The text in the press release is brief: “Kia is set to deliver a provocative and racy new urban concept car at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. With the company’s signature tiger-nose morphing into a mischievous yet friendly grille and headlight arrangement, coupled with strong styling lines that exude speed and energy from every angle, Kia’s newest concept vehicle is guaranteed to attract attention.”
While details are non-existent now, the term “urban concept” would indicate that the car will be small in size, while being big in personality. Looking like it may have been inspired by the Nissan Juke, the Kia looks decidedly more sporty.
Hyundai using social media for customer complaints
Speaking with Wards Auto, executive vice president of sales for Hyundai Motor America, Dave Zuchowski said that the brand is using Twitter and Facebook to monitor negative customer experiences. The company trolls “the ‘Twitterverse’ every hour or so,” to watch for concerns. Zuchowski added that Hyundai was late to adopt Twitter, but now that they have embraced the medium he says, “The function is the same. People have problems, and we take care of the problems. It’s really just the communications method that has changed.”
Canada’s Patrick Danielson said Hyundai’s Canadian arm is still working on a plan for an official Twitter presence, but adds Hyundai’s social media-using customers can get in touch on its Facebook page.
Fiat and Mazda partner to build new Alfa Romeo roadster
The Italian and Japanese automakers have finalized plans for production of a two- seat roadster that will be sold globally. Bearing an Alfa Romeo badge, the sporty car will be built on the same platform as the next generation MX-5. Inspired by the classic droptops of the past, the Alfa version will be powered by an Italian engine. Production will begin in 2015 in Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan plant.
Reliability issues plagued Alfa Romeo in North America three decades ago, despite the car’s popularity. With the return of Alfa Romeo to the North American market being imminent, in the form of the sensual 4C coupe, the brand needs their new roadster to be a winner right out of the gate.
Finnish engineers create advance ice warning for drivers
Scientists at the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) have devised a real- time system to warn drivers in advance of slippery conditions, such as black ice. In a real case of thinking outside the box, the system fits any modern vehicle and communicates with a car’s ABS and drivetrain sensors to measure variances in the speed of the drive axles versus free spinning wheels.
A vehicle locator is also part of the system. This information detects the presence of a slippery surface and then relays that information to a central computer system. As the number of vehicles using the VTT system increases, the performance of the system improves. Once VTT identifies potential danger areas, the system can inform participating drivers of the condition ahead by text message.
NHTSA using social media to find vehicle defects
In 2012, more than 650 safety recalls were filed south of the border according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), affecting more than 17.8 million vehicles. While many of these were a direct result of consumer complaints to NHTSA, the organization needs to do more digging to verify whether or not there are more complaints.
Just like forward-thinking manufacturers like Hyundai, NHTSA then takes to the internet according to their website. They scour such sources as independent auto sites, social media, message boards and trade magazines to look for trends. While one consumer’s individual Twitter rant may not bring on a recall, it may still make a difference if other people are having the same concerns.
Is this the 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible?
With heavy buzz surrounding the launch of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette at the North American International Auto Show, it was only a matter of time before details of the droptop version become available. The Auto Insider Blog published photos that are claimed to be leaked press images. While they certainly look legitimate, whether they are real is anybody’s guess. If they are real leaked photos, then the only other question is: When will Chevrolet reveal the car to the public? Chicago is one possibility, although the New York Auto Show at the end of March seems most likely.
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