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Maine patrolman saves a speeder's life

Posted Jul 31st 2014 3:33PM

Offier Mike Harrington

If speed kills, then the logical conclusion would be that police pulling over speeders are saving lives. Whether you accept that premise or not, however, one patrolman in Maine actually did save a man's life when he stopped him for breaking the speed limit.

Officer Mike Harrington of the Kennebunk Police Department had stopped one Gavin "Scotty" Falconer for driving over the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit in the coastal town in Maine, when Falconer, 84 years old, collapsed over his steering wheel. Officer Harrington sprung into action, pulled Falconer out of the car and initiated CPR.

Falconer woke up the next day in the hospital with his life restored... and a warning citation for speeding, which Harrington had apparently already started writing before Falconer collapsed. Watch the full story in the video here.

News Source: WMTW via YouTube

Autoblog editors come clean about their controversial automotive beliefs

Our Staff Voices Their Unpopular Opinions... How About You?

Posted Jul 31st 2014 3:00PM

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We all have controversial opinions. Be it whether you think the Nissan Juke is actually pretty attractive, manual transmissions aren't always better, or you honestly didn't hate the Pontiac Aztek, we all harbor some persuasion, be it big or small, for which we catch copious flak upon expression.

In recognizing that all of us here at Autoblog harbor at least one viewpoint that stubbornly goes against the grain of popular opinion among auto enthusiasts, we've decided to come clean with them right here, proudly speaking our minds in a mature, structured manner – a striking contrast to how these things tend to come up while debated in the office.

We'd also like to invite you to share your unpopular and controversial opinions with us and the Autoblog faithful down in Comments. Don't be ashamed – this is a safe place.

News Source: Copyright 2014 AOL

2015 Ford F-150 appearance guide takes the truck from mild to wild with options

Posted Jul 31st 2014 2:34PM

2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150 Trim GuideWe already know that the 2015 Ford F-150 has a base price coming in at just $395 more than the 2014 model, despite all of the new standard tech and aluminum-intensive construction in the upcoming version. Now the Blue Oval is finally giving us an idea of what that extra money actually buys customers, with the release of the appearance guide for its latest pickup.

The guide basically explains everything you could want to know about what changes occur among the multitude of trims on the 2015 F-150. There are five levels for the new truck. Although, that is something of a misnomer because most of them are also available with either Sport or Chrome packages, plus the FX4 Off-Road option with Hill Descent Control, an electronic-locking rear axle, off-road shocks and skid plates. With 13 available colors, including 4 new ones, and 14 wheel designs in various sizes, pickup buyers should have no problem specing one to fit their style.

The lineup starts out with the base XL with a black grille and fascia and 17-inch wheels. However, across most of the range the Sport and Chrome packages are also available to add either body-color or chrome accents, respectively. Next up is the XLT with a standard chrome grille but also available with a black, billet-style one with a body-color surround. Things really start getting plush with the Lariat model with leather trim, a three-bar front end and 18-inch wheels. The King Ranch sticks with that look but adds power running boards, 20-inch wheels and two-tone paint. Finally, the top-dog Platinum is all about bling with yet another frontal design, chrome door handles and mirror caps, a big logo running across the tailgate and more.

All of the options are certainly a lot to take in, and Ford clearly doesn't want any potential customers to fall through the cracks in terms getting exactly what they want from their F-150. Check out the gallery to see all of the differences between the trims for yourself.

News Source: Ford

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL, Related images copyright Ford

Tesla selling like gangbusters in China

Posted Jul 31st 2014 1:57PM

Earns Tesla

"Will it play in Peoria?" asks the age-old question about how Broadway shows would be received in Middle America. Well, apparently Tesla Motors plays well in Beijing. It's part of Tesla chief Elon Musk's grand plan, of course.

The California-based maker of the battery-electric Model S has delivered about 1,000 of the vehicles in China since shipments started there in April, Bloomberg News says, citing Dougherty & Co. analyst Andrea James, Barclays Plc analyst Brian Johnson and Wedbush Securities analyst Craig Irwin. Tesla also started shipping its first right-had drive Model S sedans to the UK in June.

It is estimated that all those deliveries helped push Tesla's second-quarter global vehicle deliveries close to the 7,550 mark, which is more than the company forecast and would set a new quarterly record (Tesla's second-quarter results will be announced later today). It would also mark about a 45 percent jump from Tesla's 2Q sales a year ago.

