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An early prototype of the Chevrolet Bolt EV undergoing tests at GM's Milford, Mich., proving ground. (GM)
 

GM's new powertrain boss, with bases covered, aims for high batting average

Posted 12:00 pm U.S. ET, July 28
DETROIT -- Fast is a good word to describe Dan Nicholson, who was promoted late last year to head General Motors’ powertrain operations worldwide.
He drives a fast car, a Camaro convertible.
He walks fast and he talks fast.
As vice president of GM global powertrain, Nicholson oversees one of the most complex aspects of the company’s business. Not only does he decide which technologies GM will invest in globally, but he manages powertrain manufacturing and quality, GM’s joint ventures with other companies, such as Ford and Honda, and he has to ensure GM is in compliance with global emissions and fuel economy standards.
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     Continue reading "GM's new powertrain boss, with bases covered, aims for high batting average" » Jul 28, 2015 12:00 pm U.S. ET
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Cadillac's product onslaught: Hurry up and wait

Posted 12:15 pm U.S. ET, July 21
blogs
This year is a fun one productwise for Cadillac, with the arrival of three new V-series cars and the CT6 large sedan by year end. But there's a lull on the horizon.
We have been told to expect big things for Cadillac’s vehicle portfolio -- eight all-new models by 2020.
But a glance at its product-planning timeline shows that dealers and consumers will be waiting quite a while for much of that fresh sheet metal.
This year is a fun one productwise for Cadillac, with the arrival of three new, screamin’-fast V-series cars, and the CT6 large sedan by year end. All fun, brand-halo stuff, if not volume movers.
And, yes, the SRX crossover will be replaced in the spring by the Continue reading "Cadillac's product onslaught: Hurry up and wait" » Jul 21, 2015 12:15 pm U.S. ET
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Sustained lower fuel prices upend product plans

Posted 12:30 pm U.S. ET, July 14
blogs
The Mazda2 won't be coming to U.S. showrooms anytime soon.
With oil gurgling at around $52 per barrel and the average national price of a gallon of gasoline at $2.78, we are starting to see the effects of sustained lower fuel prices on product plans.
• Buyers are migrating to bigger, heavier, fuel-thirstier vehicles. In the first half of the year, trucks captured 54 percent of the new-vehicle market, up from 51 percent during the first half of 2014.
• Sales of many small cars are tanking, especially for those with pricey fuel-saving powertrains. Mazda isn’t bringing the next-generation Mazda2 subcompact to the United States for 2016, though a version will be sold under Toyota&r ...
     Continue reading "Sustained lower fuel prices upend product plans" » Jul 14, 2015 12:30 pm U.S. ET
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So far, F-150's rivals are mostly sticking with steel

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, July 7
blogs
Few automakers are following the lead of Ford's 2015 F-150 pickup, which has adopted an all-aluminum body to save weight and boost fuel economy. (BLOOMBERG)
Nearly everyone thought there would be a rush to aluminum after Ford last year switched the skin and bones of the venerable F-150 pickup from steel to the lightweight material.
It didn’t happen.
Fiat Chrysler is sticking with steel for the next-gen Jeep Wrangler due out in 2017 as a 2018 model.
Nissan stayed with steel for the redesigned Titan pickup arriving this fall, and Honda did so for the next-generation Ridgelin ...
     Continue reading "So far, F-150's rivals are mostly sticking with steel" » Jul 7, 2015 11:45 am U.S. ET
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The (technology) pluses and minuses of a GM-FCA deal

Posted 11:15 am U.S. ET, June 30
blogs
Cadillac's CT6 plug-in hybrid. Access to GM's hybrid technologies would perhaps solve Fiat Chrysler's largest product development problem. (GM)
Technology -- or the expensive lack of it -- is, I believe, at the heart of all this merger talk coming from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Except for the battery-powered Fiat 500e, available in just two states, and the stop-start system offered in certain versions of the Ram 1500 pickup, FCA’s electrification efforts are years behind most competitors’.
The company has no hybrid cars on the road today.
And, looking further out, FCA has no viable fuel cell program. Hyundai is already leasing a fuel cell vehicle in California.
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     Continue reading "The (technology) pluses and minuses of a GM-FCA deal" » Jun 30, 2015 11:15 am U.S. ET
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Why Toyota can set the car-tech agenda

Posted 1:28 pm U.S. ET, June 29
Alix Partners, the turnaround firm, last week assessed the ability of automakers to pay for the cool but expensive technology about to flood into vehicles.
You know, stuff like autonomous driving, connectivity, rearview video screens, lightweight materials and electrified powertrains.
One chart was particularly noteworthy. It ranked automakers by their EBITDA margins and market caps -- in other words, how much they make and how much they’re worth.
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, Toyota was by far the best-positioned. Predictable as that may be, it’s a ...
     Continue reading "Why Toyota can set the car-tech agenda" » Jun 29, 2015 1:28 pm U.S. ET
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Removing the fear when passing a big rig

