Report: Ford making Fusion production moves to challenge Camry on volume

Filed under: Sedan, Plants/Manufacturing, Ford

2013 Ford Fusion

The Ford Fusion may already beat the Toyota Camry in terms of models offered, transaction price and sales increase so far this year, but if the Fusion wants to make a run at the title of best-selling car in the US, Bloomberg reminds us that volume is key. Opening a second production line at the Flat Rock, MI assembly plant will reportedly allow Ford to produce around 350,000 Fusions annually, which compares Toyota’s ability to crank out 475,000 Camrys and Honda’s capacity to build around 450,000 Accords.

For the Fusion, that’s an extra 100,000 units compared to the car’s current pace, and the article adds that the Fusion is “Ford’s best shot” to regain the passenger car sales crown – a title it (or any other US automaker, for that matter) hasn’t held since the mid-1990s. Despite hiccups with recalls and fuel economy numbers, the Ford Fusion is still red hot when it comes to sales. Fusion sales are up 13 percent so far this year (compared to a 0.6 percent decrease for Camry), and its average transaction price of $26,343 is about $2,300 more than its rival from Toyota.

The Fusion’s popularity has helped Ford improve its sales in California; the Dearborn-based automaker has a market share of 18 percent in the state, which is just a fraction of a percentage behind Honda. And this popularity should continue as Ford ups Fusion production and expands the model lineup even further for 2014 with a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine soon to become an option.

Ford making Fusion production moves to challenge Camry on volume originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 26 Aug 2013 18:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Apple moves to patent adjusting car preferences via iPhone

Filed under: Government/Legal, Technology

Apple files patent for adjust car preferences via iPhone

Just when you thought your iPhone could do everything for you, Apple is pulling one more trick out of the hat. According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the company has filed a patent application for a system that remembers individual car settings, such as the angle of your side mirrors or steering wheel, and adjusts them accordingly.

While many higher-end vehicles and trims already offer packages that include memory for seats and other functions, this iPhone app could be a good solution for those of us who don’t spring for such luxuries. What’s more, it very well could provide drivers with memory control over a greater range of functions.

Better yet, since the settings stay with your phone, you could theoretically use them in other vehicles that you drive. As explained by the patent abstract, “…when the user visits another similar environment, such as a rented automobile, those configuration preferences can be imported into the visited environment and used to automatically configure the environment according to the imported preferences.”

While there’s no telling when this solution might make its way onto your iPhone, we’re definitely excited about the possibilities Apple’s mobile integration with cars might hold.

Apple moves to patent adjusting car preferences via iPhone originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 05 Aug 2013 09:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: France formally moves to ban Mercedes vehicles using contested refrigerant

Filed under: Sedan, Europe, Government/Legal, Hatchback, Mercedes-Benz, Luxury

That didn’t take long. Shortly after a French administrative court gave the French government a ten-day window to reconsider its ban on registrations of Mercedes-Benz A-, B- and CLA-Class cars using the prohibited R134a refrigerant, the government cited an EU directive to formalize banning the sale of the cars. The country’s environmental ministry said that registrations “will remain forbidden in France as long as the company does not to conform to European regulations,” meaning so long as they do not use the approved R1234yf refrigerant.

Daimler had won the administrative court decision by challenging France’s application of a “safeguard” provision in which the EU allows a country to block sales of cars that would “seriously harm the environment.” In spite of Daimler’s victory, France has cited that very provision as basis for the continuation of the ban.

Daimler got permission from Germany’s KBA federal motor authority to keep selling cars with the coolant banned by EU politicians, and is using that national permission as the right to sell the cars throughout Europe. Meanwhile, above that battle, German politicians are asking the EU to let Mercedes sell the cars in France while the KBA does more testing, at the same time as the EU is threatening Germany with repercussions if it doesn’t bring the KBA and Daimler into line.

The German carmaker has said France’s “argument is absolutely incomprehensible” and has vowed more courtroom action. The three models comprise most of Mercedes’ business in France; more than 4,500 vehicles have been kept from being registered, 2,704 of which have already been sold.

France formally moves to ban Mercedes vehicles using contested refrigerant originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Raikkonen moves up the NASCAR ladder with respectable Nationwide Series debut

Filed under: Motorsports

Kimi Raikkonen

Between the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix – both packed with nail-biting action right to the finish line – there was no lack of excitement for racing fans this Memorial Day weekend. But open wheels weren’t the only ones turning yesterday as NASCAR headed back to its heartland at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. And while the top-tier Sprint Cup was the headline event, our eyes were on the second-step Nationwide Series as Kimi Raikkonen made his next step up the stock-car racing ladder in the Top Gear 300.

