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Senators Pressuring Automakers to Improve Seat Safety

Market, Blumenthal send letter to 17 makers asking for information about seats.

by on May.27, 2016

Sen. Richard Bluenthal (D-Conn.) is teaming with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to pressure automakers to improve front seat back safety standards.

The crashworthiness of today’s vehicles are at levels not seen before, automakers claim, using a variety of test results to support the assertion. Those claims are most likely true, except for one, little-thought about part of the car: the seat back.

Two of the biggest critics of automakers, Sens Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), are pushing the companies to address a new concern: the weakness of seat backs.

Safety News!

The two senators have asked 17 automakers to provide a spate of documents about their vehicles and specifically, the seat backs. Read the rest of this entry »

Buick Confirms TDB Report: Will Halt Verano Production

Brand shifting focus to SUVs.

by on May.27, 2016

Heading off into the sunset, the Buick Verano.

General Motors  will end U.S. production and sales of the compact Buick sedan, confirming a report first posted by TheDetroitBureau.com this spring.

The move reflects the broad market shift from conventional passenger cars to sport- and crossover-utility vehicles. Buick utility-vehicle line-up is expected to account for as much as 70% of its sales over the next several years, according to senior brand planners.

Product News!

Sales of the Verano were down nearly 12% for the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2015. And last year’s total sales of 31,886 of the sedans was a 27% drop from 2014.

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Eight Automakers to Recall 12 Mil Vehicles for Takata Airbags

Largest recall in history continues to grow.

by on May.27, 2016

The latest recall takes in millions of Honda vehicles, including this 2010 Civic.

The biggest safety recall in U.S. automotive history is about to get even bigger, eight automakers revealing they will recall 12 million vehicles to replace faulty Takata airbag inflators.

The move follows last month’s announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it wanted as many as 40 million inflators replaced because they could malfunction during crashes. The exact number of vehicles that would cover wasn’t clear because some vehicles use more than one of the suspect devices.

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The list of manufacturers covered by the latest recall includes Toyota – which announced some other airbag service actions earlier this week – Fiat Chrysler, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Ferrari and Mitsubishi. And Honda will not only recall 2.2 million more automobiles but 2,700 of its Gold Wing motorcycles equipped with optional front airbags.

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First Drive: 2017 GMC Acadia

New, smaller model gets more refined look.

by on May.27, 2016

GMC is taking things a step farther with its new Acadia: the new version has a model that can go off-road.

In good times and bad, General Motors sport-utility vehicles have carried the company and satisfied a legion of loyal customers.

But GM has tinkered with the some of its cherished formulas as it rolls out the new 2017 GMC Acadia, which has lost 700 pounds become smaller all the way around so it compete head-to-head with vehicles such as the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer and even the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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In recent years, the older version of the Acadia has served as the cornerstone for the GMC product line, meaning GM is gambling the smaller, lighter version with its fresh styling, luxury appointment and latest technology can make a space for itself in a crowed but popular corners of the market. Read the rest of this entry »

Despite Low Gas Prices, Interest in EVs Still Significant

Californians, Northeasterners express curiosity about battery electrics.

by on May.26, 2016

A creep upward in gas prices may be stimulating interest in EVs. A new survey shows some parts of the country are curious.

With the holiday weekend upon us, the inevitable creep of rising gas prices is beginning to force some motorists to wonder: when will be back to $4 a gallon gasoline? This kind of burbling concern can only make EV automakers giddy with anticipation.

In fact, on America’s coasts, the demand for electric vehicles is still surprisingly high, even in an era of $2.28 a gallon gasoline.

Electrifying!

A recent survey by the Union of Concerned Scientists revealed more than half of Californians are likely to consider an electric vehicle as their next vehicle and in the Northeast, 35% of owners are likely to have an EV in their ranks of possible purchases next, in spite of the limitations that cold weather places on electric vehicles. Read the rest of this entry »

BMW Gets Scoop of Ride-Sharing App

Automakers continue scrambling to get piece of ride-sharing pie.

by on May.26, 2016

BMW now has skin in the ride-sharing game with its investment in California-based Scoop. The terms of the deal were not announced.

