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30 Jul 2014

V6 engines will outpace V8s for the 2015 Ford F-150

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2015 Ford F-150

How times have changed. Even five years ago, who would have thought the mighty V8 would be just another engine choice for buyers of the 2015 Ford F-150?

Ford is projecting about 28 percent of the next-generation trucks will have the 5.0-liter V8. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but consider this: Ford figures its two EcoBoost truck engines – the new 2.7-liter V6 and the existing 3.5-liter V6 – will also each account for about 28 percent of the F-150’s sales (56 percent total). That leaves only 15 percent of the pie for the 3.5-liter (non-EcoBoost) V6. The new F-150 goes on sale late this year.

Ford figures its two EcoBoost truck engines will each account for about 28 percent of the F-150’s sales.

“In the truck business, it’s historically been about the most horsepower, the most towing power and the most torque,” Ford trucks marketing manager Doug Scott said.

Obviously those still matter, but Ford has significantly diversified the F-150’s engine lineup in a bid to attract new customers and hedge against spikes in fuel prices. The move away from V8s began in earnest in the 2011 F-150, which received the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost with 365 hp and 420-lb-ft of torque to complement the traditional V8 model.

Adding the turbocharged EcoBoost three years ago was fraught with risks, as truck buyers are among the most loyal and resistant to change in the market. But it’s paid off for Ford, and the EcoBoost model now makes up about 45 percent of the current F-150’s sales.

With that in mind, Ford is adding another EcoBoost V6, the 2.7-liter engine, which will push out 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque, numbers that sound more akin to a traditional V8. With this engine, the truck can tow up to 8,500 pounds and will have a payload of 2,250 pounds. Ford envisions this model will be attractive to buyers who don’t haul regularly, but still require some of the practical capabilities of a pickup.

“This is an engine that’s really designed for that core customer,” Scott said.

Ford’s expansion of the F-150’s lineup comes amid renewed competition from its traditional Detroit truck rivals. This year, Ram added an EcoDiesel model with 240 hp and 420 lb-ft, while General Motors will round out its 2015 truck portfolio with the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, which are slightly smaller than their fullsize, Silverado and Sierra brethren. The moves come as federal fuel economy rules are set to tighten, and consumers continue to be wary of gas-guzzling vehicles.

Ford’s new engine lineup will be enhanced by the use of aluminum for the F-150’s body, which will reduce weight and improve fuel economy. Depending on the engine and cab size, the F-150 will be anywhere from 625 pounds to more than 732 pounds lighter, compared with 2014 models.

V6 engines will outpace V8s for the 2015 Ford F-150 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:26:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30 Jul 2014

Hyundai, Porsche top J.D. Power APEAL study

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Hyundai Accent

Porsche 911Just as they did in the Initial Quality Study, Porsche and Hyundai have taken the premium and non-premium crown, respectively, for the 2014 J.D. Power APEAL study. This is the tenth consecutive year for that Porsche has been rated the best premium make in the APEAL study, which attempts to figure out how pleased owners are with their purchases. For 2014, it asked 86,000 owners of MY2014 cars to rate their vehicles in 77 different categories 90 days after their initial purchase. The resulting figures were plugged in deliver the APEAL score, which is rated on a 1,000-point scale.

The industry average sits at 794 points for 2014, although that’s a one-percent decline over last year’s rating. In this year’s study, premium brands averaged 840 out of 1,000, while non-premium makes average 785. For their part, Porsche netted an impressive 882 points, while Hyundai earned an 804. Interestingly, only four non-premium brands (Hyundai, Ram, Volkswagen and Mini) finished above the industry average for 2014.

It’s also interesting to see the clear delineation between premium and non-premium brands, with an eight-point gap between the non-premium champ, Hyundai, and the lowest-rated premium brand, Volvo.

Porsche and Hyundai weren’t the only automakers to take home recognition. Dodge managed to tie Porsche for the most segment awards, with three. The Challenger, Charger and Dart all topped their market. There were a number of two-segment winners, as well, with Audi, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan capturing a pair of segments each.

