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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car News

U.S. Auto Brands On The Rise According to New J.D. Power Survey

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 11:11AM | By: Chris Weiss

The Ford Edge test 2

It's been a rough few years for the American automobile industry, no matter how you cut it. However, it appears that the Detroit Big 3 are benefiting from refocused efforts and the image problems of companies abroad. A new survey from J.D. Power and Associates indicates that American car buyers are actually the most satisfied car consumers in the country.

The Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study (APEAL) asked 76,000 respondents during February through May about their experience with new vehicles purchased within 90 days. No short-form, like or dislike format, the survey grilled respondents about more than 80 different vehicle criteria to garner a comprehensive look at how drivers felt about their automobiles. The data was then compounded to put together a numeric score on a scale that rises to 1,000.

For the first time in 13 years, American cars were actually triumphant over Asian and European models. Overall, American brands averaged 787 points, which was 13 points higher than imports. This represents a large jump from last year, in which American brands earned a collective 776 and lagged five points behind imports. America's gains were driven largely by new and redesigned models from Ford and GM.

Update on Appeals Process for U.S. Auto Dealers

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 10:45AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Update on Appeals Process for U.S. Auto Dealers test 1-1

Literally hundreds of U.S. auto dealers faced with closure of their dealerships filed an appeals process in order to stay in business. The appeals court will soon be over for many dealerships, but the Chrysler Group may still have to tackle months of litigation with its dealers in various states.

According to a recent Associated Press article by DeAnne Durbin there are only 35 cases left unresolved out of nearly 1,600 General Motors and Chrysler disputes that were initially brought to arbitration. Final hearings are set for this week and the decisions will be handed down by the end of the week.

The arbitration hearings were ordered by Congress after U.S. automakers filed for bankruptcy last year, and then announced plans to close 2800 GM and Chrysler dealerships. U.S. automakers were saying that there were too many dealerships and made reference to Toyota, which is the world’s largest automaker, having only 1200 dealerships in the U.S.

The dealerships argued that franchises have been family-owned for many generations, and requested that consumer buying trends dictate which dealerships stay open.

Chevy To Back The Volt Battery With 100,000-Mile Warranty

On: Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 11:32AM | By: Chris Weiss

Volt Battery Plant Manager  Marisol McCormick assembles the first Volt batt test 2

If you are a little hesitant to buy into hybrid or electric vehicle market because of the unproven nature of the technology behind these vehicles, GM has just made your decision a little lighter. The automaker announced today that it will extend an industry-leading 8-year/100,000-mile warranty to the lithium-ion battery used in the Volt. Not only does GM stress that this is the longest, most robust battery warranty to be offered on any electric vehicle, it states that the warranty is transferable, at no cost, when the Volt is sold. The newly announced battery warranty is also better than the 5-year/100,000-mile warranty Chevy offers on its gasoline engines.

GM's new warranty covers not only all battery components—numbering 161 in total—but also extends to the thermal management system, which is used to warm or cool the battery depending upon outside weather conditions, the charging system, and the electric drive components. It should deliver extra consumer confidence in the integrity of the new electric drivetrain being used within the Volt.

While the new warranty delivers extra protection, GM is confident that its battery offers the on-road performance needed to stand up to daily driving. The battery has been developed to hold up under extreme temperatures, rough terrain, and other rigors of everyday use. According to GM's own numbers, testers have put one million miles and four million hours into testing every aspect of the batteries including short circuiting, corrosion, water submersion, and extreme temperature shifts.

Toyota May Not Be Entirely At Fault in Unintended Acceleration

On: Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 9:50AM | By: Chris Weiss

2011 Toyota Avalon  test 2

The United States Department of Transportation has been rigorously analyzing paperwork and equipment relating to Toyota's unintended accleration problems, issues that have caused the recall of more than eight million vehicles, beginning last year. While the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA) has already slapped Toyota with a $16.4 million fine, and may still add more fines to that total, a recent report in the Wall Street Journal indicates that the agency is finding that Toyota is not the only party to blame in the acceleration woes. In at least a portion of the complaints, driver error has been found to be the cause of the issue.

