Automotive

Chinese startup Byton unveils 2018 concept at CES

Chinese startup Byton unveils 2018 concept at CES

Byton, which recently opened an office in Silicon Valley, plans to sell its first vehicle in China in 2019, and later begin sales in the U.S.

LAS VEGAS — With a focus on the digital experience over the driving experience, Byton is trying to make a splashy, yet believable, debut at CES.

The Nanjing, China, company introduced its debut vehicle concept at CES Sunday, rolling out its connectivity-focused electric crossover.

Byton’s unveiling comes one year after Faraday Future made a grandiose splash at CES, only to widely scale back its ambitions within months.

With wide infotainment screens and individual adjustable seats, Byton’s concept focuses on affordable comfort and utility rather than an ultra-luxury driving experience.

“Our first Byton is actually a high-tech digital space,” said Byton CEO Carsten Breitfeld.

Breitfeld and Daniel Kirchert, Byton’s president, drove one concept on stage, with two identical vehicles parked on either side. The executive then brought out his teenage son, Winston, to vouch for the concept’s usability.

“It’s as intuitive to operate as any smart device you’ve ever seen,” Breitfeld said.

Byton, which recently opened an office in Silicon Valley, plans to sell its first vehicle in China in 2019, and later begin sales in the U.S. The company’s first vehicle will be modeled after the CES concept, which the company said contains 85 percent of the same design and parts as the production vehicle.

The flagship crossover, which customers can reserve starting Jan. 7, will start at about $45,000, with an entry-level trim that will have a range of 250 miles, and a high-end trim with a range of 325 miles.

The concept’s sloping exterior replaces standard parts with “smart” technology. Instead of door handles, facial recognition sensors can detect drivers and passengers and open the doors accordingly. Side-view cameras replace mirrors. The crossover’s narrow headlights are placed high on its face, with three individual light “modules” per headlight. In place of a grille, a screen displays intersecting lines of light. Antennaes are flattened into the roof for cloud connectivity.

Autonomous driving

Byton said its first vehicles will be equipped with Level 3 autonomous driving capability — which means the vehicle can drive itself in certain conditions and under human supervision.

The automaker expects to install Level 4 capability — which requires no human supervision under defined conditions — some time in the next decade through a partnership with an unnamed manufacturer, and has designed the concept’s interior with upcoming self-driving upgrades in mind.

A 49-inch screen that can be controlled by touch, voice or gesture spans the cockpit, and is customized for both the driver and the front-seat passenger, with an additional 8-inch touchscreen on the steering wheel. The vehicle can limit the amount of information available depending on whether a human or the vehicle is driving. The car will also be able to connect to passengers’ smart devices, such as phones and watches, for individual entertainment and other information.

The concept’s interior contains four seats, with front seats that can rotate 12 degrees inward, designed in collaboration with French supplier Faurecia.

Alexa on hand

Byton is also working with Amazon to integrate the tech company’s Alexa virtual assistant into its vehicle.

The concept’s interior contains four seats, with front seats that can rotate 12 degrees inward, designed in collaboration with French supplier Faurecia.

Kirchert said the ability to personalize infotainment for each passenger primes Byton’s vehicle for both individual ownership and use in shared mobility services.

Published at Mon, 08 Jan 2018 01:03:23 +0000

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Chinese startup Byton unveils 2018 concept at CES

Chinese startup Byton unveils 2018 concept at CES

Byton, which recently opened an office in Silicon Valley, plans to sell its first vehicle in China in 2019, and later begin sales in the U.S.

LAS VEGAS — With a focus on the digital experience over the driving experience, Byton is trying to make a splashy, yet believable, debut at CES.

The Nanjing, China, company introduced its debut vehicle concept at CES Sunday, rolling out its connectivity-focused electric crossover.

Byton’s unveiling comes one year after Faraday Future made a grandiose splash at CES, only to widely scale back its ambitions within months.

With wide infotainment screens and individual adjustable seats, Byton’s concept focuses on affordable comfort and utility rather than an ultra-luxury driving experience.

“Our first Byton is actually a high-tech digital space,” said Byton CEO Carsten Breitfeld.

Breitfeld and Daniel Kirchert, Byton’s president, drove one concept on stage, with two identical vehicles parked on either side. The executive then brought out his teenage son, Winston, to vouch for the concept’s usability.

“It’s as intuitive to operate as any smart device you’ve ever seen,” Breitfeld said.

