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VW enters electric vehicle segment with 2015 e-Golf

egolfVolkswagen enters the electric vehicle segment for 2015 with the e-Golf, a versatile EV with zero tailpipe emissions.
The drivetrain consists of a kWh lithium-ion battery and an electric motor with 199 pound-feet of torque. A 7.2 kW onboard charger is standard.
VW is also offering a roadside assistance plan to help customers with range anxiety, or the fear or running out of charge before arriving home or at a destintation. The e-Golf has a range of 70 to 90 miles in normal operation, and up to 100 miles in an ECO-plus mode. A standard fast charger can charge the battery to 80 percent in just 30 minutes.
The e-Golf goes on sale at participating dealers in November, starting at $35,445 for the fully equipped SEL Premium model.
Volkswagen has a diverse lineup for 2015, including the Jetta, VW’s best selling model. The Jetta is redesigned for 2015 and comes with a gasoline or diesel engine. A hybrid model is in the works.
The Jetta diesel gets up to 46 mpg on the highway with a manual transmission. Diesel Jetta pricing will start at $22,740, while the base gasoline model starts at $16,215.

Cadillac, Jaguar, Lexus, Lincoln named to J.D. Power ‘Customer Champions’ List

Four automakers made the 2014 J.D. Power Customer Champions list, including Cadillac, Jaguar, Lexus and Lincoln. J.D. Power, in conjunction with FORTUNE Custom Publishing, today recognized 50 companies that demonstrate the ability to provide the highest level of customer service based on their most important critics — their customers.
The J.D. Power 2014 Customer Champions were selected based on customer feedback attesting to their service excellence. These companies were the highest performers among more than 600 evaluated brands across nine industries, based on their performance in five key areas identified as the J.D. Power 5 Ps: People, Presentation, Price, Process and Product.
Selection is based on an independent and unbiased evaluation of customer feedback, opinions and perceptions gathered from J.D. Power studies conducted in the United States in 2013. Those recognized as a 2014 Customer Champion represent the highest-performing companies in terms of providing customer service excellence.

The 2014 Customer Champions list includes the following companies:
Amica Mutual
AvMed Health Plans
Bangor Savings Bank
Beneficial Mutual Savings Bank
Boost Mobile
Capital District Physicians
Clark Public Utilities
Clay Electric Cooperative
Drury Hotels
First Citizens Bancorp
Four Seasons
Frost Bank
Good Neighbor Pharmacy
Homewood Suites
Independent Health Association
Jackson EMC
JetBlue Airways
Neiman Marcus
NJM Insurance Co.
Publix (Retail and Pharmacy)
Quicken Loans
The Ritz-Carlton
Saks Fifth Avenue
Sawnee EMC
SECO Energy
Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative
Southwest Airlines
Staybridge Suites
Straight Talk
Tennessee Farm Bureau
Texas Farm Bureau
U.S. Cellular
Union First Market Bank
United Community Bank

Subaru reveals 2015 Legacy at Chicago Auto Show

Subaru celebrated the 25th Anniversary of its flagship Legacy mid-size sedan by introducing the 2015 model at the Chicago Auto Show  last week. The 2015 Legacy is the “most stylish and technologically advanced ever” and a “huge step forward” for the brand, said Tom Doll, president and COO of Subaru of America.

The Legacy also remains the only car in its class with standard All-Wheel Drive. The Legacy offers a choice of 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder Boxer engines and has a standard CVT transmission. The 4-cylinder Legacy will return mileage estimates of 26 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The 6-cylinder model also sees fuel economy improve by 10 percent, with estimated ratings of 20 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway.

The new 2015 Legacy begins arriving in dealerships this summer.

Other 2015 offerings at the Chicago show included the new Chevrolet City Express van aimed at small business owners, the Kia Soul electric vehicle, the Kia Optima Hybrid and a diesel-powered Nissan Frontier mid-size truck.

In other news from the Chicago Auto Show, Ford introduced a snow plow option on the new 2015 F-150 pickup truck. The new snow plow option generated interest in Chicago, where the temperature didn’t climb above 10 degrees during the show’s media day.

Chevy begins shipping 2014 Corvette Stingray Coupe

Chevrolet today began shipping the all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray Coupe to dealers across the country.

“It’s an amazing sight to see the transporters filled with Stingrays heading to customers in all corners of the country,” said Dave Tatman, plant manager of General Motors’ Bowling Green Assembly plant.

The Bowling Green Assembly has produced approximately 1,000 Corvette Stingrays for customer deliveries. Most of these vehicles are expected to be delivered to dealers within the next few weeks. To expedite delivery, vehicles may be shipped out of build sequence, which is a normal part of any new vehicle launch.

The Bowling Green facility underwent a $131-million upgrade to support production of the Corvette Stingray, including approximately $52 million for a new body shop to manufacture the car’s all-new aluminum frame in-house for the first time.

The lightweight aluminum frame is the foundation for the most powerful standard Corvette ever, with an SAE-certified 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, and 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque with the available performance exhaust system. It is also the most capable standard Corvette ever, with Z51-equipped models able to sprint from 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds, run the quarter-mile in 12 seconds at 119 mph, achieve 1.03g in cornering grip and stop from 60 mph in 107 feet.

The 2014 Corvette Stingray is the seventh generation of the Corvette, which has been built exclusively at the Bowling Green plant since June 1981.

Pricing for the 2014 Corvette Stingray Coupe starts at $51,995 including destination. The Convertible is priced at $56,995 including destination. Production of the Stingray Convertible will begin by the end of this year.

Ford’s high tech dirt

Ford Motor Company is using high tech cameras to virtually eliminate microscopic dirt that may sneak into the company’s paint chambers.

