Archive for November, 2009

Volkswagen plans to be the largest automaker

  It’s all here. The 170-miles-per-gallon diesel hybrid. The pure electric car that Volkswagen calls a 21st-century Beetle. A variety of models with small gasoline engines that promise good power and mileage. And, of course, the diesels that are a VW forte and that the automaker is sure will have a major role in meeting the market’s fuel-economy demands for a while. More than gee-whiz, VW showed off its visions for the future in a technical briefing at a motorsports park here recently for one reason: to demonstrate how it can meet its ambitious goals in an atmosphere of auto-industry crisis and ever-stricter emissions and mileage regulations. VW, its executives say without blinking, wants to be king of the auto world. Not just outsell Toyota a month here and there, as it already does. Not just hold off a likely challenge the next few years …

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Luxury cars are a hit in China

  The world’s auto makers appear ready to declare that luxury is back in China, with General Motors Co. and Toyota Motors Corp. both unveiling top-of-the-line models at the Guangzhou auto show that opened Monday. China’s car market defied the world-wide economic slump and has grown 38% in the year through October, helped by stimulus measures to boost small-car sales. But demand in the country’s once-strong luxury car segment struggled, in part because of slower growth in China’s coastal regions, which are heavily dependent on exports that were badly hit by the slowdown. Now, global auto makers are seeing the old vigor returning, albeit gradually, to China’s premium market thanks to the economic recovery. GM’s Cadillac brand and Toyota’s Lexus chose this year’s Guangzhou auto show for a world premier of one key model each. The Lexus GX460 is the latest version of the …

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Tiger Woods involved in car accident with his 2009 Cadillac SUV

  Tiger Woods, 33, was seriously injured in a car crash at 2:25 a.m. this morning at his Isleworth home, CNN reported. The cable channel preceded the story with the “Breaking News” banner. The world’s best golfer pulled out of his driveway in a 2009 Cadillac SUV, hit a fire hydrant and later a tree, CNN said, quoting the Florida Highway Patrol. No alcohol is related to the accident, although charges are pending, CNN said, again quoting the patrol. Orange County Fire Rescue reached the scene at 2:28 a.m., and Woods was taken to a hospital in Ocoee. Fox News Channel had the story first. CNN followed. Then MSNBC broke in about 2:50 p.m. MSNBC reported that the airbags did not deploy because the vehicle was traveling slower than 33 miles per hour. MSNBC said the patrol did not report accident until after 2 …

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The best used cars available

  Ever considered buying a Lamborghini or Ferrari? Now could be your last, best chance to get a deal. Increased production of exotics since the late 1990s has created such a glut in today’s recessed economy that resale prices are (somewhat) competitive. “[The recession] has really created a good value opportunity because you can get a lot of car for your money,” says Steve Burks, marketing director at Motorcars International in Springfield, Mo. “Used-car sales are really strong right now–it is a buyer’s market.” Fortunately, the same rule applies to people looking for everyday cars as well. Used-vehicle registrations have declined 7.3% year-to-date, down an average of 286,000 units each month, according to Experian Automotive, a Schaumburg, Ill.-based analysis and consulting firm. New-car registrations are down 34.8% or an average of 430,500 units each month. Consider the Honda CR-V or Lexus ES–they’re …

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Toyota to fix accelerator pedals on about 4 million vehicles

  Toyota Motor Corp. plans to fix accelerator pedals on about 4 million vehicles in its biggest U.S. recall, as the automaker works to fulfill its president’s vow to “make better cars.” The Japanese company also will install a brake override system on some of the vehicles after drivers reported cases of sudden acceleration, the U.S. Transportation Department said yesterday. The recall covers Toyota’s top-selling Camry as well as its Lexus and Prius cars and Tacoma and Tundra trucks. Toyota’s recall, at least the third covering more than 100,000 U.S. autos in the past two years, dents a reputation for vehicle quality established in surveys such as those by researcher J.D. Power & Associates. Toyota wrested the global sales crown from General Motors Co. in 2008. “They’ve wanted to be the world’s biggest automaker, and that kind of expansion over the …

