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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

As Tesla Model Y Debuts, Musk Asks: Do You Think We’re “S3XY”?

New Model Y to be offered in four distinct versions – but economy buyers will have to wait.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.15, 2019

The Tesla Model Y is likely to look quite familiar to fans of the earlier Model 3 sedan.

The long-awaited Tesla Model Y made its formal debut on Thursday night, with CEO Elon Musk declaring it takes an already attractive line-up and makes it “S3XY.” The inside joke adds the new electric SUV to the automaker’s existing line-up of Models S, 3 and X.

But there’s a serious side to the launch. Tesla continues to struggle to right its balance sheet, plunging back into the red this quarter after earning money during the second half of 2018. The Model Y is expected to become Tesla’s best-seller, Musk declared, telling his audience “we’ll do more Model Ys than S, X and 3 combined.” And that includes not just the U.S. but also China, where Tesla is struggling to get a foothold in the world’s largest market for battery-electric vehicles.

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The Model Y will be one of the vehicles Tesla plans to produce once it opens up a new plant in Shanghai later this year. That will give it a way to hold costs down and also to sidestep any escalation in the U.S.-China trade war.

(Here’s our Model Y preview. Click Here to see how close we came.)

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First Drive: 2019 GMC Sierra

Luxury and technology mated to power and performance.

by Joseph Szczesny on Mar.12, 2019

The GMC Sierra continues the brand's legacy a near-luxury vehicle, especially tough for a full-size pickup.

As a brand, GMC has come a long way from the days when it was a “work truck” often sold on dusty lots deep in parts of the city zoned for industrial use.

It has undergone a transformation in recent years that has made its utility vehicles a rival of luxury brands and the changes have also altered the GMC brand’s bread-and-butter vehicle, the pickup truck, which is more than evident in the GMC Sierra, which has been completely redesigned for the 2019 model year.

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The fact is when you’re riding in the cab of a 2019 GMC Sierra, if you close your eyes for a moment at a stop light, you might think you’re riding in a big, luxury sedan because the plush, comfortable interior and the surprisingly smooth ride and refined, overall performance out on the road or on the highway. (more…)

Nissan IMQ “Signals the Direction” of Future Electric CUVs

A “seamless” blending of exterior and interior design.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.05, 2019

Nissan designers opted for a sharper and more angular approach to the design of the IMQ.

Think of the new Nissan IMQ concept vehicle as a rolling crystal ball. Following on the debut of the IMs prototype at the Detroit Auto Show two months ago, the Japanese maker says its latest concept “signals the direction of (its) next generation of crossovers.”

Make that battery-electric CUVs, for the concept vehicle that debuted today at the Geneva Motor Show reveals the next-generation e-Power system, an all-electric powertrain that you might think of as the familiar Nissan Leaf on steroids.

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Actually, that is a bit misleading, as the Nissan IMQ carries with it a 1.5-liter gas engine that serves solely as a generator, providing energy when the battery is drained. That’s the same approach BMW has taken with its little i3 city car. The internal combustion engine never actually provides direct power to the wheels.

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First Drive: 2019 Audi A8 L Quattro

A supreme combination of luxury and performance.

by Joseph Szczesny on Mar.05, 2019

The Audi A8 L Quattro may be among the best-looking vehicles on the road today.

Passenger cars come in wide variety of shapes and sizes.

But no vehicle has the presence and stately grace of a well-made sedan and the Audi A8 L Quattro certainly fits the bill with its extra-long wheel base, roomy cabin, quiet ride and an extensive complement of technology designed to make driving less stressful and even less eventful for the driver.

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However, I also had a sneaking suspicion when I saw the spacious rear seat that this was actually a car where a chauffeur did the driving while the owner and his or her colleagues enjoy the comfortable ride and perhaps the view from large side windows. (more…)

Lyft IPO Depends on an Autonomous Future

Driverless vehicles would eliminate its biggest expense.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.04, 2019

Lyft continues to grow, but to accelerate that, the company is looking to raise big money through an IPO.

Running in the red every single quarter is normally not a good formula for success, though Tesla has shown that deficits aren’t necessarily verboten with investors. So, despite losing more than $2 billion during  the last two years alone, Lyft is preparing to go public.

