Monday, 24 April 2017 09:45 PM

BMW M4 CS Delivers 454 HP, Will Come to U.S.

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The track-bred GTS may be the ultimate expression of M4 power and performance, but unfortunately that model isnot ideal for everyday driving and is limited to just 300 examples. Enter the BMW M4 CS, which could be the next best thing.

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The BMW M4 CS made its global debut at the Shanghai auto show this week. Slotting between the M4 Competition Package and the extremeM4GTS, the special edition will arrive in U.S. dealerships next year.

Powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder engine, the BMW M4 CS produces 454 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. That means it has 29 more hp than the standard M4 coupe and 10 more hp than the Competition model. Top speed is limited to 174 mph, and according to BMW's preliminary estimates, the model should hit 60 mph from a standstill in 3.8 seconds. The CS was able to lap the Nrburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes, 38 seconds.

NEW YORK -- General Motors has nearly 100 days' worth of inventory right now but plans to get that down to about 70 by the end of the year, in part by taking some of its plants offline for 10 weeks in the summer and fall.

GM says it purposely built up its inventories -- currently at their highest level in nine years -- in anticipation of the downtime, which is needed to retool for upcoming models, including updated pickups. The plans, revealed last week by GM North America President Alan Batey, are a sign that redesigns of the all-important Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra will arrive in 2018.

"Our inventory is high because we're going to take 10 weeks out in the back end of the year as we're modifying our plants, particularly with pickup trucks," Batey told reporters after GM unveiled the second generation of its Buick Enclave crossover in New York.

GM had a 97-day supply of vehicles as of April 1, according to the Automotive News Data Center, up from 91 days a month earlier and 71 days on Jan. 1. But considering the coming downtime, "we are absolutely where I want us to be," Batey said.

He said GM expects to finish 2017 with about the same level of inventory as it started the year with and that GM could cut production further if the market falls short of expectations, though no specific plant actions are planned.

"If we need to balance supply and demand, we'll do it," he said.

GM eliminated production shifts at two car plants in Michigan and one in Ohio during the first quarter. That helped reduce car inventories to a 101-day supply as of April 1 from 123 days on March 1.

But supplies of light trucks jumped to 96 days' worth from 81 last month. GM had a 115-day supply of the Silverado on April 1.

Batey declined to say when GM planned to introduce a redesigned Silverado and Sierra. Analysts and dealers have told Automotive News that they expect GM to begin selling its next-generation full-size pickups in the second half of 2018. The current generation of the Silverado and Sierra went on sale in 2013, and GM freshened them in 2015.

He said pickups account for "a big piece" of the plant retooling planned for later this year but that other models are involved as well.

"I'm not going into details," Batey said, "but we have some exciting things coming out."

GM officials also have cited the introduction of four redesigned crossovers as a major reason for the company's inventory spike. Chevy dealers began selling the second-generation Equinox in March, and GM is preparing to launch new versions of the Chevy Traverse, GMC Terrain and Buick Enclave by the fall.

In terms of volume, GM's inventories have climbed 36 percent since Aug. 1, reaching 925,000 units on April 1. Executives have said they expect inventories to begin declining in the second quarter.

By Cheryl Jensen

Today the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released its newest used-car choices for teens, which are broken down into two categories with 49 “best choices” starting at under $20,000 and 82 “good choices” starting at under $10,000.

The choice of a car for a teen is important, given these most recent (2015) statistics about teen drivers: 1,886 young drivers (those ages 15 to 20) died in motor vehicle crashes and approximately 195,000 were injured.

Because inexperienced drivers have higher crash rates than older, more experienced ones, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it doesn’t make sense to put young, inexperienced drivers in older cars that may not have the latest safety equipment. Yet it happens, as parents may want to pass down an older car or truck to a teen -- or may need to because of stretched budgets.

How wise that is depends on the vehicle.

In 2014, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) published the results of a small survey of parents of teen drivers, which found that cars driven by teens of these parents were older, smaller and less safe. That’s when the organization issued its first recommendations of what it considered to be the safest used vehicles for teens, while keeping an eye on the budget.

This year's safe choices range in price from $2,000 for a Saab 9-3 from the 2005 to 2011 model

years up to $19,800 for an Infiniti M37/M56/Q70 model year 2013 or newer. (Although the Saab choice may seem strange, at least it did to me since the brand is gone, an IIHS spokesman said they did not want to exclude the Saab for that reason.)

