The Chrysler Group has announced it is issuing two separate recalls that will affect nearly 37,000 vehicles in the U.S.
The first recall affects 18,700 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs from the 2012 and 2013 model years. The vehicles are being recalled to correct an issue with the software in an optional emergency braking system.
The system's factory settings restrict the flow of brake fluid too much, causing customers to complain about an odd feeling in the brake pedal, according to Chrysler.
“Brake function was neither lost nor out of compliance with regulation, but pedal feel was not consistent with customer expectations,” the company said in a statement. Another 6,555 SUVs outside the U.S. have also been recalled.
Also on Chrysler Group’s recall list are 18,100 Fiat 500L cars in the U.S. from the 2014 model year.
These cars use an automated dual-clutch transmission, and there have been reports that the gearboxes were slow to shift out of park or into the...
WASHINGTON -- A House committee has launched an investigation into how General Motors Corp. and federal regulators handled the recall of vehicles with a malfunctioning ignition switch that led to at least 13 traffic deaths.
As part of the probe, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing in the coming weeks to determine if there was a delay in GM's recall of 1.6 million vehicles with the faulty part, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the panel's chairman, said Monday night.
The committee also will look into the response of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was slow to respond to the problem in the face of consumer complaints.
"Did the company or regulators miss something that could have flagged these problems sooner?" Upton said.
"If the answer is yes, we must learn how and why this...
Working to shore up its upscale Acura brand, Honda Motor Co. plans to split its sales and marketing efforts into separate divisions in the U.S.
Honda is looking to punch some energy into Acura, which has lagged its bigger Honda sibling in sales growth and has struggled to carve out a strong image. Acura sold 165,000 vehicles in the U.S. last year, down considerably from the peak of 209,610 it sold in 2005.
Industry veteran Michael Accavitti will become senior vice president and general manager of the Acura Division, the Japanese automaker said Monday. He previously headed national marketing of both the Honda and Acura brands. Jeff Conrad will become senior vice president and general manager of the Honda Division.
While Acura packs its vehicles with technology equal to any of the luxury makes, it has struggled to convince consumers that it is on the same playing field with brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus, said Stephanie Brinley, an analyst at IHS Automotive.
Toyota is asking for the return of more than 7,000 of its new Highlander crossover SUVs in order to fix an issue with its seat belts.
The automaker is voluntarily recalling 7,067 Highlander crossovers from the 2014 model year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the middle seat belt in the third row may not be properly secured to the vehicle’s floor.
If the Highlander were to crash, a seat belt that’s not properly anchored to the floor could increase the risk of injury to the passengers, the NHTSA said.
PHOTOS: 2014 Toyota Highlander
No accidents or injuries have been reported as a result of the issue, according to Cindy Knight, a spokeswoman for Toyota.
The recall is expected to begin in March. Toyota said it will notify affected owners, who can have their dealers inspect their Highlander, and properly secure the belts to the floor if necessary, at no cost to owners.
The third-generation Highlander went on sale earlier this year. Highway 1 recently spent...
General Motors Co.'s lumbering full-size SUVs are dinosaurs from a bygone era, but don't expect them to go extinct just yet.
Despite flagging sales, each delivery brings in piles of cash for GM.
"These vehicles are minting money for them," said Dave Sullivan, an analyst at AutoPacific Inc. "It's one of the biggest profit margins in the industry."
GM makes at least $10,000 per full-sized sport utility vehicle sold, he estimates. (Not to mention the windfall for the nearest gas station.)
Models such as the all-new 2015 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban and the GMC Yukon are holdouts from a time when gas was cheap, big was cool and the current king of family haulers — the crossover — had not yet been born.
But that was then. In 2002, Chevrolet sold 21/2 times the number of Tahoes as it did in 2013. All large SUVs accounted for just 1.7% of U.S. auto sales last year, down from 5.4% in 2001.
The latest crossovers, built on car platforms, offer nearly all the advantages of traditional...
Hyundai will launch an all-new version of its game-changing Sonata sedan at the New York Auto Show, the automaker has announced.
The South Korean company said it will debut a global version of the midsize family sedan on home soil later this month, with the U.S. iteration to break cover in April.
The current generation of Sonata was introduced at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show and went on sale in 2010. The car was an immediate critical and sales success and helped Hyundai shake its reputation as a builder of low-grade economy cars.
Rival automakers also took note of its dramatic styling, particularly in a segment known to be conservative. This pushed more established peers such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry to be more expressive in their later designs.
Yet with millions of annual sales on the line for midsize cars every year, other brands soon caught up as the current generation Sonata grew long in the tooth. Sales of the aging model were down nearly 12% in 2013, to just under...
I had the great fortune to ride the 2014 Ducati Hypermotard and the 2014 Aprilia Dorsoduro, back to back, a couple of weeks ago.
Neither impressed me more than the other -- because they both blew my socks off.
I had previously ridden and really liked the 2013 Hypermotard SP, which I found spunky, spirited and almost too hot to handle.
The new Hypermotard, minus the SP, felt just as spirited, but easier to handle. The seat is improved, and makes a softer saddle, and sits a little lower. The lines are leaner and cleaner. At 386 pounds dry, it's light and lithe as a cat.
The power was just as impressive -- the 821cc Testastretta engine puts out 110 horsepower and 65 foot-pounds of torque, in both the Hypermotard and the Hypermotard SP -- but felt more manageable.
Everywhere I went in the power band, up and down the six-speed transmission, going slow and going fast, there was way more motor than I needed -- but which I could use with a sense of safety and confidence, thanks to Ducati's...
Lexus has announced that its family of crossovers and SUVs will grow by one more with the debut of the all-new NX now slated for April.
Toyota’s luxury division will unveil this compact crossover at the Beijing Auto Show. The production NX will be loosely based on Toyota’s RAV4, and its style will lightly resemble the much more wild LF-NX concept that Lexus has been teasing at auto shows for the last six months.
“Customers who liked the LF-NX will be happy to know the production version, NX, derived from the concept will be revealed at the 2014 Beijing International Auto Show next month,” the automaker said in a statement.
When the production NX does debut, it will fill a void in Lexus’ lineup, coming in cheaper and smaller than the brand’s immensely popular RX crossover. This is the first foray into the luxury compact crossover segment for Lexus and its eagerness to jump in is understandable.
California loves Tesla Motors.
The Palo Alto electric car maker's Model S sedan is the state's new eco-luxury status symbol. Californians bought more than a third of Teslas sold globally last year. Residents of the state pack the order list for Tesla's next offering, a sport utility vehicle.
California pollution-control policies enable Tesla to rake in tens of millions of dollars each year from selling environmental credits to other automakers — a key source of Tesla's revenue.
But is this a case of unrequited love? When it comes to building a $4-billion to $5-billion battery factory that will employ 6,500 workers, Tesla is shunning the Golden State.
The automaker is looking at 500- to 1,000-acre sites in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. Although the location hasn't been determined, Tesla has crossed California off the list. The company declined to comment on the reasons.
State officials aren't saying much either. A spokesman in Gov. Jerry Brown's administration said the...
Only months after announcing the impending arrival of the new Street 500 and Street 750, the company has now unveiled two new 2014 models, the Low Rider and Super Low.
The Low Rider is a return to old times. The company put a similar model on the market in 1977. The 2014 version, which the company promises contains "old school class and exciting new performance," is propelled by the Harley Twin Cam 103 engine and features dual front disc brakes, an attractive 2-into-1 exhaust, and traditional Harley good looks.
The Super Low 1200T is, as the T suggests, more of a touring machine. It runs the Evolution V-Twin engine -- but weighs an advertised 118 pounds less than the company's lightest Big Twin touring bike -- and comes standard with a detachable windshield and locking saddlebags.The machines are going to get their official public unveiling at this weekend's Daytona...
Jaguar put months of rumors and speculation to rest Tuesday, confirming at the Geneva Motor Show that it is indeed developing an all-new compact sedan called the XE.
The rear-wheel-drive sports sedan will target the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50. Jaguar hopes the new XE will follow in its competitor’s footsteps and be a volume-selling model for a brand keen on dramatically increasing its global sales.
"The all-new Jaguar XE compact sport sedan will bring Jaguar into the largest segment of the luxury car market with a dynamic new entry that will challenge the status quo of luxury car brands," Jeff Curry, vice president of Jaguar North America, said in a statement announcing the new model.
PHOTOS: Highlights of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show
The all-new XE will debut in production form this year, and will arrive in the U.S. in 2016. When it does, Jaguar is hoping its position in one of the most popular luxury segments...
Though some may consider Infiniti’s 560-horsepower Q50 Eau Rouge concept the spawn of Satan, it turns out that the all-wheel-drive sedan is actually closer to the spawn of Godzilla.
That’s the nickname of Nissan’s current GT-R supercar. When the Japanese automaker went looking for a powertrain to breathe some excitement into its luxury brand’s Q50, the GT-R’s twin-turbocharged V-6 was a perfect fit.
“Building on the extremely positive feedback on the Q50 Eau Rouge at its recent Detroit Auto Show launch, we decided to further whet the appetite of performance sports sedan fans by engineering this powerful heart into our blood-red beast,” Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti, said in a statement announcing the Eau Rouge at the Geneva Motor Show on Tuesday.
PHOTOS: Infiniti's Q50 Eau Rouge concept
Infiniti named the Eau Rouge concept after a highly technical section of track on the Belgian F1 Grand Prix course. When the car debuted in Detroit,...
Like a life-size version of the game "Operation," engineers and construction workers have plucked out three of the eight rare Chevrolet Corvettes that were swallowed by a sinkhole below the National Corvette Museum in February.
The three cars were recovered after a painstaking process on Monday and Tuesday from a hole estimated to be 25 to 30 feet deep and 40 feet wide. The sinkhole opened up below the Bowling Green, Ky., museum early Feb. 12. No one was injured in the incident. No one except the cars -- which the museum subsequently dubbed "The Great Eight."
The condition of the three Corvettes varies from just a little dirty to heavily damaged, according to museum spokeswoman Laura Johnson. The first car the team pulled out, a 2009 ZR1 hand-built by General Motors engineers for the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, emerged with only a thick coating of dust and dirt. Once out of the sinkhole, the car, known as the Blue Devil, turned on after several tries.
General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra promised an "unvarnished" review of whether the automaker delayed a recall of a part that malfuctioned, leading to 13 traffic deaths.
Barr also moved Tuesday to calm worker concern about whether a federal safety investigation into the fatal crashes and a giant recall have hurt the automaker’s image.
In an email to GM employees, Barra said she is leading a team of senior executivesthat is monitoring the recall and the probe, making sure to provide federal regulators with “comprehensive information on this issue.”
GM has “launched an internal review to give us an unvarnished report on what happened. We will hold ourselves accountable and improve our processes so our customers do not experience this again,” wrote Barra, who became chief executive earlier this year.
Last month GM recalled more than 1.6 million vehicles because faulty ignition switches had caused at least 13 fatal crashes.
The recall covers the 2005-07...
At least it’s not called the Bindo.
Maserati used Tuesday’s Geneva Motor Show to debut a new concept sports car called the Alfieri. The sleek, two-door coupe is named after one of the Maserati brothers who founded the company a century ago. Bindo was his older brother.
Naming issues aside, the Alfieri is a compelling concept, for two reasons.
First, it’s a look at a new model that could very well reach production in the near future.
"I sincerely can’t say that we’ll see this car in production in two years' time, but I’m certain we’ll see something very similar," said Lorenzo Ramaciotti, global head of design for Fiat, Maserati’s parent company.
Maserati’s current lineup includes the Quattroporte full-size sedan, the new Ghibli midsize sedan that the brand made noise about with a dramatic Super Bowl ad, and the GranTurismo coupe and convertible.
This Jeep’s been studying abroad.
The hardy American brand -- owned by Italian automaker Fiat -- used Tuesday’s 2014 Geneva Motor Show to unveil the all-new 2015 Renegade compact crossover SUV.