The Model S is priced at about $120,000 US in China (the culprits include the top-of-the-line battery pack as standard equipment and steep taxes that the government charges on vehicle imports) but that hasn't swayed status-conscious buyers from footing the bill, apparently. Tesla declined to comment on the China sales estimate when contacted by AutoblogGreen but we may learn more later today.

News Source: Bloomberg News

Image Credit: Ng Han Guan / AP Photo

ETC

Honda asking used-car buyers to sign liability document [w/poll]

Issue Arises From Ongoing Takata Airbag Recalls

Posted Jul 31st 2014 1:30PM

AUTO SALES OUTLOOK

New cars under recall must be repaired before a dealer can sell them but used cars are under no such mandate.

When it comes to informing the car-buying public about potential safety hazards on used vehicles, there are two emerging schools of thought among used-car dealers.

In one camp: those who disclose as little as possible. Used-car giant CarMax leaves it to customers to check to see whether a car is under recall. Consumer groups filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission last month, because they believe the lack of information amounts to deceptive advertising.

In the other: Honda, which has gone in the opposite direction. The company recently started disclosing possible recalls related to airbag malfunctions in certain vehicles. Honda is asking customers buying those used cars to sign a document that acknowledges they've been made aware of the issue. Buyers may be better informed, but such a signature could also shift liability away from the automaker.

It's a vexing issue on several fronts.

New cars under recall must be repaired before a dealer can sell them, under rules imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But used-car sellers are under no such mandate. Honda's disclosure helps consumers understand their new purchase may contain a potentially lethal defect, but some are worried that it could frighten customers away or expose dealerships to greater liability.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: AP Photo / Carlos Osorio / Shutterstock

Bret Michaels Poisons Nissan's commercial trucking ops

Posted Jul 31st 2014 12:45PM

Bret Michaels for Nissan Commercial

Mötley Crüe isn't the only 1980s hair-metal band getting into the world of auto promotion. Poison frontman and reality show star Bret Michaels is following their lead and doing some advertising of his own. Where the Crüe have been all over the airwaves in recent years with a Super Bowl ad for Kia and music licensing with Dodge, Michaels has taken a very different route by becoming the pitchman for Nissan Commercial Vehicles.

The videos run the gamut to advertise predominantly the NV line of full-size vans, but the NV200 shows up a few times too. The star of this new campaign is Michaels' full-length music video (above) for the song Tough Love. It's basically a parody of all of those '80s rock ballads where the bands would slow the tempo down a little and reveal their softer side. Michaels rocks out at the Nissan proving grounds in Stanfield, AZ, while showing off the evaluation process and strutting around like a proper rock frontman. There are also a bunch of shorter videos (below) with the singer highlighting each part of the vans' torture testing. Although, the dialogue in these come off a bit more stilted. With these '80s metal bands getting into advertising, can it be long before Warrant is shilling for Fiat or Ratt for Mazda?

News Source: Nissan USA via YouTube [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]

2015 Porsche Macan S

Stuttgart's Entry-Level Crossover Is Everything But

Posted Jul 31st 2014 11:57AM



I'd be willing to bet that 99 percent of all Porsche Macan owners will never take their vehicle on a track or see any more off-roading than a dirt path to a summer cottage, yet I maintain that there is no better venue to explore the absolute outer limits of the automaker's newest small family transport than on a racing circuit and an off-road course. It's testing at each extreme of the vehicle's operating envelope, with both challenges requiring very different capabilities. With that in mind, and looking forward to dirty floor mats and corded tires, I jumped at the opportunity from Porsche to wring out its new Macan S at Willow Springs International Raceway, located in Southern California's high desert.

The range-topping Macan Turbo (base price $72,300 plus $995 destination), with its 400 horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 gets most of the glory these days. But many, including myself, would argue that its slightly less powerful sibling, the Macan S, is actually the pick of the new litter. Despite having 60 fewer horses under the hood and giving up six-tenths of a second in the sprint to 60 miles per hour, it costs a massive $22,400 less – money better spent on equipment that improves the crossover's ride comfort and capability, or perhaps a well-used Boxster for weekends.

Despite a reasonably attractive starting price of $49,900 (plus destination), very few Porsche buyers will leave the showroom with a base model. My Dark Blue Metallic Macan S tester was equipped with a slew of mechanical upgrades, including air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), Sport Chrono Package and 21-inch 911 Turbo Design wheels. A Premium Package and a few other miscellaneous options bloated its price to $69,870. That's a very steep price for the premium compact crossover segment, but it's still less than a base Macan Turbo.

