In US, a total of 38 cars earn IIHS ‘top safety pick’ status
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US has said that it has stiffened the criteria for its highest safety honors—the “Top Safety Pick Plus” label—with the toughening of standards for headlight performance.

So far, only 38 models from the 2017 model year achieved the top score, down from 79 among 2016 models, IIHS has reported. About 200 models were tracked by the agency.

“We’ve raised the bar,” IIHS president Adrian Lund said in an interview. “Automakers have not focused enough attention on whether or not headlamps are aimed such that they light up the road for the driver ahead of them.”

While some luxury vehicles have fancy headlights that shift with the curvature of the road to help provide better illumination, they don’t always work better than the plain old-fashioned kind, Lund said. Many headlights are failing to provide adequate nighttime visibility or causing too much glare.

“Some lights with the newer technology are not doing as good of a job as older headlights,” Lund said.

For 2017, Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus led all manufacturers with nine models earning the Top Safety Pick Plus designation. This includes the Corolla, the Prius, the Camry, the RAV4, and the Lexus NX and RX.

Honda and its luxury brand Acura were second among manufacturers with five vehicles on the list, including the Pilot.

Of the six largest manufacturers, only Ford was shut out from having models with the highest designation.

Only a pickup truck earned the highest honor, and that was the new Honda Ridgeline.

The complete list for small cars: Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, and Toyota Corolla and Prius.

Midsize cars: Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima and Maxima, Subaru Legacy and Outback, Toyota Camry and Prius V, and Volkswagen Jetta.

Midsize luxury cars: Audi A4, Lexus ES350, and Volvo S60 and V60.

Large luxury cars: Genesis G80 and G90, and Lexus RC.

Small SUVs: Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4.

Midsize SUVs: Honda Pilot and Hyundai Santa Fe.

Midsize luxury SUVs: Acura MDX and RDX, Audi Q5, Buick Envision, Lexus NX and RX, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, and Volvo XC60.

Minivans: Chrysler Pacifica.

Large pickups: Honda Ridgeline.

Ford leads all automakers in number of patents for 2016
Ford Motor Company registered 1,442 patents this year for a 25% increase from 2015. It had the most patents this year among the largest automakers in the United States.

Date compiled by the US Patent and Trademark Office showed Toyota was second with 1,368 patents granted so far this year, followed by General Motors at 1,131 and Honda at 1,011.

Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president for product development and chief technology officer, attributed the increase to his company’s push to develop more semi- and fully autonomous technologies as Ford and its competitors position themselves for shared-vehicle mobility.

“We are living the innovation mindset in all parts of our business across the globe,” Nair said in a press release. “Our employees are delivering exciting new technologies for our customers at record levels.”

The Dearborn-based automaker was granted 1,700 more patents in other countries, bringing the total to more than 3,100 patents granted worldwide this year.

One of those patents was granted for an invention that equips autonomous vehicles with drones. The system deploys a drone from an autonomous vehicle to map the surrounding area beyond what vehicle sensors can see. Passengers can then control the drone using the car’s infotainment or navigation system.

Another one was for the Ford eChair, a feature that could make life easier for wheelchair users. Developed by engineers at Ford’s Lommel proving grounds in Belgium, the lightweight electric-powered eChair can load itself into a car.

Report: Daimler CEO boasts company will become this year’s largest luxury carmaker

According to a report by Reuters, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has made a claim that his company will emerge as 2016’s number one (and also most profitable) luxury carmaker.

The executive was quoted as saying that they will achieve it “four years ahead of time.”

And like a bitterly slighted NBA player with the ego of LeBron James—okay, like LeBron James—he recalled that everyone laughed at him when he first announced the target back in 2011. Hah!

Reuters added that based on Zetsche’s calculations, Mercedes-Benz (Daimler’s brand, silly) will overtake rivals Audi and BMW with over two million sold units. Who’s laughing now?

In China, there’s an exciting sales race between Honda and Toyota
As in many parts of the globe, Toyota traditionally beats fellow Japanese carmaker Honda in China when it comes to sales. But that streak may well come to a halt in 2016. Reuters reports that for year-to-date sales from January to November this year, Honda has outsold Toyota by a proud (but totally beatable) 14,500 units.

The period has included a triumphant spell of nine straight months of double-digit sales growth for Honda, according to Reuters. The company looks on track to hit its adjusted target of 1.18 million units for the year.

Toyota, on the other hand, was short by 50,000 units in hitting its January-December ambition of 1.15 million units.

Oh, by the way, this puny sales contest between Honda and Toyota is not for the number one spot in the Chinese market. Oh, no. In the PRC, General Motors and Volkswagen reign supreme, moving some 3.6 million units each in 2015.

Work harder, carmakers of Japan.


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