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Tuesday, 16 September 2014 00:00

Subaru Hybridizes the XV Crosstrek

Subaru has released a hybrid version of the XV Crosstrek. The new donor Impreza hatchback handles better on the road (because it sits lower), allowing the driver to navigate through overgrown terrain and flooded roads, while remaining environmentally friendly.

The Crosstrek is all-wheel-drive, with the same compact, low-profile "boxer" engine that all Subaru carry. The distinguishing factor is the 10-kilowatt electric motor, drawing power from a small battery pack at the rear.

Together, both motors provide up to 160 horsepower and 163 pounds-feet of torque. If its batteries are topped up, the Crosstrek Hybrid can creep along under voltage alone, but not very far and not very fast.

Friday, 12 September 2014 19:16

Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo Resigns

Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo's resignation announcement on Sept. 10, 2014, will go into effect October 13.

The CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Sergio Marchionne, will take his place.

It is believed Montezemolo's departure is due to disagreements about the future of Ferrari and its parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Montezemolo wants Ferrari to remain exclusive, while Marchionne wants the company to grow with the FCA empire.

 

Mercedes-Benz launched its first electric vehicle in 1906. Over a century later, the company has returned with a vehicle that is 100 percent electrically powered. The new vehicles are built on the same assembly lines as models equipped with gas and diesel engines, and retain the same structural characteristics. The electric engine, developed by Tesla, is integrated in the engine block. The batteries are housed underneath the passenger cabin.

For the underframe check, Celette says to use the existing MZ+ fixtures 7246.510 B Class W246 and the complementary set  7156.509 GLA X156. For side repair, use the existing overhead gantry 7246.810  B Class W246.

For more information, please visit celette.com.

As the auto industry looks to bring some automated driving to the roads in the next few years, don’t get the idea that you can just check out, and leave the driving to your car.

“Toyota’s main objective is safety, so they will not be developing a driverless car,” said Sago Kuzumaki, Toyota’s Chief Technology Officer. “A vehicle that does not contain any people door-to-door is very much in the future.”

In advance of the World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems at Cobo Center, Toyota invited journalists to a two day-session at a hotel in Ypsilanti, MI, where they could view and experience some of the company’s latest safety technology, and hear from experts in the field.

While Google envisions cars taking over the driving, making everybody in the car a passenger, Toyota doesn’t see the driver being taken out of the equation for the foreseeable future.

For full story, click HERE.

Friday, 05 September 2014 19:06

The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Has Landed

Virtually every automaker has at least one model in their portfolio — past or present — that somehow represents an enduring icon of their brand. Honda and Acura have the magnificent NSX, while Nissan has the early 240Z models. BMW has the M3, Mercedes has the SL, and Ford has the Mustang. Chevrolet’s Corvette is a defining car of the brand, just like how the 900 Turbo was for Saab. Mazda has had a couple of these cars, from the Cosmo to the RX-7, but the most enduring icon from Mazda’s stable is undoubtedly the humble MX-5 Miata.

On Sept. 4, the company pulled the wraps off what will be the fourth generation of the best-selling two seater sports car (an honor for which it actually holds a Guinness World Record), which be be rolled out and into showrooms around the world throughout next year. The Miata — or MX-5 or Roadster, depending where you live — is the recipient of over 200 awards from around the globe, so there’s a lot riding on the latest generation.

Though Mazda says that the new Miata adopts the brand’s KODO design language, it’s immediately apparent that it doesn’t really look like anything else in Mazda’s lineup. The Miata is a sort of island in the company’s lineup from a design point of view. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but many were expecting the MX-5 to adopt more of the happy-faced fascia design that is seen on the other cars, from the Mazda3 to the CX-9.

For full story, click HERE.

Thursday, 04 September 2014 19:14

Tesla Picks Nevada for Massive Battery Factory

Tesla has decided to build its massive battery factory in Nevada, dashing desert leaders’ hopes the electric automaker would locate its so-called Gigafactory by the Salton Sea.