Byton, which recently opened an office in Silicon Valley, plans to sell its first vehicle in China in 2019, and later begin sales in the U.S. The company’s first vehicle will be modeled after the CES concept, which the company said contains 85 percent of the same design and parts as the production vehicle.

The flagship crossover, which customers can reserve starting Jan. 7, will start at about $45,000, with an entry-level trim that will have a range of 250 miles, and a high-end trim with a range of 325 miles.

The concept’s sloping exterior replaces standard parts with “smart” technology. Instead of door handles, facial recognition sensors can detect drivers and passengers and open the doors accordingly. Side-view cameras replace mirrors. The crossover’s narrow headlights are placed high on its face, with three individual light “modules” per headlight. In place of a grille, a screen displays intersecting lines of light. Antennaes are flattened into the roof for cloud connectivity.

Autonomous driving

Byton said its first vehicles will be equipped with Level 3 autonomous driving capability — which means the vehicle can drive itself in certain conditions and under human supervision.

The automaker expects to install Level 4 capability — which requires no human supervision under defined conditions — some time in the next decade through a partnership with an unnamed manufacturer, and has designed the concept’s interior with upcoming self-driving upgrades in mind.

A 49-inch screen that can be controlled by touch, voice or gesture spans the cockpit, and is customized for both the driver and the front-seat passenger, with an additional 8-inch touchscreen on the steering wheel. The vehicle can limit the amount of information available depending on whether a human or the vehicle is driving. The car will also be able to connect to passengers’ smart devices, such as phones and watches, for individual entertainment and other information.

The concept’s interior contains four seats, with front seats that can rotate 12 degrees inward, designed in collaboration with French supplier Faurecia.

Alexa on hand

Byton is also working with Amazon to integrate the tech company’s Alexa virtual assistant into its vehicle.

The concept’s interior contains four seats, with front seats that can rotate 12 degrees inward, designed in collaboration with French supplier Faurecia.

Kirchert said the ability to personalize infotainment for each passenger primes Byton’s vehicle for both individual ownership and use in shared mobility services.

Published at Mon, 08 Jan 2018 01:03:23 +0000

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2019 Hyundai Veloster teased ahead of Detroit debut

2019 Hyundai Veloster teased ahead of Detroit debut

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Hyundai’s Veloster is a great deal of fun for buyers on a budget. It offers agile handling, punchy performance and decent space—all for a reasonable starting price of about $18,000.

Soon, a sharp-looking successor will arrive. The new Veloster is due for a debut at this month’s 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and Hyundai has given us our first official look at the car in a series of teasers.

The teasers, plus our own spy shots of prototypes, show that the new Veloster will maintain the unique shape of the current model, including the signature three-doors-and-hatch configuration. (There’s a single door on the driver side and two on the passenger side.)

A low, wide grille dominates the front, while at the rear there’s a center-mounted exhaust with dual exit pipes. The flared fender vents on the car also add a nice touch of athleticism.

2019 Hyundai Veloster N spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2019 Hyundai Veloster N spy shots – Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Enlarge Photo

2019 Hyundai Veloster N spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2019 Hyundai Veloster N spy shots – Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Enlarge Photo

2019 Hyundai Veloster spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2019 Hyundai Veloster spy shots – Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Enlarge Photo

This time around there will be a standard Veloster, plus a more potent Veloster N (shown above) developed by Hyundai’s in-house tuner. Residing under the hood of the standard Veloster should be the 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 found in the current Veloster Turbo. In the Veloster N, expect to find a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4. Power in the latter could reach as high as 271 horsepower, while the standard car will likely have around 200 hp.

Potential rivals for the new Veloster include the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI. The Veloster N meanwhile should provide some decent competition for the Honda Civic Type R and VW Golf R.

The North American International Auto Show starts January 15. To learn about some of the other vehicles that will appear at the show, head to our dedicated hub.

Published at Sun, 07 Jan 2018 18:01:00 +0000

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How Toyota protected Camry's crown

How Toyota protected Camry's crown

In a major sales push, the redesigned 2018 Camry was backed by heavy broadcast advertising and highlighted in a year-end “Toyotathon” sales promotion at dealers and elsewhere. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

DALLAS — The word in dealer showrooms in 2017 was that cars are a dying breed, taking up valuable floor space from cute-utes, crossovers and SUVs whose size, stance and utility represent an evolutionary leap of the species.

But not so much at Toyota and Honda dealerships, where overlapping generations of the venerable midsize Camry and multiple iterations of the compact Civic battled for superiority among consumers who still like to sit low to the ground.

