Archive for September, 2009

Toyota issues “consumer safety advisory” about floor mats

  Toyota said its “consumer safety advisory” issued on Tuesday about floor mats possibly jamming the accelerator pedal would not result in the world’s largest redesign of floor mats. Instead, the automaker was looking for a way to make sure the driver could overcome a stuck accelerator. “This is not a floor mat recall,” said Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman. “We want to put in an on-vehicle countermeasure.” Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a warning on Tuesday to the owners of about 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to remove the driver-side floor mat because it could jam the accelerator pedal. Mr. Lyon said Toyota was looking at what the driver could do to control the vehicle if the accelerator pedal jammed. “It is conceivable we could develop software so that if the gas pedal and brake pedal were hit at …

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Used car prices have reached their peak

  Prices of used cars have reached their peak and are set to fall from October onwards, according to experts. A shortage of used-cars meant values had been increasing, but a surge of nearly new models is set to hit the market after the introduction of the new 59-registrations next month, said valuation expert Glass’s. Managing editor at Glass’s, Adrian Rushmore, said: “The improvement in prices this year was largely due to the much lower level of used-car supply.” He explained that prices are levelling out now as the “correction is complete”, and said the “trade price of a car, plus a dealer margin, now equals the retail price that customers are willing to pay”. Mr Rushmore said prices will start to fall as some dealers make their margins smaller in a bid to attract buyers. Glass’s predicts there will be fewer vehicles coming onto the …

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The best used cars that won’t let you down

  If you didn’t get in on Cash for Clunkers, count yourself lucky to not have wasted money on a new car. Statistically, cars lose 15-20 percent of their value every year or two. As soon as you drive it off the new car lot, the retail price you paid drops immediately to the dealer’s wholesale price. That’s like a $3,000 joyride. Since your car will always lose value (unless it’s a legitimate classic) it is an expense, not an investment, as people seem to think. In light of this, you need to make the best financial decision possible when it comes to cars. You can still have reliable transportation driving a pre-owned automobile, despite what your neighbors say. (And there’s no rule stated that new cars never break down.) Check out some of the top used models rated on reliability, safety, …

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The best-selling passenger car in America for seven years running gets restyled

  The 2010 Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid, which went on sale in March 2009, debuted revised exterior styling, a new four-cylinder powertrain and new safety, audio and convenience features. All Camry gas models are now equipped with Vehicle Stability Control (VCS) with traction control (TRAC) as standard. The best-selling passenger car in America for seven years running and 11 of the past 12 years, the Toyota Camry is available in four-cylinder and V6 models, and as the Camry Hybrid, equipped with Toyota’s industry-leading Hybrid Synergy Drive. The Camry is available in Camry, LE, SE, and XLE grades.   A new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine equipped with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) produces 169 hp for Camry, LE and XLE grades, replacing a 158 hp 2.4-liter engine. For sporty performance, the SE grade gets additional tuning to offer 179 horsepower. The new engine can …

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Experts worry that electric cars are too quiet

  The auto industry for decades worked to make cars as quiet as possible. With electric cars the near ultimate has been achieved — virtually no noise at all. But we may have a problem. To be more specific, pedestrians may have a problem. And if you’re a blind pedestrian used to hearing cars coming, there may really be a problem. “I think we’re going to have people die,” said Gary Wunder, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri. “Anything that can outweigh a pedestrian by two tons needs to make a sound.” Last summer, a blind woman in Kansas City, Kan., had a very close call. She wasn’t hit, but her white cane was run over and broken, she suspects by a hybrid vehicle. Initially, the concerns of the blind and other pedestrians didn’t appear to be taken all that …

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Ford to build another new car assembly plant in China

  Ford Motor Co. Friday announced it plans to build a new car assembly plant here, its third such facility in China, part of a broader effort to overcome the auto maker’s late start in China and catch up with key competitors. The new plant, to be built with an investment of $490 million (3.34 billion yuan), will be run jointly with a Chinese partner, Chonqing Changan Automobile Co., and Japan’s Mazda Motor Corp., as are its two existing plants. It will produce Ford’s next-generation Focus compact car and be capable initially of producing 150,000 vehicles a year when it opens in the city of Chongqing in southwestern China in 2012, the company said. “We are going to really focus on China” and the rest of the Asian market which should account for at least one-third of global demand for automobiles, said Ford …

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GM plans on increasing fuel efficiency of Trucks and SUV’s

  Higher fuel economy standards that the Obama administration plans to impose do not signal impending doom for the kind of large sport utility vehicles built at General Motors’ Arlington truck assembly plant, GM officials say. Instead, they say, GM has plans to incorporate numerous new features into its full-size SUVs that will gradually boost the trucks’ fuel economy in the coming years. “We’ve got a good plan to meet those regulations, and we’ll meet them with margins to spare,” Roger Clark, a senior manager in GM’s Energy Center, told the Star-Telegram. “We’re still committed to full-size trucks.” The standards announced last week by the Environmental Protection Agency would require an auto manufacturer’s entire fleet of vehicles to average 35.5 miles per gallon, up from the current standard of 27.5 mpg. To meet those standards, a full-line manufacturer such as GM, which has relied heavily …

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Hyundai Continues to Build Market Share

  It was not exactly a planned strategy, but the recession, particularly in the United States, has been very good for Hyundai, the South Korean automaker. After years of struggling to prove to consumers than it was more than a second-tier brand, Hyundai Motor America and its affiliate, Kia Motor America, accounted for 8 percent of the new-vehicle market in the United States in August, more than Chrysler’s 7.4 percent. The company sold more than 60,000 vehicles last month as buyers rushed to take advantage of the government’s cash-for-clunkers program before its end. The carmaker’s sales topped August 2008 by 47 percent — total industry sales were up only 1 percent. “They have a tremendous amount of momentum right now, and I don’t see that stopping,” said Erich Merkle, an analyst who founded the Web site Autoconomy.com in Grand Rapids, Mich. “Hyundai is …

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Fisker Automotive gets electric car stimulus loan

  The world may have just gotten one very big step closer to viable, affordable electric cars. Fisker Automotive and the U.S. Department of Energy have agreed to loan terms for $528.7 million to bring an affordable electric car to the mass market. Most of the money will go towards Project NINA, which aims to bring a plug-in hybrid car to market for under $40,000 (after tax breaks). The project named after one of the three ships Christopher Coloumbus led to the New World, and will hopefully create or save 5,000 U.S. jobs. While most of the money will go towards creating an affordable family sedan, some of it will also be used to put the finishing touches on the Fisker Karma, an all-electric luxury sports car in the same vein as the Tesla Roadster. The half-billion bucks comes out of the U.S. …

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SUVs and Trucks sold well under ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program

  Sport-utility vehicles and pickups were more popular than previously believed under the Obama administration’s cash-for-clunkers program, with three truck models among the top 10 sellers, according to a Free Press review of new federal data. While the mania over cash for clunkers was under way in July and August, federal officials offered a breakdown of deals submitted by dealers that split models based on whether they were two-wheel or four-wheel drive. That analysis tended to give higher ranks to cars with one drive configuration while underplaying the popularity of all-wheel drive SUVs and trucks. Using data released by the government last weekend, the Free Press’ analysis found that while the top four vehicles were the same in both lists — the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Toyota Camry and Ford Focus — the Ford Escape SUV was the fifth-most popular vehicle overall, with …

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