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Honda, Nissan and Mazda recalling 3 million vehicles for airbag inflators

Mon, 23 Jun 2014 09:35:00 EST

Three million more vehicles can be added to the worldwide tally to be repaired for the faulty airbag inflators supplied by Takata. Honda, Nissan, and Mazda have all issued recalls to replace the bad part, including about 1.2 million of them in North America. NHTSA has been investigating all three companies, plus Chrysler and Toyota, for potentially affected vehicles.
Honda is recalling roughly 1.02 million Civic, CR-V, Odyssey and Element models In North America, built between April 2000 and October 2002. Mazda needs to repair 14,794 units of the RX-8 and Mazda6, and Nissan has 228,000 vehicles in North America to be fixed.
Chrysler is also starting what it calls a "regional field action" to replace the inflators in the 2006 Dodge Charger, according to a company spokesperson. The company says that it has not yet found the problem in any of its vehicles, but it's being done "out of an abundance of caution." The final number of Chargers affected will be announced later this week.

Google poised to release Apple CarPlay rival this month

Tue, 17 Jun 2014 10:45:00 EST

Apple and Google. They're the Michigan and Ohio State of the tech world. They're New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, Real Madrid and Barcelona, or whatever sports-based rivalry you want to cook up. Bottom line, if one company expands into a segment, it's only a matter of time before the other follows suit. And now, that rivalry is about to carry over to your car's dashboard.
Unnamed sources are reporting to Automotive News that Google will unveil its very own challenger to Apple's new CarPlay in-car operating system later this month at the Mountain View, CA company's annual developer conference. The system, allegedly called Google Auto Link, will be the first product to come from the Open Automotive Alliance, a partnership between Google, General Motors, Hyundai, Audi, Honda and hardware manufacturer NVIDIA.
The official announcement is expected to be made on either June 25 or 26, at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. Expect to hear a lot more about Google Auto Link then.

Honda may recall up to 1M vehicles for airbag issue, following Toyota's lead

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 15:30:00 EST

It seems Toyota won't be the only one recalling the faulty Takata airbag inflators for long. Honda insiders in Japan claim that the company is getting close to announcing its own worldwide campaign that would begin before the end of June.
Unnamed sources close to Honda in Japan tell Automotive News that the company is pursuing an internal investigation into possibly affected models and is working with Takata to gather more information. They claim that it could involve even more than the 1.14 million cars worldwide that the automaker covered under the first recall for the problem in April 2013, including 561,000 vehicles in the US.
Toyota jumpstarted this process last week when it recalled over 2 million cars worldwide, including 844,277 in the US. Soon after, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began a preliminary evaluation into the issue following six reported incidents, and started assembling data about potentially affected models from Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Chrysler. NHTSA also began investigating Takata itself.

'Car Wars' says Ford, Honda to pick up share, Fiat-Chrysler ambitions downplayed

Sat, 14 Jun 2014 11:30:00 EST

Don't look for a tremendous shifts in automotive market share over the next three years because it might not be coming. That's at least according to the annual Car Wars report by John Murphy, from Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research.
In the report's analysis of automakers' market share from 2013 to 2017, it predicts only small changes among the major companies. Ford and Honda see the biggest positive effect with an estimated 0.5 percent increase in their shares over the next three years; to 16.2 percent and 10.3 percent respectively. On the flip side, European automakers and Nissan are expected to lose 0.2 percent each to fall to 8.3 percent and 7.8 percent each respectively. The rest of the industry is predicted to hold steady as it is now.
The biggest loser in that prediction might be Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. The report certainly throws a wet blanket on its plan for significant gains in market share. Murphy told The Detroit News that the company's goal was "almost unattainable."

Five automakers now being investigated by NHTSA for airbag woes

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:00:00 EST

It appears that Toyota's renotification to owners of recalled vehicles from last year is just the tip of the iceberg for what could potentially be a much larger industry-wide recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is opening a preliminary evaluation investigation into roughly 1.1 million vehicles from Chrysler, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and parts supplier Takata regarding faulty airbag inflators in several models.
NHTSA has received six reports - three directly, two from Takata and one from Toyota - of vehicles with ruptured airbag inflators from 2002-2006, which resulted in three injuries. So far, all six incidents have occurred in high humidity areas like Florida and Puerto Rico. According to Toyota's latest recall announcement, the inflators may have an improper propellant that could cause it to rupture in a crash and the bag to deploy abnormally.
This new investigation follows a previous recall from April 2013 of about 3.4 million vehicles worldwide for the airbag inflators from Takata. As Autoblog reported, Toyota jumpstarted the new situation when it found that the original list of serial numbers for the faulty part was incomplete and discovered more cars in need of replacement. Honda and Nissan told us that they were investigating whether further models would need called in again as well. Mazda told Autoblog: "Regarding the current Takata situation, we're working closely with NHTSA and investigating the situation, but nothing else to report at this time." Chrysler Group responded to us with the statement: "Chrysler Group engineers are conducting the appropriate analysis. The Company will cooperate fully with the National Highway Traffic Administration."

