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Month: January 2019

Jeep kicks the tires on car-sharing and subscription services

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Jeep will play host to a three-month pilot for car sharing and a subscription service. The brand’s North American-market head, Tim Kuniskis, told the Detroit News in a report last week that both pilots kick off by the end of January on a trial basis in Boston.

Turo will power the car-sharing model and Jeep has actively searched to recruit owners to participate in the pilot program to rent their vehicles out. Turo is a platform that lists thousands of privately owned vehicles for other users to rent out for a fee and pitches itself as a way to offset a monthly car payment. Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Detroit rival, General Motors, has already launched a program via its Maven brand called Peer Cars to incorporate car sharing into its business.

CHECK OUT: FCA to dabble in car-sharing, subscriptions with Jeep

The separate subscription service will be a pilot partnership between FCA and Avis. The automaker will offer a three-month subscription to Jeep owners with the ability to swap into a few other vehicles, such as a Ram pickup or Dodge Challenger. FCA’s decision to use Avis could help spare FCA dealers the cost of vehicle depreciation.

Participants in the subscription  will be able to swap vehicles up to six times during the three-month period. Two of the times will include delivery. For the other swaps, the subscriber will need to pick up the car on their own. The mixed bag of services and avenues is on purpose, according to Kuniskis. The idea is to pull a few levers at once to see what customers like and what they don’t care for as the automaker pursues its options.

Both pilot services will be limited to the first 100 Jeep owners that sign up for each.

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2019 FIAT 500 Review, Ratings, Specs, Prices, and Photos

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Subcompact cars often sacrifice personality in the name of affordability, but the 2019 Fiat 500 throws that notion out the window. The modern version of the original Cinquecento is one of the most whimsical cars you can buy, but it isn’t without some notable drawbacks.

We’ve given it 4.6 out of 10 overall, proving sometimes charm alone just isn’t enough. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2019, the 500 receives minimal changes, keeping the 1.4-liter turbo-4 as standard on all models. Upsized 16-inch wheels, performance brakes and suspension, body-color front and rear fascias, fog lamps, and a “Turbo” badge are now included. Also, the extra retro 1957 Edition returns for the first time since 2016.

Review continues below

The smile-inducing design has had a few visual tweaks since its 2012 introduction and the Abarth model adds fender flares and increased drama to go along with its peppy performance. Inside, the body-color dashboard is a welcome pop of pizazz, while a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster and a 5.0-inch infotainment screen serve to make things a bit more modern.

The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine remains standard across the lineup and is mated to a 6-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission with front-wheel drive standard. Though showing its age, the turbo-4 gives the base 500 good grunt at 135 horsepower, while the Abarth represents the enthusiast’s choice with 160 hp and a raucous exhaust note.

Make no mistake, the 500 is a tiny car, and best kept to two adults as the rear seat is almost torturous to spend extended amounts of time in.

Though a touchscreen helps, the standard infotainment lacks Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility even as an option, a noticeable oversight for a car aimed at younger buyers.

Safety scores haven’t been updated since 2017 and yielded a worrisome “Poor” small overlap score from the IIHS, and fuel economy drops behind more frugal competitors around 30 mpg combined with a manual transmission.

A cabriolet model offers a fold-back canvas roof. An electric version of the 500 called 500e is available in select west coast markets. With an 84-mile EPA-rated range, it’s more a fashion statement than a practical electric vehicle, however.

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GM’s Cruise Automation upgrades self-driving test cars, Cadillac to offer Super Cruise self-driving tech on full lineup

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General Motors on Friday said on a conference call for investors that its Cruise Automation self-driving car subsidiary is now using more advanced test vehicles that retain steering wheels and gas and brake pedals.

The latest Cruise test cars have more advanced and less obtrusive sensors. 

The automaker said that the next generation of its autonomous test cars forgo the conventional controls needed for a human backup driver, but it’s waiting on government approval before it can test a car without a steering wheel on public roads. 

MORE: California DMV: Many hurdles ahead for self-driving cars

Cruise Automation Chief Executive Officer Dan Amman said that the company’s long-term goal as a ride-share provider is to reduce its operating costs to $1 per mile, at which point he said Cruise vehicles reach business viability. 

Amman did not say if Cruise will stick to its previously stated goal of deploying a commercial self-driving car program by the end of 2019. He also didn’t detail a timeline for GM’s purpose-built autonomous vehicle. 

“Why are we working on this stuff so early? Because we think there’s going to be a really steep and really long learning curve, and we will be better off getting started on it,” Amman said.

Cruise, which GM acquired in May 2016, has grown considerably. GM said Friday that its self-driving car division has grown from 40 to 1,100 employees and has attracted outside investors such as Honda

Separately, GM said that it plans to make its Super Cruise system, which allows for limited hands-free driving, available on its entire lineup of Cadillac vehicles by the end of 2020 in the U.S. Super Cruise is unique in that it uses an in-car monitoring system to ensure that drivers keep their eyes on the road but allows for hands-free driving in certain highway situations. GM also said it will use the next generation of the Super Cruise system, but the company didn’t go into detail about what that will entail.

Currently, the advanced Level 2 self-driving system is similar in concept to Tesla’s AutoPilot system. It first became available last year in the 2018 CT6 sedan. It uses various sensors and cameras that read the road ahead and control the car’s braking, acceleration, and steering. 

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