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Automotive Veteran John Krafcik Looks To Accelerate Autonomous Vehicle Development

We look at how Google's hiring of automotive executing John Krafcik could affect the future of autonomous vehicles. Autoblog's Mylencia Gillenwaters reports on this edition of Autoblog Minute.

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Look for disappointing August sales figures next week, but try not to worry too much – September will likely be dynamite.

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TrueCar founder Scott Painter will step down as CEO of the car-shopping company by the end of the year. He will remain there as chairman of the board of directors. The business is now looking for a replacement.

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With gas prices down, that means green car sales are likely to decline as well. TrueCar's TrueSavings report has the evidence to support that idea, with one electric car and two hybrids among the top five in January for the biggest transaction price savings compared to MSRP.

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Now there's an attention-grabbing headline, eh? Although the answer to the riddle - pickup trucks and SUVs - might be somehow deflating, the numbers involved deserve a going over. According to TrueCar's figures (click on the table to enlarge), six of the year's ten best-selling vehicles in the US that sell for a transaction price above $50,000 are body-on-frame, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the only foreigner to crack the top five.

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"For sure, these two companies have a natural attraction to each other." –John Krafcik

Between declining gas prices and an improving economy, full-size pickup sales in the US are up 6.5 percent year to date and represent the best-selling vehicle line in two-thirds of US states, according to TrueCar. And the economy is a rising tide of sorts for most vehicle sectors, as gas-powered vehicle prices are up $770 during the past year.

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John Krafcik, who stepped down at the beginning of this year from his role as president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, has just been announced as the new president of online car shopping website TrueCar. The news comes on the heels of an announcement, less than a month ago, that Krafcik was joining the board of directors at TrueCar.

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As hundreds of people gathered to watch the unveiling of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata at the New York Auto Show on Wednesday, John Krafcik, a driving force behind the new vehicle, found himself in a peculiar position.

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Former Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik has had a tumultuous year. Last June, he won the Automotive Executive of the Year from DNV Business Assurance. Then in December, he suddenly announced he was stepping down from his leadership role at the Korean automaker on January 1, with some suggesting it was because the company's sales growth was too far below forecasts. Now, it looks like the exec has landed a new role on the board of directors of online car shopping website TrueCar.

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TrueCar and automotive dealerships just can't seem to stay out of the spotlight. An investigation is underway by the Federal Trade Commission into a number of dealers that stand accused of "agreeing to refuse to deal with TrueCar," according to an FTC letter obtained by Automotive News. The alleged collusion, which would violate federal competition laws, has triggered a non-public investigation that has had many dealerships, and TrueCar itself, served with letters demanding documents.

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TrueCar is getting bashed in both traditional and social media venues over a 30-second ad that's gone viral due to what some perceive as sexist overtones. The ad features a number of women talking about using TrueCar for their latest vehicular purchase, and how the website takes the "anxiety" out of buying a car. It ends with the line, "I don't need to bring a dude with me."

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Former NBA great Shaquille O'Neal retired with a career scoring average of 23.7 points per game. And like Shaq's scoring average, the new-vehicle fleetwide fuel economy mpg number doesn't want to budge, either.

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As the Beatles succinctly put it: "It's getting better all the time." That's how we can characterize US new-vehicle fleetwide fuel economy, which last month marked the third straight in which US new vehicles set an all-time record for fuel economy.

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Fuel efficiency gains for new vehicles sold in the US were in a bit of a holding pattern last month, according to a new report from TrueCar. Fleetwide fuel efficiency for new US light-duty vehicles in September rose 5.5 percent compared to 2011 figures, but remained the same as August 2012 figures.

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Despite a spike in gasoline prices, car sales are on track to continue their stable growth, and this September could end up being the best September since 2007.

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Perhaps the most frustrating thing about being mired in the 99% is that due to the prevalence of reality-distorting TV and the booming personal security business, we really have no idea what it's like to be Mitt Romney, Donald Trump or one of the Koch brothers. At least in the olden days, we plebs could point and stare, mouths agape as the robber barons rode through city streets in their jewel-encrusted carriages. But today? Good luck catching a glimpse of Trump's platinum-dipped Maybach or the

Breaking

Chevrolet will let owners return new cars, trucks or crossovers if not satisfied in 60 days

Lots of car buyers understand remorse. It's that moment after the excitement wears off from buying a new car. Now, you realize, you have to pay for it.