Scroll down for the full press release from JD Power on this year’s winners.

Continue reading Hyundai, Porsche top J.D. Power APEAL study

Hyundai, Porsche top J.D. Power APEAL study originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30 Jul 2014

Dealership refunds student for broken Saab with bags of pennies

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Woman refunded by dealer with bag of pennies

Every so often, we come across the story of someone trying to “stick it to the man” by paying a parking fine or speeding ticket in pennies or dimes. Never, though, have we heard of a business stooping to such clichéd lengths. Enter Florida.

Irena Mujakovic bought a 2003 Saab way back in January from Holiday Motors, in Jacksonville, FL. Shortly after the purchase, the transmission started acting up. She returned to the dealer and paid for the repair, and purchased a warranty for future issues. Total cost: $300. But then the trans crapped out not long after the initial repair, and Mujakovic was back at Holiday Motors. This is where things start going south.

This second trip cost Mujakovic $400, with her warranty in hand. That’s because the man that runs the dealer, Ed Di Miranda, neglected to mention that the warranty didn’t cover labor costs.

“The warranty did not cover labor and I failed to write that in and that was her loophole,” Di Miranda told First Coast News.

The young college student filed a complaint with the Florida DMV, who sided with her and ordered Holiday Motors to refund the money. Di Miranda and the dealership did just that, but when Mujakovic came to collect her refund, it was to a bag of pennies, with a few dollar bills sprinkled in for good measure.

Di Miranda, doesn’t seem to think he’s done anything wrong, claiming that only about $85 was in change, while the rest was paper money. “I am doing what DMV asked me to do,” Di Miranda said. “It is legal tender.”

Mujakovic has not collected her refund. Have a look below for the video news report.

Continue reading Dealership refunds student for broken Saab with bags of pennies

Dealership refunds student for broken Saab with bags of pennies originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30 Jul 2014

Ford Fiesta becomes UK all-time best seller

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Ford Fiesta in London

We may regard Ford as an American automaker, but ask a Brit and they may tell you otherwise. The Blue Oval has, after all, been selling cars in the UK since 1903, and started manufacturing there as far back as 1911 when it began local production of the Model T in Manchester. Last year Ford ended 100 years of vehicle manufacturing in the UK when the last Transit van rolled off the assembly line in Southampton, but it’s still the biggest-selling automotive marque in Britain.

Ford has led the British market for 34 out of the past 45 years, selling more Fiestas than any other company sells any other car in the UK since 2009… when it overtook the Focus. In fact the Fiesta has now become the best-selling car in British history, topping 4,115,000 units since its introduction in 1976. The previous record was held by – you guessed it – another Ford: the Escort sold 4,105,961 units over the course of its 32 years on the British market.

Although the Fiesta is no longer manufactured in the UK (previous versions having been built at Dagenham until 2002), engines are: the EcoBoost line was developed at the company’s R&D center in Essex and are built at the factory in Dunton, while its diesel engines were developed at Dagenham in East London. Even the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine in the Fiesta ST is built in South Wales.

Continue reading Ford Fiesta becomes UK all-time best seller

Ford Fiesta becomes UK all-time best seller originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:22:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30 Jul 2014

China probing German automakers over spare parts

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General Views Of Shanghai's Economy

The Chinese market has proven to be a boon to German luxury automakers. However, the way that the companies have allegedly been controlling their supply of spare parts has begun to draw the ire of the nation’s government. According to insiders speaking to Bloomberg, officials from the country’s economic planning organization have opened a probe into Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and some Japanese carmakers over claimed price inflation and limiting supply.

Specifically, the investigation centers around two aspects of how the companies do business, according to Bloomberg. Investigators want to know whether the original equipment component makers are able to sell spare parts only to automaker-authorized dealers or if they are also available to independent shops. There is also the issue of whether the price markup on replacement pieces is too high. The tight controls could be partially explained by China’s reputation for producing counterfeit parts.

