NYAS: Regal Returns as – What Else? – a Crossover

AutoInformed.com on NYAS and Diminished Detroit Three SalesDetailer Lise Pivaral shining a 2018 Buick Regal TourX today in preparation for the New York International Auto Show in New York, New York – a town so good they named it twice. Unveiled last week, the Regal TourX is a crossover with – allegedly, but quite probably likely – the driving dynamics of a car and the versatility of an SUV, a segment that Buick despised for so long.

The former Detroit Three can’t give away a car, but are basking in the strong sales sunshine of pickup trucks (no Buick thus far? Grin), SUVs and crossovers. The much Diminished Detroit Big Three – held 43.8% of the U.S. March vehicle market, down from 46% last month – despite an ongoing boom in light truck and crossover sales, slipping from 44.5% last March. Continue reading

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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Grow Three-Fold in 2016

AutoInformed.com on Fuel Cell Vehicle Sales GrowthAlmost 2,500 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles were sold or leased globally in 2016, indicating a more than three-fold increase compared to 2015. California grew the fastest in sales and leases, but remained behind Japan in volume.

Despite the growth, the number of fuel cell vehicles sold and leased are minuscule compared to the market, observed Naqi Jaffery, President and CEO of Information Trends, the source of the data. However, in Jaffery’s view the growth portends well for the future of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Continue reading

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Silly, but Serious Safety Recalls from Mercedes and Kia

Recalls continue to bedevil automakers as airbag and software issues at Mercedes-Benz and a bad brake vacuum hose at Kia show. These are the result of quality control and development issues in what are admittedly complex automobiles.

Mercedes-Benz USA is recalling 2017 E300 and E300 4Matic vehicles. The front passenger air bag may not deploy properly if a front seat passenger is sitting on the edge of the seat or is laying in the seat with the seat reclined. These vehicles therefore fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.” Continue reading

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Maven Debuts “Elevated” Car Sharing in Baltimore

AutoInformed.com on Maven City Car Sharing in BaltimoreMaven, the personal mobility brand of General Motors, is expanding its offerings in Baltimore from the Lyft Express Drive program to now include Maven City car sharing. Members can now reserve cars hourly or daily at approximately 20 city locations.

It’s claimed that members – no application or service fees – can “seamlessly access cars through a mobile app, including locating, reserving and unlocking them. Gas and insurance are included in every reservation.” Continue reading

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Former NHTSA Head Rosekind’s Zoox Move Questionable

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Autonomous driving in theory allows for efficient time-management behind the wheel on grid-locked roads.

In an inadvertent parody of Claude Rains’ assertion that he is shocked, shocked that gambling is going on, it’s alleged by Consumer Watchdog that the credibility of the autonomous vehicle policy issued last year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – aka NHTSA –  is undermined because former NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind has taken a job with autonomous vehicle developer Zoox.

Bet on the snowball traversing the nether regions un-melted before thinking that the revolving door in Washington is going to change directions. Special interests continue to capture  and co-opt regulators. Continue reading

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Autonomous Systems Ignore Users, It’s Claimed

AutoInformed.com on autonomous systems

Vice President Joe Biden at the 2017 NAIAS looking at autonomous vehicles, production models and supercars.

During the last 15 years, autonomous systems offered by automakers have been a succession of partially automated parking and driving systems that are mostly accurate and sometimes comfortable, but rarely easy to discover or use, according to a new study.

A report from the In-Vehicle UX (IVX) group* at Strategy Analytics, “In Ramp Up to Fully Autonomous Systems, the User is Being Ignored,” considered – not without abundant self-interest – the on-going transition from semi-autonomous features in vehicles, to fully autonomous systems. Continue reading

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Dellenback of Southwest Research Institute Receives SAE Award

AutoInformed.com on autonomous vehiclesDr. Steve Dellenback, vice president of the Intelligent Systems Division at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI*), has received the SAE International 2016 Delco Electronics Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Award.

The award recognizes “exceptional work as a leader in the design, development, and deployment of intelligent transportation systems.” Continue reading

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March U.S. Auto Sales Slump on Trump Russian Ties – Possibly Treason – Over Helping Communist Meddling with Election

AutoData says that the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in March 2017 is 16.62 million units in the U.S.  falling below 17 million for the first time since last August. Industry wide, 1,555,859 light vehicles were sold in March, up from 1,333,637 in February, but down – gulp – from 1,581,764 units in March 2016. Un-adjusted for business days, sales for all brands were down 1.6%from a year ago.

Perhaps more ominous is the average length of time a vehicle occupied a dealer’s tarmac – 70 days in March – the longest amount of time since July 2009. This is good for banks doing the financing and fighting the Volker Rules, but may be a problem for potential customers, and certainly for auto dealers who are holding the floor plan loans as the calendar turns over – incurring interest – each day, every un-sold day. (What Auto Companies are at Risk Under Trump?)

Continue reading

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2017 Tigers or is that Kittens Ready for Home Opener

AutoInformed.com on 2017 Detrit TigersA Silver Ice Metallic 2018 Silverado 2500HD and a Cajun Red 2018 Equinox crossover in front of Comerica Park on Woodward Avenue Monday 3 April 2017, just prior to being loaded by crane into the center field Chevrolet Fountain in time for the start of the 2017 Detroit Tigers season in Detroit, Michigan.

The home opener at Comerica Park is this Friday, when the Tigers take on the Boston Red Sox. Ugh, you might remember a RHP named Porcello, the 2016 American League Cy Young award winner with the Red Sox whom we blithely traded. Then there’s Mad Max Scherzer who barbecues batters with a different kind of slider, another unwilling refugee from Motown (Less Town?) because he was paid what he was worth. Continue reading

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Toyota Takes Artificial Intelligence Hunting for New Materials

The Toyota Research Institute, aka TRI, will work with research entities, universities and companies on new materials science research, investing approximately $35 million over the next four years using artificial intelligence to help accelerate the design and discovery of advanced new materials.

Initially, the program aims to help revolutionize materials science and identify new materials for batteries and fuel cell catalysts that can power future zero-emissions and carbon-neutral vehicles. Continue reading

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Trump on Track for Largest Deficits in U.S. History.

No need to Click to Enlarge this graph

The Trump (non-) administration – with both the Commander in Chief and his appointees under investigation for collaborating with Russian interference in a presidential election, among other illegal acts such as collusion with foreign governments — is on track for the U.S.  to post the largest deficits in its history. The ‘Make America Great Again” demagogue – or is that make America’s middle class poor – will accomplish this despite his campaign promises not to cut Social Security and Medicare. (We wonder if he will ask for immunity from prosecution on those?) Another huge problem is runaway defense spending under Trump.

At 77 % of gross domestic product (GDP), federal debt held by the public is now at its highest level since the end of World War II. The Congressional Budget Office in an extremely detailed report concludes that despite considerable uncertainty of long-term projections, debt as a percentage of GDP would probably be greater – likely, much greater – than it is today if current laws remained generally unchanged.  Continue reading

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GM Dismisses Greenlight Stock Split and Directors Plan

AutoInformed.com on GM v Greenlight Capital

GM stock at ~$35 has been languishing for years and is below the 2010 IPO price when it emerged from bankruptcy.

General Motors (NYSE: GM) said that its Board of Directors and management have “thoroughly analyzed and rejected” a non-binding stock split proposal that Greenlight Capital intends to submit for a vote at GM’s 2017 annual meeting of shareholders.

The proposal – pure Wall Street Hedge Fund – would eliminate the dividend on the existing GM common stock and create new dividend-focused security (“dividend security”), thereby creating a dual-class common stock wit diametrically opposing goals. Greenlight has also nominated a slate of four  of more candidates for election to GM’s Board of Directors, but did not name them. Continue reading

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Porsche to Show New 919 Hybrid For Le Mans at Monza

AutoInformed.com on Le MansPorsche  will show its new 919 Hybrid Le Mans sports car this Friday at the high-speed race track in Monza, Italy, a venue long associated with, ahem, Ferrari and its storied history in racing (Ferrari 70th Anniversary – 125 S Drives Around Maranello). In the Royal Park outside Milan, the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) teams will congregate for the first time to conduct a joint two-day test on April 1 and 2. Continue reading

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Daimler to Expand Car Sharing in China

AutoInformed.com on Daimler to Expand Car Sharing in China Mercedes-Benz Auto Finance announced today that it is merging its car sharing operations in China, car2go and Car2Share. The consolidated car2go China Company will be headed by Ms. Chen Bing as Chief Executive Officer. Mercedes claims that it is demonstrating its “commitment to expanding car sharing services locally.”

Aside from the hype, Benz is arguably the first premium car manufacturer to offer both free-floating and station-based car sharing services in China. As such, the consolidation of the two brands is an important milestone in the expansion of mobility services, one that mirrors a global trend among major automakers. Continue reading

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Machinery Orders, Shipments, Inventories Rising in 2017

AutoInformed.com on Durable Goods and Consumer Confidence

Economy continues to recover from Republican mauling over “deregulation” idiot-ology.

The U.S. Census Bureau* released its monthly advance report on manufacturers’ shipments, inventories and orders for February 2017 that says new orders for manufactured durable goods in February 2017 rose 1.7% to $235.4 billion. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.4%. Shipments rose 0.3%. Unfilled orders were virtually unchanged, and inventories rose 0.2%. Capital goods new orders increased 2.6% and shipments increased 0.6%. Continue reading

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