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Toyota Readies Robot to Help Healthcare Workers

Honda continues development of ASIMO.

by on Jul.31, 2015

Toyota will begin using its Human Service Robot in trials with healthcare workers to see if they are viable.

And now we all know where the real-life version of the movie iRobot begins … with the introduction of Toyota’s Human Service Robot or HSR.

In the aforementioned film, humans become reliant upon robots to handle life’s mundane responsibilities. The end result is that the robots view humans as a problem begin to implement a plan to rid the planet of them. That’s when Will Smith comes in, sans DJ Jazzy Jeff, and saves the world.

The Last Word!

Toyota’s HSR isn’t anywhere near that level of ability or pervasiveness, with its highly maneuverable, compact, and lightweight cylindrical body and folding arm, the HSR can pick objects up off the floor, retrieve objects from shelves, and perform a variety of other tasks. Read the rest of this entry »

First Drive: 2016 Scion iA

First-ever four-door upgrades Scion image

by on Jul.31, 2015

The 2016 Scion iA is the brand's first-ever sedan. It's one of two new models coming this fall.

Amid the rising sales of truck and sport utility vehicles, sales of small, subcompact cars have held their own, suggesting that attributes such as affordability and fuel efficiency still have enormous appeal for a significant population of buyers.

The segment is also likely to expand as new, city-dwelling buyers, both young and old, who might for an alternative to vehicles that don’t really fit into increasingly scarce parking spaces in urban areas, enhancing the overall appeal of cars such as the new Scion iA.

At the Cutting Edge!

The iA is the anchor of an effort by Toyota to re-invigorate the Scion brand, which has struggled in recent years at least in part because of a product strategy that seemed hit or miss. With the introduction of iA, which will compete directly with cars such as Honda Fit, Mazda 2, Chevrolet Sonic and Nissan Versa, Scion is making a bid to re-establish its presence and influence in the heart of the affordable, subcompact market. Read the rest of this entry »

Scion Open to “Any Product Suitable” as it Searches for Turnaround Formula

New brand boss says all-wheel-drive, SUV even pickup could fit.

by on Jul.31, 2015

Scion Vice President Doug Murtha said recently he's open to any number of new models for the youth-oriented brand.

Scion will bring two all-new models to market for 2016 – half of its total line-up. That includes both the new iM hatchback and the iA, the youthful brand’s first sedan. But don’t be surprised to see Scion push into even newer territory in the next few years.

Struggling to regain momentum after a decade of declining sales, Scion’s new management team is making major changes, including a shift away from the dark, wildly creative advertising that marked its early years. But it’s ultimately all about product, stressed General Manager Doug Murtha, who told TheDetroitBureau.com Scion just might get its own pickup, utility vehicle, or at least something else with all-wheel-drive.

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“I’m a hand-raiser for any product suitable for the brand,” Murtha said during an interview in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he’d come for a media drive of the new Scion iA and iM models. Read the rest of this entry »

Spyker Emerges from Bankruptcy – Again

Company partnering with electric aircraft maker.

by on Jul.31, 2015

Spyker's B6 Venator concept still hadn't made the jump to production when it went bankrupt. Officials didn't mention it when Spyker announced its emergence.

Once again, the Dutch sports car manufacturer Spyker has emerged from bankruptcy, beating back a legal challenge from a key creditor.

Exactly what will happen next, however, is uncertain, as a statement by the boutique car company made no mention of the B6 Venator model it was working on when things appeared to come to a crashing halt late last year. Moving forward, however, Spyker says it is set to merge with a Portland, Oregon-based electric aircraft manufacturer, Volta Volare.

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“Spyker is back with a vengeance and we look forward to a bright future,” said Victor Muller, the company’s founder and CEO, who admitted going through “a very rough patch” since Spyker was forced to declare bankruptcy last December. Read the rest of this entry »

Despite Safety Woes, Honda Earnings Climb 20%

Weak yen offsets cost of airbag recall.

by on Jul.31, 2015

Honda's automotive unit helped the company to strong first-quarter profits despite setbacks from Takata's faulty airbags.

Despite being slammed by the ongoing recall of Takata airbags, Honda Motor Co. was able to deliver a 20% jump in earnings for the first quarter of its 2015 fiscal year.

The cheap yen – which has dropped almost 20% against the dollar over the past year – helped drive Honda’s April-June net income to 186 billion yen, or $1.5 billion. A year ago, the maker reported 155.6 billion yen in net income, or about $1.3 billion.

