The Truth About Cars » Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 22 Oct 2014 22:13:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/industry/ Fuel Prices Leave Efficient, Greener Offerings On The Lot http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/fuel-prices-leave-efficient-greener-offerings-lot/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/fuel-prices-leave-efficient-greener-offerings-lot/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934794 Falling fuel prices are helping to drive sales of SUVs and trucks as of late, but at the expense of more efficient, greener offerings. Automotive News reports dealers flush with fuel efficient and alternative fuel models are dropping truck-month style incentives on the hood to help move them off the lot. KBB.com notes that the […]

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Falling fuel prices are helping to drive sales of SUVs and trucks as of late, but at the expense of more efficient, greener offerings.

Automotive News reports dealers flush with fuel efficient and alternative fuel models are dropping truck-month style incentives on the hood to help move them off the lot. KBB.com notes that the Toyota Prius and Ford C-Max alone have seen increased incentives, with the latter jumping from $2,650 last September, to $4,900 this past September.

Meanwhile, strengthening fuel efficiency targets may lead to automakers producing vehicles that, according to Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Eric Ibarra, “consumers don’t want to buy” should gasoline and diesel prices remain low. Per forecasts by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the decrease in fuel costs will remain in play for at least another year, thanks to the oil boom in places like Alberta and North Dakota.

That said, dealerships aren’t too worried yet, believing consumers are ever-vigilant toward price spikes. Until then, SUVs and pickups will dominate the highways for another day.

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Daimler Expanding Sprinter Production To North America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/daimler-expanding-sprinter-production-north-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/daimler-expanding-sprinter-production-north-america/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934770 When Daimler begins production of its next-gen Sprinter, quite a few of the vans will be leaving an assembly line somewhere in North America. Automotive News reports the partial shift in production will help the automaker “cover the growing demand for large vans in the North American market economically” by producing them locally “in the […]

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When Daimler begins production of its next-gen Sprinter, quite a few of the vans will be leaving an assembly line somewhere in North America.

Automotive News reports the partial shift in production will help the automaker “cover the growing demand for large vans in the North American market economically” by producing them locally “in the NAFTA region,” according to Mercedes’ head of vans, Volker Mornhinweg.

Presently, the U.S.-bound Sprinters are made in Dusseldorf and Ludwigsfelde, Germany, then sent over in CKD form to Ladson, S.C. for reassembly. Around 23,000 Sprinters were sent in this manner to U.S. customers in 2013, the sales second only to Germany.

As for where the new plant will be built, Mornhinweg says the exact location would be chosen in the coming months, with sites in the U.S., Canada and Mexico being examined.

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September 2014 Sales: $85K Viper Sells Like It’s March 2008 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-85k-viper-sells-like-march-2008/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-85k-viper-sells-like-march-2008/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:15:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934234 This is what you read two months ago on TTAC: “FCA won’t build this car forever if it remains unwanted. Long live the Alfa Romeo 4C?” The mission for the Viper team then became, how do we make it desirable? Better yet, how do we make it desirable tomorrow? Over the span of a few […]

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2015 Dodge Viper SRTThis is what you read two months ago on TTAC: “FCA won’t build this car forever if it remains unwanted. Long live the Alfa Romeo 4C?”

The mission for the Viper team then became, how do we make it desirable? Better yet, how do we make it desirable tomorrow?

Over the span of a few days or weeks, the Chrysler Group wasn’t going to inject a barrel full of cash into R&D for a new Viper, perform stress tests, crash tests, performance tests, complete styling mock-ups, consult the Viper-owning faithful, and begin delivering cars to dealers.

But they could drop the price by $15,000, creating a base MSRP of $84,995. Suddenly for September, the Viper was priced like it was two decades ago, adjusted for inflation.

Suddenly, U.S. sales rose to the highest level the Viper has seen since January 2009, when 127 were sold, a follow-up to the Viper’s 152-unit December 2008 performance.

The Viper topped 100 units on six occasions in calendar year 2008: in March, April, May, August, and December.

One month does not offer enough evidence for a thorough sales analysis, but the turnaround is still too distinct to ignore. August sales had fallen to the second-lowest total since the latest Viper arrived early last year. The summer season generated just 158 sales between June and August, a 21% year-over-year drop from the 200 sold during the same season one year earlier.

Can the now $85K Viper maintain this heady level of output? Assuming Dodge/SRT sell another 324 more in the fourth-quarter of 2014, the Viper will have enjoyed its best sales year since 2008, although the total in that assumed case (870 units) would be down 26% from ‘08 levels, when 1172 were sold.

Keep in mind, 2008, when sales jumped 169% year-over-year, was not an especially good time for the Viper. 1511 Vipers were sold in 2002, 2103 in 2003, 1782 in 2004, 1652 in 2005, and 1455 in 2006.

Nevertheless, the year-over-year growth achieved by the Viper in September 2014 is notable. Volume shot up 140%, a gain of 63 units. Automotive News reports that Dodge will begin building Vipers again in mid-November after the price cut began moving substantial portions of dealer inventory. By that time, Viper production will have been idled for more than one-third of 2014.

With Viper numbers ascending, we can’t ignore the upward movement from two other sports cars. Nissan GT-R sales more than doubled to a Viper-besting 159 units, a gain of 83 sales compared with September 2013. GM, meanwhile, sold 2467 Corvettes in September alone, a 197% year-over-year increase, equal to 1636 units.

