The Truth About Cars » Customer Relations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 23 May 2015 15:06:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Customer Relations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/customer-relations/ Study: Virtual Drivers Possible Key Toward Autonomous Vehicle Acceptance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/study-virtual-drivers-possible-key-toward-autonomous-vehicle-acceptance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/study-virtual-drivers-possible-key-toward-autonomous-vehicle-acceptance/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 17:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1073074 Virtual drivers may be the key to developing trust in autonomous vehicles, so long as those drivers are quicker on the draw than Johnny Cab in an emergency. A study published in the Human Factors journal posits public concern regarding the safety of autonomous vehicles could be mitigated with a humanoid robot behind the controls, […]

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Johnny Cab

Virtual drivers may be the key to developing trust in autonomous vehicles, so long as those drivers are quicker on the draw than Johnny Cab in an emergency.

A study published in the Human Factors journal posits public concern regarding the safety of autonomous vehicles could be mitigated with a humanoid robot behind the controls, Edmunds reports.

The study by Eindhoven University of Technology in Eindhoven, Netherlands introduced over 100 volunteers to such a driver, named “Bob.” The virtual driver’s appearance, movements and driving style were programmed to match those belonging to each participant, who allowed Bob to do the driving in a simulator on a route pre-selected by said test subjects.

The goal was to assess trustworthiness levels in the virtual driver, finding the more Bob looked and drove like a given subject, the more trust the subject would bestow in regard to their safety. Said strategy is in place with other forms of technology already, such as Siri and Cortana in Apple’s and Microsoft’s smartphones, where if the tech in question has a slight bit of humanity — human voices, sociability et al — end users would respond as if the tech actually was human.

Whether there will be a Johnny Cab in the future to help one escape from baddies because they’re actually a spy who may or may not know too much about Mars, or a Hatsune Miku recolor to drive you to her next performance is up in the air for now. Not even Google has placed a Nexus 6 behind the non-existent wheel of its autonomous bubble pod in its testing thus far.

[Source: mrbillyt/Photobucket]

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Honda Continues Shift Toward SUVs, Crossovers With 2016 Pilot Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/honda-continues-shift-toward-suvs-crossovers-with-2016-pilot-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/honda-continues-shift-toward-suvs-crossovers-with-2016-pilot-production/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 20:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072322 With the 2016 Pilot leaving the assembly line starting Thursday, Honda continues its progress toward more SUVs and crossovers over passenger cars. According to American Honda sales boss John Mendel, 49 percent of the automaker’s U.S. production consists of SUVs and crossovers, and could go further depending on the growth rates between passenger car and […]

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2016 Honda Pilot Elite

With the 2016 Pilot leaving the assembly line starting Thursday, Honda continues its progress toward more SUVs and crossovers over passenger cars.

According to American Honda sales boss John Mendel, 49 percent of the automaker’s U.S. production consists of SUVs and crossovers, and could go further depending on the growth rates between passenger car and light-duty truck markets, The Detroit Bureau reports.

The increase is being aided by Honda’s Lincoln, Ala. factory, where the Pilot, Odyssey and Acura MDX are assembled. The facility is expected to produce 120,000 Pilots annually once production is at full bore, and will begin production of the second-gen Ridgeline in the near future. Mendel says the factory has “some upside potential” as more new product and capacity comes online.

In addition, Honda’s new plant in Celaya, Mexico is helping the automaker enter the U.S. subcompact crossover market with the introduction of the HR-V, whose competitors include the Jeep Renegade and Chevrolet Trax.

Mendel says Honda is looking for more opportunities to expand, though the search for so-called “white space” may diminish over time, prompting the automaker to seek better fortunes over “an incremental 5,000 units of sales.”

[Photo credit: Honda]

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Canada A Low Priority In Takata Airbag Recalls http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/canada-a-low-priority-in-takata-airbag-recalls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/canada-a-low-priority-in-takata-airbag-recalls/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072154 As nearly 34 million vehicles in the United States go under recall over Takata’s airbag issues, Canada remains a low priority due to cooler climes. Numerous injuries and six deaths involving the supplier’s airbags occurred in warmer, humid climates, affecting the ammonium nitrate composition — used to aid in detonation during airbag deployment — to […]

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Canadian Tire Store

As nearly 34 million vehicles in the United States go under recall over Takata’s airbag issues, Canada remains a low priority due to cooler climes.

Numerous injuries and six deaths involving the supplier’s airbags occurred in warmer, humid climates, affecting the ammonium nitrate composition — used to aid in detonation during airbag deployment — to catastrophic effect, USA Today reports.

Most of the recalls prior to Tuesday’s nationwide action focused on a handful of states whose climate met the conditions needed for failure. However, the new recall places a considerable strain on Takata’s ability to produce replacement units — 3.8 million thus far — which it hopes to increase to 1 million per month by September. Other suppliers are helping to fill-in wherever possible, though the campaign could take years to complete, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator Mark Rosekind.

Thus, Canada is left out in the cold to wait as supply constraints and greater urgency for affected consumers in warmer climes take precedence. Meanwhile, the Canadian subsidiaries of FCA, Ford, BMW, Nissan and Mazda have issued a handful of recalls for a small number of affected vehicles, said recalls being issued closer to repair time per Transport Canada’s requirements; U.S. legislation requires recalls to be issued as soon as a safety problem comes up.

