Archive for February, 2010

GM’s Hummer brand is history

  General Motors said on Wednesday that it would shut down Hummer, the brand of big sport utility vehicles that became synonymous with the term gas guzzler, after a deal to sell it to a Chinese manufacturer fell apart. The buyer, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines, said in a statement that it had withdrawn its bid because it was unable to receive approval from the Chinese government, which was trying to put a new emphasis on limiting China’s dependence on imported oil and protecting the environment. Tight financial markets also hurt the deal. When the commerce ministry did not bless the transaction, the well-capitalized Chinese banks became reluctant to lend money to Tengzhong, even though it tried to set up an overseas subsidiary to buy Hummer. That left Tengzhong trying to borrow money from Western banks that have been curtailing their lending even …

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Auto sales expected to rebound in March

  Sales at Tammy Darvish’s four Toyota dealerships in the Washington, D.C., area dropped more than 30% in February, but recalls were only one explanation. Another major factor, Darvish said, was the weather — massive storms that dumped more than 40 inches of snow on the region. “We lost at least five or six sales days,” said Darvish, who expects to sell fewer than 400 Toyota cars and trucks in February compared with more than 600 last February. While those combined factors likely depressed February auto sales, industry experts are hoping for a rebound in March. February sales are expected to be up 9% to 14%, but the overall performance is expected to be relatively low. J.D. Power and Associates estimates that the seasonally adjusted annual selling rate, or SAAR, will fall to its lowest level in five months. The SAAR indicates what sales would total for …

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Used car shoppers begin their search online

  For the next 10 days, shopping for a car is going to be on the minds of thousands of people because the 2010 Cleveland Auto Show is about to open at the I-X Center. While the emphasis at the Auto Show is on new cars, thousands of people are still in the market for used cars. The new car market slumped 30 percent in 2009, but the used car market dropped only 10 percent. “Here in Cleveland, there are 70,000 cars available for sale,” says Chip Perry. “And even more when you spread out across Ohio.” Perry says used car shoppers should use every bit of information available at their fingertips online in their search for a used car. “It’s a really empowering process, to see alternatives and use that information to work with the dealer to come up with a fair price,” he …

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Toyota Prius still Consumer Reports top eco-friendly vehicle

  Toyota Motor’s Prius retained its title as Consumer Reports magazine’s top pick for eco-friendly vehicle two weeks after the automaker recalled 437,000 hybrids to fix a brake software flaw. The carmaker’s $76,572 Lexus LS460L was named best overall vehicle among more than 280 autos tested for the list of best vehicle by product category, CR said Tuesday. The Prius won best “green” car for the seventh year in a row. The Consumer Reports rankings, widely used by car buyers, may help Toyota weather recalls now totaling more than 8 million vehicles and widening probes into its handling of the faults. CR also named General Motors’ Chevrolet Traverse best sport-utility vehicle and Chevy Silverado top pickup. Nissan Motor had two “Top Picks,” the Altima sedan and Infiniti G37 sports sedan. Other best vehicles included the Mazda5, Subaru Forester, Volkswagen GTI and Hyundai Elantra SE. Toyota’s Highlander …

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GM fails to win approval from Chinese regulators to sell Hummer brand

  General Motors Co. failed to win approval from Chinese regulators to sell its Hummer brand to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., said two people briefed on the deal. A government agency indicated that it won’t provide approval for Chengdu, China-based Tengzhong to purchase the Hummer line of sport-utility vehicles from GM in China, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made public. A rejection would mark the latest hurdle for Tengzhong as it seeks to tap into China’s expanding market for passenger vehicles. The government is promoting small cars by reducing the sales tax on those with 1.6 liter engines or below, compared with the military-style Hummer that can weigh as much as 7,600 pounds (3,400-kilograms). “It’s only normal for the Chinese government not to approve the deal,” said Lin Huaibin, a Shanghai-based analyst for …

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Toyota begins testimony with apology on speed of vehicle recalls

  While the situation could change Wednesday, Toyota didn’t do much during today’s congressional hearing to convince the public it moved swiftly enough or that it fully understood the source of its technical problems, experts said. The Japanese automaker is facing scrutiny after recalling more than 8 million vehicles because of sudden acceleration and braking concerns. “I think they are handling themselves as well as they can under the circumstances and I think Congress is being gentle with them,” said Lauren Bloom, an ethics attorney and corporate apology expert. Bloom said Toyota did OK on Tuesday, but the company is struggling to recover from the appearance that it reacted slowly as it learned of the sudden acceleration issues and prosed solutions — such as removing floor mats — that don’t seem to address the root cause of the problem. “If you look at what they …

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What to look for when searching for used cars

  Buying a used car? Expert tips to speed, ease the process, make sure you know what to look for when you go to buy that used car. (ARA) – The approach of summer means just one thing to car buyers – the opportunity to score a great deal, especially on some used vehicles that dealers are motivated to move out of their inventory as 2010 really gets rolling. Bargains can be hot at this time of year for those who know how to shop smart for a good used car. With “Cash for Clunkers” a fading memory and Americans still looking to buy used cars rather than investing in new ones that depreciate as soon as you drive them off the lot, the used car market is hotter than ever. Brian Bossone, one of the creative minds behind SPEED’s popular …

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Rolls-Royce specifically built for Princess Diana is on display at Auto Show

  The 2010 edition of the Greater Milwaukee Auto Show promises an exciting mix of old and new. And, hopefully, will draw greater numbers of prospective buyers into showrooms in spring. So said Brad Schlossmann, the chairman of the Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee, which is presenting the event. “I think with the economy being a little bit better than it was last year at this time, I think people will be a little more positive about automobile purchases,” he said. There are 120 dealers in the association, all of them from the Milwaukee area, said Shelbi Okumura, spokeswoman from Spin Communications, the San Francisco agency handling the publicity for the show. Okumura said the sponsors don’t provide attendance estimates, but about 30 manufacturers will be represented. “I know of employees who go down to see it,” said Bill Kolosso, co-owner and general manager of Kolosso …

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Chicago Auto Show Highlights

  If you’re going to the show and don’t have time to take in all the exhibits, the following exhibits are the ones you shouldn’t miss. Ford Motor Co. Ford introduced the 2011 Edge and Edge Sport, along with a couple new variations of the hit Transit Connect vans for 2011. One is a battery-electric version and the other is a taxi cab package powered by compressed natural gas. Keep in mind: Ford is discontinuing the Crown Victoria, today’s most popular taxi, so we’ll be seeing a lot of this Transit Connect in Chicago. The battery-electric Transit Connect should be a big seller here, too, as local trades people are flocking to this compact Euro van formula. Add in electric power and it’s the perfect emission-free Chicago urban business vehicle. Also, though there was no formal debut, Chicagoans are the first to …

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Auto Leasing is back at GM, Ford and Chrysler

  Auto leasing is showing signs of making a comeback after bottoming out over the last 18 months. Earlier this decade — when U.S. auto sales regularly topped 16 million units a year — leasing accounted for as much as 30 percent of the market in some months. As recently as the first quarter of 2008 — before the worst of the latest recession hit — auto leasing represented 22 percent of the market, according to the Power Information Network, or PIN. Today, U.S. auto sales are barely topping 10 million units a year — the lowest per capita since World War II — and PIN data show auto leasing fell to a low of about 10 percent of U.S. retail auto sales in the third quarter of 2009. But the latest data show car leasing rebounded to about 16 percent in the fourth …

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