March is turning out to be the best month for auto sales in at least six years.
Major automakers including Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, General Motors and Nissan all reported increases, with some reporting their best monthly totals since the start of the Great Recession in December of 2007.
Buyers were lured to showrooms by flashy new vehicles and low interest rates. Plus they continue to replace older cars and trucks — the average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads is more than 11 years.
"A strong first-quarter close and increased consumer confidence continue to position the auto industry as a leader in the economic recovery," Bob Carter, Toyota's senior vice president of automotive operations, said in a statement. ( Continue… )
In our experience, owners of electric vehicles are also rather keen on green energy. Where appropriate, many fit solar panels to supply some of their energy needs, and others use green energy tariffs and similar.
As it turns out, marrying the two is a good way of enticing people into electric cars--buying cars in the knowledge they're impacting the environment as little as possible.
Regardless of the type of vehicle a respondent had recently bought--be it pure electric, hybrid, or a conventional car--interest in full electric vehicles grew when paired with a green electricity program. ( Continue… )
Every year, an international panel of automotive journalists selects the best cars in the world under various categories, handing out its awards at the New York Auto Show.
Atop the hierarchy is the World Car of the Year, followed by the World Performance Car, the World Car Design of the Year and the World Green Car (where our own John Voelcker, editor of Green Car Reports, contributed his expertise for the panel of judges).
For 2013, the panel chose the Mark VII Volkswagen Golf (which will debut in the United States next year, as a 2015 model) as the World Car of the Year, saying it was “as close to the perfect hatchback design as any car company has come yet. If ever there was a car for everyman, the Golf is it.”
This makes two in a row for Volkswagen, as the brand took top honors in 2012 with its Up! city car. The new Golf beat an impressive list of finalists, including the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Porsche Boxster / Cayman and the Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT 86.
In the World Performance Car category, the new Porsche Boxster / Cayman defeated the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and the Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT 86 to take the win, with the judges declaring that the Boxster is now less of a “secretary’s car,” while the Cayman is a “better Porsche sports car than the iconic 911.” Those are their words, not ours.
In the World Car Design of the Year Category, it was the stunning new Jaguar F-Type that beat out challengers like the Mazda6 and the Aston Martin Vanquish. Of their pick the panelists called the F-Type “almost Italian at first glance,” saying that the F-Type is “the promising dawn for the company’s latest roadster.”
Calling the Model S “fast and stylish,” the judges cited the car’s sensible range, seating capacity and near-supercar performance as grounds for their selection.
Life can be confusing for those motivated into greener cars with the aim of saving money.
With all the options available to today's buyers--more efficient gasoline, diesel, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric cars, biofuels and more--it's hard to know what is really best. Throw in the multitude of fuel efficiency claims, electric range and more, and, well, it gets pretty tough to understand.
That's why, says Earth Techling, Ford is offering prizes of $50,000 to software developers to come up with a smartphone app that helps people make sense of the barrage of information.
The Personalized Fuel Efficiency Apps Challenge asks software developers to design something that helps consumers better understand and improve their personal fuel efficiency. The service they provide will be highly personalized, taking into account the various factors that can see a car's fuel economy stray from official figures.
There's an element of irony in this of course, which is that Ford's recent Fusion and C-Max Hybrid models are particularly susceptible to driving style, resulting in many customers missing EPA numbers by a significant margin.
Using these as an example, one of the contest's successful apps might give consumers a better idea of how their driving style and typical use would impact upon fuel efficiency--perhaps leading to fewer disappointments.
Apps will be based on the OpenXC platform, an open-source platform developed by Ford for research applications. A software and hardware development kit gives developers access to a wide range of vehicle data. By using both real-time data from the car, and historical data, an app could offer a truly tailored service.
Interested parties can register with Ford via the contest's website, and submissions for apps open on April 24.
In the old days, SUVs were crude, truck-derived vehicles, purchased by those with a need to go where the busses don’t run, or a need to get from point A to point B regardless of weather. Families bought station wagons, or later, minivans.
Then the SUV and crossover craze hit, and suddenly off-road vehicles became more civilized (often losing some of their off-road prowess in the transition). Today, SUVs and crossovers are the hottest segments of the auto industry (in the U.S., anyway), and buyers are demanding more and more amenities with each passing year.
It’s no longer enough that an SUV includes cavernous cargo space, all-weather peace of mind or seating for up to seven passengers. Shoppers today want fuel economy, advanced safety features and sedan-like comfort, too.
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For 2014, there are a crop of revised SUVs and crossovers hitting the market, including the 2014 Dodge Durango, the 2014 Toyota Highlander and the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid. Which one is right for your needs and your family depends a lot on your requirements and expectations. ( Continue… )
Though Kia has, on occasion, missed the mark with vehicles in the United States (such as its Borrego SUV), there’s no denying that its Soul “urban passenger vehicle” is a solid hit that seems to defy demographics.
Though pitched at Millennial buyers, we’ve seen plenty of fifty-somethings behind the wheel, too. Drive a Soul and it’s easy to see why: the diminutive MPV is practical, affordable and nimble enough to provide some degree of entertainment value.
For 2014, Kia has an all-new Soul to talk about, and it’s launching its funky people mover at this week’s New York AutoShow. Kia says the new Soul was born from the Track’ster concept, but the only similarities we see are the new Soul’s wider stance and updated front fascia.
The 2014 Soul is longer, too, and blessed with a stiffened chassis to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Though you may not feel it in urban cruising, the new platform’s 28.7 percent increase in torsional rigidity should help in the twisty bits, especially when you factor in the “significant suspension upgrades” Kia refers to. ( Continue… )
American consumers will need to wait until next year to buy a 2015 Golf or GTI at their Volkswagen dealer, but New York AutoShow attendees can see the Mark VII models in the flesh (or in the sheet metal, actually).
Volkswagen’s latest Golf models will use the modular MQB platform, and North American inventory will be assembled at the brand’s newest factory, in Silao, Mexico.
Though the Mk VII Golfs have already debuted in Europe (excluding the GTI, which will drop in May), the delay in North America is due to the ramp-up time needed to get the Mexican plant functional.
The 2015 Volkswagen GTI will come to market in a longer, wider, lower and lighter form than its Mk VI predecessor. The 51 pounds of weight savings (shared with the Golf) and lower coefficient of drag should help with the new GTI’s acceleration, handling and braking, too. ( Continue… )
Edgier, sleeker, and faster, the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is the sporting complement to the off-road specialist (with on-road credentials) found in the new Range Rover.
Unveiled this evening just before the 2013 New York Auto Show, the 2014 Range Rover Sport improves upon the previous model's formula with quicker acceleration, lighter weight, and greater agility.
How much lighter is the new Range Rover Sport? Try 800 pounds lighter. That's like kicking four 200-pound six-footers out of the super-SUV--without having to leave your friends on the roadside.
Four variations of the 2014 Range Rover Sport will be offered in the U.S.: the base SE, with a 3.0-liter supercharged 340-horsepower V-6; the HSE with the same engine but upgraded features; the Range Rover Sport Supercharged, with a 510-horsepower 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 (naturally); and the Range Rover Sport Autobiography, with the same engine as the Supercharged model, but again, a better set of equipment. ( Continue… )
American luxury just took another leap forward. The 2014 Cadillac CTS, on display tomorrow at the New York Auto Show, raises the bar for design, power, and value in the luxury sedan segment, continuing the CTS' legacy in forging new ground for Cadillac and the U.S.
This isn't the same CTS we've come to know and love, however. In fact, it's hugely different in almost every respect. Larger, more dramatically styled, and far more powerful (excepting the previous generations CTS-V), the 2014 Cadillac CTS moves up a notch to compete with the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, and Mercedes-Benz E Class more directly.
The design, of course, speaks for itself. But there's a lot going on underneath that pretty skin.
Specifically, the CTS is 4.1 inches longer (now 195.5 inches), including a 1.1-inch longer wheelbase (up to 114.6 inches). It also cuts a lower profile into the wind, with a one-inch lower roof line (now at 57.2 inches). At the same time, the 2014 CTS weighs about 200 pounds less than the 2013 BMW 528i (according to Cadillac) at 3,616 pounds--and it's more than 250 pounds lighter than the outgoing model of the CTS. ( Continue… )
We currently have two main issues in our transport future.
The first is cutting down on fossil fuel use, ensuring our finite supplies can be used for longer than our current consumption levels would account for. The second is reducing greenhouse gas emissions, helping prevent runaway climate change.
If there was a way of solving both issues at once, you'd take it--right? Researchers at the University of Georgia could be doing just that.