Combined, the cars moved just over 764,000 units last year in a sales race that pitted the 15-year champion Camry against the 10th-generation Civic, which has been on a sales super-cycle since its 2016 launch.

Going into December, the Honda was outselling the Toyota by around 2,000 units, but the finish wasn’t even close. The Camry had its best December ever — even compared with the good old days — moving more than 43,000 units, a 30 percent gain from a year earlier. That gave it a nearly 10,000-unit advantage for the year over the Civic, whose sales stagnated in December, and extended its reign as the nation’s best-selling car. (Toyota also snagged the crown for the year’s best-selling nonpickup vehicle, the RAV4, which outsold the Camry by more than 20,000 units and edged out the Nissan Rogue.)

Hollis: Camry a spark for cars

The redesigned 2018 Camry “has reignited the car segment,” said Jack Hollis, general manager of Toyota Division, on a conference call last week. “You look at our investments in great products, and great products sell, so we still feel confident in the car market.”

Defending the Camry’s crown may have been especially important for Toyota given the launch of a redesigned model that it has touted as a substantially different direction for the staid family sedan. It rides on a new global platform that Toyota says allows for more spirited driving.

“I think they want to get as much visibility for the car as possible, and this is one way to do it,” said Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor at Kelley Blue Book.

Besides the fresh product, Toyota had a few marketing tricks that got it over the finish line first, according to analysts.

Toyota was discounting the outgoing seventh-generation Camry while bringing in the more boldly styled eighth generation beginning in September. One Texas dealer said that for buyers who couldn’t swing the 2018 model, he was able to shift many into a 2017 with thousands of dollars off the sticker. In some cases, Toyota was offering $3,000 cash back or zero-percent financing for 72 months on 2017 models.

And while both Toyota and Honda tend to be among the most restrained in the industry on sales incentives and fleet sales, Honda is the more disciplined of the two, keeping tight reins on production and forswearing bulk sales to rental-car agencies.

One industry insider who crunched the numbers said Toyota definitely used fleet sales and incentives to drive its 2017 Camry sell-down toward the end of the year. But he said Toyota’s incentive levels for December weren’t out of the ordinary or out of line with segment averages.

A redesign and some nifty marketing pushed the Camry back to the front of the sedan pack.

Record Camry sales in December represented almost entirely 2018 models, said Toyota spokesman Scott Vazin.

The redesigned model was “exceptionally well-received by consumers,” backed by broadcast advertising and highlighted in the year-end “Toyotathon” sales promotion.

The 2018 Camry sport grades — the SE and XSE — exceeded expectations, and helped attract “a younger and slightly more male buyer” than for the 2017 model, Vazin told Automotive News.

Still, the Civic offered tough competition and ended the year with a 2.8 percent sales gain over 2016, whereas Camry sales actually slipped by 0.4 percent.

The Civic can be had as a two-door coupe, a sedan, a hatchback and a track-ready Type-R edition that is new to the U.S. It’s technically one class below the Camry, but it nearly bridges the gap in terms of size, while also providing some cost savings to buyers who are downsizing in response to higher average new-vehicle prices, DeLorenzo said.

The Camry’s direct segment competitor is the Honda Accord, whose redesigned version came later in the year. Accord sales sank 35 percent in December as inventories of the outgoing model thinned.

With the 10th-generation Accord now generating accolades for its fresh styling and driving dynamics, the 2018 car race may be even more hotly contested.

Published at Sun, 07 Jan 2018 05:01:00 +0000

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Kalanick to make $1.4 billion from Uber's deal with SoftBank

Kalanick to make $1.4 billion from Uber's deal with SoftBank

Uber Technologies Inc co-founder Travis Kalanick, who was ousted as chief executive in June, is selling nearly a third of his 10 percent stake in the ride-services company for about $1.4 billion, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Kalanick’s sale is part of a deal struck by a consortium led by SoftBank Group Corp which is taking a 17.5 percent stake in Uber, mostly by buying shares from early investors and employees. SoftBank last week secured agreements from shareholders who were willing to sell, and the deal will close early this year, Uber said.

The SoftBank deal values Uber at $48 billion, about a 30 percent discount from its most recent valuation of $68 billion. However, the investor consortium is also making a $1.25 billion investment of fresh funding at the older, higher valuation.

