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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Miscellaneous

Ford Van Pooling Commuters

On: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 10:18AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Van Pooling Commuters test 1-1

Van Pool Services Inc. (VPSI) is a private company originally started by Chrysler to serve the transportation needs of individuals who wanted to save on fuel expense as far back as the 70s. The company was started in my stomping grounds—Minneapolis, Minnesota—and the fleet of vans providing a cheap alternative to the daily commute was so successful that the company expanded to serve cities around the nation, and is still around today.

The California Department of Transportation selected VPSI to operate the very first statewide vanpool program, only instead of using Chryslers, the fleet is comprised mostly (70% of the 5000 vehicle nationwide fleet) of Ford E-Series vans, which can achieve a whopping 150 passenger-miles per gallon each day as commuter vehicles.

According to Ford Media.com, annually, the fleet "eliminates more than 14 million commuter trips, saves more than $73 million in fuel, and reduces CO2 emissions by 259,000 tons."

Ford reports that the E-Series has been the country’s number one full-sized van for over 30 years. These top selling vehicles now transport over 40,000 commuters in the U.S. each day, with an average savings of $5,000 per year per commuter, compared with the cost of driving to work alone.

“We believe we have the most ecological Ford vehicles on the road,” said Steve Pederson, VP of Fleet Management at VPSI. Pederson was responsible for estimating the 150 passenger miles per gallon figure by "multiplying the 15 mpg achieved by Ford E-Series vans by 10 passengers. Some VPSI Ford commuter vanpools seat as many as fifteen passengers, which would result in even more impressive results," stated Pederson.

2010 Brumos Porsche 250; Sports Car SlobberKnockers

On: Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 3:05PM | By: John Welch

How did we get to this image? test 2

The Rolex Grand Am Series produces incredible racing action every time the Daytona Prototypes lay rubber to tarmac. This post contains an image gallery highlighting one of the many scraps that occured on track during the 2010 Brumos Porsche 250. Allow me to set the scene . . .

After a terrible beginning to the 2010 Rolex Series, the No.99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Chevrolet Riley turned a scorching lap during qualifying to claim second starting position for the race. Second only to the No.10 Wayne Taylor/SunTrust Ford Dallara, a car also plauged by finishes not indicitive of the way they have run in the races this season, the Gainsco car found itself locked in a fierce contest of wills with it's primary rival, the No.01 Ganassi/TelMex BMW. The Ganassi machine, suffering from a little bit of ballast-bloat (BMW-powered DPs were saddled with a 75 lb. weight penalty after the race at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago), qualified a lowly fifth, rather unusual for the dominant Ganassi team.

The bit-players in this gallery include the No. 6 MSR Dallara, driven by Brian Frissell, as well as the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley. Both cars were in the hunt all day, with Frissell leading a significant portion of the race. We now know that Ganassi came out on top, but the result was anything but certain while these photos were being taken. Description of the action with each image; enjoy!

Lotus Cars Consults With Advisors From BMW and GM

On: Fri, Jul 2, 2010 at 10:41AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Tom Purves test 2

It has always been said that if you want to be rich, surround yourself with millionaires; advice that Lotus Cars Ltd., British automaker, has taken seriously as the company plans to team up with automotive expert, Bob Lutz from GM, and retired BMW and Rolls Royce exec.; Tom Purves, regarding a 5-year turn-around plan.

According to auto week.com source, Lutz who has been retired only 2 months from GM, is talking to Lotus, but no formal offer has been accepted.  Purves reportedly stated, in a phone conversation, that he wants to be involved in the project, but plans have not yet been finalized.  Purves was quoted as saying; “The goal is to make a contribution to projects of the future--improving the quality, the product offerings and the operations of the company,” Perves also stated: “It's exciting, and there is no question it is a great brand and has a good future.”

Fun In The Sun For Everyone!

