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Beefed-up B-segment contender previews future engine.

By AutoWeek Aug 30, 2013 6:51AM

Kia Niro

 

 

 

Kia is muscling up for the Frankfurt Motor Show next month with the Niro concept. The Korean brand says the vehicle hints at a possible future B-segment contender.

 

The Niro looks like a Rio on steroids. It sits higher, with bigger wheels and only two doors. It’s painted in black, hence the Niro name, with yellow and stainless steel accents.

 

Kia says the Niro concept is “ready to take on the urban environment with style and tenacity.” And scissor doors, which we can’t see making it into production. But on a serious note, it will preview a new powertrain when it hits the stand in Germany; we’ll have to wait until the motor show gets underway to find out the details.

 

State would determine a household income threshold for current $2,500 rebate.

By Douglas Newcomb Thu 1:39 PM

Tesla Model S. Photo by Tesla.The California legislature wants to phase out state tax incentives that go to wealthy electric vehicle owners -- particularly those who purchase the expensive and popular Tesla Model S.


A recent bill directs the state’s Air Resources Board to determine a household income threshold at which the current clean-vehicle rebate of $2,500 for an electric car would be eliminated.


The bill, SB 1275, sponsored by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), is headed back to the California Senate to approve changes made by the Assembly before going to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until the end of September to sign it into law. According to environmental groups backing the bill, it would make EVs more affordable to working families and help improve California’s air quality.

 

For the first time, the Mustang will be exported globally.

By AutoWeek Thu 7:25 AM




Those of you waiting for a 2015 Ford Mustang are one step closer today as production begins at the Flat Rock, Mich., assembly plant. The new ponycar goes on sale this fall.


For the first time, the Mustang will be exported globally to more than 120 countries. A right-hand drive version will be sold in the U.K., Australia and South Africa. Ford has sold 9.2 million Mustangs in the model’s 50-year history.


The Flat Rock Plant underwent a $555-million investment in the last year, part of which went toward tooling up for the new car. It added a flexible body shop that allows multiple models to be produced on the same line, as well as new paint, dirt detection and laser brazing technologies.

 

Survey finds buyers are less satisfied with cars than with soft drinks, TVs.

By Douglas Newcomb Thu 6:08 AM

Photo by Flikr user Stephen ClarksonWhile automakers have been selling more vehicles in the past few years, they’re not making more buyers happy, according to the results of a recent survey. The American Customer Satisfaction Index score for cars and light trucks has dropped for the second straight year.


The overall ACSI score for the industry is now 82 out of 100, a dip of one point from 2013. ACSI scores decreased for the majority (16 out of the 21) of auto brands included in the survey. Only two U.S. nameplates improved their scores: Chevrolet went up 4 percent with the largest gain and Buick increased by a modest 1 percent. The ACSI attempts to "quantify" opinions with a proprietary formula developed by the University of Michigan. As with any nonscientific poll, the ACSI is simply a relative measure of satisfaction (and since ACSI doesn't divulge how it arrives at such numbers, that's all it can be). 


Cadillac plunged 6 percent, while Acura landed at the bottom of the list and had the most drastic decline at 7 percent. But Cadillac and Acura weren’t the lone laggards in the luxury category. The ACSI scores for BMW and Lexus also fell. And although Mercedes-Benz topped the ACSI list with the highest score of any automaker (86), the brand experienced a 2 percent drop from last year.


"That didn't used to be the case, and it suggests that consumers now expect more for their money when they pay a premium price," Claes Fornell, ACSI chairman and founder, said in a statement.

 

Future vehicle-to-vehicle network that might prevent crashes is expected to cost $60 million per year.

By Douglas Newcomb Wed 9:26 AM

Image by NHTSAAs reported last week, the federal government is taking the first steps toward mandating vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication in all new passenger vehicles. The technology uses radio signals to automatically transmit a car's location, direction of travel and other information 10 times per second, while the same information is received from other vehicles in the vicinity so that drivers can receive audible and visual warnings on potential hazards.


While the government estimates the technology would add $100 to $200 to the cost of each new vehicle for the onboard equipment, the larger question is who pays for setting up and maintaining the V2V network that allows cars to talk to one another. The Department of Transportation wants to move ahead with implementing V2V technology to help reduce accidents, but it hasn’t yet committed resources to building or running the massive system.


"Due to the current fiscal environment, it does not seem plausible," the National Highway Safety Administration wrote in a report on V2V technology released last week along with a proposal to move ahead on mandating the technology. While the federal project has relied on the technical backing of automakers and others, it’s unclear where the financial backing to manage the system will come from, which is estimated to cost about $60 million per year.

