The Truth About Cars » Sign of the Times http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:20:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 » Sign of the Times http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/sign-of-the-times/ Manuals Comprise 20 Percent Of All New USDM Models Available For Sale http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/manuals-comprise-20-percent-new-usdm-models-available/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/manuals-comprise-20-percent-new-usdm-models-available/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009330 Enjoy rowing your own instead of allowing Skynet to do the shifting? If you’re in the United States, your manual transmission options are few. Jalopnik‘s commentariat-driven Oppositelock recently compiled a list of every vehicle sold in the U.S. that has a manual transmission. Of note, nearly every subcompact and compact model gives the right to […]

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Enjoy rowing your own instead of allowing Skynet to do the shifting? If you’re in the United States, your manual transmission options are few.

Jalopnik‘s commentariat-driven Oppositelock recently compiled a list of every vehicle sold in the U.S. that has a manual transmission. Of note, nearly every subcompact and compact model gives the right to shift to the driver, including the Chevrolet Sonic, Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Versa and Kia Soul.

Among the midsizers, only five have manuals: Buick Regal, Honda Accord, Mazda6, and Volkswagen CC and Passat. SUVs, crossovers and trucks didn’t do so well, either, with most offerings found among Jeep, Mazda, Subaru and Mitsubishi models, and only one big truck — the Ram HD — standing with the mid-size pickups in the manual game.

Finally, quite a few sports cars landed on the row-row-your-car list, including the Audi R8, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Mazda MX5 Miata and Porsche 911, while a handful of luxury models — Cadillac’s ATS and Infiniti’s Q60 among them — threw down for the cause.

In total, 50 of 265 models sold in the U.S. come with manuals, making up 20 percent of the market in 2015. Most of the automakers offer them on 30 to 40 percent of their vehicles, while Mazda, Jeep, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen offer one on over 50 percent of their respective lineups.

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Whistleblower Incentive Legislation Passes US Senate Panel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/whistleblower-incentive-legislation-passes-us-senate-panel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/whistleblower-incentive-legislation-passes-us-senate-panel/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009314 A whistleblower bill that would grant financial incentives to auto industry employees who expose safety defects won backing by a U.S. Senate panel Thursday. Reuters reports the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voted 13-0 in favor of sending the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote, though when the vote would come has […]

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United States Capitol

A whistleblower bill that would grant financial incentives to auto industry employees who expose safety defects won backing by a U.S. Senate panel Thursday.

Reuters reports the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voted 13-0 in favor of sending the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote, though when the vote would come has yet to be determined, per an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Once voted and approved on the floor, however, the bill would go forward to the U.S. House for their vote.

The legislation would give employees and contractors for automakers, suppliers and dealerships up to 30 percent of any penalties resulting from a federal enforcement action totalling over $1 million, but only if said employees “shared original information on product defects or reporting violations” with either the Transportation or Justice departments.

The panel vote comes after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began fining airbag supplier Takata $14,000/day for failing to cooperate in the agency’s investigation into the supplier’s airbag inflators linked to at least six fatalities and several injuries.

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T&E: First-Gen Biofuel Use In EU Face 6 Percent Cap By 2020 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/te-first-gen-biofuel-use-eu-face-6-percent-cap-2020/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/te-first-gen-biofuel-use-eu-face-6-percent-cap-2020/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008250 Much like in the U.S., biofuel is an ongoing concern in the European Union, where those opposed recently gained a victory in restricting its use. European sustainable transportation group Transportation & Environment announced the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee decision this week to cap the amount of biofuel introduced into the continent’s fuel supply, restricting first-gen […]

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Total Biofuel Airport Tanker in France

Much like in the U.S., biofuel is an ongoing concern in the European Union, where those opposed recently gained a victory in restricting its use.

European sustainable transportation group Transportation & Environment announced the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee decision this week to cap the amount of biofuel introduced into the continent’s fuel supply, restricting first-gen fuels to just 6 percent of the overall supply by 2020. The cap is over the 4.5 percent introduced in 2011.

The cap not only affects food-based biofuels like ethanol, but the energy crops used to make them — and compete for space with food crops. T&E notes the cap correctly identified land use as the “key environmental challenge” regarding first-gen biofuels, and applaudes the Environment Committee for strengthening sustainability criteria for advanced biofuels derived from municipal waste and residues.

The release adds that in 2011, EU member states spent €6 billion ($6.8 billion USD in today’s dollars) subsidizing the biofuel industry; the cap would effectively kill such subsidies after 2020.

