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Throughout The Car Industry



Categories: Miscellaneous

Obligitory Cop Car Article: 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 2:16PM | By: John Welch


Obligitory Cop Car Article: 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit test 1-1

As is the custom with every other US manufacturer, Chrysler is using a beefy law enforcement motif as a 'vehicle' (sic) for launching the Crispy-new 2011 Dodge Charger. Redesigned inside and out, the new Charger is fairly intimidating already (if spy shots are to be believed . . . which they usually are) but tack on some red'n'blues and a little mean-ass black paint and you have Cobra's next Mercury.

Reshaped headlamps, fog lamps and grille, the new Charger is the Charger the Charger should have been since the Charger name was resuscitated in 2003. Now looking sleeker, but still somewhat dated, the new Charger is none the less attractive in a crude, Chrysler sort of way. Blacked-out grille and blacked-out lamps team with performance suspension tuning, heavy-duty anti-lock vented-disc brakes (ABS), front- and rear-stabilizer bars, 18-inch performance tires on (Black) steel wheels, and two-mode police-specific Electronic Stability Control (ESC) calibration. Which adds up to an more effective crack-head buster. Or, as Dodge's media site puts it, "providing law-enforcement the best combination of tactical technology, safety, power, efficiency and an iconic design that makes any suspect stop in a panic,"

"For world-class ride and performance handling dynamics, the Dodge Charger Pursuit features a rear-wheel drive design and redesigned front and rear multi-link suspension geometries to deliver a smooth comfortable ride for law enforcement officers who spend long days protecting our streets." I guess that works . . .


Ford and Mazda Will Build Pickups in Thailand

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 1:47PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Ford and Mazda Will Build Pickups in Thailand test 1-1

Ford Motor Co., in partnership with Mazda Motor Corp., is planning a new endeavor to build subcompact pickup trucks in Thailand. Ford and Mazda plan to invest up to $350 million at the AutoAlliance Thailand plant in order to purchase tooling supplies, upgrade the plant, and train employees; production is gearing up to start in 2011.

Including the investment in the latest project, Mazda and Ford have invested more than $1.85 billion in the Thailand truck plant since its inception in 1995. In the past, Ford Motor Co. maintained controlling interest in Mazda, but recently reduced its stake in the Japanese automaker to only 13%.

The AutoAlliance plant was started in 2009 in order to manufacture the Mazda2 and Ford Fiestas slotted for Thailand and Southeast Asian markets. The factory currently produces Ford Ranger and Mazda B Series pickups to over 130 global markets. The new Ranger is projected to be exported from Thailand to Asian and Pacific markets, and other markets throughout the world.

According to Ford’s Asia Pacific operations head, Jim Hinrichs, “The new production line… will raise the bar in flexibility, efficiency, quality and environmentally-friendly production at AAT.”


 


Hyundai's Hardcore Racer

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 9:21AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Hyundai's Hardcore Racer test 1-1

As the member of a family that owned a 1987 Sonata, I can tell you that back then, Hyundai was not in the business of making a car it was easy to get excited about. That 1987 four-cylinder, four-speed auto transmission did about what you would expect it to do in a four-door family sedan. It wasn’t a race car, but, to its credit, it never tried to be despite my best 16-year-old efforts to imagine it as such.  

What that Sonata did do, however, was last a decade with very few complaints. Sure, the alternator went once or twice and the water pump gave up the ghost around year eight, but other than those natural auto ailments, there were no real surprises or recalls that made us give up our car before we were ready and willing to.  

Fast forward 23 years later. Today, Hyundai has taken most of those same principles that our 1987 Sonata conveyed to us, and gone from a relative punch line in the automotive community to the fifth largest auto manufacturer in the world. With a very simple strategy that could have once been called the ‘Toyota Model to Success’, Hyundai has worked tirelessly at building a brand name synonymous with economical quality for the masses. 

In 2010 Hyundai introduced the sports coupe for those masses in the Genesis Coupe. In 2011 Hyundai is bringing to the table a hardcore version of that sports car for all to enjoy—the Genesis Coupe R-Spec.  


