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Honda’s Ridgeline lesson: Looks matter

Research on visual cues led to some ‘aha’ moments for Ridgeline team

ANTONIO — The shadowy teaser image Honda released in late 2013 said very little about the second-generation Ridgeline that’s due to go on sale in June. But it did reveal the most important element the automaker was intent on fixing: its styling.

Honda needed only a silhouette to show that the polarizing “flying buttress” profile of the original Ridgeline was gone, replaced on the forthcoming 2017 model with the conventional cab/bed style found on nearly every pickup built in the last 100 years.

Honda learned the hard way with the original Ridgeline — on sale from 2005 through 2014 — that you can be innovative with the features and bones of a truck, but not the design. It took that lesson to heart while developing the latest model, going to extraordinary lengths to get the visual details right.

The effort started early in the second-generation Ridgeline’s design process. Honda held clinics in California and [...]

Nissan will take 34% controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors

Nissan's Ghosn, and Mitsubishi Motors CEO Masuko shake hands at their joint news conference today. Photo credit: Reuters

Nissan-MitsubishiYOKOHAMA, Japan — Nissan Motor Co. will invest 237 billion yen ($2.2 billion) to take a controlling 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors.

The purchase is poised to vault Nissan past Mitsubishi group companies to become Mitsubishi Motors’ single-largest shareholder.

The companies today said they plan to sign an agreement by May 25 in which Nissan can name four directors to Mitsubishi Motors’ board. A Nissan-appointed director can also be named chairman of Mitsubishi Motors, according to a filing today. The deal will be invalid if not completed within a year.

Nissan is riding to Mitsubishi’s rescue after it called out Mitsubishi for cheating on emissions tests, plunging its close partner into crisis and uncertainty about its very viability.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko outlined the alliance after the boards of both companies met separately earlier today to sign off on the plans.

[...]

Nissan Motor Co. may invest more than 200 billion yen ($1.84 billion) in a play to take over Mitsubishi Motors Corp., two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The boards of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors will meet separately on Thursday to decide investment and operational details, sources from each carmaker told Reuters today.

Mitsubishi, which admitted last month to cheating on fuel-economy ratings, said today that nine more models including an SUV may not have been properly tested as the scandal spreads beyond the initial batch of minicars.

Orders for Mitsubishi vehicles in Japan have plunged after the company first revealed it had overstated the fuel economy of its minicars by as much as 10 percent. The scandal has also affected Nissan, which sold two of the minicar models under a partnership agreement.

Mitsubishi Motors hasn’t sought support from Mitsubishi group companies and aims to solve the crisis on its own, CEO [...]

Tomorrow’s vehicle colors could vary with your vantage point

BASF will pitch its colors to major automakers and work with the companies to bring colors to market.

DETROIT — In a few years, the color of a new vehicle could vary depending on where you’re standing.

That’s according to supplier BASF Corp.’s automotive division, which today highlighted 65 striking colors here that it said could be on vehicles by 2020.

Paul Czornij, head of design for BASF’s color excellence group, said the colors BASF displayed can look different based on perspective. For instance, a blood-red paint could be designed to look lighter or darker depending on the viewers’ vantage point.

Czornij said the BASF team of experts from North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific was inspired by the idea of shifting perspective, in addition to drawing ideas from nature and technology.

“There’s an ever-increasing blurring of that line between technology and the natural world that we see expressed in a lot of different areas,” he said.

BASF will pitch its colors to major automakers and work with the companies to bring colors to [...]

Vin Diesel unveiled the first poster for Furious 8. The image shows Dom standing on a deserted road with his Dodge Charger with the tagline: “New roads ahead.” Diesel’s post doesn’t offer any other new details about the much-anticipated action film, which is still a year away from theaters.

While this image is teasing, we continue to get a better idea of Furious 8’s cast. Scott Eastwood, Clint Eastwood’s son, has a prominent role in the film, and Charlize Theron plays a villain. Dwayne Johnson also confirmed his return as Hobbs.

Plot details still vague, though. An earlier teaser from Diesel hinted that some of the movie might take place in Manhattan, which could be an amazing setting for automotive stunts. The crew has also been filming north of Reykjavík, Iceland, which would be a great locale for off-road action.

Furious 8 will hit theaters on April 14, 2017. According to Diesel, part 9 will [...]

Tesla just knocked it out of the park with the Model 3

Elon Musk did a great job in generating excitement for the car.

teslateslaAfter years of anticipation, Tesla on Thursday evening finally unveiled its Model 3 electric car, the first affordable high-tech Tesla car for the masses.

The Model 3 starts at $35,000, not including federal tax exemptions. It’ll start shipping to customers later next year, hopefully.

First of all, let’s talk about looks. We’d heard many reports about the car’s specs like its range and speed prior to this event, but the biggest unknown was the physical looks of the car. And in this department, Tesla did not disappoint at all. This is one beautiful looking car.

Tesla showed off three colors on stage: red, silver, and a metallic gray color. All three looked smooth and gorgeous in their own right, but my favorite is the dark gray model. This one right here.

The car isn’t lacking in specs either. It [...]

ELON MUSK: FULLY AUTONOMOUS TESLA CAR WILL BE READY IN 2 YEARS

Securing government approval could take longer.