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Nissan Xterra Leaving US Market After 2015 Model Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-xterra-leaving-us-market-2015-model-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-xterra-leaving-us-market-2015-model-year/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1007842 Looking at buying a new Nissan Xterra? Better pull the trigger soon, as the SUV will leave the U.S. market after the 2015 model year. Edmunds reports the Xterra is leaving these shores for regulatory reasons, with Nissan finding no business case in bringing the SUV up to code for an audience that also adores […]

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2015 Nissan Xterra

Looking at buying a new Nissan Xterra? Better pull the trigger soon, as the SUV will leave the U.S. market after the 2015 model year.

Edmunds reports the Xterra is leaving these shores for regulatory reasons, with Nissan finding no business case in bringing the SUV up to code for an audience that also adores the Jeep Wrangler. Updating the Xterra to meet regulatory and environmental requirements was deemed too costly for such a low volume product. CAFE regulations also don’t favor the Xterra’s small, body-on-frame SUV layout, making the updates a tougher sell.

The automaker moved 16,505 Xterras in 2014, a 7 percent decline compared to 2013’s 17,766 units sold. The SUV also faces stiff competition from crossovers like the Buick Encore, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan’s own Rogue, nearly 200,000 of which left the lot last year.

For those few who will buy one of the last Xterras, features for 2015 include NissanConnect, a USB connection for the iPod, and a new color named SolarFlare Yellow.

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Study: US Auto Sales To Rise Through 2017, Modestly Decline Through 2020 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/study-us-auto-sales-rise-2017-modestly-decline-2020/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/study-us-auto-sales-rise-2017-modestly-decline-2020/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 16:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006458 Happy days are back again for automakers selling to the United States, with auto sales projected to rise through 2017 before dipping slightly through 2020. According to The Detroit Bureau, a study by AutoPacific found that consumers bought 16.4 million vehicles in 2014, a 6 percent increase over 2013. Further, the group predicts 2015 sales […]

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Bill Colwell Ford Dealership

Happy days are back again for automakers selling to the United States, with auto sales projected to rise through 2017 before dipping slightly through 2020.

According to The Detroit Bureau, a study by AutoPacific found that consumers bought 16.4 million vehicles in 2014, a 6 percent increase over 2013. Further, the group predicts 2015 sales will hit 17 million, peaking at 17.24 million in 2017.

Per AutoPacific industry analysis vice president Ed Kim, the boom is fueled by both “continued increases in truck and SUV sales,” and the rapid growth of compact crossover sales among mainstream and premium brands. Combined, such sales would make up 55 percent of the overall U.S. market this year.

As for the aforementioned downturn beginning in 2018 and going forward through 2020, Kim cites rises in interest rates, Millennials waiting to purchase their first vehicle, and extended loan terms as factors in the upcoming decline. He adds that despite this, sales are likely to bottom-out at 16.8 million by the start of the next decade, 60 percent better than the 10.4 million vehicles sold in 2009 during the early days of the Great Recession.

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MIT: Vehicle-To-Vehicle Communication A Breakthrough Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/mit-vehicle-to-vehicle-communication-breakthrough-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/mit-vehicle-to-vehicle-communication-breakthrough-technology/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004570 In the next year or so, vehicle-to-vehicle communication will be seen as a breakthrough technology, per the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Edmunds reports V2V made a list of ten breakthrough technologies compiled by MIT Technology Review, joining the likes of Apple Pay and nano-architecture as tech that will have “the broadest impact on commerce, medicine […]

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V2V

In the next year or so, vehicle-to-vehicle communication will be seen as a breakthrough technology, per the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Edmunds reports V2V made a list of ten breakthrough technologies compiled by MIT Technology Review, joining the likes of Apple Pay and nano-architecture as tech that will have “the broadest impact on commerce, medicine and society.” The publication cites General Motors as one of the key players in promoting V2V, and mentions the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s efforts to bring the technology online by 2017 at the earliest.

That said, MIT cautions that the first vehicles to have V2V — such as the 2017 Cadillac CTS — won’t have too many vehicles to talk to about location, speed, brake status et al, and that it could take up to a decade before V2V is as common as the cold. Audi, Ford and Toyota are among some of the other manufacturers looking into V2V.

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Tesla Pushing For Direct Sales In Texas, Dealers Wanting A Shot To Sell http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/tesla-pushing-direct-sales-texas-dealers-wanting-shot-sell/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/tesla-pushing-direct-sales-texas-dealers-wanting-shot-sell/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004082 As Tesla gears up to tackle Texas’ direct-sales ban during the state’s 2015 legislative session, dealers are begging for a shot to sell the automaker’s EVs. The Texas Tribune reports several Texas dealerships have approached Tesla about selling its wares, claiming they would take on the risk of selling a niche premium EV if given […]

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As Tesla gears up to tackle Texas’ direct-sales ban during the state’s 2015 legislative session, dealers are begging for a shot to sell the automaker’s EVs.