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, June 23
blogs

Overtaking a large truck on a two-lane road is easily one of the most harrowing maneuvers drivers face, especially if they are accustomed to roads where passing isn't allowed.
Samsung has created a system that could take the guesswork out of passing large trucks that one cannot see around.
The company's prototype Safety Truck features a large screen on the rear door that is connected wirelessly to a camera at the front, essentially allowing the drivers behind the truck to see through it. Think of it as a 21st century update to that bubble on the rear window that some light buses feature that allows one to ...
     Continue reading "Removing the fear when passing a big rig" » Jun 23, 2015 11:45 am U.S. ET
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'Multiphysics': Engineering's new frontier

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, June 23
blogs

Okay, so now it is rocket science.
I spent two days recently with the engineers and software developers who write and use the simulation programs that virtually all automakers use in product development.
The creation process that was once fairly simple -- design blueprints to prototypes to testing to validation to production -- now is often extremely complex, involving engineers from several disciplines who must think in areas outside of their training.
Today’s engineers -- and especially future automotive engineers -- better be good at what is known deep inside ...
     Continue reading "'Multiphysics': Engineering's new frontier " » Jun 23, 2015 11:30 am U.S. ET
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The dark side of electronics

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, June 16
blogs
A rebuilt engine control module introduced several new problems when the 1988 Fiero's engine was fired up. (RICHARD TRUETT)
There’s no doubt that advanced electronics have transformed every aspect of today’s cars. They are cleaner, faster, more efficient, safer, more connected and more capable than ever.
Well, here’s the downside: As cars and light trucks get older, they could be more difficult and expensive to repair -- especially as high-quality electronic replacement parts become difficult to obtain.
This makes sense in light of other types of older consumer goods that heavily rely on electronics. Try getting a computer or television from the 1990s fixed anywhere easily. Chances are, the technology is long ...
     Continue reading "The dark side of electronics" » Jun 16, 2015 11:30 am U.S. ET
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Lifting the curtain on the Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, June 9
blogs
The smart money says the new Grand Wagoneer will sport a modern take on the '70s-style Jeep Cherokee. Several recent Jeep concept vehicles, such as the 2015 Chief, pictured, have featured the old-school Cherokee design.
Fiat Chrysler is inviting thousands of its dealers and their top managers to Las Vegas in August for a very special peep show.
For dealers, it promises to be special because the star of the show won’t be a “who” but a “what”: the resurrected Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
According to dealers on the invite list, Jeep’s three-row luxury SUV will make its behind-the-scenes debut during FCA’s dealer announcement meeting on August 25.
But when it debuts, the Grand Wagoneer will follow in the tracks of the now successful Chrysler 200 sedan. ...
     Continue reading "Lifting the curtain on the Jeep Grand Wagoneer" » Jun 9, 2015 11:30 am U.S. ET
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Product news
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VW rolls out crash avoidance with '16 lineup
6:00 pm U.S. ET, July 29
Volkswagen, catching up to its luxury siblings, will offer sensor-based safety features across nearly its entire U.S. lineup for model year 2016. ...
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Honda readies more sporty, luxurious Civic
With the official debut of Honda's redesigned Civic just a few months away, the latest spy ...
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Hyundai compact truck based on Santa Cruz concept set for approval
Positive public reaction on the auto show circuit has reportedly helped persuade Hyundai t ...
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GM plans $5B vehicle family for emerging markets
GM plans to spend $5 billion over the next several years to develop a new range of technol ...
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Jeep hacking sends warning to BMW, Audi and Mercedes
When friendly hackers landed a Jeep Cherokee in a ditch last week, it sent a warning to BM ...
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At last, Honda and Toyota prepare for turbo charge
After years of setting the pace in fuel economy without relying on technologies like turbo ...
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Hack attack vs. FCA shows flaws with rush to connectivity
By the time it was publicized last week that hackers managed to take over a Jeep Cherokee, ...
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R&D HUB
Honda flexes research muscle with new Silicon Valley center
Honda last week opened to journalists its new 35,000-square-foot Silicon Valley r&d lab, w ...
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Audi performance unit kills manual gearbox, naturally aspirated V-8
Audi's quattro GmbH performance division is slaughtering a few sacred cows among sports ca ...
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Infiniti uncovers its A3 fighter
The production version of Infiniti's Q30 compact hatch unveiled last week stays faithful t ...
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Here come the Kia crossovers
Kia is gearing up for a run at the fast-growing subcompact crossover segment with a dedica ...
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Fiat working on Abarth variant of 124
Fiat plans a high-performance version of the upcoming Fiat 124, Alfredo Altavilla, COO of ...
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BRADFORD WERNLE
Autonomous vehicle explosion brings challenges
Conundrum is defined by Webster's New World College Dictionary as a puzzling question or p ...
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J FERRON
Thinking outside the customers' box
Innovation drives the automotive industry. ...
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Making a car's sensors work like our senses
Autopilot systems like Cadillac's Super Cruise will rely on “sensor fusion,” i ...
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