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How to get the U.S. into diesels

Posted 8:07 am U.S. ET, Nov. 28
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
European automakers and suppliers have been trying for years to get U.S. drivers excited about diesels. Experience has proved that a test drive can be a deal-maker. At least that was what I witnessed when testing a 2014 BMW X4 diesel with my father when he visited Germany from the U.S. a month ago. He couldn’t believe how powerful, responsive and quiet the X4 was c ...
     Continue reading "How to get the U.S. into diesels" » Nov 28, 2014 8:07 am U.S. ET
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Why Audi over-engineered its fuel cell

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 28
Audi r&d boss Ulrich Hackenberg provided a concise answer when asked why the carmaker’s fuel cell also needs plug-in hybrid technology. “To make it a proper Audi,” Hackenberg told me last week at the Los Angeles auto show. Without the plug-in hybrid system the A7 Sportback h-tron Quattro would be underpowered, offering the equivalent of just 136 hp, ...
     Continue reading "Why Audi over-engineered its fuel cell" » Nov 28, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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FAW bribe scandal should be wake-up call for Beijing

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 28
Beijing renewed a rule this month that foreign automakers seeking to build vehicles in China must form joint ventures with local companies. But allegations of rampant bribery at China FAW Group Corp.'s joint venture with Volkswagen should provide an urgent wake-up call to the government to abandon the rule. The government had hoped state-owned automakers would learn from ...
     Continue reading "FAW bribe scandal should be wake-up call for Beijing" » Nov 28, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Bad weather will shape future retailing

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 27
Six feet of snow in Buffalo. And then a seventh. And then floods of melted snow. November blizzards up the East Coast just in time to ruin Black Friday sales. They call all this “freakish” weather. But is it? Or is it that science-fictiony “climate change” thing that alarmists are always warning is on the way? Pick your point of view, but consider ...
     Continue reading "Bad weather will shape future retailing" » Nov 27, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Military ends paycheck deductions for car loans

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 26
The U.S. Department of Defense last week made it impossible for service members to use the reliable but old-fashioned military allotment system to make auto loan payments -- a small-scale example of a couple of bad apples in auto lending ruining things for everyone else. In 2013 the CFPB accused an F&I products vendor and its auto lender partner of requiring military ...
     Continue reading "Military ends paycheck deductions for car loans" » Nov 26, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Why the bid-rigging? Ask the automakers

Posted 12:29 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 26
Toyota Motor Corp. employees are taught to solve problems with the “Five Whys.” Ask why it happened, and why that happened, and so on until you get to the fundamental problem. If a part is faulty, why? If the machine that made it malfunctioned, why? If the machine hadn’t been maintained properly, why? And so on. Ask ‘Why’ five times, not jus ...
     Continue reading "Why the bid-rigging? Ask the automakers" » Nov 26, 2014 12:29 pm U.S. ET
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Michelin gains from homegrown distrust in China

Posted 6:22 am U.S. ET, Nov. 26
European and U.S. sales of cheap Chinese tires are growing fast, but a lack of trust from consumers in the world’s largest car market has given a big boost to Western suppliers such as Michelin in China. “What you don’t know, you don’t trust, especially in China with so many fakes,” Michelin’s director of car and van tires, Florent Mene ...
     Continue reading "Michelin gains from homegrown distrust in China" » Nov 26, 2014 6:22 am U.S. ET
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Ford’s payoff from aluminum bet still years away

Posted 11:15 am U.S. ET, Nov. 25
Investors might be a little concerned at how Ford is spending its money. Ford dropped billions of dollars redesigning the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150. Then it spent at least a billion more perfecting a high-speed aluminum riveting and bonding production system, and retooling its plants. Ford has said, and continues to say, that fuel economy is the No. 1 unmet need of its ...
     Continue reading "Ford’s payoff from aluminum bet still years away" » Nov 25, 2014 11:15 am U.S. ET
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5 cool flourishes on new Lexus RC