The Texas Tribune reports several Texas dealerships have approached Tesla about selling its wares, claiming they would take on the risk of selling a niche premium EV if given the chance. According to Texas Automobile Dealers Association president Bill Wolters, those dealers were rebuffed:

This is such a unique situation in which Elon Musk doesn’t want to have competition from other makes.

Currently, Tesla has galleries in Austin, Dallas and Houston, where customers can see the Model S, but cannot buy the car directly from the gallery, turning to the company’s website to complete the process as a result.

While dealers believe the direct-sales ban gives consumers a chance to buy the car they want anywhere within Texas — instead of having to drive to a few select cities where automakers would focus their efforts if given the opportunity — Tesla says the ban threatens to undermine its success in the state. CEO Elon Musk adds that franchise dealers would ultimately fail in selling his company’s EVs, citing the traditional model’s main source of revenue — maintenance — as where the struggle would occur.

Meanwhile, Tesla is spending between $625,000 and $1.18 million on 21 lobbyists to persuade lawmakers in Austin to consider legislation that would allow for direct sales. No bills have come up regarding the issue thus far this session, through Rep. Eddie Rodriguez of Austin is working on a proposal that would grant the automaker and other EV-only manufacturers the right to sell directly to Texas consumers; a similar proposal by Rodriguez was rejected last year.

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Sweers: Diesel Power Not Coming To Toyota Tacoma http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/sweers-diesel-power-not-coming-toyota-tacoma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/sweers-diesel-power-not-coming-toyota-tacoma/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004034 Hoping for diesel power in the new Toyota Tacoma? You can breathe now. According to AutoGuide, Tacoma/Tundra engineering chief Mike Sweers said that diesel power won’t be coming to the Tacoma — despite the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon receiving theirs — due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming Tier 3 regulations, set to go […]

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Hoping for diesel power in the new Toyota Tacoma? You can breathe now.

According to AutoGuide, Tacoma/Tundra engineering chief Mike Sweers said that diesel power won’t be coming to the Tacoma — despite the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon receiving theirs — due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming Tier 3 regulations, set to go into effect in 2017. The regs would greatly tighten emissions on diesel-powered light vehicles, making such vehicles more costly to build for automakers, if not consider in the first place:

Diesel, from a fuel economy standpoint, is about a 30 percent improvement right out of the box. The downside to diesel is the emissions has to be certified at the same level as a gas engine. So the way to do that is you have to put on an after-treatment system. So if we consider that cost, versus the fuel economy improvement, and the fact that diesel is $1 more per gallon more than gasoline, is there a return on the investment?

Even if the ROI from each after-treatment system installed — said to add $3,000 to the cost of a vehicle — was worth it now, Sweers warns it wouldn’t be by 2019, when even-tighter diesel-emissions regs would come into force. He says some diesels would be shelved as a result, automakers deciding those engines aren’t worth the headache.

Thus, the Tacoma will be avoiding the green pump handle, opting for either a gasoline-fueled 2.7-liter I4 or 3.5-liter V6 to provide power.

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Rolls-Royce Enters Premium SUV Game In All But Name http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/rolls-royce-enters-premium-suv-game-name/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/rolls-royce-enters-premium-suv-game-name/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 12:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004010 Rolls-Royce made it official Wednesday: The automaker is entering the premium SUV game with its own SUV, or, rather, “high-bodied car.” The upcoming SUV is expected to demonstrate the “exceptional presence, elegance and purpose” found in the premium marque’s other offerings, combining the “pioneering, adventurous spirit of Charles Rolls” with “Sir Henry Royce’s dedication to […]

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Rolls-Royce made it official Wednesday: The automaker is entering the premium SUV game with its own SUV, or, rather, “high-bodied car.”

The upcoming SUV is expected to demonstrate the “exceptional presence, elegance and purpose” found in the premium marque’s other offerings, combining the “pioneering, adventurous spirit of Charles Rolls” with “Sir Henry Royce’s dedication to engineering and innovation” in so doing.

Led by design boss Giles Taylor, the “high-bodied car” will feature an all-new aluminum architecture, and is meant to meet its customers’ “highly mobile, contemporary lifestyle expectations,” no matter the terrain.

Aside from Rolls-Royce’s promise to take its time “developing and perfecting this new concept in luxury,” however, a date of arrival is unknown; speculation points to 2018 as the earliest the SUV would arrive in showrooms.

