• Delphi’s Audi SQ5 completes autonomous coast-to-coast trip

    April 3, 2015
    Delphi Automotive’s modified Audi SQ5 has successfully completed its journey from San Francisco to New York City, claiming the title of first coast-to-coast trip by an autonomous vehicle.
    The expedition took nine days, crossing 15 states and Washington DC, exposing the self-driving system to traffic circles, construction zones, tunnels, aggressive drivers and a wide range of weather conditions.

    “Our vehicle performed remarkably well during this drive, exceeding our expectations,” said Delphi CTO Jeff Owens. “The knowledge obtained from this trip will help optimize our existing active safety products and accelerate our future product development, which will allow us to deliver unsurpassed automotive grade technologies to our customers.”

    The company has plenty of data to sift through, amassing nearly three terabytes of data across the 3,400-mile transit.

    The crossover prototype was outfitted with extra electronics, such as LiDAR and radar sensors, complementing the production model’s existing suite of cameras and integrated radar components.

    Although the trip may be the first completed by an autonomous vehicle, it is not the first fully-autonomous trip across the country. The SQ5 drove itself for 99 percent of the miles, but human drivers took over when the car was off the highway.

    Lane-holding is already a common technology across the industry. More vehicles will soon be able to operate autonomously on highways, but the real challenge is off the high-speed roads where the cars face a much more complex and less-predictable environment.

    Several major automakers appear to be aiming for partially autonomous production vehicles by 2020, with fully autonomous technology likely waiting until 2030 or later.

  • McLaren prices 570S, confirms cheaper 540C

    April 3, 2015
    McLaren has announced U.S. pricing for its latest 570S sports car. The 570S made its global debut earlier this week at the New York auto show.
    The inaugural vehicle in McLaren’s newly minted Sport Series line, the 570S Coupe will carry a base MSRP of $184,900. That price tag puts the 570S about on par with the Porsche 911 Turbo S and Ferrari California T.

    Although it’s tough to call a car that list for nearly $200,000 a bargain, the 570S does give you a lot for your money. The 570S boast a carbon fiber chassis, carbon ceramic disc brakes, an adjustable suspension system and a 3.8L twin-turbocharged V8 capable of hitting speeds in excess of 200mph.

    For those that can’t quite come up with the $184,900 required for the 570S, a cheaper option is on the way. McLaren also announced that it will launch a less expensive 540C model at the upcoming Shanghai Motor Show. U.S. pricing wasn’t announced, but the 540C will list from £126,000 in the UK, or about 17 grand less than the 570S. If that pricing holds true, the 540C should go for something in the neighborhood of $160,000 in the U.S.

    Both the 570S and 540C are expected to be available through McLaren outlets by the end of the year.

    Live images by Brian Williams.

  • West Virginia bans Tesla direct sales

    April 3, 2015
    West Virginia Governor Ray Tomblin has signed into law a bill that will bar Tesla Motors from selling directly to customers in the state.
    The state may not be at the top of Tesla’s priority list, but it nonetheless serves as a blow to the company’s battle against dealer franchise laws in a handful of US states, following on the heels of a victory in New Jersey.

    The legislation was supported by Senate President Bill Cole, a franchised auto dealer with Honda, Nissan, Kia, Subaru and Hyundai showrooms in West Virginia and neighboring Kentucky. The West Virginia Automobile & Truck Dealers Association is also listed as one of his top campaign donors, according to FollowTheMoney.org.

    The bill included wording that prohibits a manufacturer from acting “in the capacity of a new motor vehicle dealer.” The company had reportedly lobbied for an amendment that would allow non-franchisor manufacturers to sell directly at a limited number of stores, however the provision was rejected, the West Virginia dealer association’s president, Ruth Lemmon, said in a statement to Automotive News.

    “I just can’t understand why if you want to be in the auto transportation business, why you wouldn’t want to be part of a proven model,” she opined.

    Tesla has not yet publicly commented on the setback.

  • March sales: FCA and Audi grow, Ford and GM slip

    April 3, 2015

    March proved a tough month for many automakers, but some companies seemed unaffected and maintained double-digit growth.

    Audi and Jeep were among the big winners, with respective sales gains of 20 percent and 23 percent. Chrysler brand sales rose by 15 percent, while Hyundai posted a 12-percent increase for the month. Among the lower-volume automakers, Mini sales jumped by 60 percent for the month and Land Rover experienced a 45-percent surge.

    Volkswagen and Dodge were among the worst performers, with sales down by 18 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Single-digit falloffs were reported by Acura, Cadillac, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Lincoln and Mazda.

    Despite the trouble in March, most automakers have still maintained positive growth for the first three months of the year. Analysts at Kelly Blue Book expect the industry to grow by 2.5 percent for the year.