The small, boxy crossover will slot below Jeep’s popular, budget-oriented Patriot in terms of size. But expect it to target a more premium buyer who might also look at quirky models like the Kia Soul or Nissan Juke.
"The all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade expands the brand’s portfolio and targets the rapidly expanding small SUV segment around the globe," Mike Manley, Jeep’s chief executive, said in a statement announcing the vehicle.
The tidy Renegade is loosely based on the platform Fiat uses in its new four-door 500L, though it’s been modified to fit the Renegade’s optional all-wheel-drive systems and its independent rear suspension.
Although the Renegade will come standard with front-wheel-drive, one AWD system will be...
Seeking to recapture the design chutzpah of the original TT coupe, Audi unveiled the all-new third-generation model Monday night ahead of its Geneva Motor Show debut.
This compact, two-door sports car was first introduced in 1998, and its simple geometric curves won Audi and its designers plenty of accolades. Yet the second-generation released in 2007 fell victim to a more watered-down look that matched its watered-down performance.
Sales were correspondingly weak: Audi sold just 2,053 TT models in the United States in 2013, down from 2,226 the previous year. For 2015, Audi hopes to course-correct both shortcomings and reinvigorate its image.
The new car -- officially unveiled Tuesday in Geneva -- retains the hatchback body style and sloping roofline of its predecessors. But the front and rear clips have been sharpened with more aggressive angles and shapes to pull Audi’s look firmly into the 21st century.
The new TT is essentially the same...
The winter chill on auto sales is melting into a buyers market.
Dealer inventories have ballooned with the frigid weather across much of the nation in January and February. So automakers are turning to a tried-and-true method to move sheet metal — discounts.
"If you are thinking about buying a car, now is the time to do it," said Scott Painter, chief executive of auto shopping information company TrueCar.com.
After falling 3% in January, auto sales were unchanged at about 1.2 million vehicles in February, unchanged from the same month a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp.
The car companies blamed the weather and said sales will improve this month.
"Car buying is an outdoor shopping experience. It is not like going to a Macy's," said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with auto information company Edmunds.com. "We have seen sales spikes in between the storms and whenever the weather warms up for a few days."
But as winter warms into spring, here's what the automakers are facing.
Automakers sold 1.2 million vehicles last month, about the same as February 2013. Frigid weather in much of the nation put a damper on the business. With most of the car companies having now reported their results Monday, here are the winners and losers.
Subaru is hot: The Japanese automaker may be the fastest growing major car brand in the United States. February sales rose 24% to 34,909 vehicles when overall auto sales were flat. Forester sales nearly doubled and now account for about a third of Subaru’s business. The brand is gaining share from the other car companies. About 60% of Subaru buyers are new to the nameplate.Ford hybrids stall: The new C-Max hybrid was one of February’s biggest losers. Sales fell 42% to just 1,853 cars and are now down 45% of the year. Other big losers at Ford were the Taurus and Focus passenger cars, with sales plunging 28.9% and 23.5% respectively.
Lincoln gains traction: Sales of the MKZ from Ford’s struggling Lincoln brand rose...
The big chill created a big stall in auto sales last month.
Based on initial reports by General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group and the other car companies, auto sales looked like they were flat to just slightly higher in February compared to the same month a year earlier.
Automakers estimated they sold about 1.2 million vehicles in the U.S. last month, about a 1% gain.
PHOTOS: Cars that last 200,000 miles Small sport-utility vehicles and four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles sold best in February, in part because they were they types of autos best matched to the severe winter conditions in much of the nation, automakers said. GM said its U.S. sales fell 1% to 222,104 vehicles last month compared with February a year earlier. “Weather continued to impact the industry in February, but GM sales started to thaw during the Winter Olympic Games as our brand and marketing messages took hold,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. sales chief. “Despite a slower...
Maybe the Muppets weren't such a good idea.
Toyota, for those who missed the Super Bowl ad, has enlisted the help of Jim Henson's finest to sell its all-new Highlander SUV.
This would be a hoot except for one awkward fact: This thing holds Muppets a lot better than actual people.
The new Highlander has less head- and legroom in the third row than the previous generation model. In fact, it has less space back there than nearly all of its SUV and crossover rivals. That's disappointing, particularly because the outside of the Highlander is actually about 3 inches longer.
So you may have an easier time fitting Animal, Rowlf and Pepe the King Prawn in the way-back seat than your friends and family.
The rest of the changes to the 2014 Highlander are good ones. Toyota gave it a handsome new body, a more refined cabin and a healthier dose of safety and technology. Engine choices still include a four-cylinder, a V-6 and a hybrid.
The Highlander, starting at $30,075, is among the more popular in...
A slightly less mini Mini will be making its world debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, the automaker announced this week.
Mini will use its Tuesday news conference to debut the Clubman Concept. This thoroughly refreshed hatchback -- now sporting four full doors -- is very close to what the production model will look like when it debuts this year.
"The Mini Clubman Concept shows how the Mini Clubman could be taken a step further: more interior space, a greater sense of high-end quality and yet still clever, bold and distinctive,” Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group design, said in a statement announcing the concept.
Mini, which is owned by BMW, is using BMW’s new front-wheel-drive platform to underpin its latest generation of cars. The first such model was the 2014 Mini Cooper, which debuted in production form ahead of the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show last November.
The Clubman Concept shows what the next model in Mini’s lineup will...
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into why General Motors Co. did not promptly recall more than 1.6 million vehicles after it learned that faulty ignition switches were causing fatal crashes.
GM on Thursday issued its second apology for not moving faster to fix the problem, which is linked to 13 deaths in the Chevrolet Cobalt and other small cars.
Safety experts praised the start of the investigation, which could result in up to a fine of up to $35 million, but faulted NHTSA for not taking action earlier, when it found out about the problem.
"This is a total failure of the recall system," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. "Both GM and NHTSA bear responsibility."
Sean Kane, who heads Safety Research
What's expected to be the wettest storm in at least two years is descending on California. And you get to drive in the worst of it.
"Rain will fall everywhere in the state Friday," says AccuWeather.com Western weather analyst Ken Clark, "with the heavy rain mostly in the southern third of the state."
That could make SoCal smashup central -- especially as cooler weather combined with the wet roads increases crash risk "significantly," Steve Mazor of the Auto Club of Southern California, told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.
Here's an "am I doing everything I can to avoid a wreck" checklist. Work your way down. It could help keep you, and all those drivers hurtling alongside you, safe:
(Mary Frampton / Los Angeles Times)
Pan and scan
Keep your eyes scanning the roadway to avoid road debris and look out for disabled vehicles in reduced-visibility conditions.
Driving at reduced speeds helps you prepare for sudden stops due to debris and other hazards. Reduce your speed --...
Volvo will use next week’s Geneva Motor Show to debut the last in a trio of stunning concept cars that point to the brand’s design direction in the very near future.
The Swedish-by-heritage, Chinese-by-ownership automaker announced Thursday that it will unveil the two-door Concept Estate station wagon on March 4. It follows in the footsteps of the Concept Coupe that debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 2013, and the Concept XC Coupe that Volvo displayed at January’s Detroit Auto Show.
The trio share a similar sleek aesthetic that we’ll see in production form when Volvo debuts its all-new XC-90 SUV later this year. That long-awaited model replaces a version that’s been on the market for more than a decade -- an eternity in the auto world. Thursday’s Estate announcement also hints at what a future XC-70 station wagon could look like.
PHOTOS: Volvo's Concept Estate
Volvo hasn’t released an all-new model since the S60 sedan came out in...
The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration has launched a probe into why General Motors Co. did not promptly recall more than 1.6 million vehicles after it learned that faulty ignition switches were causing fatal crashes.
The investigation is likely to result in hefty fines for the automaker.
GM recalled the vehicles in two phases this month even though documents filed with the federal safety agency demonstrate that the automaker first learned of the problem in 2004.
Investigators will “determine whether GM properly followed the legal processes and requirements for reporting recalls,” the agency said.
The GM recall covers the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and 2007 Saturn Sky vehicles.
GM issued a second apology Thursday and said it will cooperate with the NHTSA.
“We deeply regret the events that led to the recall and this investigation,” the automaker said in a...
The Triumph Thunderbird LT is a motorcycle mash-up.
On the one hand, it’s a big glossy touring machine, outfitted with the long-distance essentials: the ample windshield, the saddlebags, the wide touring seat, broad touring footrests, "highway pegs" and passenger seat backrest. It also features the motorcycle industry’s first whitewall radial tires.
But on the other hand, it’s classic British iron from the classic British lion – from the old-school styling on the wide fenders and gas tank to the minimalist gauge to the overgrown Triumph parallel twin engine.
On the highway, the Triumph Thunderbird is almost as stable and solid as a Ford Thunderbird. The big 1700cc engine runs smoothly and pulls so hard that I was cruising at 85mph in fifthgear for 10 minutes before I realized I could drop down into sixth. It holds a solid line in the turns and is surprisingly nimble, at speed, for a machine that weighs almost 750 pounds.
Tesla Motors Inc. wants to raise almost $2 billion to help fund a giant battery factory in the Southwestern U.S. to supply its electric vehicles.
The Palo Alto automaker said Wednesday that it plans to build a "gigafactory" that would slash the cost of the battery packs for its cars, allowing Tesla to introduce a less expensive vehicle.
"Tesla is riding on its success to tell a bigger story than just being a car company," said Thilo Koslowski, an analyst at Gartner Inc. "The batteries will attract a whole new group of investors."
The automaker said it plans to float a debt offering that could raise up to $1.84 billion. Tesla will use the money to help finance the factory and development of a more affordable electric car that it hopes to release in about three years. Tesla hopes to sell the car for about half the price of its Model S sedan, which starts at about $70,000 and can cost more than $100,000 with options.
Tesla shares have soared this year, rising almost 82% from a low on Jan....
ISeeCars.com culled mileage data for about 30 million used cars for sale in 2013 and looked to see which models were the most likely to have more than 200,000 miles of use.
The Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup was the most durable by that measure -- 4.2% of the trucks for sale last year had more than 200,000 miles.
It was followed by a similar vehicle, the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, at 3.6%; the Chevy Suburban, also 3.6%; Toyota’s 4Runner, 3.5%; and the Ford Expedition, 3%.
“Our thinking is that these trucks and SUVs are used for work and are driven a lot more than other vehicles,” said Phong Ly, chief executive of iSeeCars.
“We also think that manufacturers build trucks to last a long time and withstand harsher conditions because they know how they are used,” Ly said. “...
In a rare public apology, General Motors acknowledged Tuesday that it reacted too slowly to a safety issue linked to 13 deaths.
The delayed response could cost GM tens of millions of dollars in civil penalties if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determines the automaker neglected to inform regulators. NHTSA is also facing criticism for not demanding that GM act more quickly to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles.
The recall is linked to the cars' ignition switches, which GM says can be accidentally turned from the "run" position to the "accessory" position while the car is being driven. When this happens, the engine shuts off and safety systems — including power steering, anti-lock brakes and air bags — are disabled.
This has led to at least 31 crashes and at least 13 front-seat fatalities in the U.S., GM said.
"We are deeply sorry and we are working to address this issue as quickly as we can," GM North America President Alan Batey said in a statement....
In a rare public apology, General Motors acknowledged Tuesday that it may have reacted too slowly to a safety issue linked to 13 deaths.
The delayed response could potentially cost GM tens of millions of dollars in civil penalties if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determines the automaker neglected to inform regulators.
The NHTSA is also facing criticism for not demanding that GM act more quickly to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles.
The recall is linked to the cars’ ignition switches, which GM says can be accidentally turned from the “run” position to the “accessory” position while the car is being driven. When this happens, the engine shuts off and safety systems — including power steering, anti-lock brakes, and airbags — are disabled.
This has led to at least 31 crashes and at least 13 front-seat fatalities in the U.S., GM said.
“We are deeply sorry and we are working to address this issue as quickly as we can,&...
