Auto News for Jan. 6

The short take on 2015 auto sales is this: More cars and trucks were sold than at any time in the history of the industry. That totals 17.47 million. Auto maker after auto maker reported record results as the low price of gasoline, reasonable interest rates along with good consumer confidence helped drive lots of consumers to auto showrooms. One expert told the Detroit Free Press, “It’s a great time to be in the automobile business …”

Detroit Concept Teaser #1

In an effort to keep the pot boiling, Kia released a teaser picture of a concept car that it will unveil at the Detroit show next week. Kia said it suggests the styling of possible future premium large SUV’s. It is said to include “state-of-the-art health and wellness technology.” We will have more on Monday. Kia also announced the creation of a sub brand called “DRIVE WISE” – a test bed for partially autonomous cars of the future. It has been granted permission to test them in Nevada.

Autodesk VRED Professional 2014 SR1-SP7

Volkswagen gave us a look at the “BUDD-e” a zero emissions plug in electric concept (bus?) with a range, it claims, of up to 373 miles. On board computer gizmos are said to turn “travel into a fully interactive, intuitive experience” that allow occupants to “seamlessly communicate with their Smart Home or office”. Volks said it demonstrates what electric mobility could be like by the year 2019.

BMW CES

Kia and Volks are hoping all this attracts attention at the Consumer Electronics show in Vegas. That’s where BMW is talking up the “i Vision Future Interaction” concept that it said provides a look at the networked cockpit and user interface of the future. That includes hand gesture recognition, an instrument cluster with three dimension display and 21-inch panorama display. There are three drive modes ranging from drive it yourself to highly automated operation. There’s a lot more, but my eye stopped at “Bumper Detect” that identifies whether the owner’s car has been bumped and activates the vehicle camera while sending a message to the driver’s smart phone. It also recognizes whether unauthorized persons are tampering with the vehicle.

Also at the CES, Ford announced it will triple its autonomous vehicle development fleet, and is developing ways to pair SYNC equipped vehicles globally with home automation devices or smart home products. Drivers would be able to communicate with home security systems, TVs, garage doors and lights. And with DJI, Ford is working to create drone-to-vehicle communications using SYNC. This would, for example, allow first responders to earthquakes or tsunamis to quickly deploy drones to survey and map the hardest hit areas from the cab of an F-150.

Elsewhere:

Two men kidnapped an auto salesman in Houston during a test drive and forced him at gun point into the trunk and then sped away. When they stopped the salesman pressed the safety latch inside the trunk and escaped as the two men drove off only to crash the new car after a police chase. The two suspects fled the scene, and as of this writing, remain at large.

To close as I opened, here are the top 10 selling vehicles in the U.S. last year. Many will seem familiar.

  1. Ford F-150.
  2. Chevy Silverado
  3. Dodge Ram
  4. Toyota Camry
  5. Toyota Corolla/Matrix
  6. Honda Accord
  7. Honda CR-V
  8. Honda Civic
  9. Nissan Altima
  10. Toyota RAV4
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