Rather than toss us keys in the Willow Springs paddock, Porsche delivered its Macan models to us scribes in Pasadena and then routed us over Angeles Crest Highway towards the track, which is located near Edwards Air Force Base. This generously provided me with another three or so hours behind the wheel, most of it on twisty two-lane mountain roads that were a nice preamble before our track and off-road excursions.

Driving Notes
  • In real-world driving on smooth pavement, it's hard not to be impressed with this crossover's road manners. Whether negotiating sweeping corners or short straights, the compact five-passenger Macan feels as planted as a two-passenger sports coupe half its height. I have nothing but praise for its engine, brakes and suspension on the public roads – quite honestly, each are a bit overkill for the actual task at hand, especially on heavily patrolled American roads.
  • If forced to muster a complaint, I'd lodge it at the electrically assisted steering, which feels a bit light for my tastes (Porsche uses the same basic steering rack as the Audi Q5, but its ratios and boost have been altered to suit its higher-performance badge). I prefer my steering a bit heavier, especially mid-corner when the front wheels are heavily loaded.
  • Despite sharing its Modular Longitudinal Platform (MLP) with the aforementioned Audi and a half-dozen other VW Group siblings, the engineers from Stuttgart have meticulously reworked every component to ensure i's pure Porsche – meaning in stock form it is every bit as capable on a track as it is on public roads. Competitors may offer crossovers with sport packages and oversized wheels and tires, but nobody (not even Audi's range-topping SQ5, which weighs nearly 300 pounds more) can touch the powertrain on today's entry-level Macan S, which arrives with a standard twin-turbocharged V6, dual-clutch (PDK) gearbox, six-piston front calipers and 19-inch alloys in staggered sizes, the latter of which can be good for performance but may be irksome come rotation or replacement time. Most of those are firsts for the segment.
  • Track time was configured as a lead-follow event, behind a Cayman piloted by a talented Porsche Sport Driving School instructor. Although most would believe the sports car would leave a much larger crossover eating its dust (of course, its lap times were quicker), the Macan S wasn't far off the coupe's pace. The 4,112-pound crossover (the S model is about 130 pounds lighter than the Macan Turbo), with electronics configured in Sport Plus mode for aggressive track duty, made excellent use of its PASM and PTV Plus on the tight circuit. The standard all-wheel-drive system is shared with the automaker's 911 Carrera 4, meaning the Macan S genuinely behaves like a sports car, clawing its way around each corner with minimal body roll. With four very active contact patches, I was able to actually pull out of the corners quicker than the fleeing rear-wheel-drive Cayman. I tossed and threw this crossover around at ridiculously fast speeds and it maintained its composure in spectacular manner.
  • The twin-turbocharged V6 and PDK twin-clutch gearbox deserve praise, too. The engine generates plenty of torque down low, and it doesn't mind running up to its 6,700-rpm redline. The transmission operates in lightning-quick fashion when the Sport Plus button is engaged, and it intuitively downshifts into turns and holds its gear when tenaciously cornering. This Porsche would never be even my tenth choice as a track car – it's still too big and heavy – but it has the capability to really scoot when prodded. "Mechanically sound" and "technically brilliant" – two phrases I'd use to describe the on-track performance of the Macan S.
  • To prove itself equally as capable off-road, Porsche later led us up a short, but challenging, dirt trail in the mountains surrounding the track. Despite rolling on high-performance Continental summer tires that lacked aggressive tread blocks, the determined Macan S used its electronically controlled all-wheel drive system to slowly creep up some very steep inclines (there's no low range transfer case, so the traction control automatically brakes a spinning wheel to send power to the axle with the most grip). Hill Descent Control worked its magic on the way down. Ground clearance seemed to be the limiting factor, as expected, but my tester was able to use its air suspension to raise the chassis and gain some additional space beneath its rails when the going got tough. I'd personally choose something less expensive to scrape and dent on the Rubicon (a Jeep Wrangler comes to mind, or even a Cherokee or Grand Cherokee), but the outing on the loose trails convinced me that the Macan S has billy goat genes beneath its slick bodywork.
  • A day behind the wheel of the entry-level Macan S demonstrated that Porsche has raised the dynamics bar in the compact crossover segment, much as it did with the Cayenne a decade ago, delivering a model that is competent and comfortable on the street and extraordinarily capable (maybe unnecessarily so?) on track and dirt. It remains to be seen how many people will pony up this sort of money for a compact CUV, but so far, the Range Rover Evoque has proven to be a masterstroke for Land Rover, which suggests that the Macan could be a huge success. In any case, Porsche's new baby leaves the less-costly BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK and the Audi SQ5 chasing taillights and inhaling dust – at least until we see each of them answering the new challenge.

