmer, spring weather finally settling in across the U.S., total light-vehicle sales are projected to reach 1,463,700, a 5% increase compared with April 2014 and the highest level for the month since April 2005.  The total seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales, or SAAR, is expected to hit 16.6 million units.

The Last Word!

“The industry continues to outperform prior-year levels with respect to retail sales and transaction prices,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. “The average new-vehicle transaction price so far in April is $30,680, on pace to achieve a new record for the month.” The current record was set in April 2014 when transaction prices averaged $29,948,” he said.

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American Dreaming: Exhibit Looks Back at the Golden Age of the U.S. Auto Industry

Rare finds often were smuggled out of Detroit’s design studios.

by on Apr.24, 2015

Bill Blogh's 1953 Ford concept sketch captured the sci-fi mood of the era.

In the optimistic post-War era, few things better defined the American lifestyle than the cars we drove. The ’57 Chevy and the finned Cadillac Eldorado were far more than mere transportation.

Drawings and sketches by designers who created the cars of the 1950s and 1960s are being honored with a unique display at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan through May 2.

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The exhibit, “American Dreaming: Detroit ’s Golden Age of Automotive Design,” is the first comprehensive exhibition to offer a look at the art work produced inside the design studios of Detroit ’s automakers between 1946 to 1973.

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Chinese Turn Car Clones into High Art

Copycat makers often outsell the originals.

by on Apr.24, 2015

No, that's not a $475,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

That may look, at first glance, like a vanity license plate on a Rolls-Royce Phantom, but take another glance and you might be in for a surprise. You’re actually looking at a Geely GE, a Chinese knock-off that has closely copied the classic Rolls grille and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament – but which goes for a fraction of the original’s $475,000 price.

Automakers from around the world put their latest wares on display at this month’s Shanghai Motor Show. But a walk down the hall revealed that local Chinese automakers already had fresh copies of a number of the hottest products from the U.S., Europe, Japan and Korea.

We're No Clone!

While some picked up subtle styling cues and features, others blended attributes from several different models to create weird Franken-cars, like the Suzhou Eagle EV that was one part Porsche Cayman, with a face lifted from a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and a battery-electric drivetrain to make things even weirder.

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Ford Cuts Shift, 700 Jobs, at Key Michigan Plant

Cutbacks spread as American motorists shift from small cars to SUVs.

by on Apr.24, 2015

The Ford Focus has been losing momentum despite receiving some updates for 2015.

Weak passenger car sales have prompted Ford Motor Co. to eliminate a shift at a Michigan assembly line that builds compact and battery vehicles, including the Focus and Focus EV.

With gasoline prices dropping to their lowest level in years, demand for SUVs has been rising while prompting a sharp slide in sales of smaller and alternative-fuel vehicles, like this built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. The announcement, which will impact 700 Ford workers, comes on top of General Motors’ decision to temporarily idle production of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid at a plant nearby.

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“Ford will be working to redeploy affected hourly employees (affected by the cuts) and they will be considered first for southeast Michigan opportunities as they become available,” the automaker said in a statement.

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April Showers Brings … National Car Care Month!

Time to perform preventative maintenance check on vehicles.

by on Apr.24, 2015

Checking lubricants and fluids are part of the preventative maintenance routine recommended in the spring, according to experts.

Most of the nation has shaken off the yoke of winter and spring is upon us, which means its time to live the famous refrain, April showers bring … potholes and rain mostly.

April not only marks the beginning of spring, but also National Car Care month. It’s the time of the year that motorists need to focus on replacing windshield wiper blades, check the air pressure in tires and to ensure brakes are safe and working properly, according to the Car Care Council.

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The council says that cars inspected between April and October 2014 revealed that 84% of vehicles need service or parts, up 5% from the previous year. Read the rest of this entry »