Kalanick had offered to sell half of his total shares, but because there was a limit on how much SoftBank will buy, he will sell just 29 percent, according to the source. Other investors also did not get to unload as many shares as they had hoped because of such widespread interest to sell.

The former CEO owns 10 percent of the company, which means his sale will unload 2.9 percent of Uber shares and earn him about $1.4 billion, the source added.

A spokesman for Kalanick declined to comment. SoftBank and Uber could not be reached immediately for comment.

The sale would make the Uber co-founder a billionaire for the first time, not just on paper. Kalanick has never before sold shares of the company he ran for almost a decade, the source said.

The SoftBank deal offers investors and employees what could be their last chance to sell shares in a company-approved transaction before Uber’s long awaited initial public offering, planned for 2019.

The transaction marks a victory for new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who helped broker the deal and who will benefit from a deep-pocketed investor like SoftBank.

Bloomberg first reported Kalanick’s plans to sell part of his stake. (Reporting by Liana B. Baker and Heather Somerville in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Published at Sun, 07 Jan 2018 15:45:00 +0000

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Former Toyota chief Tatsuro Toyoda dies at 88

Former Toyota chief Tatsuro Toyoda dies at 88

Former Toyota President Tatsuro Toyoda, who helped the Japanese automaker become a global industrial power in the early 1990s, has died at the age of 88, the company said on Saturday.

The son of the company’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, he took a major role in Toyota’s international expansion during the 1980s and 1990s and led the company from 1992 to 1995 as the automaker accelerated its global expansion.

He was the first president of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc, or NUMMI, plant in California in the mid-1980s, a joint venture with Detroit rival General Motors that demonstrated Toyota’s highly efficient production system could be adapted to the culture of operations outside its home base of Japan.

NUMMI paved the way for Toyota’s subsequent investments in its own U.S. assembly and component factories. Toyota now has 10 manufacturing operations in the United States.

Toyoda stepped down as company president in 1995. Toyota said in a short statement that Toyoda died of pneumonia on Dec. 30. He is survived by his wife, Ayako Toyoda. (Reporting By Joe White; Editing by Bill Rigby)

Related Video:

Published at Sun, 07 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000

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Former Toyota chief Tatsuro Toyoda dies at 88

Former Toyota chief Tatsuro Toyoda dies at 88

Former Toyota President Tatsuro Toyoda, who helped the Japanese automaker become a global industrial power in the early 1990s, has died at the age of 88, the company said on Saturday.

The son of the company’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, he took a major role in Toyota’s international expansion during the 1980s and 1990s and led the company from 1992 to 1995 as the automaker accelerated its global expansion.

He was the first president of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc, or NUMMI, plant in California in the mid-1980s, a joint venture with Detroit rival General Motors that demonstrated Toyota’s highly efficient production system could be adapted to the culture of operations outside its home base of Japan.

NUMMI paved the way for Toyota’s subsequent investments in its own U.S. assembly and component factories. Toyota now has 10 manufacturing operations in the United States.

Toyoda stepped down as company president in 1995. Toyota said in a short statement that Toyoda died of pneumonia on Dec. 30. He is survived by his wife, Ayako Toyoda. (Reporting By Joe White; Editing by Bill Rigby)

Related Video:

Published at Sun, 07 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000

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Bad day at bank drive through leads to car flying through air

Bad day at bank drive through leads to car flying through air

Follow Jeff


Dashcams are a wonderful device to have hooked up inside your car. You never know what you might happen to catch with that little camera.

It could be as simple as minor fender bender, as amazing as a massive meteor lighting up the sky, or a bit of crazy weather crossing your path. You might capture a prized enthusiast machine take a beating, or a prized enthusiast machine capture a tire blowing out. Or if you’re sitting at a bank drive through, you might just capture an out of control driver put on their best “Dukes of Hazzard” impression.

YouTube user Robb Brilbeck was waiting for his turn at his local bank. It seemed he was growing a bit impatient with the person in front of him. They were taking a bit too long to handle their transaction, and then it seemed as if they dropped something. The door opens up and a hand comes out. That’s also the time when the brake lights turn off indicating the driver has moved his or her foot off the pedal.

In a moment of confusion and panic, instead of simply reapplying the brake or slamming the vehicle into park, the throttle pedal is pushed down. And pushed down hard. The vehicle rockets away from the lines at the bank and heads for a road running perpendicular to its path. In fact, there’s now a vehicle directly in its path as well. But the parking lot slopes upward before meeting the road and sidewalk, and what an angle of a slope it is.

