Archive for February, 2011

Top 10 trouble-free used cars on the market

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  Most new cars and trucks are bought by a small minority of the population, leaving the bulk of vehicle-seekers in the used-car-shopper category. Hearteningly, some used models turn out to be about as trouble-free as new ones, according to Consumer Reports magazine’s data. CR says 11 2008 models had about the same number of problems as, or fewer problems than, similar 2010 vehicles. Says CR: “Among the most trouble-free 2008 models were the Toyota FJ Cruiser and Yaris, with 11 and 12 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively. The average 2010 car had 13 problems per 100.”But the two Toyotas didn’t do well in the magazine’s road tests, showing that reliability is only one piece of the formula for used-car happiness. Supporting a prejudice held by many, the magazine’s data show that Japanese cars, overall, are the most trouble-free as they age. Honda …

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Hybrid car sales rise as oil prices increase

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  Fuel economy is once again an increasingly important selling point for automakers, especially as turmoil in the Middle East and other factors send oil prices skyrocketing. But when prices go down, mileage goes out the window for many car buyers. It’s no wonder that, with the market for hybrids and electric cars so uncertain, some automakers openly call for either gas taxes or a price floor to ensure that their green models have a stable market. Higher taxes on gas or on carbon emissions in general have long struck me as a good and necessary idea, but then I’m not running for anything. Environmentalists love carbon taxes, but there’s no chance of them getting through Congress. Automakers, however, are sort of surprise converts to the cause. The current oil trend is up. The price for a benchmark barrel of Brent crude has …

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Car sales continue to rise across the board

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  U.S. auto sales per dealership may return to levels reached before the recession after General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC closed locations. Sales per dealer may rise to about 745 new vehicles this year, according to auto dealership consultant Urban Science. The National Automotive Dealership Association forecasts total U.S. sales in 2011 may rise 11 percent to 12.9 million, which would be about 23 percent below the annual average from 2000 to 2007. The number of U.S. auto dealerships fell 4.4 percent last year to 17,659, Detroit based Urban Science said this week in its annual Automotive Franchise Activity Report. The rate of closings slowed from 8 percent in 2009, according to the report. “The domestic consolidations worked and have allowed the remaining dealers an opportunity see their numbers rebound faster,” John Frith, vice president of Urban Science, said in a statement. GM, …

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Canadian Supercar Manufacturer wows ‘Dragons Den’ investors

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  Quick – where does the latest high-performance super sports car come from? Germany? Italy? Japan? Not even close. Try Montreal. Yes, Montreal, home of the HTT Pléthore LC-750. With its own Wikipedia entry and 750 horses thundering under the hood, super-car manufacturer HTT (High Tech Toy) is making waves as the next big contender for the Supercar crown. “Pléthore” is the French word for “Plethora”, which means an overabundance, a word that more than adequately describes this vehicle. The carbon-fiber architecture is so light that the entire vehicle weighs no more than 1,250 kilograms (2750 pounds) – less than most compact cars. Such a light body helps propel the Pléthore from 0-to-100 km/h in 2.8 seconds, reaching a top cruising speed of 388 km/h (241 miles per hour). Of course, the V8, 7-litre super-charged engine helps, too. “It’s the best-balanced car that’s ever been …

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Auto industry set for comeback in 2011

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  First came high gas prices and the housing bust. Then came the credit crunch, soaring unemployment, auto industry bankruptcies and massive Toyota recalls. After a steady stream of bad news for new car dealers, it seems like things are finally looking up — at least for those who have managed to stay afloat through the downturn. That could be good news for job seekers as well, as dealers are forced to add staff because so many positions were eliminated in the recession, according to some analysts. “The industry has sort of come back,” said Toon van Beeck, senior analyst with IBISworld, who is among those predicting that auto dealers will have to hire new employees this year to keep up with demand. Others in the industry caution that those new jobs could trickle in slowly, as the memory of the recent recession remains fresh …