Only four other passenger cars produced greater year-over-year gains than the Viper in September. Audi’s A3 (up 33,329%) wasn’t really on sale a year ago. The Mitsubishi Mirage (up 6600%) did not put a full month under its belt last September. Mercedes-Benz’s scarcely available B-Class EV was up 3150%. And the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (up 393%), with 1909 September sales, continued to teach every automaker a lesson in how to sell $94,400-$222,000 cars.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Dodge Viper Assembly To Resume Mid-November http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dodge-viper-assembly-resume-mid-november/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dodge-viper-assembly-resume-mid-november/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934754 After months of idling, the Dodge Viper will once again roll out of the assembly line to a roped-off display near you. Automotive News reports the Conner Avenue plant will start production of the supercar in mid-November after shutting down July 3. The move follows a sales increase in September, thanks to a $15,000 discount […]

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After months of idling, the Dodge Viper will once again roll out of the assembly line to a roped-off display near you.

Automotive News reports the Conner Avenue plant will start production of the supercar in mid-November after shutting down July 3. The move follows a sales increase in September, thanks to a $15,000 discount to help move unsold 2013 and 2014 stock, as well as an additional $15,000 off via a coupon given to over 1,000 customers that will remain good until January 2, 2018.

In the aforementioned month, 108 Vipers were dusted off and sent to a good home after buyers paid $86,880 for them, besting August 2014’s 38 and September 2013’s 45. Dodge chief Tim Kuniskis said October sales are also turning out to be strong, helping to bring inventory down to appropriate levels.

Speaking of inventory, dealers have ordered 200 2015 Vipers, which will only be assembled once more older stock heads out onto the highway. Once assembly starts, only the GT and base SRT trims will come down the line at first, with the more upscale TA and GTS trims following after inventory becomes reasonable.

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Georgia EV Supporters Prepare To Defend State Credit In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/georgia-ev-supporters-prepare-defend-state-credit-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/georgia-ev-supporters-prepare-defend-state-credit-2015/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934722 EV supporters in Georgia are gearing up to save the state’s tax credit from the chopping block after nearly losing it earlier this year. According to WABE-FM, the city of Atlanta is second in the EV ownership game in the United States, falling behind the technocratic capital that is San Francisco. The high ranking is […]

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EV supporters in Georgia are gearing up to save the state’s tax credit from the chopping block after nearly losing it earlier this year.

According to WABE-FM, the city of Atlanta is second in the EV ownership game in the United States, falling behind the technocratic capital that is San Francisco. The high ranking is due to the state’s credit of up to $5,000 on EVs, helping to take off $12,500 from the bottom line when the $7,500 federal credit is taken into account.

Were the state credit have been cut, EV sales would fall dramatically. EV Club of the South board member Michael Beinenson says the credit — and not wanting to feel like Ed Begley Jr. — is the main draw for consumers in Georgia. He also hopes that the credit’s terms are merely changed instead of the entire credit being guillotined when the state’s legislature meets again next year, and is preparing to defend it to the bitter end with other like-minded supporters.

The credit was set to be removed from the books in 2014, citing lost revenue in the millions of dollars as the reason; the bill that would have made it so died hours before the 2014 session drew to a close.

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Tesla Direct Sales Ban Reinforced In Michigan, GM Supported Signing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-direct-sales-ban-reinforced-michigan-gm-supported-signing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-direct-sales-ban-reinforced-michigan-gm-supported-signing/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934698 It’s official: the ban preventing Tesla from directly selling its wares to customers in Michigan has been reinforced. Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed into law HB 5606, now known as Public Act 354 of 2014. The act not only prohibits automakers from telling their dealerships what fees the latter can charge customers, but reinforces a […]

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It’s official: the ban preventing Tesla from directly selling its wares to customers in Michigan has been reinforced.

Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed into law HB 5606, now known as Public Act 354 of 2014. The act not only prohibits automakers from telling their dealerships what fees the latter can charge customers, but reinforces a law already on the books:

This bill does not, as some have claimed, prevent auto manufacturers from selling automobiles directly to consumers at retail in Michigan — because this is already prohibited under Michigan law.

Though Tesla can do little more than open a showroom and a repair shop for now, Snyder said lawmakers should “always be willing to re-examine” legislation with the aim of improving the consumer’s experience “in a more efficient and less costly manner.”

Meanwhile, at least one automaker is happy PA 354 is on the books. In a one-sentence press release, General Motors had this to say prior to the bill’s signing:

We believe that House Bill 5606 will help ensure that all automotive manufacturers follow the same rules to operate in the State of Michigan; therefore, we encourage Governor Snyder to sign it.

Per Jalopnik, GM sent a similar message to Ohio governor John Kasich back in March of this year regarding SB137, which would have allowed Tesla to directly sell to customers in the state; the bill later died in the Ohio Senate.

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Cadillac Dealers Prepare To Step Up, Or Leave, Sales Game Under De Nysschen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cadillac-dealers-prepare-step-leave-sales-game-de-nysschen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cadillac-dealers-prepare-step-leave-sales-game-de-nysschen/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934202 Facebook commenters and the automotive press aren’t the only ones feeling the lash from Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen, as dealers themselves are feeling the pressure to step up their game. Automotive News reports that while some Cadillac dealerships have nothing to worry about, and are, in fact, completely on-board with de Nysschen’s alphanumeric global […]

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Facebook commenters and the automotive press aren’t the only ones feeling the lash from Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen, as dealers themselves are feeling the pressure to step up their game.

Automotive News reports that while some Cadillac dealerships have nothing to worry about, and are, in fact, completely on-board with de Nysschen’s alphanumeric global vision, those on the low end of the totem pole fear they may be selling something else if they can’t compete on the level their new boss expects of them.

Specifically, de Nysschen may want to consolidate the brand’s network of 924 dealerships into a more BMW/Mercedes-esque number — hovering in the 330 – 370 range — with a similar focus on urban markets. Though neither he nor anyone representing Cadillac have stated such plans were on the table, dealers like Claude Burns and an unnamed dealer in the Midwest are going on the offensive to maintain their spots: a new expanded floorplan for the former, lawyering-up with an attorney who represented dealers during General Motors’ bankruptcy for the latter.

As for the boss himself, de Nysschen had this to say about the future of his dealerships after his meeting with them last month in Las Vegas, where he outlined his vision for the brand and their role in it:

It’s very clear to me that many, many dealers already have risen to the challenge. On the other hand, when those customers engage us in our dealerships, we cannot afford that the experience is anything other than confirming that this is a first-class brand. And not all of our dealers are there.

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NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934178 If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed. Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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September 2014 Sales: Now Even The SRX Is Slowing Cadillac Down http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-now-even-srx-slowing-cadillac/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-now-even-srx-slowing-cadillac/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:39:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932522 Cadillac sales in the United States rose to a six-year high in 2013. Yet in five of 2014’s nine months, sales have declined. Through three-quarters, Cadillac volume is down 4%. Overall new vehicle sales in the U.S. are up by more than 5%. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus sales are up 11%, 8%, and 16%, respectively, […]

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2015 Cadillac SRXCadillac sales in the United States rose to a six-year high in 2013. Yet in five of 2014’s nine months, sales have declined. Through three-quarters, Cadillac volume is down 4%. Overall new vehicle sales in the U.S. are up by more than 5%.

BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus sales are up 11%, 8%, and 16%, respectively, in 2014. Audi, up 14%, is routinely outselling Cadillac.

The SRX was a bright spot for Cadillac in the first half of this year, not only because it’s the brand’s best-selling model but because sales had jumped 20% compared with the first half of 2013. After six consecutive monthly increases, however, SRX sales in July slid 7%. August volume fell 37%. September sales dropped 15%.

Total third-quarter SRX sales were down 22%, a loss of nearly 3700 sales.

Meanwhile, September sales of Cadillac cars slid 14%. The new Escalade and Escalade ESV were saviors, rising 120% to 3518 units, 25% of Cadillac’s total September volume. As a result, overall Cadillac volume increased in September. By a single unit.

Had SRX volume not been so stable over the previous four and a half years, this 2014 Q3 result wouldn’t be surprising at all. Between 2010 and 2013, Cadillac averaged 55,565 SRX sales per year in the U.S, never falling below 51,000 units, never rising above 58,000. Year-to-date sales in 2014 are actually up 3%.

But the SRX is no longer the freshest chicken in the fridge. Supply has been increasing: Cadillac dealers had 97 days of inventory at the beginning of October, up from 82 in September and 68 at the beginning of July.

And yet the SRX is still one of America’s favourite premium brand utility vehicles, slotting in behind the Lexus RX, Acura MDX, and BMW X5 in September; the RX and MDX on year-to-date terms.

If Cadillac’s car issues weren’t so troubling – ATS volume is down 20% this year, the CTS is off by 6%, and the XTS by 22% – this recent SRX decline wouldn’t merit more than a paragraph. Instead, because their car sales are so low, Cadillac needs something other than the Escalade to sell well.

Based on a brief but sudden downturn, the second-generation SRX appears as though it is perhaps not consistently capable of being that vehicle, not five years into its term.

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Los Angeles 2014: Honda HR-V, Acura ILX To Bow On The Red Carpet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/los-angeles-2014-honda-hr-v-acura-ilx-bow-red-carpet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/los-angeles-2014-honda-hr-v-acura-ilx-bow-red-carpet/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934146 Coming soon to an automotive red carpet near you: Honda’s new HR-V and Acura’s 2016 ILX. The former, seen only in photos when announced in New York earlier this year, will be making its North American debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Fit-based crossover is expected to serve “as the entry point […]

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Coming soon to an automotive red carpet near you: Honda’s new HR-V and Acura’s 2016 ILX.

The former, seen only in photos when announced in New York earlier this year, will be making its North American debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Fit-based crossover is expected to serve “as the entry point to the Honda light truck lineup,” consisting of the Ridgeline, Pilot and CR-V. The HR-V will take the stage sometime after 12:30 p.m. Pacific November 19.

Over at Acura, the Civic-based ILX will be debuting its new look for 2016, with the aim of firming up its appeal with customers in the entry-level premium market. The updates include a “more forceful, sporty exterior,” an unknown-yet-powerful powertrain, and new interior design. The sedan will roll up to the world’s stage at 9:30 a.m. Pacific November 20.

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Jaguar Land Rover Evaluating Locales For North American Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jaguar-land-rover-evaluating-locales-north-american-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jaguar-land-rover-evaluating-locales-north-american-plant/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934122 The United Auto Workers may soon need to add another transplant to convert as part of its Southern strategy: Jaguar Land Rover is considering setting up shop in the Southeastern United States as part of its global expansion plans. Autoblog reports the automaker is looking over potential real estate for a new North American factory, […]

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The United Auto Workers may soon need to add another transplant to convert as part of its Southern strategy: Jaguar Land Rover is considering setting up shop in the Southeastern United States as part of its global expansion plans.

Autoblog reports the automaker is looking over potential real estate for a new North American factory, honing in upon right-to-work states in the South such as South Carolina, where BMW already has a presence in Spartanburg assembling the X Series. The future plant would have a total capacity of 200,000 units produced per year.

Elsewhere, JLR welcomed all to its new factory in Changsu, China, where the real Evoque — as opposed to the “If you like Mrs. Beckham’s crossover, you’ll love ours” Landwind E32 — will roll off the line, with the new Discovery Sport to follow. Brazil will join the party with its own factory in 2016.

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Porsche 918 Hybrid Hypercar Nearly Sold Out http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-918-hybrid-hypercar-nearly-sold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-918-hybrid-hypercar-nearly-sold/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934098 Saving your pennies for a Porsche 918 Spyder? You may want to go ahead and take out a loan to get the down payment on the table, for the hybrid hypercar is nearly sold out. Automotive News reports production of the 918 will draw to a close in July 2015, while planned production is sold […]

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Saving your pennies for a Porsche 918 Spyder? You may want to go ahead and take out a loan to get the down payment on the table, for the hybrid hypercar is nearly sold out.

Automotive News reports production of the 918 will draw to a close in July 2015, while planned production is sold out through early April at the latest, according to Porsche Cars North America vice president of marketing, Andre Oosthuizen.

Regarding how many have been made thus far, Oosthuizen declined to say more than that it was doing well for itself. He added that 30 of the $847,945 spyders were delivered to customers around the world — each bestowing Porsche a deposit of $200,000 for the opportunity to own one — thus far.

 

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UAW, Political Leaders Uniting To Keep Wrangler In Ohio http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-political-leaders-uniting-keep-wrangler-ohio/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-political-leaders-uniting-keep-wrangler-ohio/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933842 With the possibility of an aluminum Jeep Wrangler being built elsewhere, the United Auto Workers and political leaders are coming together to convince Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to keep the icon in Toledo, Ohio. Automotive News reports the gathering will occur Monday at the UAW Local 12, with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, […]

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2014-Jeep-Wrangler-Sport-Front-Three-Quarter2

With the possibility of an aluminum Jeep Wrangler being built elsewhere, the United Auto Workers and political leaders are coming together to convince Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to keep the icon in Toledo, Ohio.

Automotive News reports the gathering will occur Monday at the UAW Local 12, with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, and Toledo mayor D. Michael Collins joining the group of workers, local leaders and members of the community to launch a campaign to keep the Wrangler at the Chrysler Assembly Plant, where 1,700 (out of a total of over 6,000) help assemble the icon with the help of 800 employed by neighborhood suppliers.

The campaign is set to begin as FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne warned that should the next-generation Wrangler be based upon an aluminum unibody, it would be built elsewhere:

If the solution is aluminum, then I think unfortunately that Toledo is the wrong place, the wrong setup to try and build a Wrangler, because it requires a complete reconfiguring of the assets that would be cost-prohibitive. It would be so outrageously expensive that it would be impossible to try and work out of that facility.

UAW Local 12 president Bruce Baumhower invited 40 elected officials and local businessmen to the gathering, with the intent of establishing a task force set to address the issues that would take the Wrangler out of Toledo.

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Mercedes Turns Former Naval Base Into Autonomous Testing Ground http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-turns-former-naval-base-autonomous-testing-ground/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-turns-former-naval-base-autonomous-testing-ground/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933802 With the highway mostly conquered, autonomous vehicles now must navigate the cities through which they would otherwise pass by, a challenge unto itself with few proving grounds available for research. Mercedes-Benz, however, happened upon a solution not too far from its R&D base in Sunnyvale, Calif. Automotive News reports the automaker is testing its autonomous […]

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Mercedes-Benz-S-500-Intelligent-Drive-000

With the highway mostly conquered, autonomous vehicles now must navigate the cities through which they would otherwise pass by, a challenge unto itself with few proving grounds available for research.

Mercedes-Benz, however, happened upon a solution not too far from its R&D base in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Automotive News reports the automaker is testing its autonomous vehicles at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, a military base decommissioned in 2005 that may be redeveloped in the future.

Until then, Concord will be used as a “starter city” for autonomous city driving and navigation research and development. The strategy allows Mercedes “to run simulation tests with self-driving vehicles in a secure way, including specific hazardous situations,” per the brand’s head of autonomous driving, Axel Gern.

As for why Concord and similar spaces, such as the NASA facility Google uses to test its commuter pod, are in play over actual cities, Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski says “existing proving grounds are not challenging enough,” while real-life testing is “too challenging at this point.” Further, both spaces are owned by the federal government, bestowing researchers the opportunity to test their theories without the California legislature dictating otherwise.