On: Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 10:07AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Fun In The Sun For Everyone! test 1-1

Not all convertibles are created equal. Similarly, not all convertible drivers are created equal either. Just because a car has a drop-down roof doesn't mean it can be lumped together with all others of that same category. In fact, aside from that feature, the only broader generalized grouping would be to place each in the 'automobile' category. Although July is probably the worst time to actually buy a convertible, it does happen to be the time that everyone takes notice of their roof status, especially if it's of the fixed variety. 

If you are in the market for a convertible, or simply want to learn a little more about some drop-tops that have come and gone for a future purchase, then look no further. Newer is not always better, especially if you have an eye for value, and know what a car has to offer. Detailed below is a series of cars that all fit in the convertible category, but each of their unique intrinsic and extrinsic differences and characteristics are laid out. Also, because this is Autoshopper.com, all of these cars were picked out of your local Autoshopper magazine.


Recent Survey Indicates Motorists Feel Safe Even After Recalls; iPhone App Says They Shouldn't

On: Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 1:37PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Recent Survey Indicates Motorists Feel Safe Even After Recalls; iPhone App Says They Shouldn't test 1-1

In spite all of the recent media on recalls for many automotive brands, a survey conducted by Speedemissions Inc in Atlanta, suggests that motorists in the U.S. feel safe, or safer driving their vehicles than they did a year ago.  In fact, the survey polled over 1,300 motorists and 79% responded favorably.

But according to an article posted on Speedemissions.com; a new iPhone application that diagnoses an automobile's computer systems points out that consumers may not be as knowledgeable about the mechanical safety of their vehicles as they may have initially believed.

The Daily Commute in the Year 2020

On: Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 2:26PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The Daily Commute in the Year 2020 test 1-1

It’s always fun to read about the latest in automotive technology and imagine just what the newest most innovative features will enable cars of the future to be able to do.

A recent article in Popular Science has done just that, as they have projected how several different future automotive technologies will define the average driver’s commute in the year 2020.

The first category describes how “traffic probes” will be automated.  PopSci projects that phones and cars will be equipped with GPS navigation technology that will read the traffic patterns and display reports in real time pertaining to which route is least congested and accident free.

Elon Musk Plans To Raise $178 Million From Tesla ISO

On: Mon, Jun 28, 2010 at 3:02PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Elon Musk Plans To Raise $178 Million From Tesla ISO test 1-1

Tesla Motors is getting ready for public offering, and founder, Elon Musk, who was voted 2007 Entrepeneur of the Year, says he plans to raise $178 million dollars from the IPO. The company filed its stock registration on January 29th and the expectation was initially to collect proceeds of only $100 million.

The company, which has not yet posted a profit, will sell 11.1 million shares which equates to 12% of the company at $14-$16 each. Tesla Motors has been valued at about $1.5 billion, according to Renaissance Capital. Musk plans to re-coop a portion of his initial investment taking about $21 million from the sale.

After the IPO offering, Toyota will subsequently purchase $50 million in shares and Tesla will then turn around and pay Toyota $42 million for the Nummi factory in California that is currently closed. The Nummi factory, which was a previous a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors, will be the future location where Tesla will build its second automobile, the Model S Sedan. Tesla’s first model, the Roadster, sold over 1,000 models (including cars sold to Brad Pitt and George Clooney) for $109,000 each, yet the company still endured a total loss of around $290 million.

Ford Develops New Eco-Friendly Material for Seat Cushions

On: Sun, Jun 27, 2010 at 11:56AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Develops New Eco-Friendly Material for Seat Cushions test 1-1

Ford has done it again! The Detroit automaker, known for changing with the times, is now adding more eco-friendly materials to their automobiles. For example, the new 2011 Ford Explorer will offer a new bio-based polyurethane foam made from soy in seat cushions and seatbacks, as well as a 25% increase in fuel economy over the 2010 model.

Ford was the first automaker to discover that soy-based foams could be used for automotive purposes, revolutionizing its use in seats as far back as 2008 in the Ford Mustang. Now Ford plans to continue developing the use of soy-based foam in the interior of nearly all of its 2011 line-up as part of a project to start utilizing more recyclable and renewable resources in designing all of its automobiles.