Tesla confirmed to The Desert Sun in a statement on Sept. 3 that the company will make a “major economic development announcement” at 4 p.m. on Sept. 4 in Carson City, Nevada’s capital, alongside Gov. Brian Sandoval and legislative leaders. California Gov. Jerry Brown’s office was notified of the impending announcement on Sept. 3.

California was a late entrant into the Gigafactory competition, joining Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. Tesla originally ruled out California due to the state’s high tax burden and cost of living, but the prospect of abundant lithium from the Salton Sea helped jettison the state back into the running.

In the end, though, state officials were unable to strike a deal with the California-based automaker, which is headquartered in Palo Alto. While they reportedly offered Tesla much of what the company wanted — including investment tax credits in the $500 million range and expedited permitting and environmental review processes — the Legislature adjourned this weekend without an agreement in place.

For full story, click HERE.

Managing a huge operation consisting of 13 dealerships and representing 14 brands, the Del Grande Dealer Group (DGDG) serves the Northern California’s Bay Area including San Jose, Fremont, Gilroy, San Francisco and Oakland and its surrounding areas. DGDG has one of state’s largest parts divisions selling O.E collision and mechanical parts for Volkswagen, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, Chevrolet, FIAT, Kia, Buick, GMC, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram vehicles. The company maintains a parts inventory of collision parts equaling nearly $4 million in combined total parts; employs 40 parts professionals, consisting of 13 managers, 25 counter people and 12 delivery drivers.

DGDG’s Parts Director is Larry Sherman, 53, a veteran of the parts game and a lifer when it comes to the body shop business, he explained.  “My dad has owned body shops in the Fresno area for many years, so I was immersed in the collision industry at a very young age. I tell people I was born in bondo dust! So, when I talk to body shop owners or parts people, I know what they’re going through and what their parts needs are, because I’ve been on that side myself.”

When it comes to parts directors, Sherman isn’t afraid to think differently and approach things his way. This includes embracing all available price matching programs (CollisionLink, OC Conenction, etc.) as well as the controversial PartsTrader while proactively pursuing the wholesale market with highly strategized marketing and advertising.

“If you want to succeed at wholesale, you have to set up systems and dedicate resources to doing it effectively,” Sherman said. “Wholesale is an ongoing thing and you really have to make it a priority, and that’s why we reach out to the shops as often as we can and make ourselves 100% available to them.

Building relationships with the shops is important, of course, and delivery is also a significant part of it. By working on the wholesale side for so many years, we know what the shops demand and we know how to fulfill their needs.”

To achieve this, Sherman and his experienced staff work in conjunction with Wholesale Parts Manager Vince Huerta and Outside Wholesale Parts Representative Anwar Ali to make this company within a company work like a Swiss watch.  It’s an all-star team with centuries of cumulative experience and by working closely with each other, DGDG has been turning heads and getting great reviews from collision repairers year after year. It’s also been voted as one of the best places to work, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Outside Wholesale Parts Representative Anwar Ali calls on body shops to answer their questions and works hard to make their lives a little easier if possible. “We’re not just about selling you a part,” Ali said. “We want to be partners with you as well and establish a long-term relationship that will benefit both of us.

As a former body shop estimator, I know the importance of cycle times and how the wrong part can impact them. Looking at the parts business from the body shop perspective helps us to do a better job.” With literally thousands of parts going out every day, Wholesale Parts Manager Vince Huerta knows that timely strategized deliveries at this level is an enormous undertaking, but by going that extra yard (or mile) for his customers, he knows they’re doing things right.

“Our three distribution centers (main hub in San Jose, with others in Fremont and Concord) are very convenient because every day we have 12 drivers going in 12 different parts of the Bay Area. It’s important that we route them properly and keep in constant communication with our drivers, for when things change. That way we can adapt quickly and respond right away. We always ask our body shop customers about how we can do a better job, because we like their feedback and want their opinions.