In an intensive analysis of dozens of vehicle data recorders taken from Toyota models involved in sudden acceleration incidents, the NHTSA has found that many of them recorded the throttle being fully open and the brakes being disengaged at the time of crashing. This shows that the drivers involved were punching the accelerator, but not stepping on the brakes at all.

The problem of sudden acceleration, which has been linked to both floor mats and defective, sticking accelerator pedals in individual recalls, has been that cars reportedly accelerated even when the brakes were pressed. However, in these newly uncovered incidents, it would appear that the drivers mistakenly hit the accelerator rather than the brakes.

Driver error has also been cited as the cause of some high profile acceleration incidents, including one in New York and one in the San Diego area.


White House Touting Green Vehicle Technology This Week

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 5:27PM | By: Chris Weiss

President Obama test 2

This week should prove to be a pivotal time for the green vehicle market, with a variety of high-profile public events and announcements taking place around the United States. President Obama and administration officials are making their way around the country to promote electric vehicle technologies. The officials will be visiting electric component plants in the east and midwest to attend grand openings and grant award events. At the same time,  the world's second richest man—Bill Gates—announced that he will invest in EcoMotors, a Michigan-based engine manufacturer that is committed to making more efficient engines.

Thursday, the Department of Energy will release a new report about the impact of governement grants on electric vehicle development. Among other things, the report will demonstrate how costs of developing batteries for electric vehicles will lower from $33,000 today to $16,000 by the end of 2013 and to $10,000 by the end of 2015.

Also on Thursday, a host of officials will be bolstering public attention to the administration's work in promoting the future of electric vehicles. President Obama will be in Holland, Michigan for the opening of the $303 million Compact Power lithium-ion battery plant, which received $151 million of federal money. The plant will employ 450 workers by 2013. On the same day, Ed Montgomery, executive director of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers, will be at GM's White Marsh, Maryland plant in recognition of a $105 million grant for electric drivetrain development, and Secretary of Labor Hillary Solis will be promoting a $49 million grant to battery manufacturer Celgard in Charlotte, North Carolina.

IndyCar 2010; Turning Boring And Irrelevant Into Exciting And Cost Effective

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 12:19PM | By: John Welch

Lola's proposed Indy Car for 2012 test 2

We have no reason whatsoever to cover the current Izod IndyCar Series. Every car has the same chassis, same engine, and foriegn drivers. Blah. Not only are the engines and chassis identical, they have been the exact same part since 2002!! Not exactly something we have time for here on the 'Shopper Blog. Maybe if they changed the rules a little, invited in some new manufacturers, some new chasses, and some fresh competition, then maybe we would care. As long as there are racing Series such as the Rolex Grand-Am Series and the American Le Mans Series then Americas premier open-wheel series has to step up their game in order to charge NASCAR prices for USHRA product.

Today, things may change. At high noon . . . thirty today, the Izod IndyCar Series will release its plans for 2012, establishing hope for open-wheel racing and/or putting the nail in the coffin. The 'Shopper will be watching, and you should too. A note: in the nineties, IndyCar was considered an equal to F1. I wouldn't mind getting that sort of international recognition back for an American series.

The press conference will be held at 12:30 p.m. EST, and can be streamed here. Thanky and Good Day . . .

Toyota Creates 6 New Product Quality Field Locations

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 10:54AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 Toyota RAV4 test 2

Toyota Motor Corp. announced today that the company will be adding new product quality field offices—referred to as PQFO—around North America in order to more efficiently handle any customer complaints.The decision to add field offices in San Francisco and three other cities follows a successful pilot program in New York late last year.

Offices will be located in the same geographical location as Toyota Motor Sales regional offices, offering special services to investigate and handle customer issues, such as reports of sticky gas pedals.

The first pilot office opened in New York City in order to specialize in assisting with cold weather issues, such as corrosion in the Lexus and Scion models. The San Francisco office will address issues dealing with hybrid models such as the Prius, since there is a high concentration of hybrids on the west coast, while the Houston office will target truck problems, as well as heating and cooling issues.