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Chrysler Twins Rank First And Second Among Minivans In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chrysler-twins-ranked-first-second-among-minivans-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chrysler-twins-ranked-first-second-among-minivans-2014/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:02:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932466 Only twice in the last six years have one of the Chrysler Group’s minivans been America’s top-selling minivan. America’s best-selling minivan in 2008 and 2009 was the Honda Odyssey, which also led the segment in 2013. The Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in 2011. Yet through the first nine months of 2014, not only […]

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2015 Dodge Grand CaravanOnly twice in the last six years have one of the Chrysler Group’s minivans been America’s top-selling minivan. America’s best-selling minivan in 2008 and 2009 was the Honda Odyssey, which also led the segment in 2013. The Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in 2011.

Yet through the first nine months of 2014, not only is the Chrysler Town & Country America’s top-selling minivan, but its twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, ranks second in the class, 8431 sales ahead of the third-ranked Odyssey. The Chrysler and Dodge haven’t finished a calendar year as the two top-ranked minivans since 2005. 

Granted, even during the years in which the Odyssey or Sienna led the category, the Chrysler/Dodge twins combined for superior market share. We also know that these vans are fleet favourites, assisting in the generation of volume outside of a retail environment. Moreover, competitors produce higher transaction prices, especially the Odyssey, while the Grand Caravan is geared towards value-minded family buyers.

But the news that these twins combined to finish the months of March, April, May, June, and September as the two leaders of the category is pertinent given FCA’s intentions for their Ontario-assembled vans and the recent growth in the category.

2011 Chrysler Town & CountryAfter five consecutive years of decline ending in 2009, overall minivan volume grew 7% in 2010, 3% in 2011, and 13% in 2012, then declined 4% to a two-year low last year. Minivan sales in 2014 are up 6%, meaning the category is on track for its best year since 2008, when the Odyssey’s two-year reign began.

We published a chart just last month looking at the increased market share of the twins in 2014, rising from 44% during the first eight months of 2013 to 49% this year. With three-quarters under our belt, the Town & Country and Grand Caravan now own 50% of the market, up from 45% a year ago. Town & Country volume is up 19%, a near 18,000-unit improvement. Grand Caravan sales have improved by 12,501 units, a 14% jump. Jointly, their sales are up 17% to 212,411 units, 13.7% of Chrysler Group’s year-to-date volume, up from 13.4% at this time a year ago. (Including the Ram Cargo Van, they account for 14.1% of all Chrysler Group sales.)

Resting on laurels is genuinely thought to be a bad idea. These vans are in need of an update, and their consistently held status of sales leaderboard top dogs hides the fact that so much of their appeal comes down to price. (And Stow ‘N Go!) They’re the least efficient vans in the class. Their second rows aren’t as comfortable or as spacious as the seats in, for example, the Sienna. They don’t offer eight-passenger seating.

Nevertheless, it would be easier to understand FCA’s decision to severely alter the Town & Country/Grand Caravan model structure if the trend was heading in the opposite direction, as it did in 2011, when their market share decreased to 41.7% from 45% in 2010. On the other hand, should an automaker stick to tried-and-true product plans in a category that’s declined in size by 48% over the last decade, even if that category is showing moderate signs of renewed health?

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Los Angeles 2014: Mercedes Maybach Set To Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/los-angeles-2014-mercedes-maybach-set-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/los-angeles-2014-mercedes-maybach-set-debut/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933770 Once a name best known for providing a platform for Kanye West’s and Jay Z’s Mad Maxian fantasies, Maybach is set to return from the grave under the bright lights of the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show as a Mercedes model. Car & Driver reports the Maybach will be around 18 feet in length, slotting […]

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Maybach-badge

Once a name best known for providing a platform for Kanye West’s and Jay Z’s Mad Maxian fantasies, Maybach is set to return from the grave under the bright lights of the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show as a Mercedes model.

Car & Driver reports the Maybach will be around 18 feet in length, slotting between the S550 and the deceased Maybach 57, according to head of global design, Gordon Wagener.

Other features include a turbocharged V12, rear-wheel drive, Mercedes’ Magic Body Control suspension, luxurious materials, and a badge here and there to let the proletariat know a god and/or goddess is being chauffeured, not some Silicon Valley dirtbag.

The Mercedes Maybach will be going up against Bentley and Rolls-Royce in the Grey Poupon delivery game, with the Maybach name becoming a sub-brand like AMG. That move could, in turn, allow for more models down the road, such as an SUV based on the GL-Class, as well as a coupe and/or convertible derived from the S-Class.

As for price of admission, all that has been said is that it will be lower than the Maybach models from just a few years ago.

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Koesters: Ford May Build PHEV For Europe Should Demand Rise http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/koesters-ford-may-build-phev-europe-demand-rise/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/koesters-ford-may-build-phev-europe-demand-rise/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933746 While U.S. consumers can opt for a PHEV version of the Fusion or C-Max, European customers have had to look elsewhere. This could change soon, however. Automotive News reports Ford is “actively considering” bringing over a PHEV to go up against offerings from Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volvo, according to vehicle line director for large […]

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2015 Ford C-Max Energi

While U.S. consumers can opt for a PHEV version of the Fusion or C-Max, European customers have had to look elsewhere.

This could change soon, however.

Automotive News reports Ford is “actively considering” bringing over a PHEV to go up against offerings from Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volvo, according to vehicle line director for large cars in Europe, Uli Koesters.