BMW has joined the list of automakers investing in car sharing and ride sharing apps.

BMW i Ventures, the German luxury carmaker’s New York-based venture capital fund, has announced a strategic investment of an undisclosed size in San Francisco Scoop Technologies, Inc., creators of the carpooling mobile application “Scoop.”

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Since launching in August 2015, Scoop commuters have taken more than 40,000 trips, offsetting nearly 500,000 in commute mileage for riders. Originally launched in Pleasanton, California, Scoop now also operates commute trips into San Francisco, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and North San Jose, California. Read the rest of this entry »

May Car Sales Moving Along at Brisk Pace

Analysts expecting year-over-year drop this month.

by on May.26, 2016

Analysts expect that Fiat Chrysler, led by Jeep sales, will be one of the few makers posting positive results for May.

Guessing when car sales will begin to slip after what has been described as the longest expansion in Auto Sales in the U.S, going all the way back to World War II is proving hard to pin down.

Edmunds.com expects new car sales in May will increase 2.3% from April 2016, but drop 5.8% compared to May 2015. The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate or SAAR will hold steady at 17.5 million.

Sales News!

While sales appear to be slowing, 2016 is still on track to break last year’s record of 17.47 million new car sales, Edmunds noted in its latest forecast, which projects that 1,537,436 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in May. Read the rest of this entry »

Increasingly Desperate Takata Seeking Financial Bailout

Japanese airbag supplier planning to restructure, find new investors.

by on May.26, 2016

NHTSA recently added 40 million airbags to the recall.

Blamed for the largest safety recall in automotive history and facing potentially billions of dollars in legal and repair costs, embattled Japanese supplier Takata is reportedly exploring ways to restructure and bring in new investors.

Industry sources say that without new funding, Takata may no longer be viable. That could leave customers ranging such as General Motors, Daimler and Toyota stuck with the entire bill for replacing tens of millions of faulty airbags. It could also force nearly 20 manufacturers who have used Takata’s suspect airbag inflators to go searching for new sources of replacement parts.

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“The committee strongly believes that it is in the best interests of all Takata stakeholders for Takata and its automotive customers to reach a consensual resolution that addresses the costs of the inflator issues while enabling Takata to remain a viable and valued global supplier to the automotive industry,” Hideaki Sudo, a lawyer in Tokyo heading Takata’s new steering committee, said in a statement.

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GM Bringing Truck Production Back from Mexico

Flint union workers getting overtime.

by on May.26, 2016

GM's recent $877 million investment in its facilities in Flint, Michigan, are paying off as the company expands truck production there.

There’s been plenty of coverage, during this highly politicized presidential election year, of automotive production moving down to Mexico. But General Motors is bringing at least some production back to the U.S.

Sources at GM and the United Auto Workers Union have confirmed that a newly enlarged assembly plant in Flint, Michigan, will start producing some of the full-size Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups currently rolling off a GM line in Silao, Mexico.

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The union sent a letter to members at the Flint plant advising them that there will likely be additional hiring of both full-time and temporary line workers, explaining, “The increase in light-duty pickup volume for Flint Assembly is (for vehicles) currently being built in Silao.” Read the rest of this entry »

Google Setting Up Suburban Detroit Autonomous Vehicle R&D Hub

New site moves tech giant closer to possible customers.

by on May.26, 2016

Google is opening a development center in Novi, Michigan. This building will start work with 100 Chrysler Pacific minivans.

As it steadily moves closer to production, Google is planning to open a new autonomous vehicle development center in the Detroit suburb of Novi.

The move will offer several advantages. Among other things, it will allow the tech firm to work more closely with the partners that would put Google’s self-driving technology into production. The announcement comes barely a month after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Google announced plans to use the technology on 100 new Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

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“For the past few years, members of our team have been working from the Greater Detroit area. Now it’s time to lay down roots: we’re establishing a self-driving technology development center in Novi,” said John Krafcik, the CEO of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project in a post on the Google+ service. Read the rest of this entry »