Already there are over two million Ford vehicles that have the bio foam used to construct interior seat cushions; Ford reports that the implementation of the innovative material has helped the company reduce the use of petroleum oil by three million lbs every year as well as reducing greenhouse gas emission by 11 million lbs. Those are very impressive numbers evolving from simply substituting one substance for another.

Ford, the First Automaker to Use Soy Based Eco Friendly Material for Seat Cushions
Prnewswire                               http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ford-adds-soy-foam-seat-cushions-to-ford-explorer-expands-use-of-eco-friendly-material-across-lineup-96996819.html
Ford has done it again!  The automaker has been known to change with the times is now adding more eco-friendly materials to their automobiles.  For example, the new 2011 Ford Explorer will offer a new bio-based polyurethane foam made from soy in seat cushions and seatbacks as well as 25% increase in fuel economy over the 2010 model. 

J.D. Power Deems Ford Brand Number One in Quality While Toyota Falls Precipitously

On: Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 12:08PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

J.D. Power Deems Ford Brand Number One in Quality While Toyota Falls Precipitously test 1-1

The 2010 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study (IQS) shows that Ford is considered the top non-luxury brand in the industry with the highest quality level. The Taurus, Mustang, and Focus were three of the most popular of Ford’s line-up that were considered the vehicles of most distinction.

Ford moved from last year’s eighth place position to fifth place, which is the highest that the Ford brand has ever ranked. Fourth place and above, performers were dominated by vehicles in the luxury car group: Porsche AG’s namesake vehicles, Honda Motor Co.’s Acura, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota’s Lexus, according to the market-research firm.

Lincoln also saw improvement in its ranking this year and is now listed among the top 10 brands. Lincoln was ranked 26th last year and moved up to eighth position.

Toyota, on the other hand, fell from sixth place all the way to the Japanese automaker’s lowest ever ranking (since the inception of J.D. Powers quality studies) of 21st place. According to David Sargent, J.D. Power’s VP of global vehicle research in a Bloomberg Newsweek interview; “Toyota’s problems were directly related to the recalls. This will certainly hurt their image a bit.” Sargent also stated, "For Ford, this is the culmination of nine years of improvement.” Ford has gradually moved up the rankings for the past nine years in a row.

Substandard Features

On: Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 10:38AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Substandard Features test 1-1

One of the theories that physicists tell us about the universe is that it is a constant cycle of expansion and contraction. The red tint that glows around distant stars is empirical evidence that those celestial bodies are, in fact, headed far off into uncharted space. Those same scientists tell us that one day the expansion will cease and that the light around those stars will begin to have a blue tint to it, indicating that the universe is heading back inward, and that the contraction has begun.  

It seems that the financial cycles of the United States are not much different from the cycles of the universe. The Roaring 20s were a time of great celebration and expansion, while the 30s brought on the biggest contraction in US history, only to be followed by he booming expansion of WWII. This cycle of cycles has continued until the market crash of 2008 signaled the beginning of another contraction. As we’ve seen, major car manufacturers are not immune to the ways of the universe, with two of the big three needing bailouts from the federal government. Although those debts are all but paid off, it does not mean that the automotive industry is out of hot water by any means. Perhaps instead of fighting the Big Crunch, as it’s called in the scientific world (the antithesis of the Big Bang), car makers and consumers should start to change their attitudes towards embracing the coming contraction. How so?  Well, it seems that in times of crisis, all but the very essentials are deemed unnecessary. The superfluous extras that are expendable are well, expunged, and the bare necessities rise from sub-standard to the standard.  

In a country where people are losing their houses, jobs, and shirts at an alarming rate, a quality car is almost a luxury. But the fact of the matter is people like owning new cars. So how can car manufacturers find an acceptable compromise between the need or want for a new car and that fact that many people have had to make concessions and work jobs that will earn them less compensation? Easy, change the standard!  

For the last twenty years or so, car companies have competed with each other on the premise that more is more. More gadgets, more gizmos, more ‘packages’, more paint schemes, and more gimmicks will lure the potential buyer to their product. Anyone remember the Wide Track Grand Prix? How about the ‘Cab Forward’ Dodge Intrepid? Or maybe even more gimmicky ads like the Dodge Neon that always said, “Hi!” Or perhaps you remember Cadillac Catera: “The Caddy that zigs!” These were all goofy marketing ploys to suggest that those cars were different or better, when in reality they were just average cars with nothing all that special about them. But up until the late 20th century, options like power steering and power brakes were just that—options. Maybe it’s time to stop trying to push onward, and understand that car manufacturing, and the country, may have to take a step or two backwards before it can move forward. 

The Great Mini-Van Wars Of Aught Ten

On: Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 4:58PM | By: John Welch

The Great Mini-Van Wars Of Aught Ten test 1-1

Over the decades there has been many a bloody struggle for supremacy over one segment of the car industry or another. In the late sixties, as we have all been told, Ford and Chevy were at each other’s throats over these "muscle car" thingees. Then we had the war to make the worst car possible. That one lasted through three decades, from '72 until '98 or so. The arms race for the dual-clutch 8-speed transmission is a current hot bed of automaker blood thirst. Bigger wheels, more rows of seating, fancier badges, higher fuel economy, the most towing power, the least drag coefficient. Many things can set a war off, and once the fuse is lit, almost nothing can stop it. Sheesh, the last Mini-Van War went for years; beginning in 1984 with the release of the first Chrysler Mini-Vans. This conflict involved almost every major automaker, and ended only when the SUV swooped in and extinguished all use anyone had for Mini-Vans in general.

Here we are again, on the battlefield of the most recent Auto-Conflict, the war to produce the sweetest Mini-Van. The players are fewer this time around; not because Mini-Vans aren't made by more companies, but because those vans are all garbage afterthoughts thrown together for the sole purpose of filling a hole in a line-up. The newest Chryslers have interesting seating, but otherwise are total crap. Does Ford make the Windstar anymore? How about GM and the awful Venture/Transpost? The Ford Flex and Chevy Traverse/GMC Acadia/ Buick Enclave have taken the place of those less-than-celebrated bread boxes. The Hyundai Entourage and Kia Sedona are outdated. The VW Routan? Give me a break.

There are more vehicles that could be considered Mini-Vans but really aren't. Box-mobiles like the Scion xB and Kia Soul come to mind. Along with the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5, these vehicles are just to small to be considered "vans", even if they fit the "mini" part nicely. The Ford TransitConnect is all work and no DVD screens, and the Mercedes R-Class is way out of this price league.

That leaves us with the major participants in this particular marketing/motor/innovative seating scuffle, Honda, Toyota and soon to be Nissan. We have covered the new Toyota Sienna in this blog before, finding it's styling to be fresh and its options plentiful. Read that report here. The Nissan Quest is several months away from its introduction, but from the looks of its teaser photos it may be stimulating in a "FordFlexGiantBox" sort of way. Drew hates the grill though, and I don't find the "yards of chrome" treatment to be all that appealing. We will reserve judgment until the vehicle is actually released.

. . . Bringing us to the perennial Mini Van favorite, the Honda Odyssey. In recent years the Honda has led the pack in horsepower, handling and overall people-moving ability. The problem has always been the existence of the SUV and the American ego. Fortunately for the Odyssey, Americans are also gullible, and sometimes we will use that gullibility to warp the sensibility of our ego's. No longer is it gay to be seen in a Mini-Van, mostly because it is pure evil to be seen in a full size SUV. Considering the space limitations of cross-over’s, and the fact that most of them are no more useful than a Mini-Van off road, SUV customers who can no longer stomach the fuel bill but still need space for ply-wood and kiddies are left with few options that don't sound like "Gini-Tan". Or "Winnie-Can". Or "Vinnie-Span".

Being the newest offering for the Mini-Van fracas, the Honda Odyssey has received several weird and wonderful design updates that we need to take a closer look at . . .