    March year-over-year:

    - Acura down 6%, 14,670
    - Alfa new, 73
    - Audi up 20%, 17,102
    - Bentley down 21%, 220
    - BMW up 7%, 34,310
    - Buick up 1%, 20,526
    - Cadillac down 7%, 13,756
    - Chevrolet down 3%, 173,886
    - Chrysler up 15%, 30,038
    - Dodge down 24%, 46,049
    - Fiat down 5%, 4,494
    - Ford down 3%, 227,234
    - GMC up 1%, 41,707
    - Honda down 5%, 111,623
    - Hyundai up 12%, 75,019
    - Infiniti flat, 12,525
    - Jaguar down 9%, 1,660
    - Jeep up 23%, 71,584
    - Kia up 7%, 58,771
    - *Lamborghini up 3%, 63
    - Land Rover up 54%, 6,778
    - Lexus up 9%, 31,054
    - Lincoln down 3%, 8,695
    - Maserati up 3%, 996
    - Mazda down 8%, 32,123
    - **Mercedes-Benz up 9%, 29,921
    - MINI up 60%, 5,829
    - Mitsubishi up 9%, 9,764
    - Nissan down 3%, 132,560
    - Porsche up 13%, 4,291
    - Ram up 1%, 45,023
    - Scion down 25%, 4,424
    - smart down 25%, 583
    - Subaru up 10%, 49,111
    - *Tesla down 20%, 1,200
    - Toyota up 4.4%, 194,905
    - Volkswagen down 18%, 30,025
    - Volvo flat, 5,916

    2015 year-to-date:

    - Acura up 5%, 39,644
    - Alfa new, 217
    - Audi up 14%, 40,098
    - Bentley down 21%, 512
    - BMW up 8%, 78,492
    - Buick down 5%, 50,497
    - Cadillac down 6%, 37,175
    - Chevrolet up 5%, 476,556
    - Chrysler up 13%, 81,933
    - Dodge down 15%, 46,094
    - Fiat down 3%, 11,038
    - Ford up 2%, 573,185
    - GMC up 15%, 119,811
    - Honda up 2%, 294,299
    - Hyundai up 8%, 172,029
    - Infiniti up 8%, 33,842
    - Jaguar down 8%, 4,336
    - Jeep up 23%, 178,749
    - Kia up 6%, 141,100
    - *Lamborghini up 3%, 189
    - Land Rover up 30%, 16,976
    - Lexus up 19%, 77,180
    - Lincoln down 1%, 21,478
    - Maserati down 19%, 1,929
    - Mazda flat, 78,044
    - **Mercedes-Benz up 8%, 78,156
    - MINI up 48%, 12,777
    - Mitsubishi up 20%, 23,790
    - Nissan up 3%, 333,786
    - Porsche up 13%, 11,430
    - Ram up 9%, 110,406
    - Scion down 17%, 11,978
    - smart down 31%, 1,533
    - Subaru up 17%, 131,281
    - *Tesla down 20%, 3,600
    - Toyota up 11%, 575,620
    - Volkswagen down 9%, 79,239
    - Volvo flat, 13,722

    *Based on estimates from Automotive News.
    ** NOT including Sprinter

    Highlights (sales up > 40%)
    Volvo XC60, up 45% to 2,464
    Volvo XC70, up 47% to 563
    Infiniti Q70, up 68% to 1,083
    VW Golf family, up 133% to 4,643
    Audi A3, up 927% to 3,081
    Hyundai Genesis, up 41% to 3,064
    Subaru Legacy, up 90% to 6,148
    Mitsubishi Mirage, up 66% to 2,488
    Cadillac Escalade, up 125% to 1,673
    Cadillac Escalade ESV, up 114% to 1,085
    Honda Fit, up 58% to 6,640
    Lincoln Navigator, up 47% to 1,097
    Nissan GT-R, up 47% to 175
    Nissan Rogue, up 41% to 27,418
    Chrysler 200, up 155% to 19,190
    Jeep Patriot, up 41% to 11,849
    Dodge Dart, up 56% to 9,572

    Lowlights (sales down > 30%)
    Infiniti Q60, down 38% to 368
    VW CC, down 55% to 513
    Audi A4, down 32% to 2,266
    Subaru BRZ, down 42% to 495
    Cadillac ATS, down 32% to 2,039
    Cadillac CTS, down 49% to 1,500
    Chevy Camaro, down 31% to 5,956
    Chevy Spark, down 36% to 3,260
    Chevy Volt, down 57% to 639
    Honda Insight, down 47% to 209
    Acura RLX/RL, down 48% to 194
    Ford Taurus, down 43% to 3,224
    Lincoln MKX, down 43% to 1,475
    Nissan Cube, down 58% to 176
    Nissan Maxima, down 54% to 2,760
    Nissan Juke, down 59% to 2,838
    Chrysler Town & Country, down 59% to 5,489
    Dodge Caravan, down 58% to 5,960

  • Toyota to spend $1.2B on new factories in China, Mexico

    April 3, 2015
    Toyota has reportedly finalized a decision to build new factories in Mexico and China.
    Details surrounding the Mexico expansion surfaced last month, but a fresh report by Nikkei suggests a new plant will be built in China first, sometime in 2018, before the new North American facility opens the following year.

    The China plant is said to be the smaller of the two, with an annual output of 100,000 units annually, while the Mexico facility — used to build a new Corolla — is expected to produce up to 200,000 vehicles per year. Construction is said to require approximately $1.25 billion USD.

