Toyota, Kia Make News at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show


The "car of the future" is now just a year away, according to Toyota. The automaker unveiled its hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Toyota says the FCV concept will be ready for launch as a production car as planned by 2015, making good on its promise to bring a convenient fuel-cell car to the mass market. Two versions of the concept are on display at CES, the camouflaged prototype that has undergone road testing for more than a year and a production-intent sedan painted Radiant Blue.

Toyota Wants $50,000 Hydrogen Sedan by 2015

The FCV boasts a range of about 300 miles, a zero-to-60-mph time of about 10 seconds and a 3- to 5-minute refueling time. The FCV is powered by onboard sources of electricity generated from hydrogen and its only emissions are water vapor. Toyota has been developing the FCV for 11 years and in that time, it says, has driven more than a million test miles and dramatically reduced the size and weight of the powertrain system — as well as the costs of building it — while preserving the vehicle's power output of more than 100 kilowatts.

By Matt Schmitz | January 7, 2014 | Comments (1)

2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell at the 2013 LA Auto Show


Competes with: Toyota RAV4 EV
Looks like: Your average, ordinary, everyday Hyundai Tucson
Drivetrain: Electric motor making 221 pounds-feet of torque, powered by an onboard hydrogen fuel cell and lithium-ion battery
Hits dealerships: Spring 2014, Los Angeles and Orange, Calif., counties only

For years we have seen concept car after concept car powered by hydrogen fuel cells - electric cars that use onboard sources of electricity generated from hydrogen instead of from a land-based grid. But now Hyundai says it is ready to offer a production-ready fuel-cell electric vehicle to the public as early as next year.

More 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show Coverage

The company has built the powertrain into its Tucson compact SUV and has announced that the car will be available for lease by anyone who wants one starting in spring of 2014. The catch: It will only be available in Southern California to residents of Los Angeles and Orange counties. The move is meant to tie into a recent multimillion-dollar push by the state of California to proliferate hydrogen fueling stations throughout the region. It's a chicken-and-egg scenario - it's hard to introduce a production fuel-cell car without a hydrogen infrastructure to fuel it, but if there aren't any fuel-cell cars available for consumers to buy, there's little call to develop that infrastructure.

By Aaron Bragman | November 21, 2013 | Comments (2)

Honda to Debut Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicle Concept at 2013 L.A. Auto Show


Honda today released a sketch of its new fuel-cell electric vehicle concept, which it plans to unveil Nov. 20 at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. The automaker says the Honda FCEV concept represents a potential styling direction for its new vehicle using the alternative fuel technology; Honda plans to begin selling the car in the U.S. by 2015.

"As we work toward the introduction of our next-generation fuel-cell vehicle in 2015, our long-term experience with fuel-cell technologies will help us pave a way towards a zero-emissions future," said Mike Accavitti, Honda senior vice president.

By Matt Schmitz | November 11, 2013 | Comments (1)

2014 Hyundai Tucson: What's Changed


Most significant changes: New engines with gasoline direct injection; standard six-speed automatic transmission; automatically adjusting shock absorbers; AWD available on base GLS model

Price change: $550-$600 higher on SE and Limited

On sale: Early October

Which you should buy, 2013 or 2014? 2014. New engines, more standard features and prices are up roughly $550 to $600.

Hyundai's compact crossover SUV has two new engines for 2014 and a revised batch of trim levels to keep shoppers on their toes.

A base 2.0-liter four-cylinder generates 164 horsepower and is standard on the GLS, which is now the base trim level in the Tucson lineup. There is no GL model for 2014.

All models have a standard six-speed automatic transmission; last year's five-speed manual, which was only available on the GL, is no longer offered.

The SE is a new trim level and slots between the GLS and the top-shelf Limited. It is equipped similarly to last year's GLS. Confused yet?

By Rick Popely | October 7, 2013 | Comments (6)

Hyundai's Korean Unions Vote to End Strike


Less than a month after labor unions in Korea voted to strike over stalled wage negotiations at Hyundai, the automaker reached an agreement with Korean autoworkers that could resume production in a matter of days. The Detroit News reports the strike, which began Aug. 20, has cost Hyundai more than 50,000 cars and some $910 million at current exchange rates in lost production.

Hyundai's Kia affiliate remains in negotiations. Resumed Korean production for both brands would raise supply for more than 40% of Hyundai-Kia's U.S. sales, including cars like the Hyundai Accent, Tucson and Genesis. Automotive News reports Hyundai-Kia's U.S. inventory declined to a  41-day supply on Aug. 1, down from July's 46-day stock. Both figures are well below the industry average, which was 56 days on Aug. 1. Automotive News has yet to report Hyundai-Kia's September inventory.

The Detroit News says Hyundai's 46,000 union members will vote Sept. 9 on the agreement, in which Hyundai agreed to raise base salaries and pay onetime bonuses. Hyundai-Kia's U.S. facilities in Alabama and Georgia haven't been affected. Should the vote pass, the strike would be shorter than Hyundai-Kia's 2012 strike overseas, which lasted from July to September 2012.

By Kelsey Mays | September 5, 2013 | Comments (3)

What Hyundai-Kia's Latest Strike Means to Car Shoppers


Hyundai-Kia's troubled home-turf labor relations continue. The latest chapter has Korean labor unions voting to strike over wage and benefit disputes with the South Korean automaker. The result could mean a production stoppage in its home country.

Hyundai-Kia, which together rank fifth in global sales, is the sixth on the U.S. sales pole, with year-to-date sales down 0.3%. Still, the automaker builds popular cars like the Hyundai Elantra and Sonata, as well as the Kia Optima and Soul. All four rank in the top 35 best-sellers so far this year — and although the automaker operates two assembly plants in the U.S., all Soul and a significant chunk of Optima, Elantra and Sonata vehicles hail from South Korea. A production stoppage could hamstring dealer supply in a matter of weeks.

By Kelsey Mays | August 15, 2013 | Comments (1)

The Top 10 Biggest Recalls of 2013


Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues recalls on millions of vehicles. In 2012, NHTSA recalled just shy of 18 million, and 15.5 million in 2011. While some recalls affect just a handful of vehicles, others impact millions.

So far this year, the biggest recall is technically not a recall at all. In June, we reported that NHTSA had requested Chrysler fix 2.7 million Jeep SUVs — 1993-2004 Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Liberty models — due to a potential fuel-system problem that could cause fires in a rear-end crash. Jeep initially refused, insisting the vehicles "met and exceeded all applicable requirements" of federal standards pertaining to fuel-system integrity. NHTSA then gave Chrysler a June 18 deadline to either issue a recall themselves, or be ordered to do so.

On the day of its deadline, Chrysler announced it would launch a campaign to inspect and, if necessary, fix the 2.7 million Jeeps — never officially referring to the action as a "recall." Still, that's what it was, and therefore it earns the distinction of being the biggest one this year.

According to research, the biggest recalls affecting the U.S. market in 2013 are:

By Matt Schmitz | July 22, 2013 | Comments (0)

Hyundai Plans Tucson Fuel-Cell for 2015

Automakers have been making and breaking fuel-cell vehicle promises for years, and now Hyundai is jumping into the fray with the Tucson Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicle. The automaker is joining the Energy Department, gas suppliers, hydrogen and fuel-cell businesses and other automakers with the goal of solving infrastructure and resource challenges in order to bring an FCEV to market.

Hyundai has a 2015 target for the Tucson fuel cell and a goal of 1,000 units. It's not the first automaker to launch a fuel-cell vehicle — in fact, we've even tested Chevrolet's Equinox FCV — but it claims to be the first to mass produce one. "One of our biggest FCEV differentiators for us is that Hyundai is the first automaker to launch assembly line production of a fuel-cell vehicle," Derek Joyce, Hyundai's manager of product public relations, told

By Jennifer Geiger | May 20, 2013 | Comments (0)

2014 Subaru Forester Rises Seven Spots in Small-SUV Affordability


A few weeks ago we threw the redesigned Toyota RAV4 into our compact crossover affordability index, and the popular Toyota ranked right around the group's average. Subaru fans may notice the outgoing 2013 Forester sat near the bottom, largely because the small SUV got mediocre gas mileage and required stepping up a trim level to get a telescoping steering wheel — one of seven features we included in our pricing scheme.

Our affordability index compared 13 models — each was the least expensive trim level that included common equipment like an automatic transmission, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel audio controls, cruise control, remote keyless entry, a USB/audio jack port and tilt/telescoping steering. We also factored in the destination charge and four years of gas.

With its 2014 redesign, the Forester moved up seven spots, thanks to more standard features and better gas mileage. In fact, the new Forester is the third most affordable compact crossover on the market, behind the Mazda CX-5 and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport — and it has standard all-wheel drive.

By Kelsey Mays | January 25, 2013 | Comments (8)

Hyundai, Kia Mileage Mishap: How It Happened

How did Hyundai-Kia get its estimated mileage ratings so wrong that it had to offer reimbursement to some 900,000 owners? The truth is complicated, and it gets to the complexities of EPA testing.

Hyundai-Kia's Sung Hwan Cho told reporters this morning that it's "a very complex testing process." Cho heads the automaker's U.S. technical centers. He shed some light on the EPA tests, which lead to the city and highway fuel-economy figures on a new-car window sticker. A key part of the tests involve measuring the resistance of various systems, dubbed the "road load" by engineers: how a car's tires meet the pavement, how the vehicle's shape cuts through the air and how the drivetrain's moving parts work in tandem. Each area translates to fuel efficiency, or lack thereof.

"There are hundreds of different parameters that can affect this road load," Cho said. "Ambient temperature, wind speeds, atmospheric pressure."

Then there's a litany of variations within each test vehicle — how many miles are on it, the condition of the drivetrain, the tire wear. Finally, the test procedures themselves involve "which kind of regulation and guidance procedures you follow, and how you process the data, and how you calibrate your measurements," he said.

Somewhere in those variations, Hyundai-Kia went askew of EPA guidance. But exactly how much guidance exists is up in the air.

By Kelsey Mays | November 2, 2012 | Comments (9)

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