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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car News

Ford Could See Earnings Decline Into 2011

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 12:51PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Could See Earnings Decline Into 2011 test 1-1

Credit Suisse has projected that Ford Motor Co. may continue to realize decreasing profits into 2011. Financial analysts project that Ford Motor Co. may possibly see a decline in profits from 2010 to 2011 as a result of increased cost for materials and structural costs, as well as the rise in future pension expense.

It seems that the cards may be stacked against automakers today in more ways than one. It’s not enough that a slow economy has negatively impacted automotive sales with the lowest level profits since the 80s; Ford now faces the possibility of a $900 million addition to the company’s pension expense.  According to a recent Automotive News article: “an earnings-per-share headwind of about 15 cents to 20 cents; if discount rates remain unchanged and asset returns do not improve, analysts, including Christopher Ceraso, said.”

"To the extent that Ford has been a great earnings momentum story, it will be difficult, in our view, for the shares to push higher in the face of declining earnings," analysts wrote to clients.

Analysts believe that Ford could possibly realize a “step-down” in profits from the financing arm of the company, Ford Credit, which has received benefits this year from gains on higher lease residuals as well as losses from slow repayment of credit accounts, which are at an all-time low.

Audi R4 e-tron Roadster Artwork Leaks

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 9:26AM | By: Chris Weiss

Audi R4 e-tron Roadster Artwork Leaks  test 1-1

About two weeks ago, reports of a convertible version of the Audi e-tron R4 surfaced. The reports indicated that Audi would bring the convertible to the Paris Motor Show at month-end. The car would remain mechanically identical to the coupe version, which debuted at the 2010 North American International Auto Show, but would lose its top. This week, artwork of the alleged Paris-bound convertible has surfaced onto the Web and new reports indicate that the latest e-tron concept will be outfitted with a hybrid powertrain.

The artwork shows a convertible with a swooping three-quarter glass that wraps seamlessly around the cockpit. The frameless, sloping side windows ascend gently downward into the rear end, giving the concept a hot, minimalistic look. Outside of losing the top, a variety of other visual changes can be seen including new, widened front intakes and a restyled hood. Perhaps the most interesting change is the influence from the R8 in the rear fascia. The body is a mixture of carbon fiber and aluminum, according to reports.

Surprisingly the largest (alleged) change is not the loss of a top, it's the change to plug-in hybrid power. The original R4 was an all-electric that used two motors mounted to the rear axle to drive the rear wheels. Auto Bild reports that the  e-tron R4 Spyder will also feature two motors to provide up to 31 miles of range, but will add a mid-mounted 3.0-liter TDI V6 to extend that range. A continual variable transmission will pull shifting duties. In this iteration, the two motors will drive the front rather than the rear wheels, with the V6 hooked to the rear wheels.

Shortage of Rubber Results in Increase in Tire Prices

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 9:08AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Shortage of Rubber Results in Increase in Tire Prices test 1-1

As a result of drought conditions and heavy rains, the supply  of rubber has recently declined causing forecasters to predict an increase in the price of rubber over the next 2 years. As demand for rubber exceeds the supply, prices that have already begun to go up by major tire dealers, such as Goodyear and Bridgestone, will continue to climb.

Bloomberg News reported in a recent article that in 2009 there was actually a surplus of over 200,000 tons of rubber, compared to this year’s supply coming in at a shortage of 60,000 tons. In the commodities market, the price of rubber has already risen to a “near-record”  high cost of $4 per kilogram, according to Automotive News. In the stock market many investors will take advantage of the sudden increase in the commodity price. 

The rubber tapping season which normally takes place in Indonesia, Thailand, and Russia has been shortened due to unusual climate which has resulted in the shortage.    

With rubber harvest falling short of expectations, Bridgestone, Goodyear, and Cooper Tire have not only raised this year’s prices, the companies have also announced that the cost of tires will go up again next year in October.

Experts are projecting that the shortage of supply along with the uncertainty of the economy will be factors influencing the continued rise of rubber goods including tires.

UAW Plans Flexible Turnaround

On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 3:06PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

UAW Plans Flexible Turnaround test 1-1

President of the United Auto Workers Bob King reported this week that the UAW intends to ensure that members share the profit in Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group, and General Motors in 2011.

According to Automotive news, King stated: “The union wants the workers to share in the turnarounds at the U.S. automakers in a way that does not put the companies 'back in a cycle of uncompetitiveness' that left them struggling in recent years."

In a recent interview with Reuters, King was quoted as saying, "There are a number of different approaches" to achieve that, including "flexible compensation, whether it is profit-sharing or gain-sharing."

UAW contracts have enabled automakers to lower wages (entry level auto workers now make about half the hourly wage that seasoned workers earn), and provide for less benefits, due to the automotive industry crisis that started back in 2007.

