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All-Electric Volvo Car in the Pipeline

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ROCKLEIGH, New Jersey – The first all-electric Volvo car will go on sale in 2019 and the Swedish automaker will broaden its range of plug-in hybrids, according to a new product strategy announced on Thursday.

“We believe that the time has come for electrified cars to cease being a niche technology and enter the mainstream,” said Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson in a statement. “We are confident that by 2020, 10 percent of Volvo’s global sales will be electrified cars.”

The plug-in hybrid version of the 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine flagship SUV is on sale now at Volvo dealerships, one of the first steps in the automaker’s new product offensive.

Volvo said it will roll out plug-in hybrids across its entire lineup.

They will include plug-in hybrid versions of the upcoming Volvo S90 sedan that is expected to go on sale next year and the new range of smaller Volvo V40 series cars that will be produced on a new platform starting in 2017.

Volvo said its research shows that customers are driving Volvo Twin Engine vehicles in electric mode around 50 percent of the time, “meaning our plug-in hybrids offer a real alternative to conventional powertrain systems.”

A Volvo EV will compete against the BMW ActiveHybrid 7L, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid and Tesla Model S.

Edmunds says: Car shoppers with an eye on EVs and plug-in hybrids will have some compelling new offerings from Volvo in the not-too-distant future.

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2016 Ford Fiesta Earns Four-Star Safety Rating From Federal Government

 

2WASHINGTON – The 2016 Ford Fiesta subcompact car earned a four-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Five stars is the highest rating.

On sale now at Ford dealerships, the 2016 Fiesta received four stars in the front crash test, five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the rollover crash test.

The rating applies to sedan and hatchback versions of the Fiesta.

Standard safety equipment on the 2016 Fiesta includes electronic stability control, antilock brakes and seven airbags, including a driver knee airbag.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not rated the 2016 Fiesta.

Key Fiesta competitors include the Chevrolet Sonic, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio.

Edmunds says: Car shoppers will note that the 2016 Chevrolet Sonic earned the highest five-star overall safety rating from NHTSA. The 2016 Kia Rio and the Hyundai Accent earned a four-star overall safety rating.

2016 Ford F-650 Recalled To Replace Steering Column

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DEARBORN, Michigan – Ford is recalling 13 2016 Ford F-650 trucks to replace the steering column, the automaker said.

“These vehicles were built with a steering column that uses the ‘park’ position mechanism in the automatic transmission,” Ford said in a statement. “In these vehicles the park mechanism could fracture if the vehicle is on a grade, loaded and the shift lever is in park, potentially resulting in unintended vehicle movement.”

Ford said it is not aware of any injuries or accidents linked to the recall.

The affected F-650s were built from July 29, 2015 through September 3, 2015.

Ford dealers will replace the steering column and reconfigure the instrument panel. The recall is expected to begin on January 11. Owners can contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332.

No information about the recall has been posted on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which oversees vehicle safety in the U.S.

Edmunds says: Owners of these trucks should wait for their official recall notice and then schedule a service appointment. Those with an immediate concern should contact their dealer now.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Online Configurator Launches

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AUBURN HILLS, Michigan – Car shoppers who can’t wait until the second quarter of 2016 to see the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio high-performance sedan in Alfa Romeo showrooms can get an in-depth look at the car via a new online configurator.

The launch of the configurator follows the debut of the Giulia Quadrifoglio at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show last week.

Pricing is still not available, although Alfa Romeo said the base MSRP for the sedan will be “around $70,000.”

In the meantime, the curious can check out the car’s standard features and specifications.

The range-topping Quadrifoglio model targets the BMW M3, Cadillac ATS-V and Mercedes-AMG C63.

The 2017 Giulia Quadrifoglio is equipped with a “Ferrari-derived” 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 that produces 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission or a paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic.

Edmunds says: The high-powered Quadrifoglio edges closer to reality with the debut of the online configurator.

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2016 Volkswagen Passat Arrives at Dealerships Later This Year, Priced at $23,260

 

01-2016-volkswagen-passat-fd-1HERNDON, Virginia – The refreshed 2016 Volkswagen Passat midsize sedan is bound for Volkswagen dealerships later this year starting at $23,260, including an $820 destination charge.

Pricing reflects a $1,100 increase over the base 2015 Passat, which is equipped with a five-speed manual transmission.