Vital Stats

Engine:
Twin-Turbo 3.0L V6
Power:
340 HP / 339 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed DCT
Base Price:
$50,895
As-Tested Price:
$69,870

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL / Porsche

GM gives China 7-seat minivan, still won't offer MPV in US

Posted Jul 31st 2014 11:30AM

Baojun 730

General Motors and its Chinese joint-venture partners, SAIC and Wuling, have announced a new seven-passenger minivan for the world's most populous country.

Called the Baojun 730, the budget-minded people mover will be available in four trims (Standard, Comfort, Luxury and 1.8 Comfort) and with two available engines. The base mill is a 1.5- liter four-cylinder, which GM says was developed specifically for "economy passenger vehicles." Although mum is the word on power, it can return impressive fuel economy, netting 7.1 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (33.1 miles per gallon). The other engine is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, although there's not a lick of info available on it. Regardless of engines, the sole transmission is of the five-speed manual variety.

Considering its primary purpose is to haul people and stuff, the 730's three rows of seats look reasonably spacious for a vehicle that rides on a mere 108-inch wheel base. There's no word on total passenger volume, although GM claims that even with seven passengers, there's nearly 12 cubic feet of cargo room.

Despite its status as an economy entry, there is a reasonable level of connectivity in the 730. An eight-inch touchscreen looks to be running some form of Chevrolet's MyLink system, while USB and Bluetooth connectivity will also be available. Cruise control, a backup camera and dual-zone climate control – relative rarities on a budget Chinese MPV – are also available.

Scroll down for the full press release from SAIC-GM-Wuling.
Related GalleryBaojun 730
Baojun 730Baojun 730Baojun 730Baojun 730Baojun 730Baojun 730Baojun 730Baojun 730

Aston Martin crafts one-off equestrian-themed DB9 Volante

Posted Jul 31st 2014 11:01AM

Aston Martin DB9 Volante Equestrian Edition

Ask most people what kind of cars Aston Martin makes and they'll probably tell you it makes sports cars. But it doesn't. No, Aston Martin actually makes luxury GTs that focus at least as much on fine craftsmanship as they do on outright performance. In other words, any Aston Martin – from the 'entry level' V8 Vantage to the flagship Vanquish – packs an unrivaled attention to detail. But for those looking for that extra measure of exclusivity and intricacy, there's Q by Aston Martin. And this is its latest project.

Similar to the Ferrari Tailor Made program, Lamborghini Ad Personam, Porsche Exclusive or Rolls-Royce Bespoke, Q by Aston Martin is dedicated to meeting the specific needs of individual customers who want their luxury GT crafted just so.

We've seen several specially crafted and eye-catching Q projects at auto shows around the world, created to showcase what the division can do. This one was commissioned by a dealership in Los Gatos, CA. Starting with a DB9 Volante, the Q division gave it an equestrian theme with saddle tan leather with diamond-quilted ivory Alcantara trim, light burlwood veneer, specially-embroidered horse-head logos and saddle-style luggage fitted to the rear console. The exterior is finished in Ashen Blonde metallic with ten-spoke diamond-turned wheels in satin champagne and Howlite stone-inlaid logos.

This one-off DB9 will be auctioned off at the Menlo Charity Horse Show, held August 5-10 at the Menlo Circus Club in Atherton, CA, with proceeds to benefit the Vista Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired.

News Source: Aston Martin

US service members losing track of their cars during shipment

Posted Jul 31st 2014 10:30AM

PORT SECURITY

The upheaval that comes with being reassigned across the globe is an issue that many military families are forced to face. We know it's tough on families, but did you know that it's increasingly difficult on the vehicles of service members and their spouses? A change in contractors for automotive shipments is making the process of relocating to a new base an even bigger challenge for soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

Military.com reports on the issues, which have arisen a few months after the Department of Defense brought in a new vehicle-shipping contractor, International Auto Logistics. Significant others and service members complain that IAL's online tracking system is often incorrect. That might be tolerable, were it possible to get a hold of an actual human being to locate a vehicle, but even that is being made difficult due to unanswered phone lines and full voicemails. That's left those waiting on their vehicles fed up.

