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In Gear

In Gear offers a fresh look at the world of cars – its technology, economics, and future – through the eyes of Monitor staffers and other automobile writers from around the world. 

Acura unveils the TLX prototype to the media at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto last month. Honda, Acura's parent company, will assign a marketing division to its luxury brand for the first time in its history. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press/AP/File)

Acura gets own marketing division as sedan sales slide

By Viknesh VijayenthiranGuest blogger / 03.12.14

From April 1, Acura will have its own sales and marketing division separate to that of Honda for the first time. The move is intended to create greater clarity and more cohesive sales and marketing plans that are better suited for its products, Acura said in a statement.

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Acura managed to sell 165,436 vehicles in 2013, which was a 5.9 increase on the previous year and the best sales total since 2007. But as Bloomberg points out, Acura also experienced a 10 percent drop in combined sales of its ILX, TSX, TL and RLX sedans. ( Continue… )

The logo for General Motors decorates the entrance at the site of a GM information technology center in Roswell, Ga. A congressional committee is investigating the way General Motors and a federal safety agency handled a deadly ignition switch problem in compact cars. (David Goldman/AP/File)

General Motors faces criminal investigation over ignition recall (+video)

By John HilliardStaff writer / 03.12.14

The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into whether an ignition defect linked to 13 fatalities was ignored by General Motors for over a decade before it launched a massive recall last month.

On Tuesday, a congressional panel launched its own investigation. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) of West Virginia has asked for a Senate investigation, as well.
The probe follows a North American recall of GM vehicles with faulty ignition switches including the Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5, and Pontiac Pursuit in model years 2005-07 (sold only in Canada); the 2003-07 Saturn Ion; the 2006-07 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice; and the 2007 Saturn Sky. 

GM says the ignition defect could cause the engine and electrical systems of an affected vehicle to be switched off while the vehicle is in operation. A faulty ignition switch might be knocked out of the “run” position if the vehicle goes off-road or is jarred in some way, said GM, and could mean airbags won’t deploy in a crash. 

GM has linked the defect to 31 accidents and 13 fatalities.  The company also told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it investigated reports of problems with the ignition switches over the past 10 years but never fixed or replace the parts. It didn't launch the recall of the 1.6 million affected vehicles until last month, and it's that inaction that has sparked the investigations. ( Continue… )

Volvo shows off a CarPlay systen in the Volvo SC90. CarPlay allows iPhones to plug into cars so drivers can call up maps, make calls, and request music with voice commands or a touch on a vehicle's dashboard screen. (Courtesy of Volvo Car Group)

Apple's CarPlay comes to iOS

By Richard ReadGuest blogger / 03.11.14

CarPlay hasn't appeared in actual cars yet, but Apple has already begun laying the groundwork for its arrival via the latest update to its mobile operating system, iOS 7.1.

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The update began rolling out yesterday, and it contains the CarPlay app. If you haven't been able to download it yet, don't worry: iOS 7.1 has been in the works for some time, and it's been widely anticipated, so Apple's servers are stretched thin at the moment. Most of our colleagues are stuck on the "Checking for Update" screen. Hopefully, the situation will improve long before CarPlay arrives on dashboards.

CarPlay debuted at the Geneva Auto Show last week. According to Apple, it will be offered on select Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo models this year. In the not-too-distant future, it will also be an option on vehicles from BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota -- in other words, most major auto brands. ( Continue… )

A 2009 Honda Insight. Honda is halting production of the Insight this year, but the automaker insists it remains committed to hybrds in the US. (Honda/PRNewsFoto/File)

Honda hybrids go bigger; Insight axed

By John VoelckerGuest blogger / 03.10.14

Scrambling to do a bit of damage control after news broke last month that production of its Insight hybrid will end this year, Honda issued a press release touting its renewed commitment to hybrid technology.

The death of the Insight model begged the question, what about the tiny two-seat CR-Z hybrid hatchback?

And, for that matter, what about the Civic Hybrid sedan too, now in its third generation but still saddled with Honda's aging mild-hybrid system?

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In response to a question from Green CarReports, Honda said only that there are "no production changes" to the CR-Z and Civic Hybrid models at this time.

Meanwhile, the replacement for Honda's 15-year-old Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) mild-hybrid system, known in Japan as i-DCD (for intelligent Direct Clutch Drive), will apparently not come to the U.S. in either of the two vehicles it's fitted to in Japan.

Those are the new 2015 Honda Fit and the subcompact crossover known as the Honda Vezel, which may be renamed for the U.S. before it goes on sale this summer or fall. ( Continue… )

This custom-built Chevrolet Corvette – nicknamed "The Purple People Eater" – won a series of road races back in the 1950s. The vehicle will be on display this weekend at the Ritz-Carlton and Golf Club of Amelia Island in Florida. (Motor Authority)

Long-lost 'Purple People Eater' Corvette race car heads to Amelia Island

By Stephen EdelsteinGuest blogger / 03.08.14

Each year, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance features some of the most remarkable automobiles in the world, but this year it will host a true monster. One car that is sure to grab attention is the restored Corvette racer known as the Purple People Eater.

