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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car News

Ohio Dealer Running for Congress Faces Two Lawsuits

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 10:22AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ohio Dealer Running for Congress Faces Two Lawsuits test 1-1

Ohio auto dealer, Tom Ganley is running for Congress this year. Ganley is a 67-year-old Republican who is on the board of the National Automobile Dealers Association, and he faces two lawsuits pertaining to his professional conduct that is bringing unsolicited press to his political campaign.

Ganley Auto Group, located in Cleveland, is one of Ohio’s largest dealership groups with 28 franchises in 17 locations, including Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, and Volkswagen. Ganley has received criticism from other dealers for condemning the cash for clunkers program last year after selling a total of $20 million vehicles in the program.    
Russell Harris, former on-staff attorney for Ganley, claimed he was fired after he questioned Ganley about the dealer’s testimony during Chrysler arbitration hearings last year.

Ganley had stated in his testimony that Chysler delivered hundreds of inadequate vehicles, that had not been ordered, to his dealership, causing his sales to suffer. Those complaints were never substantiated by witnesses, and Harris concluded that he was unable to prove Ganley’s claims. Ganley maintains he fired Harris “on the spot for some of his conduct and performance at the arbitration,” Brent Buckley, Ganley’s current lawyer, said. Ganley’s claim was an attempt to win back reinstatement of 3 dealerships that Chrysler had closed, in the end he withdrew his claim and settled with Chrysler.

Lexus Annouces Innovative Safety Technology For The New LS 600 H Model

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 10:07AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Lexus Annouces Innovative Safety Technology For The New LS 600 H Model  test 1-1

Toyota has come up with innovative new technology for Lexus with the intention of reducing the possibility of automotive accidents caused by motorists’ inattention to the road. The new Lexus LS 600h will feature the latest in pre-crash safety technology using a system that is able to keep watch over the driver to monitor his/her concentration levels. The Lexus LS 600h goes on sale next month.

Lexus has introduced an intelligent new driver safety system using 6 cameras that monitor the driver’s face as he/she operates the car. If there’s an obstacle in the path while the driver’s head is facing the wrong direction, this ingenious technology will activate a warning signal and then initiate safety measures on its own. The system also incorporates active headrest safety features designed to minimize injury in the event of a rear-end collision.

The world’s first innovative technology that provides for the Driver Monitoring System is one element of the advanced Pre-Crash Safety (PCS) system, which brings together a series of features that can recognize a potentially dangerous traffic/road situation and assist the motorist to take action to reduce the risk of a collision. If there is an impact, the system takes action to try to minimize the impact to the driver.

(M)ost (V)enomous (P)layer

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 9:54AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

(M)ost (V)enomous (P)layer test 1-1

If you are among the millions of NFL fans out there, odds are you know what it feels like when a division rival’s best player gets injured or retires from the game. You know it’s good for your team, but it’s a bittersweet feeling at best. Sure if Peyton Manning got hurt, it will be good for the Texans, Titans, and Jaguar fans (and frankly, good for every team but the Colts, come to think of it). But suddenly beating the Colts won’t mean nearly as much with Curtis Painter at the helm. The victories would still be happily accepted, but they would be bittersweet to some extent. A win against a team at full strength feels more like victory than against a team that is depleted. Beyond that, a day in the NFL without Peyton Manning is a much worse NFL than the one with Peyton Manning. The league suffers if it loses one of its most fierce and demonstrative players for any amount of time.  

Such is the feeling Chevy and Ford more than likely shared when Dodge announced that it was discontinuing the Viper back on July 1 of this year. Sure, it trims the competition a bit and is one less 600 horsepower supercar the ZR-1 and GT500 have to deal with, but somehow it just feels like a hollow advancement up the ranks. Well, that feeling has come and gone faster than a Prius’ 0-60mph time, because Dodge’s MVP is on its way out of retirement and training to get back on the field. According to Autoweek.com, a concept rendition of what should be the next Viper was unveiled by Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne at a convention center in Orlando, Florida.  

