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AutoLine: Episode 267 – India in the News, Volvo Safety System, Autonomous Audi TT

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Lots of news coming out of India over the weekend, involving Nissan, Toyota and General Motors. Volvo introduces new safety technology for its cars that brakes for pedestrians automatically. Audi plans to tackle Pike’s Peak with an autonomous car. All that and more plus, a look at the new 2010 Outback and Legacy from Subaru.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .


Here are today’s top headlines. India is in the news! Volvo has a car that brakes for pedestrians automatically. And Audi plans to tackle Pike’s Peak with an autonomous car.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, November 9, 2009. And now, the news.

Lots of news coming out of India. First off, Nissan announced it will halt construction of a plant in India due to weak global demand for cars. According to Bloomberg, the company will wait until the economy recovers to restart construction. Nissan is building the plant with its partner Renault which will produce an entry level vehicle for both Europe and India.

And speaking of production in India, Toyota plans to introduce its first small car in the country (subscription required) which it will build there too. According to the Wall Street Journal, the yet to be named vehicle will go on sale at the end of next year. It will be a hatchback equipped with a 1.2-liter gas engine and possibly offer a diesel.

General Motors is in talks with its Chinese partners about exporting vehicles to India. According to the AFP, GM is expected to make a decision soon as to whether or not to export light-commercial vehicles and possibly passenger cars to India with its Chinese partners SAIC and Wuling.

The Detroit News reports that GM’s former head of Europe, Carl-Peter Forster, who resigned last week after the company’s decision to keep Opel, is apparently in talks with Indian automaker Tata about joining the company.

Volvo keeps pushing the safety envelope, this time with a new technology called Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Safety. It can detect if a person steps into a car’s path and automatically stops the vehicle if it’s traveling less than 25 kilometers per hour or about 16 miles an hour. It WILL NOT stop the car if it’s traveling at speeds higher than this, but it will slow it down significantly. It uses a forward-looking radar camera mounted in front of the rearview mirror to scan at the road ahead. Look for this technology to debut next year on the redesigned 2011 Volvo S60. In other safety-related news, NHTSA reports that hybrid vehicles are more likely to be involved in accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists than non hybrids. Maybe there’s actually something to Europe’s pedestrian crash regulations and all the talk about making EVs make noise.

Ward’s reports that the European Commission has adopted technical specifications that pave the way to implementing a single, streamlined, electronic toll service (subscription required). The new system should make driving between EU countries easier because there will only be one road toll service to deal with. Within three years the EU wants a single toll system in place for heavy trucks and busses, with service expanded to passenger cars within five years.

Autoblog reports that Stanford University, along with the Volkswagen Group, is continuing to develop autonomous vehicles—cars that can drive themselves. Now they have an autonomous Audi TT that has all the autonomous equipment beautifully integrated into the car. Recently they tested the car at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and they’re goal is to have it compete in the race at Pike’s Peak, which Audi won back in 1987.

Coming up next, a look at the new Outback and Legacy from Subaru. We’ll be back right after this.

While most automakers have seen sales crash, Subaru has managed to buck the trend. Overall sales are up 13 percent for the year for the company. Helping that growth are all-new versions of the Legacy and Outback.

Subaru wanted to appeal to more customers so they started from scratch with the two vehicles. Both are built on all-new platforms, offer new choices for powertrains, feature new designs and are larger than the vehicles they replace.

The Legacy offers three different engine choices. Two, 2.5-liter four cylinders, one naturally aspirated, the other a turbo and a 3.6-liter six-cylinder. Both the 2.5-liters come with a six-speed manual, but only the naturally aspirated version is available with a CVT. The six-cylinder comes with a five-speed automatic. The Outback offers the same powertrain options except for the turbo. Fuel economy for the engines, range from the high teens in the city, up to the low thirties on the highway for the Legacy and up to the high twenties in the Outback, depending on how the vehicle is configured.

Like all Subarus, the Legacy and Outback are all-wheel-drive but the setup is somewhat different between powertrains.

Both vehicles are available with the convenience features you’d expect like a nav system with a backup camera, Bluetooth and heated seats. And both come standard with typical safety features like ABS, multiple airbags, and stability and traction control.

Pricing for the Legacy starts just under 20 grand, a drop of $800 from the previous generation. Fully loaded it comes in at $31,000. The Outback’s base price is $23,000 and fully loaded costs just below $34,000.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget to join us Thursday for Autoline After Hours when our guest will be Hal Sperlich, former president of Chrysler and probably the best product planner ever to come out of Detroit. That’s Thursday night, live at 7 p.m. Eastern. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, vLane, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

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