Chevy adds AEV-badged Bison edition to 2024 Colorado lineup

Chevrolet is adding a specialty off-road edition of the Colorado midsize pickup, improving trail capability in a segment with multiple updated offerings headed to showrooms.Chevy worked with off-road aftermarket equipment manufacturer American Expedition Vehicles, known as AEV, on the Colorado ZR2 Bison edition for the 2024 model year. The Bison shares the ZR2’s 2.7-liter turbocharged inline-four engine, which offers 310 hp, 430 pound-feet of torque and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Bison is about 1.5 inches longer than the ZR2 and also offers about 1.5 inches of additional ground clearance, for a total 12.2 inches, according to Chevy. The Bison’s maximum payload is 1,050 pounds, compared with 1,280 pounds for the ZR2. The Bison also offers 5,500 pounds of max trailering capacity, compared with the ZR2’s 6,000 pounds.Both the Bison and ZR2 versions come with Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve dampers, while the Bison also offers Multimatic Jounce Control dampers in the front and rear. The Bison edition also offers a heavy-duty front bumper with winch capability, an AEV-specific rear bumper and fender flares, 17-inch wheels with 35-inch mud and terrain tires, and unique badging on the exterior and interior.

Chevy did not disclose pricing or say when the Colorado ZR2 Bison edition would go on sale.GMC plans to reveal an AEV-badged Canyon midsize pickup in July. Toyota this month showed off the redesigned Tacoma, which leads the midsize pickup segment, while Ford is adding a first-ever Raptor performance variant on the Ranger midsize pickup.

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Tesla’s Model Y was the world’s top-selling vehicle in the first quarter of this year. President Biden withdraws his nomination for NHTSA chief. GM and Stellantis bail out an insolvent supplier. Plus, CHAMP Titles CEO Shane Bigelow joins the show to talk about his company’s digital title clearinghouse in West Virginia.

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NHTSA proposes 'safety milestone' rule requiring automatic emergency braking for new vehicles

WASHINGTON — The nation’s top auto safety regulator on Wednesday proposed requiring automatic emergency braking, including pedestrian detection, on all new light-duty vehicles and set minimum performance standards for the systems.
If the proposal is adopted, nearly all U.S. passenger cars and light trucks — those with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 10,000 pounds — would be required to have the crash-avoidance technology three years after the rule is finalized. Tougher requirements would take effect four years after being finalized.
NHTSA projects the proposal, if finalized, would prevent at least 360 deaths and reduce injuries by at least 24,000 annually.
For automakers, the agency estimates the proposal would cost nearly $282.2 million annually across the entire vehicle fleet. The cost per vehicle is estimated at $82 for each design cycle change of the model, according to the proposal.
“We know we’re throwing a challenge out here,” Polly Trottenberg, deputy secretary of the U.S. Transportation Department, said at a press event Wednesday. “But we know that a lot of this technology is already pretty well-developed, and this is a time to take things to the next level, to make this technology more universally deployed and more stringent.”
The long-awaited proposal — a direct response to a provision in the infrastructure law passed by Congress in 2021 — comes as the technology becomes more common across all makes and models, not just luxury vehicles and higher trim levels.
At least 14 automakers already have met a 2016 voluntary commitment brokered by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and NHTSA to equip at least 95 percent of their light-duty cars and trucks with automatic emergency braking. The commitment calls for automakers to meet the benchmark for models manufactured from Sept. 1, 2022, to Aug. 31, 2023.