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General Motors’ Bankruptcy Protections Could Narrow Pending Ruling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-bankruptcy-protections-narrow-pending-ruling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-bankruptcy-protections-narrow-pending-ruling/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 15:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003706 Should a federal judge decide General Motors acted in the wrong during bankruptcy proceedings, the automaker may see its protections considerably narrowed. According to Reuters, the point of contention is whether or not GM purposely hid the defects linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall during proceedings in 2009. Judge Robert Gerber of the […]

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Should a federal judge decide General Motors acted in the wrong during bankruptcy proceedings, the automaker may see its protections considerably narrowed.

According to Reuters, the point of contention is whether or not GM purposely hid the defects linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall during proceedings in 2009. Judge Robert Gerber of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York said that he would reassess the terms that carved Old GM from New GM if the latter violated due process, allowing affected consumers to go after the automaker for defects it knew of after the exit from bankruptcy.

Gerber’s potential decision won’t sit well with those filing lawsuits over issues of lost value, injury and death as a result of those defects. The plaintiffs are asking for GM to pay compensation in the billions of dollars for its pre-bankruptcy actions, which a modified sale order would mitigate. Gerber is expected to make his decision sometime in the coming weeks at the earliest.

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Zetsche: Google Better Off As Supplier Than As Automaker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/zetsche-google-better-off-supplier-automaker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/zetsche-google-better-off-supplier-automaker/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 14:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002106 Google may have the right stuff to shake up the auto industry, but Dr. Z doesn’t believe the tech giant will ever be an automaker in its own right. Reuters reports Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche said as much in a meeting with analysts last week, when he suggested Google focus its energy on learning […]

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Google may have the right stuff to shake up the auto industry, but Dr. Z doesn’t believe the tech giant will ever be an automaker in its own right.

Reuters reports Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche said as much in a meeting with analysts last week, when he suggested Google focus its energy on learning how cars are used instead of entering the industry as an automaker itself.

Meanwhile, he also continued to press his concerns about data privacy, in light of automakers and tech companies growing closer together as vehicles become more connected to the Internet:

When we talk about high safety with Mercedes, it does not apply specifically for protection from accidents, but this means safety of their personal data as well. To be able to provide that, we have to keep control, and we can’t do that when it is collected by Google.

Daimler plans to control data reported by its cars, protecting it from autonomous and connected vehicles alike.

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Apple Rumored At Work On Titan EV Project http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/apple-rumored-work-titan-ev-project/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/apple-rumored-work-titan-ev-project/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002074 Not about to let Google or Tesla tackle the automotive space without competition, Apple is rumored to be entering the game with its own EV project. Autoblog reports the project, dubbed Project Titan, is an EV resembling a minivan, and has several hundred Apple employees working to make the vehicle a reality. Vice president of […]

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Not about to let Google or Tesla tackle the automotive space without competition, Apple is rumored to be entering the game with its own EV project.

Autoblog reports the project, dubbed Project Titan, is an EV resembling a minivan, and has several hundred Apple employees working to make the vehicle a reality. Vice president of product design and former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky is said to be leading the project, while director of Mac systems engineering and former Mercedes-Benz R&D chief Johann Jungwirth is contributing his knowledge. Austrian supplier Magna Steyr has also been tapped by Apple execs to help guide the project along.

News of the rumored EV comes amid other rumors regarding the company’s poaching missions to Tesla — who allegedly have done the same to Apple in return — as well its desire to enter the autonomous vehicle market to one-up Google down the road.

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Paris To Begin Rolling Ban On Older Vehicles This Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/paris-begin-rolling-ban-older-vehicles-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/paris-begin-rolling-ban-older-vehicles-summer/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 12:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002010 Want to continue to drive in Paris? You’ll need a new vehicle starting this summer, when the French city begins restricting older vehicles from its heart. Autocar reports buses and trucks registered prior to October 2001 will all be barred from entering the city center starting this summer; cars registered before January 1997 will be […]

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Want to continue to drive in Paris? You’ll need a new vehicle starting this summer, when the French city begins restricting older vehicles from its heart.

Autocar reports buses and trucks registered prior to October 2001 will all be barred from entering the city center starting this summer; cars registered before January 1997 will be prohibited in 2016. The restrictions will roll forward through 2020, when cars registered after 2011 and motorcycles registered after this July will be the only ones allowed within.

The upcoming restrictions, as well as the nation’s own changing view on diesel, could prompt owners to ditch their older, less green vehicles for cleaner solutions like EVs and turbo-powered models, especially those made by French automakers. Incentives, such as paying €10,000 ($11,420 USD) to make the switch, would further encourage such moves.

