Audi Plans Tesla Model S Fighter

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Tesla just beat out Porsche and Audi as the top brand in a consumer satisfaction survey from Consumer Reports, and the industry is taking notice. Now, The Detroit News reports Audi plans to build a competitor to the California luxury-carmaker’s sole car, the Model S.

Related: Tesla Launches Model S Lease Program

But the German brand won't develop a sedan (or hatchback, technically) like the Model S. Rather, Audi says it will likely build an electric crossover as its Tesla fighter. It would come on the heels of electric versions of the A3 compact, due this year, and the R8 sports car planned for next year. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said the Model S fighter is "probably going to be a crossover, but development work is still ongoing," according to the newspaper.

Click here to read the full story.

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Kelsey Mays | December 12, 2014 | Comments (3)

Goodbye, MyFord Touch; Hello, Sync 3

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MyFord Touch, maligned for its unintuitive touch-sensitive buttons, tiny touch-screen icons and overall lag, will finally head into the sunset. This is exactly 1,800 days since we first reported on the system, which appeared in the restyled 2011 Ford Edge and its 2011 Lincoln MKX sibling.

Related: 2015 Ford Fusion Review

Four years, 11 months and 5 days later, meet Sync 3. The third generation of Ford's Sync system (the automaker already markets Sync 2 in Europe), Sync 3 promises conversational voice recognition, less complexity, smartphone-like pinch and swipe touch-screen motions, better app integration and over-the-air updates through home WiFi networks, according to Ford.

By Kelsey Mays | December 11, 2014 | Comments (0)

Congress Moves Closer to Choosing NHTSA Chief

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You probably haven't heard of Mark Rosekind, a former NASA member who's been on the National Transportation Safety Board since 2010. But he soon may head to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the country's top auto-safety agency. The Detroit News reports the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved Rosekind's nomination on Dec. 9. If nominated, he would replace a chair vacated by outgoing NHTSA chief David Strickland nearly a year ago.

Related: New York Times: NHTSA Has 'Record of Missteps'

Deputy Administrator David Friedman has been at the helm since then, fueling speculation he might be the eventual heir, but that isn't the case. After being nominated by President Barack Obama in November, Rosekind's committee approval moves him to the Senate floor for a vote. One senator told The Detroit News he thinks the chamber will confirm Rosekind this week. His NTSB biography describes eminence in the field of human fatigue, having launched a Cupertino, Calif., consulting firm called Alertness Solutions, which consulted on the science of fatigue management. He also directed an anti-fatigue program at NASA and oversaw human-sleep research at Stanford University's Sleep Disorders and Research Center.

The upshot for consumers? If Strickland's legacy was distracted driving, Rosekind may clamp down on tired driving.

By Kelsey Mays | December 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

Honda Reduces Takata Airbag Expansion to 2.6 Million Cars

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Three days after Honda announced a massive expansion to its Takata-supplied airbag recall, the automaker said Dec. 8 that it would trim the nationwide driver-side airbag recall by some 600,000 vehicles. It still leaves 2.6 million cars in the recall expansion, but that’s short of the 3.2 million announced Dec. 5, The Detroit News reports.

Related: What Cars Are Included in the Takata Airbag Recall?

Pressure has mounted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recall vehicles from 10 automakers with faulty Takata airbag inflators across the entire U.S., but Japanese supplier Takata has resisted because it claims its own testing confirms inflators only pose a risk in high-humidity areas. Honda is the only automaker to publically extend its campaign across all 50 states; others have recalled cars mostly in the Gulf Coast, Hawaii and various U.S. territories. Honda's national recall will reportedly phase in over several months, with the initial focus on high-humidity areas.

For more details, click here to read the story from The Detroit News.

Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

By Kelsey Mays | December 9, 2014 | Comments (1)

Many Automakers Expand Takata Airbag Recall, But Feds Still Want More

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At least six automakers expanded their recalls this week for faulty airbag inflators from parts supplier Takata Corp. The affected airbags can launch shrapnel into passengers as they deploy; incidents were observed in high-humidity areas, prompting 10 automakers to recall scores of 2000s-era models registered in states such as Florida. The total previously stood at nearly 8 million cars, but that figure is rising fast.

Related: What Cars Are Included in the Takata Airbag Recall?

After findings suggested the inflators could fail outside the recalled areas — and were possible with driver's-side airbags, not just the passenger airbags originally investigated — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pressed on Nov. 18 for automakers to recall cars across all 50 states. This week, many automakers expanded their campaigns, but only Honda pushed the recall nationwide. Just this morning, the automaker said it would recall another 3 million cars for the driver's-side airbag, The Detroit News reports. That brings the total to at least 11 million, and it's the latest in a string of developments in a recall crisis blamed for at least five deaths so far.

By Kelsey Mays | December 5, 2014 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: November 2014

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The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is 23 cents cheaper today than it was a month ago, according to AAA. It's a whopping 51 cents cheaper than it was a year ago. Slumping oil prices in November set energy analysts abuzz and consumers charging toward pickup trucks and SUVs.