It’s an industry first dirt detection system that uses high-res cameras to generate a 3D image of every vehicle so Ford can identify and eliminate dirt particles smaller than a grain of salt on vehicle paint surfaces

Ford data show the new automated vision system has led to an 82 percent improvement in combined paint quality and customer satisfaction metrics for surface finish within one year.

The digital imaging system analyzes more than 3,000 images in 15 seconds to identify dirt particles. Previously, paint inspections were based solely on the human eye.

This year, the dirt detection technology launches at three more Ford assembly plants in North America, followed by two additional assembly plants in 2014.

New Ford F-Series models are the latest vehicles to benefit from the new dirt detecting technology.

“This system ensures better paint jobs and surface finishes for Ford customers around the world,” said Tom Dougan, project manager, global paint applications at Ford.

BMW introduces electric car

BMW today introduced the all-new BMW i3 electric car, scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. market in the second quarter of 2014. The i3 starts with a base MSRP of $41,350, before any federal or state incentives.

According to BMW, the i3 will be able to travel 80 to 100 miles on a charge. This can be increased by up to approximately 12 percent in ECO PRO mode and by the same amount again in ECO PRO+ mode. It is able to recharge in 3 hours with the use of a 220V Level 2, 32-amp J1772 charger.  The SAE DC Combo Fast Charging, which charges the BMW i3 up to 80 percent in 20 minutes, and 100 percent in 30, is optional.

In order to reduce range anxiety, a rear-mounted 650cc, 34 hp, two-cylinder, gasoline-powered Range Extender generator is available, which roughly doubles the vehicle’s range. When the battery gets to a certain level, the Range Extender starts and maintains the battery’s current state of charge. The Range Extender never directly drives the vehicle’s wheels. The Range Extender adds roughly 330 lbs. to the vehicle curb weight and has a fuel capacity of 2.4 gallons.

According to a BMW press release, the concept behind the BMW i3 was designed from the outset to incorporate an all-electric drive system.

The car will be comprised of two modules; the Life Module, and the Drive Module. Think of the Life Module as the passenger cabin, or greenhouse. It is the first-ever mass produced Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) passenger cell in the automotive business, and is a big factor in the cars efficiency. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic is equally as strong as steel, while being 50 percent lighter, and 30 percent lighter than aluminum. The result is an electric car that weighs about 2,700 lbs.

The aluminum Drive Module consists of the 22-kWh, 450 lb. lithium-ion battery, the electric drive train, MacPherson strut and 5-link rear  suspension system and structural and crash components. The battery is mounted in the rear close to the drive wheels for better performance and traction.

There is no space-consuming transmission tunnel running through the center of the car, which helps give the BMW i3 the interior space of the BMW 3 Series, while only having the footprint of the much smaller BMW 1 Series.

The interior is made using high quality renewable sources and recycled materials.


Nissan brings Datsun back with Datsun GO in India

Datsun today unveiled the first new Datsun car for the 21st century: the all-new Datsun GO will go on sale in India in in early 2014.

The Datsun GO is the realization of the commitment made by Nissan Motor Co. in March 2012 to return the Datsun brand to the marketplace. Datsun is the third brand for the Nissan Motor Company along with the company’s Nissan and Infiniti brands.

The five-door, front-wheel drive GO hatchback will come with a 1.2-liter engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission that offers optimal response time and agility in congested traffic.

New Chevy Corvette muscle car to get 29 mpg on the highway

The 2014 Corvette will get up to 29 miles per gallon in highway driving, but will if you mash the pedal it will still get you to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in less than 4 seconds.

The 2014 Corvette Stingray has a 6.2-liter V8 that cranks out 455 horsepower. The Corvette that will get an estimated 29 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg in the city is the 7-speed manual transmission version.

The new Corvette will also feature active cylinder management, meaning the car can run on just 4 cylinders at highway speeds, adding to fuel savings.

The new Corvette will cost just under $52,000 and will go on sale this fall.

Toyota sells 10 millionth Camry

Toyota has sold its 10 millionth Camry, America’s top-selling car for the past 11 years, the company announced.

The Camry accounts for one of every five Toyota’s ever sold in the U.S.

The venerable Camry also celebrates its 30th anniversary in the U.S. this year.

“We couldn’t be more excited about Camry’s 10 millionth sale in the U.S.,” said Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations of ToyotaMotor Sales, USA, Inc. “With the support of so many loyal customers, Camry has truly become part of the country’s fiber. For seven generations, Toyota dealers have also been instrumental in getting Americans behind the wheel of a Camry. Camry is definitely helping Toyota Go Places.”

Toyota’s first generation Camry was introduced to theU.S. market in 1983. In its first full year of sales, Camry sold 52,651 vehicles. Three decades later, 773 of those Camrys are still in operation.

Chrysler, NHTSA resolve differences, company to recall Jeeps

Chrysler and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have resolved differences over the recall of older Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs, Chrysler said in a statement today.

As a result of the agreement, Chrysler Group will conduct a voluntary campaign with respect to the vehicles in question that, in addition to a visual inspection of the vehicle will, if necessary, provide an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle to better manage crash forces in low-speed impacts, the company said.

NHTSA had asked Chrysler to recall 2.7 million Jeep Grand Cherokees  from model years 1993 through 2004 and Jeep Libertys from 2002 through 2007, saying there was a risk of fuel tank fires in certain collisions.  Chrysler said in recent weeks it would not recall the vehicles, and it maintains today that the vehicles are not defective.

“Chrysler Group’s analysis of the data confirms that these vehicles are not defective and are among the safest in the peer group,” the company’s statement today said. “Nonetheless, Chrysler Group recognizes that this matter has raised concerns for its customers and wants to take further steps, in coordination with NHTSA, to provide additional measures to supplement the safety of its vehicles.”