Consumer apathy will likely play a role in bringing recalled vehicles into the repair shop. Autotrader found 56 percent of those made aware of a recall action bring in their vehicles every time, while 61 percent try to keep up with recall news, and 35 percent put in the research when shopping for a vehicle.

[Photo credit: Whpq/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0]

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Renault Kwid Unveiled, Ready To Battle Maruti Suzuki Alto In India http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/renault-kwid-unveiled-ready-to-battle-maruti-suzuki-alto-in-india/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/renault-kwid-unveiled-ready-to-battle-maruti-suzuki-alto-in-india/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 17:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071530 As the Datsun brand stumbles in India, Renault-Nissan unveiled the Kwid Wednesday to take on the challenge of beating the best-selling Maruti Suzuki Alto. The Kwid hatchback is underpinned by the alliance’s Common Modular A Family platform, boasts a ground clearance of 7.1 inches, and has a starting price of ₹3,00,000 ($4,700 USD), Automotive News […]

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Renault Kwid 01

As the Datsun brand stumbles in India, Renault-Nissan unveiled the Kwid Wednesday to take on the challenge of beating the best-selling Maruti Suzuki Alto.

The Kwid hatchback is underpinned by the alliance’s Common Modular A Family platform, boasts a ground clearance of 7.1 inches, and has a starting price of ₹3,00,000 ($4,700 USD), Automotive News Europe reports. Power is set to come from an 800cc unit, though no other powertrain information was announced at this time.

Like the Tata GenX Nano announced Tuesday, the Kwid has a feature set normally found on more upscale vehicles for the Indian market, including hands-free voice-calling with Bluetooth, 7-inch touchscreen display with navigation and infotainment, and optional airbags.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said the Indian market was not an easy one during the Kwid’s unveiling in Chennai, and expects the city car to be “a game changer for Renault India.” The alliance’s current attempt to crack the market — the Datsun Go — sold 16,000 units since its introduction in 2014. The Alto manages to sell over 16,000 units per month in comparison at a starting price of ₹2,46,163 ($3,865).

Renault India also plans to expand its dealership network from 157 to 280 by the end of next year, though the target still pales to Maruti’s 1,500 stores.

The Renault Kwid is expected in those showrooms in September upon leaving the assembly line in Chennai.

[Image credit: Renault]

Renault Kwid 01 Renault Kwid 02 Renault Kwid 03 Renault Kwid 07 Renault Kwid 06 Renault Kwid 05 Renault Kwid 10 Renault Kwid 04 Renault Kwid 08 Renault Kwid 09

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Luxury Automakers Wary Around Growing Female Consumer Base http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/luxury-automakers-wary-around-growing-female-consumer-base/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/luxury-automakers-wary-around-growing-female-consumer-base/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 19:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070938 Those dealing in luxury vehicles and high-performance exotics may need to improve their relations with women soon, as more women seek such wares. While less than 10 percent of Lamborghini and Ferrari owners in the United States are women, and Porsche only boasts 25 percent, female consumers in emerging markets like China are flexing their […]

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McLaren MP4-12C Circa January 2012

Those dealing in luxury vehicles and high-performance exotics may need to improve their relations with women soon, as more women seek such wares.

While less than 10 percent of Lamborghini and Ferrari owners in the United States are women, and Porsche only boasts 25 percent, female consumers in emerging markets like China are flexing their wealth with the automakers’ models in significant numbers, Reuters reports. The overall female consumer base is expanding, as well, fueled by increasing wealth as more and more women enter into greater positions of power.

However, marketing leaves a lot to be desired, especially as some automakers are wary of appealing to the new consumer base. Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann explains:

It’s like with an engineering degree which attracts more men than women, that’s just how it is. Males are more into the car business and the super sportscar is the pinnacle of that business.

On the other side, automotive consultant Belinda Parmar says high-end and exotic manufacturers should consider women drivers when designing vehicles. Her work with Aston Martin on its planned crossover is slated to have a higher sitting position and smaller steering wheel, allowing those wearing skirts to enter and exit without having to worry about feeling “silly” about the matter.

[Photo credit: Axion23/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Consumer Reports Declares Tesla Model S P85D ‘Undrivable’ Due To Glitch http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/consumer-reports-declares-tesla-model-s-p85d-undrivable-due-to-glitch/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/consumer-reports-declares-tesla-model-s-p85d-undrivable-due-to-glitch/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 17:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070146 The thrill has gone for Consumer Reports‘ review team over the Tesla Model S, declaring the P85D “undrivable” in a new blog post. The publication said its tester was described as such due to issues with the automatic door handles, The Detroit Bureau writes. The handles were supposed to extend when someone with the vehicle’s […]

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Tesla Model S In Hero Blue

The thrill has gone for Consumer Reports‘ review team over the Tesla Model S, declaring the P85D “undrivable” in a new blog post.

The publication said its tester was described as such due to issues with the automatic door handles, The Detroit Bureau writes. The handles were supposed to extend when someone with the vehicle’s keys walked up to the car, failing to do so with the model in review.

With repeated attempts to enter the car in the traditional manner failing, one of the reviewers opened the front passenger door with a smartphone app to fire-up the EV. The success was short-lived, however, as the onboard electronics limited driving time to two minutes before shutting down.

Ultimately, CR called up customer service — which continues to receive high praise according to the publication’s reviewers — to haul the ailing P85D to the dealership for repairs. Despite the woes suffered prior to rectification, though, the publication continues to give the Model S a strong recommendation to its readership.