While Telsa’s cars run on electricity, its stock price seems to defy gravity. Shares of Tesla rose 17%, or $37.65, to a record $255.30 in midday trading after a Morgan Stanley analyst said the stock could hit $320.
Tesla, which sold fewer than 23,000 cars last year, now has a stock market valuation of $30 billion. That is more than half the $57.4 billion of General Motors, which sold 10.7 million vehicles last year.
“Tesla’s quest to disrupt a trillion-dollar car industry offers an adjacent opportunity to disrupt a trillion-dollar electric utility industry,” Morgan Stanley autos analyst Adam Jonas wrote in an investor report Tuesday. “If it can be a leader in commercializing battery packs, investors may never look at Tesla the same way again.”
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk is expected to provide more information soon about plans for a so-called gigafactory -- a battery research and production venture that “will allow us to achieve a major...
Audi has announced it will debut the next-generation TT at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, but with a little imagination, you can see what it looks like now.
Though the German automaker recently released teaser sketches of the actual car ahead of its March 4 unveiling, Audi previously displayed much of the car’s design at January’s Detroit Auto Show.
It was there that the all-road shooting brake concept was displayed. The two-door hatchback thingie has the same front and rear end as the production TT that will debut. Just imagine the TT’s low-slung coupe profile wedged in between.
PHOTOS: Highlights of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show
This will be the third-generation of Audi’s compact sports coupe, a model that first debuted in 1998 and was redesigned for 2007. Audi is mum on what will power the new model, though it’s likely it will have a similar engine lineup as the current model.
That version starts at around $40,000 and has a 2.0-liter, 211-horsepower,...
Consumer Reports named the Tesla Motors Model S electric car the best vehicle on the road Tuesday.
The magazine called the luxury sports sedan its top pick of all 2014 model year autos. This was the first time since 2010 that Consumer Reports named a top overall pick. The last was the Lexus LS 460L.
Five of the magazine’s 10 top picks this year were Japanese nameplates, including Honda’s Accord and Odyssey, Subaru’s Impreza and Forester, and Toyota’s Prius hybrid.
German car companies placed two vehicles on the “Top Picks” list, including the BMW 328i and the Audi A6.
American manufacturers were represented by Tesla and Chrysler, with its Ram 1500 pickup truck. This was the first time that a Chrysler vehicle made the list since 1998, when the Jeep Grand Cherokee achieved top pick honors.
South Korean automaker Hyundai rounded out the list with its Santa Fe sport-utility vehicle.
Consumer Reports names a...
The first Honda Fit rolled off the assembly line Friday at a new $800-million factory near Celaya, Mexico, a symbol of the growing might of the country's auto industry.
Honda's U.S. factories spit out hundreds of thousands of Accords and Civics each year. But when the automaker redesigned the Fit for North America, it turned to Mexico for an increasingly skilled workforce and favorable export rules.
Mexico already accounts for about 18% of North American auto production, but that's expected to jump to 25% by 2020 as automakers pour billion of dollars into factories, said Joe Langley, an analyst at IHS Automotive. The nation has joined Germany, Japan and the U.S as one of the heavyweights of auto production, he said.
U.S. auto factories have also kicked into a higher gear since the recession as auto sales have rebounded. But Mexico's plants are adding jobs and production even more quickly.
Mexico's auto industry employment has soared 46% to about 580,000 jobs since 2009, according to...
Nissan is voluntarily recalling more than 13,000 of its midsize Frontier truck for a potential fire risk, according to a federal safety agency.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 13,535 trucks from the 2012 through 2014 model years are affected by the recall. The trucks could have a circuit breaker improperly installed, causing a bolt to wear through wiring and cause an electrical short.
This short could lead to a fire, NHTSA said. The issue came to light after the driver of a truck in Mexico noticed smoke in the cabin, which was traced back to the circuit breaker in question.
“Nissan is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this issue,” the company said in a statement.
The automaker will begin notifying owners of affected trucks in March and will inspect and potentially replace the circuit breaker and wiring harness at no charge to owners.
ALSO: Museum recovers three of eight Corvettes swallowed by sinkhole Geneva Motor Show: Jeep debuts...
They are the bad boys of Subaru's lineup.
Offsetting the brand's otherwise crunchy mind-set, the WRX and WRX STI pocket rockets have worked hard to bring some tire-smoking street cred to a brand that otherwise markets its vehicles with love and puppies.
Based on the humble Impreza compact sedan, both the everyman WRX and the rally-ready STI are new for 2015. The basics stay the same: turbocharging and all-wheel-drive. But both models get an overhauled chassis, a refined cabin and fresh styling.
Subaru also dumped the hatchback version, offering only a sedan. The move saved development costs, Subaru says, and two-thirds of those buying the 2013 model chose the sedan.
For 2015, the WRX model also hopes to rope in new buyers by offering an optional fuel-friendly continuously variable transmission for those unwilling to slog through traffic with a manual.
That's not to say these models aren't already popular. Sales for the duo grew 32% in 2013 to...
Audi’s A3 family just keeps growing.
Starting with the all-new A3 sedan that’s due on sale soon, Audi’s new entry-level lineup will also include an A3 convertible, an A3 diesel model, an e-tron plug-in hybrid hatchback and an S3 performance sedan. And now we meet the S3 Cabriolet.
Debuting at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show in early March, the S3 offers the mechanical bits of the S3 sedan without the roof. This means a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine sits under the aluminum hood, pumping out 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
Audi’s six-speed, dual-clutch S Tronic transmission pushes this power to all four wheels. The car is good for zero-62 mph runs in 5.4 seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
The soft top comes in one of three colors and folds and unfolds in about 18 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph, Audi said.
A decent curb weight (for an all-wheel-drive convertible) of 3,571 pounds...
Don’t get attached to the new plug-in hybrid Golf that Volkswagen is bringing to the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. But let yourself get a little excited about what’s under its skin.
Germany’s everyman brand will use its March 4 press conference to debut the Golf GTE. It’s the latest version of the new generation of Golf hatchback that’s been on sale in Europe for almost a year and is headed to our shores later in 2014.
While VW says it doesn’t currently plan to bring the GTE to the U.S. market, the hybrid powertrain that moves it will definitely land here. The running gear is essentially the same as that in the 2015 Audi A3 e-tron hatchback we recently drove.
PHOTOS: Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid
It could also underpin other upcoming Volkswagen and Audi products built on the same modular platform -- including future versions of the Jetta or Passat. A plug-in Passat would make plenty of sense for VW, given that competitors like the Honda Accord and...
Porsche has issued a voluntary recall of its new 911 GT3 sports car and has recommended that owners of the 475-horsepower machine stop driving them immediately due to a possible fire risk.
The automaker announced Thursday that it would be inspecting all 785 of the vehicles from the 2014 model year that have been delivered to customers worldwide. This decision was made “after engine damage occurred in two vehicles in Europe and the vehicles then caught fire,” Porsche said in a statement.
No accidents or injuries have been reported as a result of the fires.
“Internal studies to determine the cause of the engine damage have not been completed yet,” the company said. “Porsche will report on any new findings immediately.”
The GT3 is a race-inspired variant of the 911 lineup and is the fastest and most powerful nonturbo 911 model Porsche makes. It’s powered by a 3.8-liter flat six-cylinder engine that makes 475 horsepower...
Here’s what you need to know from Elon Musk’s call with Wall Street analysts who follow his Tesla Motors electric car company.
1: Tesla is selling a lot of cars for a lot of money.
Musk told investors Tesla would sell about 35,000 cars this year, up from a little more than 22,000 last year. By the end of this year, he expects to be selling cars at a 1,000-a-week pace. An assembly line under construction at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif., will help the automaker reach that goal.
Buyers are loading up Tesla Model S sports sedans with a ton of options and are going for the biggest battery choice to make sure they have the longest range on a single charge. Elaine Kwei, an analyst at the Jefferies investment house, crunched the numbers and estimates buyers were paying an average $108,000 for the Model S. It has a starting price of about $70,000.
2: Look to international markets for the biggest sales growth.
International sales were just a small slice of Tesla’s...
It’s back to the future for venerated sports car builder Ferrari. The Italian automaker has announced a heavily refreshed base model -- now known as the California T -- will bring turbocharging back to its street cars for the first time since 1992.
The updated hardtop convertible will officially break cover at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show in early March. When it does, it will use turbocharging for the same reason the technology is the darling of the rest of the automotive universe: power goes up while fuel use goes down.
The last time a street-legal Ferrari used such technology was the F40 supercar (ancestor of the F50, Enzo, and LaFerrari), which was last sold in 1992. More than two decades later, even Ferrari isn’t immune to increasingly strict fuel economy and emissions regulations around the globe.
PHOTOS: Ferrari's new California T
Since the California is Ferrari’s biggest seller (being the cheapest prancing horse helps), any increase in efficiency to the model has a...
Shares of Tesla Motors Inc. soared Wednesday after the electric car company slashed its losses and issued an upbeat outlook for this year.
Tesla shares jumped to a record $216.95, a 12% gain, after the automaker released its fourth-quarter and annual financial results after the stock market closed.
Investors focused on Tesla's calculation that it earned $46 million, or 33 cents a share, in the latest quarter, after making special adjustments to account for the deferred profit from automotive leases and other factors. That exceeded the Wall Street analyst consensus of 21 cents a share.
Chief Executive Elon Musk said that car production at Tesla's factory in Fremont, Calif., would increase from the current pace of 600 vehicles a week to 1,000 a week near the end of 2014.
He said demand for its electric cars could reach a rate of 50,000 sales annually by then, more than double the 22,450 Model S cars it sold last year. The cars sell for $70,000 to $100,000, depending on options. Tesla is...
Tesla Motors Inc. narrowed its losses in both the fourth quarter and the year as the electric car maker ramped up sales both in the U.S. and internationally and collected about $150 million from the sale of environmental credits.
Shares of Tesla soared to a record when it released the financial report after the stock market closed, rising $24.10, or 12.5% to $217.74 in after-hours trading Wednesday.
Tesla said that it lost $16.3 million in the fourth quarter. That compared with a loss of $89.9 million a year earlier.
But after making special adjustments to account for the deferred profit from automotive leases and other factors, Tesla said it earned $46 million, or 33 cents a share. That exceeded the Wall Street analyst consensus of 21 cents a share.
For the full year, the automaker lost $74 million, an improvement from its 2012 loss of $396.2 million.
Revenue more than doubled to $615.2 million for the quarter. Revenue for the year rose almost fivefold to...
Here are the five questions Tesla Motors Chief Executive Elon Musk needs to answer when the electric car company releases its fourth quarter and full-year financial results Wednesday afternoon.
1. Is a merger with Apple coming?
Musk met with Adrian Perica, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who heads Apple’s mergers-and-acquisitions team, last year. Might Tesla -- and its astounding $25-billion market valuation for what really is a very small company -- be in play? Would Apple bite?
Or are they talking collaboration, such as an Apple investment in Tesla, or a joint venture to research and produce the batteries that both companies need by the billions to stay in business?
2. How much does Tesla rely on the government to stay in business?
Each Tesla Model S sports sedan -- retail price of $70,000 to $100,000 depending on options -- gets up to $10,000 in government tax credits and rebates, depending on the state. What happens when those go away?
McLaren is doing the mashup.
Making good on a promise to debut a new car every year for the foreseeable future, McLaren will use the Geneva Motor Show in March to unveil the 650S supercar.
Essentially a slightly faster version of the MP4-12C, the 650S also sets itself apart with a face that’s a near copy of McLaren’s wild, $1.15-million P1 hypercar. (Whether this actually counts as an entirely new model is debatable.)
The 650S gets its name from the 650-metric horsepower it puts out (which is 641 horsepower in the States). That’s a bump of 25 horsepower over the lesser 12C, though the 650S uses the same twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V-8 engine. Power is pushed to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
McLaren will announce performance figures closer to the Geneva debut, but with updates made to elements of the 12C (including its active suspension and transmission), expect the zero-60 mph time to drop to the low three-...