Honda's Euro Civic hatch getting facelift, too

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 08:44:00 EST

Honda's freshening of the Civic line isn't just limited to the North American market, as proven by these images of the Euro-spec model testing on Her Majesty's motorways.
According to our spies, this new Civic boasts a heavily restyled front fascia, with headlights and taillights that draw a quite a bit of inspiration from the Civic Type R Concept from the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.
The restyled front fascia has a sportier lean, with more significant lateral intakes and what looks like a slightly larger lower intake. It's more difficult to make out details on the rear of the car, although we can spot a modest little diffuser and a larger integrated spoiler.

2015 Honda Fit configurator will let you have it your way

Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:15:00 EST

Honda has released the online configurator for the all-new, 2015 Fit - a vehicle that was scheduled to launch earlier, but was delayed until this month. As is the case with the rest of the Japanese manufacturer's builders, there's not a lot to this one - pick a trim, transmission (where applicable) and a color, and you're all set.
The 2015 Fit will come in three grades, with the base LX offering up both manual and continuously variable transmission, air conditioning, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, a 60/40 split-rear seat and a four-speaker stereo, among lesser items. The LX starts at $15,525, not counting a $790 destination charge. Next up is the $17,435 EX, which adds 16-inch wheels, push-button start and a seven-inch display audio system complete with Pandora and text-message functionality. Like the LX, the EX can be had with either a manual or CVT, with the two-pedal setup commanding an $800 premium, regardless of trim.
The top-of-the-line EX-L, however, cannot be had with a manual. Getting the king of the Fit line will lock you into the CVT, although it adds an assortment of cow-based products, in the form of heated leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Heated wing mirrors are also included in the $19,800 starting price. Navigation is an optional goodie, which tacks $1,000 onto the price and is only available on the EX-L. HD Radio and satellite radio are also included on the EX-L.

Ariel to revive motorcycle business with debut at Goodwood

Sat, 07 Jun 2014 11:59:00 EST

If you're a parent, the name Ariel might conjure up one of the Disney princesses, but auto enthusiasts know it as a hardcore, boutique British sports car maker. Before being revived to make the skeletal Atom, the business was also a British motorcycle company best known for its four-cylinder bikes. Now, the modern iteration is looking to the past with plans to unveil its own cycle at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed from June 26-29.
Given Ariel's cars, you might expect an absolutely minimalist motorcycle weighing practically nothing. However, according to its boss speaking to Visor Down, there's no point in trying to build another racer; that market is sewn up. Instead, it's developing a performance cruiser with a more tailored design approach. Buyers can select a variety of different components to adapt the cycle to their style. It shouldn't be lacking for too much speed though; power comes from the 1,237cc V4 engine from the Honda VFR1200F with around 170 horsepower on tap, and it also offers the VFR's six-speed, dual-clutch gearbox as an option.
Ariel admitted that bike on display at Goodwood would just be a test mule and didn't say when the production version would be ready. It seems this idea has been a long time coming, though - we reported in 2011 that the company was working on a bespoke motorcycle with multiple design options around a Honda engine. Pricing at the time was rumored to sit around 20,000 pounds.

Honda and Mario Andretti cite pedestrians for excessive slowness

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 12:31:00 EST

Honda and the Andretti family have a lot to celebrate at the moment. Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 2014 Indianapolis 500 in his Honda-powered car, and Marco Andretti, Mario's grandson, also managed to take the third step on the podium. Apparently, the victory is making them feel magnanimous because Honda and Mario Andretti are giving the chance to ride with him in a two-seat, open wheel car.
To promote the contest, they created the Honda Speed Patrol to ticket anyone going too slow. It's an interesting idea, and the chance to ride with Andretti would be the opportunity of a lifetime. Perhaps the biggest shock of the video, though, might be when you realize how short Mario is when you see him milling about in public. Scroll down to watch one of America's most respected racers cite people in Chicago for being too slow.

Minivan market not what it used to be, but margins make up for it

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 08:34:00 EST



Residual values for last year's minivans are higher than they were in 2000.
Much like the station wagon was the shuttle of Baby Boomer generation, the minivan has been the primary means of transport for Generations X and Y. Just as the boomers abandoned the Country Squire, though, those kids that were toted around in Grand Caravans and Windstars are adults, and they certainly don't want to be seen in the cars their parents drove.