Auto News for Jan. 15

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Ford and Life360 are backing a new app that will tell family and friends when someone is behind the wheel, and encourage them not to text that person until they receive a follow up message when the driver is no longer operating the vehicle. It will also allow drivers to check the latest location of family members.

Google is in talks with automakers and suppliers regarding self-driving cars. “At some point, we’re going to be looking to find partners to build complete vehicles, and bring that technology to market,” said Chris Urmson, director of self-driving cars at Google. He said that day will dawn when the technology is “safe and ready.” Urmson was interviewed by Automotive News.

A report from J.D. Power concludes that even with low gas prices, fuel economy is “the most influential factor” among the majority of new vehicle shoppers. Fourteen percent of new vehicle owners cited gas mileage as the most important factor in the company’s poll. Power said that consumers know that “the cost of fuel will likely increase during the time they own their vehicle.” Exterior look/design is the top reason consumers avoid a particular vehicle followed by cost and interior design. The poll was conducted among 30,000 owners.

GM is reporting a second consecutive year for record global sales, this time totaling 9.9 vehicles. But it trailed VW in that department, with Toyota yet to report.

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