Kia has announced it is voluntarily recalling nearly 12,000 of its Sportage compact crossovers to fix a label that lists an incorrect tire pressure.
The recall affects 11,961 Sportage vehicles from the 2014 model year. The crossovers recalled have a sticker on the driver’s side center pillar that lists a suggested tire pressure that is one to two PSI below the correct number, Kia said.
If consumers followed the incorrect label and filled their tires with too little air, the tires could wear incorrectly, increasing the risk of a crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Kia is not aware of any accidents or injuries as a result of this issue, the South Korean automaker said in a statement.
Kia will notify owners of affected vehicles in February, and dealers will install a new sticker free of charge. The company will also hand out a second corrected sticker for the owner’s manual.
ALSO: Museum recovers three of eight Corvettes swallowed by...
Rumors of a possible acquisition by Apple and expectations for a strong fourth quarter drove shares of Tesla Motors to $203.70 Tuesday, a 3% gain and a new closing high for the electric car company.
It was the first time Tesla closed over $200.
Investors were reacting to news of a meeting between Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer and co-founder, and Apple’s Adrian Perica, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who heads Apple’s mergers-and-acquisitions team, analysts said.
The meeting occurred in early 2013, but was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle this week, citing unnamed sources.
“There is a lot of pressure on Apple right now to find new markets to grow in,” said Craig Irwin, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.
But Apple taking a bite of the Tesla seems unlikely, he said.
Tuesday’s closing stock price left Tesla with a market valuation of $25 billion, about $1.1...
Korean automakers, Toyota and Volkswagen all had a rough time with the California auto market last year.
Hyundai experienced the biggest market-share slide of any auto brand, according to the California New Car Dealers Assn. The South Korean automaker’s share of the Golden State’s car market slipped to 3.9% from 4.6%.
Corporate sibling Kia fell to 3.4% from 3.7%. Combined, the Koreans lost a full percentage point of market share in California last year.
Although market leader Toyota’s sales continue to rise, other brands are starting to catch up. Toyota’s share of the California market dipped from a dominating 19.1% to a still-impressive 18.5%. Second-place Honda is still far behind at 12.1%, unchanged from the previous year.
Volkswagen was the third-biggest loser in market share, falling to 3.4% from 3.9%.
VW, Hyundai and Kia sales were all hurt by a lack of new models.
Subaru was the biggest gainer. Its share of the...
America loves trucks. California? The Prius hybrid.
Toyota's Prius was the best-selling vehicle in the state for the second consecutive year in 2013, highlighting California's radically different taste in automobiles. Nationally, Ford's F-Series truck has been the bestselling vehicle for more than three decades.
The Prius ranked 16th in sales nationally.
For drivers in such places as Texas, Montana and much of the Midwest, trucks are practical — but also a lifestyle statement. That's why Ford slathers on the leather and chrome in the Limited F-150 pickup with a sticker price that creeps into the mid-$50,000 range.
"The nation of California is very different," said Jake Fisher, the automotive test director for Consumer Reports.
California looks more like a cross between what people drive in Europe — with its pollution and fuel price concerns — and the rest of the United States, he said.
"California also has been much more open to imports historically," Fisher said, in...
The remake of the 1980s thriller "RoboCop" roars into theaters this weekend, and the title character roars into action on a motorcycle.
Except he doesn't roar.
The filmmakers behind the MGM remake were determined that the futuristic robocycle underneath their RoboCop be authentic. So it's electric.
Production designer Martin Whist, working closely with director Jose Padilha, started with a Kawasaki Z-1000. They stripped it down to the frame, extended the swing arm to increase the overall length of the bike, and clad it with a fiberglass-like shell.
Then they hid the exhaust, did post-production special effects work to remove the sound of the motor and replaced that sound with a beefy electric whirr -- quieter than the roar of a Kawasaki Ninja 1000 but far noisier than, say, an electric Zero DS.
"We wanted a robust sound -- not a Prius sound," Whist said from his office in Vancouver, where some of the film was shot.
The stunt riding was done by David...
It was the sinkhole heard 'round the world, at least for car collectors. Early Wednesday morning, the ground beneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., opened up unexpectedly.
Measured at around 40 feet across and 25 to 30 feet deep, the sinkhole swallowed eight rare Chevrolet Corvettes in a matter of minutes. Grief-stricken museum employees were forced to move the other 20 cars out of the Skydome building to safer ground and engineers are currently assessing what to do next.
General Motors has already made it clear that it plans to help, announcing Thursday that it will oversee the restoration of all Corvettes damaged. Not only did GM own two of the cars damaged in the sinkhole collapse, but it also donated several of the other Corvettes affected, including one of the jewels of the collection: the 1-millionth Corvette ever built.
PHOTOS: Giant sinkhole swallows priceless Corvettes
"The vehicles at the National Corvette Museum are some of the most significant in...
Shares of Tesla Motors crossed the $200 barrier Thursday before falling back, but still closed at a record level for the upstart automaker.
The electric car company’s closing price of $199.63, a gain of $4.31, or 2.2%, from the previous day, gives it a market value of $24.5 billion.
Put another way, it is worth about $1.1 million for each of the 22,450 Model S cars it sold last year. The cars sell for $70,000 to $100,000, depending on options.
The market value of General Motors Co. is about $56 billion, or about $5,200 for each of the 10.7 million cars it sold globally last year.
“Tesla is not something that should be compared to a conventional car company,” said Craig Irwin, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.
Investors consider Tesla a high-growth tech company rather than a mature automaker, he said.
“Nobody is buying this for sales of 30,000 or so cars a year,” Irwin said. “It&...
General Motors Co. is recalling almost 800,000 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compact cars to fix a problem that could prevent the airbags from deploying in a crash.
The automaker said it knows of 22 such accidents, including five in which six people died.
GM said each of those crashes occurred under unusual circumstances in which the cars were being driven across dirt and rough terrain. Neither model was designed to be an off-road vehicle.
“All of these crashes occurred off-road and at high speeds, where the probability of serious or fatal injuries was high regardless of airbag deployment. In addition, failure to wear seat belts and alcohol use were factors in some of these cases,” GM said in a statement.
The recall involves 619,122 Cobalts and G5 cars sold in the U.S. from the 2005-2007 model years. The remainder sold in Canada and Mexico.
The problem involves in an incorrectly manufactured key ignition switch.
GM said an...
Toyota Motor Corp. launched a massive global recall of its popular Prius hybrid to fix a software glitch that could cause the car to stall, an aggressive reaction to counter past criticism of its slow response to defects, experts said.
The Japanese automaker also said it would recall about 260,000 RAV4 sport utility vehicles, Tacoma trucks and Lexus RX350 SUVs sold in the United States to address a separate issue.
The recall of the Prius, one of America's best-selling passenger cars and the top-selling vehicle in California, covers 1.9 million hybrids from the 2010 through 2014 model years. It involves about 1 million cars in Japan, about 700,000 in North America and the rest in Europe and other regions.
Toyota said it will update software in the electronic controls of the car.
The software's current settings could generate heat in some of the transistors in the car's circuits, damaging the parts. When this happens, warning lights on the dashboard activate. In rare circumstances, the...
After years of improving car reliability, automakers have shifted into reverse while attempting to exact better fuel economy and add in-dash technology, J.D. Power & Associates reported in its 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.
Owners of 3-year-old vehicles reported more problems than in the same study from the prior year, the automotive research firm said Wednesday.
It was the first increase in problems reported since 1998. The slip in quality might be the first sign in a trend toward declining reliability in cars, according to the firm, whose research identified transmissions and infotainment systems as key trouble spots.
"There is almost inevitably a trade-off between designing and programming a vehicle for fuel economy and how well it drives — and consumers want both," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. "Increases in such problems as engine hesitation, rough transmission shifts and lack of power indicate that this is a continuing...
A massive sinkhole in western Kentucky opened up early Wednesday morning below the National Corvette Museum, swallowing eight rare and historic Chevrolet Corvettes that were on display to the public.
No one was hurt in the incident, which was recorded at 5:44 a.m. by motion sensors at the museum in Bowling Green, just miles from the General Motors plant that builds new Corvettes. Six of the cars had been donated to the museum by enthusiasts, while two were on long-term loan from GM.
“It’s just kind of a sad day in the Corvette mecca of the world,” said Wendell Strode, executive director of the museum, which is home to roughly 80 Corvettes in total and attracts about 150,000 visitors a year.
PHOTOS: Giant sinkhole swallows priceless Corvettes
The sinkhole measured about 40 feet across and 25 to 30 feet deep, the museum said in a statement, citing local fire department personnel on the scene. The museum is closed for the day as engineers assess the safety and stability...
After years of improving car reliability, automakers have taken a step backward while trying to exact better fuel economy out of engines and transmissions, according to the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study issued Wednesday.
Owners of 3-year-old vehicles — from the 2011 model year — reported more problems than in the same study from the prior year, automotive research firm J.D. Power & Associates said.
It was the first increase in problems reported since 1998.
“While striving to reduce fuel consumption, automakers must be careful not to compromise quality,” said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “Increases in such problems as engine hesitation, rough transmission shifts and lack of power indicate that this is a continuing challenge.”
Sargent said it could be the first sign of a trend toward poor reliability in cars. He said the firm’s research show several...
Toyota Motor Corp. on Wednesday announced a massive global recall of its popular Prius hybrid to fix a software glitch that could cause the car to stall.
The Japanese automaker also launched a recall of about 260,000 RAV4 sport-utility vehicles, Tacoma trucks and Lexus RX350 SUVs sold in the United States to address a separate issue.
The Prius recall includes 1.9 million vehicles sold from 2010 through 2014 model years.
It involves about 1 million cars in Japan, some 700,000 in North America and the rest from Europe and other regions.
Toyota said it will update software in the electronic controls of the car.
The software’s current settings could create heat in some of the transistors in the circuits of the car, damaging the parts. When this happens, warning lights on the dashboard activate. In rare circumstances, the hybrid system might shut down while the vehicle is being driven, creating a sudden stall.
Mercedes will debut the next-generation of its two-door, $100,000 land yacht at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show in March. Just don’t call it a CL.
Though Mercedes’ full-size coupe has technically always been an S-Class with two doors sliced off, for the last 14 years the automaker has called it the CL. But there’s a bit of familial reorganization going on in Stuttgart and the CL name is being sent out to pasture.
Thus, Mercedes announced Tuesday that the all-new 2015 S550 coupe will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The car will sit atop the tri-star brand’s portfolio as it always has, positioned as a slightly more exclusive and luxurious version of the S-Class sedan it’s based on.
Following in the sedan’s footsteps, S63 AMG, S65 AMG, and S600 versions of the coupe will debut over the next 12 months. But don’t expect Mercedes to stop there: it has big plans for expanding the S-Class lineup further.
Here's how Toyota Motor Corp. plans to finally put the sudden-acceleration issue to rest: Pull out the checkbook.
The automaker is reportedly close to paying a $1-billion fine to settle a four-year federal criminal investigation into whether it properly reported safety complaints to regulators. Meanwhile, Toyota's lawyers are in settlement talks over hundreds of civil lawsuits alleging wrongful deaths or injuries, potentially adding hundreds of millions to the tab.
Previously, Toyota agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle a class-action case brought by thousands of Toyota owners who contended that sudden-acceleration problems damaged the value of their vehicles.
The automaker has repeatedly denied any serious safety defect that caused its cars to take off at high speeds, causing wrecks that killed or injured occupants. Toyota appeared ready for a protracted legal battle to fight hundreds of legal claims to the contrary.
Now, Toyota appears ready to pay what it takes to move the story off...
Same great hatchback flavor. Now with less fuel!
That’s the theme behind Audi’s forthcoming 2015 A3 Sportback e-tron, a compact hatchback due in early 2015 that will be the first ever plug-in hybrid from the German automaker.