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Hyundai, South Korean Government Opening Fuel-Cell Innovation Hub http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/hyundai-south-korean-government-opening-fuel-cell-innovation-hub/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/hyundai-south-korean-government-opening-fuel-cell-innovation-hub/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996650 Hyundai Motor and the South Korean government are coming together to open a hydrogen innovation center to help spur a creative economy. Just-Auto says the automaker plans to attract startups to the center in Gwangju by granting access to 1,000 unused patents related to said technology: The centre will focus on nurturing start-ups, providing key […]

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Hyundai Motor and the South Korean government are coming together to open a hydrogen innovation center to help spur a creative economy.

Just-Auto says the automaker plans to attract startups to the center in Gwangju by granting access to 1,000 unused patents related to said technology:

The centre will focus on nurturing start-ups, providing key infrastructure and creating an “ecosystem” for the hydrogen economy by training workers and strengthening necessary networks.

Hyundai and its investor partners will raise ₩117.5 billion ($164 million USD) to bring the innovation center online, and will be one of 12 centers to be established throughout South Korea over 2015.

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Lenders: Subprime Auto Lending Increase Not A New Bubble http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lenders-subprime-auto-lending-increase-not-new-bubble/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lenders-subprime-auto-lending-increase-not-new-bubble/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 11:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996522 Though subprime auto lending is growing, lenders believe a new credit bubble isn’t on the horizon as it was in the runup to the Great Recession. Bloomberg reports 20 percent of all auto-loan originations are in the subprime category, compared to the peak of 30 percent prior to the financial collapse seven years ago. Originations […]

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Though subprime auto lending is growing, lenders believe a new credit bubble isn’t on the horizon as it was in the runup to the Great Recession.

Bloomberg reports 20 percent of all auto-loan originations are in the subprime category, compared to the peak of 30 percent prior to the financial collapse seven years ago. Originations climbed to $97.2 billion in 2014, compared to $86.7 billion in 2013 and $41.3 billion in 2008. Of those, $30 billion to $40 billion subprime loans were packaged into asset-backed securities; $203 billion of those loans are outstanding.

That said, Wells Fargo securities managing director Chris Pink claims those figures aren’t a sign that “the ABS market is driving a resurgence of subprime.” Ford director of long-term funding and securitization Sam Smith adds those securities differ from the ones in the mortgage industry, stating that auto lenders aren’t “originating contracts just so [they] can securitize them.”

The move to temper those concerns comes as the U.S. Justice Department began investigating the market for subprime securities, with a focus on preventing a repeat of the housing bubble that led to the Great Recession.

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Middle Eastern, Asian Demand Fuels Booming US Auto Exports http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/middle-eastern-asian-demand-fuels-booming-us-auto-exports/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/middle-eastern-asian-demand-fuels-booming-us-auto-exports/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 15:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995394 Demand from the Middle East and Asia has helped fuel a new record in U.S. auto exports for the third consecutive year. The Wall Street Journal reports 2.1 million vehicles from factories in the Midwestern and Southeastern United States left for export markets in 2014, breaking the 2-million barrier for the first time. The figure […]

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Jeep Cherokees Departing West From Grays Harbor Washington

Demand from the Middle East and Asia has helped fuel a new record in U.S. auto exports for the third consecutive year.

The Wall Street Journal reports 2.1 million vehicles from factories in the Midwestern and Southeastern United States left for export markets in 2014, breaking the 2-million barrier for the first time. The figure is an 8 percent increase over 2013, and a 73 percent jump from a decade ago.

While around half of the exports head north to Canada or south to Mexico, China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea welcomed U.S.-made BMWs, Jeeps, Toyotas et al to their ports over the past year.

Factors for the booming export market include a dollar that was weak long enough to lay down the foundation, and is now strong enough against the yen and euro to encourage more production in the U.S., leaner manufacturing, competitive labor rates, and the aforementioned increased demand from newer markets in the Middle East and Asia.

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DOD: Connected Technologies Growing More Vulnerable To Sabotage http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/dod-connected-technologies-growing-vulnerable-sabotage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/dod-connected-technologies-growing-vulnerable-sabotage/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995314 As connected technologies make inroads into vehicles et al, the growing possibility of sabotage has the Department of Defense and DARPA on notice. Per Jalopnik, CBS’ “60 Minutes” spent some time with DARPA Information Innovation Office chief Dan Kaufman to explore the vulnerabilities of connected technology coming into play not only on the road, but […]

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2012_Chevrolet_Impala. Photo courtesy wikipedia

As connected technologies make inroads into vehicles et al, the growing possibility of sabotage has the Department of Defense and DARPA on notice.

Per Jalopnik, CBS’ “60 Minutes” spent some time with DARPA Information Innovation Office chief Dan Kaufman to explore the vulnerabilities of connected technology coming into play not only on the road, but at home, in the office et al.

In one demonstration, Kaufman was able to break into the OnStar system aboard a previous-gen Chevrolet Impala, transplanting a code that allowed him to control everything on the car, from the wipers and the horn, to the braking and acceleration system itself.

The situation may be more dire still: a report from Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts’ office states all new vehicles can be hacked, and that only “two out of 16 car makers can diagnose or respond to an infiltration in real-time.”

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Washington State Looking To Encourage EV Adoption Via Legislation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/washington-state-looking-encourage-ev-adoption-via-legislation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/washington-state-looking-encourage-ev-adoption-via-legislation/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 15:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994898 Legislators in the state of Washington have a slate of bills in mind that would encourage more EV adoption in order to help reduce air pollution. Autoblog reports one bill would create a “statewide electric vehicle infrastructure bank” that would be used to fund new charging stations throughout Washington. The bank would be funded via […]

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Tesla Model S + Space X Under the Space Needle in Seattle

Legislators in the state of Washington have a slate of bills in mind that would encourage more EV adoption in order to help reduce air pollution.

Autoblog reports one bill would create a “statewide electric vehicle infrastructure bank” that would be used to fund new charging stations throughout Washington. The bank would be funded via a $100 annual fee for EV registrations, as well as a change to sales-tax exemptions for such vehicles via a bill that would renew them through July 2021. The exemption would cover the first $45,000 of an EV’s purchase price, so those buying a Nissan Leaf or a Chevrolet Bolt would be just fine, while those buying a Tesla Model S or X would pay the sales tax.

Other bills in the running include a requirement of all cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce and Thurston counties to allow charging stations in nearly all land zoning categories; incentive programs for builders to add such stations to their projects; and utility compliance credits for those who buy new EV chargers.

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US Ethanol Exports Reach Near-Record Levels In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/us-ethanol-exports-reach-near-record-levels-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/us-ethanol-exports-reach-near-record-levels-2014/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 14:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994874 Of the 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in the United States in 2014, a near-record 836 gallons were exported. Per a report by the Renewable Fuel Association, those exported gallons went to 51 countries around the world, with the top five importers being Canada, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Philippines and India. The amount of […]

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2008 Chevrolet Corvette E85 Indy 500 Pace Car Concept

Of the 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in the United States in 2014, a near-record 836 gallons were exported.

Per a report by the Renewable Fuel Association, those exported gallons went to 51 countries around the world, with the top five importers being Canada, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Philippines and India. The amount of U.S.-made ethanol exported in 2014 comes second to the amount in 2011, when 1.2 billion gallons were sent abroad.

While most export markets continue to flourish, producers saw a continued reduction of exports to the European Union in 2013 and 2014, the result of tariffs against U.S. ethanol.

On the other side, ethanol imports into the U.S. market fell 79 percent in 2014 from 400 million gallons to just 84 million. The figure is the second-lowest on record, behind the 18 million gallons imported in 2010. The majority of the imported ethanol was Brazil, which sent 60.8 million gallons to the U.S. last year, down 83 percent from 2013’s shipment of 348.2 million.

The industry group hopes to add more markets for U.S. ethanol in 2015, having gone on trade missions in Panama, China, Peru, Japan and South Korea in 2014 to help encourage importation, and vowing to “keep at it until all countries understand the value of U.S produced ethanol.”

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France Encouraging Diesel Drivers To Go Electric Via €10K Incentive http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/france-encouraging-diesel-drivers-go-electric-via-10k-incentive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/france-encouraging-diesel-drivers-go-electric-via-10k-incentive/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994258 Starting in April, France will encourage diesel drivers to replace their oil burners with electric power through an incentive up to €10,000 ($11,422 USD). Automotive News Europe the incentive would help “convince buyers to try an electric car,” per a Renault representative. The automaker’s Zoe would leave the showroom with a price of €12,400 ($14,203) […]

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Renault-ZOE-Leclerc-Brittany

Starting in April, France will encourage diesel drivers to replace their oil burners with electric power through an incentive up to €10,000 ($11,422 USD).

Automotive News Europe the incentive would help “convince buyers to try an electric car,” per a Renault representative. The automaker’s Zoe would leave the showroom with a price of €12,400 ($14,203) instead of €22,400 ($25,658), while its partner Nissan would see a drop from €18,090 ($21,650) to €14,390 ($16,483).

France Energy Minister Ségolène Royal says the nation “must eliminate old diesel cars that are more than 13 years old and have no filters,” adding that measures will make diesel “harder and harder” to use overall.

One measure in particular would align diesel taxes with those of gasoline. The alignment would help reduce smog, according to Royal, stating that “60 percent of the French population breathes air that isn’t healthy.”

At present, 80 percent of all French drivers move about with diesel power, though new-diesel sales have declined over the past two years, from 73 percent of all new cars to 64 percent.

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Schmidt: Western Europe EV, PHEV Sales Stalling Through Decade http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/schmidt-western-europe-ev-phev-sales-stalling-decade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/schmidt-western-europe-ev-phev-sales-stalling-decade/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 13:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994226 EV and PHEV manufacturers may have fared well in Western Europe last year, but further gains in the market aren’t likely for some time to come. Forbes reports sales in Western Europe climbed 51.7 percent in 2014 to 58,582 EVs and PHEVs, gaining an overall market share of 0.49 percent according to Automotive Industry Data. […]

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Tesla_Model_S_delivery_to_Høyres_Nikolai_Astrup_in_Norway

EV and PHEV manufacturers may have fared well in Western Europe last year, but further gains in the market aren’t likely for some time to come.

Forbes reports sales in Western Europe climbed 51.7 percent in 2014 to 58,582 EVs and PHEVs, gaining an overall market share of 0.49 percent according to Automotive Industry Data. Editor Peter Schmidt, however, warns that this may be the peak of such sales for the next five years:

Effectively, you have no detectable, genuine underlying consumer demand from private individuals. To make things worse, looking ahead at the next couple of years, I would say this is a scary time for electric car makers, chiefly because as the price of oil continues to hover around levels inconceivable a year ago and with fuel prices falling month by month, those people who had thought about buying an electric car may give up when they look at motoring expenses.

Per AID‘s figures, the Nissan Leaf took gold with 14,354 units sold in 2014, with the Renault Zoe winning silver with 10,885 units, and the Tesla Model S in a close third with 8,698 units. BMW and Volkswagen fill out the rest of the standings, with 8,290 i3s and 8,461 E-Ups and E-Golfs sold. Schmidt says those numbers don’t point to a “detectable genuine underlining consumer demand,” with Norway being the sole exception. There, 18,090 EVs and PHEVs took 12.5 percent of the country’s overall market last year, thanks to tax credits that make such vehicles equally as attractive as gasoline- and diesel-fueled models.

He adds that cheap oil “has tempted a rethink” among consumers as far as seeking out such vehicles are concerned, especially among those in the United States, where fuel is cheaper than in Western Europe already. Schmidt believes the lower prices at the pump would hold back the EV/PHEV market for the remainder of the decade, leading to major financial losses among the manufacturers who went all-in on EVs and PHEVs.

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More Consumers Turning To Technology For Vehicle Purchases http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/consumers-turning-technology-vehicle-purchases/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/consumers-turning-technology-vehicle-purchases/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994202 While visiting a dealership is de rigueur for most, an increasing number of consumers are turning to technology to buy their cars. Detroit Free Press reports that consumers visit 1.6 dealerships on average prior to purchasing a vehicle — down from an average of five 10 years prior — four out of five compare prices […]

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While visiting a dealership is de rigueur for most, an increasing number of consumers are turning to technology to buy their cars.

Detroit Free Press reports that consumers visit 1.6 dealerships on average prior to purchasing a vehicle — down from an average of five 10 years prior — four out of five compare prices and vehicles from an average of 10 dealerships through sites like eBay Motors, Edmunds and TrueCar, and half of millennials purchased their vehicles from their smartphone or tablet.

The challenge for those who conduct their car-dealing business online is to convince more traditional dealers that technology is a tool for increasing sales, not a new competitor out to steal sales. Ebay Motors general manager Bryan Murphy considers his site a sales channel and “not a retailer,” citing scale as the main selling point; dealers can connect with 155 million eBay customers around the world through eBay Motors.

Dealers, as well as automakers and lenders, would also be able to make financial offers tailored to a consumer’s given economic history, zip code, insurance, and other factors that may not be relevant to buying a car, thanks to data mining and other information-gathering tools.

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Thwaite: Save Georgia’s EV Incentives From The Guillotine http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/thwaite-save-georgias-ev-incentives-guillotine/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/thwaite-save-georgias-ev-incentives-guillotine/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 13:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993594 Plug In America vice president Michael Thwaite is making a call-to-arms to ensure Georgia’s EV incentives do not go quietly into the night. Per Thwaite, the main problem is a proposal by Georgia representative Chuck Martin of Alpharetta — known as House Bill 122 — that would “eliminate the state electric vehicle tax credits of […]

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Atlanta Police Nissan Leaf

Plug In America vice president Michael Thwaite is making a call-to-arms to ensure Georgia’s EV incentives do not go quietly into the night.

Per Thwaite, the main problem is a proposal by Georgia representative Chuck Martin of Alpharetta — known as House Bill 122 — that would “eliminate the state electric vehicle tax credits of $5,000,” a bill that Thwaite claims has 60 supporters on-board already.

He says that keeping the credit would also keep $2,242/year in Georgia, due to EVs — including the largest number of Nissan Leafs in a single state — recharging from an outlet as opposed to refueling at the pump; the state boasts one asphalt refinery and no oil-producing wells.

Martin’s last attempt to cap or eliminate state incentives for EVs came in 2014 through House Bill 257, which would cap the number of incentives to just 2,000 EVs/year. The bill was tabled when time ran out to vote upon it, though it could come up during the 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly, which begins February 4.

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General Motors Suspends Russian Production Amid Weak Ruble http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-suspends-russian-production-amid-weak-ruble/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-suspends-russian-production-amid-weak-ruble/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992914 Amid a weakening, unstable ruble, General Motors will suspend production at its St. Petersburg, Russia plant from mid-March through mid-May 2015. Automotive News reports the automaker will also raise prices in response to the currency challenge. Per Russian daily publication Kommersant, GM has already begun to do so, with models like the Opel Astra and […]

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Amid a weakening, unstable ruble, General Motors will suspend production at its St. Petersburg, Russia plant from mid-March through mid-May 2015.

Automotive News reports the automaker will also raise prices in response to the currency challenge. Per Russian daily publication Kommersant, GM has already begun to do so, with models like the Opel Astra and Chevrolet Cruze — both built in St. Petersburg — seeing a 20 percent increase in pricing.

Meanwhile, Ford lowered expectations for its European business in 2015 as a result of the ruble, forecasting a loss wider than the $250 million the automaker thought it would lose this year.

Overall, sales in Russia are projected to fall to 1.89 million this year, down from 2.49 million in 2014. That said, most automakers see the 2015 figure as overly optimistic at best.

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Obama Budget Proposes Tax On Corporate Foreign Earnings For Roads http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/obama-budget-proposes-tax-corporate-foreign-earnings-roads/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/obama-budget-proposes-tax-corporate-foreign-earnings-roads/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 11:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992842 President Barack Obama unveiled his annual budget Monday, which includes a proposition to tax corporate foreign earnings to fund the nation’s roads. Vox reports the proposal would levy a one-time tax on 14 percent of foreign earnings held by U.S. corporations, pulling in $238 billion to help supplement taxes collected at the pump. The collected […]

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Syracuse Road Construction - Utah DOT

President Barack Obama unveiled his annual budget Monday, which includes a proposition to tax corporate foreign earnings to fund the nation’s roads.

Vox reports the proposal would levy a one-time tax on 14 percent of foreign earnings held by U.S. corporations, pulling in $238 billion to help supplement taxes collected at the pump. The collected taxes would then be distributed into road infrastructure projects at a rate of $79.7 billion per year over the next six years, totalling $478 billion.

Meanwhile, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Barbara Boxer of California have both offered a “repatriation holiday” to said corporations, giving the latter a tax rate of 6.75 percent over five years on foreign earnings brought back to the United States. The taxes would then go into those projects.

However, such holidays have been frowned upon by Obama over his two terms, warning that corporations would lobby Congress for more tax holidays; the Joint Committee on Taxation found such holidays would lose money over a decade despite the short-term gain.

Another option, proposed by Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, would tax corporate foreign earnings at a rate of 8.75 percent while ending deferrals. The bill would collect $170 billion to be spent on roads for six years.

Whatever happens, a decision would have to be made within the next few months. The U.S. Highway Trust Fund will go empty once again if nothing is done by May 31 of this year, forcing Congress to make do with the gas taxes collected. Since most people are driving less and using more fuel-efficient vehicles to get around these days, those taxes — which haven’t been raised above 18.4 cents/gallon since 1993 — fall short of the $50 billion per year needed for infrastructure; the current rate is of collection is $34 billion/year.

Two options have been proposed to fix the main issue — increase the gas tax and then pegging it to inflation, or expand drilling on federal lands and collecting the royalties — but neither option is popular among most in the Beltway.

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