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Week in Review: Sales Goals, Testimonies, and New Engines

This week's headlines were once again filled with the latest news about the General Motors recall. But not only that, the week was filled with studies, IIHS testing, and new engines. Monday kicked off with Chrysler's announcement that it will be building the new 2015 Chrysler 200 at the Sterling Heights plant. Tuesday showed us just how far along Volvo has come with its new self-driving technology. Wednesday, Chevrolet announced that it will produce an engine lineup to rival the popular Ford EcoBoost. Thursday, BMW declared hopes to build over 100,000 units of its new "i" line annually by 2020. The week finished out with more on the GM recall, with CEO Mary Barra being called to testify. Read on below to catch up on the top stories you may have missed this week.

Monday, March 17

Kicking off the week, Chrysler has brought on 800 new employees to build the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200. This also comes as an attempt to revitalize the Sterling Heights Automotive Plant. The plant has received nearly $1 billion in investments since 2009, and although the plant was supposed to close its doors by the end of 2010, the workers and leaders of the community stepped up and made sure that didn't happen. The Sterling Heights plant is a staple for Chrysler Group and its midsize sedans, but will now only produce the new Chrysler 200 as the Dodge Avenger is going out of production. Chrysler will expand the plant's production in the coming years, thanks to the capital infusion it received by joining forces with Fiat.

Tuesday, March 18

Self-driving technology is progressing every day, with automakers coming up with new ideas to improve all aspects. Volvo is now testing an interior sensor that monitors the driver's eyes, adjusting safety and semi-autonomous driving features accordingly. Volvo Cars engineer and project leader for driver support Per Landfors said in a statement that "Since a car is able to detect if a driver is not paying attention, safety systems can be adapted more effectively. For example, the car's support systems can be activated later on if the driver is focused, and earlier if the driver's attention is directed elsewhere." This new system will also include driver detection based on eye and facial recognition to adjust seat settings. The automaker is currently testing the technology on test vehicles.

Wednesday, March 19

With the popularity of Ford's EcoBoost engines, it was only a matter of time before other automakers hopped on the bandwagon. General Motors has announced its plan to produce 11 variants of its new "Ecotec" engines. The automaker believes that this new engine lineup will be more refined and quieter than the Ford EcoBoost lineup. First up on the agenda is a 1.0 -liter turbocharged engine, which will most likely find a home in the Chevrolet Sonic. A 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is also in the works, with other direct-injected and turbocharged engines along the way. Randy Guild, noise and vibration engineer for the Ecotec engines, said that "From the onset, the noise and vibration requirements for the new Ecotec family were targeted at class leading." We can't wait to test these new engines out for ourselves.

Thursday, March 20

Emissions regulations are fast approaching, both in the U.S. and abroad, and in an attempt to increase fuel efficiency, BMW has launched its new "i" line. The automaker hopes to build up to 100,000 units annually by 2020. The i3 has been well-received, with strong sales numbers since its launch back in November, and BMW is hopeful that the same will be true for the i8 sport hybrid. Presales have already been strong, but customers may be waiting up to six months when the vehicle finally launches globally this summer. To see this goal come to fruition, BMW has invested over $826 million, but more investments may be necessary, considering the automaker may want to further expand the new vehicle line.

Friday, March 21

Since General Motors announced a recall on vehicles with faulty ignition switches, it's been one thing after another for the automaker. Now, CEO Mary Barra and NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman have been called to testify. GM has known about this issue for over a decade, but has done nothing about it, resulting in many accidents and at least a dozen deaths. Fred Upton, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, said "Their testimony is critical to understand what the company and NHTSA knew about the safety problems, when they knew it, and what was done about it." As of right now, there are no plans to compensate the family members of those involved in wrongful deaths, and the automaker hasn't been in contact with said families.
 
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