A Facebook group has sprung up to catalog the complaints. "International Auto Logistics: Reviews, Complaints and Inconveniences" was just formed last week and it only has 275 members, but that hasn't stopped dozens of complaints from popping up on the group's wall, while others are looking for advice on navigating the IAL shipping minefield.

The company's president and CEO, meanwhile, blamed the issues on a "perfect storm," according to Military.com.

"It's not an excuse, but we started at the busiest time of the year," Doug Tipton told the website. IAL was originally supposed to start shipping vehicles during a slow season – late fall – so that any bugs in the system could be squashed before the busier summer months. Instead, the former contractor, American Auto Logistics, contested the $305-million contract, delaying the IAL's takeover from the end of last year to May 1.

On top of that, Tipton said the company was overwhelmed by the call volume from customers who wanted to know where their vehicles were at, an issue confounded by the hiring of new employees who lacked adequate training time.

"It has been a little rough around the edges starting up, but we're getting better every day," Tipton said.

While that should prove to be good news for servicemen and women who are yet to ship their vehicles, for those that haven't seen their rides since May (which is a fair few, considering the Facebook page), it's becoming increasingly difficult to be patient with IAL.

News Source: Military.com

Image Credit: Mike Derer / AP

Consumer Reports calls on Toyota to recall older Camry Hybrid models

Posted Jul 31st 2014 10:01AM

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Consumer Reports is calling on Toyota to issue an official recall of 178,000 Camry Hybrid sedans from model years 2007 to 2011, claiming that a pair of issues affecting the brakes are so dire they demand a more official action than what the company has undertaken so far.

The first issue, as CR tells it, relates to a clog in the brake-fluid reservoir filter, which if left untreated could lead to a number of dashboard warning lights. The "front brake assist could be temporarily lost," too, according to Toyota's own notice to dealers and owners of affected models. The company has issued a "service campaign" that will fit a new brake-fluid reservoir free of charge to any affected model brought to a dealer by June 30, 2017.

The other issue plaguing the fuel-sipping Camrys is being treated via a warranty extension, and focuses on the ABS brake actuator, a particularly expensive (both in terms of parts, at $1,000, and labor, around $3,000) item that is necessary for the anti-lock braking to function. There's also a related issue with the brake pedal's "stroke sensor," which like the actuator can lead to a very difficult-to-depress brake pedal. The warranty extension increases the coverage of the actuator to 10 years or 150,000 miles (whichever comes first).

While both the service campaign and the warranty extension were prompted by a number of complaints and an investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only the 2007 and 2008 models were investigated. Toyota broadened the scope of the issues, including 2009 to 2011 models, when it announced the service campaign and warranty extension. Despite the company's actions, CR claims that as of this writing, the 2007 and 2008 Camry Hybrids have still managed to rack up 269 complaints, with 14 reported crashes and five injuries.

CR ends its bit, arguing that the nature of these issues and the effects they can have on the way a vehicle behaves warrant an even greater action, saying:

"We think Toyota's proper action would be a recall. Greatly diminished brake function is a serious safety concern. A recall is more comprehensive and widely published than a mere service campaign, and owners don't have to wait for a problem to happen before qualifying for the repair. Besides that, unlike extended warranties, recalls don't expire and are performed proactively."

Thoughts? If NHTSA didn't demand a recall, do you still think the issues are dire enough to demand one? Could (or should) Toyota satisfy CR's demands by stepping up the information campaign regarding the warranty extension and service campaign? Have your say in Comments.
Related Gallery2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid
2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid

News Source: Consumer Reports

Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car presages for-sale customer racecar

Posted Jul 31st 2014 9:30AM

Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car

Rallying may enjoy a very strong association with all-wheel drive, but it wasn't so long ago that the World Rally Championship was populated by cars that slipped and slid across gravel and tarmac using rear-wheel drive. One of those was the Toyota Celica. While the little Celica eventually joined the gravel-spewing masses with an all-wheel-drive rally car, Toyota is returning to its rear-drive rally roots with a modified version of the critically acclaimed GT86.