Critics Say GM Lied About Chevrolet Volt

On: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 12:27PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Critics Say GM Lied About Chevrolet Volt test 1-1

Just one month before the official launch of the Chevrolet Volt, there is a controversy brewing over whether or not the Volt is truly an electric vehicle. General Motors claims on its website that the Volt is not a hybrid, but an "extended-range electric vehicle", but many are saying that the car’s engine uses gasoline as the primary energy source for an electric generator subsequently turning the wheels of the vehicle—exactly how hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius engine, operate. GM has been representing the Volt for the past 3 years as an all electric vehicle, not a hybrid like the Prius.

According to Jim Hall, of 2953 Auto Analytics Inc.: "You have a PR problem with any one of these vehicles." Hall also stated, "GM had this sort of schizophrenic thing about doing its best to manage perception and at the same time going off into traditional old-style GM hype."

General Motors has promoted the Volt for 3 years as a green vehicle that would run on electric power and get 230 miles per gallon. The $41,000 Volt was assigned a unique marketing strategy in hopes that the Volt’s image would be differentiated from the Toyota Prius, giving the vehicle an edge in the market.

The EPA has not released an official rating on the Volt as far as fuel economy, and GM has released a statement that some consumers may realize lower fuel ratings.

Auto critics from  Motor Trend and Popular Mechanics are saying that the Volt uses its combustion gas-powered engine to charge an electric generator which powers the wheels—just as a hybrid operates. They deem the Chevrolet Volt to be an electric plug-in hybrid, NOT the all-electric vehicle that General Motors has claimed for years the Volt would be.

A recent Edmunds review of the car contains the headline that reads, “GM Lied: Chevy Volt is not a true EV.”


Fleet Sales Account For The Third Quarter Rise In U.S. Auto Sales

On: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 9:44AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Fleet Sales Account For The Third Quarter Rise In U.S. Auto Sales  test 1-1

Although the highest sales rates in over a year were posted last month for the U.S. auto industry, fleet sales accounted for more growth than retail sales, according to Automotive News.com. Fleet sales accounts for all of the vehicles purchased for commercial use, such as for car rental agencies, transportation, and/or government agency use (such as the sedans purchased for the local police force).

September numbers posted were higher than third quarter numbers last year, even considering that the cash for clunkers program was going on last year, which was initially very encouraging for the automotive industry. The bad news is that, according to analyst George Magliano, "Fleet is still the driver—it certainly isn't the consumer."  Magliano also stated, "Fleet has backed off a bit from the first half, but it's still strong. The retail side is still a bit weak." Of the total 2.3 million units sold by Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia, and Nissan combined retail sales reportedly fell 4% to 1.8 million, but fleet units went up by 24% to 461,786 units.

Every automaker in the U.S., other than General Motors, realized increased sales that were according to automotive news; “double- or triple-digit percentages.” GM actually realized a decrease in sales of 2% last quarter, but its fleet volume was 26% of the total sales volume.

Honda Motors, which does not offer fleet sales, was one of automakers seeing a drop in U.S. sales for the third quarter, and experts attribute that decline to the lack of fleet sales offered.

Chrysler posted a total fleet sales number of 34% for the third quarter, up from only 25% at this time last year, and Nissan tripled its third-quarter fleet volume to 14,076. Ford sold 26% more fleet vehicles in the third quarter, up from 23% last year.

Ford chief sales analyst George Pipas reports that he feels the auto market is doing better in general, but making a comparison to last years’ sales volume is difficult because of the Cash for Clunkers program. "It's positive that retail sales are off just a little from a period with an extremely popular incentive," Pipas said. He also commented, "Without clunkers a year ago, then the industry's third quarter [this year] would have been up for both fleet and retail."

Lincoln Dealers Are Told To Invest Or Go Away

On: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 9:30AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Lincoln MKX Steering apparatus  test 2

Ford has announced to Lincoln Dealers that they must all make a decision to either invest to keep up with new service standards, or to be one of the 200 or so franchises (out of 1,200 total) that Ford will let go.

