Carmaker Alliance Sets Up $200 Million Start-Up Fund

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is setting up a $200 million venture fund to invest in new mobility tech startup, according to reports (Reuters). The fund will be 40% financed by Renault, 40% by Nissan and 20% by Mitsubishi.

The new mobility tech fund due to be unveiled by Chief executive Carlos Ghosn at the CES tech industry show in Las Vegas next month will allow the auto alliance to move fast on acquisitions ahead of their competition.

Consumers’ new habit of favoring specialized vehicles designed for very specific needs instead of the all-purpose cars of today will lead to a decline in private-car ownership. The increasing speed of innovation, especially in software-based systems will further increase demand for upgradeability in privately used cars. Connectivity, alongside autonomous technology, will further allow cars to become a platform for passengers to use their time in transit freed up to productive activities.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi fund is being set up as a Dutch-registered joint venture headed by Francois Dossa. Renault has made investments including Marcel, a car-sharing platform based out of Paris, and Jedlix, a Dutch smart vehicle-charging technology maker. Renault’s investment arm took control of failed on-demand taxi-hailing app Karhoo to relaunch the business under new management.

Ready for a Glow?

A glow-in-the-dark car that is! In Europe, Nissan is testing a glow-in-the-dark paint on their electric Nissan Leaf. This is what the Victor crew found out:

It’s a coating that absorbs the sun’s rays during the day and will continue to glow 8 to 10 hours after the sun goes down. Although not the first to try this, they believe their paint will last 25 years. The paint itself has a rough feel to it.

Last year, Nissan demonstrated a “self-cleaning” car. It was a special paint that would allow dirt and grease to simply fall off in sheets as it is drives.

Joe Victor

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/02/17/nissan-glow-cars/23537869/

Remove “Wash Car” from Your To-Do List … Forever!

Well, Jody, that might be a slight hyperbole; however, it is true Nissan is testing a unique paint coating that may allow you to check “wash car” off your honey-do list forever. Developed by UltraTech International, Inc. even with its gimmicky name, “Ultra-Ever Dry,” the technology looks pretty cool and could be a boon for non-car enthusiasts who view their vehicles as merely a means of conveyance and not a something to labor over lovingly.

Nissan likely has a winner on their hands as they have smartly been testing it on a car for non-car people, a Note hatch-back.

Nissan describes the coating as: “super-hydrophobic and oleophobic”. In other words after the coating is applied it should instantly repel dirt, water and more. Nissan adds that this will probably not be a standard feature, but will be made available as an extra—like buying a lifetime supply of car washes in advance. No word yet on how much the coating may cost.
Nissan has even provided an amusing video about the product.

Visit the Car & Driver blog for more information.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor: 10 Best Values In Used Cars, 2012

If you are in the market for a used car, you may have trouble finding one. Here’s Jody Victor® telling us about it from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger.

Jody Victor®: Hey, Joe, sometimes a used car is the way to go, no matter what kind of vehicle you are looking for. But since the Great Recession, used cars have not been around – people are hanging on to their older cars longer. Here’s a list, in two parts, from msn.com  that will give you something to go on.

2008 Hyundai Sonata GLS

Price when new: $19,545 (automatic)
Dealer used price: $9,902
Private-party price: $8,731
Certified used price: $11,480
MPG (city/hwy): 21/30

Hyundai’s Sonata offers a thrifty 2.4-liter engine, standard stability control and six airbags. Plus, it keeps ownership costs low — the brand’s 5-year/60,000-miles new-car warranty and five-year no-charge roadside assistance transfer to new owners (they get the remainder of both). The famed 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, however, doesn’t transfer.

2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5i sedan

Price when new: $18,190
Dealer used price: $12,191
Private-party price: $10,967
Certified used price: $12,859
MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

Engaging driving dynamics and Subaru’s always-standard all-wheel drive are only part of the Impreza’s appeal. It garnered a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS and has side and side-curtain airbags. If a collision causes the front airbags to deploy, smart technology protects the driver and front-seat passenger. Sensors measure the driver’s proximity to the steering wheel, as well as the passenger’s weight (to determine whether a child or an adult is occupying the seat), and adjust the airbags’ force accordingly.

2009 Chevrolet Malibu 1LT

Price when new: $23,225
Dealer used price: $13,114
Private-party price: $11,937
Certified used price: $14,141
MPG (city/hwy): 22/33

With its 2008 redesign, the Malibu garnered a lot of accolades: Kiplinger’s Best New Car and Best in Class awards were just a cherry topping to the industry’s prestigious North American Car of the Year award. But to play it safe, we recommend buying a redesigned vehicle in the second year of production — the first year’s examples often have kinks to work out. For 2009, stability control became standard across the trim lineup, along with side and side-curtain airbags.

