Archive for December, 2010

Car sales predictions remain positive for 2011

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  While the overall health of the economy in 2011 remains hard to diagnose at the close of 2010, at least one part of the economy seems likely to receive a shot in the arm: car sales. Predictions for next year range from 12.5 million to 14 million, which would signal a boost of at least 10% over this year’s numbers. “There are a lot of people out there who have held off on buying a new car for the last three years,” says Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at auto website Edmunds.com, who forecasts sales of 12.5 million next year. Although the final sales are still being counted, it looks as if car sales will reach 11.4 million in 2010. But although analysts predict auto sales will fare better in 2011 than in 2010, they’re hardly forecasting a banner year. As recently …

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Car sales appear to be on the right track

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  Despite the roller-coaster economy of 2010, car sales appear to be on the right track. While sales reached the lowest point in 27 years — at 10.4 million units — in 2009, projections for this year are totaling somewhere between 12.2 million and 12.3 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. And on the local front, a survey of local auto dealers shows strong increases. Gjovik Auto Group in Sandwich has had one of its best years of business in 43 years — and that’s in the same year it received the nod from then-bankrupt General Motors to keep its dealership open. Gjovik Buick/GMC was put on the chopping block in the second round of cuts GM issued its dealers, but was reinstated with more than 600 other dealerships this year. With that reinstatement came new requirements that Gjovik Auto Group had …

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Auto industry to lead economy out of recession in 2011

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  Despite product recalls and a still-sluggish economy, 2010 was a good year for the auto dealers locally and nationwide. Several Burlington dealerships say they expect 2010 new-car sales to top 2009 by as much as 40 percent. Used-car business, fueled by buyers looking to replace older cars and trucks at less expense, is also up by as much as 36 percent at some dealerships. The volume is expected to continue in 2011. “There is a big, pent-up demand right now. People are starting to come into showrooms. There’s huge traffic on our website, which means that people are starting to look again. They are gathering information now, which could mean business three or four months from now,” said Greg Westcott, vice president of Westcott Buick GMC Suzuki. Sales at the South Church Street dealership beat 2009 figures in August, Westcott said. Jim Butler, sales manager …

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Demand for larger vehicles and used cars was up in 2010

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  The past year was marked by increased demand for larger vehicles and used cars, and auto makers outside Japan scaled back incentives, car shopping website Edmunds.com said Tuesday in its review of 2010 trends. Consumers, particularly those who put off buying a car in the recession, were warmer to trucks and sports utility vehicles as gas prices remained stable. For 2010, Edmunds expects truck sales rose 15% and SUV sales, 21%. Meanwhile, sales of midsize and compact cars are expected to be up 7.8% and 1.1%, respectively. Hybrid car sales are seen down 8.1%. Used cars were also more popular: their average price was $19,345 this month versus $16,586 a year earlier. Analyst Karl Brauer said that because car shoppers have been willing to opt for used or certified preowned cars rather than new cars, the reduced supply and increased demand pushed the cost …

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Top 10 things to do before buying a new or used car

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  New or used, buying a car is expensive. In fact, it’s the second-most expensive purchase that most consumers make next to a home. Strong research is the key to buying a car that doesn’t make too big of a dent in your wallet. Here are 10 things to do before you head off to a dealer’s lot. 1. Determine your budget: Don’t head to a dealer’s lot until you’ve decided on a budget. Start by using the home budget calculator to find out how much you can really afford. In general, aim to spend no more than 20 percent of your monthly household income on all costs associated with all of the cars in your household. That would include the cost of monthly payments, insurance, repairs, maintenance and fuel. 2. Don’t assume you need to buy used: Thanks to strong demand for used cars, …

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Matte Black has become popular with car designers

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  Among car designers and stylists, matte is becoming the new black. The not-so-shiny satin finish (usually in black) popularized by urban hot-rodders, racers and custom-motorcycle builders is going mainstream and upscale. Ducati famously swathed its Monster Dark motorcycles in matte black. Lamborghini has been selling cars with matte black, white and even blue finishes. We have seen production cars from Audi, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz and others with matte paint that harks back to the 1949 Mercuries and ‘32 Ford highboy roadsters that personify the 1950s and 1960s when young hot-rodders on tight budgets often saved the paint for last. Concentrating on making cars fast before making them good-looking, they drove their ‘rods on the street and the dragstrip covered in primer, which at least kept their bodies from rusting. Now car makers are using the look add edginess to their designs and …

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Top Six Electric-Car Predictions for 2011

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  The last weeks of 2010 were taken up with good news stories — the latest batch of electric vehicles (EVs) reached their first customers, and there were smiles, handshakes and photo opportunities. Celebrities posed with their new cars, and executives predicted great things in 2011, including big volumes. As the year winds down, here are six predictions about what will actually go down next year. Yes, I do see great things ahead, but it won’t necessarily be all that dramatic — it will be a year of modest gains, incremental change, and adjustment to a whole new automotive marketplace: 1. Mainstream EVs will sell out. This sounds great, but it’s not necessarily all that significant. As with auto sales right after World War II, there is pent-up demand. We’ve been hearing about EVs for several years without being able to actually buy them, …

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66 vehicles earn top safety pick award for 2011

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  Sixty-six vehicles earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award for 2011, including 40 cars, 25 SUVs, and a minivan. Top Safety Pick recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on good ratings in Institute tests. Winners also must have available electronic stability control, a crash avoidance feature that significantly reduces crash risk. The ratings help consumers pick vehicles that offer a higher level of protection than federal safety standards require. Last year the Institute toughened criteria for Top Safety Pick by adding a requirement that all qualifiers must earn a good rating for performance in a roof strength test to assess protection in a rollover crash. The move sharply narrowed the initial field of 2010 winners. At the beginning of the 2010 model year, only 27 …

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Motorist drives high-performance car onto President Bush’s front lawn

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  A motorist tells the Secret Service that his gas pedal became stuck during his visit to the gated neighborhood. A man was questioned by the Secret Service Wednesday night after driving a muscle car onto the lawn of former President George W. Bush’s home near Dallas. Former first lady Laura Bush and the ex-president were inside the house at the time but were unharmed and never in danger, officials told NBC station KXAS. Officials do not believe the motorist intended to harm the couple, according to KXAS. Officials told KXAS that the suspect had visited a friend’s house in Bush’s gated neighborhood to show off his Plymouth Barracuda. The man told investigators he ran onto the former president’s yard when his gas pedal became stuck. No one was injured, KXAS reported. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said there was no damage to the house. Donovan said the driver …

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GM is looking to triple electric-car sales targets

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  General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson is looking to at least triple the company’s target for electric-car sales by expanding the market for the Chevrolet Volt and adding models that would share similar technology, said three people familiar with his plan. Akerson, who took over on Sept. 1, told his executive team in early December to find ways to sell three to four times as many electric cars as planned for 2012 by mid-decade, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. GM has said it expects to sell 10,000 Volts in 2011 and 45,000 the following year, when capacity may reach 60,000. Increasing Volt sales and developing other models with electric drive will spread out the cost of developing the technology across more vehicles. It also carries risk because hybrid and electric cars …

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