Worst. Traffic. Ever. China Experiences 10-DAY Delays

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 8:56AM | By: Chris Weiss


Worst. Traffic. Ever. China Experiences 10-DAY Delays test 1-1

Most Americans get a little hot under the collar when road construction, accidents or other factors beyond our control create traffic delays measured in hours--or even minutes. Imagine the calamity that would ensue if traffic delays began hitting the days and weeks marks. That's beyond inconvenient, it's downright scary; and it's all happening now across the world in China.

China's traffic disaster, which has taken the country's Beijing-Zhangjiakou highway hostage, is now on its 11th day. Some drivers have been immersed in the bumper-to-bumper mayhem for five days. Yeah, it looks like they'll be a little late for that Monday morning meeting.

The traffic jam began on August 14. The Beijing-Zhangjiakou is an already packed highway and road construction in Beijing caused traffic to slow to a mind-bogglingly sluggish crawl of a half mile per day. Lines of vehicles snaked back some 60 miles.

UPDATE: The massive Chinese Traffic jam has all but subsided. NBC showed up just in time to report on a traffic jam that no longer exists. All the details at MSNBC World Blog.


 

Prices of Pre-Owned SUVs Up 30%

On: Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 11:42AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Prices of Pre-Owned SUVs Up 30% test 1-1

In such an unstable automotive market as the U.S. has experienced in the past year, it’s difficult to predict exactly when the best time is to buy or sell a used car, but if it’s an SUV, Minivan, or Crossover that’s involved, now may be the best time to sell—not buy.

According to Edmunds.com, prices of pre-owned SUVs and Crossovers have gone up by as much as 30% since last year.  Cadillac Escalades, for example, being sold in 2010 are getting 36% more for the average sale price than buyers paid in 2009.

In a market that values vehicles that provide great fuel economy, one may think that prices for gas guzzling SUVs would be going down instead of up. On average, wholesale prices for used vehicle have decreased slightly in July as compared to record high prices in the spring.

Edmunds.com reports that the average retail price for a pre-owned Cadillac Escalade, (calculating an average price paid for all model years) was $34,715 in July, surprisingly, up 36% from the average price paid last July. Edmunds.com reports that the average retail price paid for a used Dodge Grand Caravan in July, averaged over all model years, was $15,629, up 34%.


Ford May Lose Some Investors to GM IPO

On: Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 9:52AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Allan Mullaly test 2

According to the Bloomberg News, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman, Bill Ford recently commented that some of the company’s investors may liquidate their holdings in order to buy shares in General Motors Co’s IPO with the strategy in mind of distributing the risk throughout the automotive industry.

“Some money will be rebalanced into GM, but look: our company and GM ultimately are going to succeed or not based upon performance,” according to Ford's statement to reporters at an event in Detroit. “It doesn’t make any difference to me where our shares are or their shares are on any given day.”

As GM prepares for its initial public offering after bankruptcy, many analysts are predicting an offering of up to $16 billion.

The U.S. Treasury currently owns as much as 61% of GM. The share sale will allow the company to decrease the government’s ownership share while making a comeback to public market. Ford Motor Co. was the only Detroit automaker of the big three that didn’t take a government bailout or file bankruptcy by borrowing $23 billion. Alan Mulally, Ford CEO stated that the company is at a disadvantage in the marketplace due to having such a huge financial loan obligation.


U.S. Dealers Are Asking For More Inventory

On: Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 9:38AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


2011 GMC Terrain test 2

We have heard the woes of dealers across the country complaining about lack of stock and lost sales, every since automakers cut production as a result of last years’ stalemate of new car sales affecting every automaker in the U.S. market.  Stories about dealers such as Carter Myers who reports that he is losing motivated buyers over lack of products such as the Terrain crossover, Honda Pilots and Sonatos, and Chevy Suburbans, to name a few.

Automakers "have driven supplies too low,"  according to Myers, a former chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

It is a perplexing issue across the industry.  While most dealerships in the industry suffer from low sales these days, many dealers feel they could definitely sell more vehicles if automakers would supply them. There are a handful of difficult-to-get vehicles, such as the Terrain, which accounts for much of the problem. Many of the complaints are from General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group dealers.

73% of the 244 dealers interviewed in an Automotive News survey last week, agreed that they had too few new vehicles in inventory. And 77% of those respondents felt that they had lost sales as a result.

Automakers report that they are doing their best to keep dealerships stocked with inventory while avoiding the past mistake of over production that resulted in too much inventory on the lots, driving prices and resell values down and high incentives up.


VW, GM, Toyota Agree to 10% Pay Raise for South African Workers

On: Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 9:42AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


VW, GM, Toyota Agree to 10% Pay Raise for South African Workers   test 1-1

Union members from South African automobile manufacturing plants have reached an agreement, as far as wages go, ending an expensive 8-day strike in Johannesburg. Thousands of autoworkers signed a three-year wage deal that will result in workers getting as much as a 10% pay increase this year and an additional 9% in the next 2 years. The goal for the unions was to get a 15% wage increase, which is over 3 times the country’s current inflation rate.
 


Mazda To Issue Its Largest Recall Ever Over Power Steering

On: Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 2:39PM | By: Chris Weiss


Mazda To Issue Its Largest Recall Ever Over Power Steering  test 1-1

According to Reuters, Mazda is planning the recall of more than 500,000 vehicles worldwide over safety issues with the power steering system. The recall includes 215,000 Mazda3 and Mazda5 models in the United States. Model years affected are 2007 to 2009.

The problem relates to a potential loss in power-assisted steering arising from rust off the high-pressure pipe falling off into the power steering pump and interfering with the power assist system. If this happens, it could present drivers with problems steering that could lead to a crash. According to the Reuters report, three accidents have been reported as a result of the problem, but none have resulted in injuries. While Mazda informed the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration that it would conduct the recall, it indicated that it did not believe the steering issue presents a significant safety hazard to drivers.


Auto Industry Satisfaction Down Since Last Year

On: Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 10:09AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Auto Industry Satisfaction Down Since Last Year test 1-1

American satisfaction with the domestic automobile industry is measured on a scale of 0-100 using the American Customer Satisfaction Index survey (ACSI). In 2009 the industry rating reached an all time high of 84 according to Automotive News.com. Now that number has dipped to 82. 

According to the ACSI (designed to measure the quality of American products and services), "the domestic automotive satisfaction level has stabilized, and in a few cases climbed, despite an overall decline for the industry over the past 18 months."

The ACSI survey is performed over the phone; scores result from conducting 250 interviews with participants from age 18 to 84. This year’s results concluded that out of the top 19 auto brands, 14 dropped in customer satisfaction since 2009. Kia and Mazda scored below average for the industry, and at the bottom of the list were Dodge and Jeep. Buick and Ford's Lincoln-Mercury brand showed up at the top of the list for the first time since the inception of the survey.   Nissan had a 4 point increase to 84, and GMC realized a 2 point improvement, also ending up at 84. According to Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI: “It was not long ago when Detroit’s products were clustered at the bottom of the industry.”


Business Risks of GM's IPO Filing, SEC, sec, U.S. Treasury, u.s. treasury,

On: Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 10:02AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Business Risks of GM's IPO Filing, SEC, sec, U.S. Treasury, u.s. treasury,  test 1-1

GM recently filed the paperwork for its upcoming initial public offering, and included in the filing was the S-1 documentation reporting risk factors for potential investors. Those considering the purchase of stock from the company should be most interested in the contents of the S-1 filing, listing the material risks to the future financial stability of the company.

The report is mandated by the SEC, and most companies actually overemphasize potential material risks in order to avoid any legality with the SEC that may result from under reporting. 

Risk factors commonly reported are economic fluctuations, commodity price, etc.  GM’s first couple of reporting factors would certainly fit into the more commonly listed, but when the nitty-gritty of the documents is examined, GM’s newly released S-1 filing is interesting reading to say the least.