The new base price is for a 2016 Passat with a six-speed automatic transmission. The manual-transmission model has been deleted from the lineup for the new model year.

Full pricing on the 2016 Passat will be available closer to launch, including pricing on the new R-Line version of the Passat, the automaker said on Monday.

The Passat R-Line puts the emphasis on sportiness, with unique rocker panels, a stylized front bumper with contrasting black accents, a modified rear diffuser and 19-inch anthracite Salvador aluminum-alloy wheels.

The new look for the Passat “features more aggressive styling,” VW said.

Changes include a new hood, front fenders, grille, bumpers, trunk lid and optional LED headlights and taillights. This is the first time that LED exterior lights are available on a VW sedan.

The upgrades are designed to make the Passat more competitive against the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Kia Optima and Mazda 6.

The 2016 Passat also gets an upgraded cabin with a more premium look and feel. USB and Bluetooth connectivity are standard on all Passats.

All Passats also have rearview cameras as standard equipment. New driver-assistance systems, including adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking, are standard features on some trim levels.

U.S. buyers have a choice of three powertrains: a 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection gasoline four-cylinder engine; a 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine and a 3.6-liter VR6 six-cylinder engine.

Optional VW Car-Net App-Connect supports smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.

Edmunds says: VW improves the 2016 Passat sedan with an eye toward the wants and needs of American consumers, a move that should make it a more popular choice on lots of shopping lists.

Distracted Driving May Be Culprit Behind 2015 Spike in Traffic Fatalities

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WASHINGTON – As Americans prepare to hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, the federal government reported the number of deaths from traffic accidents in the U.S. increased 8.1 percent in the first half of 2015.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls this a “troubling increase” and suggests that smartphones and other distractions may be behind the jump.

“The increase in smartphones in our hands is so significant, there’s no question that has to play some role,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind in a Tuesday media conference call. “But we don’t have enough information yet to determine how big a role.”

Other causes for the spike may include lower gas prices, an increase in vehicle miles traveled in the first six months of 2015 and the absence of state laws that prohibit drivers from using handheld smartphones.

A preliminary report on traffic fatalities for the first half of 2015 shows that an estimated 16,225 people died in motor-vehicle crashes compared to 15,014 fatalities in the first half of 2014.

NHTSA also reported a decline in annual traffic deaths to 32,675 in 2014, for a record low of 1.07 deaths per million miles traveled.

Rosekind said NHTSA is planning a series of regional meetings next year to boost behavioral safety efforts, saying human factors are responsible for 94 percent of motor vehicle crashes.

AAA Travel forecasts 46.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday, a 0.6 percent increase over the 46.6 million people who traveled last year and the most since 2007.

Edmunds says: Some sobering statistics to keep in mind as you hit the road this holiday season.

2017 Audi A4 Allroad Makes World Debut in Detroit: 2016 Detroit Auto Show

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DETROIT – Audi used the 2016 Detroit Auto Show to reveal the 2017 A4 Allroad. It’s the first time that this more rugged version of the standard A4 wagon has been shown to the public.

Sales of the Audi A4 Allroad are expected to start late this year. Pricing was not announced. The 2016 Audi Allroad starts at $43,625.

Based on the 2017 Audi A4 sedan, the Allroad wagon adds a slightly higher ride height, SUV-like styling cues and standard Quattro all-wheel drive to give it improved all-weather capability.

Although exact U.S. specifications were not announced, it is expected that the new Allroad will feature the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine used in the A4 sedan. Rated at 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, it will likely use a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to send power to all four wheels through a standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Audi’s Drive Select system is upgraded on the Allroad to include an “off-road” setting for improved performance on dirt roads. A revised suspension and taller tires add a total of 1.3 inches of ground clearance, but the Allroad is still not as capable as some more traditional SUVs.

The standard wagon body style offers 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row of seats. With the seatbacks folded down, the total available space expands to 53.3 cubic feet.

Edmunds says: With so much attention focused on crossovers, the Allroad continues to offer a unique blend of all-weather capability and a manageable size.

White River Toyota Tackles Diabetes Awareness in JDRF Fundraiser

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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vermont – When White River Toyota discovered November was Diabetes Awareness Month, it wanted to bring the community together to help those who are fighting the disease.