2009 Nissan Rogue S

Price when new: $21,020
Dealer used price: $14,971
Private-party price: $13,435
Certified used price: $16,123
MPG (city/hwy): 22/27

After a 2008 redesign, when we named it Best New Small Crossover, the Rogue ascended to Kiplinger’s Best in Class award for 2009. Its stylish exterior complements the value it holds inside — including a peppy 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, stability and traction control, and six airbags. Plus, it was rated a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.

2008 Honda CR-V LX

Price when new: $21,370
Dealer used price: $15,135
Private-party price: $14,089
Certified used price: $16,402
MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

A perennial Kiplinger’s Best New and Best Used pick, the CR-V keeps its value throughout its lifespan. It boasts fuel economy on par with a midsize sedan, but it has more than twice the cargo capacity (36 cubic feet behind the rear seats). Its standard stability control and six airbags helped win it a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars IV

Want a vehicle with the fewest annoying problems? I asked Jody Victor®  to finish up his list based on a survey of customer satisfaction in the first 90 days from J.D. Power and Associates.

Jody Victor®: Here we go! The last installment from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of msn.com.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run.

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them all out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 IV

For our final installment, Jody Victor®  has saved the best til’ last. Here he is with the rest of the best quality cars for 2012 from J.D. Power and Associates.

Jody Victor®: I think you may be right, Joe. There’s some great all-around vehicles in this last part from an article by Cliffor Atiyeh of  msn.com.

Top Large Crossover/SUV: Ford Expedition

This is a weird choice, considering that the Expedition has been long forgotten in the Ford lineup in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs. For its sheer towing capacity, living-room size and brute strength, it’s hard to argue with an Expedition or its luxury cousin, the Lincoln Navigator. We’d like to think that better, more modern V8-powered 3-row SUVs are available.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run.

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

 Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check some of these out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 10 Best Values In Used Cars, 2012

If you are in the market for a new car, you may want to consider a used car instead. In keeping with this idea, I asked Jody Victor®  to give us some used car suggestions.

Jody Victor®: Hey, Joe, you might have hit on something there. A good used car can save you money and you may be able to afford a fancier car than you would have new. Here’s a few suggestions from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kipplinger and msn.com  in 2 parts.

2008 Hyundai Sonata GLS

Price when new: $19,545 (automatic)
Dealer used price: $9,902
Private-party price: $8,731
Certified used price: $11,480
MPG (city/hwy): 21/30

Hyundai’s Sonata offers a thrifty 2.4-liter engine, standard stability control and six airbags. Plus, it keeps ownership costs low — the brand’s 5-year/60,000-miles new-car warranty and five-year no-charge roadside assistance transfer to new owners (they get the remainder of both). The famed 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, however, doesn’t transfer.

2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5i sedan

Price when new: $18,190
Dealer used price: $12,191
Private-party price: $10,967
Certified used price: $12,859
MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

Engaging driving dynamics and Subaru’s always-standard all-wheel drive are only part of the Impreza’s appeal. It garnered a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS and has side and side-curtain airbags. If a collision causes the front airbags to deploy, smart technology protects the driver and front-seat passenger. Sensors measure the driver’s proximity to the steering wheel, as well as the passenger’s weight (to determine whether a child or an adult is occupying the seat), and adjust the airbags’ force accordingly.

2009 Chevrolet Malibu 1LT

Price when new: $23,225
Dealer used price: $13,114
Private-party price: $11,937
Certified used price: $14,141
MPG (city/hwy): 22/33

With its 2008 redesign, the Malibu garnered a lot of accolades: Kiplinger’s Best New Car and Best in Class awards were just a cherry topping to the industry’s prestigious North American Car of the Year award. But to play it safe, we recommend buying a redesigned vehicle in the second year of production — the first year’s examples often have kinks to work out. For 2009, stability control became standard across the trim lineup, along with side and side-curtain airbags.

2009 Nissan Rogue S

Price when new: $21,020
Dealer used price: $14,971
Private-party price: $13,435
Certified used price: $16,123
MPG (city/hwy): 22/27

After a 2008 redesign, when we named it Best New Small Crossover, the Rogue ascended to Kiplinger’s Best in Class award for 2009. Its stylish exterior complements the value it holds inside — including a peppy 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, stability and traction control, and six airbags. Plus, it was rated a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.