Maserati To Introduce Smaller, Cheaper Sedan

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 10:36AM | By: Chris Weiss

2010 Maserati Quattroporte  test 2

Maserati is set to appeal to a broader market, albeit still limited and exclusive, with a smaller, less expensive sedan positioned underneath its Quattroporte. The midsize sport luxury sedan will compete with the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes CL, and Cadillac CTS when it debuts in 2014. The car will help to broaden Maserati's appeal and visibility in the market, and provide a new sales dynamic for the brand.

Maserati currently offers sport and luxury cars under three models: the GranCabrio, the GranTurismo, and the Quattroporte. The first two are two-doors while the Quattroporte is Maserati's answer to the sedan market. There are three trims of Quattroporte, comprising the base, S, and Sport GT S variants. Each features a V8 powerplant. Output and performance rise up to 440 hp, a top speed of 177 mph and a 5.1-second dash to 62 mph for the Sport GT S. The line bases at over $120,000 and the Quattoporte competes with the likes of the Mercedes S-Class, Porsche Panamera, and Audi S8.

Build Your Own Corvette Engine?

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 10:26AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Build Your Own Corvette Engine? test 1-1

For those car enthusiasts who just cannot get involved enough in customizing their own cars, Chevrolet has the perfect solution for you! It’s Chevrolet’s new “Build Your Own Corvette Engine” program that allows would-be Corvette owners to “literally build the engine for their new car.”

The program is designed for those who want the most "inclusive interactive car assembly program available." When a new 2011 Corvette Z06 or the ZR1 option is ordered, customers can opt for their cars to be assembled with the LS7 or LS9 engines at the Wixom Michigan assembly plant, and then actually watch the new Corvette being built at the plant  in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Jim Campbell, VP of Chevy Marketing in the U.S., believes that “Corvette owners are some of the most passionate—and most involved. The Corvette Engine Build Experience offers customers an unprecedented opportunity to participate, hands-on, in creating the car.”

Chrysler Offers Summer Buying Incentives

On: Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 2:33PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chrysler Offers Summer Buying Incentives test 1-1

Chrysler announced today that the company will offer a 60-day money back guarantee for any new vehicles purchased, AND that the company will pay two months payments (of up to $500 per month) for new buyers in an attempt to compensate for a low sales record in the month of June.

Chrysler is including the offer for the Town and Country and the Dodge Caravan, as well as most other Chrysler vehicles.

Buyers will be given the option of taking either an upfront cash rebate of $3-$4K, or selecting the 60-day guarantee whereas their new car can be returned, no questions asked if the customer is not satisfied for any reason (or if they become unemployed). Another new incentive being offered in July is the zero percent financing on Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and Jeep models. Most incentives are scheduled to apply through the second of August.

Since the beginning of the year, most automakers have made an attempt to eliminate incentives in order to boost profits and to improve brand reputation. Toyota and Honda have been notorious for NOT offering high incentives in the past as part of the Japanese automakers’ attempt at keeping their brand image high. That is all changing as even Toyota Motor Corporation has increased buying incentives this month.

Subaru Recall Blues

On: Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 2:03PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Subaru Recall Blues test 1-1

Auto manufacturers have been issuing more and more recalls over the past few years. The regularity of recall notices may be a sign that a specific vehicle may have some issues with safety or reliablilty. Subaru has certainly had more recalls for the 2010 year model than in the past.

The latest in recalls for Subaru is the Outback and Legacy models, being recalled due to faulty wiring behind the steering wheel; the wires were found to be at risk of cracking and breaking, which could interfere with the normal functioning of the steering wheel. If this happens, some vehicle functions with controls on the steering wheel—such as the horn, cruise and radio controls, paddle shifters, and even the driver's airbag, including problems with deployment of the air bag—could fail.

Approximately 74,000 Outback and Legacy models are thought to be affected by the faulty steering wheel wiring issue, models that were assembled between February 16, 2009 and April 12, 2010. Consumers who own one of the affected vehicles are asked to contact their local Subaru dealer; they will then be checked to see if they have the faulty steering roll connector; all Subaru Legacy and Outback models found to have the problem will be fixed at no cost. For more details on this latest recall contact NHTSA on 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153) or visit Safecar.gov