 

Texas is fastest with an average of 78.3 mph, Alaska and District of Columbia are the slowest.

By Douglas Newcomb Mon 12:26 PM

Image courtesy of YouTube.Whether you’re stuck behind a dawdling driver (or two) on the interstate or inching along in an urban traffic jam, it can sometimes seem as if everyone around you is moving syrupy slow. But that could also depend on where you live or drive.


In New York -- the state and not just the city -- you may find yourself going slower since it has some of the lowest overall speed limits in the nation, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Whereas in Texas you may find yourself driving quite a bit faster since the Lone Star State ranks as having the highest overall speed limits in the U.S.


The nonprofit GHSA, a group that represents the highway safety offices for each U.S. state, placed Texas at the top of the list for having not only the highest speed limit in the U.S., 85 mph, but also the highest overall average top speed limits for both urban and rural interstates as well as limited access roads: 78.3 mph. This beats Idaho, the next fastest state with a top limit of 80 mph and an average top speed of 76.7 mph, by nearly 2 mph.

 

Oscar-winning actor will do whatever he feels like in several unscripted commercials for the new MKC.

By Clifford Atiyeh Aug 22, 2014 11:53AM
Just months after Matthew McConaughey scored his first-ever Oscar for "Dallas Buyers Club," the actor has now signed a multiyear contract to be Ford's "authentic" pitchman for Lincoln.

Like many of McConaughey's film characters, Lincoln has been dazed and confused with its own image as a luxury brand. At this point even Cadillac, a brand that once seemed doomed to obsolescence, doesn't consider Lincoln to be a real competitor. Its miniscule sales and average products have taken a turn since Ford began marketing it as "The Lincoln Motor Company" in 2012 and put John Slattery from "Mad Men" as its leading man. But Slattery, as with Magic Johnson before him, didn't stay too long.

What Lincoln hopes to do now is channel McConaughey's inner Texan and easygoing, pensive personality into a series of commercials and web videos, some of which will be unscripted.  

Automaker to test safety systems at new 500-acre facility in Sweden that mimics real road conditions.

By Douglas Newcomb Aug 21, 2014 12:27PM

 AstaZero proving ground. Photo by Volvo.Volvo has set an ambitious goal: building vehicles in which “no one should be killed or seriously injured” by the year 2020. While the automaker, like others, can perform a variety of crash tests and trials in labs and other facilities, real-world scenarios are more difficult to replicate. So the next best thing is to build that world.


The automaker is getting help on this from its Swedish neighbor AstaZero, which has just opened what Volvo calls “the world’s first full-scale proving ground for future traffic safety solutions.” Along with help from universities and suppliers, as well as the Swedish government, it’s where Volvo will develop and test new active safety “driver assistance” systems such as its City Safety with pedestrian and bicycle detection that prevent accidents before they happen -- and will help achieve Volvo's no-death goal in six years.


The AstaZero proving ground is located near Volvo’s world headquarters outside Gothenburg, Sweden, and will allow the creation of a multitude of environments, from urban to rural roads to multilane highways. “You can simulate all types of real-world traffic scenarios,” Pether Wallin, CEO of AstaZero said in a statement. “At most proving grounds, the options are more limited.”

 

Feature of car’s Performance Data Recorder locks storage compartments, disables the radio and videos joy rides.

By Douglas Newcomb Aug 20, 2014 1:18PM

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Valet Mode. Photo by Chevrolet.It’s a typical question in the minds of many car owners -- and especially those with high-performance cars -- when they hand the keys to a parking valet: What will they do with my car that I won’t know or see?


You have some clues if you get back in your car and the radio station has been changed and the stereo is cranked or there’s extra miles on the odometer. But you don't always know if they’ve pilfered items from storage compartments or took your car for a joy ride.


Now owners of 2015 Chevrolet Corvettes can keep their cars safe and also capture most of what happens with the Valet Mode that’s part of the optional Performance Data Recorder. It not only locks the car’s storage compartments and disables the radio, but also records video, audio and vehicle data even while the owner is away from the vehicle.


“Think of it as a baby monitor for your car,” Harlan Charles, Corvette product manager, said in a statement. “Anyone who has felt apprehension about handing over their keys will appreciate the peace of mind of knowing exactly what happened while their baby was out of sight.”

 

Contributors

  • Cliff Atiyeh

    Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
    In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)

  • Doug Newcomb

    Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
    In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V

  • James Tate

    James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
    In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5

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