2008 Honda CR-V LX

Price when new: $21,370
Dealer used price: $15,135
Private-party price: $14,089
Certified used price: $16,402
MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

A perennial Kiplinger’s Best New and Best Used pick, the Honda CR-V keeps its value throughout its lifespan. It boasts fuel economy on par with a midsize sedan, but it has more than twice the cargo capacity (36 cubic feet behind the rear seats). Its standard stability control and six airbags helped win it a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 Part IV

The last group did include some of my favorites. Cant’ wait to see what Jody Victor® will include this time from an article by Clifford Atiyeh from MSN Autos and msn.com.

Jody Victor®: Yes Joe, we saved the best for last. Here is our last installment on the best of the best for 2012.

Top Large Crossover/SUV: Ford Expedition

This is a weird choice, considering that the Expedition has been long forgotten in the Ford lineup in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs. For its sheer towing capacity, living-room size and brute strength, it’s hard to argue with an Expedition or its luxury cousin, the Lincoln Navigator. We’d like to think that better, more modern V8-powered 3-row SUVs are available.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them all out!

Joe Victor

 

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Vehicles For Your City

Around the world, the city car is having a moment. Small, moderately peppy and easy-to-park models such as the Fiat 500 and Scion iQ would seem to be natural choices for the planet’s growing population of urban dwellers. I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it from an article by Erik Sofge of MSN Autos and msn.com.

Jody Victor: The United States isn’t the rest of the world, and its city drivers tend to see their cars as more than daily transportation. Instead, they’re seen as ready-to-launch escape pods, with features as useful for extreme-weather commuting as for a day trip through the local wilderness. Here are the msn.com picks for the vehicles best suited to conquering America’s biggest urban jungles, and parts thereabouts, in two parts.

City: New York | Vehicle: MINI Cooper

Don’t worry, most of our choices aren’t as obvious as this classic city car. But for the most densely packed of U.S. cities, the MINI is the inevitable choice. It’s the appropriate size for parking and for squeezing past herds of double-parked offenders, but without being golf-cart small. What it lacks in cargo space (most New Yorkers aren’t hauling around lawn fertilizer and sheets of plywood), it makes up for in retro style. Since performance is wasted on the Big Apple’s cab-choked streets and cramped highways, stick to the base 1.6-liter 121-horsepower 4-cylinder trim, possibly in a hatchback for those biennial trips to IKEA or the beach out east.

City: Los Angeles | Vehicle: Nissan Leaf SL

There are a lot of places where the Leaf isn’t worth the cost, or the hassle of finding public car-charging stations, or the stigma of driving something that makes a Prius look sexy. In L.A., none of the above apply. In a city defined by standstill traffic, the all-electric Leaf qualifies for the prized HOV sticker (standard hybrids no longer do). Finding chargers within the Leaf’s 100-mile range is easy, and the SL trim can be fast-charged, cutting refuel time exponentially. In a city brimming with sports cars, this Poindexter of a compact is sort of sexy.

City: Chicago | Vehicle: Honda CR-V

The Windy City’s drivers don’t care about a stiff breeze. Rather, the nemesis of all car-owning Chicagoans is the cratered, moonscape condition of its potholed roads, among the worst in America. This compact SUV can handle snow and slick roads, and survive year-round abuse from below. Honda’s CR-V has the all-wheel drive to handle wintry commutes, enough elevation to clear the deeper chasms and, in one of the only comprehensive studies on pothole damage, Hondas came out on top. So what if the study was based in the U.K.? Any hope is better than none.

City: Houston | Vehicle: GMC Sierra 1500 Denali

There’s nothing particularly punishing about Houston’s weather or roads — a Camry would do. But Texas is truck country, where well-appointed 4-door pickups were born to roam. The Sierra doesn’t have the towing capacity of a Ford F-150, but it’s able to pull 9,600 pounds with its 6.2-liter V8 engine, more than enough to trailer a boat down to Trinity Bay. And it’s the classiest cargo-hauler in the business, with standard Bose speakers, heated and cooled leather seats, a remote starter and other features almost too fancy for any self-respecting truck.

City: Philadelphia | Vehicle: Ford Fiesta

Warmer and less cluttered than New York, but more quintessentially American in its history, Philly deserves a city car that’s more than a little patriotic. The Ford Fiesta is our pick, a car from the one Detroit automaker that didn’t ask for federal charity, and whose financial resurgence has a lot to do with its bold new designs, including the Fiesta. The critically acclaimed compact now gets up to 40 mpg on the highway with the more aerodynamic Super Fuel Economy package and, despite its entry-level sticker price, it comes standard with a voice-activated SYNC system.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor