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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Miscellaneous

Toyota Issues Recall Concerning Brake Fluid Leaks

On: Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 12:14PM | By: John Welch

2006 Toyota Avalon test 2

Here we go again; Toyota announced today that it will recall 1.53 million vehicles that may be equipped with faulty braking systems. The recall cover models built between 2004 and 2006, and include several Lexus vehicles. The RX330, GS300, IS250, and IS350, as well as Toyota Highlander and Avalon models, are all included. Seems like I just took my Avalon in for a new steering rack . . .

Ford to Sell Mazda?

On: Sun, Oct 17, 2010 at 11:28AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Mazda Shinari Concept test 2

Ford Motor Company is the top stake holder in Mazda Corporation with 11% ownership. Nikkei Business Daily reported that the company plans to reduce its majority stake in Mazda Motor corporation selling all but 3% of its interest to other companies that have business associations with Mazda.

Ford called the report “speculation” in a statement.  "Ford's ownership stake in Mazda remains unchanged," the statement said. "Ford continues to have a close strategic relationship with Mazda and we cooperate in areas of mutual benefit. We have no further comment on the speculation." The business daily states that Mazda asked Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and other firms to buy shares from Ford. Ford’s shares amounted to195 million Mazda shares, worth around 42 billion yen ($515.6 million), as of today, the Nikkei said.

Buick Tackles The World's Toughest [Virtual] Roads

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 4:00PM | By: Chris Weiss

Buick Tackles The World's Toughest [Virtual] Roads  test 1-1

There seems to be a lot of attention lately to the world's scariest, most challenging roads—well deserved attention, if I might add; these roads are fascinating. The History Channel recently pulled its grizzled, tried-and-true ice road truckers (plus one pretty cute chick) off the ice to tackle some of these roads in a new series called IRT Deadliest Roads. The truckers navigate some of the most dangerous, unforgiving roads in the Indian Himalayas. It's terrifying but quite compelling television.

Well, Buick has announced that it's getting in on the deadly road craze. It has created a 3D simulator that allows it to recreate some of the world's roughest, most difficult roads for vehicle testing. So when you buy a Buick in the future, you'll know that it can not only stand up to your local dirt road, but can take on some of the world's worst roadways.

British Men Love California Girls: Katy Perry Voted Most Popular Passenger

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 12:10PM | By: Chris Weiss

British Men Love California Girls: Katy Perry Voted Most Popular Passenger test 1-1

The other day when introducing a study about the most popular car colors, I made a point that pretty much every trivial automobile fact is linked to a research study or survey of some sort. A new poll done for the British MPH the Prestige & Performance Motor Show, which takes place from November 4 to 7 in London, helps to drive this point home. The poll delved into the ever-important query of who men and women would most like to see in the passenger seat and what car they'd most like to chaffeur them around in. 


New Auto Trade Agreement Between Korea And Europe May Be Detrimental To Ford And Fiat Exports

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 4:35PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

New Auto Trade Agreement Between Korea And Europe May Be Detrimental To Ford And Fiat Exports test 1-1

Ford Motor Company and Fiat are among the automakers that fear the South Korean export agreement with Europe may allow for importing inexpensive imports from Korea into Europe. Ford and Fiat are concerned that the agreement may result in an influx of cheap Korean cars that would compete with compacts made by Ford Motor Company and Fiat.

At the Paris auto show last week, Ford CFO Lewis Booth felt that the agreement is "very one-sided in favor of Korea." Ford reported a profit of over $300 million for its European sales in the 2nd quarter this year.  

On the other hand, Hyundai, Kia, and Chevrolet all claim there will be benefits resulting from the agreement. According to Chevrolet Europe chief Wayne Brannon: "We are optimistic this will help us. It makes building cars in Korea for Europe more affordable." General Motors exports the Chevrolet Aveo and Spark from Korea to Europe and the agreement is projected to double its European sales in the next 6 years.

The European Automakers Association (ACEA) is not necessarily against the agreement, but feels that it gives Korea an unfair advantage in the marketplace, and may set a bad example for future contracts between Europe and other world trading organizations.

In the U.S., a free trade agreement with Korea is currently on hold as the Obama administration addresses reports an “alleged imbalance in car trade,” according to Auto News.com.

Chrysler 200: Different, But Is It Different Enough?

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 2:48PM | By: John Welch

Chrysler 200: Different, But Is It Different Enough? test 1-1

The name "Sebring" should make most people think of endurance racing at its finest: prototypes and sports cars crunching fenders while battling the gnarliest conditions in the road racing world. Unfortunately, almost no one thinks of the magical Central Florida Mecca that is Sebring International Raceway; instead, most individuals immediately identify "Sebring" as a Chrysler automobile, and a disappointing one at that. Former Chrysler Sebrings, coupe, sedan or convertible, have never lived up to the legend that is their namesake. In fact, they have been so grossly out-classed by their competition, so universally panned by the press, so totally uninspiring that Chrysler now feels the need to distance itself from the name "Sebring". The Sebring's replacement is called the "200". Real original. The damage done to an absolutely hallowed proper noun, "Sebring", can never be undone. Thanks, Chrysler, you jerks.

