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Technology Shaping Search and Performance for New Vehicles

Surveys show tech drives buying and driving experience.

by on Jun.28, 2016

Self-driving vehicles may improve the mobility of baby boomers some day, if they learn to trust the vehicles.

Technology is playing a bigger role than ever in the car-buying experience, whether it’s the technology on the car making it safer or easier to drive or the technology used to determine what vehicle is best for the buyer.

In today’s highly connected lifestyle, new vehicles are laden with more and more safety and convenience features. However, according to a new study from Jumpstart Automotive Group, many of those digital mavens rate state-of-the-art technology and infotainment as “nice-to-have” feature versus a “must have.”

Beyond the Headlines!

This may be because the bar is higher. Consumers’ expectations are much more advanced today—they expect their vehicle to be an extension of their connected live, the study notes. This is especially true of Bluetooth, which many list as a favorite technology that they would be unwilling to give up. Read the rest of this entry »

SolarCity Board Names Two-Person Committee to Review Tesla Takeover

Company has just one board member with no ties to EV maker.

by on Jun.28, 2016

Tesla CEO Elon Musk pitched a $2.8 billion takeover bid of SolarCity Corp.: another company he heads up.

To answer the rising chorus of criticism, SolarCity Corp. said on Monday it has formed a special committee to evaluate Tesla Motors Inc.’s $2.8 billion takeover offer by Tesla.

To show that everyone involved is a little tone deaf to the chorus, there are only two people on the committee. Tesla and SolarCity are so entertwined that five members of the board recused themselves from serving on the committee due to conflicts.

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Even still, one member of the committee, Nancy Pfund, has ties to both companies. The committee will evaluate the offer and “a broad range of strategic alternatives,” the top U.S. solar panel company said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

Takata CEO Outlines Plans to Resign

“I want to pass the baton.”

by on Jun.28, 2016

Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada has apologized for the airbag scandal but will soon step down.

The CEO of safety systems supplier Takata plans to resign, a move that could help the tarnished Japanese manufacturer raise the capital necessary for its survival.

Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada has come under intense fire in the wake of revelations about the company’s airbag systems, which have been linked to the deaths of at least 14 people worldwide, with more than 100 other injured. That has triggered the largest recall in U.S. automotive history, so far affecting more than 40 million vehicles.

Safety News!

Takata has been struggling to supply enough new airbag inflators to replace those under recall, and its cash crunch has made it difficult to ramp up production. The company has been looking at restructuring opportunities that might include finding a buyer. Read the rest of this entry »

Feds Outline Diesel Emissions Settlement with VW

But “criminal investigation is (still) active and ongoing.”

by on Jun.28, 2016

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calls the settlement "unprecedented" under the Clean Air Act.

Describing the settlement as “groundbreaking” and “unprecedented,” federal officials outlined a $14.7 billion, three-part deal with Volkswagen that will, among other things, remove as many as 475,000 diesel vehicles from U.S. roads.

But the agreement, which could yield significant compensation for those who own those vehicles, does not end the German automaker’s legal and financial problems. VW still has to reach a settlement covering about 50,000 additional vehicles. And it could yet face criminal charges and civil fines stemming from its efforts to cheat on government emissions tests.

Clearing the Air!

The settlement “marks the largest clean air mitigation step in the history of the Clean Air Act,” declared Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally G. Yates during a news conference in Washington, D.C. But, she added, “It is by no means the final step.” Among other things, she added, “I can assure you our criminal investigation is active and ongoing.”

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VW Could Face Tens of Billions in Additional Compensation Costs

Senior EU official wants same compensation for European diesel owners.

by on Jun.28, 2016

Volkswagen is under fire after it paid a more costly settlement in the U.S. than in Europe. Officials there are calling for VW to voluntarily pay more now.

Volkswagen is expected to close a deal requiring it to pay $14.7 billion to settle charges it cheated on diesel emissions tests.

Under the agreement with U.S. and California authorities, the German maker will provide owners of vehicles equipped with its 2.0-liter turbodiesel at least $5,000 in compensation, and possibly a lot more if they choose to have VW buy back one of the affected vehicles.

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But the settlement only covers the nearly 500,000 2.0-liter TDI models sold in the U.S. during the 2009 to 2015 model-years – with a separate settlement to follow covering a 3.0-liter model, as well. That fact isn’t sitting well with European consumers and regulators who feel the automaker should provide compensation there, as well. Read the rest of this entry »

VW Diesel Owners Could Get over $10k Each Out of $14.7 Bil Settlement

Deal doesn’t end automaker’s problems in wake of emissions cheating scandal.

by on Jun.28, 2016

VW is expected to settle the key diesel emissions case on Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco.

Volkswagen could be on the hook to buy back nearly 500,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S., with many owners getting $10,000 or more as part of a federal settlement to the maker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal.

The deal, which has reportedly been accepted by the U.S. Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission and the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, will be the first step in resolving a case triggered by the revelation VW had equipped cars using its 2.0-liter turbodiesel with software designed to lower pollution levels when those vehicles were undergoing emissions tests.

Beyond the Headlines!

All told, the maker has agreed to a deal worth around $14.7 billion. Of that, about $10 billion will go to compensating owners of the 2009 to 2015 diesel models. Another $2.7 billion is earmarked for “environmental remediation,” according to sources. The remaining $2 billion will fund environmental efforts, including the development of zero-emissions vehicles. Earlier this month, VW said it was planning to launch “at least 30 battery-based models by 2025.

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Nissan Shuffles Senior Management

Changes designed to support “Power 88” midterm plan.

by on Jun.27, 2016

David Reuter takes on newly formed post of Vice President, Global Communications Operations for Nissan Motor Ltd.

Nissan is reshuffling it senior management in North America designed to support the company’s “Power 88” midterm business plan.

This plan, according to the automaker, includes the launch of 14 new or “significantly refreshed cars, trucks, crossovers and SUVs to meet growing customer demand.” Nissan’s market share in the U.S. has been on the rise for much of the last decade and execution of introduction of these new vehicles is critical to that continued growth.

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“These leadership appointments in key business functions will ensure Nissan is well positioned to accelerate our growth, especially with new and exciting products like Titan and Armada,” said José Muñoz, executive vice president, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (NML) and chairman, NNA. Read the rest of this entry »

Long Decommissioned: Route 66 Lives On

The Mother Road still helps countless travelers, migrants “motor west.”

by on Jun.27, 2016

Photo Courtesy TheRoute-66.com

Long stretches of "Historic Route 66" still are open to the public out West.

“It winds from Chicago to L.A., more than 2,000 miles along the way. Get your kicks on Route 66.”

Call it the Mother Road, the Main Street of America or the Will Rogers Highway. U.S. Route 66 may just be the most famous stretch of tarmac in America, and it lives on despite officially being decertified by the federal government on June 27, 1985.

Drive on In!

Perhaps only New York’s Broadway has been more celebrated on film and television and, of course, in song. The song, “Route 66,” was written by a nearly penniless wannabe song writer Bobby Troup and turned into a 1946 smash hit by Nat King Cole, the tune encouraging countless millions of Americans to “motor west,” and transform California into the country’s most populous state.

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Make Less? Pay More for Auto Insurance

New study shows insurers charge higher rates on lower income drivers.

by on Jun.27, 2016

The difference among the top five auto insurers in 15 cities based on what a driver makes can be substantial.

Auto insurers use a variety of factors to determine what they should charge consumers, and not all are fair; however, one seems to punish those who can – so it seems – least afford it: lower wage earners.

A new study by the Consumer Federation of America shows that drivers with a lower socio-economic status were charged an average of 59% more, equating to $681, annually than drivers with identical driving histories, but with better salaries.

The Journal of Record!

“Insurance companies should judge you on how you drive, not who you are,” said J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s Director of Insurance and former Texas Insurance Commissioner. Read the rest of this entry »

First Look: Mercedes-AMG GT R

Green Hell from Stuttgart.

by on Jun.27, 2016

A bright green bat out of hell, the GT R.

Ever since Mercedes-Benz rolled out the GT sports car a couple years back, we’ve been expecting a few variants, the typical modus operandi for the Schwabian automaker. Now, it seems, we’ll soon be getting a flood of them, including the recently introduced GT S, a “base” model due next year and, shortly after that, the Mercedes-AMG GT R that made its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England over the weekend.

Able to launch from 0 to 60 in a mere 3.5 seconds – about 0.2 seconds faster than the 2016 GT S model – you might be tempted to call it a bat out of hell. So, appropriately enough, Mercedes is introducing the new GT R with a new paint scheme called Green Hell Magno.

Performance News!

Beyond that blinding hue, you’ll be able to distinguish the new Mercedes-AMG GT R from other versions of the two-seater thanks to new, widebody trim that adds about two inches in width to the more mundane versions of the GT.

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