It's long been known that aluminum is an effective way of reducing the weight of vehicles, but Ford's adoption of the metal for its 2015 F-150 truck has finally spurred others into action in the pickup class too.
General Motors has recently secured contracts with aluminum suppliers Alcoa and Novelis Inc so it can produce its own aluminum-bodied truck.
According to The Wall Street Journal though, it won't arrive until around late 2018--giving its rival Ford a hefty head-start in the market.
For some automakers, aluminum is the most effective way of improving the efficiency of large, heavy trucks, and one of the most effective way to meet stricter future fuel efficiency targets. ( Continue… )
The San Francisco Chronicle has suggested that tech giant Apple seriously considered purchasing start-up automaker Tesla. How seriously? Reporters Thomas Lee and David R. Baker say that Apple's mergers and acquisitions chief, Adrian Perica, met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last spring, presumably to discuss possibilities.
Of course, neither Apple nor Tesla has commented on the story, and the Chronicle's source for the Tesla Apple rumors remains unnamed, so at this point, we give the tale about a 50/50 shot of being true. But just for the sake of argument: what if the two companies had talked? And what if they'd gone through with a deal? What would each of these red-hot firms have gained in the process?
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Apple would've gotten..
A halo product: No doubt about it, Tesla's cars are hot property. (Sometimes too hot.) They're stylish, green, and they sit at the vanguard of automotive technology. They're also fairly pricey, beyond what mainstream car-buyers can afford. For a company like Apple, which prides itself on providing well-designed products at premium prices, vehicles like the Tesla Model S would fit nicely in its portfolio.
Another outlet for Apple software (and hardware): Apple hasn't been shy about the fact that it wants to control the world's dashboards. Tesla would've provided a high-tech pedestal for Apple to show off its latest in-car offerings, making those features desirable. It would also give Apple a huge workshop to test future products and work out kinks. ( Continue… )
Maserati turns 100 this year and has a whole list of events planned to mark the milestone. The biggest event will be an official Maserati gathering in Modena in mid-September, but if you can’t make it over to Italy you can still take part in the celebrations with a new book that charts the history of the trident brand.
The book, Maserati - A Century Of History, is available via the automaker’s online store and is filled with articles from top journalists as well as photos, some of which have never been published before. The content is spread over 350 pages and is a must-read for any Maserati fan.
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Maserati was founded in Bologna on December 1, 1914 and officially started operations two weeks later. The firm was represented by Alfieri Maserati and four of his brothers and would launch its first car, a race car dubbed the Tipo 26, in 1926. ( Continue… )
For the first time in over 15 years, increased engine and transmission problems in 2011 model year cars have contributed to a decline in vehicle dependability in J.D. Power's annual Vehicle Dependability Study.
Ordinarily you might put this down to the luck of the draw--an occasional drop is almost inevitable.
But there's a worrying correlation between these results and the trend for smaller, more fuel-efficient engines of the last few years.
According to J.D. Power's results, there have been ten more reported problems per 100 vehicles for smaller four-cylinder engines than in the previous year's survey--notably more than for older five and six-cylinder engines. ( Continue… )
It's an impressive figure for the startup electric automaker, and enough to make you wonder what Tesla could achieve with one of the world's largest companies behind it.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle (via MacRumors), a source close to technology firm Apple suggests the computing giant may already have talked about acquisitions with the Palo Alto-based automaker. (ALSO SEE: Fisker Assets Sold For $149 Million To Wanxiang, Chinese Parts Maker)
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The source claims that Adrian Perica, Apple's mergers and acquisitions chief, spoke with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last fall. ( Continue… )
Which new vehicle sold today has the lowest overall carbon footprint over its lifetime?
In a study to be released this spring, The Automotive Peformance Index: Redefining Value in the North American Automotive Marketplace, ASG offers consumers "information to make responsible purchasing decisions" based on a car's environmental impact and its maker's record of social responsibilty.
