Despite taking a PR pounding from overrated mileage estimates, the Ford C-Max Hybrid seems to be doing fine.
Thanks to growing sales of the C-Max Hybrid five-door hatchback, Ford will continue to push the C-Max as a high-efficiency rival to the Toyota Prius.
Jim Farley, Ford's executive vice president of global marketing, sales, service, and Lincoln, told Automotive News (sub. required) that the company didn't "see any reason to change," and that customers have reacted well to the vehicle.
Indeed, they have.
C-Max hybrid sales for August were up 12 percent over July, with 3,032 units sold.
According to Ford, the C-Max Energi plug-in also had its best sales month of the year, with 621 units sold.
Ford was also keen to note that nearly two-thirds of C-Max hybrid sales came from conquest buyers, with the Toyota Prius being one of the top trade-ins.
Ford also notes that even the C-Max hybrid’s revised, lower mileage ratings best the Toyota Prius V’s. The C-Max is rated at 43 mpg combined (45 mpg city, 40 mpg highway), and the Prius V is rated at 42 mpg combined (44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway).
However, Ford often compares the C-Max to the classic Prius Liftback when discussing cargo space. That Toyota is rated at 50 mpg combined (51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway).
In theory, the silence of electric vehicles makes them perfect for military use.
What better for covert operations than a vehicle that generates very little noise? The Canadian military would probably agree.
Silent vehicles aren't quite as critical on military bases, but that's where the cost benefits come in. The U.S. Army has already explored microgrid technology at Fort Carson in Colorado, and now that same base has adopted quick charging technology for a small fleet of vehicles.
According to Charged EVs, Fort Carson has installed five bidirectional fast-charging stations, allowing them to run a fleet of Boulder Electric Vehicle and Smith Electric plug-in trucks.
The chargers use SAE-standard J1772-compliant connections, allowing the trucks to supply charge back to the grid in a power outage. As part of Fort Carson's microgrid--including diesel generators and solar power--the system allows the base to be energy-independent from the civilian grid.
The charging points have been developed by the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Missouri-based Burns and McDonnell Engineering, as part of the 'SPIDERS' project. This stands for Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security, and the upshot is a system capable of delivering 300 kW, and battery discharging of 60 kW. ( Continue… )
Just finalized the LA to NY family road trip route in Model S. 6 day, 3200 mile journey with only 9 hrs spent charging.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 5, 2013
At 1.5 hrs/day, we will only ever need to charge when stopping anyway to eat or sightsee, never just for charging itself
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 5, 2013
No doubt, Musk and his team have spent a lot of time finding routes that offer convenient access to charging stations. For drivers of conventional cars, the planning would've likely gone much faster -- possibly just a couple of minutes perusing Google Maps.
Still, six days is good time for a cross-country drive. For Musk to make the trip in a fully electric vehicle makes it even more remarkable.
The question is: what will it do for business?
A GREAT STUNT
Like other innovators who've disrupted marketplaces and upended traditions, Musk is creative, passionate, obsessive, and just a little egomaniacal. He is also outrageously charismatic, sitting at the center of his own, fledgling cult of personality. We wouldn't be the first to compare him to the late Steve Jobs. ( Continue… )
Not to be outdone by the more established North American Car Of The Year And European Car Of The Year awards, the World Car Of The Year award is starting to gain prominence in the auto show arena despite being the relative newcomer. The award event is now entering its 10th year and will culminate at the 2014 New York Auto Show next April where the winners for the respective World, Performance, Design And Green categories will be announced.
Today, an initial list of 30 candidates has been revealed, which already has some standouts but sadly appears to have a lack of serious performance contenders. For the World category, we’d pick the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Range Rover Sport as strong contenders while in the Performance category we’d give the nod to either the Jaguar F-Type or Porsche Cayman.
We’re not doing to the judging, however. That task will be taken care of by dozens of jurors representing more than 20 countries. To be eligible, the candidates must become available for sale on at least two continents during the period beginning January 1, 2013 and ending May 30, 2014.
In the past, such a trip would have been the work of much planning, countless hours charging and multiple stops along the way. But in these days of Model S electric cars and free Supercharger fast-charging networks, it no longer looks so daunting.
Musk tweeted earlier today that his Los Angeles to New York family road trip plans were finalized, says Tech Crunch, and expects the trip to take just six days, with only nine hours' charging required to cross the country.
Those nine hours will be spread across several stops, with around 1.5 hours of charging per day. Musk says that he'll only be stopping for eating or sightseeing--in other words, he won't be stopping just to top up the car. ( Continue… )
The first recall affects 2006-2008 Lexus RX 400h and 2006-2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid models, related to an inverter issue in the car's hybrid assembly. Transistors in the assembly are subject to heat damage "due to variations in characteristics of the transistors’ parallel circuits". This damage can cause warning lights to illuminate and in most cases, Toyota says, can cause the vehicle to enter "limp home mode". In limited instances, the hybrid system can shut down, causing the car to pull to a halt.
More Lexus models are affected by the second recall, which covers around 102,000 Lexus IS 350, IS 350C and GS 350 vehicles from model years 2006-2011. In certain vehicles, bolts securing the variable valve timing control device can work loose, causing the vehicle to stop while being driven.