NHTSA’s proposal would push automakers — and the technology’s capabilities — even further.
“The technology now is mature enough for us to propose mandating its inclusion in all vehicles, but we’re doing a whole lot more than that,” said Ann Carlson, NHTSA’s chief counsel. “In this rule-making, we’re proposing to require that the systems be much more effective at much higher speeds.”
NHTSA data shows most crashes, injuries and fatalities occur at speeds above 25 miles per hour, Carlson said, adding that the proposal “really dramatically increases what many AEB systems currently do.”
The proposal would require the systems to fully avoid other vehicles at speeds up to 50 mph when a driver fails to react. If a driver brakes, but not enough to avoid a collision, the system would have to fully avoid another vehicle at speeds up to 62 mph.
It also would require all light-duty vehicles to be able to stop and avoid pedestrians at speeds up to 37 mph.
“With this proposal, we could change a high-speed crash from a deadly one to a lower-speed crash with minor injuries or just property damage,” Carlson said. “This goes way above the voluntary AEB commitment and sets a significant safety milestone.”
In addition, the AEB systems must be able to perform at night, including detecting pedestrians in the dark and stopping the vehicle accordingly.
To be sure, NHTSA’s proposal includes performance-based standards and does not mandate a certain technology such as cameras, radar or lidar be used to meet the minimum requirements, said Markus Price, chief of NHTSA’s visibility and injury prevention division.
A 60-day public comment period will be open once the proposal is published to the Federal Register.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents most major automakers in the U.S., was still reviewing the proposal but said many of its members already have developed and deployed the crash-avoidance technology, including pedestrian detection, on their vehicles.
“AEB is a breakthrough safety technology that uses radar, cameras and lasers to prevent crashes and save lives that the industry voluntarily committed to install in nearly all new vehicles by 2025,” the group said in a statement. “Several automakers are ahead of schedule on that commitment, and experts predict it could prevent 42,000 incidents and 20,000 injuries annually.”
Meanwhile, auto safety advocates for years have been urging NHTSA to require the technology on all new vehicles and set minimum performance standards.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which urged federal regulators in March 2022 to require automakers to equip all new passenger vehicles with AEB systems that can detect and avoid pedestrians even in the dark, said the agency’s proposal will lead to improved systems that properly work under more conditions.
“Pedestrian AEB that works well at night is a game-changer for protecting the most vulnerable people on the road,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement. “This proven technology takes action when a driver doesn’t and can reduce the severity of a collision or prevent the collision from happening altogether.”
Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, applauded NHTSA’s action and urged the agency to finalize a rule “promptly.”
The agency is expected to finalize the rule by November 2023, according to a government website.
“With the clock ticking down on the Biden administration and the number of preventable deaths piling up, there is no time to spare on bringing these rules over the finish line and these safety technologies onto production lines,” Chase said.
William Wallace, associate director of safety policy at Consumer Reports, said the proposal has been “a long time coming” and is “desperately needed.”
“We’ve seen an increase each year in the number of vehicles that offer the technology,” he said, “but ultimately these federal requirements would ensure every new car comes with this proven safety feature — without consumers being forced to pay extra for an expensive option package.”
The technology, part of advanced driver-assistance systems, has the potential to save lives and reduce injuries by stopping or slowing a vehicle to prevent a collision but has been problematic for some motorists.
In 2022, NHTSA opened two separate investigations involving Tesla and Honda vehicles after receiving hundreds of complaints alleging unexpected activation of the AEB system, characterized by some Tesla owners as “phantom braking.”

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Discover how AI improves inspection efficiency and accuracy

Quality control is critical for automotive manufacturers and suppliers. However, traditional paper-based inspection methods can increase inefficiencies and mistakes. AI-enhanced AR work instructions improve accuracy and reduce costs associated with scrap, rework, and recalls – saving companies millions and improving customer satisfaction.In the Upgrade Your End-of-Line Inspections with AI-Enhanced Augmented Reality e-book, you’ll learn how you can: 
Accelerate inspection cycles with AI-enhanced visual guidance
Avoid errors with automatic warnings displayed in AR
Foster continuous improvement with automated insight reporting from frontline workers

Improve your EOL inspections and overall quality with Step Check, Vuforia’s AI-enhanced inspection technology.

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Auto File: Musk's remarkable return to China

DETROIT — Greetings from the Motor City!
It’s been strangely calm in Detroit. Maybe I am not the only one who had trouble getting back to work after the first official weekend of the summer vacation season. But some people are working hard, including Elon Musk, who is barnstorming China like a rock star.
Imagine Taylor Swift visiting Shanghai – if she ran the world’s most valuable automaker, a social media platform and a satellite launch company.