Audi A3 fans will tell you that this model range is about to hit a significant growth spurt. Previously, it was only available in the U.S. as a four-door hatchback with either a turbocharged four-cylinder or a turbocharged-diesel engine. The car was a relatively small-time player in Audi’s lineup but attracted a loyal following of drivers who appreciated the premium feel in a compact package.
PHOTOS: Audi A3 e-tron prototype drive
For 2015, Audi has big things planned for the A3 lineup. Because the A4 has grown in both size and price over the years, it’s opened up room at the bottom of Audi’s lineup for a new entry-level sedan. Thus, the 2015 A3 will come in sedan form in the U.S. for the first time. A diesel, convertible and high-...
Who buys a Tesla? Very wealthy people and Toyota Prius owners.
That’s the conclusion of an analysis of vehicle registrations by IHS Automotive analyst Tom Libby.
About 15.5% of Tesla Model S buyers owned a Toyota-brand vehicle at the time of the purchase, Libby said. The numbers don't make clear whether they were trading in the Toyota or adding the electric sports sedan to a garage that also had a car from the Japanese automaker, he said.
Toss in Toyota’s Lexus luxury division, and the data is even more startling. More than a quarter -- 25.3% -- of Tesla buyers in the United States owned a Toyota-manufactured vehicle at the time of their Model S purchase.
“The Toyota conquests by the Model S are being driven by the Prius, which is the No. 1 model conquested by the Model S,” Libby said.
Toyota’s Highlander and Sienna are fifth and sixth on the list of models. Nissan’s electric Leaf sedan ranks seventh.
“The fact that the Prius and Leaf both rank...
Heads up, Harley-Davidson! They're gunning for you from both sides!
Polaris Industries, only months after launching a full-scale assault on the heavy cruiser market with its retro Indian motorcycles reboot, is sending a fresh salvo into the urban cruiser market with its Victory Motorcycle's new model, the Gunner.
Unveiled in secrecy to a select group of motorcycle press at December's Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, the new unit is a military-themed roughneck, powered by a 1700cc air-and-oil-cooled V-Twin.
With its drag bars, blacked-out straight pipes, gun metal colors and low, slim seating, this bobber is aimed for exactly the customer Harley has served so well with its V-Rod line.
Like any self-respecting Harley, too, the Gunner will come with a wide array of available accessories.
The Gunner will hit the market, though, a little under the V-Rod price point. MSRP for the 2015 machine, which will be in...
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline hit $3.648 over the last week in Los Angeles and Long Beach, up 3.6 cents from a week earlier.
In Orange County, the average had climbed the same amount, to $3.642 a gallon.
But experts say it could be a lot worse. Recent increases are driven in part by annual refinery maintenance and California's early switch to a more expensive summer blend of gasoline.
That's part of the reason gas prices have jumped, sometimes sharply, each spring for more than a decade, said Jeff Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Price jumps also stem from increased exporting of refined gasoline from California to countries such as China, Japan and South Korea, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for GasBuddy.com.
Experts are not expecting a big jump in prices in the coming weeks and months.
"So far, wholesale prices have not moved up high enough to indicate a spike in the near...
Consider the original Jeep Cherokee a founding member of the compact SUV club.
It defined a simple formula: Spartan, boxy, rugged. Jeep started selling the Cherokee in 1984 and discontinued it for the U.S. market in 2001. It joined the Chevy Blazer and Isuzu Trooper as retired members of this forgotten club.
The truck-like Cherokee was ushered out by the softer Liberty, a rear-drive vehicle more in touch with the burgeoning crossover trend that continues today (the Cherokee name lived on in foreign markets). The Liberty was a hit for Jeep, selling on pace with titans of the segment such as the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V.
But sales had waned by 2009, as competitors from Toyota, Kia, Nissan, Subaru and Hyundai crowded the field. Some of the Liberty's problems were self-inflicted: Jeep fragmented its small crossover lineup by adding the Compass and Patriot.
For 2014, the Cherokee name is back.
This time it's affixed to a forward-thinking crossover that starts at...
Toyota turned to Thursday’s Chicago Auto Show to get dirty.
No, the cleaning staff wasn’t snowed in, and risque photos weren’t part of the press conference. Instead the brand better known for milquetoast appliance sedans introduced a new line of off-road packages for 4X4 versions of its 2015 Tundra and Tacoma trucks and its 4Runner SUV.
Dubbed the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) Pro Series, these factory-installed editions bolt on items like Bilstein brand shocks, lifted springs, skid plates, wheels, tires and exhaust to the underside of the vehicles. Body modifications include unique grilles, badging, and white, black or orange paint.
The trio of Toyotas seeks to capitalize on the success Ford has had selling the snarling, bad-boy Raptor edition of its F-150. That Baja-inspired machine was introduced in 2010 and sports a massive 6.2-liter V-8 and a host of off-road friendly upgrades to the suspension, wheels, tires and body.
The Volkswagen Jetta has solidified its position as the cheapest U.S. diesel car with a new “value edition” that cuts more than $2,300 from the base price.
The bargain TDI goes out the door for $22,115, including destination, for a base model with a manual transmission. The DSG dual-clutch automated manual adds $1,100 to the price.
The Jetta was already the least expensive of the diesels, which are still slowly gaining traction in the U.S. market. Automakers including Volkswagen often combine more expensive diesel engines with upscale trim packages, raising the price of entry substantially over comparable gasoline-powered models.
The least expensive 2014 Volkswagen Golf TDI, for instance, costs $26,020, compared with $20,815 for the least expensive gasoline-powered model.
The Jetta TDI value edition, announced last month, does without such features as power seats and a multi-function steering wheel, which come standard in the...
Motorcycle hand signals are an important part of riding, but not just the ones you use to tell fellow motorists that you're turning right or left -- or the one you use when you get cut off.
There's a whole other lexicon of hand signals that can mean anything from "Watch out -- police ahead" to "Hey, dummy -- you left your blinker on" to "It's time for a bathroom break."
There isn't universal agreement on usage or meaning, and some of the signals don't mean the same thing in motorocycling as they do in other sports. Some riders give a "victory" sign to indicate the road ahead is clear, while others use a "thumbs up." And a repeated tap on top of the head can mean "Police ahead" to a biker but can mean "All clear" to a water skier.
But this selection of Southern California hand signs is a good general indicator of how riders around Los Angeles are talking to one another -- and what they mean.
Check out this helpful video for a guide to some of the more essential signals, for riding on...
Subaru, a brand known for its all-wheel-drive, crunchy, love-centric ad campaigns and turbocharged engines, also wants to be known as a sedan company. It made this much clear during Thursday’s 2014 Chicago Auto Show when it unveiled its all-new 2015 Legacy.
Why? Sedans sell.
Most mainstream brands sell more of their respective midsize sedans than anything else on the lot, and therefore take the segment very seriously. This kind of competition has made it hard for a smaller company like Subaru to keep up.
The outgoing Legacy was a well-conceived car but never made it onto many shoppers' lists: In 2013 the Toyota Camry outsold this midsize Subaru by nearly 10 to one.
Subaru hopes this 2015 Legacy will change that. The all-wheel-drive sedan boasts impressive fuel economy that matches that of its front-drive peers, and newfound doses of refinement, style and safety.
Under the hood of will be a choice of four- or six-cylinder engines. The...
Kia went electric at Thursday’s 2014 Chicago Auto Show, by introducing the brand’s first all-electric vehicle, the Soul EV.
Based on the boxy Soul hatchback crossover that has long been one of Kia’s most popular vehicles, the EV version ditches the gas engine for an electric motor with 80 to 100 miles of range.
“The Soul EV retains the fun and funky style as well as the packaging efficiency and utility that have made the gasoline-powered Soul such a huge hit with consumers,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia. “And to that winning combination it adds usable real-world range and multiple charging options, making it the perfect EV for everyone.”
In many ways the Soul was the perfect fit for an electric drivetrain. Its shape and size allowed Kia to squeeze the lithium-ion batteries below the Soul’s floor and only slightly cut down rear legroom and cargo area. The batteries also keep the car&...
General Motors Co. posted a small increase in fourth-quarter profit but its results for the period disappointed Wall Street as business deteriorated in Asia and South America and the costs of restructuring operations in Europe mounted.
The nation’s biggest automaker said its fourth-quarter net income edged up to $913 million, or 57 cents a share, from $892 million, or 54 cents, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue in the quarter rose 3% to $40.5 billion.
Earnings also were hurt by a higher-than-expected tax rate, said Chuck Stevens, GM’s chief financial officer.
For the year, GM’s profit fell to $3.8 billion, a 22% decline from the $4.9 billion of the prior year.
The full-year earnings were hurt by the expenses GM incurred in closing down its Chevrolet business in Europe and shuttering its manufacturing operations in Australia, as well as higher taxes. Revenue for the year increased 2% to $155.4 billion.
This was the first financial report for GM by Chief...
General Motors Co. is getting into the small commercial van business, unveiling the Chevrolet City Express at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday. The small van, designed to be easily parked in a dense city setting, is to go on sale this fall. GM said the van’s target market is urban business owners and fleet managers who are looking for just enough cargo space with low operating costs. Chevrolet said the van will have 122.7 cubic feet of customizable cargo space and an estimated payload capacity of 1,500 pounds. The automaker also said it will be easy to drive in traffic, boasting a turning diameter of only 36.7 feet. The smaller size of the vehicle and its 131 horsepower 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine will make the City Express more fuel efficient than a bigger van. “The 2015 City Express offers a smaller, more efficient choice for businesses that don’t need the cargo volume or other capabilities of a full-size van,” said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president of GM Fleet and...
Score another victory for BMW’s diesel fans.
When the Bavarian automaker brings a refreshed 2015 X3 crossover to dealers in the coming months, the vehicle will come with an optional diesel engine, the company announced Wednesday.
The X3 is the middle child of BMW’s SUV lineup, slotting above the tidy X1 and below the large X5. Competitors include the Mercedes ML, Lexus RX, Audi Q5, and Acura MDX and RDX.
PHOTOS: 2015 BMW X3
The latest addition to the X3 lineup brings diesel to the table for the first time in the U.S. It joins the all-wheel-drive turbocharged four- and six-cylinder models that will be largely unchanged. A new rear-wheel-drive base X3 will also be available that starts at just under $40,000.
The diesel engine in the new X3 xDrive28d is essentially the same unit that BMW uses in its 3-Series sedan and wagon. It uses 2.0 liters to make 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with the same eight-speed automatic transmission that’s inside...
They are among the world’s fastest and most expensive cars on the road, but that doesn’t mean Aston Martin is immune to a little counterfeit plastic.
The British automaker announced it is recalling nearly all of its cars from the 2008 through 2014 model years to fix an issue with the gas pedal. The recall affects 17,590 cars globally, 5,000 of which are in the U.S.
The issue is related to counterfeit plastics used in the arm of the gas pedal. Aston Martin’s engineers specified the piece needed to be made from brand-name DuPont plastic. The third-tier supplier in China thought otherwise, and used an inferior plastic. Turns out the engineers knew what they were doing: the cheaper part can break under a lighter load than Aston would prefer.
"If the accelerator pedal arm breaks, the engine will return to idle and the driver will be unable to maintain or increase engine speed, increasing the risk of a crash," the National Highway Traffic...
Tesla, the California-based electric brand behind the Model S, stormed into the top five automotive brands in a recent survey by Consumer Reports, the organization announced Wednesday.
The company rounds out a group led by Toyota, Ford, Honda, and Chevrolet as the automakers that ranked highest in overall brand perception. Tesla ranked 11th in last year’s survey.
Rounding out the top 10 this year were Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Cadillac and BMW.
The annual survey by Consumer Reports asks people about seven factors they consider when buying a car, weighing them from most important to least: quality, safety, performance, value, fuel economy, design and technology. The brands are ranked for each factor, and then an overall ranking is determined for automakers.