The latest news is that the UAW will be writing a new contract with the intention of “rolling back some of those concessions in contract talks next year,” according to Automotive News.


Distracted Driving Fatalities Remain at Epidemic Levels

On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 9:46AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Distracted Driving Fatalities Remain at Epidemic Levels test 1-1

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), although the number of traffic fatalities resulting from talking or texting on mobile phones fell 6% from the previous year, the number of crashes that occur as a direct result of distracted drivers continues to climb t an astonishing rate. The number of traffic fatalities related to driving while distracted by talking on a cellular phone, texting, or eating caused 16% of all fatal accidents, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Crashes linked to drivers being distracted behind the wheel caused 5,474 deaths in the year 2009, down from 5,838 a year earlier and accounting for 16 percent of all road fatalities in 2009, unchanged from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “These numbers show that distracted driving remains an epidemic in America, and they are just the tip of the iceberg,” LaHood said in an e-mailed statement.

Many researchers feel that the official statistics underestimate the actual number of accidents caused by distracted driving, according to LaHood’s statement in a recent Automotive News article. In many states the statistics reported by police fail to document inattention as a primary cause of auto accidents. Some of the many reasons that drivers can lose focus are by talking on and texting on cellular phones and other devices, such as ipods and portable computers. Other activities that can commonly cause distractions while driving include eating, talking, and personal grooming.

"Drivers in their 20s are the most likely to be involved in a fatal crash tied to distractions, according to the statement. For mobile phones in particular, the 30- to 39-year-old group had the highest involvement," according to Automotive News.

NHTSA statistics indicate that distracted driving accidents resulting in deaths have increased to 16% from 10% in the year 2005.

In January the National Highway Safety Counsel discovered that 1.4 million crashes occur each year as a result of drivers using cellular phones, and at least 200,000 are added to the statistics when drivers who are texting are considered.

Lotus Shows First Big Look at Its 'New Era': The Elite

On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 9:44AM | By: Chris Weiss

Lotus Shows First Big Look at Its 'New Era': The Elite  test 1-1

Lotus has revealed its Elite 2 + 2 GT roadster concept that brings us the first example of the company's 'dawn of a new era.' A sexy, sporty two-door with plenty of power, the new concept gives a peek into what is sure to be an exciting future for Lotus sports cars.

It's been quite an exciting day for pre-Paris news. First, we read some credible information predicting that Lamborghini will be showing two brand-spanking-new super-vehicles, and now a look at the fetching Lotus Elite.

The Elite is powered by a front-mid supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine from the Lexus IS-F. The engine will be connected to an epicyclic transmission with two electric motors and KERS. Final output is expected at 542 horsepower, but a 610-hp R variant is also expected.

Performance for the 610-hp Elite R will come in at 3.5 seconds to 62 mph, with a top speed around 195 mph.

In terms of styling, design director Donato Coco aimed to provide some more depth and dynamics over models like the Evora, Exige and Elise. This is most apparent in the aggressive, restyled front end. The concept model coming to Paris will feature a retractable hard-top, but a coupe and full convertible may also come down the line. Inside, Lotus says the car matches its "shark-like" exterior with an equally attractive, well-appointed interior.

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, CEO gave his thoughts on the new model in a release: "There's no denying that the Elite is breathtakingly beautiful to look at but it's so much more than that, it's a car that over delivers in all other aspects as well. One could say it's a car of perfect contradictions, it's compact yet spacious, high performing yet low emitting, lightweight yet still reassuringly solid. It's a car that we are exceptionally proud of at Lotus and we truly believe that there is nothing else like it out there both in terms of styling and performance.

The Lotus Elite is being developed for a 2014 release. Pricing is being estimated at 115,000 pounds (about $180K). It's sure to bring Lotus back into the conversation with the Porsches, Ferraris, and Aston Martins out there. Look for more Lotus concepts in the days leading up to the Paris Motor Show.

Ford Introduces Contoured Air Bags in 2012 Focus

On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 4:20PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Introduces Contoured Air Bags in 2012 Focus  test 1-1

There's a face in my air bag! Ford's new contoured air bags remind me a little bit of looking at an evil, large-brained Michelin Man, but they serve a righteous cause: mitigating the possibility of injury in an accident. Continuing its commitment toward innovation in safety, Ford announced its new and improved front and side air bag technology last week.

The contoured section of the new driver-side air bag is designed to limit impact of the chest and ribs in the event of a crash. A tether system creates the depression that you see above and helps to make for a less harmful impact.

On the passenger side, the side air bags feature newly implemented vents that can decrease the pressure for smaller occupants. The vents are placed toward the top of the air bag, meaning that larger passengers will cover them up and get the support of a fully pressurized bag, whereas smaller occupants will hit the air bags below the vents causing air to be diverted out. The lower pressurization is designed to provide less impact for smaller passengers.