Because strength is in numbers, the dealership decided that with every new and used car sold, it is donating $5 to support JDRF, which seeks a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

“We’re on track to sell 215 vehicles for the month of November,” Tricia Cawley, digital marketing specialist, told Edmunds.

A softball team that the dealership sponsors pledged to add another $2 per each unit sold, she said.

The dealership also invited the community to “Saturday Night Out with White River Toyota | A Fundraiser in Support of the JDRF” in mid-November.

The event, which charged $10 per adult entry, offered food, drinks, raffles and live music provided by BorderStone Band.

The band was a friend of one of the employees, whose son was diagnosed with diabetes 10 years ago. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have the condition.

“We raised $840 at the door in admissions and raffle tickets, but that doesn’t include all the other donations that came from customers who have dropped in over the month and put money in the donation boxes we have,” Cawley said.

Guests also bought cars. One of the band’s fans, Cawley said, returned the following Monday and bought a 2016 Tundra.

“It was a new customer and that one truck sale pretty much paid for the event,” she said.

Edmunds says: This dealership lends a hand for a worthy cause.

2016 Toyota Corolla Earns Five-Star Safety Rating From Federal Government

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WASHINGTON – The 2016 Toyota Corolla compact sedan earned the highest five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

On sale now at Toyota dealerships, the 2016 Corolla received five stars in the front and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover crash test.

Standard safety equipment on the 2016 Corolla includes eight airbags, stability control, traction control and antilock brakes.

The Corolla was redesigned for the 2014 model year.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not rated the 2016 Corolla.

Key Corolla competitors include the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda 3.

Edmunds says: Safety-minded car shoppers should note that the 2016 Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda 3 also earned the highest five-star safety rating from NHTSA. The 2016 Honda Civic has not been rated.

Volkswagen’s Diesel Emissions Crisis Now Includes 11 Million Vehicles Worldwide

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WOLFSBURG, Germany – About 11 million Volkswagen vehicles worldwide are now included in the German automaker’s diesel emissions crisis, Volkswagen AG announced on Tuesday.

The automaker did not provide an updated list of affected vehicles.

In the meantime, Edmunds urges owners of any affected Volkswagen and Audi vehicles to be patient and wait for further information before taking any action.

“Until Volkswagen reveals a plan for how they will either buy back the cars or fix them so that they truly meet emissions standards, all affected owners will have to wait and see,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com director of industry analysis.

The EPA on Friday said an investigation showed the emissions-control software in some Volkswagen and Audi’s U.S. diesel vehicles, including the 2015 Audi A3 and 2014-’15 Volkswagen Passat, violated U.S. clean air rules by using a so-called “defeat device.”

In Tuesday’s statement, Volkswagen AG said it is “working at full speed to clarify irregularities concerning a particular software used in diesel engines.”

It also said it is allocating some 6.5 billion Euros or $7.3 billion in the third quarter to “cover the necessary service measures and other efforts to win back the trust of our customers.”

The EPA on Friday said Volkswagen and Audi had allegedly skirted federal emissions requirements in roughly 482,000 diesel vehicles in the U.S. since 2009 by using software that circumvents emissions testing for certain air pollutants.

The VW cars under investigation emit up to 40 times the national standard for nitrogen oxide, which is linked to asthma and lung illnesses, the EPA said.

The vehicles include the 2009-’15 Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Beetle, Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf and 2014-’15 Volkswagen Passat.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee late Monday announced it would hold a hearing into how Volkswagen skirted U.S. laws by selling diesel cars that evade emissions tests.

“We are concerned that auto consumers may have been deceived – that what they were purchasing did not come as advertised,” said Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) in a statement. “The American people deserve answers and assurances that this will not happen again. We intend to get those answers.”

Owners of the affected vehicles continue to grapple with a long list of unanswered questions.

“The good news for these owners is that there is no imminent safety threat in driving these vehicles,” Caldwell said. “Of course, owners who bought these diesel vehicles in part because of any environmental benefits may have moral objections to driving them, and they may feel they have no other option but to keep their cars parked for the time being.

“And then there are owners who just feel flat-out deceived and will want their money back.”

Consumers are advised to refrain from selling their TDI vehicle. Those who must trade in the vehicle in the short term can expect a lower value because of the additional short-term risk incurred by the dealer.

Edmunds says: The best advice at this point is for owners of these cars to refrain from reacting to news by selling their vehicle. Volkswagen is scrambling to address this crisis before losing its customer base.

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