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The Motor City, Motown and Jazz

Annual Detroit Jazz Fest revives links to an early era of musical -- and motoring -- innovation.

by on Aug.29, 2014

McCoy Tyner at the 2013 Detroit Jazz Fest

What has long been known as the Motor City has done more than just put America on wheels. It’s also helped create much of the music Americans have listened to on their car radios.

The Motown sound emerged from a small, run-down studio filled with eager young talents like Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross, many of whom grew up in tough inner-city neighborhoods where opportunity meant getting a job on the assembly line, getting a gig in a band, or struggling for each meal. But long before Berry Gordy launched his record label, Detroit was already a major force on the national music scene. And the sounds of jazz and blues that filled the city’s clubs and dance halls were fueled by the same force, the auto industry.

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The Labor Day weekend brings with it the annual Detroit Jazz Festival which, after three decades, has become the world’s largest free jazz gathering, and event that brings out some of the biggest names of that genre – more than a few with long ties to the Motor City, including the likes of bassist Ron Carter, violinist Regina Carter, and pianist Barry Harris.

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Privately Owned Cars Could Vanish Under Ambitious Helsinki Plan

Proposal emphasizes carsharing, bikes, mass transit.

by on Aug.29, 2014

Helsinki is considering a plan that would severely limit private ownership of cars, but allow greater flexibility in its public transportation in the city limits.

With traffic congestion getting worse by the year, amidst growing concerns about the automobile and the environment, a number of cities around the world are taking steps to reduce, or at least limit the growth in, the number of privately owned vehicles on the road.

Helsinki, Finland, is considering what is being described as a “truly transformative” plan that could all but do away with private car ownership entirely, in favor of carsharing, bikes and public transport. Perhaps the most significant piece of the plan would let residents pay a flat fee that would cover any and all of their urban transportation needs.

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“The major innovation that makes this work will be an integrated payment system,” according to a new study by Navigant Research. “This part of the scheme may prove the most complicated to implement, but it is the final piece of the puzzle that makes this scheme truly transformative.” Read the rest of this entry »

Women Taking to Haggling Over New Car Price

Survey shows women enjoy process more than men.

by on Aug.29, 2014

Women, according to a new survey, enjoy haggling over the price of a new car more than men.

The stereotype of a woman being unwilling to haggle with a dealership salesperson thus relying on her husband or some other man to handle the negotiations is going by the wayside.

The comfort level of women when it comes to rolling up their sleeves and getting the best deal on a new car is rising, according to a recent survey by Swapalease.com. In fact, women are more likely than men to duke it out: 33.3% of women said “it makes it a fun process” compared with just 25.1% of men.

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Morn Creemins, who recently picked up a 2014 Ram Laramie Longhorn pickup with the RamBox Cargo Management System, said much of her negotiating was done before walking in the door to the dealership via email. That said, once on site, the price came down some more. Read the rest of this entry »

India Fines 14 Carmakers for Overpricing Spare Parts

Follows move by Chinese regulators; US also looking at price fixing.

by on Aug.29, 2014

Indian automaker Tata, which makes the ultra-low-priced Nano, faced the biggest fine.

Regulators in India have levied more than $400 million in fines against 14 local and international automakers accusing them of intentionally overcharging for spare parts.

The move follows similar anti-monopoly actions in China that saw makers such as Mercedes-Benz accused of overpricing as a way to boost profits at the expense of vehicle owners.

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As many as 20 million Indian consumers were impacted by the practice of boosting prices for spare parts and aftermarket accessories, according to the country’s Competition Commission. The practice was made worse by the “denial of market access” to independent repair shares seeking both factory-authorized parts and diagnostic tools.

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Is GM Playing Shell Game with New Production Plans?

Maker moves Cadillac SRX to Spring Hill, but moves Equinox out.

by on Aug.29, 2014

GM is moving Cadillac SRX production to Spring Hill, Tennessee from Mexico. It failed to mention it's shifting Equinox production from Spring Hill to Mexico.

Everyone’s familiar with the shell game, right? It’s a game commonly associated with the streets of New York City and now possibly General Motors.

In the game, a small ball is place under one of three cups which are then quickly shuffled around. For a few bucks, someone is invited to guess what cup the ball is under; however, it seems GM may be playing the same game with vehicle production moving to the U.S.

Auto Insight!