    The company is nearing the end of its three-year freeze on building new plants, ordered as part of a quality-focused strategy from president Akio Toyoda in response to the unintended-acceleration recall crisis.

    The company last week outlined new assembly strategies that promise to streamline operations and significantly reduce the investment requirements for new factories and retooling efforts. Downsized machinery and energy-efficient processes are central elements in the new “simple and slim” production lines.

    An official confirmation of the expansion plans is expected to be announced within the next few weeks.

  • Cadillac CT6: Weltpremiere auf der NYIAS in New York mit Markteinführung und Preis

    April 3, 2015

    Cadillac CT6: Endlich kommt wieder ein Luxus-Liner

    Das 5,18 Meter lange Auto soll eine besonders leichte Karosserie haben

    Ab 2016 wird der CT6 den Platzhirschen von Audi, BMW und Mercedes die Stirn bieten

    New York (USA), 2. April 2015
    Cadillac will nach Jahren der Abstinenz wieder in der Oberklasse mitspielen. Auf der Automesse NYIAS in New York enthüllte der Hersteller den CT6. Für das Comeback der Marke im Segment von Audi A8, BMW 7er und Mercedes S-Klasse soll der Große über eine Vielzahl neuer Technologien verfügen. Der CT6 ist zugleich eines von acht neuen Modellen, mit denen die Marke bis zum Ende des Jahrzehnts wieder richtig Land gewinnen will. Dafür hat der Hersteller immerhin umgerechnet etwa 11,2 Milliarden Euro in die Entwicklung neuer Fahrzeuge gesteckt.

    Unter 1.700 Kilogramm Leergewicht

    Die 5,18 Meter lange Limousine bietet einen Radstand von 3,11 Meter und dürfte damit im Fond jede Menge Platz haben. Die Karosserie besteht aus elf verschiedenen Materialien, unter denen Aluminium den Löwenanteil ausmacht. Das Auto soll ein grandioses Leergewicht von unter 1.700 Kilogramm auf die Waage bringen – ein BMW 740i beispielsweise wiegt 1.900 Kilo, ein Mercedes S 500 knapp zwei Tonnen.

    Mit Hinterradlenkung

    Nach den Worten von Cadillac-Chef Johann de Nysschen sei der CT6 vor allem auf Fahrdynamik ausgelegt worden. Dafür bekam der Wagen eine Hinterradlenkung und ein adaptives Fahrwerkssystem, bei dem jeder Dämpfer einzeln angesteuert wird. Während bei normaler Fahrt nur die Heckräder das Auto voranbringen, schaltet sich der Allradantrieb bei Bedarf automatisch zu. Außerdem gibt es, wie in dieser Klasse mittlerweile Standard, ein Setup-System für die Fahrmodi Touring, Schnee/Eis und Sport.

    Dreiliter-Turbo-V6 mit Zylinderabschaltung

    Als Herzstück schlägt ein völlig neu entwickelter 3,0-Liter-Twin-Turbo-V6, der voraussichtlich über 400 PS leistet und 543 Newtonmeter maximales Drehmoment herbeischafft. Eine neuartige Zylinderabschaltung und eine intelligente Achtgang-Automatik (die bei jedem Modell Serie ist) sollen den Verbrauch niedrig halten. Außerdem sind ein 2,0-Liter-Vierzylinder-Turbo und ein neuer 3,6-Liter-V6-Sauger zu haben .

    Display als Innenspiegel

    Zu den technischen Features gehören eine zuschaltbare Halteautomatik, die Vorwärts- oder Rückwärtsrollen des Fahrzeugs verhindert, eine 360-Grad-Kamerasicht inklusive Videosystem zur Aufzeichnung während der Fahrt, und ein Nachtsichtgerät mit Wärmebildanzeige. Eine Besonderheit bietet auch der Innenspiegel mit Rückfahrkamera: Er ist als Display ausgelegt, das ein Kamerabild anzeigt. Und natürlich hat der kommende Caddy auch eine automatische Einparkfunktion und ein Fußgängerschutzsystem mit Notbremsassistent. Um den Komfort kümmern sich Massagefunktionen in den Sitzen (auch im Fond), verstellbare Rücksitz-Lehnen, schwenkbare Zehn-Zoll-Bildschirme in den Lehnen der Vordersitze, eine Vier-Zonen-Klimaanlage und ein Bose-Soundsystem mit 34 Lautsprechern.

    Ab 2016 im Handel

    Der CT6 wird ab Ende 2015, zunächst für Nordamerika, im Werk Detroit-Hamtramck gebaut – in die Fabrik wurden eigens für den CT6 und zwei weitere Modelle umgerechnet etwa 356 Millionen Euro investiert. Die Autos für den chinesischen Markt werden ab Anfang 2016 in einem komplett neuen Werk direkt in China montiert. Darüber hinaus wird der CT6 auch in Europa, Korea, Japan, Israel und im Nahen Osten angeboten, die Produktion beginnt Anfang 2016 im Werk Detroit-Hamtramck. Zu den Preisen und zum genauen Termin der Markteinführung gibt es noch keine Informationen.

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