No kidding – the reception Elon Musk is getting in China is remarkable. Since arriving in China on Tuesday, Musk has landed meetings with three senior Chinese government officials and partied through a 16-course dinner with the CEO of CATL, China and the world’s biggest EV battery company.
China’s social media is buzzing over the visit from “Brother Ma” – one of Musk’s nicknames in Tesla’s largest market.
Musk is one of several U.S. company CEOs who’ve visited China in recent weeks for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began three years ago. Ford CEO Jim Farley and General Motors CEO Mary Barra made China trips recently, as did Apple CEO Tim Cook. None of them got the star treatment accorded Musk.
What do Musk and Chinese authorities have to talk about? How much time have you got?
China currently blocks free access to Twitter – Musk hasn’t posted to his own social media platform during his time in China. Beijing has expressed concern about Musk’s decision to let Ukraine’s military use his Starlink satellite communications system.
Don’t forget Musk’s role in the debate over artificial intelligence – a topic of high interest to China’s government.
China needs Musk, too.
The celebrated billionaire is the ideal foreign investor to welcome at a sensitive moment for China’s economy, Breakingviews wrote. Chinese authorities are trying to counter concerns among Western companies that they will become collateral damage as U.S.-China relations sour. China’s foreign ministry quoted Musk as saying the U.S. and Chinese economies are like “conjoined twins.”
But let’s focus on Tesla – even if Chinese authorities don’t compartmentalize all of Musk’s many roles.Musk wants China to allow Tesla to deploy its Full Self Driving automated driving technology. So far, that permission has not been forthcoming, even as Chinese automakers and tech companies roll out automated vehicles.
Tesla has applied to expand operations at its Shanghai factory. That requires government permission.
Chinese authorities have banned Teslas from certain areas, citing concern about the data collected by their onboard cameras. That’s an issue Tesla doesn’t need while fending off increasingly robust competition from BYD and other Chinese brands.
What does Musk think? Watch his Twitter account – after his plane clears Chinese air space.

One more thing about Tesla and China: According to JATO Dynamics, the Tesla Model Y became the top-selling vehicle on the planet during the first quarter, knocking the Toyota Corolla out of the No. 1 spot.
Chinese consumers can take much of the credit for Tesla’s achievement. The Model Y’s sales win is not just a boost for Tesla’s corporate ego. Scale matters in the car business, and Tesla has scale economies few rivals – except China’s BYD – can match.

Daimler and Toyota will combine their respective Japanese commercial truck businesses – Mitsubishi Fuso and Hino. The consolidation is a response to the capital costs of shifting to electric or hydrogen powertrains.
The Fuso and Hino brands will soldier on in the marketplace, but the engineering and supply chains behind them will be combined for economies of scale.
Daimler’s CEO said the deal also helps the German truck maker reduce its dependence on China.

What’s it worth to Ford Motor Co. to plug into Tesla’s charging network and adopt Tesla’s charging plug standard?
Roughly $4.8 billion, according to investors. That’s how much Ford’s market cap has risen since the deal was announced on May 25, based on Refinitiv data. Ford is now worth just over $50 billion, and is back in front of General Motors, which started Wednesday worth $46.4 billion.
Are there valid arguments that Ford may be giving away too much – future revenue opportunities, customer data – to get access to 12,000 Tesla fast chargers? No doubt – though Ford CEO Jim Farley addressed some of those concerns during a CNBC interview. But Wall Street likes the deal. That will force other automakers – and charging network operators – to have a think.

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The 2023 Trendsetter’s Guide to Automotive Retail

CDK Global’s 2023 Trendsetter’s Guide to Automotive Retail addresses the known and new challenges dealers face every day. Our report surveyed managers across in all areas of the dealership as well as store leaders to uncover how existing obstacles like inventory and staffing are being treated as well as new ones that weren’t a primary concern last year.How does the rapid rise in interest rates and the impact on affordability change operations, sales and more at the dealer level?CDK Global investigated these issues and many others through the lens of the Trendsetter, the ones who are the first to implement change.The 2023 Trendsetter’s Guide to Automotive Retail uncovers:
What areas do Trendsetters say they will retain
The key tactics that produce positive operational and financial outcomes
Technology’s impact across the dealership
The challenges that dealers admit they may not be prepared for

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Service Solutions for Inventory Challenges

Modify your service strategy to find success in the face of industry shortages. Use the guide, Service Solutions for Inventory Challenges, to implement five specific strategies to overcome industry obstacles and supply chain challenges:Find potential acquisition opportunities by reviewing past service recordsSend trade-in reminders to customers with repair-prone vehiclesBring your sales team into the service loop to seek out in-demand vehiclesMake offers to customers who decline expensive service recommendations Ensure marketing, sales, service, and operations are all in sync to accomplish acquisition goals

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Toyota picks Kentucky plant for its first U.S.-made EV