“The key word is ‘perception,’” Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports' deputy automotive editor, said in a statement. “Consumers are influenced by word of mouth, marketing, and hands-on experience.&...
The decision by U.S. auto safety regulators to have automakers build cars that talk to one another will turn out to be one of the most cost-efficient safety initiatives in automotive history.
Morgan Stanley analysts Ravi Shanker and Adam Jonas estimate that the technology -- called vehicle-to-vehicle communications -- will add as little as $100 to the cost of a car but “will deliver a large portion of the $500 billion accident savings that we estimate from autonomous vehicles, sooner than expected,” the analysts wrote in a report to investors.
On Monday, the Transportation Department said it would begin to write the rules and standards for communications between cars. Vehicles will tap a portion of the radio spectrum to speak in short-range radio signals, trading messages that would prevent accidents on a broad scale, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a division of the Transportation Department.
“We believe this is just the first step...
The scooter market is an increasingly crowded and competitive segment of the U.S. motorcycle business. Going after the urban commuter dollar are everything from inexpensive rides like the Kymco Like to high-powered freeway fliers like the Suzuki Burgman to super deluxe $10,000 models like the Vespa 946.
Honda is splitting the difference and aiming for the middle of the target with its 2014 Forza.
Sharing some genetic material with Honda's earlier Helix and Reflex scooter lines, the Forza is a sleek, smart-looking 300cc unit that features smooth power, a liquid-cooled and fuel-injected engine, an optional anti-lock ABS braking system and capacious storage.
You can go 70 mph on the freeway, comfortably, and you can store two full-face helmets under the seat, conveniently. Plus a jacket. Plus your sunglasses, sunscreen and maybe a sandwich in additional but smaller storage areas.
As with any machine, it has trade-offs.
Attention electric vehicles: 2014 will be good to you.
That’s the prediction from IHS Automotive, which said Tuesday it expects global production of EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) to rise 67% this year. That compares with just a 3.6% increase in the production of all vehicles globally.
Several key factors account for the expected increase in electric vehicles.
“European emissions standards are tightening in the second half of this year,” Ben Scott, an analyst for IHS Automotive, said in a statement. “At the same time," he added, "European automakers are introducing compelling new EV models.”
Those new additions to the EV landscape include BMW’s i3 electric city car and i8 PHEV sports car, the Audi A3 E-tron PHEV, Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV and Volkswagen E-Up EV (which won’t be sold in the U.S.).
This means more than 403,000 electrified vehicles are expected to be built in 2014, up from 242,000 in 2013. The 2013 figure itself was a 44% rise...
For the second consecutive year, Toyota Motor Corp. won the recall crown, according to federal safety regulators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Toyota recalled nearly 5.3 million vehicles last year. The Japanese automaker topped Chrysler Group, which came in second by calling back almost 4.7 million vehicles.
Overall, automakers recalled almost 22 million cars last year, the NHTSA said. That was 34% higher than the previous year and the most since 30.8 million vehicles were recalled in 2004, according to agency.
Toyota’s recalls included an October call back of about 803,000 cars, including the Camry, Avalon and Venza, because of a problem that could inadvertently set off an airbag or shut down the power steering on the vehicles. It recalled an additional 780,000 RAV4 sport-utilities and Lexus HS250h hybrids to fix a suspension problem.
The automaker has a history of large recalls. It also called back 5.3 million cars in 2012 and was forced to recall...
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a probe looking whether airbags are deploying unexpectedly when a door is shut in the 2008 Honda Accord.
Federal safety regulators say they have heard from 28 drivers reporting the problem. In two cases people received injuries when airbags deployed unexpectedly. The investigation includes about 363,000 Accords.
Honda said it is aware of a “small number of complaints regarding the side airbags and side curtain airbags.” It said it will cooperate with investigators and is also conducting its own review.
In most of the complaints, drivers reported the airbags deploying while the cars were parked.
They also reported being charged thousands of dollars to repair the cars after being told by their local Honda dealerships and the automaker that it was not a warranty issue. In many cases the driver’s insurance covered the repair except for a deductible.
One driver reported that when his nephew exited the car, he...
Cars of the future will know when they're about to get hit — and how to speak up about it.
U.S. auto safety regulators on Monday took the first steps toward mandating that automakers build cars that talk to one another. They would speak in short-range radio signals, trading messages that would prevent accidents on a broad scale, according to the Transportation Department.
The most advanced cars today can already spot trouble ahead. They use sensors to detect cars or fixed objects ahead, and alert drivers — or, in some cases, even slam on the brakes.
The radio system aims to push that concept much further, enabling vehicles to engage in two-way conversations. A stopped car, for instance, could theoretically send a signal to warn another car (and driver) that's speeding in its direction. Cars could also engage in something like group discussions, exchanging facts about speed, direction and traffic conditions as fast as 10 times a second.
"This is just the beginning of a...
Where was the Denver Broncos’ vaunted offense? Why was our former governor Ah-nold wearing a women’s wig in a Budweiser commercial? What the heck is a Maserati Ghibli or Kia K900?
The 2014 Super Bowl matchup between Peyton Manning’s Broncos and the victorious Seattle Seahawks raised many questions in viewers' minds, but within the automotive world, nothing piqued people’s interest more than ads by Maserati and Kia, according to kbb.com and Edmunds.com.
By brand, searches for Maserati went up 700% on kbb.com after the Italian automaker’s ad “Strike” aired in the first quarter of the game. By model, searches for the Ghibli that starred in that ad went up 4,250%, according to kbb.com.
VIDEO: Watch Maserati's Super Bowl ad
“Maserati, not a name that you would associate with your average household luxury brand, stepped into the foyer in a major fashion,” said Arthur Henry, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “In an ad that was...
BMW’s growing lineup of 3- and 4-Series models added another member to the family over the weekend, with the automaker announcing the 2015 4-Series Gran Coupe.
Essentially a normal coupe with a set of frameless doors grafted on, this latest model will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, BMW announced Saturday.
This four-door coupe isn’t a new idea in the BMW household. It follows the thinking behind the 6-Series Gran Coupe, another four-door coupe that’s based on the two-door version within the same model range.
The 4-Series lineup also includes a hardtop convertible and is based largely on the long-standing 3-Series sedan and station wagon. With this generation of its venerated compact sports sedan, BMW decided to separate the coupes and convertible and position them as slightly upmarket alternatives.
And though BMW insists on calling this new model a coupe, technically it’s a really sleek and good-looking...
Arctic-like weather across much of the nation put a freeze on January auto sales.
Auto information company Edmunds.com estimated that car companies sold about 1 million vehicles in the U.S. in January, just slightly below the number they sold in the same month a year ago.
Sales lost to January’s frigid weather are likely to be made up this month, the Edmund.com report said.
General Motors said Monday that its U.S. sales fell 12% in January to 171,486 vehicles compared with the same month a year earlier.
GM said January is typically the lowest sales month of the year. The automaker said its sales were the worst in the South, Midwest and Northeast, all areas that suffered from the extreme cold. GM said its sales were also hurt by a planned reduction in rental vehicle sales.
Nonetheless, GM said it forecast that light vehicle sales in 2014 will be in a range of 16 million to 16.5 million units. That would be the industry’s best year since 2007, when 16.2 million vehicles were...
The list of features that don't come standard on the new BMW 320i is a long one.
This is the bargain Bimmer, meant to lure you onto a lot where a salesman can slather on options that send the price soaring.
It's still not exactly cheap, starting at $32,750. That's with no leather, no wood, no navigation, no backup camera, no moon roof, no heated seats — no power seats, even. You get your choice of either black or white at that price; all other colors cost extra.
The even longer list of cars with more than this one's 180 horsepower includes the cheapest Honda Accord or Nissan Altima.
And yet it's without reservation that we can say: If you want a sedan in this price range, buy the 320i now. This basic Bimmer delivers beautifully on everything that matters and saves you money on everything that doesn't.
It handles and shifts with the utmost precision. Every pound in the frame feels meticulously balanced. The controls feel like extensions of your limbs.
The 320i, in short, is more...
Forget the turbocharged six-cylinder engine, the three-stage neck-warming system, the color heads-up display.
The most interesting feature of the 2014 BMW 435i convertible is the elaborate setup built into the caboose of this car.
With the car's folding hardtop stowed in the trunk, it's hard to access the 7.8 cubic feet of luggage space below it. So BMW devised an automated system that raises the folded roof out of your way when the trunk is open. Drop in your gear, push the button again, and the roof system descends back into place. (Pray this system breaks while the car is still under warranty.)
That BMW would spend money and manpower on such an obscure feature indicates that the company believes it already has a firm grasp on the fundamentals of building a four-seat convertible.
The evidence confirms that view. The 4-Series convertible picks up where the previous-generation 3-Series convertible left off. The name change reflects nothing but BMW's desire to separate its sedan and...
The quest for the perfect car is forever frustrated by compromises.
Shopping turns into an endless series of trade-offs: You can have a cushy ride or taut handling, but not both. Interior room or sleek styling. Horsepower or gas mileage.
That makes the art of building cars a balancing act — one that the BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon pulls off better than any car we've driven in some time. This is a four-wheel-drive station wagon that drives like a sports car and gets 43 mpg on the highway.
Yes, there's a catch — the $49,275 sticker price on our test car.
That suggests the 328d is more than $20,000 better than, say, a Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen diesel. And it isn't. But you do get quite a lot of Sports Wagon for the premium price, in a well-rounded package with precious few compromises.
The praise starts with the car's looks. U.S. drivers generally shun station wagons — and hatchbacks of any kind. But even the most ardent wagon-hater would be hard-pressed to say this...
It’s hard not to spot an import brand car on American roads.
That wasn’t always the case, Volkswagen reminds us as it commemorated the shipment of the first Beetle to New York City 65 years ago.
Back in January 1949, Volkswagen delivered a VW “Type 1,” or Beetle, to Ben Pon Sr., a Dutch businessman and the world’s first official Volkswagen importer.
“It made inroads very tentatively selling only two that first year and then seemed to burst like wildfire,” said Leslie Kendall, curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum. “It was the right car for the time. It did for a lot of Americans what the Model T did for generations before.”
VW shipped thousands more to the United States in the early 1950s as the “Bug” established itself as America’s budget car. Sales were so good that Volkswagen established a U.S. sales arm in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., in late 1955.
The Beetle sold well because it was a well-built car at a...
Holy motors! The Popesicle is for sale!
The Bonhams auction house will shortly be selling a Harley-Davidson FXDC Dyna Super Glide owned by, and signed by, Pope Francis.
The motorcycle, which His Holiness personalized with a signature on the gas tank, comes with a matching leather jacket.
The auction will take place at the Grand Palais in Paris on Feb. 6.
It is not clear whether His Holiness has ridden the 1,585cc machine. Ben Walker, head of motorcycles for Bonhams, said: “We don't know if Pope Francis rode it -- or for how many miles. I suspect it's done a minimal number of miles.”
But Francis did bless the motorcycle, along with bikes belonging to approximately 800 fellow motorcycle enthusiasts, at an event last June.
At that St. Peter's Square gathering, according to Bonhams, the Pope warned the riders that their obsession with "power and pleasure" could weaken their connection to God.
Subaru is on a roll lately, and the automaker hopes to continue its momentum in February by introducing the next generation of its mid-size Legacy sedan.
The company announced Thursday that the production version of the 2015 Legacy will debut at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 6.
“The all-new Legacy offers a sleeker, more coupe-like profile with a faster windshield rake angle and narrower A-pillars that create a sporty and modern sedan,” Subaru said in a brief statement.
Though that’s all the company would officially disclose, don’t expect huge surprises in the new Subie’s drivetrain. All-wheel-drive will be standard, as it is on all Subarus (except the BRZ sports car). A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine will likely be under a majority of Legacy hoods, paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT gearbox.
What will be interesting to watch will be how Subaru handles the top of the new Legacy lineup. The premium engine on the outgoing Legacy is a 3.6-...
Harley-Davidson is bullish on the year just past and even more so on the year ahead.
Executives from the massively successful Milwaukee company told investors Thursday that fourth-quarter revenue and earnings were up over the same period last year, with robust activity expected for 2014.
They're counting on continued strong sales from their traditional line, but also considerable new business from their new Street 500cc and 750cc motorcycles.
That smaller, lighter, more fuel-efficient bike, the company believes, will develop a very broad new customer base of younger, more urban riders domestically and abroad. Specifically, Harley is targeting consumers not traditionally drawn to Harley -- women, African Americans and Latinos, and foreign buyers in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
"We're giving people a gateway into the brand," company President and Chief Operating Officer Matthew S. Levatich told the Los Angeles Times.
The company reported...
Toyota Motor Corp. took the unusual step of halting sales of nearly its entire line up of cars and trucks that come with seat heaters because a portion of the seats in the vehicles -- including the top-selling Camry sedan -- were not manufactured with materials that met flame-retardant standards.
The temporary sales stop includes all new Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Corolla, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra vehicles equipped with seat heaters, the Japanese automaker said.
Toyota said that a small portion of the seat assembly failed to meet a provision of U.S. motor vehicle safety standards requiring materials to retard flame at specified rate.
“Toyota is preparing a modification for this condition, which will be implemented on all covered vehicles in dealer inventory. There have been no reports globally of any related incidents in the field with units in operation,” the automaker said in a statement.
Though Toyota is halting sales of the cars to make a fix that will...
They’re both built by Porsche.
On Monday, the German automaker announced it was putting on display in its Stuttgart, Germany, museum the Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton. This small, open-top car, nicknamed the P1, was built in 1898 by Ferdinand Porsche when he was 22. It’s the first car he ever built.
PHOTOS: World's first car built by Porsche
That’s the same Ferdinand Porsche who would form his eponymous brand in 1931. The company initially designed vehicles such as the original Volkswagen Beetle and various tanks used by the Nazis in World War II, before setting its sights on sports cars shortly after the war ended.
Porsche, the man, built just four copies of his Egger-Lohner electric car, according to the brand that bears his name today. Although the rest are unaccounted for, this...
The newly merged Chrysler and Fiat auto companies reported profitable fourth quarters Wednesday and announced a series of transactions that will combine control of the carmakers into a Netherlands-based holding company.
The creation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles -- the name of the combined company -- demonstrates the increasingly global nature of the auto business.
While the headquarters, essentially the administrative function of the business -- will be based in the Netherlands, shares of the automaker will trade on the New York Stock Exchange. The bulk of the automotive research and development will go on at the Chrysler offices in Detroit and Fiat’s headquarters in Turin, Italy. But, the company will be based in Britain for tax purposes.
“Today we can say that we have succeeded in creating solid foundations for a global automaker with a mix of experience and know-how on a level with the best of our competitors,” said Sergio Marchionne, who serves as chief executive...
Ayrton Senna fans looking to pick up a piece of the famed Formula One driver’s history will be able to do so in a big way in February.
A 1992 Honda NSX purchased as a gift for the late racer by his manager will be one of hundreds of cars sold at auction by Silverstone Auctions on Feb. 22 and 23.
“Very rarely does a car with such pedigree and provenance come to market, especially with such a powerful and personal link to arguably the greatest F1 driver of all time, and as such, we’re incredibly excited to offer it for auction,” Nick Whale, managing director of Silverstone Auctions, said in a statement.
PHOTOS: NSX driven by Ayrton Senna heads to auction
The NSX was a mid-engine supercar built by Honda from 1990 to 2005 and sold under the Acura brand in the U.S. It featured an all-aluminum monocoque chassis and a 3.0-liter V-6 engine (later bumped up to 3.2 liters) which made 270 horsepower. It has long been regarded as not only one of the most accessible...
Attention single guys: do not buy that mail truck.
Aside from wonky steering wheel placement and the mistrust of dogs everywhere, no vehicle on the road today is less likely to be driven by an attractive man than a mail truck, according to a recent survey by Insure.com.
The online survey polled 2,000 licensed drivers 18 and older, and asked them the reality show-caliber question: What qualities in a vehicle were most likely to be driven by attractive members of the opposite sex?
Based on the results, guys hoping to be found attractive by women should consider buying a black Ford pickup truck.
Thirty-two percent of female respondents said attractive guys drive a truck, the highest among any type of vehicle. It’s followed by sports cars (27%), SUVs (16%), sedans (11%), and hybrids or electric vehicles (9%).
Less than1% of women said attractive guys drive mail trucks (that it was even an option is surprising enough). And that’s only slightly worse than minivans, which only 2% of...
Continued strong business in North America and growth in sales in China powered Ford Motor Co. to a big gain in fourth-quarter profit.
Ford said Tuesday that its profit for the three months ended Dec. 31 jumped 90% to $3 billion from the $1.6 billion of the same period a year earlier. That represented its 18th consecutive quarterly profit. Quarterly revenue rose almost 4% to $37.6 billion from $36.3 billion.
Annual earnings rose 26% to $7.2 billion from $5.7 billion in the previous year. Revenue climbed 10% to $146.9 billion from $133.6 billion.
"We had an outstanding year in 2013, demonstrating that our One Ford plan continues to drive solid results and profitable growth for all," said Alan Mulally, Ford’s chief executive. "We are well positioned for another solid year in 2014."
Ford posted its highest operating profit in more than a decade. The results included record annual profits in North America and its Asia Pacific Africa region. It was nearly break-even in South America...
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a probe into intermittent brake failure in the 2007 and 2008 Toyota Camry hybrid sedan.
Dozens of consumers have complained to the agency about the problem, asking it to force Toyota Motor Corp. recall the cars. Toyota has previously paid record federal fines for not recalling vehicles promptly.
The agency said Monday that it would look into reports of delayed braking and brake failure from owners of the vehicle. The problem could affect up to 30,000 cars. NHTSA said it has had 59 complaints, including two reported accidents.
“When I tried to apply brakes to stop, I realized that the brake had completely failed” one driver said in a complaint to NHTSA. “I did a sharp evasive turn and hit the curb hard in [an] attempt not to run over pedestrians in the crossing!”
One Camry owner was charged more than $2,600 by a dealer to replace an actuator in the braking system. The charge was covered by an extended...
Like an owner who resembles his or her dog, Mitsubishi’s 2014 Outlander is just as much an oddity as the brand itself.
Though the Japanese automaker sold more cars in the U.S. in 2013 than Porsche or Volvo (and just a few thousand less than Jaguar), Mitsubishi is a quirky company with a quirky lineup that flies well below the radar of many shoppers.
In addition to the midsize Outlander SUV that starts at $23,820, Mitsubishi also sells the Outlander Sport compact crossover; regular, hatchback and high-performance versions of the Lancer compact sedan; and the new Mirage, a tiny morsel of a hatchback that starts just under $14,000.
The Outlander and its funky design is not only king of the company’s condensed lineup, it’s also the one that most boldly eschews what others in its class are doing. This gives the SUV some interesting advantages, but also means the fully loaded $34,720 GT model we tested may be a tough sell to consumers.
Think of mid-size luxury SUVs as a stable of thoroughbreds.
Porsche has its Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz its ML and GL, and Audi its Q7. The Japanese brands have their X models: Acura's MDX, Lexus' GX and Infiniti's QX60.
For 2014, two redesigned purebreds join the mix: BMW's third-generation X5, and Land Rover's second-generation Range Rover Sport.
Each of the newcomers approaches this competitive segment — where prices range from $50,000 to $90,000 — with a different philosophy.
BMW's X5 is the more practical of the two, setting aside style (inside and out) in favor of Bavarian functionality. Meanwhile, the Range Rover Sport makes a huge leap over its predecessor in refinement and performance.
Neither is cheap.
The base Range Rover Sport V-6 HSE we tested started at $63,495 but came to $72,425 at the checkout counter. Blame the $5,000 HSE package, a pricey but recommended set of options including Oxford leather seats, a panoramic moon roof and 20-inch wheels. An upgrade in...
Nissan Motor Co. and its U.S. advertising agency agreed Thursday to settle a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission over deceptive advertising charges.
The deal stems from a 30-second ad Nissan ran in 2011 for its midsize Frontier pickup truck. In the spot, created by TBWA Worldwide, the Frontier is seen driving up a steep dune to push a buggy stuck in the sand.
According to the FTC complaint, the actual truck couldn’t pull off such a feat — and cables were used for both vehicles, and the hill was modified to look significantly steeper than it really was — so the ad was found to violate the FTC Act.
“Special effects in ads can be entertaining, but advertisers can’t use them to misrepresent what a product can do,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “This ad made the Nissan Frontier appear capable of doing something it can’t do.”
The last time the FTC and an automaker...
Toyota Motor Corp. retained its title as the world’s biggest car seller last year, topping General Motors Co. and third place Volkswagen Group, but the gap is narrowing.
Toyota on Thursday said it sold a record 9.98 million vehicles, up 2.4% from the prior year. The Japanese automaker expects sales to rise to about 10.3 million this year.
GM sold 9.71 million vehicles last year, about a 4% gain over the prior year. Volkswagen was just behind at 9.7 million vehicles, representing a 5% gain.
Although it is second, GM is gaining on Toyota. It trailed the Japanese automaker by about 450,000 vehicles in 2012, but that fell to about 270,000 vehicles last year.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen, which has set ambitious sales goals for the U.S. and elsewhere, trails GM by about 100,000 cars. A rebound in the European economy could push the German automaker into second place this year.
China was the largest and fastest growing auto market last year. Sales grew 14.2% to nearly 22 million. The U.S....
Tesla Motors said it would sell the big battery version of its Model S electric sports sedan in China for about $121,000. While that’s an eye-popping number to American car shoppers, it actually represents a restrained, strategic approach for the Palo Alto automaker.
The starting price of the Model S with the 85 kWh battery pack will be $81,070 — the same as in the U.S. About $36,000 in Chinese tariffs and taxes, and another $4,000 to ship the car across the Pacific Ocean make up the rest.
Tesla also sells a smaller, less expensive version in the U.S.. But the big battery version gives the car a range of about 265 miles per charge and is the automakers' more popular choice.
“This pricing structure is something of a risk for Tesla, but we want to do the right thing for Chinese consumers,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “If we were to follow standard industry practice, we could get away with charging twice as much for the Model S in China as we do...
Lincoln still builds the Navigator.
We’re as surprised as any to learn this, seeing as the heyday of truck-based, gas-thirsty, full-size SUVs has long passed. But just over 8,600 examples of the Navigator found new homes in 2013, and Cadillac sold roughly 12,600 Escalades last year as well.
Caddy has an all-new version headed to dealers this year that’s been re-engineered from the ground up. So to keep pace, Lincoln announced Thursday it's giving its Navigator a nip and a tuck, and an all-new engine under the hood for the 2015 model year.
Gone is the 5.4-liter V-8 in the outgoing Navigator. In its place will be a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine that cranks out 370 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. That’s a jump of 60 horsepower and 65 pound-feet of torque over the older V-8.
This engine is similar to the one Ford uses in the Explorer Sport and uses direct injection to help keep up efficiency. The V-6 will be paired...
Harley-Davidson continues to beat the drum for its new line of Street motorcycles, due to hit the street sometime in the next couple of months.
The latest stunt involves bringing some of the 500cc and 750cc urban growlers to the upcoming ESPN X-Games. Kicking off today in Aspen, Colo., will be a series of ice races, featuring Streets outfitted with studded tires, chasing each other around a frozen oval.
To see a H-D promo of the icy action on YouTube, click here.
X-Games fans will have the opportunity to vote on whether ice racing should be a regular feature at future events.
Ice racing goes back decades and is a big winter spectator sport in Russia, Sweden, Finland and Canada.
Harley reps say they have photos of Harleys racing on the ice that go back 100 years.
The sleeker Harleys, which for many years were dominant in the flat track and TT arena, are a logical choice for ice racing too.
"We modified several Street motorcycles by adding steel screws to the tires and let the world&...
Ford Motor Co. will team with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University to try to figure out how to give self-driving, or automated, cars "intuition."
The Stanford research will examine how a car's LiDAR infrared sensors could see around obstacles.
Similar to the way a bat or dolphin uses sound waves, LiDAR bounces infrared light off of objects up to 200 feet away and then uses the data to create a real-time 3-D map of the vicinity. The sensors are powerful enough to tell the difference between a paper bag and a small animal almost a football field away, Ford said.
“Typically, when a driver’s view is blocked by an obstacle like a big truck, the driver will maneuver within the lane to take a peek around it and see what is ahead,” Ford said in a statement.
The research would look at how to enable the sensors to also discern what is ahead and make evasive maneuvers if needed. For example, if the truck ahead slammed on its brakes, the vehicle would...
Of the 11 economy cars crash-tested by the leading insurance industry group, 10 failed a new safety standard for front-end collisions.
Only the Chevrolet Spark earned an “acceptable” grade on the test, in which 25% of the front end, on the driver's side, strikes a 5-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph.
The Honda Fit, Fiat 500, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa, Toyota Prius C and Mitsubishi Mirage all received “poor” grades, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Mazda 2, Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta earned “marginal” scores.
None of these subcompacts earned a “good” mark.
[Updated, 12:57 p.m. PST Jan. 22: After seeing the results Wednesday, Consumer Reports removed the Honda Fit from its list of recommended vehicles. However, a Honda representative noted that the model was being phased out and would be replaced by a newly designed Fit this spring.]
The vehicles were the worst-performing group of any evaluated so far by...
Sales of Ferraris, Corvettes and a McLaren race car helped set a record at Arizona’s annual Scottsdale classic car auctions. Nearly $249 million worth of rare chrome and red-blooded horsepower changed hands.
This year’s sales marked an 11% jump over last year’s $224 million, according to Hagerty Insurance, which values, tracks and insures classic cars. A total of 2,321 vehicles were sold during the week.
The auctions, which varied from a single-day event to a nearly weeklong extravaganza, concluded Sunday. Companies including Barrett-Jackson Auction Co., Gooding & Co., RM Auctions, Bonhams and Russo and Steele brought cars to the desert for what is considered the kickoff to the 2014 car auction season.
Although the high-dollar exotics attracted plenty of attention throughout the week, this year’s record sales were fueled primarily by a notably stronger market for cars in the $25,000 to $50,000 range,...
Federal safety regulators have announced that they’re recalling vehicles from Acura and Ford to fix issues with loose bolts and a faulty fuel line, respectively.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is recalling 27,933 Ford Edge crossovers from 2012-2013. The agency says a damper in the fuel line housing may crack due to faulty manufacturing. Should this occur, the potential fuel leak could cause the Edge to catch on fire.
The issue only affects models with the smaller, 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engines, the NHTSA said.
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No accidents or injuries have been reported in connection with the recall, Ford said in a statement. The automaker said it will notify owners of vehicles subject to the recall in February and that dealers will install a new fuel line without the affected damper free of charge.
Meanwhile, Honda’s Acura brand is recalling 7,387 of its flagship RLX sedans from 2014.
The recall is to fix a loose bolt...
Mustang versus Camaro. BMW versus Mercedes. Camry versus Accord. These are among the biggest rivalries in the automobile world.
Get ready for the next epic battle: aluminum versus steel.
"This has become a real competition," said Golam Newaz, an automotive materials engineer at Wayne State University in Detroit.
The growing contest between the two metals was evident in the new car introductions at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week.
Automakers are looking ahead to the stringent federal standard requiring a near-doubling of fuel economy by 2025. Putting cars on a diet is the only way to hit that goal.
When Ford Motor Co. introduced the next generation of its top-selling Ford F-150 truck this week, the completely re-engineered pickup featured aluminum from the hood to the tailgate. The new Ford truck is 700 pounds lighter than the one it replaces.
Here's why: A cubic centimeter of steel weighs about 8 grams, compared with just 2.7 grams for aluminum, Newaz...
January on the classic car calendar means collectors from around the world -- and their checkbooks -- head to Scottsdale, Ariz., for the car auctions the sun-drenched city hosts each year.
Auction houses like Barrett-Jackson, Russo and Steele, Gooding and Co., and RM Auctions all set up shop and host single or multiday auctions. Barrett-Jackson is the granddaddy of the Scottsdale sales in terms of volume of cars sold. Its auctions began on Tuesday and run through Sunday. During that span, more than 1,500 vehicles will find new homes. Russo and Steele's sale runs from Wednesay to Sunday, RM’s auction is Thursday and Friday, and Gooding’s is Friday and Saturday.
In all, about $224 million worth of gleaming metal changed hands at last year’s Scottsdale auctions, according to Hagerty Insurance, which tracks and insures the classic car market. That was the strongest showing in years, and the company expects the 2014 sales to at least match, if not top that figure.
Cheap, fun, rear-wheel-drive performance cars. They don’t make 'em like they used to. In fact, they hardly make them at all. The Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ twinship is the only effort that’s currently mixing these ingredients together in a meaningful way.
Nissan would like to change that with a pair of concepts under what it’s calling the IDx.
With their world debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in November, and a North American unveiling in Detroit, the automaker is laying the groundwork for an answer to its Japanese rivals.
The concepts come in two forms: the IDx Freeflow and the IDx Nismo. Both pay homage to the immensely popular Datsun 510 that the company built in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The concepts’ philosophy is the same as their predecessors’: affordable, rear-wheel-drive performance.
Helping keep the cost down on a production version of these cars is the fact that they’re small. At 13.5 feet...
For 2014 Kawasaki is reintroducing its heralded Z1000 -- with a vengeance. The company hit hard with an all-out media campaign, taking motorcycle journalists on urban nighttime rides designed to bring out the best in this raw, naked beast.
They needn't have tried so hard. The Z1000 sells itself.
It's lightweight, nimble and extremely powerful. Zero to 60 is exciting -- almost as exciting as 60 to 100 -- and 60 to zero isn't bad either. The bike blasts off majestically but then comes in for a smooth landing.
For a bike with such a radical look -- think Batman-meets-Antman, with an attitude that's somewhere between testy and really ticked off on the anger scale -- it's very comfortable, featuring a neutral stance that makes it an easy rider around town.
I liked it better than the Ninja 1000, which I found twitchy and somewhat difficult to throttle comfortably. (This may be the result of the Z1000's new ECU settings and intake cams.) The Z1000's power dialed on...
Fast cars and tough trucks took center stage over two days of model debuts at the Detroit Auto Show.
Luxury vehicles also made their presence known, most notably the larger Mercedes C-Class and the Hyundai Genesis, which held the line on a base price below $40,000, despite substantial upgrades.
The biggest news came from Ford Motor Co., which pulled the tarp off a new F-series truck. The pickup has been the nation's bestselling vehicle for more than three decades. Ford aims to keep it that way with an all-new aluminum frame, which loses 700 pounds in the interest of fuel economy. General Motors — never one to allow Ford to hog the truck spotlight — released its latest mid-size truck offering, the GMC Canyon.
Efficiency may be all the rage these days, but automakers and consumers haven't lost their lust for power, as was underscored by half a dozen debuts of performance cars this week. The Corvette Z06 — an extreme take on the redesigned 2014 Stingray — weighed...
Tesla Motors executives criticized the National Highway Traffic Agency’s use of the word “recall” even as they had to recall their expensive Model S electric sports sedan because of a part of the electric car company’s charging system that can start a fire.
Speaking at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Jerome Guillen, Tesla’s vice president of sales, said calling Tesla’s fix a “recall” was outdated because it did represent a physical repair but rather a software update conducted wirelessly while the owners’ cars were parked in their garages.
“We are going to be having some discussions about the appropriateness of using a word that has no physical sense,” Guillen said.
He said nearly all of the cars have had their software updated.
The update allows the Model S charging system to detect any unexpected fluctuations in the input power or higher...
The biggest car reveal at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week was a truck — Ford’s new aluminum body F-150 pickup.
Building a truck with lightweight aluminum shaves about 700 pounds off the previous generation F-150 and will improve fuel efficiency, but it raised eyebrows inside and outside the automotive industry. Aluminum is a more expensive material to work with, and some wonder if truck buyers won’t yearn for the rugged reliability of trusty steel.
We sought out truck experts — people who have a real passion for the big vehicles — and asked them to critique the new F-150 for 2015. Here’s what they said.
Bruce W. Smith, senior editor of Hard Working Trucks, Equipment World and Total Landscape Care
I think those buying 2014 F-150s are going to be as upset — the refinements and advancements between the next model year is significant enough to make you not want to take the “old&...
Lexus kicked off the second media day of the Detroit Auto Show with something better than coffee -- horsepower.
Toyota’s luxury brand used Tuesday’s North American International Auto Show to introduce the all-new RC F Coupe, a rear-wheel-drive performance car with “more than” 450 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque.
“I've built RC F to be enjoyed by all enthusiasts -- no matter what their level of expertise,” Yukihiko Yaguchi, chief engineer, said of the car. “There's a misconception that racing cars are hard to drive. In fact, they're easy in the right hands because they've been purpose-built for the skill level of their drivers. It's the same with RC F.”
Not only does the Lexus tout this coupe’s straight-line performance (zero-60 mph will be quicker than the IS F sedan’s 4.6 seconds), but its handling prowess as well.
The RC F will come with a torque-vectoring rear differential, which...
Not content with letting German rivals have all the high-performance fun, Infiniti is hinting it may soon get into the horsepower wars with its existing Q50 compact sedan.
Nissan’s luxury arm used Tuesday’s Detroit auto show to debut to the world the Q50 Eau Rouge concept. The car is a heavily modified version of the Q50 that teases what Infiniti might use against cars like the BMW M3, Mercedes C63 AMG, and Audi RS4.
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“I think our engineers have been waiting for a project like this," Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti, said in a statement. While no powertrain specifics were announced, he imagined such a car from Infiniti probably would be plenty powerful, courtesy of turbocharging or supercharging.
"If we built this car I would expect it to feature over 500 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque,” De Nysschen said. “The engine we are evaluating for the Q50 Eau Rouge is a big personality, V-cylinder engine with forced...
The 2014 North American International Auto Show opened its doors to the media on Monday in Detroit.
A number of hotly anticipated vehicles are making their debuts at this year's Detroit Auto Show. There's Ford's all-new aluminum F-150 truck. The 2015 model of the pickup is 700 pounds lighter than the previous version, and the engine compartment and virtually every visible metal part of the vehicle are made of aluminum alloys. It's the first major truck to go this route and a major gamble for Ford, reports the L.A. Times' Jerry Hirsch from Detroit.
On the day of Ford's big debut, however, rival Chevy nailed two Detroit Auto Show awards: Its new Silverado won he 2014 North American truck of the year award, and the Corvette Stingray won North American car of the year. Winning both awards in the same year was a first for the car company.
Also debuting at this year's auto show: Nissan's Sport Sedan Concept-- with floating roof design, V-shaped front grille and boomerang-shaped headlights...
Pay attention to the concept sedan Nissan rolled out Monday afternoon at the Detroit Auto Show. You may see it again soon.
The car, officially dubbed the Sports Sedan Concept, is a strong indication of what the next Maxima sedan will look like when it debuts in production form later this spring.
“The Sport Sedan Concept shows a new, highly emotional and energetic design direction that takes Nissan’s legendary approach of applying sports car principles to a sedan to the next level,” Shiro Nakamura, Nissan’s vice president and chief creative officer, said in a statement.
Nissan has long positioned the full-size Maxima sedan as the fun-to-drive alternative to its more staid peers. Yet the current-generation car has been around since 2009, making it conspicuously more outdated than its competitors.
Cars such as the Chevy Impala, Hyundai Azera, Kia Cadenza, and Toyota Avalon have all been updated in the last 12 to 24 months. Sales...
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