Related: November's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

Shoppers snapped up the restyled Honda CR-V like it was the last slice of pumpkin pie. It was among the fastest-selling cars in November, and sales gained 37.7 percent to make Honda's crossover the most popular non-pickup for the month. That's a seismic shift in popularity for an SUV that didn't make the top 10 list as recently as February.

Indeed, small SUVs were in Rogue — er, vogue — all month long. The Jeep Cherokee, now heavily incentivized versus its just-introduced period in November 2013, gained 66.6 percent to become Fiat Chrysler Automobile's second most popular model behind the Ram pickup. With gains from major players like the CR-V, Nissan Rogue (up 43.7 percent) and Ford Escape (up 21.6 percent), compact SUVs tacked on more than 20 percent in year-over-year sales. That's despite most of the segment's major players having similar cash incentives compared to a year-ago.

By Kelsey Mays | December 2, 2014 | Comments (1)

GM: 58 Percent of U.S. Cars in Ignition Recall Are Fixed

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GM has repaired nearly 6 in 10 small cars it recalled for faulty ignitions earlier this year. That's what The Detroit News reported on Nov. 28; GM spokesman Alan Adler confirmed the numbers to Cars.com today.

Related: Survey: Recalls Influence Car Shoppers

Between Feb. 25 and April 9, GM recalled a global total — North America plus a few exports — of 2.59 million cars, mostly 2000s-era Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion compacts. Of that group, the U.S. accounted for 2.19 million recalled vehicles. But some 230,000 cars in the global figure "are either scrapped or untraceable in terms of a registration standpoint," Adler said. GM has targeted 2.36 million recalled cars globally, with 1.96 million of them here.

By Kelsey Mays | December 1, 2014 | Comments (3)

2015 Best Resale Values

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Today, automotive forecast company ALG released its annual list of the best resale — or residual — values broken down by segment. The list, now in its 15th year, highlights the model-year 2015 vehicles across 26 segments expected to retain the highest percentage of their retail price after three years. 

Related: 2014 Best Resale Values

This year, Land Rover and Toyota topped the list in the Premium Brand and Mainstream Brand, respectively, with Toyota taking home five segment awards. The Mini Hardtop (Premium Compact Car) and Subaru Outback (Midsize Utility Vehicle – 2-row) are back on the list despite full redesigns, and several cars made the list for the first time, including the Dodge Charger (Full-Size Car), Porsche Macan (Premium Compact Utility Vehicle) and Ford Transit Connect (Midsize Commercial Van). Continue below for the full list of winners broken down by segment.

By Jennifer Geiger | November 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

Automakers Back New Privacy-Protection Practices

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As today's increasingly connected cars give rise to concerns of driver privacy, automakers have pledged to follow a set of common principles that safeguard driver privacy. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers, two groups that represent the vast majority of automakers, recently issued a 19-page report to the Federal Trade Commission that backed opt-in permission for any data collection, concealed driver identity when data is collected and usage of such data only for "legitimate business purposes," The Detroit News reports. Automakers pledged to adopt such principles across all vehicles by the 2017 model year.

Related: AAA Wants to Protect Personal Data With Connected-Car Bill of Rights

It comes less than a year after a Government Accountability Office report found a number of major automakers, portable-navigation companies and smartphone navigation providers collect more information on drivers than you probably think. Shortly thereafter, AAA issued a consumer bill of rights proposing guidelines for what data is collected and how it's used. Still, it seems drivers are open to third-party monitoring if there are tangible benefits — like auto-insurance discounts, one 2013 survey suggests.

Click here to read the full report from The Detroit News.

Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

By Kelsey Mays | November 13, 2014 | Comments (0)

Survey: Recalls Influence Car Shoppers

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If you're weary of the nonstop recall coverage lately, we don't blame you. It's been an unprecedented year for them. Tallying recalls is a dubious task, given the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's counts a vehicle recall as anything from passenger cars to garbage trucks and motorcycles. But the Detroit Free Press counted 56.1 million auto recalls year to date on Oct. 20 — a figure that thumped NHTSA's prior record of 30.8 million vehicle recalls set in 2004, according to annual totals obtained by Cars.com. And that was two days before NHTSA added another 3.1 million cars to a widespread airbag recall.

Related: What Cars Are Included in the Takata Airbag Recall?

Meanwhile, new-car sales at GM are up 3.9 percent through October. That falls short of the industry's 5.5 percent gain, according to Automotive News, but it's better than you'd expect for an automaker whose 25.6 million recalls top other automakers by a mile. Other recall-heavy automakers have had mixed years: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is up 15.8 percent and Toyota is up 5.8 percent, but Ford and Honda are roughly flat.

Still, a new survey suggests that car shoppers do, in fact, care about recalls — and most of them know about this year's largest ones. How that influences shoppers' decisions, on the other hand, is up for debate.

By Kelsey Mays | November 10, 2014 | Comments (1)

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