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Consumer Reports Calls for Feds to Regulate Computers in Cars

Letter warns members about easy of access by hackers.

by on May.28, 2015

The $10,000 challenge to computer hackers to break into Tesla's Model S controls proved how easily someone can gain access to in-car computer systems.

The recent news that anyone can shut down an iPhone with a simple text is a reminder of how easy it is to get hacked. The fact that new vehicles are often described as rolling computers only stokes fears that your car may not be safe from someone sitting behind a computer screen thousands of miles away.

In a week where Hyundai and General Motors joyously announced they would be adding Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay as options on some of their models, concerns about how those systems might enable hackers to gain access to vehicles have been raised.

Stay Informed!

Consumer Reports sent letters to its 6 million members sounding the alarm on about what it views as lax security measures on the part of automakers. Read the rest of this entry »

New EV Taxi Charges onto London’s Streets

Ford GT maker lends expertise to new battery-powered cabs.

by on May.28, 2015

Metrocab is replacing the old traditional black cab in London with a new EV cab that meets the city's stringent pollution rules.

The old-fashioned black taxi cab that used to roam the streets of London is being re-born as an extended range electric vehicle dubbed the Metrocab, which is now slated to go into volume production next year with help from a Canadian company.

The Metrocab will be the only zero-emissions-capable black cab currently operating in London, according to Frazer-Nash Research Ltd. and Ecotive Ltd., the companies proposing to build the new cab, starting next year in Coventry, England, through a new partnership with Canadian manufacturing company, Multimatic.

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Multimatic is the Toronto-area company that Ford Motor Co. recently selected to build the new Ford GT because of its expertise in handling exotic materials, such as carbon fiber. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Offers Competitors Access to EV Patents

Detroit maker hiring 200 new engineers for battery-car efforts.

by on May.28, 2015

Ford's C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid is one of the maker's six electrified vehicles.

Ford is opening up its portfolio of patents and offering competitors access to those covering electric vehicle technologies. Just last year, Ford filed for 2,000 patents in the U.S., of which 400, or more than 20, were related to EVs.

The move comes a year after CEO Elon Musk offered access to the patent portfolio of battery-carmaker Tesla Motors. Unlike the California start-up, Ford isn’t providing its intellectual property rights for free. But Ford’s move isn’t simply to get the licensing fees.

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News You Can Trust!

“Innovation is our goal,” explained Kevin Layden, director, Ford Electrification Programs, in a news release. “The way to provide the best technology is through constant development and progress. By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers.”

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Mazda or Scion or Fiat? Alliances Are Changing the Face of the Auto Industry

Automakers partner up to cut costs, expand product lines.

by on May.28, 2015

The new Mazda Miata was developed as part of a joint venture with Fiat.

When the new iA comes to Scion showrooms later this year, it will mark the first time Toyota’s youth-oriented brand has offered a sedan.

To bring it to market, Scion sought out some help, largely repurposing a 4-door model developed by smaller Japanese automaker Mazda. Toyota also will use the subcompact Mazda2 as the starting point for the next version of its small Yaris model – which will be assembled at a new Mazda plant in Mexico.

Stay on Top!

Confused? You’re not alone.  It takes more than just a scorecard to keep up with the convoluted alliances in today’s increasingly competitive auto industry. Hoping to add more models to their line-ups while at the same time driving down costs, traditional competitors are finding advantages to working together.

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GM Investing $175 Million in Lansing Plant for New Camaro

Plant adding 500 workers back to second shift.

by on May.28, 2015

General Motors is investing $175 million in its Lansing Grand River plant to build the new Camaro.

General Motors’ $5.4 billion plant spending spree carried on today with the announcement it will invest $175 million in its Lansing, Michigan, plant to build the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro.

In addition to the new tooling and equipment, the move also resumption of 500 workers on a second shift that had been on temporary lay off. The company has announced $2.8 billion in expenditures since it revealed its multi-billion dollar investment plan.

Power and Performance News!

“With this investment in tooling and equipment, we will continue to do our part to build on the high-quality reputation of this iconic car,” said GM North American Manufacturing Manager Scott Whybrew in a statement. “These investments in the Lansing plants are proof of the teams’ quality commitment, to put the customer at the center of everything we do!” Read the rest of this entry »

Men More Likely Than Women to Die in Car Crash

Blame alcohol as much as testosterone.

by on May.28, 2015

Men are more likely to die in a crash, and alcohol is just one of several reasons why.

After years of decline, U.S. highway fatalities have taken a jump in recent months, and that could be particularly bad news for men. Whether you blame testosterone or alcohol, male motorists are twice as likely to be killed behind the wheel as women, according to federal crash data.

Men tend to have more severe crashes than women, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. But in comparable crashes, women are more likely than men to be killed or injured. Separate studies have shown young men are particularly prone to being involved in fatal crashes, and the new NHTSA report indicates that the gap between men and women narrows with age.

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Federal researchers focused on crash data from 2012, a year in which 33,541 Americans were killed on the nation’s roadways. That broke down to 23,808 men and just 9,733 women.

The NHTSA study pointed to a variety of factors that could lie behind this gender gap: Read the rest of this entry »

VW’s Chattanooga Plant Expansion Bringing 9,800 Jobs

New study shows $370 million in annual income from new SUV.

by on May.28, 2015

VW's expansion of its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, could result in 9,800 new jobs totaling $370 million in annual income.

The competition between states offering incentives and promises to secure new auto business is fierce and a new study shows why: money and jobs.

A study from the University of Tennessee’s Center of Business and Economic Research (CBER) indicates that the expansion of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga manufacturing plant to produce a new midsize SUV and the opening of a North American Engineering and Planning Center could create approximately 9,800 jobs and add $370 million in additional annual income, once the plant is fully operational.

Always Looking Ahead!

“The findings in the CBER study demonstrate that the incentive package recently passed by the Tennessee legislature will result in an economic growth multiplier of several times the state’s investment,” said David Geanacopoulos, executive vice president for Public Affairs and General Counsel, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Targeting Nearly 450,000 Vehicles With Two Separate Recalls

Power steering problems are primary issue.

by on May.27, 2015

One recall covers versions of the new 2015 Ford Mustang equipped with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine.

Ford is targeting nearly 450,000 vehicles as part of a pair of recalls, it announced today.

The primary problem is a flawed power-steering system on a variety of recent sedan and crossover models. But the second problem affects the turbocharged version of the recently redesigned Ford Mustang.

Keeping You Safe!

Ford says the bigger recall involves a problem so far linked to four minor crashes with no injuries. There have been no accidents, fires or injuries involving the Mustang defect.

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Takata Officials Expected to be Grilled at Congressional Hearing

Lawmakers likely to demand answers to tough questions.

by on May.27, 2015

Takata's Hiroshi Shimizu is likely to face some hostile questions if he's called to testify before lawmakers next week in Washington D.C.

Takata’s recent acquiescence to federal regulators pushing the supplier to declare 33.8 million airbags defective likely won’t be enough to save the company’s executives from another appearance before U.S. lawmakers.

The hearing aims to provide officials with an update on how the problem with the airbags, which have caused largest single recall in U.S. history, is going to be resolved and when. It’s expected that officials from Takata, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other Transportation officials will make appearances.

Safety First!

While who specifically will be called to testify before the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee, which is part of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, isn’t yet known, when the hearing convenes in Washington D.C. on Tuesday it’s a safe bet, Takata officials will face some harsh questioning. Read the rest of this entry »

Chevy Adding Apple CarPlay, Android Auto to 14 Models

“Smartphones are essential,” says GM CEO Barra.

by on May.27, 2015

A total of 14 Chevrolet models, including the next-gen Volt, Malibu and Camaro, will add Apple CarPlay.

It’s becoming ever harder to walk – or drive — away from your smartphone. A day after Hyundai became the first automaker to formally confirm plans to add the new Android Auto system to its Sonata sedan, Chevrolet says it will go one better, rolling out both the Google-based system and Apple’s new CarPlay on 14 of its models next year.

Both technologies allow a motorist to go beyond basic pairing. It lets them actually operate a variety of different smartphone apps directly through the vehicle’s infotainment system, whether by using a touchscreen or voice commands. Chevy owners will be able to access 10 different audio services, for example, from Spotify to NPR to Major League Baseball – with more apps to follow, the maker hinted.

Tech Savvy!

They’ll also be able to have text messages read out by artificial speech and dictate a reply. And whether using an Apple iOS or Google Android-based phone, motorists will be able to access the smartphone’s built-in navigation, potentially saving $1,000 or more on a factory-installed navi system.

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