Tesla only just released its Autopilot feature, but two years from now, the company will be ready to make an even bigger announcement. According to CEO Elon Musk, that’s when we should expect Tesla to have produced its first fully autonomous car.

Test Drive A 2016 Range Rover Today.

“We’re going to end up with complete autonomy, and I think we will have complete autonomy in approximately two years,” Musk told Fortune. While the technology will be ready by then, it could take an additional year or more for regulators to assure it is safe for public roads, he said.

“I think we have all the pieces, and it’s just about refining those pieces, putting them in place, and making sure they work across a huge number of environments—and then we’re done,” Musk explained.

He didn’t provide specifics on an upcoming autonomous Tesla car, but it’s clear that his timeline has [...]

VW manipulated diesel emissions tests in Europe, says German minister

Germany's transport minister says Volkswagen has admitted using the same fake emissions test in Europe as it used to falsify results in the US.

WolfsburgAlexander Dobrindt said it was not known how many of the 11 million vehicles affected were in Europe.

He also said other manufacturers’ vehicles would be checked.

The scandal began unfolding on Friday when the German car giant said it had used software in the US to provide false emission test results.

Mr Dobrindt said he had been told vehicles with 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesel engines are “affected by the manipulations that are being talked about”.

The company’s Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Audi A3 models in the US from 2009 to 2015, and the Passat from 2014-15, were fitted with the devices which produced doctored results. However, diesel cars are far more popular in Europe than in the US.

The city of Wolfsburg in Lower Saxony is not merely the hometown of Volkswagen. Wolfsburg is Volkswagen, Germany’s answer to Detroit – but rather more prosperous.

It [...]

Toyota tops in retained value, Edmunds.com awards show

Among all segments and nameplates, the Toyota Tacoma pickup had the highest average retained value after five years at 64.5 percent.

Toyota Motor Corp. came out on top in Edmunds.com’s annual Best Retained Value Awards, nabbing a brand-level award and four model-level awards.

The awards recognize brands and nameplates that have the highest projected residual values after five years compared to their average transaction prices when sold new.

Toyota won the nonluxury division with a projected 52.4 percent residual value after five years. The 2015 models of the Tacoma, Avalon, Tundra and Highlander were among the award winners in 24 segments.

Among all segments and nameplates, the Tacoma pickup had the highest average retained value after five years at 64.5 percent. Second to the Tacoma was the 2015 Jeep Wrangler with 62.4 percent.

“Smart car shoppers who are likely to sell their car within five years should always stop and consider projected residual values before making a new car purchase,” Edmunds.com Consumer Advice Editor Carroll Lachnit said in a statement. “Whether you are leasing or buying, [...]

Trouble selling grandma’s cars sowed seed for $1 billion startup.

Three entrepreneurs start up a new company with a annualized revenue run rate of about $850 million.

In summer 2012, Christian Bertermann was a frustrated young man trying to get rid of two old cars that belonged to his grandmother.

Bertermann, 31, an Internet specialist in Berlin, had recently quit his job at Groupon Inc., and along with fellow entrepreneur Hakan Koc wanted to set up his own company. Spurred by Bertermann’s inability to find a dealership to both value and sell the vehicles, the men created an online business to fill the gap.

The venture, now called Auto1 Group, was valued at more than $1 billion in a financing round earlier this year that raised $100 million. Its owners are now seeking $500 million more in debt and equity as they target international growth.

Koc declined to comment on how the new round of funding might value the company, pointing instead to the fact that monthly revenues have tripled to $70 million since the last valuation. The company’s annualized revenue run [...]

Subaru of America Inc. is recalling certain model year 2015 Legacy vehicles manufactured March 10, 2014, to April 16, 2015, Outback vehicles manufactured Feb. 24, 2014, to April 16, 2015, Impreza vehicles manufactured Sept. 9, 2014, to April 14, 2015, XV Crosstrek vehicles manufactured Oct. 16, 2014, to April 15, 2015, and 2016 WRX vehicles manufactured March 23, 2015, and equipped with the
Eyesight Driver Assist System.

If the switch that activates the brake lights fails, the automatic pre-collision braking component of the driver assist system will not function.

If the automatic pre-collision braking system does not function as intended, the vehicle will not react to an obstacle in its path, increasing the risk of a crash.

Subaru will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the driver assist system, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Subaru’s number for this recall is WQS-54.legacy15

Honda HR-V Name Confirmed for U.S.-Market Fit-Based Crossover.

Honda pushing for "clear and consistent progression for it's SUVS with the new HR-V coming later this year.

2015-honda-hr-v-front-side-view 2015-honda-hr-v-rear-side-viewHonda confirmed at its 2014 New York auto show press conference that the upcoming Fit-based compact crossover will indeed be called HR-V for the U.S. market when it arrives this winter. No other details were shared, but three images of the U.S.-spec model were revealed, and as you’d expect, the CUV looks much like the Japanese-market Vezel. With the name, Honda says it will have a “clear and consistent progression for [its] SUVS,” and believes the HR-V will bring new buyers to the brand along with the Fit. The automaker also confirmed that the crossover will be built in North America, though more details on the crossover will be announced at a later date. However, we can speculate that the crossover will be powered by the Fit’s 130-hp 1.5-liter I-4 mated to a CVT. The HR-V will be [...]

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