Toyota says that an abnormal noise can signify early symptoms of the variable valve timing device fault. Owners of all affected vehicles will be notified by first class mail.
Vehicle sales in the US were expected to be hot in August. They were blazing.
All told, auto sales figures, released today by dealers, are on pace to jump 17 percent from July, topping a 16 million annualized rate for the month of August. That would be the best sales pace since November 2007. Analysts expected a 15.8 million annualized pace.
Each of the big three Detroit automakers – General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford – posted sales gains percentages in double digits for July. General Motors fared the best of the three, selling 275,847 vehicles in the US and posting a 14.7 percent sales gain from August 2012. Ford sold 221,270 US cars last month, up 12.2 percent from the August of last year. And Chrysler sold 165,552 vehicles in the US last month, up 12 percent from August 2012.
"The second half of 2013 is off to a very solid start for GM and our model-year change over and new product launches are going smoothly,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of US sales operations, said in a company release. “We have a lot of momentum and we feel good about the direction of the US economy as we prepare to launch even more new products, including all-new heavy duty pickups and large SUVs for Chevrolet and GMC, a completely redesigned Cadillac CTS and the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.” ( Continue… )
Ford Motor Co is recalling about 370,000 model year 2005 to 2011 Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car sedans in the United States and Canada to fix a steering shaft issue, the company said in a statement.
Corrosion of the lower intermediate steering shaft of vehicles in "high corrosion states and provinces" may result in the loss of steering, the company said.
The 355,000 vehicles in the U.S. recall are in Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin andWest Virginia.
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The remaining 15,000 cars are in Canada.
Ford said that dealers will inspect and replace the lower intermediate steering shaft and, if necessary, secure a lower steering column bearing and replace the upper intermediate steering shaft.
The company was unaware of any accidents or injuries linked to the issue, it said.
Last year, we asked the question, "If you send a text to a driver, can you go to jail if he crashes?"
Most folks responded, "No" -- sometimes, "No #*$&% way!" But judges in New Jersey apparently have a different opinion.
In 2009, Kyle Best was exchanging text messages with Shannon Colonna. Best was driving at the time.
Distracted by Colonna's texts, Best drifted out of his travel lane and collided with a motorcycle being ridden by David and Linda Kubert. Each of the Kuberts lost a leg in the accident, and they sued Best, who settled out of court.
But the case didn't stop there. Litigation being what it is, the Kuberts also sued Colonna, arguing that she was just as guilty as Best because she distracted him from the task of driving.
Judge David Rand found that Colonna was not liable for the accident, insisting that drivers alone are responsible for their actions. But according to CNN, the Kuberts appealed Rand's decision and won -- well, almost.
Three appeals court judges found merit in the Kuberts' argument: "We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted."
That last bit is important: though Colonna could've been held liable for Best's accident, the judges determined that she was unaware that Best was driving at the time. That decision was informed, in part, by Colonna's age at the time of the incident (she was 17) and by the fact that she regularly sent over 100 text messages per day, apparently clueless about what recipients might be doing at the time.
The appeals court decision has already been widely criticized, with everyone from Governor Chris Christie to the Man on the Street arguing that drivers are ultimately responsible for whether they read and respond to text messages.
We agree. There are plenty of distractions in the auto space, but drivers are tasked with ignoring them and keeping their eyes on the road. For example, chatting with a driver can be distracting: can someone be arrested for having a discussion with a driver if that driver hits another car? Food and beverages can be distracting, too: should fast food restaurants be sued for accidents if the coffee and burgers they serve cause a distracted-driving accident? The list of possibilities seems endless.
Call us old-fashioned, but we think drivers study and practice in order to minimize their susceptibility to distractions. Blaming accidents on the source of those distractions rather than the person behind the wheel absolves the driver of her/his responsibility in all but the most extreme cases.
Does that line up with your own opinions on the matter? Sound off in the comments below.
Bonus: If you haven't seen acclaimed director Werner Herzog's documentary about texting and driving called "From One Second to the Next", it's well, well worth your time. We've embedded it above.
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Fewer people at work, fewer people driving. It's a simple equation and one that a lot of experts pointed to as explanation for the notable drop in the total miles U.S. motorists clocked during the depths of the recession.
So, how to explain the fact that even as the economy finally is showing real signs of recovery the number of miles driven continues to decline. That report from the Federal Highway Administration is just the latest indication that Americans may be falling out of love with their automobiles.
In its report released this week, the agency said the number of vehicle miles traveled—VMT in the lingo of the transportation world—continued dropping during the first half of 2013. If the past were prologue, the numbers would have rebounded at least slightly to reflect the national rise in employment and income. (More from The Detroit Bureau: First Drive: 2014 Toyota Corolla)
In a study earlier this month, researchers from the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center found that the number of miles individuals are driving has been declining sharply in recent years. That figure peaked at an average 900 miles per month in July 2004. By July 2012, it was down to 820 a month, a figure the researchers hadn't seen since the final years of the last millennium. ( Continue… )