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Named after its unusual purple-and-white paint scheme, the car gained fame by dominating West Coast sports car racing in the late 1950s, with driver Jim Jeffords at the wheel and backing from dealer Nicky Chevrolet. ( Continue… )

Soccer star David Beckham, right, appears with Major League Soccer (MLS) commissioner Don Garber at a press event in Miami. Jaguar hired Beckham as the star of the automaker's advertising campaign in China. (Andrew Innerarity/Reuters/File)

Jaguar hires Beckham to help sell cars in China

By Viknesh VijayenthiranGuest blogger / 03.07.14

Jaguar has recruited international soccer star David Beckham to help peddle its wares in China. He will serve as the face of the brand in a new marketing campaign that will initially feature the new F-Type Coupe.

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Jaguar is keen to promote its British-ness while also coming across as the brand of choice for buyers that are not only athletically-minded by also style-focused and cool. Beckham easily meets all these criteria, and he also happens to be a huge car nut. ( Continue… )

Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President Global Product Planning of Nissan speaks at a news conference during the media day ahead of the 84th Geneva Motor Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 4, 2014. (Arnd Wiegmann/File/REUTERS)

Nissan Altima? So last year. In Geneva, Nissan shows off 2015 Juke

By Antony IngramGuest blogger / 03.07.14

Nissan spent most of last week teasing images of the 2015 Juke in a frustrating social media campaign.

All we really wanted to know was whether the Juke had lost its characterful--if divisive--styling.

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The good news (or bad news, depending on how much you like the Juke) is that it's lost none of its unique looks. If anything, the subtle tweaks enacted for this mid-life facelift have only enhanced the little crossover.

By and large, it's the same Juke we're already familiar with. Most of the metalwork has remained the same, save for a few changes around the headlight area.

The "ripping through flesh" design of the high-level headlights has now incorporated a 370Z-style slash, which in some ways balances the Juke's front end styling a little better. These lights also incorporate LED daytime running lamps and the low-level headlamps feature xenon lighting. ( Continue… )

Koenigsegg's limited edition Agera One:1 car is pictured during the media day ahead of the 84th Geneva Motor Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva. The automaker has signed on a Manhattan dealer as its first American outlet for the company's vehicles, although all six of the One:1 cars have been spoken for. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters/File)

Automaker Koenigsegg signs on American dealer

By Viknesh VijayenthiranGuest blogger / 03.07.14

Unlike many of the wild supercars sold overseas that never make it to U.S. shores, Koenigsegg’s various products have made the trip, with the first example, a CCX, actually landing as far back as 2006. Koenigsegg is now further solidifying its presence in the world’s biggest market for supercars by appointing New York dealership Manhattan Motorcars as its main point of sale for America’s northeast. ( Continue… )

Elon Musk's Tesla Motors announced that it will build a series of new charging stations and service centers for its cars across Europe this year. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters/File)

Tesla (TSLA) announces European expansion plans at Geneva auto show

By Stephen EdelsteinGuest blogger / 03.05.14

Selling cars is one thing, but taking care of your new customers is another.

At the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, Tesla Motors (TSLA) revealed the nest phase of its European expansion plans, which center on the installation of more Supercharger DC fast-charging stations and opening many more service centers.

Tesla will install more Supercharger stations to fulfill CEO Elon Musk's promise--made last month during a Q&A session with European customers--that drivers will be able to travel "almost anywhere" in Europe using only Superchargers, by the end of the year. ( Continue… )

Workers use a crane to recover the 2009 ZR-1 'Blue Devil' Corvette from the sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ken., March 3, 2014. The 40-foot sinkhole swallowed eight collector cars. (Adam Boca/Chevrolet/Handout via Reuters )

ZR1 Blue Devil Corvette, rescued from sinkhole, exits on its own power (+video)

By Jeff GluckerGuest blogger / 03.03.14

Work has begun in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Back in mid-February, a massive sinkhole opened up directly underneath the Skydome at the National Corvette Museum. Eight unfortunate Corvettes that were on display dropped into the hole, and the damage estimates began swirling in. These are extremely rare machines, and they had just (literally) fallen victim to an unexpected act of nature. (MUST SEE: LaFerrari Vs. Enzo In Ferrari Flagship Rev Off: Video)

Now, however, is the time to look towards the positives. The very first car has been just been recovered.

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It's the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, otherwise known as the Blue Devil. This is the prototype version that helped shape the production ZR1. It's been plucked from its landing zone, around 30 feet below the floor on which it originally sat. It also turns out to be a sturdy machine. After being removed from the sinkhole, the car was fired up and driven out of the museum. (DON'T MISS: 2015 Ford Mustang GT350 Spy Shots & Video( Continue… )

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