Toyota Motor Corp. will build its first U.S.-made electric vehicle in Kentucky starting in 2025, the automaker said Wednesday.
Toyota will assemble the three-row electric crossover at its largest production plant globally, in Georgetown, Ky.
The EV’s batteries will come from a Toyota complex under construction in Liberty, N.C. A new $2.1 billion investment in that operation, also announced Wednesday, will bring total investment there to $5.9 billion. It will have six battery production lines, four for hybrid vehicles and two for battery-electric vehicles.
Toyota did not reveal details of the new EV model.
Retooling the 9 million-square-foot Georgetown assembly plant for the EV is part of a $461 million investment announced in 2021. The plant also builds the Camry, Camry Hybrid and RAV4 Hybrid.
“It is exciting to see our largest U.S. plant, Toyota Kentucky, and our newest plant, Toyota North Carolina, drive us into the future together with BEV and battery production for our expanding electrified lineup,” Toyota Motor North America CEO Ted Ogawa said in a statement.
The passage last year of the Inflation Reduction Act, which incentivized North American EV and battery manufacturing, has opened the floodgates for new investment by automakers. Since the law passed in August, automakers and suppliers have announced more than $50 billion in EV and battery investments for North America.

Toyota, which has been later than is rivals to the EV race, plans to release 10 models globally by 2026.
The automaker will invest more than $37 billion in EV development and production through decade’s end.
Toyota anticipates it will reach EV sales of 1.5 million in 2026 with the help of a newly developed vehicle platform it says will double driving range, thanks to more efficient battery use, and require half the investment and development resources.
The U.S.-made electric crossover is vital to Toyota’s efforts to be relevant in the EV age, Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, told Automotive News.
“With the market seemingly wanting three-row crossovers over midsized ones, Toyota’s entry in this segment with an EV is hitting an untapped segment,” Fiorani said.

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Car repair financing company Sunbit offers F&I loans

Popular consumer auto service and repair financing company Sunbit is getting into the finance-and-insurance game.Sunbit, which says it works with nearly all of the top 25 dealership groups in the country and more than 6,400 stores nationwide, now offers loans to customers seeking to finance F&I products. More than 100 dealerships have been offering customers Sunbit for F&I products in an early access program dating to early 2022. Sunbit plans to expand the option to the rest of its dealership network.

Unlike Sunbit’s service and parts financing, the F&I financing option carries an interest rate of “0 percent no matter what,” according to Rob Bollinger, Sunbit head of national dealer groups. The company makes money by charging dealerships a fee for facilitating the transaction, Sunbit Chief Revenue Officer Tal Riesenfeld said.Riesenfeld told Automotive News the system had a 90 percent approval rate — everyone with a 500 credit score or more — and requires only a soft credit check, a less detailed look at the customer that doesn’t register on the consumer’s credit the way a traditional “hard” credit application would. (Sunbit does report to credit bureaus whether the customer is making payments on an approved loan, but the loan request itself doesn’t register.)Consumers can borrow up to $8,000 depending on their credit profile — Bollinger estimated the average service contract ran $2,750 — with payments spread over six-, 12- or 18-month terms. Most borrowers are approved in the “single-digit thousands” range, Riesenfeld said.Sunbit does not charge back dealers if the customer refuses to pay or ends the contract early, Riesenfeld said. “Since day one GMs asked us if they could utilize our product in the financing department, customizing our solution to F&I departments is a natural next step,” Riesenfeld said in a statement in March. “People want F&I products because it gives them peace of mind. We help them to buy those products and not break their monthly budgets.”

Many consumers are able to finance their F&I coverage within an auto loan, a transaction that means more dealer reserve from the financing itself in addition to the margin from selling the F&I products. But according to Riesenfeld, Sunbelt isn’t targeting that market. Riesenfeld said the company is eyeing customers who can’t finance F&I products within their car deal and consumers seeking F&I coverage on a vehicle they already own, such as a car with a factory warranty about to expire.”That’s a huge market,” Riesenfeld said of the current vehicle owners.Service departments today promote such coverage to customers, Riesenfeld said. “Those customers are being [referred] to the finance department,” Bollinger said.

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Know limits of EV credits and which trim levels qualify

Sean Tucker, Kelley Blue Book senior editor, says finance managers should make sure they know the limitations on EV credits when helping EV customers negotiate a deal.”I would keep track of the fact that based on the price limitations and in certain cases based on where the batteries are built, some trim levels will qualify and some will not,” he says.The Ford F-150, for instance, has two trim levels that qualify for the full $7,500 EV credit and two that don’t, Tucker says. Similarly, two of the Tesla Model 3 trim levels qualify for the full credit; one gets half credit of $3,750.”So in some cases, you may be able to work a deal by talking someone into a slightly different trim level,” Tucker says.

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