• Ford improves knee airbag system for 2015 Mustang

    June 20, 2014
    Ford has detailed its new knee-airbag system that will make its debut in the redesigned 2015 Mustang.

    The technology centers around an inflatable plastic bladder that is directly integrated into the glove box door, sandwiched between the inner and outer door panels. When an accident is detected, the bladder inflates and extends the entire outer door toward the passenger’s legs to provide cushioning.

    The new system is said to be 65 percent lighter and 75 percent smaller than traditional knee-airbag designs, without compromising passenger protection. It also eliminates the need for a seam or dedicated airbag cover, allowing designers to move the dashboard closer to the windshield for a ‘roomier’ cabin.

    The new Mustang features additional crash sensors and eight airbags, doubling the airbag count of the current model. Both the fastback and convertible include driver and passenger front and seat-mounted side airbags, along with a driver knee airbag, while the convertible adds a seat-mounted head airbag on each side. Anchor-side seatbelt pretensioners are also new, helping keep occupants in a more secure position in the event of a crash.

    The company suggests the bladder in the new knee-airbag technology will likely be utilized to place additional protection systems throughout upcoming vehicle interiors.

  • Fiat offloading $820M in assets to fund new luxury models

    June 20, 2014
    Fiat is reportedly planning to offload over 600 million euros (~$815 million USD) in assets as part of a broader strategy to focus on new luxury models and expanding Jeep’s global reach.

    The divestment is said to include a 2.5-percent stake in truck and agricultural equipment maker CNH Industrial, along with a 3.5-percent stake in its own Fiat shares.

    The merged entity Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recently outlined an ambitious five-year plan, aiming to double Jeep sales by bringing the SUVs to six more countries. Focusing on the luxury segment, Maserati will attempt to transition to a semi-volume nameplate while Alfa Romeo is reinvented with eight new models.

    The Chrysler story is one investors have followed from the beginning. We were the poor kids, Cinderella at the ball,” CEO Sergio Marchionne said to reporters this week in England, as quoted by Bloomberg. “People in the U.S. actually like that. They like what happened. We paid all the money back and it was clean.”

    Some investors and analysts are skeptical of the pitch, criticizing the automaker for embracing a nine-brand strategy rather than paring down the nameplates to focus on the strongest performers. Doubters argue that the company is unlikely to reach its growth goals, despite plans to invest 55 billion euros (~$75 billion USD) in the revitalization effort.

  • Zombie-themed Hyundai Tucson arrives in dealers

    June 20, 2014
    Hyundai is preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse with a new “The Walking Dead” themed Tucson SUV available at dealers nationwide today.

    Hyundai has been building one-off customs for “The Walking Dead” franchise since 2012, but fans of the comic book and television series will now finally be able to park one of Hyundai’s survival machines in their garage.

    “The Walking Dead” Special Edition Tucson features several unique upgrades over the standard Tucson, including “The Walking Dead” graphics, unique badging and zombie-themed floor and cargo mats. “The Walking Dead” Special Edition Tucson even comes with a backpack-style zombie survival kit.

    Hyundai says “The Walking Dead” Special Edition Tucson will be a limited production vehicle, but the automaker hasn’t announced just how many examples it plans to produce. Official pricing for the package is not known at this time.

  • VW Beetle GRC rallycross edition makes public debut with 544 hp

    June 20, 2014
    Volkswagen has unveiled its finalized Beetle GRC race car, which is now ready to run in the Red Bull Global Rallycross championship.

    The car resembles a third-generation Beetle, however it has been built from the ground up as a GRC car with a sequential six-speed transmission and fixed-ratio all-wheel-drive system.

    The rally build is powered by a lower-displacement engine than its street counterpart, squeezing 544 horsepower out of VW’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder TSI engine. Output is slightly below the initial estimate of 560 ponies, but still provides enough power to bring the car up to 60 mph from a standstill in an estimated 2.1 seconds.

    Other modifications include new strut suspension all around, providing 9.1 inches of travel for the off-road portions of the course, along with an outsize rear wing and an aggressive front fascia.

    The car is being operated by the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team, clad in No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink livery with Tanner Foust and Scott Speed behind the wheel.

    There’s no cooler looking car in the series,” Foust claims.

  • Hyundai unveils 2015 Sonata Eco

    June 20, 2014
    Hyundai has unveiled a more fuel-efficient variant of the 2015 Sonata called Sonata Eco.

    The Sonata Eco is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 177 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a brand-new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that helps Hyundai’s mid-sizer return 28 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg in a combined cycle.

    All told, the Sonata Eco is over 10 percent more efficient than a Sonata SE equipped with the popular 190-horsepower 2.4-liter four-banger. Performance specifications have not been published yet.

    The Sonata Eco comes standard with a generous selection of standard features including a five-inch color touch screen integrated into the center stack, automatic headlights, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, chrome trim on the radiator grille and a rear-view camera.

    Buyers seeking a better-equipped car can order a Technology Package that adds a long list of equipment including a Blind Spot Detection System with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist, a hands-free trunk lid, chrome exterior door handles, a proximity key and leather-upholstered heated front seats.

    Built in Alabama, the 2015 Sonata Eco will go on sale across the nation in the coming weeks. It will sticker for $23,275 before an $810 destination charge is factored in, and selecting the aforementioned Technology Package bumps the price up by $4,100.