Auto News: All-female rideshare program to launch

Also, BMW Connected, Kia Hybrids, Tesla Sales & Race, BMW Takata airbag recall.

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New app nixes excuses to run late

If you’re a North American BMW owner, a new iOS app can tell you what time to depart to arrive at your destination on time based on live traffic data.

The new app will be part of BMW Connected, a new personal digital mobility service that’s based on the Open Mobility Cloud powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud system.

Currently, the fee app is available for iPhones with an Android version due later this year.

It works by notifying the driver via smartphone when it’s time to leave for work or your next appointment. That information can then be linked to the vehicle’s navigation system.

In addition, BMW Connected adds “last mile” walking guidance to get you from your parking spot to your destination.

For the system to work, your BMW vehicle must be equipped with the optional Connected Drive Services technology.

All-female ridehailing program set to launch

A former Boston-based Uber driver and his wife are set to launch a new rideshare program to provide female passengers with safety and peace of mind, while eliminating some uneasiness from the rideshare process.

“Chariot for Women” was founded by Michael Pelletz, and his wife Kelly. The service will use female drivers and only allow female passengers, with the exception of boys under the age of 13 travelling with a woman.

Granted, there’s no guarantee of safety just because a woman is behind the wheel. But the company is implementing safeguards to prevent situations from occurring. A couple of these include the driver answering a random security question at the start of her shift to confirm identity, and a safe word that’s sent to both driver and passenger phones to make sure they’re picking up the correct customer and getting into the right vehicle.

More than 1,000 women drivers have already signed up. Thorough background checks — including fingerprints (a policy that doesn’t exist at Uber) — are currently underway.

Chariot for Women won’t be coming to Canada just yet, but it will be launching throughout the United States on April 19.

Hyundai-Kia plan to launch 26 green models by 2020

Hyundai Motor Group aims to be one of the world leaders in the automotive green movement by launching a total of 26 electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell models by 2020.

This news stems from a conversation between Automotive News and Lee Ki-Sang, Hyundai Motor Group’s Senior Vice President and leader in green powertrains. Lee believes that the plan is risky, but necessary in order to get a jump on its competition with the expected industry surge towards electrification.

“I have to prepare for all possibilities,” said Lee. “It’s a headache, but we have to adapt to that.”

Hyundai-Kia’s green push has already begun with Hyundai’s Sonata Hybrid and Tucson FCEV, and Kia’s Soul EV and Optima Hybrid currently on sale. Recent auto show reveals, such as the three versions of the Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro hybrid crossover will soon be available to order.

RELATED: Kia Niro hybrid utility vehicle bows in Toronto

Lee’s plan is to save money by sharing common components between Hyundai and Kia.

“All our electric motors have the same diameter,” said Lee. “The power output is different, but we can just adjust the width of the core winding. Or for the motor controller, we standardized (it) to use the same printed circuit boards.”

Tesla misses delivery goal for Q1

Tesla Motors announced that deliveries for its Model S and X in Q1 missed its goal of 16,000 by 1,180 units due to a parts shortage.

This news came less than a week after the conceptual reveal of its upcoming Model 3 sedan sent consumers on a buying frenzy. By the end of April 2, two days after its reveal, more than 275,000 people flocked to place a deposit down on the compact four-door electric vehicle that starts at $35,000 in the U.S., but is more than a year away from production.

The California-based electric automaker said that the root issues for the parts shortage lay with “Tesla’s hubris in adding far too much new technology to the Model X in version 1, insufficient supplier capability validation, and Tesla not having broad enough internal capability to manufacture the parts in-house.”

Tesla reaffirmed that these mistakes are being addressed and that production is on track to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 new vehicles by the end of 2016.

BMW Takata airbag to soon be recalled here

Recently, we received a letter from one of our readers, Ignacio Barragan.

Ignacio currently lives in the United States, but owns a 2011 BMW 1 Series coupe purchased on Canadian soil. He wondered why his car had not been recalled by BMW Canada, considering his model is on the Takata driver-side airbag inflator recall list in the United States.

For the answer, we went straight to Rob Dexter, Corporate Communications Specialist at BMW Canada. Dexter points out that after a review of the Takata defect information with Transport Canada, BMW Canada has filed a recall in-line with the United States initiative, and news of that is expected to be published on the government’s website shortly.

It should be noted that BMW is yet to receive any reports of Takata airbag malfunctions with their vehicles.

Canadian auto sales continue to soar

A new Canadian auto sales record was set in March as vehicle sales continue to soar, up 9.3 per cent from a year ago.

According to reports from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, a total of 175,142 vehicles were sold in March with sales spurred by the light truck market, which includes SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks.

Light truck sales increased 18.2 per cent from March 2015, led by the Ford F-Series that sold 13,385 units (a massive increase of 34 per cent from 2015). Other big sales movers were the Ford Edge (up 275 per cent), Jeep Grand Cherokee (up 53.1 per cent) and Jeep Cherokee (up 30.5 per cent).

The rise of light truck sales detracted attention from the continual slide of passenger car sales. For the 11th month in a row, passenger car sales decreased by 4 per cent from its total in March 2015. That doesn’t mean all sedan sales are down, as the Chevrolet Malibu (up 72.6 per cent), Toyota Camry (up 49.7 per cent) and Hyundai Elantra (up 32.6 per cent) all made significant gains.

Ford was the top automaker in total sales thanks to a 23.7 per cent increase that finished with 26,432 units sold. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles slipped into second place at 25,862, while General Motors finished third at 24,498.

Mercedes-Benz Canada appoints new leader

Mercedes-Benz Canada had a void to fill at the top of the helm and they tagged Brian D. Fulton to succeed Gareth Joyce as its new president and CEO, effective May 1, 2016.

For over two years, Fulton has been serving as vice president at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA. Prior to that, Fulton held top-level financial positions as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Auto Finance China and president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Canada.

“I am thrilled to be coming back to Canada and honoured to be leading the great Mercedes-Benz Canada team which has been the driving force behind the company’s unprecedented growth over the past decade,” said Fulton in the press release.

Plenty of turnover has occurred at Mercedes-Benz Canada of late. Joyce only held the reigns for less than three months, leaving to take a job with an Atlanta-based company to be closer to his family.

When Fulton begins his tenure, he will be reporting to Dietmar Exler, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.

“We are excited to welcome Brian in this important role,” said Exler. “His hard work and extensive experience in several markets around the world, including Canada, will serve the Mercedes-Benz Canada organization, its dealers and its customers extremely well.”

Video: Tesla Model S takes on a Qantas Boeing 737

To promote a new partnership between Tesla Australia and Qantas, both companies put on a race between a Tesla Model S P90D and a Qantas Boeing 737-800. The 3 km race took place at Melbourne’s Avalon airport.

The electric four-door Tesla sedan naturally benefited instant torque for a good start, while the Boeing plane took a while to get going due to its much bulkier weight. In the end, the Model S P90D showed off its power, especially when put in Ludicrous driving mode with a close finish against another technologically magnificent competitor.

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