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315-horsepower Ford Focus RS makes global debut in Geneva

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(March 4, 2015) GENEVA — The all-new Ford Focus RS made its global debut this week at the Geneva Motor Show pioneering innovative Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive, and delivering class-leading cornering speed for thrilling performance and unbridled driving enjoyment. The Focus RS introduces advanced performance technologies, and is the first Ford RS equipped with selectable drive modes — including industry-first drift mode, as well as launch control.

2015 Mercedes M-Class



MIAMI — Although it’s likely some people will be impressed as you pilot around a Benz SUV; in truth, you will be much more dazzled by the Mercedes-Benz M-Class from behind the wheel than those gawking at it from the curb will be. This is particularly true if it’s the highly contented ML400 like the one in which I recently cruised the streets of South Florida.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class



INDIANAPOLIS — With each generation, Mercedes claims the C-Class is more sophisticated, more upscale, and just more of everything.  That was true when the 1994 C-Class replaced the 190E and it’s true as the fourth-generation supplants the third.  You often hear these cars compared to the flagship S-Class.  Beyond hyperbole, those comparisons bear truth.

2015 Chevrolet Trax



SAN DIEGO — Asked about the reasoning behind the launch of the Chevy Trax, chief engineer Al Manzour answered with refreshing honesty: “Originally, the Trax was scheduled to launch in 2012 just behind the Buick Encore, but it was delayed to see if the sales we thought were in this segment actually were there.”

Vehicle of the Week

2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid — Satisfying frugality



By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Has Toyota been hearing giant footsteps gaining on them, feeling the hot breath of segment competitors as they gain ground on the perennial best-selling mid-size Camry sedan? We ask this question because the lifecycle of most Toyota vehicles, including the Camry, is five to six years with only mild mid-cycle refreshes. Yet the current-generation Camry — only in the third year of its cycle — has been criticized for falling behind in styling, performance and personality, has been endowed with major updates for 2015 including new exterior styling, improved handling, and better interior materials.

Here's the Thing

63 percent of automotive companies say future product planning difficult

(March 4, 2015) LONDON — Some 84% of automotive companies say that information on future car models is important to their company's strategy, yet only 39% claim to have a detailed, written-down forecast, according to a new survey for PLDB, the auto model database from industry analysts just-auto.

The global survey, the first into the impact of future car model program information in automotive planning, also reveals that almost two-thirds of auto manufacturers and suppliers believe that planning for the future has become more complex over the last 12 months.

Automakers bolster revenue in February, TrueCar finds

(March 4, 2015) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — TrueCar finds that amid the best auto industry and economic fundamentals in a decade, higher new vehicle sales and transaction prices in February generated $41.8 billion of revenue for automakers, an 11.6 percent jump over a year ago.

Top three finals in World Car awards announced in Geneva

(March 3, 2015) GENEVA — The Road to the World Car journey continued with today’s announcement of the Top Three in the World finalists in five award categories at the Geneva International Motor Show.

This announcement continues the countdown for the 2015 World Car Awards (the WCAs) winners’ press conference hosted by the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), Bridgestone Corporation and Autoneum on Thursday, April 2.  Winners of the 2015 World Car of the Year, World Luxury Car, World Performance Car, World Green Car and World Car Design of the Year will all be declared at this time.

Inside the Industry

Chevrolet announces next-generation Malibu to be shown in New York

(March 4, 2015) DETROIT — Designed to deliver more efficiency, connectivity and advanced safety features than ever, the next-generation 2016 Chevrolet Malibu will make its public debut at the New York International Auto Show this April.

Using a blank slate approach, Chevrolet designers benefited from an entirely new architecture, which for Malibu includes a wheelbase nearly four inches longer than the outgoing model. That, in turn, provides increased rear legroom and interior space.

Audi and AT&T to wirelessly connect 2016 model year vehicles

(March 4, 2015) HERNDON, Va. — Audi and AT&T have announced that 2016 model year Audi vehicles will offer AT&T 4G LTE or 3G coverage.  AT&T and Audi enabled the first-ever in-vehicle 4G LTE data connection in North America in 2014.

“Our relationship with Audi has allowed us to improve the in-car experience, beginning with the A3 last year, the first 4G LTE connected car in the U.S.,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president, Internet of Things, AT&T Mobility. 

Auto sales grow 5.3 percent over February 2014 despite winter weather

(March 4, 2015) Winter weather across much of the country in February blunted auto sales, but not enough to prevent small gains over February 2014 for most companies. Overall sales were 1.26 million, slightly below the predicted sales of 1.3 million.

“The underlying fundamentals supporting growth in 2015 remain solid,” Yong Yang, Ford’s chief economist for the Americas, said. “In spite of the recent rebound, fuel prices remain low and continue to provide a significant boost to consumer disposable income.”

Abandoned Car of the Week

Buick ready for some restoration



For the first time in several years, Buick offered an Estate Wagon on the B-body LeSabre platform in 1970. The only engine available was a Buick 7.5-liter V-8 making 360 horsepower mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. It was a heavy car by today's standards weighing in at about 5,000 pounds. This 1970 example seems to be in drivable and restorable condition.
(Photo by Ralph Gable)