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On a per share basis, Honda handily outperformed the 65 cent average forecast of the Zacks Consensus Estimate with an 84-cent, or 103.22-yen, per share number. Read the rest of this entry »

Rental Car Act Named for Two Sisters Killed in Crash Passes Senate

House delays vote until after recess.

by on Jul.31, 2015

The Houck sisters were killed instantly when their vehicle spun out of control and hit a truck head-on.

With Washington lawmakers set to go home for their summer recess, family and friends of two sisters killed in a 2004 rental car crash received at least one bit of good news.

The Senate passed a 6-year highway bill on Thursday that includes the terms of the long-delayed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act. The House won’t deal with the measure until lawmakers return to the capital in September. But if they also approve the measure it would ensure that rental car companies can no longer keep cars in operation that are subject to recall until the necessary fixes are made.

The Complete Story!

The two California sisters were killed in a crash of a Chrysler PT Cruiser they’d gotten from Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Initially, the company attempted to blame 24-year-old Raechel, who was driving, going so far as to say she might have been “suicidal or on drugs.” But a jury later disagreed,

Read the rest of this entry »

Gas Prices Continue to Decline in July

Supply outstrips demand in much of U.S.

by on Jul.31, 2015

The average price for gas has dropped recently in the U.S., despite a sharp spike on the West Coast.

The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline continues to drop as motorists are now paying, on average, the lowest price for gasoline during July since the recession year of 2009.

The national average price is $2.71 per gallon, which is a nickel per gallon less than one week ago and seven cents less than one month ago. Drivers are saving 82 cents per gallon at the pump compared to a year ago, according to AAA. GasBuddy.com also reports that prices continued to fall this week.

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Weekly price comparisons show the majority of drivers in 43 states and Washington, D.C. are saving at the pump. The price is down a dime or more in Ohio, where prices dropped by 17 cents, as well as Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan and despite some regional differences within each state, motorists in a total of nine states are saving a nickel or more per gallon week-over-week. Retail averages climbed higher in seven states during the same period, but in less dramatic fashion. Read the rest of this entry »

Tesla Announces First Incentive Program – With a Social Spin

Some buyers also turning to used Tesla as affordable entry.

by on Jul.30, 2015

Tesla wants to find new ways to boost demand before the launch of the Model X SUV.

Incentives have become a way of life in the auto industry, buyers often expecting givebacks and discounts on even the most popular products.

That’s a lesson little Tesla Motors has apparently picked up on. But the California battery-carmaker is adding a unique social spin to its first-ever incentive package, with a program designed to reward both owners and buyers. Separately, a new study suggests that some potential customers are getting around the high cost of a Model S sedan by turning to use versions.

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In comparison to some incentive programs, Tesla might be accused of being downright stingy. It will offer $1,000 credit to a new buyer – but with a twist, you have to be referred by an existing owner who will also get a $1,000 spiff, apparently for a future purchase.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hyundai Offering Do-It-Yourself Android Auto Updates

Program for vehicles with navigation system only.

by on Jul.30, 2015

Hyundai is letting Sonata owners with Android Auto handle the updates of the system themselves.

It seems like just about everything related to Android or Apple needs an update at some point, and now if you have a Hyundai Sonata with Android Auto, you can tackle the updates yourself.

The South Korean automaker is offering owners the opportunity to use the MyHyundai portal to download the upgrades to the system and install it themselves. For those who are uncomfortable with that, they can still drive to their dealer and let a service tech perform the upgrade.

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“This is the first time we’ve made a software upgrade available using the MyHyundai portal,” said Michael Deitz, senior group manager of Connected Care, Hyundai Motor America, in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiat Chrysler Latest to Beat Expectations With Q2 Earnings

Net income up despite hefty consent agreement charge.

by on Jul.30, 2015

FCA is in "execution mode," says Marchionne.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may have begun the third quarter on a sour note, slammed with a record fine for safety lapses, but it ended the second-quarter in fine tune, handily exceeding Wall Street earnings forecasts.

The company, officially registered in the Netherlands, earned a profit of 333 million Euros, or $364 million, even after a chargeback of $88.5 million as a result of the consent order formally announced last weekend. A year ago, FCA earned 197 million Euros, or $215 million, for the period. On a per-share basis, the maker reported earnings of $0.21 between April-June 2015, analysts surveyed by MarketWatch predicting the figure would come in around 19 cents.

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As has been the case for several years, the recovering Chrysler side of the business helped prop up the balance sheet, primarily due to strong demand – and rising prices – in North America. But FCA also saw improvements in a European market just rebounding after a long and deep recession.

Read the rest of this entry »