"Dealers will decide," said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co.'s president of the Americas. “But the reality is that any dealer who does not agree to upgrades negotiated with Lincoln field staffers will get whatever severance compensation Lincoln offers.”

As part of a plan to improve Lincoln’s image and competitive edge, Ford is asking that Lincoln dealers meet new standards, which Ford says only about 25% of  all Lincoln dealers currently meet.

Currently Lincoln ranks very low on a list of 9 luxury brands for service, loyalty, residual value, and sales. Lincoln is the exception when it comes to Ford models that have gained popularity and earned high points for safety and reliability this year, but it was not always so for the Ford luxury brand. In 1998 Lincoln ranked as one of the top luxury cars in the U.S. with sales climbing over 187,000.

"Dealers know it's screwed up," said Bob Tasca Jr., a Rhode Island dealer and head of Lincoln's dealer council. "We are looking for a chance to change. It has to change, because the way it is isn't working."

Ford Credit Rating Raised Two Levels by Moodys

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 3:14PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Credit Rating Raised Two Levels by Moodys test 1-1

According to Moody’s Investors Service, Ford Motor Company has achieved another rise in its credit rating, this time by 2 levels, Moody reported that Ford’s performance has “significantly exceeded expectations.” This was the 5th upgrade that Moody has given Ford in the last year, raising the Detroit automaker’s rating from B1 to Ba2. Moody stated it has a very optimistic outlook toward Ford Motor Credit Co., Ford’s finance auxiliary.

“The company is well positioned to continue generating strong earnings and cash flow through 2011, and to further strengthen its balance sheet,” J. Bruce Clark, Moody’s senior vice president, said in a statement. “At the same time that the industry’s business practices have become more disciplined, Ford is coming to market with an exceptionally strong product portfolio.”

Lewis Booth, Ford CFO, stated that moving back into investment grade for the first time since 2005 has “become a rallying cry within the company.”
Ford has been able to pay off $7 billion in debt as a result of its profitable second quarter although it continues to have more financial debt than General Motors after GM claimed bankruptcy last year.

Ford earned $4.7 billion in the first 6 months this year, the biggest first half profit since 1998. Sales of the redesigned Fusion and Taurus sedans were instrumental in propelling Ford’s sales to 21% through September of this year.

Bentley and Audi Teaming Up on 4.0-Liter V8 Engine

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 3:12PM | By: Chris Weiss

Bentley and Audi Teaming Up on 4.0-Liter V8 Engine  test 1-1

If you take a look at a list of the 10 or so least efficient cars in America, you'll see the name "Bentley" pop up more than once. The 2010 Bentley Continental GT, for instance, brings home just 11 mpg city and 17 mpg highway. When you make cars stacked with luxurious accents (read: weight) and powered with giant W12 engines, you're bound to find yourself on that uncoveted list.

With U.S. and global fuel economy regulations clamping down over the next few years, Bentley will need to find a way to cut its emissions. Toward that end, Bentley is working with Volkswagen stablemate Audi on a new engine that will help it cut its embarrassingly large footprint.

The new engine is direct-injected 4.0-liter V8 to be used in both Bentley and Audi models. So far the only model being mentioned is the dirty, ol' Continental GT, which currently uses a 6.0-liter W12 to deliver the aforementioned EPA figures. Bentley plans to offer the V8 option on the Continental GT toward the end of next year and indicates that the smaller, cleaner V8 will cut emissions by 40 percent over the W12.

Bentley's director of chassis and powertrain Brian Gush assured future Continental owners that the new engine will still deliver the Bentley experience. He told auto guide Whatcar: "We are adapting it for our purposes so that it delivers Bentley driving characteristics. It does not have a conventional layout."

Credit Requirements Ease Helping Recovery of Auto Industry

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 11:35AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Credit Requirements Ease Helping Recovery of Auto Industry test 1-1

The news for the auto industry just keeps getting better and better; now auto buyers are having an easier time getting credit which may be the turning point in the industry’s decline. Last month auto sales in the U.S. were the highest since the government launched the “Cash For Clunkers” program in the fall of 2009.

In July, federal loan programs started to loosen up standards for auto lending which “rejuvenated the market for securitized auto debt", said Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, Ford's chief economist. Research data showed that along with credit terms easing up, auto sales numbers have also increased.

“Credit has begun to ease for automotive in general,” Hughes-Cromwick said in a telephone interview. “We should see consumer credit begin to evidence some recovery, but it is a slow go. I don't think anybody is baking in some sizable cyclical uplift in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Group 1 Automotive Inc.,  and CarMax Inc. both stated that credit is not as much of an obstacle but that it did add to the slow U.S. auto sales last year, the lowest, in fact, in over 2 decades at only 10.4 million units sold.

“Credit is certainly available to meet the consumer's needs,” Peter DeLong, a vice president at Houston-based Group 1 Automotive, said in a telephone interview. “For current sales levels to increase, we need additional showroom traffic.”

The sale of vehicles to subprime credit buyers (with FICO scores below 619) also rose; in fact, the increase of over 9% was the highest since February of 2008.

Toyota Launches New Standard Service Plan In Hopes Of Repairing Its Reputation

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 11:32AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Launches New Standard Service Plan In Hopes Of Repairing Its Reputation test 1-1

Toyota Motor Corporation has announced its new service plan for U.S. buyers in an attempt to try to regain customer trust after the company’s “recall crisis.”  The new service plan will apply to all Toyota vehicles as well as the Scion brand.

Every new Toyota and Scion vehicle will now come standard with the new service plan that Toyota is calling "Toyota Care and "Scion Service Boost." These two new plans offer free factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The two maintenance plans, which go into effect this month, make Toyota the first full-line brand to offer a complimentary maintenance plan standard on all new vehicles within its lineup. Toyota began offering complimentary maintenance plans this spring as part of its seasonal sales promotion. Due to an overwhelmingly positive response from customers, both plans are now standard on new vehicle purchases across the Toyota and Scion line-up.

“The two complimentary maintenance plans were developed to help improve overall cost of ownership and provide invaluable peace of mind for our customers,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. “The new programs were inspired by owner feedback and once again reflect how Toyota listens to its customers.”

A recent survey indicated that as many as 73% of the customers who received the free maintenance service plan stated that it “improved their confidence in Toyota,” according to Automotive News.com.

The new plans cover all normal factory-recommended maintenance services outlined in the vehicle’s owners’ manual, including oil and filter changes, tire rotations, lubrication of key chassis parts/components, a 19-point inspection and 24-hour roadside assistance (lockout protection, flat tires, towing, jump starts, and more). Additional details are available through Toyota & Scion dealers.

The Toyota Care program is supported by an advertising campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi ad agency. The television ads began airing nationally the first week of October. The message emphasizes peace of mind and worry-free maintenance.

According to Toyota, the new service plan is the first complimentary maintenance plan offered on a full line of products by any automaker.  

LaHood Encourages U.S. Ban on All Mobile Phone Use While Driving

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 11:14AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

LaHood Encourages U.S. Ban on All Mobile Phone Use While Driving test 1-1

Ray LaHood, United States Transportation Secretary, made a recent statement that he believes a ban should be passed on the use of all cell phones while driving, including hands-free calling and texting.  

Lahood has led the campaign against texting while driving that has resulted in 30 states adopting laws that prohibit motorists from making calls and/or texting while operating a motor vehicle. The government transportation secretary also voiced concern regarding programs such as Ford Motor Company’s Sync and GM’s OnStar program as far as causing driver distraction.

“I don't want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they're driving,” LaHood said in an interview this week. “We need a lot better research on other distractions, including Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calls and the in-car systems,” he said.

While Lahood’s campaign against mobile phones being used while driving may not necessarily end up in a ban of cell phones in all states, it’s likely that Lahood may influence automakers to reduce the production of technical features such as the Sync.  

According to Olivia Alair, spokeswoman for the NHTSA, “even hands-free phone conversations are a cognitive distraction.”  
Lahood plans to meet with U.S. automakers in order to attempt to gain support for his campaign to limit distracted driving, he announced in a recent interview.