Auto News for Feb. 23

 New vehicle sales are expected to increase 8.1 percent this month over one year ago when the upper East Coast, Midwest and Texas were experiencing some severe weather, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. While demand for compact cars is on a bump upward, market share for cars is only at 42 percent, the lowest level on record for the month of February as consumers prefer crossovers and SUV’s. “Consumers seem to be shrugging off the volatility in the stock market and higher interest rates,” to increase sales said Jeff Schuster, senior VP of forecasting at J.D. Power.

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 Rolls Royce announced this morning that the current Phantom is entering the “last stages” of production. Rolls has begun testing an all-new and lighter aluminum architecture that will underpin every future model from early 2018. The Phantom Coupe and Drophead Coupe models will not be renewed in the future. But the Phantom will go out with the proper British touch – 50 special edition models called the Phantom Zenith will mark the end of the 13 year model run. The drawing indicates what those models will might look like.  

 The Takata airbag recall is hardly over. Safety regulators are said to be considering an even bigger recall of up to 90 million air bag inflators, according to Reuters. That is a sharp increase over the 29 million inflators recalled so far. The total number of affected vehicles has yet to be determined, Reuters said, because many have more than one inflator, and not always from Takata.

 While not giving a lot of details, Ford CEO Mark Fields said the automaker will triple its engineering investment in driver assist and semi-autonomous vehicle technology over the next five years. He commented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain where Ford also revealed up updated Kuga, a small car sold in Europe. “As we look to the future, it is clear we are on the cusp of a revolution in mobility – from car sharing to autonomous driving to the customer experience,” Fields said. “Technology and innovation provide us with the opportunity to address these trends and make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves.”

 A former head of Ferrari’s Formula One team, Stefano Domenicali, has been named as the new president and CEO at Lamborghini. He replaces Stephan Winkelmann who will head up the Quattro division at Audi. Domenicali has worked at both Audi and Formula One. During his time in the executive suite, Winkelmann doubled Lamborghini sales and played a key role in getting the brand to offer an SUV, yes a Lambo SUV, called the Urus that is said to be close to production.

 

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