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2012 Toyota Prius V debuts at Toronto Auto Show

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  Making its Canadian debut at the Canadian International Auto Show today, Toyota showcased the Prius v midsize hybrid, part of the expansion of the Prius into a family of innovative hybrid-powered vehicles. The Prius v arrives at Canadian dealerships in late summer 2011. “With 60 per cent of the Canadian hybrid market, Toyota is a recognized leader in hybrid technology. The Toyota Prius v is a significant new hybrid model for us, as we begin the expansion of the Prius family,” noted Warren Orton, Director at Toyota Canada Inc. “The ‘v’ stands for versatility, as the Prius v provides 50 per cent more interior room than the Prius. The Prius v is designed to meet the needs of growing families with active lifestyles, while providing the same benefits as the Prius – including remarkable fuel efficiency and emissions performance.” The Prius v …

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Electric Rolls-Royce Phantom concept to be shown

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  In the not-too-distant future, wealthy motorists may be able to enjoy all the indulgences of super luxury cars without polluting the air. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, BMW’s most exclusive brand, has developed a concept vehicle for an emission-free, electric limousine, the Phantom Experimental Electric, and will display it in March at the Geneva motor show. “We have engineered the world’s first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment,” Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos said in a statement. “With this vehicle, we begin an exploration into alternative drive-trains, seeking clarity on which alternative technologies may be suitable to drive Rolls-Royce motor cars of the future.” There are no plans at this stage to put such a vehicle into production, Rolls-Royce said. But after its Geneva debut, the Phantom Experimental Electric car will be made available to Rolls-Royce customers and others for test-drives to gauge the response, the …

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Honda Civic GX voted greenest car of 2011 by ACEEE

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  The Honda Civic GX is the greenest car of 2011, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The nonprofit organization released its 14th annual environmental ratings list yesterday with the Honda Civic GX, which runs on compressed natural gas, once again winning first place. The ACEEE ranked the all-electric Nissan Leaf second, with the Smart Fortwo in third, and the Toyota Prius in fourth. The Chevy Volt was ranked last at No. 12. However, topping the ACEEE’s list doesn’t necessarily mean the Honda Civic GX is the most consumer-friendly green car available. The car, which has been ranked first place for seven years now, runs on compressed natural gas (CNG), making it extremely clean, but it does require the installation of a CNG home-filling station, or locally available CNG filling stations. One might want to consider the ACEEE’s greenest list as …

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Chinese electric car could sell in the US in early 2012

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  With the electrification of the automobile gaining momentum each day, a dizzying variety of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric drive systems are heading to market in coming years. With each new model, consumers will grasp for precedents. Is that new electric-drive vehicle most like a battery-powered Nissan Leaf or a Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid? Or is the Toyota Prius gas-electric the right benchmark? When it comes to the BYD F3DM, a Chinese car expected to go on sale in the United States early next year, the right answer may be, “All of the above.” The F3DM starts with the platform of the front-drive BYD F3, China’s proven best seller, and adds a 16-kilowatt-hour battery pack and two alternating current electric motors. Its operation is sometimes closest to a pure electric vehicle; at other times it’s closer to a conventional hybrid. BYD calls …

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February vehicle sales up 17 percent from last year

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  J.D. Power and Associates forecast February U.S. light vehicle sales will rise 17 percent from a year earlier. U.S. retail sales are seen up 28 percent at 10.3 million vehicles, the research and consulting firm said on Thursday. J.D. Power said retail selling rates signal the continuing U.S. auto industry recovery from 2008 and 2009, when much of the industry was restructured, including bankruptcies at General Motors Co and Chrysler. Retail selling rates are a better indicator of consumer demand than overall selling rates, which include bulk fleet sales, it said. The firm did not change its forecast for 2011 sales of 13 million light vehicles, up 12 percent from 2010. It sees retail sales up 15 percent to 10.5 million vehicles. “The stronger retail environment, guided by the new business model that the industry is operating under, is an encouraging signal for 2011,” said …

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