At first glance, a glance that is totally manipulated by Chrysler's penchant for "teaser" photos, the 200 looks like a radically improved car. The styling is radically improved, at least. Upon closer inspection it becomes clear that this car is just a Sebring in a fancy wrapper. Slick headlights and a reshaped grille do not a segment leader make. Is Chrysler delusional, or are they just filling a wide and glaringly obvious gap in their new model lineup? Looking at the 200's C-pillar, one cannot help but be put off by this car. There is a good chance that this abomination (If you hadn't noticed, the sullying of the name "Sebring" has annoyed me to no end) will be the same rental-fleet-ready disaster that its predecessor was—doomed to be scorned by all who have any idea what the phrases "quality product" and "soft touch materials" mean.

Silver Is The New Black Of Automobile Colors

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 9:38AM | By: Chris Weiss

Silver Is The New Black Of Automobile Colors  test 1-1

If you look hard enough, chances are that you'll find a study to answer the most trivial of questions. This is certainly true in the automotive world, and in this case, a study by PPG Industries, a Pittsburgh-based automotive coatings company, lends some evidence to the most popular car color on the road. Surprisingly, it's neither white or black, but a combinaiton of the two: grey/silver. Nearly a third of all 2010 cars in the U.S. and Canada come shaded in silver/grey/charcoal.

PPG's data shows that cars in the silver category account for 31 percent of all cars. White and black are the next most popular colors, but lag far behind silver, capturing just 18 percent each. Behind those neutrals, red shows up at the three spot with 11 percent, and blue follows closely with 10 percent. The category PPG calls "naturals," which includes orange, brown, gold, tan, and yellow, comes in fifth with 8 percent. Green is the least popular color, capturing just 4 percent.

Not only does silver dominate in this year's study, it tops it for the 10th consecutive year. This year was its strongest showing since PPG began collecting data, topping last year's 25 percent and 2008's 20 percent.

While colors like silver, black, and white may be considered rather plain and boring—especially when put against fancy, proprietary options like "Deep Bordeaux" and "Moonshine Blue"—they tend to look good across makes and models, unlike brighter colors, which don't complement every car design. I was a little surprised to see silver score so high over white and black—thinking about my average trip down the highway, I would have sworn white was more popular—but when I considered that the silver category related to grey and charcoal, as well as pure silver, it made more sense.

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.

Honda Declared America's Greenest Automaker

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 12:25PM | By: Chris Weiss

Honda Declared America's Greenest Automaker  test 1-1

According to a newly released study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Honda is officially the nation's greenest automaker, edging out Toyota and Hyundai. More than just a nod to high-profile green models, the study looked at the overall emissions performance of each automaker's entire fleet. Honda's win marks the fifth consecutive time it's topped the study.

Honda topped the field of eight automakers, who together made up 92 percent of the market for the 2008 model year. Toyota and Hyundai tied for second place, each just one point behind Honda. In scoring that works more like golf than basketball (less is better), the Honda received an all-around score of 86 vs. Toyota/Hyundai's 87. Trailing those three were Volkswagen (90), Nissan (93), Ford (108), General Motors (109), and Chrysler (113). I'd presume that the study was looking at the Volkswagen brand and not the entire auto group, because several of the country's least efficient cars hail from the VW group, including the least efficient (Lamborghini Murcielago) and second least efficient (Bugatti Veyron 16.4).

The USC's study looks at two deciding factors: the per-mile smog of an automaker's fleet and the global warming emissions. Each one is weighted equally. The numbers are compared with the industry average of all eight automakers to make the final score.

“It was a photo finish, but Honda is still the champ,” Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer in UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program and the author of the rankings report said in a press release. “Toyota was poised to take the lead, but stalled in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Meanwhile, Hyundai’s fleet saw dramatic efficiency improvements, pushing the company into a title contender spot.”

Denny Hamlin Boosts Toyota's Sprint Cup Hopes

On: Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 9:25AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Denny Hamlin Boosts Toyota's Sprint Cup Hopes  test 1-1

Denny Hamlin has reportedly signed through 2011 with Joe Gibbs Racing; although no official contract details are available, but it is widely believed Hamlin's contract looks like it is through at least 2011.

That the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup isn’t surprising—he’s qualified for the 10-race playoff for five consecutive years. That he’s leading the point standings? Well, that’s another matter. “It is a little different position than we’ve been in,” Hamlin admitted Friday. “Usually I’m at least 80 or 90 points behind when we get to this race right here.”

“And I’ve always felt like I had to make up points and then I would get even more frustrated if we lost more points to whoever the championship leader was at the time.” Toyota is seeking its first championship at NASCAR’s highest level and Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are the only two Toyota representatives in the 12-driver Chase. After Sunday's race at Kansas, Hamlin who finished 12th, is currently second in the standings, eight points behind Jimmy Johnson. Busch, who finished 21st, is 80 points out.

Saab Returns to Mexico, China, and Russia in 2011

On: Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 3:27PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Saab Returns to Mexico, China, and Russia in 2011 test 1-1

Saab Automobile, the Swedish carmaker owned by Spyker Cars NV, plans to start selling cars in China, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico in the first half of next year, according to SAAB sales chief, Adrian Hallmark. Saab is negotiating with potential distributers in the four countries and has set a goal to reach agreements by the end of the year, Hallmark said late yesterday.

"In the next two years the new markets will not materially change our performance volume-wise, but in the next five years I believe they will fundamentally change our performance,” Hallmark said. The export of Saab to China and Russia was put on hold during the economic crisis in 2008 and recently Saab has decided to revisit plans for exporting its vehicels to foriegn markets again.

Hallmark stated that Saab “intends to become profitable by 2012. While the company is now focusing on re-establishing itself in the U.S. and Europe, growth markets such as China will be key to its long-term success.”