Posted 10:50 am U.S. ET, Nov. 25
TOKYO -- Is it too much to say that the new Lexus RC is the best-looking Lexus ever? Even better than the LFA? I finally got behind the wheel an RC 350 F Sport last weekend, and I never got tired looking at the car, from any angle. Design is always subjective, but if this is a sign of future cars from Lexus, brand boss Tokuo Fukuichi is working magic, in my book. Here ar ...
     Continue reading "5 cool flourishes on new Lexus RC " » Nov 25, 2014 10:50 am U.S. ET
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Automakers can stop supplier price-fixing now, but will they?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 22
The U.S. Department of Justice has assessed $2.4 billion in fines on 32 auto parts suppliers and charged 46 individuals -- nearly all of them Japanese -- in the largest antitrust prosecution in U.S. history. That’s just in the United States. The practice is a global epidemic that stifles fair competition, inflates the cost of components for automakers, erodes invest ...
     Continue reading "Automakers can stop supplier price-fixing now, but will they?" » Nov 22, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Ford F-150 mpg for 2015 is a mixed bag

Posted 3:26 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 21
In September, we crunched the numbers in an attempt to predict the fuel economy ratings for the aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150 pickup. Turns out, we were pretty darn close. Today, Ford finally released those long-awaited official EPA numbers for its lightweight aluminum truck. Some of the gains are impressive. Some are not, and those are the ones that Ford would prefer ...
     Continue reading "Ford F-150 mpg for 2015 is a mixed bag" » Nov 21, 2014 3:26 pm U.S. ET
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Volkswagen raises the stakes in China

Posted 9:22 am U.S. ET, Nov. 21
Volkswagen's investment plans for the next five years tell one story very clearly – the company is becoming ever more dependent on growth in China in its bid to overtake Toyota as the world’s No. 1 carmaker. For the first time in years, the planned increase in investment by VW's two Chinese joint ventures -- internally financed through their own cash flows -- ...
     Continue reading "Volkswagen raises the stakes in China" » Nov 21, 2014 9:22 am U.S. ET
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Luxury brands go the way of free-trade coffee

Posted 2:41 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 21
LOS ANGELES -- Luxury automobiles typically offer customers a combination of high performance, advanced technology and plush comfort. But a new crop of upscale cars may offer wealthy car buyers something else: a clearer conscience. That trend was on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where Volvo Cars showed the plug-in hybrid version of its forthcoming XC90. It’s ...
     Continue reading "Luxury brands go the way of free-trade coffee" » Nov 21, 2014 2:41 pm U.S. ET
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Japan's fugitive execs have called DOJ's bluff

Posted 9:56 am U.S. ET, Nov. 21
TOKYO -- Are the fugitive Japanese businessmen indicted for alleged price fixing calling the U.S. government’s bluff? As many as 20 executives from Japanese suppliers are on the lam in Japan, evading U.S. indictments for bid rigging. Some have left their companies. Others are still gainfully employed by the companies for which they allegedly fixed prices. But all ...
     Continue reading "Japan's fugitive execs have called DOJ's bluff" » Nov 21, 2014 9:56 am U.S. ET
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Fisker flexes muscle with coachbuilt 725-hp Mustang

Posted 2:55 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 20
LOS ANGELES -- Henrik Fisker, the Danish designer behind the Aston Martin DB9, BMW Z8 and the ill-fated Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid, apparently can design an American muscle car, too. At the Los Angeles Auto Show, with the Southern California tuner Galpin Auto Sports, Fisker unveiled the Galpin-Fisker Rocket, a 725-hp, carbon-fiber-bodied Mustang that goes on sale next ye ...
     Continue reading "Fisker flexes muscle with coachbuilt 725-hp Mustang" » Nov 20, 2014 2:55 pm U.S. ET
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Apple's CarPlay goes missing in L.A. and in the showroom

Posted 11:09 am U.S. ET, Nov. 20
Tech giants Apple and Google have generated a lot of hype over the past 12 months over their plans to tightly integrate their smartphones and app technology with in-car infotainment systems. Apple has made a show of publicly demonstrating its CarPlay software, which will enable drivers to use their dashboard screens and steering wheel buttons and knobs to control iPhone a ...
     Continue reading "Apple's CarPlay goes missing in L.A. and in the showroom" » Nov 20, 2014 11:09 am U.S. ET
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Chevy Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo concept pays homage to past, future

Posted 3:36 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 20
It’s ironic that the most futuristic Vision Gran Turismo virtual racer to date also has the deepest historical ties to motorsports. Chevrolet revealed a real-life mock-up of its imaginative Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo concept during the Los Angeles Auto Show, simultaneously challenging the boundaries of vehicle design while paying homage to a legendary racing b ...
     Continue reading "Chevy Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo concept pays homage to past, future" » Nov 20, 2014 3:36 pm U.S. ET
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Ghosn sets the record straight on price-fixing conspiracy