The federal paperwork it filed last week is loaded with cautionary notes, and it appears to be asking potential investors to keep their eye on one development that could transform Lyft – as well as competitors like Uber and Waymo – into a cash cow: the arrival of driverless vehicle.

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“We have incurred net losses each year since our inception and we may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability in the future,” the company said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (more…)

Volvo to Limit Speed of All Future Models to 112 MPH

Move to address “dangers of speeding” comes as part of Vision 2020 safety plan.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.04, 2019

Volvo Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said to improve the safety of its vehicles, they will be limited to 112 mph starting in 2021.

As part of its plan to prevent all deaths in future products, Volvo said Monday that it will limit the top speed to a maximum 180 kmh, or 112 mph starting with all models produced in 2021.

The automaker has laid out a strategy, dubbed Vision 2020, that aims to prevent all deaths and serious injuries in its products. It has been rolling out an assortment of passive and active safety features to help reach that goal, but sees the new self-imposed speed limit as a critical element in reaching its target.

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“Because of our research, we know where the problem areas are when it comes to ending serious injuries and fatalities in our cars,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “And while a speed limitation is not a cure-all, it’s worth doing if we can even save one life.” (more…)

Pedestrian Deaths Climb to 28-Year High

Experts search for solutions, both high and low-tech.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.01, 2019

The BMW X1 failed the IIHS pedestrian test, sending the dummy airborne during the exercise. Others suggest SUVs play a large role in rising pedestrian deaths.

Pedestrian deaths continued to rise at an alarming rate last year, reaching a 28-year high, according to new government data.

While a variety of factors appear to be responsible, including the use of smartphones by both drivers and pedestrians, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association also is pointing the finger at the explosive growth of SUVs which, like other light trucks, have tall, blunt noses that make it less likely someone will roll off of a vehicle when struck.

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Though formal federal data has yet to be released, the GHSA used statistical data analysis to estimate that 6,227 men, women and children were killed while walking on or alongside U.S. roads last year. If the official numbers back that up it would mark a 4% increase from 2017, and the largest number of pedestrian fatalities since 2018. (more…)

First Drive: 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan

More than just the car car for first-time buyers.

by Ron Sessions on Feb.26, 2019

The 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE reflects the company's commitment to car production in the near term. (Photo credit: Ron Sessions)

By now, you’ve heard that some automakers are dropping small sedans and hatchbacks from their line-ups. These automakers are buoyed by the heady sales and big profits of luxed-out full-size pickups and every conceivable micro-slice of SUV and crossover.

The Big Three in particular are moving passenger cars to the exit doors. Especially small ones. FCA nixed the Dart and Chrysler 200 a couple years ago, Chevrolet is giving the Cruze, Volt and Impala the heave-ho and Ford is saying adios to all of passenger cars save the Mustang.

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In a mindset that laser-focuses on stock price and quarterly profits, culling the low- or no-profit passenger cars and cranking up production of high-dollar trucks sort of makes sense. Except that line of thinking leaves first-time car buyers kind of out in the cold.  (more…)

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance Partnering With Google

Move marks beginning of post-Ghosn era.

by Joseph Szczesny on Feb.18, 2019

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is making plans with Waymo to find ways to exploit the ever-changing mobility world.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which is preparing to hang together in the post-Ghosn era, plans to join Google’s camp for developing autonomous taxis and other services using self-driving vehicles.

The automakers intend to work with Waymo, a Google spinoff that is among the leaders in technology for self-driving cars. The companies are in the final phase of talks, and plan to announce the arrangement as early as spring, according to a Japanese news service.

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The partnership would unite a car alliance whose global sales totaled 10.8 million automobiles in 2018 with a developer whose self-driving vehicles have traveled more than 10 million miles on U.S. public roads as of October. Waymo has forged similar deals with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover, but the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance boasts greater scale. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie

Comfort reminiscent of a luxury car with truck utility.

by Joseph Szczesny on Feb.12, 2019

The 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie offers comfort reminiscent of a luxury car, but offers plenty of truck utility.

Pickup trucks are hot now and no truck is getting more attention than the Ram 1500, which is ringing up scores of plaudits.

The honors, among them North American Truck of The Year for 2019, are well deserved.

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For anyone who has driven traditional pickup for work, climbing into the cab of a Ram 1500 Laramie is a revelation as it has the kind of comfortable luxury one traditionally associates with full-sized luxury sedans. (more…)