Following his solid debut last week in the Camping World truck series, the former F1 champion turned rally driver took the next step up, driving the #87 Toyota Camry fielded by NEMCO Motorsports and prepared by the same Kyle Busch Motorsports with the same Perky Jerky sponsorship from his truck debut.

So how’d he do? Not bad. Not amazing, but not bad, considering this was only his second oval-track race, his second outing in a stock car and the first in the Nationwide Series. Kimi was up to fifteenth for much of the race, running on the lead lap and taking advantage of green-flag restarts to gain position. He struggled, however, with the car’s front-end handling, as well as heat burning his feet inside the cockpit, and dropped down several laps after a series of disadvantageous trips to the pit lane – one for fresh fuel and rubber, one to remove debris from a crash and another to serve a drive-through penalty.

In the end Raikkonen finished 27th out of 43, running but four laps down on the race leaders. Sprint Cup drivers ended up dominating the race, with Matt Kenseth taking the checkered flag. So what’s next for Kimi? Well he’s back in the WRC next month for the Acropolis rally in Greece, but there’s no telling when he might be back Stateside for more NASCAR action. The Sprint Cup road-course race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, could give Raikkonen a chance to shine, but his team fears there’s precious little time to put it together with less than a month to go.

Raikkonen moves up the NASCAR ladder with respectable Nationwide Series debut originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 30 May 2011 16:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: New York Taxi Commission moves to ban Lexus RX 450h

Filed under: Hybrid, Government/Legal, Crossover, Lexus

NYC Taxi

With over 13,000 taxis in Manhattan, it’s easy to blend in. Over half of those taxis are of the Crown Victoria variety, while a quarter are Ford Escape models. Hybrids are beginning to enter the New York taxi fleets in solid numbers, but a certain model has been singled out as being “too powerful.”

The New York Times reports that The Taxi and Limousine Commission has recently passed a regulation removing the Lexus RX 450h from the list of approved cabs. We’ve never thought of the RX hybrid as “too powerful,” but that doesn’t seem to matter to the commission.

The move, while a bit odd, will only affect six cab owners. But those owners dropped over $40,000 for their high-end taxis, and more money was spent adding the required yellow paint, lights, a camera and television screen. The owners are hoping to have their Lexus cabs grandfathered in before the Nissan NV200 van is officially ushered in as the Taxi of Tomorrow, but the Taxi and Limousine Commission isn’t commenting on the issue.

For our money, it seems as though the Commission is a bit off on this one. After all, most any passenger is going to enjoy the luxury taxi experience, especially since the fares are the same as they are in an Escape or Crown Vic. And “too powerful?” Seriously?

New York Taxi Commission moves to ban Lexus RX 450h originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 18 May 2011 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Segler moves back to Mini in BMW management shift

Filed under: Hirings/Firings/Layoffs, BMW, Mini

Dr. Kay Segler

Over at BMW corporate headquarters in Munich, it’s time for another game of “reise nach Jerusalem” – German for “musical chairs” (don’t ask us why) – shifting senior management around various departments. Following the announcement of management installed at the automaker’s new i Division comes a shift in senior staff at the M Division and at Mini.

The reshuffle revolves around Dr. Kay Segler (pictured), who was in charge of the Mini brand between 2004 and 2008. Over the past few years, Segler’s been running BMW M GmbH, but will now be moving back to his old job with the small car subsidiary. His role at M will be taken up by Dr. Friedrich Nitschke (not to be confused with the 19th-century existentialist philosopher Nietzsche), who was until now in charge of product development for Mini. Details in the press release after the jump.

[Source: BMW]

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Segler moves back to Mini in BMW management shift originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 04 Apr 2011 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Gemballa moves past founder’s murder with 2011 Porsche Cayenne Toronado

Filed under: Aftermarket, Performance, SUV, Porsche

2011 Gemballa Tornado

2011 Gemballa Tornado – Click above for high-res image gallery

Death is an ominous shadow to cast over a company. All the more so when the death in question was not, as the case were, from natural causes. But in the wake of Uwe Gemballa’s passing, the company that bears his name appears to be emerging from that shadow, creating the beast of a machine seen here.

So far all that’s been released about the new Gemballa Tornado are the images you see here and scarce few details. It’s based on the 2011 Porsche Cayenne, and as you can tell, replaces many of the body panels with carbon fiber. Uwe Gemballa’s successor, Andreas Schwarz, points out that unlike other aftermarket body kits, the composite panels on the Tornado replace the steel ones on the stock Cayenne instead of simply applying them on top. And an aggressive-looking job they’ve done of it, integrating gigantic air ducts, LED running lights, a significantly wider track and restyled taillights, all in a high-contrast treatment while shaving a good 150 pounds off the big sport ute’s curb weight.