Evidently, the investigators haven’t checked parts prices at car dealers elsewhere in the world. At least in the US, paying more at the dealer for factory components just goes along with owning a vehicle. If evidence of price fixing is found, the companies could face fines the equivalent of millions of dollars, according to Bloomberg.

China probing German automakers over spare parts originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 07:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30 Jul 2014

These are the top luxury cars bought by people entering the segment for the first time

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Volvo C70

Let’s say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?

Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don’t garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn’t even one that’s made anymore, at that.

A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.

It’s an odd winner because the C70 isn’t even available as a new model anymore, having been discontinued after the 2013 model year. It isn’t the only car no longer offered that’s on the list, either. The BMW 128i is in seventh place with 53.93 percent of conquest buyers despite leaving us in MY 2014. It seems likely that some of these vehicles are still on dealer lots, and buyers are getting good incentives to pick them up at lower prices.

According to Polk, the 10 models with the highest conquest rates from non-luxury segments are:

If you’re curious about the other side of the table, the Mercedes S-Class is the least likely vehicle for new luxury buyers to choose at 10.35 percent. Although, that’s not exactly a shock – with a starting price of nearly $100,000, it would be quite a leap up from a Camry or Accord.

These are the top luxury cars bought by people entering the segment for the first time originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30 Jul 2014

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA priced from $31,300*

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2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic, front three-quarter view.

Mercedes-Benz has kindly let loose the price of the US-spec 2015 GLA-Class, telling Autoblog that the base 208-horsepower GLA250 in two-wheel drive form will go for $31,300 *not including a destination charge of $925. That makes for $32,225 in total to get one off the lot, a price predicted as early as last year and in our recent First Drive. The other two available models can push power to all four wheels, and after the destination fee is applied the GLA240 4Matic (pictured) will be $34,225 while the 355-horsepower GLA45 AMG will change lives and wallets to the tune of $49,225.

On the base scale, that puts the GLA250 just a few hundred dollar bills above the more powerful, rear-wheel-drive BMW X1 and a stack of hundreds below the less powerful, front-wheel-drive Audi Q3. If you’re keeping in-house score, the GLA250 comes in at $1,400 above its sedan platform-mate with the same engine, the CLA250. At the high end, however, the competition doesn’t have anything that can touch the AMG trim. Not that it should matter all that much – Mercedes needed something to keep these buyers in the family, and now it has it. If any of them should need even more power and more money spent, then there’s always that 394-hp Brabus flavor. We’ll have more info and details on each trim when Mercedes unleashes the shebang in the not-too-distant future.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA priced from $31,300* originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 28 Jul 2014 23:38:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30 Jul 2014

2015 Mercedes C-Class starts at $38,400*

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2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Mercedes-Benz just keeps dropping pricing bombshells on us. After unveiling the cost of the models of the upcoming GLA-Class compact crossover, now the 2015 C-Class, the German brand’s bread-and-butter luxury sedan, is ready to unleash its secrets, as well.

The least expensive of the new models is the rear-wheel-drive C300 with a starting price of $38,400, plus a $925 delivery & destination charge, to bring the actual base price to $39,325. However, the two-wheel drive version doesn’t hit the road until the first quarter of 2015. The first variants that people can actually buy arrive in September 2014, and they are the all-wheel drive C300 4Matic and C400 4Matic for $41,325 and $49,515, respectively, after the destination fee.

In addition to styling inspired by the S-Class, the 2015 C-Class models also have new engines. Both variants of the C300 use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine pumping out 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The more powerful C400 uses a bi-turbo 3.0-liter V6 making 329 hp and 354 lb-ft. All models get Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic gearbox. Merc is holding back on fuel economy numbers and 0-60-miles-per-hour specs until a bit closer to launch.

As befitting a Mercedes, all versions come packed with luxury features. The C300 comes quite well equipped as standard, with dual-zone climate control, power seats, a seven-inch infotainment display and more. Moving up to the C400 adds standard heated front seats, LED headlights and an upgraded stereo. Of course, there’s also long list of options including improved interior upholstery, a sport package, upgraded infotainment and a whole lot more.