The prices on the list apply to the earliest model listed, are provided by Kelley Blue Book and based on purchases in the Arlington, Va. area, which is where IIHS is headquartered. You can check prices in your area at KBB.com.

There are choices in all vehicle segments with two exceptions: No minicars or small cars are on the list because the laws of physics apply -- so I'm told by those who understand them -- and bigger, heavier vehicles are safer in a crash. Size is one of several basic principles that the IIHS used to make these choices and it recommends that all parents take these principles into account when looking for any car for their teens.

The organization also recommends avoiding vehicles with a lot of horsepower, since it can prove too tempting for teens to use that power. Even though some of the vehicles have versions with high-horsepower engines, it recommends versions with the base engine.

Thursday, 06 April 2017 06:42 PM

Audi, Porsche to work together

Logo of German car manufacturer Audi is seen at a building of a car dealer in Duebendorf

 

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen Group's <VOWG_p.DE> Audi and Porsche brands will join forces on vehicle development, the two upmarket brands said on Wednesday, to help the world's largest carmaker save money in the wake of its costly emissions test cheating scandal

The pact comes as Volkswagen (VW) Chief Executive Matthias Mueller, who previously worked as Porsche's CEO and Audi's head of product management, finalizes a plan to step up development of autonomous cars, electric vehicles and digital services.

Porsche and Audi said the focus was on jointly developing shared vehicle platforms, modules and components, in a deal that follows a period of intense in-house competition for development resources.

Projects will be jointly headed by representatives from each brand. In the coming months, joint teams will prepare the specific areas of cooperation and define a roadmap to 2025, they said.

Porsche, taken over by VW 2012, has emerged as a strong rival engineering center to Audi. Porsche's MSB platform, used for its four-seater Panamera model, has been adopted for VW group's next generation Bentley Continental model even though Audi had developed a similar offering.

Since the group's emissions test cheating on diesel engines was exposed in September 2015, Audi has lost two research and development chiefs and the head of its automotive electronics division, who did pioneering work in the area of autonomous driving and battery technology.

Audi remains the group's center of excellence for sport-utility vehicles, a lucrative and growing market, where it supplies platforms to Porsche and other brands such as Bentley.

With self-driving vehicles likely to play a major future role in the industry, Audi also develops autonomous cars for the group.

But a separate internal race has begun to become an engineering hub for electric vehicles, a field which includes research and development of battery cells, battery packs and electric motors.

Porsche has developed the J1 electric cars platform, while Audi has also worked on its own electric car.

Porsche has also taken over production of eight-cylinder gasoline engines for large sportscars for the VW group, even though Audi has its own engine factory in Hungary.

(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Mark Potter)

Toyota owes Microsoft a big ol' "thank you" when it comes to the future of the automaker's connected cars.

Microsoft will license a good deal of its connected car patents to Toyota, Automotive News reports. Toyota will have access to a number of intellectual properties covering operating systems, voice recognition, artificial intelligence and gesture control. It has not been disclosed how much money Toyota paid for this access, but it probably wasn't cheap.

This isn't the first time Microsoft and Toyota have teamed up. The two are working together, and have been for the past year, on Toyota's data science center. Toyota Connected uses Microsoft's cloud computing platform to work on services that focus on individualizing customer experiences.

Don't expect Toyota to be the only one to benefit, though. It's not an exclusive agreement, so Microsoft is free to offer its technologies to other automakers. Not only will that benefit additional manufacturers, it also means more money for Microsoft. Talk about a win-win.

Microsoft, of course, is not in the business of manufacturing vehicles, and that's extremely unlikely to change. But it's a veritable powerhouse when it comes to developing intellectual property, and given the increasing computerization of the automotive industry, it makes sense for Microsoft to turn its attention to connected car technologies.

The tech giant is no stranger to working with automakers other than Toyota. Renault-Nissan is using Microsoft's Azure platform to flesh out its connected car services, including over-the-air updates. Volvo is working with Microsoft's HoloLens augmented-reality system to interact with virtual parts during development.

Monday, 20 March 2017 09:28 AM

VW to launch T-Roc in U.S. in '19

The Volkswagen T-Roc, shown as a concept at the 2014 Geneva auto show, may be renamed before going on sale in the U.S.

 

Volkswagen will launch the T-Roc compact crossover in the United States in 2019, slotting it below the new Mexico-built Tiguan, after U.S. dealers gave a firm commitment they can sell enough of the vehicle to make it profitable.

Since the U.S. is build-to-stock rather than build-to-order, a source at the company told Automotive News, the decision ultimately depended on whether VW's 650 retail partners would vote in favor of the introduction.