Posted 12:53 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 20
NEW YORK -- In our package of stories on supplier price-fixing published Monday, one report said Carlos Ghosn inadvertently created the bid-rigging tradition. The argument went thus: Ghosn arrived in 1999 as CEO of Nissan and broke up the cozy keiretsu culture, demanding competitive bidding. In response, suppliers started price fixing. It’s an intriguing scenario. ...
     Continue reading "Ghosn sets the record straight on price-fixing conspiracy" » Nov 20, 2014 12:53 pm U.S. ET
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Mercedes gives Maybach interior the silent treatment

Posted 11:09 am U.S. ET, Nov. 20
One of the highlights of the new Mercedes-Maybach S600 superluxury sedan is something you’re not supposed to notice: noise, or more precisely, the lack of it. Mercedes-Benz is touting the $200,000 car as the quietest on the road, and went to significant lengths to ensure the car’s occupants are sealed off from outside distractions. The noise-deadening measure ...
     Continue reading "Mercedes gives Maybach interior the silent treatment" » Nov 20, 2014 11:09 am U.S. ET
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Free advice for consumers can be worth the price

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 19
There’s a bright spot for dealerships that do a lot of business with automakers’ captive finance companies and preferred lenders, data on the website Wallet Hub show: Car manufacturers (that is, captives) charge the lowest auto loan rates for new cars, at 40 percent below average. Credit unions follow, at 24 percent below average. National banks charge rates t ...
     Continue reading "Free advice for consumers can be worth the price" » Nov 19, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Popping the subprime bubble myth

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 19
There is no subprime auto loan bubble, darn it. That message came through loud and clear at session after session devoted to subprime lending during the Used Car Week conference sponsored by Auto Remarketing magazine last week in Las Vegas. The recurrent theme was sparked by recent media stories -- presumably those by The New York Times -- that claim there is a troubling ...
     Continue reading "Popping the subprime bubble myth" » Nov 19, 2014 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Honda opens Calif. garage to get Android rolling

Posted 1:00 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 18
LOS ANGELES -- To help Google Inc.’s new Android Auto system gain favor, Honda Motor Co. is doing something rare in the auto industry: subsidizing its rivals. Today, at a connected-car conference ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show, Google released the first software developer kit for Android Auto, which puts the navigation and other features from an Android smartpho ...
     Continue reading "Honda opens Calif. garage to get Android rolling" » Nov 18, 2014 1:00 pm U.S. ET
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Just how bad is that traffic jam ahead? New tech lets drivers see it

Posted 3:36 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 18
Traffic apps that alert users about upcoming delays aren’t new. Mobile app Waze, for instance, has turned the navigation experience into a community event thanks to a crowd-sourcing approach where drivers notify one another of upcoming road closures, police traps and traffic conditions -- dotting maps with an array of colorful notification icons. It’s a usefu ...
     Continue reading "Just how bad is that traffic jam ahead? New tech lets drivers see it" » Nov 18, 2014 3:36 pm U.S. ET
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Assembly redo: How Mercedes' Sprinter dodges chicken tax

Posted 11:15 am U.S. ET, Nov. 18
LADSON, S.C. -- A curious exercise in automobile manufacturing takes place daily inside the old, 350,000-square-foot Western Star truck plant here that is now owned by Daimler. This is where Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner Sprinter cargo vans are reassembled after being fully built and tested in Dusseldorf, Germany. It’s the “chicken tax” at work. After ...
     Continue reading "Assembly redo: How Mercedes' Sprinter dodges chicken tax" » Nov 18, 2014 11:15 am U.S. ET
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U.S. driver data rules are not tough enough for Europe

Posted 4:56 am U.S. ET, Nov. 17
Privacy protection guidelines agreed to last week in the U.S. won’t become a global template because they fall short of what is already required in Europe to keep driver data safe, a lawyer specializing on topic says. BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen agreed on Nov. 12 to industrywide principles to handle consu ...
     Continue reading "U.S. driver data rules are not tough enough for Europe" » Nov 17, 2014 4:56 am U.S. ET
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