[Image credit: Tesla]

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Compact Commercial Vans Booming Despite Challenges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/compact-commercial-vans-booming-despite-challenges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/compact-commercial-vans-booming-despite-challenges/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 15:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069114 While old-school large vans are still kings in catering and flowers for now, more small business owners are opting instead for compact commercial vans. The new segment, boasting vans such as the Ford Transit Connect, Nissan NV200 and Ram ProMaster City, is gaining significant ground thus far in 2015, with sales jumping 58 percent compared […]

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2015 Ram ProMaster City Pursued By Ram 1500 Crew Cab

While old-school large vans are still kings in catering and flowers for now, more small business owners are opting instead for compact commercial vans.

The new segment, boasting vans such as the Ford Transit Connect, Nissan NV200 and Ram ProMaster City, is gaining significant ground thus far in 2015, with sales jumping 58 percent compared to the same period in 2014, Ward’s Auto reports. The aforementioned Transit Connect is the segment sales leader, with 43,210 units delivered last year.

The popularity of compact commercial vans is in part due to business owners needing a van smaller and more efficient than the Chevrolet Express, Ram ProMaster, and recently discontinued Ford E-Series. Karl Chevrolet fleet and commercial sales manager Scott Sams says the compacts offer those features, filling “a blank space in the lineup,” and adds a lot of catering and delivery businesses would benefit from exchanging larger vans for smaller models.

Though popular with those who know already, dealers and automakers alike are facing challenges in bringing those customers to the compact commercial van segment. For GM, who sells the Chevrolet City Express, most consumers in the market usually don’t have Chevrolet in mind when shopping. Dealer displays at local events have helped in promoting the compact and boosting sales in some parts of the country. Meanwhile, FCA US is helping dealers interested in adding commercial sales to their retail operations with a go-to-market plan aimed at building rapport with business customers.

[Photo credit: Ram]

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Tesla Gains Renewed Support From FTC For Direct Sales Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tesla-gains-renewed-support-ftc-direct-sales-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tesla-gains-renewed-support-ftc-direct-sales-model/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 17:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1066378 In its battles for the right to sell its wares directly to consumers, Tesla has found a valuable ally in the Federal Trade Commission. Though the FTC has supported Tesla in the past, the agency recently reemphasized its pro-direct sales stance via a post regarding a new proposal working through the Michigan Legislature allowing so-called […]

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Tesla Showroom In California Circa August 2014

In its battles for the right to sell its wares directly to consumers, Tesla has found a valuable ally in the Federal Trade Commission.

Though the FTC has supported Tesla in the past, the agency recently reemphasized its pro-direct sales stance via a post regarding a new proposal working through the Michigan Legislature allowing so-called “autocycles” – i.e., Elio Motors’ wares – to be directly sold to the public, TechCrunch reports.

The autocycle bill – SB 268 – comes just months after Michigan passed legislation to clarify its position on automakers directly selling to the public, which the state has said was always verboten. The clarification, however, left the door open for further conversation on the matter of direct sales, such as the one proposed by SB 268.

The FTC said the final decision involving the business model would remain in the domain of each individual state’s regulators, though it would prefer policymakers to leave said decisions on such business models to both automakers and their consumers “absent some legitimate public purpose” in prohibiting certain selling methods.

[Photo credit: Ming-yen Hsu/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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US Uber Users Latest Victims In Hacking, Selling Scheme http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/us-uber-users-latest-victims-hacking-selling-scheme/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/us-uber-users-latest-victims-hacking-selling-scheme/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 20:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1061154 Uber customers in the United States are the latest victims in a hacking scheme where Uber accounts are sold on the dark web for as little as $1. The scheme first affected Uber customers in the United Kingdom earlier this year, Motherboard reports, and is now hitting U.S. customers. One user saw several ride requests […]

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uber fashion shoot 02

Uber customers in the United States are the latest victims in a hacking scheme where Uber accounts are sold on the dark web for as little as $1.

The scheme first affected Uber customers in the United Kingdom earlier this year, Motherboard reports, and is now hitting U.S. customers. One user saw several ride requests made for travel in London, even though she lives in North Carolina. After posting the fraudulent attempts to her Twitter account, the transportation network company refunded her bank account for the three trips that did go through, ranging from $40 to $120 per trip; she also cancelled the card associated with her Uber account.

Meanwhile, others who have seen their accounts hacked and sold haven’t been as fortunate to have their money refunded. The TNC’s representatives said the investigation “is now in the hands of the authorities” upon finding no breaches into the company’s systems. They add the hacks were “a good opportunity to remind people to use strong and unique usernames and passwords and to avoid reusing the same credentials across multiple sites and services.”

The publication’s own investigation couldn’t confirm if the fraudulent uses happening to U.S. consumers were the result of Uber accounts being sold on the dark web that affected U.K. customers, nor how those accounts were snagged in the first place.

[Photo credit: Uber]

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Luxury Brands Doing Well On The Back Of Lower-End Models http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/luxury-brands-well-back-lower-end-models/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/luxury-brands-well-back-lower-end-models/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 19:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1061074 Want to know why Mercedes, Audi, Lexus and all of the other luxury players are doing so well these days? Because of less-costly, lower-end luxury models. The low-end models, whose starting base prices are between $31,000 and $35,000, are pulling in new customers who desire the status a given badge conveys, USA Today reports. Edmunds.com […]

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2014-CLA-CLASS-COUPE-GALLERY-023-WR-D

Want to know why Mercedes, Audi, Lexus and all of the other luxury players are doing so well these days? Because of less-costly, lower-end luxury models.