The frontal passenger-side air bags also deploy differently based upon the size of the occupant. Instead of vents, these air bags use sensors to determine the size of the passenger and deploy accordingly.

Cadillac Recalls CTS And CTS-V, Passengers Urged to Buckle Up

On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 2:48PM | By: John Welch

Cadillac Recalls CTS And CTS-V, Passengers Urged to Buckle Up test 1-1

The Cadillac CTS is stylish and satisfying, in ways few American-made luxury sedans are able to muster. Though penny-pinching is evident, the interior of this fine auto is more driver-centric than any other vehicle rolling out of Motown. Unless you are seated on the passenger side, you're too dumb to wear your seat belt, and the CTS you currently occupy drills a telephone poll.

According to the Detroit Free Press, tests conducted by the government found that a front seat passenger not wearing a seat belt could strike the glove box door and sustain leg injuries in a crash.

GM said all motorists should wear seat belts (dUh). The automaker plans to begin notifying owners of the recall next month. Dealers will replace the glove compartment assembly at no charge.

Owners can contact Cadillac at 866-982-2339. If you have already been injured by a CTS glove box, and weren't wearing a seatbelt, please slap yourself in the mouth for being an ass.

Honda And Toyota Among Top Targets for Auto Theft

On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 2:12PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Honda And Toyota Among Top Targets for Auto Theft test 1-1

Although it may seem that the most likely automobiles to be stolen would be the most expensive brands, such as BMW or Mercedes, in fact the opposite is true. On the list of the top 10 most prevalent cars to be stolen are actually Hondas and Toyotas. In fact, the number one most stolen car in America is actually the older Honda Accord and Civic models, as well as the late model Toyota Corolla, ranked 10th, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

While one may think that their car is too plain to be on the top most stolen cars in the country, the truth is that an automobile’s ubiquity may actually make it more attractive as a target to thieves.

The 2010 NICB “Hot wheels” report revealed the actual number and models that were stolen last year. The statictics were then compiled by the FBI’s 2009 Uniform Crime Report that was recently released.

Surprisingly the overall number of thefts were down last year: 794,616 vehicles were reported stolen, which is 17% lower than 2008.

The reasons that older models are targeted for theft is that those models are much less likely to have anti-theft devices, such as alarms, tracking devices, or immobilizers. There is also a very strong market for auto parts theft and resale in the more common models such as Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

According to NICB president Joe Wehrle, "As our Hot Wheels report shows, many of these thefts end up in chop shops where they are turned into replacement parts."

Redesigned Elantra To Hail From Alabama

On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 11:18AM | By: John Welch

Redesigned Elantra To Hail From Alabama test 1-1

Bemoan the SUV, my friends, small cars are taking over. Hyundai is jumping into the new or mostly new small car fray by redesinging the Elantra, consolidating the flowing design language first seen on the new Sonata. To be built this fall, in Alabama, the Elantra will go on sale in early 2011. The high-end Elantra Touring model will still be imported from South Korea, leaving room at the Alabama facility for the hot-selling Sonata, of which Hyundai cannot seem to make enough. “Because we have the flexibility to take additional production from outside the plant, it shouldn’t have any impact on Sonata production at all,” Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford said. “We will have the ability to build Sonata to demand at the Alabama plant.”

We like the goofy carpish body panels, and with the edition of a 274 bhp turbo-four, we should be satisfied by the Sonata's power.

Back to the Elantra. No word on what sort of power plants we can expect from the mid-small-whatever size Elantra, but no reason the Sonata's base 200 bhp four couldn't be included. That would make for one snappy compact!

Toyota Hopes new 2011 tC will boost Scion Sales

On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 9:52AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Hopes new 2011 tC will boost Scion Sales test 1-1

Scion’s VP announced recently that the new redesign of Scion tC coupe could potentially “double sales and breathe new life into the struggling youth-focused brand.” Next year Scion is hoping to sell between 35,000 to 45,000 units of what the Toyota owned company is calling “more-powerful coupes in 2011.”

Scion posted sales of 18,000 tC units last year, down 56% from the previous year, after a peak of 79,125 units sold in 2006. According to The Bloomberg news, the most recent forecast from Hollis came in below that of 40,000–50,000 reported in March.

The tC model has accounted for more than 41% of Scion’s overall sales for the past 6 years since it was first introduced; Scion is depending heavily on a strong future market for the 2011 tC model.

So far this year, sales of the coupe have followed suit with many other brands in that numbers have fallen—down 36% through the end of August for a total of only 8,848 vehicles sold in 2010, so far. But according to Hollis “the slide is typical for a sporty subcompact car late in its product life cycle.” He cited unemployment in the 26-year-old age group that is double the national average as one reason for decreased sales, as the Scion has sucessfully appealed to that younger market. Hollis stated: “I think we're kind of timed right for this, where hopefully the unemployment rate will turn here at the beginning of the year.”