The reason the Blue Oval hadn’t planned on playing the game? Low demand in Europe for PHEVs overall. Koesters could immediately bring a PHEV to market, such as one based upon the Fusion’s European cousin, the Mondeo, but only if the interest is there:

I believe the plug-in take-up in Europe is not quite as ready as some people would like to think, but it is clearly a technology that can do a lot better at significantly reducing fuel consumption and that is why we are actively looking at it.

At the moment, the most popular PHEV is the Mitsubishi Outlander, with 8,953 units sold in H1 2014. Volvo, meanwhile, sold the fewest PHEVs in the same period, moving only 3,233 V60s.

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GM General Counsel Retiring Early 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gm-general-counsel-retiring-early-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gm-general-counsel-retiring-early-2015/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933690 Come next year, General Motors will have a new general counsel, as Michael Millikin has decided to call it a day. Millikin had come under fire as recently as this summer, when Congress took CEO Mary Barra to task for not firing him for his part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall, especially when […]

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GM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Michael P. Millikin

Come next year, General Motors will have a new general counsel, as Michael Millikin has decided to call it a day.

Millikin had come under fire as recently as this summer, when Congress took CEO Mary Barra to task for not firing him for his part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall, especially when five company lawyers under him were given the axe — a result of the publication of the Valukas report — but not he. Barra had this to say about him:

Mike has had a tremendous career, spanning more than 40 years, with the vast majority of it at GM. He has led global legal teams through incredibly complex transactions, been a trusted and respected confidant to senior management, and even led the company’s global business response team following the tragedy of 9/11.

Millikin served as GM’s general counsel since 2009, and has been with the automaker since 1977, when he was brought in from his previous role as an assistant attorney in the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Detroit. He will remain in his position until the transition period for the new GC is complete.

GM has already begun an external search for his replacement.

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Chart Of The Day: The 200 And A Decade Of Chrysler Group Midsize Car Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-200-decade-chrysler-group-midsize-car-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-200-decade-chrysler-group-midsize-car-sales/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 11:41:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930402 Through the first nine months of 2014, sales of the Chrysler 200 are down 27%. That’s to be expected, as the 200 was transitioning from Sebring-based (but Pentastar-powered!) fleet favourite to sleeker 2015 200 form. Granted, Toyota is transitioning from Camry to refreshed Camry and sales are up 5% this year, but that’s a somewhat […]

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003-2015-chrysler-200-leak-1Through the first nine months of 2014, sales of the Chrysler 200 are down 27%. That’s to be expected, as the 200 was transitioning from Sebring-based (but Pentastar-powered!) fleet favourite to sleeker 2015 200 form. Granted, Toyota is transitioning from Camry to refreshed Camry and sales are up 5% this year, but that’s a somewhat invalid comparison for another day. Dodge Avenger volume is down 37% to 49,363 units in 2014, but again, this was an anticipated decline, as Chrysler Group has actually killed off the Avenger.

Jointly, the duo is down 31% to 124,505 units. For the third time, this is not a shocker. We expected a period of decreasing 200 volume, and we knew the Avenger’s drops were going to be severe.

Perhaps Fiat Chrysler Automobiles does not need the remaining, sibling-less 200 to sell in 200/Avenger-like fashion. But if we set aside the year-to-date numbers to look only at September’s results, we’ll certainly see that the new 200 is, in fact, not coming close to selling in 200/Avenger-like numbers. In fact, the 200 and remaining Avenger – 1677 were sold in September – aren’t selling like the 200 and Avenger did last year, either. While 200 sales jumped 15% in September, that was not enough to overcome the near disappearance of Avenger sales.

Chrysler Group midsize car sales chartThe pair was down 14% to 12672 units, a loss of 2010 units. Is that a concern if the new car has greater potential for profit generation? Not at all. But the discounts are already piling up on the 2015 200, with a $2500 cash allowance being just the starting point.

Of course, Chrysler Group midsize car sales fluctuate wildly, and we could yet see a surge by year’s end. The accompanying chart shows nine-month U.S. sales totals over the last nine years.

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Automakers, Utilities Collaborate On Plug-In Cloud Charging Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932394 A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing. Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along […]

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Ford Focus EV Cloud Charging

A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing.

Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along with the 15 companies, Sumitomo Electric Industries and the Electric Power Research Institute, are developing a platform that would use the cloud to better manage energy usage and grid efficiency “while still meeting the needs” of PHEV and EV owners. The platform is called the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform.

OVGI would operate as follows: an owner would plug their car in as usual, then set a time for when the vehicle would be back on the road. The utility company could then send a message to the car to stop charging during peak power use, or, if doing so would hinder the vehicle’s ability to get back on the road, allow the vehicle to continue charging until it was ready to go.

In turn, the companies could offer their customers incentives to offer their plug-ins to the grid through lower rates on electricity usage. Customers can opt-out, charge elsewhere, or have the vehicle ignore the request.

The first OVGI test is occurring this week at Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center, where the tech will be demonstrated before federal, state, automotive and utility representatives and officials.

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Canada Auto Sales Recap: September 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/canada-auto-sales-recap-september-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/canada-auto-sales-recap-september-2014/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:36:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932434 Without an unexpected drastic downward turn in the final quarter of 2014, Canadian auto sales will reach record levels this year, a strong follow-up to best-ever sales in calendar year 2013. September 2014 was marked by a collective 13% sales improvement from the overall industry, a gain of nearly 19,000 units compared with September 2013. […]

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2015 Hyundai Sonata frontWithout an unexpected drastic downward turn in the final quarter of 2014, Canadian auto sales will reach record levels this year, a strong follow-up to best-ever sales in calendar year 2013.

September 2014 was marked by a collective 13% sales improvement from the overall industry, a gain of nearly 19,000 units compared with September 2013. September also marked Ford Motor Company’s return to the top of the overall sales leaderboard in Canada. Chrysler Group’s five brands haven’t actually led the monthly results since March, but their lead was strong enough to support year-to-date number one status through the end of August.

Both Ford/Lincoln and General Motors outsold the Chrysler Group in September, however, despite a combined 20% year-over-year improvement from Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat.

Jeep’s 140% year-over-year sales increase was at the top of September’s growth chart, surpassing Maserati’s 123% leap and Buick’s 111% improvement. Jeep volume has risen above 6000 units in each of the last six months. Jeep set an all-time monthly record for new vehicle sales in May of this year, when 7531 Wranglers, Cherokees, Grand Cherokees, Patriots, and Compasses were sold. Buick’s rise beyond 2000 units was the first such 2K+ month since April of last year, when precisely 2000 Buicks were sold in Canada.

Canada’s next-fastest-growing auto brand last month was Audi, sales of which shot up 42% to 2490 units. 29% of Audi Canada’s September volume was generated by the brand’s two new entry-level models, the A3 sedan (393 September sales) and Q3 crossover (328 September sales).

The Q3 was joined in Canada by its newest rival, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, 184 of which were sold last month, a figure which is expected to steadily rise. 46% of Mercedes-Benz’s non-Sprinter volume was generated by five SUV and crossover nameplates last month. Through nine months, the Mercedes-Benz brand (excluding Sprinter vans) leads BMW, the second-ranked premium automaker, by a scant 50 units.

Canada September 2014 YTD best-selling cars chartMidsize cars are an increasingly lackluster force in Canada’s auto market. Even in Canada’s declining passenger car market, the midsize segment’s decline is particularly egregious, falling 15% this year and 6% in September. Hyundai’s Sonata has bucked the trend of late, surging 140% in September to lead the category for the third consecutive month. But this Ford Fusion-led midsize segment was, Sonata excluded, down 15% last month, a loss of 1522 units.

Canadians, of course, respond much more favourably to slightly more efficient, not quite as roomy, and much more affordable compact cars. 2014 will mark the Honda Civic’s 17th consecutive year as the compact leader and as Canada’s best-selling passenger car overall. September Civic sales jumped 10% as compact volume grew just 4%.

The Civic was joined on the positive side of the ledger by the Buick Verano (up 121%), Chevrolet Cruze (up 22%), Nissan Sentra (up 57%) and Volkswagen Golf (up 101%), among other.

Golf sales, at 2073 units, are notable for the difference achieved by the nameplate on two sides of one border. In the United States, where Volkswagen’s struggles have been thoroughly chronicled, the Golf family accounted for just 13% of VW volume in September. The Golf is VW Canada’s second-best-selling model, producing 32% of the brand’s September sales.

Volkswagen’s model range is thin, of course, with just two utility vehicles, and five continuing passenger car lines. Volkswagen is done with the Routan minivan, having sold their last in May 2013. Canadian minivan volume was up 12% in September; mini-MPV sales were down 43%. Pickup truck volume, jacked up by the best-selling Ford F-Series, rose 11% to 31,050 units. Commercial van sales were up 23%. Passenger car sales rose 2%, accounting for 41% of total new vehicle volume last month. And Canada’s growth sector, SUVs and crossovers, grew 30%, forming 35% of the Canadian auto industry’s volume, up from 30% a year ago.

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Tesla’s First Battery Swap Station Opening Soon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/teslas-first-battery-swap-station-opening-soon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/teslas-first-battery-swap-station-opening-soon/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932362 While Tesla owners — and owners of all EVs, for that matter — may be waiting a couple of years before titanium oxide anodes bring battery charging levels down to the 3- to 5-minute fueling times found at a given gas station, CEO Elon Musk has another option for them to consider: Battery-pack swapping. SlashGear […]

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Tesla Supercharger

While Tesla owners — and owners of all EVs, for that matter — may be waiting a couple of years before titanium oxide anodes bring battery charging levels down to the 3- to 5-minute fueling times found at a given gas station, CEO Elon Musk has another option for them to consider: Battery-pack swapping.

SlashGear reports the first swapping station will come online within the next few months, offering S and X owners the option of allowing robots to swap a drained pack for a fully charged unit from underneath the car within 90 seconds. Not only is this method faster than refueling at the local ARCO, but it blows away the Supercharger’s 30-minute charging time, as well.

The pack swap would also enable owners to retrieve their original packs later on, or, should retrieval become inconvenient, pay the difference for the new pack. Critics note this could lead to supply problems, where some stations have batteries waiting for their owners to return, while others run short of new packs.

The first station will open somewhere between Los Angeles and San Francisco, though further details were scant.

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Jeep First American Brand To Enter Japan COTY Top 10 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jeep-first-american-brand-enter-japan-coty-top-10/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jeep-first-american-brand-enter-japan-coty-top-10/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932338 While the new Mazda2 — Demio to its friends in Japan — took home the overall gold in this year’s Japanese Car of the Year awards, Jeep took home a JCOTY, too, the first time an American brand has ever accomplished the feat. AutoGuide reports the Cherokee took eighth place among the top 10 list, […]

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2014 jeep cherokee

While the new Mazda2 — Demio to its friends in Japan — took home the overall gold in this year’s Japanese Car of the Year awards, Jeep took home a JCOTY, too, the first time an American brand has ever accomplished the feat.

AutoGuide reports the Cherokee took eighth place among the top 10 list, the third Fiat Chrysler Japan product in a row to do so after the Fiat Panda and Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The crossover went on sale in Japan in May 2014.

Among the transplants, the Mercedes C-Class took a close second behind the Demio, the BMW i3 won the bronze, and the Peugeot 308 came in sixth place. Subaru’s Levorg wagon was the next highest-placing home model.

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Singapore Researchers Invent New Anode For Faster Battery Charging, Increased Longevity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/singapore-researchers-invent-new-anode-faster-battery-charging-increased-longevity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/singapore-researchers-invent-new-anode-faster-battery-charging-increased-longevity/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932306 One of the main roadblocks to wide adoption of EVs is how quickly the battery can be fully charged. While Tesla’s Supercharger could put a Model S P85D back on the road in 30 minutes to an hour, a Dodge Charger Hellcat can pull up to and away from the pump in three minutes, barring […]

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NTU Assoc Prof Chen Xiaodong with research fellow Tang Yuxin and PhD student Deng Jiyang

One of the main roadblocks to wide adoption of EVs is how quickly the battery can be fully charged. While Tesla’s Supercharger could put a Model S P85D back on the road in 30 minutes to an hour, a Dodge Charger Hellcat can pull up to and away from the pump in three minutes, barring a run inside the 7-Eleven for a cup of coffee and a couple of donuts.

That roadblock may come down sooner than later, thanks to researchers at Singapore’s Nanyang Technology University.

The university recently unveiled a new battery that could be recharged to 70 percent capacity within two minutes, and boasts a lifespan of 20 years over the two to three years of life found in current lithium-ion batteries.

The secret? Replacing the graphite anode in those batteries with a nanogel composed of titanium oxide, a chemical commonly found in soil, sunscreen and food. Invented by Professor Chen Xiaodong at the university’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, the gel will be taken to the next level with a proof-of-concept grant to help fund a large-scale prototype.

Meanwhile, at least one company has already purchased a license to develop the titanium oxide battery for production down the road. Chen himself believes his invention will enter the marketplace within the next two years, knocking down more than just the long-charging barrier in so doing:

Electric cars will be able to increase their range dramatically, with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars.

Equally important, we can now drastically cut down the toxic waste generated by disposed batteries, since our batteries last ten times longer than the current generation of lithium-ion batteries.

Ease of manufacturing and lower replacement costs may further widespread adoption within the industry, in turn increasing adoption rates for whatever EVs come down the line in the future; the nanogel — a mixture of titanium oxide and sodium hydroxide — is stirred together at a given temperature for easier integration into current production systems.

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Dwindling Cabriolet Market Affecting Automakers, Suppliers Alike http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dwindling-cabriolet-market-affecting-automakers-suppliers-alike/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dwindling-cabriolet-market-affecting-automakers-suppliers-alike/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932282 If you’re a fan of convertibles, then you may find your selection dwindling as more consumers go for a different image, affecting automakers and suppliers alike. Automotive News Europe reports manufacturers like Volkswagen and Peugeot are cutting down the number of cabriolets in their portfolios as a result of the following: Popularity: In the two […]

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Opel Cascada

If you’re a fan of convertibles, then you may find your selection dwindling as more consumers go for a different image, affecting automakers and suppliers alike.

Automotive News Europe reports manufacturers like Volkswagen and Peugeot are cutting down the number of cabriolets in their portfolios as a result of the following:

  • Popularity: In the two biggest markets for such vehicles — North America and Europe — the convertible experienced sales of 827,000 unit in 2007, but only 444,000 in 2013. The drop is likely the result of consumers moving toward crossovers and SUVs, along with other image-making vehicles like the Toyota Prius and Tesla Model S.
  • Limited market: Even when popularity was at its peak, not everyone wanted the wind in their hair. Convertibles were most popular in places like England, Sweden, California and Florida — the latter two were the result of transplants from colder, wetter regions who now wanted to soak up the sun — while few were sold in places like Dubai, China and Singapore.
  • Other options: Consumers shopping for new vehicles can have theirs with a panoramic roof, delivering blue skies to all without needing to apply a ton of Aqua Net or toupee glue before heading out. Further, SUVs and cabriolets are image vehicles that can replace each other, though such a swap hurts the latter more than the former in the new-vehicle market. Finally, convertibles have a higher residual value, and tend to do better in the used-vehicle market than when first purchased.

Thus, as automakers trim their open-top offerings, suppliers like Valmet and Magna CTS fear their time may soon come to call it a day. CEO for the largest supplier of roof systems, Webasto’s Holger Engelmann, says the market won’t be able to sustain three major players in the supply game. Both Webasto and Valmet — the third largest; Magna CTS is No. 2 — have shuttered facilities over the years amid the shrinking market, with Valmet closing its German operations by 2017.

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