With some fanfare, the Detroit-based maker on Wednesday announced it was moving production of its Cadillac SRX crossover from its plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, to the former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Read the rest of this entry »

Voice Recognition is the #1 Problem for New Car Buyers

“Sorry, I couldn’t understand.”

by on Aug.29, 2014

Programming systems like the Cadillac CUE can be a nightmare due to faulty voice recognition.

Call it a communications breakdown. If you’ve ever tried to use your car’s voice recognition system to dial a phone number only to have it change the radio station to a disco channel, you’re not alone. A new J.D. Power study reports that voice recognition has become the single largest source of complaints about new vehicles.

And problems pairing smartphones to a vehicle’s Bluetooth system is the second most common problem, according to the J.D. Power 2014 Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study.

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“Voice recognition and device connectivity are often inherent to the technology design and cannot be fixed at the dealership, creating a high level of angst among new-vehicle owners,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power.

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Overseas Markets Clamoring for New Mustang, Ford Officials Claim

Strong demand could see addition of third shift at Flat Rock plant.

by on Aug.29, 2014

Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs poses with the first of the 2015 Mustangs off the line.

The first of the new 2015 Ford Mustangs rolled off the assembly line this week, and though the new pony car won’t go on sale in Europe or Asia until next year, overseas dealers have already snapped up their allocation of the sixth-generation Mustangs, according to Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of The Americas.

The Mustang has traditionally been a car for North America, but it has nonetheless developed a loyal following in markets around the world, with a number of dealers trading in so-called “gray market” exports. That strong following convinced Ford it could start marketing the newly redesigned coupe and convertible pony cars globally.

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“We’re not yet (officially) taking orders in other parts of the world yet because we’re going to start here in North America filling up the pipeline. But we’re seeing very strong demand” in Asia and Europe, Hinrichs told reporters after the ceremony marking the official launch of production of the sixth-generation Mustang, which is being prepared for sales in 120 countries.

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VW Employees Dealing with New Union Tussle

Anti-UAW forces trying to set up new union for workers in Tennessee.

by on Aug.28, 2014

An anti-UAW worker at VW's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is hoping to set up a competing union called the American Council of Employees.

The ongoing saga of the possible union representation of workers at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, took another turn recently as one employee is attempting to form his own union at the plant.

Mike Burton, an hourly employee and an outspoken critic of the UAW, is collecting signatures to certify the American Council of Employees as the union to represent workers on the Works Council for the plant.

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Burton claims if the group can collect 500 signatures, it would be able to call for an election at the plant. He says 108 workers had signed up on the first day. If certified, it would be the first chapter of the union. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Plant Readies to Meet Global Demand for Mustang

Maker gives nod to original pony car in 2015 model.

by on Aug.28, 2014

Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan, plant is ready to start churning out the 2015 Mustang. The company is celebrating 50 years of Mustang production.

One of the biggest launches in Ford Motor Co.’s recent history is getting underway as the all-new, sixth generation Ford Mustang rolls off the line for the first time at the company’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, this week.

“Mustang is and will continue to be an automotive icon,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas. “Expanding its availability globally affords our customers around the world the opportunity to have a true firsthand Mustang experience – one unlike any other.”

Crossing Generations!

In April, Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original Mustang. To commemorate the event, each 2015 model will be adorned with a badge on the instrument panel that includes the galloping pony logo and the words “Mustang – Since 1964.” Read the rest of this entry »

Cadillac to Reveal New ATS-V at LA Auto Show

New performance model will be first from Caddy to go with a V-6.

by on Aug.28, 2014

The ATS is going high performance with a V-Series option that will be on display at the LA Auto Show in November and in showrooms in early 2015.

Cadillac will introduce an all-new performance model at the L.A. Auto Show in November, the new ATS-V sedan expected to target the formidable compact luxury segment benchmark the BMW M3.

It will be the first new V-Series model introduced in several years, and precedes the next-generation CTS-V model that Cadillac is also developing. That model is expected to debut early next year as one of several key new offerings the maker is currently working on, including an all-new flagship sedan.

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The new ATS-V will be powered, according to several Cadillac sources who have spoken to TheDetroitBureau.com, by a version of the twin-turbo V-6 that was launched recently for the new CTS V-Sport, and is expected to match or slightly exceed the power of the latest BMW M3, which also uses a twin-turbo V-6 powerplant. Read the rest of this entry »