The low-end models, whose starting base prices are between $31,000 and $35,000, are pulling in new customers who desire the status a given badge conveys, USA Today reports. Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell explains:

Luxury sales have increased as products have become affordable to a wider audience. Of late, luxury car brands have focused on the lower end of the price spectrum, introducing models such as the Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1 and Porsche Macan, which are slotted below existing popular SUVs on the price spectrum.

Caldwell adds leasing is also helping bolster the luxury brands’ high status, as most of their offerings are leased. Those who’d rather own their low-end luxury ride opt for long-term financing with low interest rates, with payments spread out over several years.

The brands’ consumer base is also varied. Kelley Blue Book analyst Akshay Anand said buyers were coming from every corner, “especially as Millennials start to create more wealth for themselves and continue to be as aspirational as ever,” helped by an improving economy.

[Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz]

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GM Gives Away 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, Invests $174 Million In Kansas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gm-gives-away-2016-chevrolet-malibu-invests-174-million-kansas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gm-gives-away-2016-chevrolet-malibu-invests-174-million-kansas/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 18:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1060954 In celebration of a key milestone, General Motors CEO Mary Barra gave away a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Monday, a feat that could never happen with the old Malibu, even with Oprah’s help. The Malibu was given to retired U.S. Army corporal and Purple Heart recipient Trent Brining, who received his medal when a rocket-propelled grenade […]

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2016-Chevrolet-Malibu-007

In celebration of a key milestone, General Motors CEO Mary Barra gave away a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Monday, a feat that could never happen with the old Malibu, even with Oprah’s help.

The Malibu was given to retired U.S. Army corporal and Purple Heart recipient Trent Brining, who received his medal when a rocket-propelled grenade delivered severe injuries to his arms and legs while on patrol in Baghdad in 2005. Brining is currently a financial advisor for a local credit union near Overland Park, Kansas, 30 minutes south of where his new Malibu will be assembled later this year in nearby Fairfax.

Over the next two days, GM will select four other individuals to receive a new vehicle built in the region where they reside. The giveaways are in celebration of the automaker’s 500-millionth vehicle to leave the assembly line. Barra added her company expects to sell “more than 1,000 new vehicles per hour, 24 hours per day” during 2015, a figure that would deliver an estimated 10 million units in volume by the end of the year.

Speaking of Fairfax Assembly, Chevrolet global president Alan Batey announced the plant would receive a $174-million investment for new equipment and technology to help assemble the 2016 Malibu. The investment is part of GM’s overall $5.4-billion investment scheme to help improve its standing for years to come. Monday’s announcement follows the first one made last week in Michigan, where three facilities will split $783.5 million for similar improvements.

[Image credit: Chevrolet]

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Aston Martin All-In On SUV, Lamborghini Still On Fence http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/aston-martin-suv-lamborghini-still-fence/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/aston-martin-suv-lamborghini-still-fence/#comments Fri, 01 May 2015 14:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1058346 Aston Martin is entering the high-end luxury SUV/crossover game, while Lamborghini is still debating whether or not the LM002 needs a successor. Aston Martin Lagonda announced Thursday it would commit £200 million ($305 million USD) to expanding its lineup. The capital investment will be in the form of preference shares, with the first £100 million […]

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Aston Martin Logo

Aston Martin is entering the high-end luxury SUV/crossover game, while Lamborghini is still debating whether or not the LM002 needs a successor.

Aston Martin Lagonda announced Thursday it would commit £200 million ($305 million USD) to expanding its lineup. The capital investment will be in the form of preference shares, with the first £100 million ($152 million) already issued and the remainder doled out over the next 12 months.

What does that investment buy? A new “luxury crossover GT” based upon the DBX concept shown at the 2015 Geneva and Shanghai auto shows, for one. CEO Andy Palmer said as much in the press release:

This additional long-term funding, will enable us to add extra model lines and broaden our presence in the luxury market segment by the end of the decade. The DBX concept, has generated interest far beyond our expectations. The additional investment announced today will allow us to realise the DBX and other new luxury vehicles that will form the strongest and most diverse portfolio in our history.

Meanwhile, Lamborghini is still thinking about adding an SUV to its lineup, though no decision has been made, as CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Autoblog last month:

If we do a third model, then it’s better to have the SUV as this is a growing segment, a more emotional segment, a segment which is very well-distributed in terms of volume all over the planet. And therefore this is a car which is more likely.

The potential successor of Lamborghini’s sole outing in the SUV market – the LM002 – would have a design more appealling to current Lamborghini owners. It would also bring a significant amount of sales to the brand: the Urus concept from 2012 was projected to move 3,000 units per year; the brand itself sold 2,530 units in 2014.

Winkelmann adds the SUV would be the perfect platform for a hybrid powertrain, citing the SUV’s packaging and weight behind the reasoning.

