Ford F-450 claims best-in-class towing, company abandons practice of removing items to boost payload number

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2015 Ford F-450 Super Duty

The ongoing heavy-duty truck battle between Ford and Ram is showing no signs of slowing down. The Blue Oval is trying to remove at least one point of contention between the two brands by testing its 2015 F-450 Super Duty using the Society of Automotive Engineers J2807 towing standard, which Ram also uses. In the new evaluation, the F-450 is rated at a max towing capacity of 31,200 pounds. That’s an identical amount as under Ford’s own, previous test.

“We leave no doubt with customers that the F-450 pickup truck has best-in-class towing of 31,200 pounds – whether tested using our own internal towing standards or SAE J2807,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president for Global Product Development, in the company’s release.

At the same time, Ford is also changing how it calculates the F-450′s payload. Instead of using its minimum curb weight as before, the brand is now using the truck’s base curb weight. The revision lowers the pickup’s rating to 5,300 pounds, compared to 5,450 pounds previously. The company said in its announcement that the reason for this is “aligning its payload rating practices with other manufacturers to make it easier for customers to compare vehicles.” General Motors made a similar switch for its pickups in August.

The SAE J2807 evaluation is somewhat different from Ford’s previous test, and the new standard requires about 400 pounds of additional weight in the pickup than before. Still, the towing figure is the same 31,200 pounds in each analysis. Because of the new test, the company is also re-rating the F-450′s gross combined weight rating to 40,400 pounds.

Ram is already firing back with the following statement: “Ram Truck stands firm on our claims within the 350/3500 segment with best-in-class 30,000 pounds of towing capacity, best-in-class 865 lb-ft of torque and best-in-class payload of 7,390 pounds. Additionally, unlike our competitors, our entire 2015 Ram Heavy Duty line up adheres to J2807 test criteria, not just one model.”

No matter where you fall in this debate, it seems like customers are getting the best out of truck makers fighting to top each other’s specs. Scroll down to read Ford’s complete announcement of its new figures for the F-450.

Continue reading Ford F-450 claims best-in-class towing, company abandons practice of removing items to boost payload number

Ford F-450 claims best-in-class towing, company abandons practice of removing items to boost payload number originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Auto parts price-fixing is everywhere, crackdown threatens business model

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Auto Parts Price Fixing

China’s recently instigated push to go after price fixing and monopolistic practices in the automotive sector has garnered a lot of ink, but regulatory bodies around the world have been tackling the issue for years. Lithium-ion battery makers were targeted in 2012, the US Department of Justice hit a cabal of Japanese suppliers for $740M in 2013 and Toyo Tires after that, the EU went after exhaust parts makers earlier this year. Nor are the investigations confined to the auto industry: aluminum purchasers like Coca-Cola sued banks over reducing supply to drive up prices and railway company Deutsche Bahn is suing US airlines over cargo prices.

Automaker execs speaking to Reuters say that price-fixing isn’t new and that, while Japanese companies have been taking huge public hits, “that’s not the exception, but the typical business condition we deal with routinely around the world.” In Singapore, such collusion among parts makers was so structured and refined that they collectively called it the Market Share and Profit Protection Initiative. And wherever it’s been practiced, it’s worked – the Reuters report notes that parts suppliers not only keep prices high for the manufacturers, they then charge up to ten times more for replacement parts – the exact same parts – for dealer service centers and repair shops. That’s given some suppliers better profit margins than the automakers they supply.

What everyone is waiting to see is whether the investigations and fines will lead the suppliers to change their business models, swapping conspiracy for “low cost and high quality” via leaner production processes.

Auto parts price-fixing is everywhere, crackdown threatens business model originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 Toyota Camry priced at $22,970*, Hybrid at $26,790*

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2015 Toyota Camry

We last saw the heavily revised 2015 Toyota Camry at the New York Auto Show earlier this year. Now, it’s finally time for the best-selling car in the US to hit the roads in late September, and Toyota is announcing how much the updated model actually costs.

The basic Camry LE rings up for $22,970 (*not including a $825 delivery, processing and handling fee). That’s up slightly from the base price of $22,425 for the 2014.5 LE, but the updated sedan has some 2,000 new parts, while also being 1.8 inches longer and boasting a 0.4-inch wider track. The rest of the trim levels include the SE for $23,840, sporty new XSE for $26,150 and XLE at $26,150. Opting for the V6 is the XSE and XLE bumps pricing to $31,370.

Separately, the Camry Hybrid gets its own LE, SE and XLE trims. The LE starts at $26,790 with a standard, power driver’s seat and 4.2-inch information display. The SE for $27,995 gets an improved interior and the XLE at $29,980 has leather, heated front seats, LED running lights and more.

Powertrains carry over with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic available on all non-hybrid models and a 3.5-liter V6 with a six-speed auto optional for the XSE and XLE. The Camry Hybrid maintains its 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder and CVT.

Despite the slight price jump, even base LE models get features like an eight-way power driver’s seat and heated outside mirrors. The SE also adds a 4.2-inch multi-information display and direct tire pressure monitor system.

Jumping up to the XSE adds leather, heated front seats and a power passenger seat, and the top XLE features Ultrasuede seat inserts. Both of these also get LED running lights and Toyota’s Entune Audio Plus multimedia system. V6 models also have full LED headlights, Smart Key and navigation on a seven-inch infotainment system. Scroll down for all of the details about the updated Camry in the press release below.

Continue reading 2015 Toyota Camry priced at $22,970*, Hybrid at $26,790*

2015 Toyota Camry priced at $22,970*, Hybrid at $26,790* originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #395 LIVE!

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We’re set to record Autoblog Podcast #395 this evening. Check out the topics below or drop us your questions and comments via the Q&A module. And don’t forget to subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven’t already done so. To take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.

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Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #395 LIVE! originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 02 Sep 2014 16:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Uber banned across Germany

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Barcelona Cabs Strike Against Uber Taxi App

A German court has issued a nationwide ban on Uber, the increasingly popular, taxi-replacing, ride-hailing app. The ban will run until later this year until the “legality” of the service can be determined, The New York TimesBits blog reports.

Uber has announced that it would appeal the decision, which only affects the budget UberPop service, and maintain its operations in the country, even though its employees – not, interestingly, its freelance drivers – could be arrested for violating the Frankfurt court’s injunction. The company’s luxury minded Uber Black service, which is more akin to a chauffeured livery service rather than a cab, is not affected by the court ruling.

The court claims that some of the Uber pilots were lacking the proper permits and insurance necessary to work as a cabbie. The company is currently facing a 250,000-euro fine (about $330,000 at today’s rates), a figure that’s only set to increase if the company continues to violate the German ban.

The latest complaint was brought by trade body Taxi Deutschland, whose chairman, Dieter Schlenker, compared the start-up’s business model to a “locust.”

“Uber operates with billions of cash from Goldman Sachs and Google, wraps itself up to look like a start-up and sells itself as the saviour of the new economy,” Schlenker said, according to NYT.

As for Uber? “You cannot put the brakes on progress,” the company said in a statement.

Uber banned across Germany originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 02 Sep 2014 16:25:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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