April 2016

No lights? No problem with Ford Fusion autonomous vehicles

(April 11, 2016) WITTMANN, Ariz. — Recently, under the cover of night, a Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle with no headlights on navigated along lonely desert roads, performing a task that would be perilous for a human driver.

Driving in pitch black at Ford Arizona Proving Ground marks the next step on the company’s journey to delivering fully autonomous vehicles to customers around the globe.

Jim Gaffigan stars in Chrysler's 'Dad Brand' marketing campaign for Pacifica

(April 11, 2016)  AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Chrysler brand officially debuted its new "Dad Brand" advertising campaign for the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica last week featuring actor/comedian/writer/producer Jim Gaffigan. The multiplatform campaign features the real-life dad of five, leveraging various all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica features to improve his "Dad Brand" in a comedic, tongue-in-cheek fashion while highlighting the unparalleled levels of functionality, versatility, technology and safety features of the vehicle.

Beyond Tesla's Model 3 hype

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 11, 2016) A few days ago, Elon Musk pulled the covers off the Model 3 and the hype has been intense from the media coverage, especially of the approximately 150,000 preorders for the supposedly $35,000 sedan. A number of media outlets stated this was proof that the American public not only was ready for a mainstream EV, but Tesla had discovered a rich vein of untapped demand in the general public for electric vehicles.

Nissan GT-R breaks Guinness world record for fastest drift

(April 10, 2016) DUBAI, UAE — Nissan has set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the fastest ever drift. The record was broken with a speed of 304.96 km/hr (189 mph) and 30 degrees angle using a specially-tuned 2016 Nissan GT-R.

Masato Kawabata, the Japanese drift champion and title holder for the Japanese drifting series, clinched the top spot from former record holder Jakub Przygoński of Poland. The record was set during a special event that took place at Fujairah International Airport, UAE.

Mazda recalls 578 vehicles over strut assembly problem

(April 9, 2016) WASHINGTON, D.C. —Mazda has filed a safety defect report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to address a concern with certain 2013-2016 vehicles.

Under certain conditions of under-torque detection, the automatic tightening system may not tighten the front strut assembly lower mounting nuts and bolts to the proper torque specification.  A separation of the front strut and steering knuckle can cause significant loss of steering control and increase risk of a crash.

Lexus NX 300h: What price fuel economy?

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 9, 2016) I thought the NX 200t F Sport tested last year was a bit expensive with its $45,630 as-tested price. But, as it turned out, this price is well within the range of small luxury crossovers, especially those outfitted for higher performance. Then along comes the hybrid version of the NX, and I have to wonder how you would justify the price of this particular crossover. Here's what I mean.

Shelby aficionado Joe McMurrey to sell rare Shelby vehicles at auction

(April 8, 2016) WALWORTH, Wis. — An impressive array of 17 prized and desirable vehicles from the collection of noted Shelby aficionado Joe McMurrey of Longview, Texas, will headline Dana Mecum’s 29th annual Original Spring Classic auction to be held May 17-21 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. The entire Shelby-themed assemblage will cross the auction block on Friday, May 20.

Infiniti achieves all-time global sales record in March

(April 8, 2016) HONG KONG — Infiniti ended the first quarter of 2016 with exceptionally strong sales numbers. In March the brand achieved an all-time high record by selling more than 24,900 vehicles globally, an increase of 22% over March 2015. This marks the 19th consecutive month with global year-on-year growth.

In the first quarter, Infiniti sold more than 57,200 vehicles, which surpasses the first quarter of 2015 by 9%. It is the best ever first quarter in Infiniti's history.

Toyota establishes deeper roots in Ann Arbor tech community

(April 8, 2016) SAN JOSE — Dr. Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), announced this week that Toyota will establish its third TRI facility in the U.S. The new facility will be located in Ann Arbor, near the University of Michigan campus where it will fund research in artificial intelligence, robotics and materials science. 

Joining the TRI facility established last January in Palo Alto working with Stanford (TRI-PAL), and in Cambridge working with MIT (TRI-CAM), TRI-ANN is scheduled to open in June and target a staff of approximately 50.

Audi sales underscore importance of new models

(April 8, 2016) HERNDON, Virginia — It’s a truism of the auto industry that nothing generates buyers like new models, and Audi sales results in the U.S. market for March underscored that in a major way.

Long-term considerations such as having a premium brand, producing top-quality vehicles and having offerings in the right segments, of course, have been crucial to the growing success of Audi in the American market over the last decade.