• Honda’s Takata repair rate remains below 40 percent

    October 9, 2015
    Honda and Acura service technicians are replacing an average of 24,000 Takata airbag inflators each day in the US, however the company’s fix rate still remains below 40 percent.

    Over 3.5 million defective inflators have been replaced so far, representing 38.6 percent of recalled cars across the country. The numbers are slightly better in areas of high absolute humidity, where the inflators are believed to be at the most risk of rupturing.

    Honda analyzed more than a dozen other large-scale recalls and found that recall fix rates typically decline after each year of ownership, eventually reaching around 33 percent in the ninth or 10th years.

    “So, considering the scale of this recall and the age of the vehicles involved, we are making good progress,” the company said. “But with millions of vehicles still in need of repair, we must do more.”

    To step up outreach and convince more customers to bring their vehicles in for repair, the automaker promises to initiate a new round of media advertising, initially in test markets, to evaluate the effectiveness of such programs on raising awareness. Targeted social-media posts will also be used, allowing owners’ friends and family to help apply pressure.

  • Elon Musk: Tesla’s fired employees end up at Apple

    October 9, 2015
    Elon Musk has laughed off the potential threat from Apple’s rumored foray into the automotive market.

    In a recent interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt, Tesla Motors’ chief executive had a few flippant remarks suggesting his Cupertino neighbors may be biting off more than they can chew.

    “Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch?” he asked while laughing. “It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches. You can’t just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say ‘build me a car.’”

    The executive was even more dismissive when asked about Apple’s rumored poaching of Tesla’s top talent. Rather than hiring “important engineers,” Musk claims Apple has actually become a “Tesla Graveyard” where workers go after being fired.

    “If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work for Apple,” he added. “I’m not kidding.”

    Recent reports claim Apple has offered Tesla employees bonuses as large as $250,000 to defect. Unconfirmed allegations suggest hundreds of workers may have taken up the offer, leaving Tesla with a potential shortage of talent as it pushes forward with development of autonomous technology.

  • VW diesel scandal spreads to other automakers

    October 9, 2015
    Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Mazda could be the next dominoes to fall in the wake of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal after a new study found that diesel vehicles produced by those companies spew up to 20 times the legal levels of NOx.

    According to data obtained by the Guardian from vehicle testing firm Emissions Analytics, some vehicles produced by Honda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi and Mazda emit far more diesel pollutants during real world driving than they do during testing.

    Although no specific models were named, Emissions Analytics claims the average Honda diesel emits about six-times the legal levels of NOx. Moreover, the firm found that some of the company’s 4×4 diesels emitted up to 20 times the amount allowed by law.

    The average Mercedes diesel was found to spew about five times the requirements laid out by Euro 6 standards. Mazda flunked by about three times while Mitsubishi was over the limit by about 3.4 times.

    “The VW issue in the US was purely the trigger which threw light on a slightly different problem in the EU – widespread legal over-emissions,” Emissions Analytics’ Nick Molden told the Guardian. “For NOx, [diesel] cars are on average four times over the legal limit, because of the lenient nature of the test cycle in the EU.”

    He added: “The issue is a systemic one” across the industry.

    In all, Emissions Analytics tested 200 Euro 5 and Euro 6 vehicles, with just five able to match their stated emissions during real world testing.

    Last week the Guardian published data indicating that cars from Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo and Jeep could be dirtier than advertised. However, it must be mentioned that there is no clear evidence that a cheating device has been used in any vehicle outside of the Volkswagen family.

    Photo by Mark Elias.

  • Cadillac details new fuel-saving tech in 2016 lineup

    October 9, 2015
    General Motors has highlighted a few new and improved fuel-saving technologies featured in Cadillac’s 2016 lineup.

    Available in the 2016 ATS, CTS and Escalade, the company’s all-new 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine takes advantage of cylinder deactivation to help improve efficiency. Like the V8 engines in the Escalade and CTS-V, the downsized powerplant seamlessly switches to just four cylinders when load requirements are light.

    The upcoming CT6′s new twin-turbo mill is claimed to be the world’s first six-cylinder engine to combine turbocharging with cylinder deactivation and start/stop technology.

    Cadillac no longer relies on the car’s primary battery to run the stop/start system. Instead, the starter is powered by separate supercapacitors. The improved approach is said to enable smoother and quicker restarts, while reducing strain on the vehicle’s core electrical system.

    Cadillac’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, available in the ATS and CTS, also benefits from stop/start tech. Further improving efficiency, the company has continued to expand availability of GM’s latest eight-speed transmission.

    “While these new systems increase efficiency, a main focus in engineering at Cadillac is to integrate these systems smoothly with no compromise to the driving experience,” said Cadillac chief engineer David Leone. “Our new 8-speed transmission was developed internally for fast and smooth shifting in every situation with Cylinder Deactivation and Start/Stop are integrated in a more seamless manner than our competitors.”

  • McLaren reveals 650S Can-Am special edition

    October 9, 2015

    McLaren has revealed a new special-edition car, the 650S Can-Am, inspired by the racing series.

    Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Canadian-American Challenge Cup’s 1966 inaugural season, McLaren’s Special Operations division crafted a unique 650S Spider clad in Mars Red. Its color scheme pays homage to the M1B raced by Bruce McLaren and teammate Chris Amon in the debut season.

    A second color, Papaya Spark, serves as a modern take on the Can-Am racing McLaren Orange, while Onyx Black is similar to the base color used by McLaren customer teams in the later seasons. Buyers can further customize the cars to better match their preferred racing livery of the era.

    The package introduces McLaren’s first carbon-fiber retractable hardtop. The lightweight material is also used for the hood, airbrake, front splitter, rear bumper center, door blades and Can-Am branded sill cover. MSO designers also created a unique set of five-spoke alloy wheels inspired by the ’60s racers, with a gloss-black finish and a diamond-cut rim.

    Other unique features include carbon-fiber louvered front wings and a new quad-exit polished stainless-steel exhaust system. The car consequently brings a unique sound, which is said to echo the “aggressive and purposeful throttle trumpets” of the historical models.

    The 650S’ 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 remains unchanged, producing 641 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. Buyers can expect to hit 62 mph from a standstill in three seconds flat, eventually topping out at 204 mph.

    “Can-Am racing is a major part of McLaren heritage, and this latest model from MSO pays homage to the cars and the racers who played a key role in making the championship such a spectacle during the 1960s and 70s,” said MSO executive director Paul Mackenzie. “The championship was a true test of the engineering ability, driving talent and bravery of Bruce and his teammates, which led them to secure five consecutive championships.”

    The company will only build 50 units, each carrying a £255,850 (~$392,000 USD) price tag. Deliveries are expected to begin in spring 2016.