Comparing pricing of the 2015 C-Class to the 2014 model is rather tricky. The rear-wheel drive C300 is over $2,000 more expensive than the current C250, but if you look at the 2015 C300 4Matic versus the more comparable 2014 C300 4Matic, the latest one is only about $1,000 more. The C300 is also more expensive than the base BMW 320i, A4 or Lexus IS250, but the Mercedes is bringing more to the table in terms of engine power.

Continue reading 2015 Mercedes C-Class starts at $38,400*

2015 Mercedes C-Class starts at $38,400* originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30 Jul 2014

2015 Audi Q3 pricing leaked, starts at $32,500*

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Audi Q3

Audi Q3 Pricing leakAudi only debuted the 2015 Q3 compact crossover for the US market at the 2014 Detroit Motor Show in January, yet that feels like a lifetime ago. However, the little luxury CUV is finally getting close to reaching these shores, and alleged pricing for it is leaking out.

According to leaked documents from Audi Q3 Forum (right), the premium compact crossover has a starting price of $32,500 (*plus an additional destination charge of $925), for an actual cost of $33,425. That covers the front-wheel drive model with a 200-horsepower 2.0 TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Upgrading to a version with Quattro that spins all four wheels brings the bill to $34,600 – $35,525 after destination charges. In case you wanted further proof, Audi’s new Q3 teaser site confirms the starting price of $32,500.

The documents list two trim levels – Premium Plus and Prestige. Premium Plus includes standard features like a panoramic sunroof, heated seats, Xenon headlights with LED running lights and dual-zone climate control and more. Paying $3,900 more for Prestige adds MMI Navigation Plus, Bose surround sound, a power tailgate and other goodies.

German luxury cars often offer a mile-long list of options, but the Q3 appears to be surprisingly sparse, according to this leak. Premium Plus is available with MMI Navigation Plus for $1,900, a driver assistance package for $1,400 and power tailgate for $400. Both trims are offered with a sport package for $550, 19-inch wheels for $800, wood inlays for $350 and a black headliner is listed as a no-cost option.

It’s the perfect time for the Q3’s price leak too because the competing 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class with 208 horsepower is now confirmed with a price of $32,225 after its destination fee, while the all-wheel drive model goes for $34,225. Comparatively, the 240-hp BMW X1 sDrive28i asks $31,850 in rear-wheel drive spec or $33,650 to drive all four wheels, after their $950 destination charge. That makes the Q3 the most expensive of the German luxury CUVs by a surprising amount, though it looks like its standard equipment list will also be rather generous by comparison. Check out the gallery for all of the details.

2015 Audi Q3 pricing leaked, starts at $32,500* originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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13 May 2014

Chinese Tesla Model S buyers to get free license plate… a $15k value

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Tesla Model S

Tesla buyers in in Shanghai, China, are getting even more of an incentive to choose its electric sedans. Each purchase of a Model S in the city will come with a free license plate.

That might not sound very important, but Shanghai operates under a government-organized auction system to distribute plates. Last year, they were selling for as much as $15,000, according to Car News China. The measure is a way to control the number of cars on the road, which contribute to the city’s bad traffic and poor air quality.

Electric cars are exempt from the auctions and get a free license plate. However, that rule only covers Chinese-made electric cars. Obviously, Tesla doesn’t build cars there (at least for now). But the Shanghai government will exempt 3,000 foreign electric cars per automaker to receive free plates, according to CNC. After they are gone, the company would have to go back and ask for more.

Tesla confirmed the plan to Autoblog and pointed out there was a small blurb about it in the automaker’s Q1 2014 financial release: “Model S drivers in the city will be entitled to free license plates, thereby avoiding the usual public auction price of $10,000 to $15,000 per plate.” It certainly seems like a great enticement to grab early buyers for the Model S there.

Chinese Tesla Model S buyers to get free license plate… a $15k value originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 12 May 2014 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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