Its site has a lengthy list of the methodology used to develop what it calls its Automotive Performance Index (API), including raw materials, assembly, transportation, consumer use, end-of-life recovery, and other issues including the carmaker's human-rights record.
"Consumers can be confident," the group writes, "that the increased environmental impacts of manufacturing the battery electric technology is more than offset with increased environmental performance during operational life."
Moreover, while U.S. grid mix varies greatly by region, the average mix this year "is environmentally beneficial" when used to recharge the Leaf's battery.
And, importantly, the report underscores that as the grid gets cleaner over coming years, that reduced footprint is transmitted to a lower-yet impact when driving the Leaf (or any other electric car).
The group, according to its mission statement, rates vehicles "based on the scientific principles of ecological economics and calculated using scientific methods," rather than "subjective test-drive reviews."
A place for subjectivity?
We might gently argue that subjective assessments by experienced reviewers of a car's pros and cons--e.g. unintuitive controls, uncomfortable seats, numb steering, sensitivity to crosswinds--are useful information for potential buyers.
But we applaud efforts to provide more "objective" and "data-driven analysis" to help car shoppers make informed choices, and to "steer the consumer toward a purchase that best meets their needs, while also reflecting the values they live by."
How important is a car's lifetime carbon footprint to you? Does it factor into your buying decision, and if so, how much does it affect your purchase?
Toyota has issued a recall on certain versions of the Lexus RX crossover due to an issue with the affected vehicles’ brakes. Also included in the latest recall are the Toyota Tacoma and RAV4.
The recall affects 2012 and 2013 Lexus RX 350s, 2012 and 2013 Toyota Tacomas, and 2012 Toyota RAV4s. In total, there are 261,114 vehicles affected.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration won't release official numbers on 2013 U.S. traffic fatalities until the end of the year, but early estimates from the National Safety Council show a three percent drop from 2012's stats. Unfortunately, that news isn't as great as it might seem.
The NSC is a century-old nonprofit that was chartered by the U.S. Congress and given a mission " to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy". NSC gathers data on traffic accidents from authorities in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia.
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As far as fatality stats go, NHTSA and NSC differ dramatically in their approaches. NHTSA only counts accidents that happen on public roads, but NSC also includes accidents that occur on private property. Though there are reasons behind both methodologies, many sticklers prefer NSC's. ( Continue… )
The Chevrolet Cobalt and the Pontiac G5 were retired years ago, but that doesn't mean they can't be recalled. As proof, a GM recall was announced that affects nearly 780,000 of them to repair faulty ignition switches that have been linked to six fatalities.
According to ABC, the recall affects the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and the 2007 Pontiac G5. Those vehicles have an ignition switch that can, under certain circumstances, shut off the engine while the vehicle is in motion, dramatically increasing the risk of an accident. The shut off can be triggered in a number of ways -- for example, by a heavy keychain or by travel over rough roads.
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Making things worse, of course, is the fact that when the engine goes, so do power-assisted steering and braking. And as if that weren't bad enough, GM reports that when vehicles crash under such conditions, their airbags may not deploy. ( Continue… )
The sinkhole that formed under the Sky Dome of the National Corvette Museum this week and sent eight classic and modern classic Corvettes tumbling into an early grave is an automotive tragedy. While we've tried to smile in the face of sadness, it's a remarkable and unfortunate loss to the Corvette world--but maybe not for long.
While there's no doubt that several of the cars involved in the cave-in are heavily damaged, several look to have come through the incident relatively unscathed. In either case, Chevrolet has made a commitment to see all of the damaged Corvettes restored to their original glory.
"The vehicles at the National Corvette Museum are some of the most significant in automotive history," said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of General Motors Global Product Development. "There can only be one 1-millionth Corvette ever built. We want to ensure as many of the damaged cars are restored as possible so fans from around the world can enjoy them when the Museum reopens." ( Continue… )