State Farm’s PartsTrader program hasn’t exactly been getting rave reviews by parts people and shop owners alike, but while most people zig, Sherman zags. “I know that many people have issues with PartsTader, but we realize it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, so we’ve decided to embrace it.

PartsTrader allows us to reach out to new customers and establish relationships with them. Body shops obviously work with a lot of other insurers other than State Farm, so we can capture that business by staying in the game with PartsTrader.”

Sherman is an optimist, but he’s also a realist when it comes to the never-ending argument about the overall quality of OE vs. aftermarket parts. “Most of the insurance companies want to use more aftermarket parts to save money obviously,” he said. “But from the majority of all the body shop owners I’ve talked to, they would rather use all OE parts in their repairs. So, we try to do everything we can, so that our customers can incorporate as many OE parts as they can into each repair and manufacturer’s price-matching programs can allow us to do that, in many cases. Some shops don’t think that we can match the aftermarket’s prices, so they’re surprised when they find out that we can do it.”

To learn more about what body shops want when it comes to parts, Sherman is planning to host what he’s calling a wholesale focus group, consisting of body shop owners and assorted collision professionals, he said. “We’re going to bring some of our larger accounts down here to our headquarters in San Jose (at Capitol Expressway Volkswagen). We’ll be picking their brains and in return, we’ll buy them dinner. We want to be better partners with our body shops and by knowing what they want, we can do a better job.”

Click here to view this article as a PDF.

● Hyundai Motor America is launching the Hyundai Go Genuine Collision Conquest program to encourage repair facilities to buy more Hyundai Genuine Parts.
● Hyundai Genuine Parts are manufactured to exacting engineering specifications for a precise fit without modifications, ensuring quick and proper installation.
● Hyundai Genuine Parts are installed on Hyundai vehicles when they are tested to ensure they meet the U.S. government’s collision safety and crash protection standards.
● Aftermarket parts may not meet required specifications increasing installation time.
● Hyundai Motor America encourages the use of OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts on all Hyundai vehicle repairs.
● Use of imitation, aftermarket, alternative or other non-original equipment Hyundai parts for the repair of any collision damaged vehicle may negatively affect vehicle crashworthiness and occupant safety during a collision and is not recommended by Hyundai Motor America.

Hyundai Motor America launched its Hyundai Go Genuine Collision Conquest program. The Hyundai program provides reimbursement to Hyundai dealers, allowing them to competitively price their Hyundai Genuine Parts against alternative, non-Hyundai parts. Competitive prices help collision repair facilities purchase more Hyundai Genuine Parts as opposed to alternative, non-Hyundai parts. Using Hyundai Genuine replacement parts during the collision repair process provides confidence that the parts will perform as designed and engineered by Hyundai.  The program is launching with five commonly required collision parts including hoods, fenders, bumper covers, head lamps and tail lamps. These parts and the reimbursement associated with them are available for all Hyundai vehicles, regardless of age, for all participating dealers. Additional parts may be added to the program at a later date. The program is open to all Hyundai dealers.


    “A program that encourages dealer-owned and independent repair shops to purchase Hyundai Genuine Parts from their local Hyundai dealer has so many benefits,” said Frank Ferrara, executive vice president, customer satisfaction, Hyundai Motor America. “Hyundai owners benefit through the assurance that approved factory parts can be used in their repairs, shop owners know they are getting quality parts at a great price, while dealers benefit through increased parts sales.”
    Hyundai has teamed up with Overall Parts Solutions (OPS), a Texas based company, to allow dealers and repair facilities to work together using the OPSTRAX and VALUTRAX tools in a unique, streamlined interface. Using the OPSTRAX and VALUTRAX tools, dealers and repair facilities are able to see all the parts on a collision repair estimate including the conquest pricing for program parts. Using the program and tools, dealerships and body shops can act immediately on these opportunities.


    “OPS is excited about the opportunity to team up with Hyundai Motor America,” said Nick Bossinakis, founder and chief executive officer, OPS.  “OPS’ vision has always been to provide collision shops and parts suppliers alike with tools that would positively impact their businesses as well as create innovation and ease of use within our industry.”
    OPS has been involved with parts procurement and supply chain management in the industry for nearly two decades. Currently, OPS technologies are utilized throughout North America with the top Multi-Shop Operators (MSO), independent repair facilities, and dealer groups. OPS was the first in the industry committed to providing a single platform for all parts types. OPS prides itself in producing robust and meaningful solutions for the collision repair industry.


    Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 820 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle limited warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance. Hyundai Blue Link Connected Care provides owners of Hyundai models equipped with the Blue Link telematics system with proactive safety and car care services complimentary for one year with enrollment. These services include Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Vehicle Diagnostic Alert, Monthly Vehicle Health Report and in-vehicle service scheduling.


    For more details on Hyundai Assurance, please visit www.HyundaiAssurance.com.


    Visit Hyundai’s media website at www.hyundainews.com and blog at www.hyundailikesunday.com.

At Port Hueneme, CA, near Los Angeles, CA, Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell CUVs began rolling onto U.S. soil May 20, 2014, marking the first delivery of a mass-produced fuel cell vehicle for the U.S. market. The first retail sale of the Tucson Fuel Cell is expected within the next several weeks in Southern California. Under the Hyundai leasing program, approved lessees can drive Hyundai’s next-generation Tucson Fuel Cell for just $499 per month, including unlimited free hydrogen refueling and “At Your Service” valet maintenance at no extra cost.

For the first time, retail consumers can now put a mass-produced, federally-certified hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in their driveways, with availability at three select southern California Hyundai dealers: Tustin Hyundai in Tustin, CA, Win Hyundai in Carson, CA, and Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim, CA.

“Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles represent the next generation of zero-emission electric vehicle technology, and we’re proud of our leadership role in this important segment of the alternative fuel vehicle market,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president, corporate and product planning, Hyundai Motor America.

“The range and refueling time of our Tucson Fuel Cell compare favorably with gasoline vehicles, making them a seamless transition from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. We’re excited to provide customers in Southern California a way to transition to a zero-emission vehicle with minimal compromises.

The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell will initially be offered to customers in the Los Angeles/Orange County region for a 36-month term at $499 per month, with $2,999 down. This includes the addition of a remarkable new addition to the Hyundai Assurance program—unlimited free hydrogen refueling. Consumers have shown strong interest in the Tucson Fuel Cell leasing opportunity, with over 200,000 unique visitors to the Tucson Fuel Cell microsite.

Tucson Fuel Cell owners will enjoy all the same services of the Hyundai Equus “At Your Service” valet program. As Equus owners have enjoyed since its introduction in 2010, should a Tucson Fuel Cell require any service, a Hyundai dealer will pick up the vehicle and provide a loan vehicle, then return the car after service to their home or business, at no charge.

Tesla Motors Inc. has become the biggest auto-industry employer in California. Tesla now employs more than 6,000 people in the state, the automaker said. That moves the fast-growing company well ahead of Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest automaker, which has 5,300 direct employees in California—a count set to fall after the Japan-based company said it will move a majority of those jobs to Texas by 2017.

Tesla will add at least 500 more workers by the end of 2014 in California, Simon Sproule, a spokesman, said in an interview.

“Tesla’s scaling up here in California is terrific news,” said Gino DiCaro, spokesman for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association. “It’s also an exception—and we certainly need more of them.”

Tesla, the only publicly listed company making cars in the Golden State, also is planning to hire workers for a former Chrysler parts-distribution site it’s retooling in Lathrop, CA, an hour east of Fremont, CA, Sproule said. He declined to elaborate on what work Tesla will do there. Tesla, with headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, also has a design studio in suburban Los Angeles, CA.

Since early 2013, Tesla has added more than 3,000 direct employees to boost Model S production and prepare to make Model X electric sport-utility vehicles, said Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s vice president for business development.

“It’s poorly understood how much Tesla has invested in the state of California,” O’Connell said in an interview in Fremont, and “how much it’s added in just the past 18 months.”

Read the full story.

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