The now out-of-control SUV gets airborne and clears the vehicle sitting right in front of it. It’s not a clean jump but it’s enough that the vehicle appears to stay on its path. The person recording the action backs out of their spot in line and moves to park their car. We hope they then called for help and went to check on whether it was Bo or Luke that was having a bad day at the bank.

Published at Sun, 07 Jan 2018 08:00:00 +0000

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Ford begins U.S. sales of EcoSport, its first import from India

Ford begins U.S. sales of EcoSport, its first import from India

DETROIT — The wait is over.

Roughly 14 months after unveiling the U.S. version of its India-built EcoSport subcompact crossover, Ford Motor Co. began selling the vehicle at dealerships last week.

The automaker is late to the game — the EcoSport’s competitors are well into their product life cycles — but analysts still expect the vehicle to sell well due to the segment’s strength.

U.S. subcompact crossover sales grew 14 percent in 2017 to 563,763, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Ford projects continued growth in the segment through the end of the decade.

Ford has sold the EcoSport nameplate globally since it was introduced in South America in 2003. The U.S. version was unveiled in November 2016 ahead of the Los Angeles auto show.

The North American front-wheel-drive EcoSport comes standard with a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine. A 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with four-wheel drive is optional. Both engine options come with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The vehicle comes in four trim levels: S, SE, SES and Titanium.

The EcoSport is the first Ford vehicle sold in the U.S. to be imported from India.

Published at Sun, 07 Jan 2018 05:01:00 +0000

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Former Toyota President Tatsuro Toyoda dies at 88

Former Toyota President Tatsuro Toyoda dies at 88

During his tenure as president, Tatsuro Toyoda struggled with an economic slump in Japan and a streak of sliding earnings.

UPDATED: 1/6/18 8:48 am ET – adds links

TOKYO — Tatsuro Toyoda, the second son of Toyota Motor Corp.’s founder whose short tenure as president of the company in the 1990s was marked by health issues, has died. He was 88.

Toyoda died Dec. 30 of pneumonia, the company said Saturday.

Tatsuro, a son of founder Kiichiro Toyoda and uncle of current President Akio Toyoda, took the helm of the family’s namesake automaker in mid-1992 from elder brother Shoichiro, who piloted Toyota’s rampant global expansion. But whereas Shoichiro served as president for a decade, Tatsuro lasted just three years.

The younger sibling stepped aside abruptly in 1995 after a prolonged hospitalization for reported hypertension. The company at the time described Toyoda as fighting high blood pressure but it was speculated that Toyota had suffered a mild stroke.

Toyoda collapsed while attending a meeting of the Japan Automobile Dealers Association on Feb. 24, 1995, and remained hospitalized until resigning in August that year.

His departure paved the way for Hiroshi Okuda to become the first Toyota president from outside the family since 1967. Okuda’s appointment ushered in an era of three consecutive outside presidents that would last until 2009 when current president Akio restored family control.

Toyota President Tatsuro Toyoda, right, with, from left, Honorary Chairman Eiji Toyoda, Chairman Shoichiro Toyoda and Vice Chairman Masami Iwasaki, in an undated photo.

During his tenure as president, Tatsuro struggled with an economic downturn in Japan and an earnings slump that were undercut by falling sales and shrinking share in the home market.

Before becoming head of the parent company, Toyoda served as the first president of Toyota’s pioneering joint-venture assembly plant with General Motors, the New United Motor Manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif., which began production in 1984.

The plant was Toyota’s first experiment with manufacturing in the U.S., and gave it confidence for going solo on such ventures as its sprawling Georgetown assembly plant in Kentucky.

Toyoda’s task was the difficult one of introducing Japanese manufacturing techniques while maintaining the trust and morale of NUMMI’s unionized American workforce. His success in getting the venture off the ground opened the door for Toyota’s foray into U.S. production.

Toyota announced in 2009 it would close NUMMI after cash-strapped GM withdrew from the joint venture in the wake of the global financial crisis. The plant was later sold to Tesla Inc.

Toyoda earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Japan’s prestigious University of Tokyo and later received an MBA from New York University, where he studied under the famed quality-control guru W. Edwards Deming. Most of his career was focused on overseas marketing. After stepping down as president, he served as vice chairman for several years.

A private vigil and funeral has been held by close relatives, Toyota said. The company said it plans to hold a farewell gathering at a later date.

Published at Sat, 06 Jan 2018 12:55:24 +0000

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