Called the CS-R3, the new model boasts all the necessary changes to turn the diminutive twin of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ into a car capable of tackling the tough, twisting paths that are so routinely conquered by the world's rally cars. That means, of course, the CS-R3 has gotten a power bump.

Expected output sits between 240 and 250 horsepower, thanks to a new racing exhaust and manifold, as well as other changes. The ECU has been replaced with an item a bit more suited to racing, while the compression ratio has also been adjusted to boost the output.

Power continues to travel to the rear wheels, although a six-speed sequential racing box, complete with a racing clutch and a lightweight flywheel, has replaced the GT86's six-speed manual. The brakes, meanwhile, are 13-inchers in front and 11.8 inches in back on tarmac stages, while gravel stages demand 11.8-inch rotors at all four corners. Regardless of brake disc size, four-piston front calipers and two-piston rears are standard.

While Toyota is debuting this car at the 2014 Rallye Deutschland, it's not going to be racing there. Instead, the event will serve as the "pathfinder" car for the rally, and will tackle each course with an eye on safety, ahead of the actual WRC cars.

Toyota has already committed to offering the CS-R3 as a customer option, promising that it will be a "cost-effective option."

"It's important to say that the GT86 CS-R3 which Isolde [that's Isolde Holderied, a two-time women's WRC champ] will drive is not the finished article; we need the data from Rallye Deutschland to finalize our development program," Nico Ehlert, Toyota Motorsport's principal engineer for customer motorsports. "But it does represent a significant step in the GT86 CS-R3 story and gives a clear indication to our future customers that this project is progressing quickly."

Scroll down for the full press release from Toyota.

Outstanding auto loans total higher than ever

Posted Jul 31st 2014 8:58AM

Massive Ignition Switch Recall Weighs Heavy On GM's Profits

It looks like Americans are feeling more confident about borrowing money again, at least when it comes to their cars. Credit reporting giant Equifax has released its latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report, and the data suggests that auto lending is booming in 2014.

The total amount of outstanding auto loans in the US amounted to $902.2 billion in the company's analysis. Not only was that a new record, it was also a 10-percent increase from a year ago. "Auto lending continues to thrive, accounting for more than fifty percent of all new non-mortgage lending through April of 2014," said Dennis Carlson, Deputy Chief Economist at Equifax, in the study.

The results mixed some bright spots with some seemingly worrying trends following the recent subprime credit crisis, though. According to the report, year-to-date new auto loans as of April 2014 reached $163.5 billion, the highest amount since 2005, and the number of them in that period was also at record levels. According to Carlson, the amount of delinquencies was at near-record lows of less than 1 percent of that $902 billion.

"Subprime lending has grown across all sectors in 2014. This is good news as a fully functioning second-chance market is essential for a healthy economy," said Carlson in the study. Auto loans to these buyers reached $46.2 billion year-to-date, an eight-year high, which made them about 28 percent of the total loan balance from this year.

The rest of the report indicated a strong credit market elsewhere too. Banks issued more credit cards, and overdue accounts were at a five-year low. The total amount in mortgages was actually down from last year, but delinquencies were lower as well. Want to know more? Scroll down.

News Source: Equifax

Image Credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Tesla, Panasonic officially partner up for Gigafactory

Posted Jul 31st 2014 8:29AM

Tesla Gigafactory rendering

The first of perhaps 'hundreds' of gigafactories is now one step closer to reality: Tesla and Panasonic have announced their official agreement to work together on the gigafactory. The two companies have worked together for many years on electric vehicles, but this new deal takes the partnership to a whole new level.

The basic gist, since the agreement itself has not been released, is that Tesla will take care of the exterior (the "land, buildings and utilities") while Panasonic will pay for the machines inside in order to, "manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells" that Tesla will then use to, you know, build battery packs. Panasonic's machines will take up half the space while a network of as-yet unnamed suppliers will be involved in the other half, according to the press release announcing the deal. Read it below.

There's been lots of speculation as to where the Gigafactory will be built, but the exact location probably won't be revealed until later this year, so don't expect any battery packs from the Gigafactory to be coming any time soon. That's why Panasonic is still going to be building Tesla cells in Japan for the time being.

As previously announced, the Gigafactory is expected to make batteries for around 500,000 EVs a year as well as more for stationary storage needs. That means 35 GWh worth of cells and 50 GWh worth of packs each year by 2020. We expect more information to trickle out today along with Tesla's quarterly earnings.

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