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Nissan CEO believes the future is electric

  President Barack Obama has set an ambitious goal of putting at least 1 million battery-powered cars on the road by the middle of the coming decade. Many in the auto industry have charitably called that target ambitious. Others are less polite. But while it may be a difficult goal, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is among those who believe the public may get charged up by the switch to electric power. To get there, however, he stresses that some of the industry’s basic business models may have to be rethought to reflect the new world of electric propulsion. Ghosn was in Los Angeles recently for the start of Nissan’s “Zero Emissions Tour,” a 22-city road show that will lead up to the launch next year of the first of four battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, the Japanese maker plans to launch in the …

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Top two hybrid cars for 2010

  The 2010 Toyota Prius and the Ford Fusion both rank high on a Consumer Reports scale, but for different reasons. The Toyota Prius dominates the market for hybrid cars, and for the last eight years has been Consumer Reports’ top-pick “green” car. Now there’s a redesigned Prius, as well as another promising new hybrid, the Ford Fusion. Consumer Reports and Eyewitness News just tested both cars, and it looks like the Fusion may give the Prius a run for the money. We found that both cars did very well, although for varying reasons. The Prius hybrid was first sold in America in 2001. Three years later, Toyota introduced the second-generation Prius. And now, for 2010, the Prius has once again been redesigned. Steve Bennett is one of more than 700,000 Americans who has purchased a Prius. “When we decided we wanted to get a hybrid, or …

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Used car sales continue to outperform

  Opening a used car lot near the wreck of a derelict shopping mall in the middle of a recession sounds like a collision course for bankruptcy. But standing in his Eastside showroom beside a gleaming orange 1971 Oldsmobile 442, an old juke box on the wall softly playing rock tunes, Brandon Hockett insisted: “Used cars are where it’s at.” Ten months after Mike’s Superstore opened on Shadeland Avenue, used-car manager Hockett claimed strong data backs him up. Selling 80 vehicles a month on average at about $8,000 per auto, he said, is a testament to that durable old fact: Americans need wheels. “We’ll sell more than 100 this month,” Hockett said. Even when the 1930s’ Great Depression collapsed Indiana automakers such as Auburn and Cord, used cars dealers survived, a trend evident today in Indianapolis, where about 300,000 used vehicles change hands in a …

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New fuel-cost ratings need to be established for electric cars

  In an age of hybrid, fuel cell and electric cars, miles per gallon aren’t what they used to be. That’s because you can’t measure the energy cost of an alternative-fuel vehicle in gallons of gasoline. The projected fuel economy of the new Chevy Volt electric car, for instance, is equivalent to 230 mpg. But that doesn’t mean its fuel costs will be less than a quarter of those of the 2010 Toyota Prius, which is rated at 50 miles-per-gallon-equivalent (mpge). The Volt, in fact, would be just 20 percent cheaper to drive than the Prius, according to estimates by auto-information site Edmunds.com. It is expected to go on sale next November. With the Volt expected to retail for $32,500 (after a $7,500 federal tax credit) while the Prius starts at $22,000, that’s information even the greenest consumer needs to know …

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U.S. new vehicle sales could exceed 11 million units

  U.S. auto industry sales could exceed an 11 million vehicle annualized rate in November with signs the economy has continued to strengthen, General Motors Co’s GM.UL U.S. sales analyst said on Thursday. GM also is “cautiously optimistic” that the automaker will see a U.S. market share gain for a fourth consecutive month since it emerged from bankruptcy in July, sales analyst Mike DiGiovanni said in a conference call with reporters. “We believe the November (seasonally adjusted annualized rate of sales) could approach or maybe slightly exceed 11 million units,” DiGiovanni said of the annualized rate closely watched by economists. GM’s forecast included medium and heavy trucks, which can add up to 300,000 to the annualized rate, but was still sharply higher than November light vehicle forecasts Edmunds.com and J.D. Power & Associates released on Thursday. J.D. Power said it expected U.S. auto industry light …

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