While the decision to move ahead with the T-Roc has been made, other key factors are undecided. It remains unclear, for example, whether the model would be built in VW's Chattanooga plant; in Puebla, Mexico; or even imported from its European factory in Portugal.

Moreover, the 2017 model-year Tiguan imported currently from Germany may continue to be sold alongside the longer-wheelbase version 2018 Tiguan as long as there is demand for it. This could mean that dealers have three SUVs -- both Tiguans and the new Atlas -- to offer customers until the T-Roc lands two years from now, potentially increasing the Tiguan's volume beyond the current 3,500 sold a month.

Cadillac V2V System

While Audi has introduced vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in select cars in select cities, Cadillac is focusing on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, and it all starts with the CTS sedan. Starting this month, the company will be adding V2V equipment to 2017 models. The feature will be standard on cars in the US and Canada.

These V2V devices will allow these new Cadillacs to communicate with each other up to 980 feet away. The cars will be able to transmit and receive information on speed, direction, and location. An example of how this data can be used is in detecting a car coming up a side street that could pose a possible collision risk. The cars will also be able to transmit data about brake use, hazard lights, and low traction situations for advance warning of hazards. The warnings can be displayed on the instrument panel and heads-up display.

Currently, the system only communicates with other CTS sedans equipped with the technology. According to Chris Bonelli at Cadillac part of the reason is that the CTS will be the only car with the equipment on US roads at the moment, but it also isn't currently set to communicate with other cars if they were to be offered right away. However, he said that the company is absolutely willing to work with other companies to make the system compatible if or when other cars are offered with the technology. This V2V system also doesn't send data to any sort of network, instead only communicating with nearby cars. For the time being, this precludes the possibility of receiving road condition information from cars that are farther away. But as Cadillac points out, it should work under any conditions with no delay since it isn't dependent on information from a network.

mercedes benz logo

About 308,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles across the United States will soon be recalled because of a potential fire hazard.

The problem has been linked to 35 car fires in the country, the company said Friday. Mercedes said its parent company, Daimler AG (DMLRY), determined that there's an issue with an engine part that can cause an electrical fire.

 

The recall will include certain C- and E-Class vehicles, as well as CLA, GLA and GLC vehicles.

"This situation typically occurs in the rare situation where a vehicle is stranded in a significant amount of standing water and the engine stalls and cannot be restarted on the first try," a Mercedes spokesperson told CNNMoney.

The company said it's currently unaware of any injuries or deaths resulting from the issue.

Related: $4 million Lamborghini supercars recalled after fires

The recall is voluntary, and Mercedes said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration -- which helps companies carry out recalls -- has been notified.

The company expects to alert U.S. customers about the problem over the next 60 days. To fix a vehicle included in the recall, customers are typically instructed to bring it into a dealer. Mercedes said the fix for this issue will take about an hour to complete.

Reuters reported Friday that the recall also includes roughly another 700,000 vehicles abroad. A spokesperson for the U.S. arm of Mercedes was not able to verify those numbers for CNNMoney.

Daimler AG did not immediately respond to CNNMoney's request for comment.

Jaguar I-Pace Concept, 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show

Today, we look at six new electric cars coming in 2018 and 2019, Daimler invests in charging network ChargePoint, and a new study indicates U.S. fleet average fuel economy did not increase much over the past 25 years. All this and more on Green Car Reports.

We have additional plug-in electric car sales figures for February 2017, showing that the Chevrolet Volt outsold not only the Bolt EV, but the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius Prime as well.

From the second-generation Nissan Leaf to the Porsche Mission E, check out these six new electric cars coming in the next two years.

A lobbying group projects that biofuels would be needed to offset the climate impact of the 3 billion cars it estimates will be on world roads by 2050.

See the inside of a Tesla Model S battery pack, courtesy of this YouTube video teardown.

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler invested in ChargePoint, joining BMW and providing funding for expansion of the charging network's European operations.

Overall U.S. fleet gas mileage rose only slightly over the last 25 years, according to a new study.

Toyota believes plug-in hybrids will catch on faster than battery-electric cars. We asked our Twitter followers what they thought about that.

How much will Tesla's upcoming "affordable car" actually cost? One reader creates a hypothetical Tesla Model 3 pricing grid for the eagerly anticipated electric car.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles warned investors about the possible negative impact of recent diesel lawsuits and government inquiries.

Finally, the H600 is a hybrid luxury sedan from Chinese startup Hybrid Kinetic that will debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

 

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