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Car Industry

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The Santa Fe got a significant overhaul for 2021, giving it standout standard features for the class. Another familiar Hyundai highlight is exceptional warranty coverage — every Santa Fe comes standard with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain plan. Both engines are more powerful and have higher EPA-rated fuel economy than their 2020 counterparts. There’s also a new hybrid option.

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In a wide-ranging keynote presentation that addressed everything from the practical to the fantastical — a single-seat drone aircraft was shown in a concept video — General Motors outlined its plans to accelerate the production of electric vehicles across a full spectrum of brands.

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Automakers have been racing to catch up with Tesla when it comes to large, splashy infotainment touchscreens. With the CES launch of its new MBUX Hyperscreen, a 56-inch digital display stretched across the entire dashboard without any dials or buttons, Mercedes has firmly set a new standard.

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The automaker behind brands such as Jeep, Dodge and Ram revealed new additions to its Uconnect Market services and the Uconnect 5 infotainment system. For instance, in one of the most topical announcements at CES, drivers will now be able to place Grubhub orders for contactless pickup through the Uconnect Market.

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At CES, luxury automaker Audi showed a near-final prototype of its upcoming e-tron GT electric vehicle. The e-tron GT will be a sleeker, sportier sedan version of Audi’s current e-tron Sportback SUV, with an estimated range of more than 200 miles.

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Crossover SUVs, often just large hatchback cars with raised suspension, have been wildly popular for years. Auto showrooms are overrun with them. But in 2020, the auto industry seemed to rediscover SUVs and trucks that were built more for rocky trails than paved parking lots.

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Over the course of this year, one thing was clear: America's obsession with pickup trucks is far from over.

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Private transportation companies have joined the electric push too. Ridehailing businesses Uber and Lyft said this year that they plan to transition to all-electric vehicles by 2030.

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Tesla became the world's most valuable automaker this summer and is now worth more than Toyota, VW, Daimler, Ford, GM and Honda combined. Tesla's stock has surged more than 600% this year even as it sold about 1% of the vehicles those automakers sold in 2019.

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TRUMP: "We brought in tremendous numbers of companies ... I said to Prime Minister Abe, a great, great gentleman who retired ... 'Shinzo, you got to open some factories in Michigan ... You're selling too many cars made in Japan, you got to make them in the U.S.' He'd say 'Well, I don't do that ... this is done by the private sector ...' I said, 'You have to do it.' The next day, they announced five companies were opening up factories." — New Hampshire rally.

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As long as self-driving features require the driver to be ready to take control, the driver will remain liable for any crashes. Car manufacturers are liable only if there’s a fault in their vehicle. But what happens if an autonomous passenger car causes a crash? Is the manufacturer liable because it designed the system that’s at fault?

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TRUMP, about former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: "We won Michigan — first time in decades. And you know what we've done? Many, many car plants are now opening up ... I said, 'Shinzo, please do me a favor, we need more car companies. ... We want them built here, not in Japan, please.' He said, 'But we cannot do that, this is a free enterprise system.' I said, '... Please, I need some car companies.' ... I said, 'Shinzo, you have to do it.' Next day, it was the story: 'Five car companies opened up in Michigan.'" — North Carolina rally Saturday.

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The used car list is quite a bit shorter but is also dominated by Korean brands (and Toyota). Despite vehicles from 2015 through 2018 being eligible for inclusion, only 2016 and 2017 models ended up making the cut. This list is also broken out in a more granular fashion than the new car list, with size being a consideration.

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The Kia Soul is one bodacious box. It’s a fun one to drive, with unexpected nuance and poise, although the ride is very stiff. A six-speed manual is standard; a CVT automatic transmission is a $1,500 option. Front-wheel drive is standard. And as you’d expect, its cheerfully boxy shape provides for a roomy cabin.

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It may look like a Toyota, but the Yaris is actually a Mazda wearing a Toyota mask. This means it's not only frugal, it's also fun to drive and delivers decent ride comfort. A six-speed manual is standard; a six-speed automatic is an $1,000 option. Given its size, it sports a surprisingly spacious 13.5 cubic-foot trunk, as well as two USB ports, a center console with storage bin, power windows and door locks, Bluetooth, and a seven-inch color infotainment touchscreen. A five-door hatchback is also available for an additional $2,000.

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Many vehicles from Mazda, Toyota and Volkswagen still use this older anti-distraction method today. These cars will partially lock out controls for an on-screen keyboard while the car is moving so you can’t type in an address, for example. But these functions can still be accessed by using voice commands. All this is done to prevent you from looking away from the road and down at a screen for an extended time.

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This is one of the latest technologies to start appearing in cars. BMW, Subaru and other automakers have installed cameras and sensors inside vehicles that use facial recognition technology to identify signs of driver distraction or fatigue. Some can measure head and eye movements to make sure your eyes are up and on the road ahead. The car will then notify you to pay more attention if necessary.

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TRUMP: “Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST! @fema Go for it auto execs, lets see how good you are?” — tweet Sunday.

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Tesla's new electric truck won't be without some stiff competition. It's going up against the two market leaders in full-size trucks in America. Ford is developing its own electric F-series truck, while General Motors, which makes Chevrolet and GMC pickups, also has its own electric pickups in the works. Earlier Thursday, GM CEO Mary Barra said the auto maker expects to begin selling its electric pickup in the fall of 2021.

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TRUMP: "On this very day — I just saw a number — almost 160 million people are working. The most ever in the history of our country. I mean, we have incredible numbers." — remarks to reporters Friday.

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