[Photo credit: Aston Martin]

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Automakers, NHTSA Meet To Discuss Increasing Recall Completion Rates http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/automakers-nhtsa-meet-discuss-increasing-recall-completion-rates/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/automakers-nhtsa-meet-discuss-increasing-recall-completion-rates/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 18:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1056394 Despite the numerous recalls over the past year, recall completion rates are not at 100 percent. The NHTSA and automakers hope to change this. The agency met with representatives of General Motors, Honda and other automakers Tuesday to discuss ways to encourage affected consumers to take action when a recall is issued, Bloomberg reports. In […]

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Mark Rosekind Circa December 2014

Despite the numerous recalls over the past year, recall completion rates are not at 100 percent. The NHTSA and automakers hope to change this.

The agency met with representatives of General Motors, Honda and other automakers Tuesday to discuss ways to encourage affected consumers to take action when a recall is issued, Bloomberg reports.

In the case of GM, the automaker studied those who didn’t take action, then did everything it could to make them aware of a recall issue with the aim of bringing those consumers into the repair shop. However, even with 98 percent of GM owners made aware of recalls as a result of the campaign, inaction still occurred. Of those who did finally act, customer relationship management director Julie Heisel noted it took multiple mailings, phone calls, and assurances of loaner vehicles before those consumers brought their affected vehicles in for repair.

As it stands, the average completion rate for recall repairs comes to 75 percent, though the older the vehicle is, the less likely it will be repaired, according to The Detroit News: 15 percent for vehicles older than 10 years versus 83 percent for newer models.

In 2014, automakers recalled 63.9 vehicles in a record total of 803 recalls, including the February 2014 ignition switch recall issued by GM, and the ongoing Takata airbag recall affecting Honda and nine other automakers.

[Photo credit: Senator Claire McCaskill/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Automakers Consider Octane Increase For Better Fuel Economy, Emissions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/automakers-consider-octane-ratings-increase-better-fuel-economy-emissions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/automakers-consider-octane-ratings-increase-better-fuel-economy-emissions/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 16:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1055201 Automakers are looking to boost octane in the gasoline consumers use as a possible new tool to cheaply and easily meet ever-tightening standards. At the 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit last week, panelists representing Ford, General Motors, Chevron, and Renewable Fuels Association discussed the idea of raising the octane rating of regular gasoline from 87 […]

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Octane Ratings With 2013 Fuel Prices

Automakers are looking to boost octane in the gasoline consumers use as a possible new tool to cheaply and easily meet ever-tightening standards.

At the 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit last week, panelists representing Ford, General Motors, Chevron, and Renewable Fuels Association discussed the idea of raising the octane rating of regular gasoline from 87 to 95, Automotive News reports.

The group agreed that by doing so, fuel economy would climb between 3 percent and 6 percent while also lowering CO2 emissions by 2 percent. In turn, the engineers could make a few modifications to the pistons and/or cylinder heads in order to increase a given engine’s compression ratio – a process that can occur quickly with little in the way of investment or labor – to enable the use of higher-octane fuels.

However, boosting the octane rating would also boost the price per gallon of gasoline. The U.S. Energy Information Administration noted that the current gulf between regular and high-octane blends comes to an average of 37 cents as of last week. While automakers aren’t willing to make their consumers pay more at the pump for the touted improvements, they’re also finding less inexpensive methods to meet increasingly stringent fuel economy and emissions standards, such as the 2025 mandate of 54.5 mpg fleet average.

Another problem: as newer vehicles with higher-compression engines would benefit from the increase in octane, Chevron research engineer Amir Maria said most vehicles on the road at present would be better off on 87 octane – the rating the engines were calibrated to run – and consumers would be dinged by as much as $1,500 more over 200,000 miles if they went for 95 octane.

[Photo credit: Upupa4me/Flickr]

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Lincoln Turning To Proper Names For Future Models http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/lincoln-turning-proper-names-future-models/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/lincoln-turning-proper-names-future-models/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050825 Just as Cadillac embraces an all-new set of alphanumeric naming schemes, Lincoln is deciding that proper names may be better after all. Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs told reporters attending an industry breakfast hosted by Detroit law firm Dawda Mann that his company was “very excited about the Continental name and the attention […]

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LincolnContinentalConcept_10_Detail_Badge

Just as Cadillac embraces an all-new set of alphanumeric naming schemes, Lincoln is deciding that proper names may be better after all.

Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs told reporters attending an industry breakfast hosted by Detroit law firm Dawda Mann that his company was “very excited about the Continental name and the attention it’s gotten,” Automotive News says. Lincoln had made it known during the Continental Concept’s appearance at the 2015 New York Auto Show this month that the production model — set to replace the outgoing MKS — would also be called Continental.

Hinrichs also had this to say about the MK nomenclature as a whole:

I get it. I know MKX and C and Z and T. I’ve studied them very well. I know them well, but we also understand the issue. It’s, frankly, where the auto industry — the premium industry — has gone, if you look at all the nameplates. But another way Lincoln could distinguish itself is to leverage its heritage. So I’ll leave it at that.

The MK scheme was originally thought of as a tribute to the Continental Mark series, though then-CEO Alan Mulally told the media at the time that he wasn’t enamored with the scheme; he would later come to terms with the change. Now that Lincoln is coming back under the tutelage of current CEO Mark Fields, however, one of the ways it aims to stand apart from other premium brands is to return to using names like Continental, Town Car et al.

Proper names may also help on the showroom floor: while sales of the MK models are down 7.2 percent thus far in 2015, sales of the Navigator — the sole bearer of a proper name in Lincoln’s lineup — have climbed 84 percent over the same period, though part of that could be attributed to lower prices at the pump fueling renewed overall demand for trucks and SUVs, as well.

[Photo credit: Lincoln]

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Ford Vignale Mondeo Ready To Deliver Total Package To Europe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ford-vignale-mondeo-ready-deliver-total-package-europe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ford-vignale-mondeo-ready-deliver-total-package-europe/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 17:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1049993 It’s brown, it can be had as a wagon with diesel power and a manual, but like the new Taurus in China, the Ford Vignale Mondeo will never come here. The Vignale Mondeo is the first of the upscale Vignale models to emerge from Ford of Europe’s Vignale Centre in Valencia, Spain. The centre will also […]

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Ford Vignale Mondeo

It’s brown, it can be had as a wagon with diesel power and a manual, but like the new Taurus in China, the Ford Vignale Mondeo will never come here.

The Vignale Mondeo is the first of the upscale Vignale models to emerge from Ford of Europe’s Vignale Centre in Valencia, Spain. The centre will also be responsible for bringing the S-Max Vignale to European showrooms later this year. Pre-orders for the Mondeo are set for May, with interested customers able to place those orders in-person at one of the so-called Vignale Lounges inside FoE’s new flagship FordStores across Europe.

And what will those new Vignale owners receive when they take delivery of their wagon or sedan? For starters, power comes from either a 2.0-liter EcoBoost producing 202 and 237 horses, a 2.0-liter TDCi diesel good for 178 horses, a twin-turbo 2.0-liter TDCi delivering 207 horsepower, or a hybrid powertrain capable of 185 horsepower. The EcoBoost models send their power through a six-speed auto, while the diesels go through either a six-speed manual or a PowerShift automatic. Either way, the power is directed to the front or (on occasion) all four corners as determined by Ford’s iAWD intelligent all-wheel drive system.

Outside, the Vignale Mondeo can be had in a handful of shades, including an exclusive brown tone called Vignale Nocciola. Chrome door details, 18-inch alloys, and high-gloss front and side exterior trim pieces contribute to the “sleek, emotive design” of the Mondeo, says Ford.

Inside, heavy use of sound-deadening insulation and acoustic glass help keep NVH levels down, while active noise cancellation ensures that the engine noise will never dominate one’s enjoyment of Vivaldi’s “Spring,” as played through Sony’s DAB 12-speaker audio/navigation system.

Other features include: Sync 2 connected-vehicle system; traffic sign recognition; dynamic LED headlights; inflatable rear seat belts; heated steering wheel; pre-collision assist; quilted leather seating with tuxedo stitching; custom luggage and other fashion accessories; and a wide array of Vignale-branded bespoke services, as handled by “a dedicated Vignale relationship manager.”

While North American consumers won’t have a Vignale of any sort to consider, Lincoln’s comeback is more than enough to push aside the thought of a “Vignale All the Things” Fusion.

FordVignale_Mondeo_4door_01 FordVignale_Mondeo_4door_12 FordVignale_Mondeo_Wagon_05 FordVignale_Mondeo_Wagon_01 FordVignale_Mondeo_Wagon_02 FordVignale_Collection_16 FordVignale_Mondeo_Wagon_03 FordVignale_Mondeo_Wagon_04 FordVignale_Collection_18 FordVignale_Collection_14 FordVignale_Mondeo_4door_02

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Jeri Ward Appointed To Vacated CCO Role At Audi Of America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/jeri-ward-appointed-vacated-cco-role-audi-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/jeri-ward-appointed-vacated-cco-role-audi-america/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1047385 After serving as Audi of America’s customer experience director since 2011, Jeri Ward moves on up to the roles of CCO and vice president for the subsidiary. Ward originally came on with AoA in 2007 as its launch strategy general manager after spending time in the marketing department of Ford — including managing marketing efforts […]

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Jeri Ward
After serving as Audi of America’s customer experience director since 2011, Jeri Ward moves on up to the roles of CCO and vice president for the subsidiary.

Ward originally came on with AoA in 2007 as its launch strategy general manager after spending time in the marketing department of Ford — including managing marketing efforts for the then-new Edge — as well as a nine-year stint at General Motors in its powertrain engineering division. In between, she took a two-year break between 1999 and 2001 to obtain her master’s in engineering and business at Northwestern University, as well as interning at General Electric.

During Johan de Nysschen’s time at the helm of AoA, Ward became a member of the automaker’s executive management team in November 2011, where she was tasked with bettering the customer experience from every point of ownership, including development of Audi’s presence in the digital and social media spaces. The results led to a climb from 13th place to the customer experience podium as determined by J.D. Power and Associates’ CSI ranking system.

In her new role as CCO, Ward is set to lead AoA’s public relations efforts throughout all departments, with the long-term goal of continuous improvement of the customer experience. Her appointment follows former CCO Joseph Jacuzzi’s departure for General Motors last month, where he now heads up Chevrolet’s global communications efforts.

The appointment will go into effect May 1.

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Michigan Diesel Shop Refuses To Serve Openly Gay Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/michigan-diesel-shop-refuses-serve-openly-gay-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/michigan-diesel-shop-refuses-serve-openly-gay-customers/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 11:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1046290 What does a diesel shop in Michigan have in common with a Washingtonian florist and a Hoosier pizza hut? An owner who refuses to serve openly gay customers. WOOD-TV reports the owner of Grandville, Mich.-based Dieseltec, Brian Klawiter, posted a statement to his shop’s Facebook page Tuesday regarding his view that those with conservative, Christian […]

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Dieseltec Ram Diesel Burnout

What does a diesel shop in Michigan have in common with a Washingtonian florist and a Hoosier pizza hut? An owner who refuses to serve openly gay customers.

WOOD-TV reports the owner of Grandville, Mich.-based Dieseltec, Brian Klawiter, posted a statement to his shop’s Facebook page Tuesday regarding his view that those with conservative, Christian values are being drowned out by those who don’t hold those values. Said statement includes the following passage:

I am a Christian. My company will be run in a way that reflects that. Dishonesty, thievery, immoral behavior, etc. will not be welcomed at MY place of business. (I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.)

When interviewed by the NBC affiliate, Klawiter said that while he’d fix a vehicle in need of repair, he would not welcome a gay male couple openly displaying their affection in his shop, proclaiming he and his shop doesn’t believe in homosexuality. Klawiter adds that he isn’t going to ask customers about their sexuality, while also reaffirming his stance on PDAs by same-sex couples.

Asked to view his post from the eyes of a gay individual, he said he would find the statement of belief “enlightening,” and that he would cross off Dieseltec from his list of shops.

UPDATE: And just like the aforementioned theoretical gay customer — and myself, if I had diesel business in the first place — Cummins wants no part of Dieseltec. Per their Twitter to another consumer who noted the engine manufacturer’s support of the LGBT community:

Diversity = our core values. We have no affiliation with this business and are notifying them to stop using our logo.

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General Motors Saved From Pre-Bankruptcy Ignition Lawsuits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/general-motors-saved-pre-bankruptcy-ignition-lawsuits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/general-motors-saved-pre-bankruptcy-ignition-lawsuits/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 14:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1045274 Per a bankruptcy court ruling Wednesday, General Motors won’t be on the hook for pre-bankruptcy claims linked to the February 2014 ignition recall. Reuters reports U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Gerber ruled that plaintiffs seeking damages from GM involving claims made prior to the automaker’s 2009 exit from bankruptcy would have to sue “Old GM” […]

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Recalled GM ignition switch

Per a bankruptcy court ruling Wednesday, General Motors won’t be on the hook for pre-bankruptcy claims linked to the February 2014 ignition recall.

Reuters reports U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Gerber ruled that plaintiffs seeking damages from GM involving claims made prior to the automaker’s 2009 exit from bankruptcy would have to sue “Old GM” for said damages. Though the claims come to $32 billion, Old GM’s assets in October 2014 totaled around $9.25 billion, a recovery of 29 cents on the dollar.

Gerber added that economic-loss plaintiffs could bring their claims against “New GM” based on the automaker’s behavior since leaving bankruptcy, and would certify the case for direct review by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He also said there were due process failures involved in GM’s exit, but that those failures weren’t enough to become violation-level issues due to lack of evidence by plaintiffs demonstrating that they were denied their day in court because they did not receive notice in time.

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ChargePoint Bringing Charging To Condos, Apartments With New Service http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chargepoint-bringing-charging-condos-apartments-new-service/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chargepoint-bringing-charging-condos-apartments-new-service/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 12:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1044722 Live in a condo or an apartment and would drive a PHEV or an EV if only you could charge it? Charging-station producer ChargePoint might have the solution. The company’s Multifamily Home Service aims to bring charging stations to condominiums and apartment buildings that currently lack the facilities to charge a tenant’s electrified vehicle of […]

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Live in a condo or an apartment and would drive a PHEV or an EV if only you could charge it? Charging-station producer ChargePoint might have the solution.

The company’s Multifamily Home Service aims to bring charging stations to condominiums and apartment buildings that currently lack the facilities to charge a tenant’s electrified vehicle of choice. Property owners would foot the bill for installation of ChargePoint’s Level 2 charging station, as well as set the price for charging. In turn, the company will bill the tenants who subscribe a one-time activation fee and a monthly subscription fee; the tenant can also pay the property owner for charging via their ChargePoint account.

Finally, as the subscription service would last as long as the tenant resides in the building on a month-to-month basis, the service can be deactivated once the tenant moves out or replaces their electrified ride for one that doesn’t require a plug, and can be reactivated when a new tenant with a plug-in vehicle moves into the building.

As for how much it would cost to wire a parking stall for the service, or how much owners could charge for electricity, ChargePoint did not explain at this time.

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Chevrolet Spark EV Sees Price Drop, Bonus Cash For Base Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-spark-ev-sees-price-drop-bonus-cash-base-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-spark-ev-sees-price-drop-bonus-cash-base-model/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1044706 In the market for a 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV? Your wallet will still feel heavy after signing off on the paperwork for the base model. Chevrolet announced the price for the base Spark EV 1LT will be cut down $1,500 to $25,995, while leasing the EV gets an $80 drop to $139/month for 39 months […]

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2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-003

In the market for a 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV? Your wallet will still feel heavy after signing off on the paperwork for the base model.

Chevrolet announced the price for the base Spark EV 1LT will be cut down $1,500 to $25,995, while leasing the EV gets an $80 drop to $139/month for 39 months with no money down upon signing; the down payment was $999.

In addition to the new lease and purchase figures, the brand is also throwing bonus cash on the hood, the amount varying depending on which of the three states — California, Maryland (as of this summer), Oregon — one happens to reside. The California bonus comes to $1,000 in addition to the state’s $2,500 rebate, while Oregonians receive $3,500 outright, and those in Maryland gain $1,200 on top of the state’s $2,300 excise tax exemption.

With the price cuts, bonus cash, state incentives, and the $7,500 federal tax credit, one could drive away from the lot having paid just $14,995 for the pleasure of bouncing around from the office park to the coffee shop and bakery in a vehicle meant to help General Motors come into compliance with fleet economy standards.

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Orders For Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition Now Being Taken In Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/orders-mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-now-taken-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/orders-mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-now-taken-japan/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1043746 If you live in Japan, you can now place your order for one of the 1,000 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition models before the Evo fades into history. Autoevolution reports Mitsubishi isn’t saying how much power the Final Edition has under the hood, but the publication notes that the GSR-based Evo won’t have the 2-liter […]

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If you live in Japan, you can now place your order for one of the 1,000 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition models before the Evo fades into history.

Autoevolution reports Mitsubishi isn’t saying how much power the Final Edition has under the hood, but the publication notes that the GSR-based Evo won’t have the 2-liter 4B11T turbo-four and its 473 horses from the Final Concept shown at this January’s Tokyo Auto Salon; the Final Edition uses a 2-liter MIVEC turbo, instead.

Aside from the turbo-four and Mitsubishi’s S-AWC AWD system, Final Edition owners can expect sodium-filled exhaust valves, 18-inch BBS wheels, Recaro seats, Bilstein and Eibach suspension pieces, and Brembo brakes for their ¥4,298,400 (approximately $36,000 USD). Owners can also choose from red, white, blue, black or gray and a white- or black-painted roof panel.

Orders for the 1,000 Evos began last Friday, with deliveries set for August. After that, the Evo will be no more the world over.

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IHS: PHEVs To Overtake EVs In Europe Within Two Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ihs-phevs-overtake-evs-europe-within-two-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ihs-phevs-overtake-evs-europe-within-two-years/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1043242 Electric vehicles are doing well in Europe, but their dominance over PHEVs may soon draw to a close. Automotive News Europe reports sales of EVs in Europe jumped 73 percent to 58,244 units in 2014, while sales of PHEVs climbed 29 percent in the same period to 39,547, according to industry group ACEA. The best-selling […]

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Electric vehicles are doing well in Europe, but their dominance over PHEVs may soon draw to a close.

Automotive News Europe reports sales of EVs in Europe jumped 73 percent to 58,244 units in 2014, while sales of PHEVs climbed 29 percent in the same period to 39,547, according to industry group ACEA. The best-selling EV and PHEV in 2014 were the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (15,134 units vs. 19,855), while the largest markets were Norway for EVs (18,090 units), Netherlands for PHEVs (9,938).

According to IHS Automotive senior analyst Ben Scott, PHEVs will overtake EVs this year or in 2016 as far as production goes, forecasting 1.35 million units by 2020, and 2.7 million by 2025. Meanwhile, EV sales will be under 1 million by 2020, as consumers are likely to choose PHEVs for their flexibility in range and use over electric-only vehicles.

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Uber Safe Helps Drunk Torontonians Make It Home Safely http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/uber-safe-helps-drunk-torontonians-make-home-safely/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/uber-safe-helps-drunk-torontonians-make-home-safely/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1043194 Should you be in Toronto having a few with the TTAC Zaibatsu, and you need a lift home, Uber’s Uber Safe program might be what you need. AdWeek reports the program uses a breathalyzer sidewalk kiosk to help hammered patrons make it home safe. Said patron blows into a disposable straw for six seconds, then […]

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Uber Safe Kiosk

Should you be in Toronto having a few with the TTAC Zaibatsu, and you need a lift home, Uber’s Uber Safe program might be what you need.

AdWeek reports the program uses a breathalyzer sidewalk kiosk to help hammered patrons make it home safe. Said patron blows into a disposable straw for six seconds, then the breathalyzer determines if they are over the legal limit or not. If so, Uber offers the patron a ride home.

The Uber Safe program was developed with ad agency Rethink, and the kiosk was assembled by fabrication studio Stacklab; both companies have offices in Toronto.

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Eberhardt: No Separate Brand Above Range Rover For Ultra-Luxury SUVs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/eberhardt-no-separate-brand-range-rover-ultra-luxury-suvs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/eberhardt-no-separate-brand-range-rover-ultra-luxury-suvs/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 10:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041625 Though Bentley and Rolls-Royce are adding ultra-luxury SUVs to their collections, Jaguar Land Rover has no plans to put one above Range Rover. Car & Driver reports JLR North America CEO and president Joe Eberhardt stated during the 2015 New York Auto Show that such a thing won’t likely occur, adding that JLR hasn’t yet […]

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Though Bentley and Rolls-Royce are adding ultra-luxury SUVs to their collections, Jaguar Land Rover has no plans to put one above Range Rover.

Car & Driver reports JLR North America CEO and president Joe Eberhardt stated during the 2015 New York Auto Show that such a thing won’t likely occur, adding that JLR hasn’t yet seen “where Range Rover can go.” Eberhardt also said that he wasn’t too worried about the ultra-luxury SUV competition stealing sales from the high-end brand.

Presently, the most expensive Range Rover in JLR’s lineup is the recently introduced Range Rover SVAutobiography, which tops out the range with a base price of $200,490; the Bentley and Roller SUVs are expected to begin between $300,000 and $400,000 for comparison.

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