Further details on the interior still under development and the engine – tipped to produce some 700 horsepower with a Stage 2 turbo kit – are expected to follow. As will pricing, which promises to be just as astronomical as that horsepower figure, with only 30 examples slated for production.

Gallery: 2011 Gemballa Tornado

[Source: Gemballa]

Gemballa moves past founder’s murder with 2011 Porsche Cayenne Toronado originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 15 Dec 2010 16:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Volvo moves away from ‘premium’ image

Filed under: Europe, Marketing/Advertising, Volvo, Geely

Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby

Volvo should no longer be lumped into the premium category, according to the wishes of CEO Stefan Jacoby. It’s not that the cars aren’t good, but according to Autocar, Jacoby thinks it sends the wrong message. “It sounds like a pricing strategy, and it’s got an expensive ring to it,” he tells the UK pub. Having recently come to Volvo from a tenure as CEO of Volkswagen’s American operation, Jacoby has no illusions about where his new brand sits. This latest statement dovetails with an earlier assertion of his that it’s too early for Volvo to consider gunning for the BMW 7 Series or Mercedes S-Class, directly contradicting Li Shufu, chairman of new owner Geely.

Rather than put on airs, Jacoby wants Volvo to emphasize its unique Swedishness to stand apart from the herd. Going after the territory well-covered by the German juggernauts hasn’t set Volvo’s sales off in search of the 800,000 units per year Jacoby wants to be shifting come 2020, which lends a certain credence to the new strategy.

[Source: Autocar | Image: Damian Dovarganes/AP]

Report: Volvo moves away from ‘premium’ image originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 29 Nov 2010 14:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ben Spies moves to Yamaha MotoGP Factory Team

Filed under: Motorsports, Motorcycle, Racing

Ben Spies in front of Indy Motor Speedway Hall of Fame

Shocking, we know. What’s been called the second-worst kept secret in MotoGP has officially been confirmed. MotoGP rookie and current World Superbike champion Ben Spies (shown at right, with Yamaha’s Lin Jarvis) will be saddling up with the factory Yamaha crew starting next year. Rumors to that effect have been buzzing around the inteweb for some time and were recently fueled by Valentino Rossi’s departure from the Fiat-Yamaha stable in favor of the Ducati Corse team.

Spies has been an absolute terror on two wheels in MotoGP while riding with the Tech 3 Yamaha team. The Texan is currently 7th in the overall standings thanks to a slew of top 5 finishes, and even managed to podium at Silverstone. Not too shabby for the guy’s first year out. There’s some indication that he’ll be riding alongside Jorge Lorenzo, though Yamaha hasn’t solidified anything with the Spaniard just yet.

Those who follow the MotoGP world will have likely noticed the conspicuous lack of a certain prefix from this post. Interestingly enough, ‘Fiat’ was nowhere to be found in the Spies announcement. Odds are we’ll be hearing something about that from the former Fiat-Yamaha team sometime soon. Hit the jump for the full press blast.

[Source: Asphalt and Rubber]

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Ben Spies moves to Yamaha MotoGP Factory Team originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Aug 2010 18:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Saab moves to rehire dismissed workers after summer break; one-in-three refuse

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, GM, Saab

When General Motors was on the precipice of dropping Saab forever, we imagine that the good workers of Trollhättan, Sweden were more than a little nervous. After all, how many high-paying jobs are there there in Scandanavia in the middle of a global recession? Well, it turns out that there may be quite a few jobs available if you consider the high volume of workers who reportedly turned down an offer to come back to work at Saab.

Sweden’s SVT reports that as many as one-in-three laid off Saab workers turned down offers to come back to work in factory jobs for the company. Håkan Skött, Metallklubbens chairman at Saab in Trollhättan reportedly told SVT that up to 30 percent of the workers got new jobs or invested in training, adding “it’s really nice that people have found other solutions.” it’s also good that Saab was still able to rehire 224 workers to help edge up vehicle production from a reported 28 units per hour to a max speed of 39 vehicles in any 60 minute period. The added workers will increase annual production to 60,000 units in total, and the company will need to hire still more workers if it plans to increase production more through a second shift.

[Source: SVT via Saabs United | Image: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty]

Saab moves to rehire dismissed workers after summer break; one-in-three refuse originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 18 Aug 2010 18:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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